Posts for June 30, 2018


Summer Wedding

simple dress edged in lace with cowgirl boots
groom and attendants wore camo and tanks

the hot sun blazed on nervous distances
absences due to death and circumstance

soft-spoken vows of joy and sadness
a father sat alone, his dance complete

someone forgot the ice and hotdog buns
dog booted to his kennel for growling

the blue pool beckoned the weary children
while the adults worked through the rituals

the sunflower bouquet finally tossed
she jumped in, water sluicing off shoulders

skirt floating up like a water lily 
like a veil


Scenes From the County Fair

Scenes From the County Fair

children with flush cheeks
and dirt beads on their necks

haggard women wearing the look
of poverty and faded, jailhouse tattoos

flashing lights throb to heavy metal
ping pong balls traumatize and win fish

funnel cakes sizzle as carnies
tilt the table and stir up crowds

blue ribbons awarded for 4H and best pie
tiaras crown a new year’s royalty


I Must Try Going Forward

He was a slight man, very organized
and new to the school. 
He had never waited a table 
before. It was time for dinner, the long tables
replete with full place settings, but
we had been told not to touch them
when we sat down to eat. In the back,
where we were to get our things,
there had been no spoons left, no 
forks, and what can you eat
with just a knife? He was distraught,
only twenty minutes left to eat, staring at
a plate full of steak, contemplating
whether he were the type of man
that could just use his hands.
He was not.
He looked at me, pleadingly,
as if perhaps I knew some secret
cache of be-tined silver, but I confirmed —
there was nothing,
and no one here would help him,
as they were too busy eating. I myself
was always too late, and had found my own ways
around the problem.
I reached to my left, plucked up
the nearest spoon and held it out.
you pay tuition and room and board
just like anyone else at this place. 
Relax, enjoy your meal.
He gasped a little, weighed the words quickly
as he took the spoon with a chuckle,
and then he clinked out in his strangely thick
but still native English, spoken as if he were
running his thoughts through 
spellcheck or autocorrect —

I like this style. I must try, he said,
going forward
to be as sovereign as you. 

This is not a word
I would have applied to myself, even
in translation, but I suppose
there is a me that plays out 
constantly broadcasting from my skin, and I am
hardly aware of her. She is
nothing like the me that writes these poems, and
she is nothing like the me that sits
quietly alone in her room, flicking at pages in a book she doesn’t want to read,
nursing her aching back. I don’t 
really know or understand her, but I
have gathered, from people’s reactions, 
that she looks out at the world
something like a resting snake will glare
at hikers coming too close,
deliberate, calm, and always ready to strike.
And while like most others, the slight
organized man no longer wants to chat
or make small talk about the weather,
I am grateful for this visage
and her sovereign manner
in this place, like so many places,
where servers are asked to dine 
without silverware while 
staring at utensils they aren’t allowed to touch.



So afraid
that after 
one full moon
I will lose my voice. 


Oh, Yeah, and Don’t Forget About . . .

She came home from school
One day to find the painter
In his long underwear
He was painting 
The floor
And where ever else his brush hand
For years the father was ashamed
When she brought up the story
To tell guests.
main point would be that it was
Her mother’s fault
For hiring the old man 
Who’d found the tequila 
Brought back from Mexico.
(It had otherwise been
A fun filled vacation.)



The swimsuit issue
was always my favorite.
The women were
so beautiful.  

Water dripping
from their hair.
Sun glinting
off their skin. 

Even though
I snuck when I read,
I convinced myself,
it was normal to hide.



that’s all the good 
that’s left 


Current Situation

Our lives are filled with excuses,
we watch and do not a thing
while the world tears itself apart.
Was it always thus,
before we could be voyeurs
from our phones?
A salute to a comrade.
We knew this was a bad idea,
but were still hopefully delusional
for any other outcome.
The Hair wants a Space Force,
I think it’s a good time
to stop tilting at windmills.


soul sweat

the heat takes the fucking life out of me.
my soul seeped out in tiny trickles
from every last pore today.
i’m sure of it.
i felt my essence evaporate

and disappear
lost to stagnate in the dead air
and draw mosquitoes,
denied even the simple dignity
of a damned summer breeze.
i sipped the sweat from my upper lip
and the salt on my tongue
tasted familiar.



As Darkness Closes In

It was many years ago,
and the farmhouse stood right here.
Mom and dad were going hungry,
and for sister, death was near.

I heard somebody sneaking
out around the chicken coop,
and I pumped my daddy’s shotgun
right here underneath a stoop.

A black haired man was standing
with our hen there in a sack.
When I told him I would blast him
he just smiled and turned his back.

Well the first shot it shook him.
With the second one he fell.
And then when I walked up on him,
I could smell the fire of hell.

He rolled over, still a smilin’,
with blood streaming from his mouth,
and my jaw dropped in amazement
when words started to come out.

“Son I know you are a struggling,
and you shot this man here dead.
Yeah, it’s me. It ain’t him talking.
You know what the preacher said. 

You done broke a big commandment. 
Don’t you know you shall not kill?
You’ll be burning with me soon, son!
We all have to pay our bills.

But I’m feeling mighty generous. 
Put your name here on the line.
All this never will have happened,
and your family will be fine!”

I just stood there for a minute.
I could see my sister’s face.
I could see my mama starving
in this God forsaken place.

I took and signed the paper,
and I knew the deed was done.
No one lying dead before me.
In my hand there was no gun.

I woke up and told my mama.
“It’s a dream,” she said to me.
“I’d have heard you out there shooting.
That makes sense now, don’t you see?”

Well I guess it satisfied me,
and I went out to the yard.
Daddy and a man were talking
there beside a shiny car.

And my daddy walked by crying,
with a smile upon his face.
He had got some army money,
and he up and sold the place!

We moved on into the town,
A little house on Willow Creek.
And my daddy got a job
making good money each week.

Me and sis both graduated.
Sis got married the next year.
I did pretty good with cattle,
and I bought this place right here.

Had two kids with a good woman.
They grew up and left me here.
Moved my mom and dad in with me,
and I buried them last year.

Life was good, buddy, I tell you.
Then tobacco took my wind.
To tell the truth I’m kind of scared.
Please just pray with me,  my friend!

“God in heaven, please forgive me,
if I really killed that man.
If I gave my soul away,
You can get it back again!

I don’t know if I was dreaming.
Either way, I was a kid.
Please don’t hold all that against me.
It was trickery if I did!

Lord, I’ve served you for a lifetime,
and so has my family.
God in Heaven I accept you!
God in Heaven accept me!”

As I take my final breath,
it’s still weighing on my mind.
Was it real or was I dreaming?
Either way I’ve got to die.