Dancing Fool

John Hartford

Millions listened to the Opry dancers.
AM radio bounces off the stratosphere
like a fiddling man with taps on his shoes.
Tack a pickup to a plywood board. Dog,
you play a percussion instrument. Here’s
a little piece, ladies, sail away. Clogging
is done mostly on the heel, while buck
dancing’s from the balls–of the feet, son.
Or vice versa. Either way. Like Whitman’s
baseball: it’s an American game. Wherever
it originated. The name of the trick is non-
chalance. The face says I ain’t doing nothin’.
wink, wink. While you sweat like sweet ice
tea in August. Dance sixteen to the bar, boy.


Prompted in a Time of Covid

The man says you have to/ don’t have to begin somewhere.

A Poem, Like A Disease
exists in its symptoms.
A writer asymptotic one day
may eat half a we dare you to order the burger
and months later give birth to a bouncing line.
I say Icarus flew before falling,
and only needed a precipitating factor.
That is not to say meat pollinated,
or would be required
to birth a poetic line.
effin way. After all
the plums were in the ice box,
the deer were shadows before being seen.
One day life’s fantastic
and then there’s a sneeze.


Twiglet #211

Twiglet 211

There’s An App For That

I hover over “Children’s Games” with meerschaum and macro lens.
I deduce that play is the spring that makes the world go around.

An early memory is of my hand engineering a barbecue trench.
With one twig I dug a finger deep, and crossed the pit with three.

From aloft and into DNA, deep into mitochondrial DNA, probe.
Which Fate says that Time cuts buttonholes women sew around?

The tree the kid dropped out of marked the year she was born.
Don’t fall from a tree, swoop. Light on the tip of a fishing pole.

God and the Devil got together with a peck of fermented persimmons.
Out of that, Social Media were born. Put that in your pipe and puff.

Don’t know if any Bruegel tykes are playing doctor in the loft.
The smell of new hay, the gold light. The old cat washes her face.



Wordle Jan 23 (2021)

Wordle 492


Family Tune


Better call Mama and tell her
Vicious justice done took Uncle Albert.
He hid out a month
With the webs and the waspers,
Without any whiskey
Or shaving his whiskers.
If the tin on the settle shelf
Cain’t make his bail
Send him cheer, Juicy Fruit,
And a pouch of tobaccy.
He said to tell Mama not to worry.
Sure as the porch swing
Will sway on its chain,
He’ll be back home from Charlotte tomorrow.



Bits and Pieces


Unlike the snake
who shed all her
one irritated day,
I lose, misplace,
dispose my skins
in flakes of time.
Dry snow and pumice wind.

Like black in the dryer, I collect
things. Like a black cat
on moon-white silk–I shed.

There was this dress
oh, so long ago: green
on green. An abstraction
of vines from the shade
on the shade of bluegrass
still cool from the dew.
Skirt a verdigris bell,
neck of elegance. Love
fell over my hands
in green tulip cuffs.

Gone with the lonestar quilt
of my mother’s wedding,
cookware bought by the weekly check,
one blue Camero, one
red-on-white Corvair van,
the opal ring lost and found by
miraculous chance, two
class rings, “ How Much Is That
Doggie in the Window” by
Peggie Lee, “Candy Kisses
(Wrapped in Paper)”
by George Morgan, the Reader’s
Digest Children’s Book Club
edition of David and the Phoenix
annotated by my preschool brother,
my mind several times,
the ability to read for five years,
senses of smell and taste,
a red enameled ballpoint,
a sense of virginity, desire to see
the world, a View Master, two
bicycles, a waterbed mattress,
a bookcase bed, eleven old
silver dollars, a rocking chair,
three horses, five dogs, seven
lovers, most of my hair.

Most of my time
has been spent
with my head
in a book. “Don’t
you know you’ll
ruin your eyes?”

One day the lost poems
will turn up, and some stranger
will flip through them
before consigning them
to the trash. c’est la vie,
as mehitabel says, c’est la vie.


Dogs? or Cats?

 I know them when I see them.
 It's like winter days in  fall and spring,
 fascism, oligarchy, ultra-anything.
 It's like love and music and
 is that Art? My brain contains 
 templates, not definitions. Pegs
 and holes, friend, pegs and holes.
 I can guess it's a dog, or Bach,
 from the way the crows describe it
 or the look of your posture.
 If it fights its way out of the hole
 labeled CAT, it might fit better
 Those who know how may 
 take an Allen wrench and fine tune
 the things I call planets, what fits
 in my Democracy, but I need
 to try a semicolon against my
 semicolon slot. Is this thing “war”?

Written for Twiglet #210

Up for Grabs

I thought some deer were shadows, and have mistaken ash for snow.
Black and navy blue are confounding, even in bright natural light.

A word jumps into the sentence, winks, then goes home snickering.
Do midnight snacks cause ear worms? Astrological phenomena?

I imagine the thawing polar ice as winter grass streaked with green.
Once upon a time. Once upon a time. Once upon a time. What is time?

I lose track of the days of the week: how can I know right from wrong?
The spaces between particles are stuffed with ideas, on racks, in heaps.

One blames them. One wants them held accountable. Latin, both.
Do I think the worst of him because I’m bombarded by z-waves?

Ceramic Lucky Cat: light on its eye, light on its whiskers, finger claws.
A poem. Like pouring Indian tea from a Chinese pot into a mason jar.