Definitely not finished

This is not a really a poem. But I’d forgotten the incident (from fifty years ago) and wanted to get it down since it fit the prompt so well.

I Was Leaving

him to the girl he met while I was working.
A tiresome thing to tell, but at the end
the fight was over whiskey.

We’d joined a crew counting every pin
and dog food can on the shelves of an endless store,
pooled our checks and bought a quart
in a souvenir bottle shaped like a powder horn
the length of his forearm. Thick glass
in a leather harness. The stopper had its own
leather suit we thought was cute. It weighed a ton
and we had been about to open it when the fight began.

What was said, was said; what was done, was done.
The postage stamp house by the graveyard was sad
and silent as an empty glass. Then one of us
wanted the last word. There isn’t one. But he got close
and I was backing the Camero out of the drive
when he flew out of the side door, hand around
that bottle’s swan neck.

Long brown bottle, tall blond man. Dark green door.
Square house made out of cement blocks, yellow
as a daffodil against the cedar trees around the graveyard.

He came to a stop like the bucket of a catapult, and two
days work times two launched itself toward me
and my car, a rocket toward the moon.

The ifs of that included broken windshield, expensive
body work, and if power alone were the consideration–
death. But the bottle hit the mailbox post and bounced.
Into the weeds without a scratch. Of course that
was not the last of things. But everyone should have
at least one emphatic good-bye, and a bottle
to keep it in.


Rap to Rumble


wrap an apple trap a tramp
hamper grampa’s trappist scam
rap about an ampersand
cap a clansman scrap a ham
R.E.S.P.E.C.T. r.e.j.o.i.c.e.
right light my eye
arise I cry I tried
Rose froze
wholly holey
holy whole
some trombone


An Almost Perfect Poem

Some days it comes over you like a fit.

An Almost Perfect Poem
I want to be
a magic muffin
I only want
to make you smile
I want to be
a magic muffin
Make you happy
for a while.

When I was younger, in my twenties,
cupcakes were my bill d’fare.
Gooey icing, pretty sprinkles
I thought nothing could compare.

I had cupcakes for my breakfast
I consumed them for my lunch,
licked up every cheerful sprinkle
to the last tee-nine-cy crunch.

Yet my soul remained unsated.
(though the cupcakes tried their best)
‘Til that night a happy hippie
pulled a muffin from his vest.

Pocket lint and cosmic matter,
flattened where it should be round
it reminded me of something
from a homeless lost and found.

But the hippie eyed me sagely:
You’ve been sad and off your feed.
Man doth not thrive on colored sugar.
A magic muffin is what you need.

To describe the transformation
would require a month of years.
But one taste of magic muffin
satisfied me, toes to ears.

Twenty bluebirds sang in chorus,
passing dogs exclaimed my name,
I laughed out rainbow bubbles,
healed the dead and raised the lame.

One taste more would be excessive.
That is not the muffin way.
Joy requires no cream cheese icing.
Almost anyone can say:

I want to be
a magic muffin
I only want
to make you smile
I want to be
a magic muffin
Make you happy
for a while.



Opposites Distract

Self Portrait
Joan Brown

In Which I Address the Subject of the Painting

What, you ask, is the opposite of
“The dog overturned the garbage can”? Assuming
it is not “The dog-owner trained his pup so well
it made lots of movies and the family ate out
three times a day,” I am considering the question
with the seriousness it deserves.
Here, considerately, I omit
some arguments. But
“Savings and Loan” is not
the opposite of “garbage can”
nor is “international space station”.
Having concluded that—whatever
the cat says—there is no perfect antonym
for “dog,” I leave the literal
to give the trashy animal a metaphor.
A small, and biased, section
of the populace housed here
consider this:

a woman paints a flower

to be a pretty image,
one with lighter, subtler sounds than:

inorganic master race could be in process of to launch
delightful smelling fresh cream pie

and is therefore the answer to the question of the day. Let us toast Joan and her self-portrait as the face of opposition when it comes to garbage dumping dogs. Hip, hip…

Quickly’s Repurpose

Beginning with a Line by Charles Wright

My life keeps sliding out from under me, intact but
like the magic carpet they call Cloud Tamer,
and I’m apprenticed to a sorcerer who can’t spare
time. I have swept the whole arena with my backside
and never stayed on the full eight seconds. Magic
takes you nowhere if it’s circling your head, mocking
your bruised pride. There was a man once, tall
as a tree and just as beautiful. So beautiful the thought
of him still makes my throat clench. Once I saw a girl–
maybe eight years old, or ten–drop to hang
from a small pear tree’s lowest limb. She was wearing
a white dress with large blue dots, and hanging there
for her few scant seconds was both naturally joyful
and strange. Like finding something long thought lost.
Your mother’s watch, or a name from the past. Sometimes
there is nothing there. Sometimes there’s too much
to handle. It begins to be about failing well.



Beggar’s Ride

Ashes have no use for adoration.
The breathless will never desire your love
or warm to your desire for completion.
Scraps of vellum, a voice makes time move
backward, snapshots of blurred strangers attack
the vulnerable. That same bird song rolled
over the sun-scented man on the rock
in eleven dreams. He never seems cold.
Never uncertain. He might be a god,
silent movie icon, philosopher.
A friend of some artist. You know he’s dead.
Without knowing anything else, you’re sure.
If you had chosen the other turn, on that track
he held the one thing you will always lack.


It Was Meant To Be an Ode When It Began


All the other one hit wonders of his era know him.
Walls with photos of the walls with gold records.

First it was frozen mist, then sleet and freezing rain.
Snow made that a fairy tale. Now it’s a drop cloth.

My brother has a dog so old…How old is the dog?
In obedience school he beat erasers with his tail.

With my father’s square jaw and my mother’s pores,
the saddest part is that it could have been worse.

He wants her to leave her husband for him. Calls her
gold digger and cries when she turns him down.

Things not meant to pass the test of time: pears,
mobile homes, prizes from gum machines, skin.



Targeted Erasure

TEXT: Erasure
from The House of Mirth
Edith Wharton
Kindle edition
loc 1039 of 5271


Down in a Georgia Jail

To get out. Success
is freedom. Freedom
from everything. From money,
from poverty,
from ease and anxiety. You
think me sordid
but I never had any chance.

Down in a Georgia Jail

Look with amusement
but the most interesting
was the danger point
of intimacy renounced.


TEXT Erased from
The House of Mirth
Edith Wharton
Kindle version
Loc 512 of 5271

The War

He had been duly impressed
He felt entitled
to illuminated danger
but understood
was a subtle stupidity
and it did not take long to learn

He was tired
after a struggle
and medicine in a vein
transmitted power

He felt diffusion
not desire
not passion

for a prince
lost causes
and sacrificing
were relentless





Project Gutenberg post-random

I sometimes get caught up in repetitive behaviors. There was a time when I could play pinball for hours, cigarettes and ashtray at my right hand, bottle of beer at my left. Never expected to win: the object was to keep playing, smoking, and drinking. Yet be sober enough to drive when it was time to leave. This was day after day, you understand.

Playing Facebook games with endless cups of black tea (decaf) keeps me out of seedy bars and usually fills my need to swim in the random, but now and then that drug is supplanted.

Who would think Project Gutenberg’s “Random” link could be so enchanting?

You know, I’ve never read House of Mirth.

This is Page One.

The House of Mirth
Edith Wharton
Chapter One, page 1