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winter poem

soaking our feet
was the beginning
of my undoing,
followed by the extra log on the fire,
then the nightcap of bourbon
and coke,
the gentle way
you stroked my thinning hair

a quarter century ago
we lay in front of the fire,
flesh on moist flesh,
unabated giving,
warm giddy pleasing
of each other

but there’s little of that to do
now that we’ve reached a time
of senior discounts
and AARP mailings

shall i mourn the passing of youth
and testosterone?
reach for a pill in a mad attempt
to recapture the bull
that i was?

sure. why not?

but not tonight,
no,
not while your delicate fingers
ferry me to sleep,
your breasts
the sweetest
pillows

Rusty Truck August 26, 2012



Kung Fu Disco

The 70s,
when disco
and martial arts movies
assaulted our senses
with an array
of ballet-like moves
and even a few of us
hard core, high school
Rockers in our
cheap imitation
leather jackets and
Disco Sucks t-shirts
secretly danced
a few steps to
the one-hit wonder
Kung Fu Fighting...

But I knew better
than to mess
with Ethan Harris in
a playful way;
the thought of
kicking, chopping,
kung fuing the air
around the sullen boy
with the wild hair and
olive green army coat
never entered my mind.

Kirby Smith
made that mistake,
pulling his David Carradine
kicks and punches
inches from Ethan’s face,
practicing his Bruce Lee
WHOA-owl-OWL-whoa!
fighting yell.

Kirby,
showing-off for the girls,
the teacher having stepped away
from her desk.
Kirby,
disco dancer,
self-proclaimed ladies’ man,
budding kung fu master,
demonstrating his skill
at just how easily
he could dispatch Ethan who,
having sharpened a pencil,
was on his way back
to his desk.

Ethan grinned devilishly,
a hint of something
crazy
in his eyes,
walked around Kirby’s
flurry of punches
and roundhouse kicks,
sat down at his desk.

Kirby
bowed to the class,
strutted back to his desk,
winked, grinned at the girls,
opened his history book,
felt cold blue steel
against his temple,
heard the .22 calibre pistol’s hammer
click
into place
and the slow
deliberate words
of Ethan Harris,
“You got any kung fu
for that motherfucker?”

Kirby’s body shuddered.
“I-I was just playing, Ethan,”
he whimpered like a child,
the fresh stench of urine
darkening his blue jeans.

Ethan laughed,
uncocked the hammer,
brought the gun barrel
up to his lips,
blew once at invisible smoke,
said,
“You better go home
and change your britches, boy.”

ocracoke island

sunlight filters thru
the bamboo blinds
striping her nude body
with horizontal lines…
she looks like a sleeping tigress
and the sigh that escapes my lips
becomes a growl

The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature - April 2013 edition  



Making Salad

she chops carrots
on the cutting block,
her hips wiggle,
ever so slightly,
the stray strand
of long dark hair
she tucks behind
her ear,
the earlobe
dangles, inviting,

i nibble gingerly,

wrap my arms
around her warm body,
she whispers, “honey,
the salad is done.”

...and love... (anthology, Jacar Press 2012)
 

Dear Nadine Pritchett

Don’t make promises
to our daughter
that you won’t keep.
Don’t tell her
that you’ll take her
shopping this weekend,
then interject
“provided I don’t have anything
else to do.”
You’re demeaning
your relationship
with your daughter,
giving yourself
an out,
putting her
on the back burner
of your priorities.
You’re making her feel
unworthy of your time when
you’re not worthy of her time.

You are self-absorbed,
Nadine Pritchett.
You live alone today
because you while away
hours
on Internet social groups.
You neglected
your child,
your husband,
your home.

We are happier
without you, Nadine Pritchett.
Our new home is clean.
There are no wine bottles
or cigarette butts
on the floor.
There are no lice
in our daughter’s bed.

There is a scent
of fresh baked bread
wafting through this home.
Our daughter
can have friends over
and not be ashamed
of her living conditions.

Thank you,
Nadine Pritchett
for dropping the surname
you acquired
during our wedding.

No longer
yours truly
and with as little love
as I can muster

Dewitt Smith

Rusty Truck August 26, 2012

 

Don’t Analyze My Poems

Stop assuming
that every woman
I’ve written about
is a real person.
Poets have been known
to take
artistic liberties
or embellishments.

Stop thinking
that my poem entitled
good woman
is about my friend.
Stop assuming
that I’ve made love to her
or even fucked her.
There could be millions
of women who possess
the good woman’s traits.
You
could be one of them
if you’d stop analyzing
my god damn poems.

Stop complaining
that I’ve never written about you
in one of my poems.
You made it
into this one.

If you want to endear
yourself to me,
know me intimately,
then don’t read too much
into what I write.

Stop analyzing my
fucking poems.

Don’t inundate me
with barbed questions,
attempting to carve or pry deeper
into my soul.
I’ll let you in
when I think you are ready.

Wound me
and I will bleed
from my pen.

Rusty Truck August 26, 2012
 


untethered

i am told
my thyroid was shaped
like a butterfly,
a butterfly whose wings
had grown disfigured
with lesions

a surgeon’s
skilled hand
untethered my butterfly
leaving
a smiley face scar
on my throat

Originally published in The Frugal Poet.
 


Dewitt Smith's Conversation With His Truck

She doesn't know
that I know
what she did to you,
how she stood, right here,
by your tailgate,
smoking one of her long
cigarettes,
weighing the odds
at getting caught,
contemplating
which driveway rock she'd use
to scar you.

She doesn't know
that I know
the number of
LOLs she received from
her "Bitches" Facebook group
when she bragged about
what she did to you,
or the number of times
she played that
Carrie Underwood song.

She thought she was clever
when she looked at you
the other day, then said to me,
"Wow, someone scratched the tailgate
of your truck!"

She didn't detect my sarcasm
when I replied,
"Yeah, someone out there loves me."

I wanted to coexist
peacefully
but she drew and crossed
that line
right here,
carved it deep
into your burgundy paint.

She doesn't know
who's she's fucking with.
I'm a redneck with a truck
that was "keyed" with a rock
and the geek
who built
her computer network.

Thunder Sandwich #27
 

If You're Lost
(A "never poem" for men.)

Never stop
and ask for directions
at a beauty salon.
It's not that women
are less accurate
than men
in verbally helping you
reach your destination,
no,
invariably,
a vixen
will take you by the arm,
lead you outside where
a full moon
will ignite her aura;
a cool breeze
will stir her hair,
fill your olfactory
with pheromones;
pedestrians will fade;
your car will fade;
time will slog by;
you'll nod your head
to her
mellifluous voice,
manage a few
Neanderthal grunts.

The Moon Goddess
will take this as a sign
that you understand
her directions,
smile,
give your arm
a final
reassuring squeeze,
then turn,
enter the salon
where you will follow
for a haircut
you don't need.

Thunder Sandwich #27


good woman

your fiery blood
warms my soul,
i love you
for your saucy spunk,
your free mind,
your passionate heart,
your intelligence,
i feel like
half a man
without you

we both
know your place,
not to follow me,
nor i you,
but
here
beside
me

if the path
is too narrow
to traverse
side by side,
i will
carry you

if we must fight,
good woman,
then fight we shall,
slinging verbal diatribes
like mud pies at one another,
but i will kiss your cheek
at night,
stroke your hair...
in the morning
i'll rise,
kiss your cheek again

Thunder Sandwich #27


Dewitt Smith Responds to His Ex-Wife’s Question of
Do you miss me?

I don’t miss the stench
that greeted me at the door
after a day at work,
the dog shit and piss
accumulating gnats
I waved away
from my wine glass,
or my pleas
for you
to help me clean our home
while you slyly managed
to find something else
to do.

I don’t miss your touch
when you wanted sex,
or the way I cringed
when you tried to
woo me
into your filthy bed
I abandoned
a decade ago.

I don’t miss your cooking.
Pouring a jar
of store-bought Alfredo Sauce
over hamburger and noodles
does not constitute
a home cooked meal.

I don’t miss the way
you sat at the computer
chatting-up an
affair into the wee hours,
your fingers rapidly tapping
a cipher
of family deconstruction,
or your negligence
toward our children,
the ball games you missed,
your reply of “Go ask your father!”
when one of our children wanted
you
to fix them something to eat while
I studied for a test
or worked on a paper
for school.

I don’t miss having
to makes excuses for you
when your boss called
wanting to know
why you missed work.

I don’t miss your indifference,
the way you sat at the computer
with your back to me
when I told you
I was leaving,
or how quickly
I became
a Facebook status..

Rusty Truck February 26, 2012


can you separate me from your poetry?

...she asked.
i stumble, mentally...
unable to comprehend the question,
my brain working frantically
to process an answer...

can you separate
the moon
from the ocean tides?

can you separate
a falling star
from a wish?

can you separate
the honey bee
from a blossom?

can you separate
a baby
from its mother's breast?

she walks into the room
and i see
poetry

i hear sonnets, sestinas,
quatrains
in her soothing voice

her eyes
are pools
of haiku

she asked
can you separate me from your poetry?

and i feel like a computer
that's been mind fucked
by Captain Kirk

Rusty Truck April 1, 2012


The Voice Inside Buzz Tulley's Head

It's her.
Grocery store manager now.
Maybe she'll remember me.
Three decades is not that long.
Maybe she'll remember
that kick-ass weed we smoked
after band practice the night
I drove her home.
Maybe she'll remember
how we giggled uncontrollably
when we both had
the munchies.

Maybe she'll remember
the ice cream truck
we saw near
this grocery store,
how I gunned my Camaro
down side streets
determined to catch
that ice cream truck.
Maybe she'll remember
how I caught-up
to that ice cream truck
at the intersection
near the police station.
Maybe she'll remember
how that ice cream truck
morphed into
an 18 wheeler right
before our eyes, the way
that truck driver
looked at us before
he flipped us off.
Maybe she'll remember
how we laughed
'til we cried...

Yeah, man,
that was some wicked weed.

Look at her,
over there working
in the frozen foods' aisle,
still beautiful.

Good Lord!
Think of all
the ice cream
we could have now!

Maybe we're still tripping
from that last joint
we smoked.
Maybe
we're still chasing
that ice cream truck.

Rusty Truck April 1, 2012


Why Lester Duncan Drinks

It’s hard to stop drinking
when you find a pint of vodka
under your pillow at night.
That conniving wife of mine
wants to keep me drunk.
Every time I toss out a bottle,
she buys another one and
conveniently places it
where I can find it.

As long as I’m pegged a drunkard
no one will blame her when
she leaves me.

She likes talking to that
fat tax man in town.
I figure she’s got her sights
set on him.
He’s rich, got four cars, a fine house,
and a bad heart.
Well, God Bless ‘em and
good riddance to the both of them.
Hell,
she’ll probably stick fried chicken
under his pillow.

Rusty Truck June 26, 2011


Uncle Hank Getting Ready for The Revenuers

You bigger kids
fill that trench
with these gallon jugs;
careful,
don't drop 'em!

Billy, squirrel-up that tree,
keep a look out
on the main road.
Holler if you see
anything,
but look elsewhere, too.
Them dabburn rascals
might try to slip in
the back way.

That trench filled?
Good.
Now carefully roll that log
on top; it should fit snug
like a cork in a jug
without shattering weeks
of hard work.
Careful, don't hurt yourselves.
Wedge them shovels
under it to get it rolling.
Here, let me help.

You younger kids,
run inside the cabin,
fetch
a couple of cans
of black pepper,
sprinkle it around
the front porch
and this log.
That'll give their hound
a sneezing fit if
he starts sniffing too close.

Now, Becca,
remember how you screamed
that time you saw
that copperhead on the porch?
Well, I want you to scream
twice as hard and loud
if their hound
starts nosing his way
toward you and the
other kids playing
on this log.
Don't worry,
you kids won't break
the jugs underneath.
I want you to scream
like you're afraid
of that dog, understand?

Listen! Look there!
Billy's hollering
and shinnying down
the tree.
They must be here.
You kids get on that log.
Remember that story
about Robin Hood
and Little John jousting
on a log? Well,
I want y'all to do
the same thing.
I'll go sit on the porch and
act surprised to see them.
They probably won't
give kids playing
on a log
much thought.

And remember,
what I'm doing
ain't illegal.
The real crime here
is trying to raise
you youngins
in a depression.
By golly,
we ain't going to starve,
even if I have to risk
a jail term,
you'll have food
in your bellies
tonight.

I just hope
they don't find
the still.

Floyd County Moonshine - Volume 3, Issue 2, Winter 2011


Buzz Tulley and One Brown Mouse

I've killed a few mice in my time,
used cheese, peanut butter,
even bubble gum to spring the trap.

I did let one go once,
cut him some slack...
I was toking a doobie,
listening to Jethro Tull's
One Brown Mouse on my
8-track tape player when
the little shit appeared.
Scared the crap out of me at first,
thought I was hallucinating.
But there he was staring at me
with those little dark mouse eyes,
perched on the opposite arm
of the couch I was sitting on
in my mother's basement.

He seemed curious,
twitching his whiskers, unafraid.
By the end of the song,
I'd toked myself into Buddha mood,
thinking that maybe I'd known
that mouse in another life.
I replayed One Brown Mouse,
started blowing smoke in his direction,
just a few small puffs.

We dined on peanut butter
and cinnamon graham crackers that night,
listened to Tull into the wee hours.
Yep, that mouse became my
smoking, toking, munching buddy.

I killed the little sumbitch the next day,
set the trap and whacked his head
nearly clean off!

The thrill dissipates, when the buzz is gone
and
I really hate rat turds.

Floyd County Moonshine - Volume 3, Issue 2, Winter 2011


Jubal Ford Remembers Cell Block 3

They took the cigarettes
and matches away
from the inmate
in Cell Block 3.

He stripped naked,
set his clothes on fire,
started singing
I'm the happiest boy
in the whole USA!

at the top of his lungs.

The jailers put the fire out
with a high-pressure water hose,
turned the hose on
that crazy fool, too...
hosed the son-of-a-bitch
again after he leaped-up
on the bars and tried to piss
on the jailers.

The jailers gave him a dry blanket,
told him to shut-up and go to sleep.

We smelled smoke again
at around 3 a.m.
That's a helluva feeling, locked up
in jail, smelling smoke
and no where to run to
escape a fire.

No one
told the third shift jailer
about that fool's
fondness for fire.
The jailer's nickname was Speedy,
the slowest, laziest one of the bunch.

Speedy put an overnight prisoner
in Cell Block 3, in the cell beside
Mr. Pyro-fucking-maniac.
The new guy, having never
been in jail,
tried to make friends by
offering a cigarette and match
to his neighbor.
Pyro set his blanket on fire.

I bet it took Speedy ten minutes
to get down to the cell,
put the fire out with
the water hose again.
Pyro got hosed,
the new guy got hosed,
and the rest of us laughed
our asses off
thankful to be alive.

The next night
I smelled smoke again
but, this time,
it was reefer
from the hippies in the cell
beside me.

Thank God for old hippies
and their willingness
to share.

Floyd County Moonshine - Volume 3, Issue 2, Winter 2011



Crazy

Every family has one;
we have two:
My sister,
Judy,
running around
in the front yard,
holding
a tin cup
under her nose
catching precious
droplets
of life giving blood
from another nose bleed
shouting,
Gold! Gold!
No iron in my blood
but there's a
mother lode
of GOLD!

A fortune spent
on what went up her nose
that started
the blood flow.

And then there's me,
youngest sister,
crazy for living in
this insane house,
where no one
will lift a finger
to clean, cook,
do anything,
but me.

Patience
is my name,
but it's a virtue
I no longer
possess!
I've had it.
I'm going to toss
a few belongings
into the back seat
of my rusty old
Mustang and
hit the road.
I don't know where
I'm going.
There ain't enough gas
to get me as far
as I want to be
from this place.

Patsy Cline sang about it,
but not in the way
it applies
to my family.

Magnapoets - Many Windows Anthology Spring 2011


Transition

Daddy's not there,
that's just his body
lying on that hospital bed,
a vessel he vacated.
He's gone to be with
his mother, told me
that she called to him
at night when he drifted
between this world and sleep.
He told me that he
floats above his bed
like a feather down
when she calls but,
when he's awakened
by a nurse, he drops
back onto the bed.
"It's the best feeling in the world!",
he said of this floating...
Last night he answered his mother,
sifted right through those white sheets,
floated up through the ceiling,
left his fragile, spent, body
behind.

Magnapoets - Butterfly Away Anthology Spring 2011


Tobacco Road

Good Gawd, Gene Tierney,
I love the way you e’t
that turnip
on the silver screen
as Ellie May Lester
in the 1941 movie
Tobacco Road.

Even as a boy of 10
I was surprised
that you did not look
thin
despite devouring that turnip
hungrily.

Yes, Gene Tierney,
you were full
in all the right places.
The Hollywood dirt
smeared on your face
and shapely legs
made you all the more
desirable to me.

How I wanted to bathe you!
reach into that small
black & white TV set,
pull you through
the airways of time,
bring you to
the real Tobacco Road,
home of Carolina Pork Barbecue,
slaw, and hushpuppies.

How I longed for you
to pull me to your bosom,
stroke my hair,
hear you say,
“Ain’t cha going to give me
just a bite, Lov?”

The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature - April 2011 edition


Brickyard Road

There on the porch,
little white house
on brickyard road,
the old man sits
in a rocking chair,
pen in one hand,
notebook in the other
counting cars
as they go by.
When I was younger,
impetuous, wild youth,
I’d ride by to be counted,
drive up the road,
turn around,
drive back by to be counted
again.
Unperturbed,
the old man would make another mark
on paper,
smile,
wave…
I’d return his greeting
with a toot of my horn.
He must be in his 90s now!
Who will take his place
when he becomes
a number
in a funeral home?
The world needs more people
like that old man
because everyone
should be counted
for something.

The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature - April 2011 edition


Hair

Dear Friends,
we are gathered,
quite sparsely I might add,
to bid a fond farewell
to
my hair.

As I look in the mirror
I see that a number
of you
(for God keeps a running tally)
have abandoned ship,
dropped off the mountain,
fallen by the wayside.

Well,
before the comb-over begins,
let me say
that it has indeed
been a pleasure
spending time with you.
Thank you
for not listening
to my mother
who,
when I'd turned 15,
said
that I'd be bald
by the time I was 18.
Though I worried for three years,
you never abandoned me,
you turned a deaf ear
(an ear that, ironically,
grows hair now)
to her matter-of-fact
predictions.

37 years later,
I shan't complain
of your departing.
I will look back
and think of the numerous ways
I parted you,
how I protected you
from the elements with
various caps and hats,
how you protected me
from the cold and
that one errant
bird.

The thing I will miss the most,
I suppose,
are the feminine fingers
that used to traipse
naked
through your lush
brown forest.

Magnapoets - Issue 7, January 2011


 At the Nursing Home

there
in the old woman's eyes,
can you not see?
the infant
she used to be...

Magnapoets - Issue 7, January 2011


Sunday at the Piggly Wiggly

His brow furrows
standing there
between the baloney
and linked sausages.
He’s holding a pack of wieners,
reading the label,
bifocals resting
on the tip of his nose.
He studies
the price and expiration date
but mainly
the brand name.

He puts the pack
back into the cooler,
chooses another one,
the furrow deepening
across his brow.

I imagine a miniature version
of his wife perched on his shoulder,
pulling his ear lobe, saying,
You didn’t listen to me, did you?
You have no idea what kind of wieners
I told you to buy!


He hesitates for a moment,
as if he’s contemplating
purchasing one pack
of every brand in the store…
perhaps to horde them
in his car until he can coax
the brand from his wife
who’ll be too preoccupied
with the french fries,
slaw, and chili
to realize his mistake.

Finally, he grabs
two packs of wieners,
one in each hand,
different brands, a human scale
weighing the sanctity and peace
of his Sunday afternoon
watching the football game.

With a what the hell? shrug
he tosses a pack
back into the cooler,
drops the other pack
into a shopping basket.
Head down,
in hopeless resignation,
he carries his fate
shrink wrapped in plastic
to the checkout.

The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature - October 2010 edition

This poem was awarded Honorable Mention in the 66th Annual Fine Arts Festival Awards Ceremony and Exhibition of Rockingham County, NC on July 11, 2010.


Grace Departing

When it’s time for me to go,
I want to exit
like Aunt Grace
who,
being the oldest,
raised eleven siblings
after her mother died of pneumonia.
She breathed her last breath
one evening
sitting in a recliner
surrounded by loved ones,
watching a favorite TV program.
Her final words:
"No, I’m not ready for bed;
I feel so good,
I think I’ll sit here a little while longer."

The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature - October 2010 edition


Belle

I sat with Belle today,
on a blanket,
under a pine tree.
She told me about her new recipe
for cracklin’ corn bread.
My eye lids became heavy,
I could smell corn bread baking;
I grew warm inside.
I asked questions
to prolong her stay,
how much jalapeno did you say?
drunk again,
under a Virginia pine
on that sweet Georgia accent.

The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature - October 2010 edition


Doug Bishop Marries a City Girl

Well,
I went and done it:
married a city girl.
I always figured I’d marry
one of those pretty
Stokes County farm girls,
but,
by golly,
I couldn’t resist
that woman’s
coal black hair,
green eyes,
perfect red lips,
the musical tone
her voice takes on
when she says,
"Doug, honey, come sniff my neck;
I’m wearing your favorite perfume."

Come-to-think-of-it,
first girl I fell in love with
from the neck up!
Of course,
south of that pretty smile
is something to behold, too…
but I dislike describing
how good my gal looks unclothed.
Maybe that’s a sign of true love,
not wanting to talk about
what only a husband
should be privileged to see
(doctors being the only
exception to that rule).

I will say this:
I always try to be the first one
out of the water
when we go skinny dipping.
Seeing her wade
out of Belews Lake,
beads of moonlight
running along the contours
of her body,
is something I’ll remember
when we’re old and feeble.
It was one of the things
I was thinking about
when I said,
"I do."

The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature - October 2010 edition


Dream Vacation

Last night
I dreamt
I was on a beach
watching a tall,
weathered old man
in bib overalls and straw hat.
He was fishing,
reeling-in his catch.

He looked at me,
eyes magnified
through the thick lenses
of his glasses,
and smiled,
"You can’t play
basketball forever kid,"
he said,
in a fatherly tone.
"You gotta find
something new
and move on;
for me,
it’s fishing."

He tossed his catch
into a basket,
baited his hook
and continued,
"What I’m doing here
is a sport;
it provides food
and,
more importantly,
it makes me happy."

"But, sir,"
I said,
"I’m not a
basketball player.
In fact,
my children say
I suck at basketball."

Casting his line
back into the sea,
he smiled,
replied,
"I know. But the rule
applies to everyone,
even poets."

The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature - October 2010 edition


Weekender

Lights out,
10 p.m.
A faint glow
filters through
the 12" X 12"
barred window
of the corridor door,
casting two long
parallel shadows
down the cell block hall.
During my first night
among weekenders,
those of us
who did our jail time
on weekends,
whose crimes weren't
severe enough
to warrant a cell
with more
hardened criminals,
I discovered that
squinting my eyes
superimposed
the bars of my cell
over the shadows
in the hall
creating
a makeshift
tic-tac-toe pattern.
Bored,
I played the child's game
for hours,
lying on
a top bunk,
mentally drawing
Xs and Os
until my eyes
grew tired of the
no  win  game.
Cheating,
I drew a line
through three Xs,
closed my eyes,
thought of home,
dozed to the sounds
of my cell mates:
one praying,
the other
mumbling profanities
in his sleep.

The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature - Summer Sabbatical (July 2010) edition

This poem was also awarded first place in the 66th Annual Fine Arts Festival Awards Ceremony and Exhibition of Rockingham County, NC on July 11, 2010.


poems

...incubate
at the edge
of the woods,
emerging like mushrooms
shrugging off
a coat of autumn leaves.
their aroma
sweetens
the cool crisp air.
their spores cling to you
until you wash them off
or write them down.

The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature - Summer Sabbatical (July 2010) edition


Barstool

bartender
listening to
the shrink's problems

barmaid
so much history
inked in tattoos

barfly
penning poems
on a beer-soaked napkin
 

Concise Delight Winter 2009

(Inspired by a Roberta Beary senryu.)


love poem

sometimes
I like to imagine
that she's
googled me;
she'll read
a few
of my poems
in an online
journal,
remember
the one
I penned for her
decades ago.
she'll rise from her chair,
retrieve an old shoe box
from a closet,
sit down
at the kitchen table
with a cup of coffee,
tenderly lift
and unfold
a yellowed scrap
of notebook paper,
read that love poem
aloud,
smile,
look wistfully
out the window
into
her rose garden
and say,
"I'm glad
I didn't marry
that poor bastard."
 

The Wild Goose Poetry Review Volume 4, Issue 4 Winter 2009


Bud Vernon's Arrest Story

I was arrested for driving drunk
back in '83.
My wife, Kate, and I had been to a party.
She'd had too much to drink,
tried to start our old pickup
with her roller skate key,
so I drove.
We'd almost made it out of the city limits
when, suddenly,
blue lights started blazing
like a K-Mart special.
A chubby runt of a policeman
eased up to the driver's side of my truck,
hand on the butt of his pistol,
shouted, "Step slowly out of the vehicle, sir!"
Well, I stepped so slow I stumbled,
bumped my nose on the door,
and I reckon that's why he had me take
what he called a sober-variety test.
I passed the test, touched the tip of my bloody nose
with my fingertips,
walked heel-to-toe, heel-to-toe
down a solid yellow line on the road,
not an easy feat in brand new boots...
Flashlight blinding my eyes,
he says, "Mr. Vernon, I'm going to have to take you into custody."
...which, naturally, irritated me.
I turned to Kate, still in the truck, and said,
"Honey, this fat son-of-a-bitch is taking me in."

....and wouldn't you know he handcuffed me
quicker than a cowboy tying the legs of a steer?
Fastest little fat s.o.b. I ever did see!
I apologized, told him that my remark
was just an expression,
that he probably had a fine upstanding mother.

I was the only one laughing...

...lost my license for a year,
spent ten weekends in the county jail,
started buying Johnny Cash records after that.
 

The Wild Goose Poetry Review Volume 4, Issue 4 Winter 2009


Pebble

Not so much
the fiery streak
that split the
autumn night
or the impact it made
miles away
as we watched
with awed delight
but the distance
the distance
traveled
only to sizzle and fizzle
in the deep
dark
Atlantic

Magnapoets - Issue 5, January 2010


A Conversation Overheard Outside the Court House

actually,
you're getting off light,
considering what you blew
in that breathalyzer,
and you called a cop a son-of-a-bitch,
ten weekends in jail,
hell,
I could do that with my eyes closed,
just one thing:
sleep on the bottom bunk;
hot air rises
you'll be cooler below,
oh,
and when you're lying on your back
trying to figure out how
you landed in such a predicament,
know that there are
98 air holes
cut into the bottom
of the metal bunk above you,
it helps the mattress breathe,
counted them enough to know...
 

The Wild Goose Poetry Review Volume 4, Issue 3 Fall 2009


Abigail Beasley: Town Gossip

Old Bob Hathaway
wears tin foil
under his straw hat;
claims it's the only way
to keep space aliens
from reading his mind.
Now I ask you,
why does Bob Hathaway
sit on a wooden stool in his back yard,
hat planted firmly on his bald head,
gazing at the stars at night?
Is he trying to keep Them
from reading his mind?
or, is he really trying to read Theirs?
 

The Wild Goose Poetry Review Volume 4, Issue 3 Fall 2009

Abigail Beasley: Town Gossip (video)


Maggie Sands: The Way I See It

I've seen how Abigail Beasley
looks at Bob Hathaway
when he's loading lumber
on the back of his truck,
the way she twist and fingers
the curls in her long blonde hair when he glances
in her direction.
I heard Abigail Beasley say that Bob Hathaway
looks like Yul Bryner now that he shaves his head.
She ain't fooling me.
Scuttlebutt is that Bob Hathaway
sits in his back yard at night
with a rust bucket of a radio
trying to tune-in to signals
from outer space.
I don't know about such things,
but there's one thing I do know:
Abigail Beasley's signals
are broadcasting loud and clear.
 

The Wild Goose Poetry Review Volume 4, Issue 4 Winter 2009


Cora

During the summer
she would sit on the steps
of her small house
combing her hair dry
in the morning sun.
It was the only time
I could see her hair
in its natural state:
long and flowing,
like a white waterfall,
each strand a testament
to a faith unbroken.

“God knows the number of hairs on your head”,
she told me
in that melodious voice
that was like honeysuckle to me.
“Read your Bible
and regardless of the circumstances,
don’t ever be too busy to stop
and count your blessings.”

Plucking bobby pins from her flowered apron,
she would twist her hair up
into a bun
humming Amazing Grace
while mourning doves cooed their approval.

Though blind,
her eyes bespoke a wisdom
I longed to know.
 

 

The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature - November 2009 edition


Millie

she slipped away
as I held her in my arms
a final breath escaped
with barely a whimper
I wept
as she was taken from me,
a stethoscope confirming
what I already knew
she was gone
nine years
63
is too young die

with mattock and shovel
I dug a grave
beside the walnut tree
in the backyard
leaves falling
on top of her small cardboard coffin
as I lowered it
into the ground
along with her toys
except one:
a long ragged athletic sock
that we used
for the occasional game
of tug o’ war
she, relentless in her battle
to hang on to it,
and me
always
letting go
 

 

The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature - November 2009 edition


Equilibrium
for Albert Huffstickler

Just so you’ll know,
I’ve gathered all of your poems
that I could find
into one large document.
I go there
when the day spirals out of control,
to sip coffee,
to hear your voice,
to spin counterclockwise.
 

 

The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature - November 2009 edition


dream siren

she turns the corner
in an old grey sedan,
hubcaps missing from two wheels,
driver door dented,
engine protesting
her inability to be on time
for a minimum wage job
at the drive-in;
head nodding
to the radio,
flash of a cigarette
between red lips,
jet black hair
streaked with grey,
winner of talent shows,
breaker of hearts,
valedictorian
who wanted to be
a rock star
 

 

The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature - November 2009 edition


kudzu

a dead pine tree leans over
Highway 220,
north of Greensboro,
suspended by thick vines
wrapped around its trunk;
big rigs speed under
a canopy of brown needles
and lush green leaves
crushing
the occasional pine cone
 

 

The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature - November 2009 edition


java

hot, black,
in a white cup,
fueling the word factory,
averaging
two poems
per
serving
 

Concise Delight Magazine of Short Poetry - No. 1, Summer 2009


Dee Dot

Dee Dot died,
drunk
talking to a telephone pole.
He keeled over,
like a felled oak,
6'6", 270 lbs. of quarter Cherokee
hitting the sidewalk with a thud,
blood trickling out of the back of his skull
into the gutter.

Dee Dot conversing
with the spirits
of inanimate objects,
or so they say,
drinking heavily to quiet the voices
whispering in his brain,
now lying on his back,
lifeless eyes open
reflecting the clouds, the sun,
the wires
abuzz
with all those voices.
 

The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature - March 2009 edition

Dee Dot (video)


On Momma Exiting the Denim Factory

I don't know what
made her look straight-up
into the sky,
perhaps it was to allow her eyes
to drink another shade of blue,
or to gaze beyond the limitations
of four gray walls,
having worked
a ten hour shift
seated at a sewing machine
so I could start the school year
in a new pair of blue jeans. . .

. . .but when bird shit landed
in the middle of her forehead
I couldn't help but laugh,
my adolescent mind,
saturated with reruns
of The Three Stooges,
(nyuk, nyuk, nyuk)
reasoned that a whupping
would somehow be worth it.

I was wrong.
 

The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature - Summer Sabbatical (July 2009) edition


piecework

blue-stained fingers
pressing rivets
into denim

a gray-haired woman
sneezing blue
into a tissue

30 hour work week
the foreman resets
the time clock

last day —
a parting gift
of red suspenders

crumbled pink slip —
three weeks and she can still hear
the whistle blow

jobless —
saying grace
over grits

The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature - Summer Sabbatical (July 2009) edition


a.m.
You can set your clock
by The 2:15,
wailing
like a wounded animal
in the middle of the night.

Dogs lament its passing,
howling
as it fades
on its predestined path.

The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature - Summer Sabbatical (July 2009) edition


Wheel Jammin'

tapping bongo rhythms
on our steering wheels,
grooving to saxophone riffs,
jazz,
setting the morning mood,
sun brighter, breeeeeze cooler,
all stoplights green;
for four minutes of radio time,
the lady in my rear-view mirror
isn't a soccer mom in a mini-van
and I'm not lost in an Olds,
no,
we are lovers
of a smoooooth jazz song,
bobbing our heads
like bobblehead dolls,
wheel jammin' and smiling our way
through Hillsborough, North Carolina
 

The Christian Science Monitor - October 16, 2008 edition

Wheel Jammin' (video)


Terminus

The time has come
when he'd rather be with his friends
than go fishing with his father.
It happened with his brother
at the same age,
the crossroads in life when I become
the "old man."

Sometimes, I find it humorous
that his friends mistake me for him
when I answer the phone.
"Do you think your old man would mind
if we go to the movies?"

Sometimes, I want to go with them.  

Magnapoets - Issue 3, January 2009

The Hermit

...rickety shack,
weeds waist high
in the yard.
I'd see the old man
picking poke salad
along Sycamore Road,
his mongrels trailing,
dog-eat-dog
for a morsel
of rabbit,
'possum,
or muskrat
until,
one day,
he
fell
dead
in his front yard,
lying in the weeds
for over a month
his body
providing nourishment
for the pack.
Sketchbook - October 31, 2008, Vol. 3, No. 10

Diner

They sit in a booth made for two,
thin, frail, toothless. . .
he, in bib overalls and a tattered flannel shirt,
she, in a faded blue dress and yellowed sweater,
dining on grilled cheese sandwiches and hush puppies,
drinking sweet iced tea out of styrofoam cups,
surrounded by a lunch crowd
feasting
on platefuls of Carolina pork barbecue
(the scent of hickory-smoked meat thick in the air).

She takes a paper napkin, reaches across the table,
wipes a spot of ketchup
from the corner of his mouth;
he smiles, winks,
stops the waitress,
orders two spoons
and a single-serving of banana pudding.
Their hands, spotted with age,
join in the center of the table;
their backs
curved by time
into a perfect bow.
Sketchbook - August 31, 2008, Vol. 3, No. 8

Hatteras

The surf speaks
to those who listen
hush. . .hush. . .hush. . .
washing away
that which anchors us
to who we are
and the place we call home.
Magnapoets - Issue 2, July 2008

Savannah Groove

the saxman inhales
a passing breeze
b l o w s   Sweet Georgia Brown
down River Street
breath and hands tapped
into a vein of rhythm
fingertips
on the keys of his horn
the pulse of the city
Magnapoets Premiere Issue - January 2008

Cedar Point

sunlight etched around the summit
like a terrestrial corona
mist furling up the slope
sifting through acres
of evergreens
soon
a long shadow
will begin its eastward journey
slowly uncovering the mill town
in the valley of the Mayo River
where roosters sleep late
and fathers and sons fish for hours
without the need of sunglasses
 

Magnapoets Premiere Issue - January 2008

 

 
 
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