What John Ate for Supper

Boondoggle dragons play poker

with napkins and public transit

while new yorkers eat

hot dogs and each other.


Frank gets his watch fixed

and dies in the dark

on the beach

and John mourns him for fifty years

while they build

and blow up so many buildings,

sometimes with airplanes.


On the off chance

you have a half dollar

can I buy a token for skee ball

on the boardwalk

or for the bus to get there?


I do not have to go to – New York-

to Smell it

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Where am I going (Suzanne’s Poem)

to find the peace

and quiet to write my poetry?


That’s what I need,

not my teenaged son’s bedroom

not my couching with a boney

whining dog pressed against my leg.


So, I could just toss them

out, like that:

one, two, three.


Throw-away poems

you call them,

and I don’t even have one

I wish I had three,

I could throw

one away.


(Suzanne’s poem transcribed as she spoke)

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This Sunday

bookended by two long

weeks of rain, dreary

green leaves hang past

the water glazed screening


A Sunday morning, maybe

the happiest of all

times: most are not

working, a pure leisure.


Reading, cooking, even laundry

goes at casual speed.

Where would I go

in this green muck?


Sunday morning stillness except

for gentle to gusting

bands of rain dancing

on the metal roof.

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Never Trust a Poet

They lie.

They tell stories.

They hide behind words.

When all else fails

they make stuff up!


I have known poets –

a lot of them –

not a one of them

are to be believed

they mean to say

what you read

no more

no less

pretty boxy

metered rhymes,

scrawly, scraggly

lines bending and jumping

but in the end,

a poet is not to be trusted

the most

because, with all their lies,

they tell the truth.


You can never, ever,

trust the truth!

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Does Anyone Remember

the sound of flash bulbs,

a wet electric pop,

the sonic image

of a bubble gum

bubble collapsing,

blinding light,

crumpled, deformed bulb,

after its momentary use

ejected and replaced?

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Half Remembered Stories

The Moon sank with a clunk

like a wooden paddle hitting

the jon-boat

which is what I heard.


Rickey had kicked the oar

as he shifted in the dark.


The fish started biting,

we filled two five-gallon buckets

in darkness, talking softly of fishing:

he, of snakes he caught in the dark

pulling them into the boat

before realizing his mistake.


Me, I told him about us running trot lines

and set hooks with my father

and catching nothing but a turtle

on a Sunday morning before church.


Daddy telling his stories and me

repeating them half remembered

about jumping in after a bucket

and mornings of ice water

and pigs and persimmons.


Fish quit biting

as sharply as they started,

we noticed mosquitoes had not,

Rickey pulled the outboard’s rope

and at two am, we cleaned fish

on his tail gate.


He had Pabst, I had coffee

not quite cold from a thermos.


He wondered at my coffee,

it was still sticky and ninety degrees.


By 4 we had the boat on the trailer

and fish in freezer bags,

by daylight I was asleep,

no church this Sunday,

but one more story

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I’m Folding Up my Tent 

of academia:

I am a two-dollar roadside poet,

that’s all I’ll ever be.


I’ve studied with the great

minds of literature.


I discovered

I am the pig

In the phrase:

Pearls before Swine,


I have tried but I cannot

See what others plainly see.


If you want me to write

About homelessness and soda bottles

please put two dollars in my jar.


I’ll do my best for you,

but whatever I’m saying

will only be about homelessness and soda bottles,

though you are free to see whatever you can divine.


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