Near Death

I practice the contingency
And feel in speechless quiet
The sight of her
Then close my eyes to practice
Without sight—and there she is:
A grove of pine new freshened
By the spring, nay, in greener
Greens than any of my youth
And I near death
Blind, I gasp— yet serene upon
The browning mat she lays
And lies beside me in the shade
And kisses me in my resting place
And pulls my tongue between her teeth
To heaven. 

Midnight at the Grocery Store

.……………….‘Are you John Denver?
           ……..You look like John Denver!’

‘Ma’am, you must mean John Lennon?’

………………‘No, I mean John Denver!’

‘Thank you, but no,’ I say and note:
Her Rocky Mountain High is crack.

…………….. ‘Well, anyways, could you loan me $5.’

‘Miss, sorry, you’re asking
The poorest patron in the store
I guarantee.  I promise you.’

She shadows me to shelf’s delight
Intent to follow how I shop:
Econo cans of chicken breasts
Another twelve of turnip greens
(But 40 years my high school weight!)
I say again, ‘I’ve nothing, nothing
Lest you count my latest rout
Of wretched, robot dead-end work.’

 ……………….‘Uh huhhh. I know that feeling…
………………..Baby, let it all hang out!’  

‘Well, thank you, if I may offload…
Would you believe they bum’s rushed me,
Braced by armed security to my old
And beat-up truck, power getting off on it:
Indeed with such a smug dispatch you’d think
Indictments pending…cocaine trafficking…
Child rape….’

.………………‘The hell you say!’

‘But really just a way with words
My crime, my greeting
The CEO’s first inspection tour
Of this, his latest, most expansive ‘world class facility,’
My crime, my mere salute:
Poet reporting for duty, sir.
I pluck your chickens by the word!
That’s all. He didn’t answer
Nor remember
As did I, in vivid image,
Before he got his MBA the class
We took in school together, a scant
Four decades earlier…”

………………..‘What class?’

‘Humanities 111.  Nor who got the only ‘A.’’

………………..’‘I hear that!  You go, John Denver!’

‘Miss, I think you mean John Lennon.
But more to the point:  Some luck up
And some luck down. In the parking lot
That noon the goon squad still escorting me
Sort of loosened up a bit:  Management’s
Doing you a favor, pal.  This is the world’s
Most PRODUCTIVE chicken-plucking plant.
They didn’t hire you for your mouth
So leave and don’t look back nor, God forbid,
Blow your brains while on the property.
Got that?’

……………….‘You own a Glock?’

Oh, you needn’t worry—
Not a chance.  Aye, look up!
I’ve that Sun for consolation!
The blooming oak, the sidelong pines
The rapture of the land and sky!
The all-embracing warmth of June
In stores of radiance building up.
Why, John Lennon—John Lennon!–
Remember him?
Gunned down at forty, at his peak
Begs trade his groupie fate for mine,
For this blessed day, this sunshine
Glancing on his face, this one extra
Magical day to IMAGINE, and he begs
Notwithstanding it entails
Plucking chickens these five years
In your fuckin’ world renown
Chicken-pluckin’ plant–
Got that?’

Go! they slammed me in my truck.
Today it didn’t need a jump.
 Say Amen, John Lennon!’

Long pause, her stare as distant
As a star. 

……………….‘You said that?’

‘I did!’

………………‘Well, I can mighty tell you this:
.…………….. I’ve done crack and I’ve run trains
…………….. But you’re the craziest man I’ve ever seen.
…………….. Goodbye and good luck in your future endeavors, Mr. Lennon.’

The Visitation, Part 1

drum, drum, drum
the thought
binding me to bed in ropes
binding me in tighter knots
like when and why the “visitation” ?
whence my turn to be insensible?
or sensing what? and should I
add the Pharaoh’s touch, a few
childhood toys or those adult–
a prescription of Sildenafil,
say 100 milligrams,
pressed into my
mummified, folded hands?

so on and on and on it goes
such that I get used to it
while death collects the vital first.
why, I’ve outlived Elvis
20 years and with only
fans who think me daft though
 sadly dozens more who’d say,
if pushed to honest eulogy:
“Good! Burn that bitch like Joseph Goebbels!”
and being severely cold natured
a route myself considered not
necessarily to accommodate these adversaries
so much as to
relish the warm room.

Boys in a Pasture (for Winslow Homer)

ten moved on to wives
passels of grand kids

two died in Iraq
two went fairly mad

one became a CEO
two are millionaires

one in jail for murder
one who wed a man

five, divorced, in campers
behind their mothers’ homes

three tanked by every sunset
and sometimes all day long

yet once upon a pasture
a last equality, relinquished

to the July sun and grass
beneath our feet, sunburnt

hunter-gatherers of frogs
and snakes and perch

but only one a prophet
the one who never left 


(based on the poem “Beatified” by Patrick Gillespie)

Winter bleached and dry
a severed doe skull (with vertebrae)
perplexes the banks
of a Spring pond.

A philosophy major
I strive to see its living form again
but see only new weeds between
voids of eye and tongue. Green flies
thrum where once a scent drove ruts.

At rest the skull lies on its side
wreathed with rue and nettle,
with ichor, thorn and petal
by the years. I strive to see
its erstwhile form again

But see only a half a century back:
two girls with whom I skinny dipped
this pond, this day, this hour—their dare–
and only simple questions like:

All which is to say
the more I go decay, the more
I feel my porn addiction

May 5

An earthen way, in some mud between the
Recovered lives and branches
Prophets everywhere
Point of view
Against the spillway’s
Filleted and fried
For supper


The sun at 80, April,
And I’m getting groove again
With outside repairs:
A gable end where old squirrels
Gnawed a way for birds to sing
Inside my bedroom wall.
Invariably the fledglings trill
Their mom’s return
To feed and preen and multiply
My space with such chatter
That preempts any blog
On Poetry, Politics, Love–
Preempts my blessed Word, by god!
These mocking chirps of fertility
They’d seem to lord them over me
Versus my arid room.  Well, fine,
Maybe in a tree somewhere
But a lesson way too close today, a lesson
Way too late…and so, Birds,
You’ve forced the hand
With which I snip wire
By wire by wire the screen
(I’ve already measured)
And from atop my ladder check
The long mesh triangle for perfect fit.
It is, I nail.  And nail to rule.
And do.  By dawn a starving
Quiet chastens all.  I search
To hear them, somewhere,
Somewhere, in the woods.