. The Poet's Beat .

. The Poet's Beat .
"A working class citizen is apt to see this country for what it's worth... A miasma of interlocking variations on differing demographics and geographies unlike any other inhabited space in the world. The American Dream. The rolling footloose hills and the upstanding Apache badlands where criminals cut bread with priests and the children of Hollywood. I am no different. Yet I am still brazen enough to think that the world is a playground built by the rugged hands of a hard-working man in order that my fantasies be materialized." -- P.P. Vonnersdale

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Blue Moon Blues

A Cajun story ends in heartbreak...



On the back porch they dance a Cajun two-step,
one two,
one two they turn,
covered by an old wooden roof that is the
floor of a wandering hippie all smiles
and feminine,
he plays his guitar downtown
while his friends sing,

The younger kids crowd the bar,
they're loud and posh and don't seem to belong,
but this is their Louisiana too,
jammed,
it's too jammed,
their ultra bodies make it impossible to reach the beer,
so I order a drink at the side-door,

Troy breathes into the microphone a heavy voice,
against strings that echo in the old wood,
against thick night air and sultry aromas,
sweat,
perfume,
love,
he bends and shakes his cypress knees,
complaining of all that is lost,
crying to us with a harmonica at his lips,
with his shoes kicked off,
inches from dancers dripping and turning in each other's arms,
stringy hair and clothes that stick,
beads of moisture on their foreheads,
nothing moves except
bodies and music and magic,
his forearms glisten and reflect murky shadows,
orange porch lights,
the noise carries into the neighborhood and
everybody sings along,
everybody smiles or feels alive,
listening closely to Troy's poetry and surrendering our
souls to the South,
to the moss that hangs in the rafters and the mother Oak trees,
thunder always in the distance in pregnant brooding clouds
that makes me feel childlike,
muddy water hiding catfish and muddy toes,
the blue moon that watches over us all,
Troy at his pulpit making the crowd spin,
preaching, preaching, preaching,
the ecstasy of midnight on the back porch where
everyone breathes the same warm air,
slaves to the same conniving breeze,

Old men dressed in fancy clothes dance with their old dates,
a sloppy overweight woman swishes around a
young boy who doesn't know any better,
two professors from the local art college are married and
have danced together for years,
they do it perfectly and stare into each other's eyes,
everyone moves, turns, moves,
does what Louisiana has taught them to do,
children of the South weaned on nights like this,

The porch vibrates in the carpentry beneath me,
in time to the noise coming from the amplifiers,
spilled beer and empty cans sit beside me,
dark girls throw glances in my direction and wonder why I'm still,
there's something missing and
only I can see the ghosts who dance through the crowd,
ghosts of you and I,
this was the way we danced,
close hips and flip-flops,
wet clothes that fell away,
a beer balancing in a free hand,
this was our music too,
our thick nights and our city,
you moved for me,
sometimes fought against me,
but never let me go,
Troy played the sad tunes of his world and your smile
was light to me,
grey eyes,
the strand of hair that clung to your temple,
black against your pale moon skin,
so we danced,
one two,
one two we turned,
to hear you laugh when I spun you in my hand,
ghosts,
ghosts now and gone forever,

Troy taps his leg crying "Hey Richard!",
yet I am the only one sitting alone,
lost in my memories that sway and move,
turn and spin,
sweat as they dance,
only I see two people who were once
but now disappeared like the early morning fog that
will close this night.

6.2007

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Hand-Rolled Havanah Cigars

A Spanish story...



Major Stoneham grabbed the Spanish soldier by the ear,
red ears,
bleeding ears,
Tell me what I want to know!
The Spanish soldier wasn't talking,
in any language.

Teddy Roosevelt, am I to understand that you need me
to break the spell and
conquer Spanish Hill?
Poetry, eloquence,
too much death on this island fort.

Clarence Sergeant was a black man with
grey whiskers and cloudy eyes,
graduation cap and soldier's tassels,
black blood on an empty rifle,
jungle fever malaria.

Seven died and the first night's over,
worms eat the bodies in the ground,
worms,
plans of worms,
ideas spinning around a lantern,
the U.S. soldiers are staying up late tonight.

General Vellencio Smith grabbed his trousers and
pulled them up,
Spanish stone hid the high stars,
high moon,
the surface was his confidence,
fear in his heart,
his wife was beautiful in Spain.

Juan Pedro Miendezzoto slumped on the wall,
I am no murderer!
A killer where the fire begins,
his empty stomach minus guts
on the jungle's scent that night.

Penelope Vellencio Smith bled tears,
the Duke's daughter Harvard alum,
no clues under her husband's floor,
ghostly limbo,
nothing ever happened again.

Spanish Hill fell to a coyote's howl,
champagne for the lady and
a cigar for the gentleman,
journalism, history,
too much death on this island fort,
El morte' dio.

5.2007

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Left Over Right (or) The Technology Crisis of 2011

If everything electrical suddenly and mysteriously stopped working, it's my opinion that the thin veil of civilization would be torn to shreds. We would be ushered back into the dark ages, and, as savages, the struggle for survival would take new meaning. Since this is my theoretical fantasy, I have instructed my friends where I would go and have told them how to find me if such an event ever occurred. This is a poem about all that...



The snowfall was a fitting funeral shroud,
cold world of dead machines,
O’ lost spark,
have pity on the living,
When the lights went out,
When all that was left was alive,
we became madmen.

He appeared on the distant tree line,
tall and skinny figure in the grey dawn,
the horses uneasy,
calling me from my labor,
raising the alarm,
an empty world where strangers are mistrusted,
they know he is there without seeing him,
and they know what must come next.

Through the dark days of the Brooklyn Blackout –
he waited,
Through rumors that the fell stroke was spread farther than his city –
he waited,
Through reports that the world had been turned off –
he waited,
When it was clear that mankind had given up,
he decided it was time to march.

I told my friends to find me,
an old Catholic boarding school in the South,
The soccer field is my garden,
The nuns’ quarters are mine,
Former pleasure horses are steeds of transport,
the boarders driven away,
my refuge in an uncharged and uncivilized time,
guarded vigilantly under arms,
and for admittance
I gave them all a sign.

Right over left,
he reminded himself,
over a thousand miles away,
When Hudson River water was still fresh on his loafers,
So dark was his spirit then,
six months of walking,
abandoned cans of tomato soup,
the old convent on the rise,
He steps from the tree line in someone else’s shoes,
the loafers long forgotten,
a smile on his ashen face,
and raises his hands over his head.

My fingers are cold,
December snow dissolving on the barrel of my rifle,
The figure in my sights,
I wait,
patiently,
in a fever,
the world a dead and hostile place,
and I can take no chances.

He raises his hands over his head,
left over right,
left over right,
left over right,
I squeeze the trigger and the horses jump at the crack of the gun,
He falls,
blood in the snow,
We are all madmen,
left over right.

1.10

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Miles

This is an older poem I wrote once when I was free of all commitments and living in my truck on the open road... full of sadness and loneliness and happiness, with no where to go but to whatever next stop was on the horizon.



I feed my gypsy soul with miles -
Long stretches of them,
Roads that follow the curves of mountains,
And roads that divide the desert,
Lonely sad and straight.

Yet they are all lonely -
Lonely roads of cobblestone in sleepy downtowns,
Lonely roads whose shoulders dance with uncounted yellow taxis,
Lonely roads that know the deer’s sorrow,
Who know the vulture’s joy.

These miles come new to me everyday,
Days that have no past,
Roads marked only, One Way.

Do tears at night match the wasted fuel of the day?
Am I missing everything that I see flying by?

The answer is only, Move On.

2.05

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Logan Fowler

This is a poem I wrote a few years back about some of the most important men in my life...



Logan Fowler, wake up,
Woke Up!
Smooth black chocolate by the mile,
Resting on that thin moustache,
Those dark muscles bouncing behind his jaws,
Sweat that dots his cheeks.

Logan Fowler, wake up,
Look up,
Past the trees,
Making Malibu look like Cambodia,
On the bay.

He left Canada for a cage-match,
Rage in the cage,
Berserker Rage,
Unbreakable bones,
still...
still...
He never took a Last Name.

Logan woke up...

Why can't you?

11.2007

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Cuba, New Mexico

My truck broke down on me once while I was travelling through New Mexico in a tiny town called Cuba. This town was in the middle of nowhere. It litteraly had nothing to offer. While waiting for rescue, I slept in the bed of my truck in a gas station parking lot and watched the people of Cuba for four days. It was an interesting show...




The gods of Comic Wisdom shine helpless laughter
down upon little Cuba,
thickly nestled deep,
lonely in a New Mexico valley,
and in my broken woes,
broken automobile,
I am relieved.

The desert mountains send down Semi Trucks,
thundering constant as a river,
to guard my troubled sleep,
stealing, foul spittoon captains, my quiet dreams.
Dappled darkness, a black woman in a pillow case,
heavy in her coal-black skin and sun-visor,
aggravates the senses of her curly haired caucasian companion,
slinking back to the tour bus,
dissatisfied with their stop en route to greater glories.

So the Circus of this impish town is revealed to me,
stinging tears, flooded country,
a soft spoiled lovers bed in a Mexican motel room
holds form against my naked figure,
a lonely image matching those on the disenchanted hanging television,
lost, and uncomfortable,
stilled and confident of heaven,
still the town's characters live their lot,
their trash-strewn lots,
and introduce themselves.

Henrietta and Georgette, teens of Fate,
play the only game in this heartless yellow valley they know,
destined to dullness,
they turn their car around for the 22nd time in the gas station parking lot,
my humble saddened home, limestone and all,
and head back to the other side of town.
False hopes ride along beside them,
a ritual, no doubt, that repeats itself every lonesome night,
O life's delusions, Fate's trap.
Daisies grow and die in the mountain crags,
unwanted and hidden from the sun,
these girls tease the strip with their young sexuality,
believing in an empty desert lie,
skipping childhood to adorn the painted eyebrows
of their ugly mothers,
and like the wind that stings,
they circle around for the 23rd time.

There's claustrophobia in the air,
something still very old and unchanging,
as here the world has moved on,
evident in the worn fingers, George, the old mechanic,
under the bull elk's dismembered head,
he struggles to understand his new computer while I wait,
not seeing, as I see, that they will never understand each other.
Something is eternally lost in the translation between fresh keys and old fingers.
He asks for my papers but I'd rather cry,
for this place, for myself, for George.

I am trapped within the confines of a larger snare,
the people come and go,
pollen scatters across the stony desert ground
by the beating wings of old crows,
stopping to refuel at the gas pumps
and to never know on what sacred land they tread.

Where are the old spirits who gave birth to these hills in silent whispers?
Where is the Director,
whose idea for this tragic play of twisted horror
was the spark that somehow stole the hearts of his cast,
like the dead spark plugs inside my truck's stalled engine?
O simple village, lost to no one's ways, on no path,
a stranger sleeps like a whore in your used bed,
and you dance for him.

Two old Reservationist greet me at the edge of town,
complimenting my dog and shaking hands,
in their lost eyes they ask something of me,
but I can't read the question and they disappear
in a dead mist of rain,
they were void of all things between happiness and sadness,
I know that much.

A last act happens in front of me,
perhaps seeks me out as its audience,
Jose' and Sherbert slink into the parking lot,
a combination of wild ideas that never amounted to anything,
high school children, bucks, they pleasure themselves in a red low rider.
Paul and Miguel follow suit through the story of my windshield,
Their brown truck lifted and a monster,
under the bright sleepless gas station lights they all meet,
distant brothers of the Union,
in foolish heat, so young, in need to burn something,
and only finding the gas in their rusting tanks.
The circle.
The strip, their empty nightly route.
The Circus.

The Circus is in shambles,
broken bottles and heavy shame,
we all meet and greet in this valley,
but take away from each other - what?
God would have me here, wisdom and folly,
learn something from this place.
O tears that flow heavy in the desert mountains,
can you repair a divided people, a divided country?
Henriette and Georgette, brown bodied,
two young to decay,
dying already,
tracing a lonely circle with their golden Maxima
from one vacant end of town and back,
like the muddy finger of Christ and the fallen stones.
It's not right that I should know these people thus,
my Penance, to sit and watch.

7/5/2006

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Christmas Fever (or) Poinsettia Season Again

This goes out to the boys at Studio8... A fitting poem for this holiday season...




I meet me in my lover’s loft,
Staring seductively at my soft naked body,
Lying on a bed of straw,

Ripening thoughts,
Freshly pruned Christmas poinsettias
tango across my rancid mind,
Am I so daring,
To imagine a thousand foil-wrapped plants basking in a greenhouse sweat,
Greens and reds and multicolored designs,

Such swirling ideas and my lover wails beneath the vapid odor
of my skunk’s breath,
Leaving me here to traipse along the avenues of this winter’s pale skin,
The mattress below me of mildew and death,

I am pricked by exposure and straw,
Empowering my blood to forsake the course and choose the shaft,
To follow no man’s rule of law,

Lost in fantasy,
Row after row of perennial pleasure softly brushing
against my skating hips,
Will I find just one,
One plant pruned with a master gardener’s precision and grown to satisfaction,
This one to be watered with a twist,

The white blur of my long and tasteless fingers like tiny pistons marching
to a rebel’s tune,
Transposition of a dank hayloft to a humid potting shed,
The mad voice within me croons,

I am weak with poinsettia passion,
Disentangling my clothes from the dried chaff,
My shame in high fashion.

12.31.09