. 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, February 27, 2010

Awkward Writers Night Moment

These groups are a haven for awkward moments of all kinds, and this is mainly why I love attending. The more the merrier!!!

The personal choice he makes,
a road soda sweating coldly in his hand,
an empty flask under his seat,
over-confident brown hair reflecting
     artist’s orbs that hang like cocoons from the ceiling,
glowing globes of paper mache’,
his fingernails interlocked around a knee,
his knee,
fragile wrists,
a baby’s face and a man’s laugh,
cowboy boots too clean for cowboy boots,

He croons for her,
and they laugh at his dead unfunny jokes,
this conversation a precipice,
both of them dangling dangerously close to an awkward abyss,
commitment wavering,
they fight to halt the derailed freight train
     of their chance encounter in the aisle.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Life Inside a Cheez-It Box

A classic tale of cautionary woe...

Kevin's cough was a new season throat stinging pain.

It had been an unusualy harsh orange winter and

everything was covered in cheese dust,

layer upon layer in which Kevin would have to toil in later,

breaking his poor back with the cheese shovel.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

This Ol' Mug

One of my earliest recorded poems. I wrote this one morning while working as a wrangler on a ranch deep in the San Juan Mountains in Colorado. I've never seen such beautiful solitude since, nor as many stars.

I woke up this morning
And couldn’t believe what I saw –
A hundred billion stars
stretching from one side of the valley
to the other.
Man, I thought,
that’s a lot of mugs!

The sun crept up over coffee,
over mountain peaks.
The steam from my cup
blinded me
as the mist lifted in the fields.

An eagle screamed
and because it was still early
the sound of his voice
went on and on and on.
I thought,
I could die in a place where eagle’s scream.

And I’d be happy,
happy as a mug.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

That First Rooftop

This poem is about the first girl who ever invaded my world, that place between the ground and the clouds...

We found ourselves at the edge of a precipice,
having trespassed where we did not belong,
the outside seam of her jeans lightly touched my leg,
and her left thigh underneath,
our feet dangling over Louisiana,
a crude hulk of unfinished steel and concrete below us,
somewhere beyond that a street,
the soft circles of yellow lamp posts intermittently marking its path,
the city dark and distant,
discontinuous multi-colored lights dangling on the horizon
     like inverted stars,
uncertain miles stretch away from us,
with as much mystery and foreboding as our own invisible futures,
how young I thought myself,
courageous and charming,
bravely facing the distance,
the cool air that rushed up to meet us,
carrying on it an unfamiliar song,
until in that same future I found myself alone,
wishing I were the moon in order to feel justified in my solitude,
and only looking back did I realize how young I really was.


Monday, February 8, 2010

An Ode to Ernest (2 poems)

These are two poems about the same man, Ernest - the wireline operator I worked with back in my offshore days. They reflect the passage of time that passed between us. He was a seasoned vetern and I was as green as they get. In the beginning, as in the first poem, he was a mystery to me, as was that entire world, and I got much wrong, even the words tattooed on his skin. But even as unlikely a pair as we were, spending months together on an oil platform forces the terms of a relationship and he became endeared to my soul. I learned his ways. I could understand his Southern ghetto accent. We trusted each other. We became a team. And, as in the second poem, I eventually discovered the true meaning of the words tattooed across his fingers...

-Blood and Grit-

He is the silver-back gorilla among us,
a fish-net for a skull cap,
covering curly black hair,
refusing to turn grey like his unkempt mustache
and the few stragglers on his forearms.

Gold flashes behind his blubbery lips,
one sparkling tooth has dislodged itself
and swivels against his thick tongue during conversation.
In what manner it is attached to his gums
I cannot fathom,
but it magically refuses to let go.

He is our wireline operator,
my partner on the high seas,
in dirty overalls and a faded t-shirt torn
beneath his armpits by the acidic chemicals in his sweat.
He slouches on an old ammo box,
watching his machine,
his neck drawn into his shoulders,
his hands dangling limp fingers between his thighs.
I can't help but imagine him
surrounded by jungle foliage overlooking
a pride of lesser gorillas instead.

In him lies the look of a savage pacifist
hiding a core of fierce potential energy.
His anger I'd dare not rise,
nor his ways is it mine to question.
Thirty-three years have taught him all he knows,
he is the large buck, the alpha,
this oil platform is his territory,
that right earned him through blood and grit,
or so says the tattoos etched on his hands.

Only non-filtered cigarettes will calm him,
the fire doing no damage to his calloused fingers
as the cigarette burns away between them,
his smoke becomes my smoke,
we inhale together in the break room,
my lungs stifling a cry of protest,
my ears straining to understand his slurred speech and
soft tone so
that I do not disappoint him when we return to our work.

I am only a jungle ape paying homage to my
pack leader, avoiding his eyes
and bringing a fresh kill to lay at his feet.
It is his will to touch my head or to pound me to my death.

He only turns away,
I am a fly to him,
he finds a clear space on the platform where he can call one
of his many girlfriends,
none knowing of the others,
to persuade her to renew his calling card so that
he can continue to offer that particular girl his unwavering love.


-Blood and Gail-

His roots are as thick as those cypress
giants behind Patterson High School,
a shallow swamp there where black bears make trails,
some that meander across Highway 90,
involuntary teenage fist fights,
daily life,
an unknown world full of fantasy,
but never my reality,
his twisting silver front tooth tells
the tale,
the first one lost,
he'd give it back if he could,
trading ivory for jewelry and
blood for respect,
earning his life on those nights in the

A thick pink slug pushes against the back of those
high-dollar teeth,
when he laughs it
fills the gaping cavity of his mouth,
the distraction makes me question if his
swollen tongue hampers his breathing,
at its fiercest a drowning noise in the black windowless night,
a congested room with too many bodies and
the pounding sound of his dying breath
below me,
crawling through our heads like my grandfather's
derailed train accident at the draw-bridge.

She met him in his Gangsta years,
a formidable era formed on the unmarked turf
of those Patterson playgrounds,
swaying to sultry blues,
her underarms growing wet,
the back of her neck caught the red light reflection on
her damp skin and watered clothes,
prey to the heavy air and fog of
the dance floor absent
a working air-conditioner,
gun shots in the clouds bringing Blood to the door,
no grey hair yet,
hardened passion in his tobacco stained eyes.

He met her as a predator and overpowered her with his
carved their names on the back of his hand,
Blood and Gail,
thick worker's hands refusing to
be tamed,
or to be anything else,
gloved before me now but not to hide his youthful plunder,
those days when he took her and
she took from him everything.

Move on, Blood, move on,
the smooth skin on his exposed stomach defying
a generation of wrinkles waiting to
betray his age,
he exists now in a self-proclaimed peek with
surprising ideas about war and death
and womanly girth,
moving his life along to what he envisions as
a decade closing on his own demise,
he speaks lightly of cancer and smokes
non-filtered cigarettes until they
burn his dark fingers,
he forgets her in a crime of passion near a graveyard with
a cute girl younger than his estranged daughters,
tats and long painted fingernails,
a crack pipe circling in a room nearby
(I do not belong here)
the smoke and the oversized beer are strange in my hands,
in the back seat of his truck,
at the back of the fish net on his head is a small knot,
on the back of her neck is a name I can’t read in the dark,
she looks at me and wonders why I’m with him.

In his cab with this new young ghetto vixen he forgets her,
his other,
snake charmer and voodoo queen,
his one true love,
that bitch
the dried ink marks on his hand will never wash off,
Blood and Gail,
his fingers read,
Blood and Gail,
and a long time ago.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Denver Doldrums

I wrote this lil' mug a couple of years ago when I was living in Denver, jobless and hopeless, away from everyone I knew and loved, struggling to make my way and spending a few hours a week at the local plasma donation center just to pay my rent and put gas in my truck. Sad days. Great days...

My blood fills an empty plastic container,
deep murky undercurrents swirling with life against the sterile backdrop
of a synthetic case,
hope for a stranger I’m told,
a hole in my arm
and the taste of metal on the ends of my teeth.

I'm surrounded by empty faces,
lower class lot from the city’s streets,
all want a few dollars,
who have their own woes,
they recline watching me,
idle stares void of curiosity,
in the heart of a lonely Denver,
our existence more alike than anyone knows,
confused about our lives,
about how we should face the day,
whether a night is worth sleeping through,
whether any effort is worth anything.

Sad music plays over the humming machines,
drone noise binding us together in solitude,
no one knows I'm lost,
they just know I'm here,
the broken parts of me hidden,
stripped to the roots of my memory,
fevered they call me home,
away from assassins and gunfighters,
to my childhood where nothing has to make sense
and I'm always safe.

Still my stubbornness keeps me in the fight,
undependable legs shaky beneath me,
I wrestle through tears
that can no longer remember why they fall;
a lost love?
a lost home?
a lost way?
I decide to strike out at this remarkable city
until we are finally friends.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Maybe Some People got Horny and Maybe Some People Called the Cops

This is a scene which occurred on a street corner as a very good friend of mine passed. She described it to me in detail and I was inspired to write this for her. I will not tell of the incident any more so than the poem reveals. The rest is up to your imagination. This is also her birthday present...

Chocolate pudding on the sidewalk,
black viscous gelatin liquid
congealed in human form,
bony old man shoulders –
the kind that shiver in the night,
archaic tree stump,
lightning burned black,
rooted in faded ghetto loafers,
a tall sun-dial,
its molten shadow drips from curb to asphalt beyond,
human like an empty tooth paste tube of
poisoned ooze,
a cowboy hat screw-on cap,
umber colors of tobacco stains and yellow teeth,

green twinge,
red twist,
the street light clicks and the cars start,
his hands held cock-high,
fiddling out of sight from the traffic,
creepy spider’s legs fingers and witch’s nails,
marbles for knuckles,
fingering that coal-black walking cane,
twisted tree limb,
Eve’s frozen serpent,
street corner surprise,
like a madman hunched to a public piss,
fervent strokes of simulated masturbation,
or a black fellow crushing beetles on the concrete.