. 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

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sailing, She and I

A poem inspired by the waters of my homeland, where muddy inland canals give way to the salty browns, greens and blues of the Gulf of Mexico - a place of juxtaposition where palpable natural beauty resides next to floating beer cans and oil derricks. 

A faded coke can slips the crest discarded,
pushed along a bubbling waterline it surfs the bow wave,
waves goodbye behind us,
bobbing like a lost sailor in the green sea foam of our wake,
old rubber tire in the weeds,
mud flats,
dreary marsh trees ornamented with multi-colored specks of trash,
tossed high in those broken branches when the last hurricane came through,

The serpent canal widens and gulls appear,

Highway 314 ahead,
tall arch of the Avett Island bridge,
nesting swallows in the shaded understructure,
driftwood jammed against a concrete column,
piles of soapy sea foam,
Andy’s Dockside Bar and Grille,
waving diners in beer smiles,
greasy burgers on the breeze,
stronger than the smell of saltwater,
for a little while we can hear the fiddle band inside Andy’s,

Forge ahead,

onward to the sea,
sputtering engine propelling us through a brown current,
a chocolate soup she stirs with the tips of her fingers,
long and wet,
the drops forming ringlets of concentric circles like spiral galaxies,
she points out a great blue heron,
old man bird that calls out insults as it takes flight across the entrance into the bay,

The water becoming a choppy dark green,

oil derricks like sentinel towers on the horizon,
shrimp boats on patrol,
trailing long nets in a haze of squawking sea birds,
spiraling and spilling shit into the drink,
tiny production platform to starboard,
insignificant and outdated,
barnacles and a tangled web of fishing line adorn its lonely pipe,
a coffee-colored pelican sits lazily on its beacon light,
suspicious in its accusations,

She moves forward,

arches her back and lifts her face into the wind,
chewing on the sun,
her bare feet beneath her,
when the outboard is choked I can almost hear her breathing,
removing tethers,
our altar to the bright sky and the invisible stars pressing heavy beyond,
such glory,
the sail struggles, is born,
starched and brilliant white,
O’ glory,
what man has ever been more alive than when that sail catches the wind,
uncoils and is brought to life,
a voracious and hungry thing,
it rises,
man’s mystery,
to tame the currents of air,
bending the will of God himself on the wings of his holy dove,

The boat shutters like an animal beneath the whip,

settles into its momentum,
until we can see our broken faces in the passing waves,
a raw power driven by silence,
behind us the shoreline merges into simple shapes,
our trail washed away,
where we never were,
and cannot be followed,
marsh trees shimmer in the past,
falling off of the side of the world,
along with the floating memories of those days,

Out beyond the faded yellow towers home to oil workers in hard hats,

the bay has dissolved,
endless flat in every direction,
the sun high above and very soft,
sending arrow shafts of light into the blue depths,
she lets her hair fall over her shoulders,
long curly locks dancing,
her clothes come off and she poses on the deck,
naked curves outlined by a backdrop of crisp infinity,
spray on her skin,
a new constellation across her stomach,
staircase on her ribs,
running rigging,
wanton eyes raw with grim passion,
she is weightless and flying in the wind,
beyond the world,
that burden,
sea foam of salt and green, drifting somewhere else.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sej and Smith

I like writing epic poetry, and this is perhaps my most epic of them all. It's a love story of true friendship, brotherhood and loyalty, of betrayal and of intimate and honest revenge, set to the greatest backdrop of them all - Walmart. It's one of the few poems I ever wrote that underwent several complicated layers of revision, and thus does not have an exact date for completion, but was worked on over the course of many years. I refuse to tell you too much more... I'd rather your imagination paint the picture for you...

This is a story forgotten but now remembered.
This is the proverbial place where Rhythm found her roots.
After fruitless nights of surrendering your insanity,
These are the very veins of blood and through these threads, too, flows love.
hoomba, hoomba, hoomba

Old boy Smith had a voice cold like a shadow
And they say the red storms of Jupiter swirled in his hair.
His fingers were stained like stars found too low on the horizon.
So we find him under sweat and smock, here at the beginning of our story.
His brother laid bare under African skies.
Cigarette butts and sand
Sand and cigarette butts
Sej taught old Smith to dance in time to the passing comets of rain.

But that, old friends, comes later,
So much longer and so much later.

In the glass of their eyes red fire burned like the lights of a city seen from the moon.
Under a circle of blue the first Discount City turned to embers at a reduced price.
Cigarettes butts and sand
Sand and cigarette butts
Sej and Smith
hoomba, hoomba, hoomba


This is the era of Double Trouble for Sam.
This is the systematic selection of the right combination of matches.
After a long day under the penetrating gaze of fluorescents,
Out of a fog walked Sej, his black heart wrapped in black skin.
hoomba, hoomba, hoomba
He said.

Sam’s boys in blue followed fires whose fingers they couldn’t touch
While finger foods were served in a Mexican brothel.
Some stars were never meant to find refuge in heaven.
They instead mothered children in the moon-filled shadow of a naked bed.
Those two never learned so much.
Cigarette butts and pesos
Pesos and cigarette butts
She taught them to listen to the sound of the unclothed body in a still room.

 Sej didn’t care to listen.
Smith listened too close.
They both pounded the walls to wake up the sun.

When the fires burned down they were making their way back, no longer wetbacks.
Seeds were left, the hope of strong trees; in their heart, in Mexico, they left with her name:
Cigarette butts and pesos
Pesos and cigarette butts
Sej and Smith
hoomba, hoomba, hoomba


This is the unpopular point in the story for Sam.
This is the part where he thought it over and safe to nap.
After the exodus that broke the heart of a reality still shaken
These were real cotton columns, real clouds of black smoke once again filled the air.
hoomba, hoomba, hoomba

No yellow smiling face was safe from the torch.
In between both oceans they all turned to ash.
Smith’s cheeks were stained with a flame-licked golden touch
And he followed Sej were ever he led.
Through tongues of heat and temples of rage.
Cigarette butts, tongues and temples
Temples, tongues and cigarette butts
They were closer and closer and closer to the end of their journey.

And that, old friends, is quickly nearing,
So much sooner than anyone thought.

In the deep hole of their hearts a mad joy moved their fire calloused fingers faster.
Sam, in his lazy cushioned sofa, lost both his white hair and his white fortune together.
Cigarette butts and sand
Sand and cigarette butts
Sej and Smith and Sam
hoomba, hoomba, hoomba


This is the ending of two part-time employees.
This is where it’s safe to say their legend is sealed.
After the last match was lit in the last store still standing,
The pair, with lunatic eyes, danced under the failing sprinkler system.
hoomba, hoomba, hoomba
They sang.

An old whore smiled in a dry Mexican shadow
And still Sam thought the ghosts of his past were dead.
The stars were aligned when she sang her chant
So the concoction stirred in the empty skull of a passing black child.
Go find a partner and do my bidding.
Cigarette butts and sand
Sand and cigarette butts
Sej and Smith were innocent weapons of war.

Now, old friends, you know their story.
Whether you wanted to or not.

In the corner of her eye, dry tear ducts pulsed with the sweet rhythm of revenge.
Under crumbling supports the last Discount City fell to the sound of burning laughter.
Bones and ashes
Ashes and bones
Sej and Smith
hoomba, hoomba, hoomba
She said.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


An early poem inspired by something I can no longer remember, but which now has a sort of relevance to me as more and more of my friends enter marriages and create children and sort of drift away into another reality beyond my own - a monogamous, closely guarded solar system whose patterns and orbits I can do nothing to relate to. These are those gathering tombstones. One by one by one...

Should I make each word
     my last?
Should I treat you like you’re leaving?
Should I treat you like a ghost?

I will live on forever.
Each day closes with another night
     at its end.
I know I’ll see a thousand more.
I’ll see.
And see.
But I can’t survive the tombstones
     of my friends.

Guitar chords float away
     into the night,
Like the sparks that escape the fire,
Like breath from your lungs,
Like holy Gospel from the Preacher’s lips.

He begs you to save your soul,
Which he says will live on forever.
And with that I’d settle,
I’d be satisfied.
But souls don’t make good friends,
And I can’t survive the tombstones
     of my friends.