More Often Than Not

I could relate
to the businessman
commuting home today
on a motorcycle
tie flapping at 65
tightening around his neck
while the morning's meetings
were purged by the wind
up his shirt sleeves.

We're rarely what we seem to be.
Labels only choke us.

Beware the man with only one gun.
He probably knows how to use it.


On the Ropes

If you're waiting
watching, writhing
from a distance
now's the time
to make your move
while there's still something left.

I'm very good at pouring gin
down my open throat
and making a name for myself
in a town too small to tolerate
like closed-mouth kissing
or a crooked half-Windsor.

I see you through my blindfold
with my shoulders to the wall.
The firing line of women
casually loading rifles
has you there among them
though your eyes don't look the same.

I wouldn't mind dying
if the right song was playing.
The French call it
"the little death".
Tell me, are they wrong?

Currently reading:
"Snow Falling on Cedars" by David Guterson.


Blunderbuss (for One-in-Four of You)

The bastard poured nails
down the barrel of his musket.
Now we're taking turns
tugging iron from our backs.

Remember the farmer
who defended his orchard
with rock salt shotshells
that stung without killing?
We didn't steal apples
from that corn-fed sadist.
His daughters would call
when they needed to scratch.

Daddy was jealous.
He used to get his
there in the hay
with gin on his breath.
No decent member
of Wilmington Parish
would believe little girls
with such faded dresses.

It went on for years
until that marked night
that we hopped the wrong fence
and heard signs of struggle.
We wish now we hadn't.
The sight was obscene.
He left her there bleeding
like it wasn't his blood.
You walked to Barstow
and left us to trample
what years of hurt silence
had built in her head.

The following week
we both met her sister.
The four of us dated
a month's worth of summers.
Then they shut down.
The damage was done.
Bruised, like sore apples
but no good for cider.
Their lovers won't be
in the fruit business, either.
The lists will grow long.
We've seen this before.

Remember the women
we both could've rescued
had sickened misfortune
not trifled instead?

Who are you kidding?
We needed our taming.
Now pass me that rifle.
I hear the police.


The Brood of Lucky '13

The next time the cicadas come
I'll be 46, with:
a mortgage or a hovel full of empties;
a woman brave enough to try it
or disproportionate arms;
kids, or more abortions
(more abortions, more abortions);
another list of the right people
I met at the wrong times.

Burrow back down your holes, bugs
and take your pressures with you.

I won't miss your humming
thrumming, buzzing
through my fumblings.
When the wind and rain
knock your vile remnants
from the tree bark
my pity will be elsewhere:

Seventeen more blinks.

Currently reading:
"Stalking Is A Contact Sport" by Fred Seton.