Monday, May 31, 2010

same wind

Down from the icy Sawtooth crags
and through the winter-laden landscape,
the cold wind eventually dips to the
creek we loved so well as children.
Continuing on, it threads through the
hollows above the creek, sculpted even
today by stooped cottonwood trees.

Twisting above granite outcroppings
and lava boulders, the wind courses
the giant arteries of this canyon,
passing among quaking aspen, river willow,
and snarled cottonwood, shorn by now
of every dryly-veined leaf.

At ancient volcanic escarpments the
wind bears south, scraping hard along
canyon walls. Upward it moves, out of
the canyon, slowing and sallying about
the hillocks, the gullies, and the poplars
until it finally comes to stir ever more
gently, warmer even, my dear friend,
around your gray marbled headstone.

Primeval of days, this very same wind
blows for eternity upon eternity, polishing
and purifying even the roughest of
the earth's elements and impediments.
This said, at this hill's crest where you rest,
there is no need of further refinement. Feel
how the northern wind quiets for you,
as if it knows over whose stone it passes.

Friday, May 28, 2010

wheelchair man


The following presents not only one man's struggle in old age, but the connectedness of a man and a dog. Normally they share a love of each other, but even as casual adversaries they can share a certain bond, or even destiny:

The wheelchair man wheels himself down the
street, stopping to drag his paralyzed right leg
back onto the footrest. He's grizzled, decrepit,
smells of filth, tobacco stains his unkept beard.
He tries to grin but minus teeth his grin is a slash.
Leaning sideways, he purses his lips, spits tobacco.

The wheelchair man wheels himself down the
street, occasionally kicking with his good leg
at a diseased black dog that skulks in shadows
near a meat market. Following, the stray bares its
yellow teeth, nips at the man's hand as he wheels.
A well-placed kick and the dog briefly retreats.

The wheelchair man wheels himself down the
street, stopping under an overhanging bush. Pulling
a bottle from his threadbare army coat, he throws back
his contorted face, draws long on the whisky. Tucking the
bottle, he kicks again toward the dog, puts a finger to
his nostrils, blows several wads of mucus, wheels off.

The wheelchair man wheels himself down the
street, stopping short of the school where he knows
children may throw rocks at him and call him names -
"gimp", "crip", "asshole". "Bastards"- he always retorts.
Under a leafless tree he spits brown juice, drinks,
pulls the tube from his urine bottle, empties it.

The wheelchair man wheels himself down the
street, struggling more than usual to keep himself
going. He's cold, miserable, feels faint, and spits mucus
flecked with blood. The black stray sits on its haunches
nearby, watching the elderly man's distress. The old man
struggles against the brutal wind in making it back home.

The Wheelchair man fails to wheel himself down the
street this cold day. His wheelchair sits to the side of
his shack, empty of the gray man since his death, and rusting
in the early November rain. The old black dog snarls toward
the emptiness of the wheelchair, coughs yellow mucus,
licks his wounds, then crawls beneath the man's porch.

From under the man's porch the elderly black dog
will often wander aimlessly down the street, stopping short
of the school where children will throw rocks at him.
It's bitter cold this day. Under a leafless tree the dog sniffs
the air for the man. Looking about, he growls at nothing,
lays where the old man would stop, scratches flea bites.

border issue

border issue . . .
trumpet honeysuckle
climbs the fence


mountain sunrise
no dew on the grass
where a doe slept


river bend
. . . a tug and its horn

Monday, May 24, 2010

sensing the ghosts


The Oregon Trail - Sensing the ghosts
of pioneers who traversed the trail
a century and a half ago:

Tall prairie grass, wind-swept and
burnished gold, whispers with the
long-dead voices of all who passed
on this trail in their dream journey
to Oregon, or even California, or who
died, disease-ridden, exhausted, to be
buried just off the rutted trail
under a lonely stretch of sod
or cairned atop a barren lava bed.

Hawks hover, then spiral effortless
high above, as they did so many years
ago, dark against a soft patchwork
quilt of azure blue sky and creeping clouds.
The occasional click of grasshoppers
is barely audible in the billowing, brittle
grass shaken by the interminable wind.
Dry bones of beasts and hapless humans
dot the edges of the trail, mute testimony
to the brutality of the westward rush
and the following of the Oregon Trail.

Friday, May 21, 2010

morning mist

morning mist
lifts from the forest
. . . a haiku rolls in


rainy night . . .
a loon on the lake
echoes my mood


dawn colors . . .
a chittering of sparrows
from the lilacs


parting gesture–
a windblown petal
kisses my cheek

Thursday, May 20, 2010

northbound geese

the belly of a storm front
. . . northbound geese


hunter’s moon . . .
the barn owl’s silhouette
shifts on a limb

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

final shovel

flight of a lark . . .
the final shovel of dirt
on my friend's grave


walk in the rain . . .
why is it she's still young
and I'm older?


farm auction -
the gravel falls
on his dreams

Saturday, May 15, 2010

going back out


Going back out,
that's what he fears most.
To resume his last
miserable drunk,
homeless, loveless, broke.
Scratching up money for a fifth
of whatever he's drinking
- vodka when he's semi-flush,
cheap wine when he's not.
Lacking the guile to beg or steal,
he washes dishes in a dive
for a meal and a bottle,
sweeps out bars for drinks,
knowing he can't hold a job
much longer than a day.
Scavenging cigarette butts
from barroom trash cans.
No place to get out of the cold
except for the missions
and flop houses.
He hates the flop houses
with their toothless managers
spreading their shit-eating grins.
He dreads the city winter
as the cold seeps in and wraps
its tendrils around him,
and he fears seeing one more
sooty gray dawn with grizzled men
like himself mindlessly shuffling,
searching for the next drink.
He fears the back alleys,
fears he's destined
to live in their filth, huddled
in whatever hole or box he can find.
No longer caring for himself,
just craving alcohol.
That insatiable craving.
And it's the grayness he fears,
the empty, pallid expanse
of his remaining years
and losing people who
used to love him.
He's frightened of going out
and not coming back.
And he fears thoughts of suicide.
He has no answers to why he drinks,
why he gives in to the bottle.
His mind cannot or will not grasp
that last thought.


the river


The Mississippi River laps noisily, sucking debris
back into its current from along the water's edge,
to be deposited 30 yards down river, and with the next
churning passing barge the same debris would be sucked
back in by that hungry, always hungry river.

I skirt the brackish gumbo mud, ducking under
leaning cypress trees as I searched for a fishing hole
that would provide both shade and quieter water.
The Louisiana heat and the smell of that river, of eons
of mud, of live and dead fish, all manner of rot, some
unspeakable, proves somehow intoxicating, alluring.

The cacophony of cicadas and flit of blue damselflies
is interrupted occasionally by the low mournful blare
of a passing tug as their pilots wave happily to me.
I don't know them, they doesn't know me, but they're
also loving the day. Days on the river were to be savored,
along with the slow swell and pull of the wide river
as it ebbs, swirls and sucks its way to the waiting gulf.

As I grow older I am content to sit by the water's edge,
hypnotized, anesthetized by the river's ages-old flow.
My dreams, my life will not go on, but it's comforting
knowing the Mississippi River will continue its drift.


gumbo mud and kudzu


The old farmer hung back,
as rickety and battered as the
‘50s Allis-Chalmers tractor upon
which he leaned, hunched,
clung, as if the auctioneer's words
might carry him off as well, like
the implements he'd treasured
much of his life, machines upon
which he had toiled and sweated
and which had helped him chisel
out a meager existence in his
40 years on the farm. His wife was
dead now, his children scattered
like the clucking chickens and hissing
ducks, all he had left were memories
and the old homestead, and it was
leaving him bit by bit on the backs
of creaking pickups and low boys
and stuffed into the cavities of shiny
new Cadillacs and Buicks. The cruel
wind had snuck in from the southwest,
stealing a little more soil from the
threadbare farm, swirling and sucking
at tattered curtains still hanging in
the mouths of hazy windows left ajar.
With each piece of his life leaving
down the gravel road, a draining
of life's energies closely followed.
If it could rust like the kudzu-strangled
farm machinery strewn about its yard,
the old farmhouse would certainly
be gumbo mud by now. The decaying
farm equipment, leaving from just
another sad auction, speaks of dreams
lost and lives ended in the quagmire
of delta clay and clutching kudzu.


clawing for more


I've been trying to poet off and on
now for awhile - but it's hard for a guy
like me, born and raised in small towns.
I've never really learned to swear,
not like a poet anyway. Not like Bukowski.
I mean, what kind of poet would
the world expect me to be? Except that
I'll admit I can drink with the best.
A Huffstickler I'm not, or a Bukowski,
or Etter, or Kerouac - guys who knew the
big towns, the sluts, the dives, the rehabs,
the back alleys, park benches, soup kitchens,
flop houses, drug pushers — Humm, come to
think of it, we got all those here. But not
the all-important big town poet attitude.

I'm just this hick, delusional perhaps,
trying to fill a blossoming hole inside
of me that grumbles and claws for more,
and there's gotta be more to life than this crap.
I used to try and rhyme, like as
in "poor" and "whore", but there's
no rhyme to life, just grab it and clench.
Just life, death, burial and maybe a little
something for the dog afterwards.
The preacher says there's more,
the devil tells me to forget it,
(I'll listen to him occasionally).
So, for me, I'll probe a little deeper and
scrutinize a little harder, perhaps drink a
little heavier, and maybe find a plug
out there that'll fill the hole inside me.
Maybe even put it in words.
Become a poet.


amblings, ramblings

The following amblings and ramblings were saved up over the dark, depressing winter, and are spilled out here if for no other reason than to get them out of my mind, and to replaced the mind rot with glorious spring and it's natural salves. Once again I realize I love life.


nature's rebirthing


God, it's so good to be alive!

Jan and I went hunting yard sales this morning (glorious, sun-drenched Saturday morn) and it was like getting a huge vitamin shot, or some kind of natural upper - flowers and fruit trees abloom, the air filled with the intoxicating scents only nature can provide. A deep sapphire sky our open country is famous for, with only a few wisps of cotton clouds - no rain, no snow, no cold - meadowlarks and chickadees providing the background music, and the sun warming our backs as we scourged the yard sales for whatever treasures we might find. After months of semi-depression and lack of creativity, I once again realize I'm alive - and it feels so good!

I hope all of you are experiencing the rebirth that spring seems to always bring - if not, walk out into the sunshine, take a deep breath of spring air, listen to spring's wonderful sounds, and if you're still not rejuvenated, take some Prozac.

Your friend, Warren


Friday, May 14, 2010

the grayness


This free verse was written while I was in a prolonged state of the doldrums this past autumn and winter, feeling no creativity whatsoever.

It's late autumn but the colors
simply aren't there for me. Leaves, trees,
the sky, my face, my hair, my mood,
everything has become pall and gray.
Everywhere that color should abound
there is only lack of color. This canvas
remains indifferent to me - staring
blankly at me. My brushes sit unused
and rotting in solvent, the colors grimy
and dry on my palette, a spider has pulled
its hairy carcass through black oil and
then white and died gray upon the
edge of my painting table - its web strung
at the bottom of my easel. I feel no more,
paint no more, sell no more and my lover
has left me for a younger artist. Bitch!

"Colorless, odorless" reads this can of
brush solvent - it's what I've become!
I have become nothing, even without odor.
After metaphorically smearing gray paint on
my brow, my nose, my lips, torso and this
useless, pathetic, flaccid penis, I stand
naked before a 3-way, full-length mirror.
I'm completely gray, insensitive, consumed.
I confront the artist I used to be. My image
grows diffuse, without form, then dissipates.


wind of change


A drink isn't hard to swallow,
but a divorce, a lost child, death, they are.
The wind of change comes up, destroys dreams,
ends marriages, sifts through plans, hopes,
throws out what it wants.

A drink isn't hard to swallow,
but growing old, pains, drying dogs, they are.
The wind of change comes up, rips our garments,
exposes our frailties, our nakedness,
thoughtlessly shreds our defenses.

A drink isn't hard to swallow.


something, something


The morning mother died
I was deeply engrossed in something
on the television
and decided not to visit her in the nursing home.
She died alone. The mouth that once
whispered comfort to my child's ear
was now open to the world,
awkwardly caught in a final gasp
for one more precious breath of life.

She so richly deserved my presence,
paid for it in tears over the
years, a visit which was not afforded
because something, something
on the TV kept me from her bedside
that morning.

The news came in a phone call. "Sorry
Mr. so-and-so, but your mother died
a few minutes ago."
I stared deeply, analytically at something, something
on the TV
that morning and wondered if this was really how her life
should have ended, so damned alone, with dead eyes staring
to the side, still hoping to see the son who was
too engrossed to be there.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

morning light

morning light
fringes the crimson tulips . . .
the curve of her smile

Tuesday, May 11, 2010



a swooping barn owl
catches the light


spring breeze
a holdout autumn leaf
finally lets go

Monday, May 10, 2010

dark mountain


Several miles beyond, the dark mountain looms
threateningly - mirroring my mood
as we both brood coldly. Snow clouds hold
grip of its peaks and melt in an icy drizzle to the
ochre and umber, wind-swept valley below.

Inside this dank motel room with its peeling
walls, my addiction is both hidden and enhanced.
The room’s grimy interior is closed to the world
by a threadbare curtain which hangs
askew, sealing me inside my drunken fortress.
I lift bottles to my mouth with abandon,
gratefully lacking the contempt of others.

A tinny television mutters a string of profanities
from a corner, and a faucet drips incessantly into
the filthy sink. It all seems to echo what I
have become. I have become as this dead, dry fly,
scraping back and forth along the window sill,
manipulated by currents of stale air.

fearsome dream


Fearsome dream: I'm cocooned below, facing heavenward,

          but my face no longer senses nor melts

the frozen snowflakes that once were my pleasure.

          Now those flakes swirl aimlessly, unfelt in the blue-black,

uncaring night of winter, barely touching my grave,

blown about by the frigid January wind -

          dead to those sensations, I lay hard, cold, rotting.