Pastor Homer is a jealous man
and Opal gives him fits
through 40 years of marriage
kissing other men
on New Year’s Eve
when midnight strikes.
And every year when Opal
kisses other men
Pastor Homer in his party hat
toots his party horn
and hollers from his wheelchair,
“If Judas had a sister,
Opal, you'd be it.”
I used to dream
in black and white
but now I dream in color.
Blood is red and real
puddling on the pavement
not some shadow
from the past.
The further back I go
the more the blood puddles
suddenly a giant seiche
foaming across the sidewalk
throwing me back
to where I have to go
to find the hand
that held the knife
when the blood
began to flow.
I'll tell the bastard
after all these years
it’s easy to forgive
harder to forget.
The time has come
to pray before
all is said and done.
On Sunday his wife
and children walk
and he goes
into his garden
making things right
on his altar of life.
At dusk he brings
his heaven home
in soiled hands.
A big bouquet
for a wife
suddenly in tears.
i wonder was she the one
i gave money to at the
bedford/ north 7th street
she was singing a beatles song
and it sounded
or, maybe it was at grand
as i was heading for the 3?
she was doing a motown ditty
i met her at union square
buying a jimi hendrix button
she believed he was
killed by a conspiracy
just like i believe
new orleans was killed by katrina
the bureaucrats let it die
so it could be disneyfied
into a playground for rich white people
like her, the radios
in my house were tuned
to different stations
my tastes beyond eclectic
she's got opinions
but, as my grandmother always said
" i'd rather have an opinion
than be an onion
maybe i'm weird
but i've stopped going to open mikes
sometimes, just writing poetry
next time i see her
i'll drop some money
in her guitar case
the kind that doesn't make a sound
i won't let her know
about my weakness for cute jewish girls
but that her song means something
Two black cats
come over the fence
circle each other
all over the yard
hissing and leaping
into a ball
rolling like sagebrush
into the pool.
I fish them out
with a trout net.
Two wet mops
drying on the lawn.
Around here it’s still beer and, of course, the time of year
whole carloads crowded loud with music, speeding along
end the night in a number of ways: get pulled over, police
blue lights flashing, sirens blurring, the driver carted off and
parents called, something they’ll recall, joke about later; or
they crash somewhere, head-on, into a stray bridge abutment
an oak tree by the side of the road, oncoming traffic, or even
upside-down in a river, the ambulance and police, parents and
survivors create a haunting scene; or other nights they come out
okay in the end, wake late the next day, recall only parts of what
went on, becomes a joke of sorts, something to brag about, part
of their legend, their mythology; around here it’s still mostly beer
and the chances we take being young; I remember waking late
wondering where I left the car, remember police cars out front
and trying to explain what we did, trying to make it sound better
than it was, and I remember another time the police at the door
to say my brother ended his night, his life head-on into oncoming
traffic, at least he was alone that time, a scene I never saw but still
imagine, sirens, red and blue lights flashing, the truck he hit, and his
body lit up, crushed; my brother on the road, forever underage.
-- J. K. Durick
We pile them up, pile them on, but disguise them
As best we can, dress them up in colorful paper,
Ribbons and bows, carefully selected or not
We arrive at the door with one under our arms
Wait for just the right moment to present them,
The presents our presence demands, our offering
To the moment, our present settling the future;
Presents unwrapped become desperate pen sets
And/or ties, become earrings or bottles of wine
Of perfume, become things we thought would
Fit, would appreciate the moment our presence
Brings with it, a gift, an explanation of sorts of
How things are, we wrap so many things like this,
Some good paper, ribbon and bows, disguise
Them that way and hope they work some magic.
-- J. K. Durick
So here I am, all decked out
in a new suit from Brooks Brothers,
haberdasher to corporate stars.
My wife just got here, rattled.
The kids have been here for hours,
flying in for the occasion.
My wife will make certain
I look as spiffy as possible.
The oldest boy just told her
a neighbor has agreed
to cut the grass, rake the leaves
and shovel the snow, chores
I performed for decades in return
for a mug of coffee and wedge of pie.
Now my wife is asking the undertaker
to puff out my tie, something she did
before I’d go to the office, armed
with a thermos and brown paper bag.
In the Shady Lane Nursing Home
Aunt Bea crochets and tells her niece
sitting and listening this Sunday afternoon
that the young ones pushing wheel chairs
changing sheets and bringing trays
must learn to knock because
they’re unaware he’s behind that door
under the big clock in the day room
where the old ones sit for hours
watching television, praying,
writing letters, weeping,
asking to go home.
He's always there, she says,
and he has the answers but
the young ones have to knock
ask him what he wants
because he’s a question
not just an answer.
It’s true that nothing stays the same,
the lead singer taking over the former
learning of death on a late Friday night,
wondering how the weight will fall,
will this result in a withdrawal into self,
watching the slow destruction of the building
where we met and knew each other better,
listening to the words that used to give
comfort, now blaringly shallow and vague,
finally forgetting who we were as children,
becoming whatever it is we are now,
be it husk or full-fledged living creature,
be it static or dynamic character
filling the void of the page.
-- JD DeHart
You are a piece of art they have not decided
to start appreciating, dear, and please forget them
anyway. They are rabble.
They are too busy worrying about their prescriptions,
their car payments,
their brand-new jobs to pay you any mind.
Too busy learning about new flavors of cheap wine,
they fail to recognize how you take the best
of them, distilled, refined, lip-burning, because
you are their kindest thoughts and words
made flesh, while they content themselves
with the dreadful remnants swimming in their cup,
you are the incarnation of their faint possibility.
-- JD DeHart
He has to know they’ll never
understand, yet he keeps talking –
Why does he keep trying?
Doesn’t he care about me at all?
They’re all too buried deep in caverns,
listening to their juicy music,
thinking about how to earn money
or get into bed with each other,
and he’s going on about the truth.
Dig deep, he tells them, and they look
at him like, We don’t have shovels, dude.
If it’s in them, I don’t see it.
What I see is the mob, the gulp of poison,
then me – aimless wanderer, the guy
strolling around saying, Remember when
he used to teach us?
Remember that? They probably won’t.
-- JD DeHart
She’s got chicken bones in the back seat
and one of those large decals about Jesus,
His Wonderful Saving Grace,
plastered onto the windshield so one wonders
how she can even see around the neon?
Her couch always smells like cheese,
but like manufactured cheese – not the real stuff,
like what aliens think cheese tastes like.
She’s got hands for going through garbage bags
full of clothes, a mouth that makes excuses
and poems out of profanity at a moment’s notice.
She knows how to work the system,
fake an injury, get out of a ticket,
fill out the government forms just right.
But she has no idea how to redeem herself
or how to give a gift, which is her
wagon rolling, tire thumping tragedy.
-- JD DeHart
- cuts a winding riverbed
with bits of self
cast aside as oxbows -
of least resistance -
- Earth has always possessed
the same amount of water
No less -
- meandering through
a narrow reservation
resurrected from a “Superfund” site -
- Where once munitions
now a narrow band of trees
shade the little channel
home to deer, woodchucks, fox,
rabbits and an array of birds -
Nestle and other corporations
are buying major sources
near the train station
a meadow is flooded
now and then
its colors changing
with the plant species
that thrive in this years’
ebb and flow -
glaciers that held
the water supply for
billions are disappearing.
will they go?
along Foul Meadow
where red winged
out little kingdoms -
air, food, shelter
in curved, curbed
through Hyde Park,
Dorchester from Wollaston as
the Neponset estuary
in its easy going fashion
attaining a flexible
with the sea …
-- Tom Rubenoff
It took awhile to find Osama.
It will take awhile to find
the Briton with his knife
in the desert of Iraq.
They may bring him back
unless a verdict’s rendered
in the desert
enabling the Briton
to discover in a second
all the virgins
awaiting his arrival
unless he finds
he’s sitting with Osama
blackened on a stick.
Dad, happy to see
you’re taking a nap.
I’m down at the pier
so give me a shout
when you wake up
and I’ll come running.
The fishing’s been great--
three coolers of pike
iced in the trunk.
You always tell Mom
before we leave
you won’t be drinking
and she lets Tim and me
go with you but
you drink all day
here at the lake.
I'll get my license next year
so things will be different.
I'll drive back at night so
you can nap in the car.
I’ll keep the radio off
so you won’t wake up.
It’s always good
to see Mom.
On tippy toes
with arms outstretched
my grandson asks
how old are you
and so I tell him
I'm sooooo old
that when I stretch
my arms like his
to exercise them
vultures land and
My grandson says
he puts his arms out
so robins will build
nests on them
and raise their chicks.
He never takes a nap
because he has to keep
his eyes on the clouds
to shoo away hawks
circling for supper.
White alkali bleeds
through honeycomb cracks
in concrete steps
rising in uniform increments
like cobwebs spun
with instinctive precision
between rose bush stems --
both waiting, both anticipating,
both expecting use.