Three Chiefs of Piegan

Three chiefs of Piegan gather to survey their land
Ask forgiveness from the sun
Lament the memories of buffalo hunted, haunted
Troubled over disease, starvation, war
The beauty of the plains is not lost on them
They sit tall on their horses, proud
Look west in weariness
Consider the chiefs before them
Those next in line
The changing world, confusing
Difficult decisions to make
The three chiefs of Piegan push the inevitable
Bellow against it
Raise their profile to the wind
Hair braided in history
Uncertain for their tribe
Such responsibility
For now, they fall still for the photographer
Time will wait for a moment
Then the world will reinvent itself and them, in turn

© Poem Fix 2012
Image: Edward S. Curtis


A Package for Hitler

The drill sergeant says it's a package for Hitler.  Let that crummy mustache have it, he yells.  Do it like you mean it you sorry excuse for a soldier.  Do you want to win this war or not? Because your face shows weakness and fear and when they see it they'll cut you up in a million pieces that even your mother won't recognize.  Hesitate and they'll blow your legs off so fast you won't even know it.  They want to kill you.  Is that you want?  Is that the face of a killer or a wimp? If you don't throw it like it's important they will.  Do you think they give a rat's ass your father is counting on you to come home and take over the family farm?  They do not! They have a firing squad waiting for them if they don't get their quota of Americans.  So you have two seconds to pull that ring and throw it down that German bastard's throat.  Do you hear what I'm saying?  If you don't I'll hit you so far down into the ground you won't even be able to smell your socks.  Now throw that thing, private, throw it like it's the goddamn end of the world and there's just that one last Jew hater left who is determined to kill you first so he can eat strudel tonight and laugh at your dead body.  He'll pull your guts out and use it to make sausages to feed their orphans.  Now throw it like you actually give a shit or you'll be running 20 miles tonight in the rain.  I swear!  Throw that thing into Satan's eye and let's go home.

© Poem Fix 2012
Image: Alfred T. Palmer, Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection, LC-D4-13088


A Day in the Life

The Daily Mail reports the death of Tara Browne
Guinness heir
Crashes into a van to pull it off.
The nerve
Was he someone important?
Meanwhile, Lester's film finds no audience
While we turn on
An alarm click.
Nothing happens on the bus--
Smoking, school, falling asleep.
Take comfort in the paper's account of too many ruts in the road,
Enough for a concert in South Kensington.

© Poem Fix 2012


Brothers in Futility

Blinding disappointment arrives at 3 a.m.
Winged black chariot
Uninvited companion
Windstorm of audacity
Insane and inexplicable intentions
This is what the night causes, drags in
When brains cease to function
And entitlement reigns over common sense
Darkness and libido are brothers in futility

© Poem Fix 2012



The world was supposed to end last week
Asteroids didn't come
Change came
Mind blowing finality
Open mouths
Uncertainty and fear
For some, the world they knew
Displaying a future of bleakness
As cold and distant as an asteroid

© Poem Fix 2012
Image: Western Washington University


Jesus Comes to Kill Scorpions

Jesus comes to kill scorpions
Young Hispanic man
Name sewn into his shirt
It's not Jeez Us, he says, apologizing, annoyed
It's Hey Zeus
As if greeting the
God of sky
Father of thunder
Ruling Mount Olympus
Here to make insects bow down before him
Searching for Hera among housewives
He shuffles through the house
Aiming his burning staff at floor trim
Laying waste to all lower creatures
We consider him on Christmas
When Jeez Us seems more familiar
But less of a miracle

© Poem Fix 2012



Halfway hastens equal longing for what was and what will be. It brings a triumph of accomplishment and trepidation of the loose footing ahead. Being halfway means you're a step away from almost there, from discouragement of damn-there's-a-long-way-to-go and self-doubt over halting enthusiasm. Halfway is hell, a tepid bed of nails.

© Poem Fix 2012


No Christmas

And no Christmas
Waking on a half-cold morning
Rushing to breath on the window
Watch the Christian kids ride bright bikes
Wondering about them around their trees
Choosing presents
Barely thinking of that Jesus baby
Taught there's only one God
Waiting for him
An uncle asks
If the Son was a messiah
Then why is there suffering?
They get Santa though
Who braves the atmosphere
Sled laden with wrapped boxes in velvet bags
None for this house
The fat red man knows to avoid this chimney
We have smeared lamb blood on our doorposts so he
Passes over

© Poem Fix 2012


Submerged Relics

Philip C. Curtis lives alone
An invisible house, once a stable
A dusty Scottsdale road
Pale, frail, sick
A ghost
His easel is set up in a light-filled room
A wooden bar apparatus allows his halting hand to rest
Applying pigment to a disturbed world
A nurse comes each day to administer medicine
"She's here," he says, annoyed
Bothered by the inconvenience and failing body
He excuses himself
The reporter snoops around the house
Peaks in his bedroom, musty, messy, old
Imposing himself upon the artist's private bathroom
Underwear soaks in the sink, surreal
Submerged relics to prove his mortality and loneliness

© Poem Fix 2012
Image: Tub at Sea, Philip C. Curtis, 



The author, who knows age is now his enemy, is praised and beloved, but few buy his books beyond academic insiders.  Magazines clamor for his short fiction, awards migrate to his doorstep with embarrassment, but he goes on living in his small house, wrapped in preferred obscurity, trapped behind a keyboard, searching for stories and trying to write a lesson plan for next week.  He teaches creative writing at a liberal arts college where creative thought supposedly matters, walking the halls and hearing whispers of students who gesture at him and want to be writers, hardly a talent among them, writing stories they think he wants to read, that he'll point to in class and say, "Finally, this is what I'm talking about," so he keeps searching for that lone fresh voice that will make it all worthwhile and prevent ideas from bleeding out.  Sometimes their stories bring him ideas but he resists them because that might be stealing and carry accusations of plagiarism or lacking originality, he, the revered tale teller, washed up, resorting to leaching off his students who, while writing contrived false stories for him, fail to flirt with him anymore.  On weekends he creates his own world with small black marks most misinterpret as modern.  He knows he is trying too hard, lost his patience, no longer able to write full-plotted novels that demand reader commitment. He can only pen short prose, easily digestible stories he can knock out, sell quickly and move on to another, ignoring the letters of rabid fans who plea for another fat tome. School and age and routine have taken that out of him now, forcing him into literary acrobatics that somehow don't seem as true or honest as the skinny hairless spectacled scarecrow he sees when walking past a mirror. Maybe there's a story in there somewhere.

© Poem Fix 2012



Limbo is a place to revel, a way station, comforting, warm solitude, waiting and not waiting, anticipating a torrent, a flood of intensity and rich construction that builds up water pressure in a knotted garden hose, hoping for release, praying for salvation, stepping through a doorway into something unknown yet familiar, comforting but alien, frightening and invigorating.  Come, you inevitable deluge, wash over this parched riverbed and take away the stink of years.

© Poem Fix 2012


Sunrise in Phoenix

Sunrise in Phoenix
Splashes the sky with
Hues of fire and
Driving tired on 51
Longing for that first cup of coffee
Colors to the east
Bleeding into the car
Thinking of yesterday's mistakes
Today's obstacles
Tomorrow's regrets
The years remaining
Sense of history, perspective
I glance at the next car
He at me
Compatriots in instant nostalgia

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: Poem Fix


Why is an Orange?

Someone asked me
Why is an orange?
With a punch line I don't understand
Posed with hands eight inches apart
Index fingers pointing to the sky
Like goal posts:
Because a banana is this color.
The distance between the fingers is roughly the length of a banana
Bu the color reference has me quizzed
And the fruit's preposition
As if there is an unseen cosmic connection between
Fruit and color
Distance and fruit
Color and distance
Warping themselves together into a place where time does not exist
And all assumed connections are myths

© Poem Fix 2012



It was less traveled
But what the hell
The other is more comfortable
That's the one I take
That's the one that delivers me to all things ordinary
A warm blanket to wrap myself in
Makes me drowsy
Tired from the heat and suffocation
Dream of something else that would make all the difference

© Poem Fix 2012
Image: Purnima Koli


Family Hanover Posing for Portrait

The family of George V of Hanover is sitting for a portrait, holding frozen poses, hoping that Mr. Giere will capture them warmly so that a way for unification with Britain can be influenced.  George is now forced to look to his right, hiding his dead eye, focusing on a ceiling water stain, pretending to care about his oldest daughter which he doesn't for she was the first of three female disappointments and he holds it against her.  His wife tries her best to gaze at George with admiration, but that is a false expression which she mostly carries off because her true loves, her baby girls, are on her lap and shoulder, wondering why their father is so distant and not understanding why he keeps looking up at God.

© Poem Fix 2012
Image: Giere


The Sticky LIttle Muffin

The sticky little muffin
Is good, my mother said
So eat it up now quickly
Or else you'll go to bed.

It's brown and lightly crunchy
And healthy for us, too
With just a little butter
It won't taste much like glue.

It's filled with bran and oatmeal
And topped with honey nuts
And just two hours later
It all comes out our butts.

© Poem Fix 2012



Who's to say how to lessen a personal tragedy or whether it's been softened enough, because every blow is a small terror, a tiny sliver of death, a moment of horrific nausea caught in a swell that can never be measured or fully appreciated, acerbic, absorbed in anger, a denial so sour that the taste, the pain, the affront to humanity, will never heal. Live with it.

© Poem Fix 2012



We aspire to greatness
Settle for survival
Abandon dreams to fetid battlefields
Small unexpected victories bring
Clarity, perspective, smokey hope
Fear washed away in rainstorm
Puddles remain
Festering with mosquitoes

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: James Gathany, CDC


Things in My Home Office

Internet bill
Department store bill
Credit card bill
Car payment bill
Insurance statement
Barney Miller, Seasons Seven and Eight DVD
H&R Block At Home
Nick Blackwood notepad
Mortgage statement
President of the United States ruler
National Geographic, October 2012
National Geographic, September 2012
National Geographic, November 2012
Rolling Stone, December 20, 2012
Rolling Stone, September 27, 2012
Rolling Stone, September 13, 2012
Rolling Stone, December 6, 2012
Rolling Stone, November 22, 1012
Music Bullet
Concord Confections Cotton Candy Gum Balls
Yellow Banana Gum Balls from
Replogle World Nation 12 inch diameter desktop globe
Martin N-20
Post-It Note
Logitec mouse
Dell Latitude E4300
Pitch pipe
Ceiling hook
Two pens
Check register
Work documents
Nintendo 3DS XL
Trash can

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: Poem Fix


Salvation Army Man

The Salvation Army man outside the grocery store rings his tin bell to Dean Martin imploring the clouds to open with a torrent of white.  He hovers near his red money pot, guarding it, guilting us to toss in lonely quarters whether or not we believe Jesus was someone's son.  When we pass without giving he stares us down with brimstone.  We drop our eyes to avoid the shame, make internal excuses about already giving even though we haven't. And won't.

© Poem Fix 2012


Redirect the Horrible

The hand is often wrapped around my spine
But now he holds me, owned
Pulling me close
Smothering me
As if I might escape
This has crossed my empty mind
Treated with so much disrespect
He grooms himself expertly
Parts his hair just so
Trims his mustache to cause swooning
But leaves me with this face, this collar, this dishevelment
That no one loves
Too creepy
Friends flee
Women and children recoil
Is this to redirect the horrible?
To shine compared to me?
No wonder I have turned an
Axe murderer
I will sneak into your room at night
Rest quietly and watch you breathe
Until you open your eyes and scream
Enact my own smothering

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: Jamie Frater,


New Hampshire Town

The small rural town in northern New Hampshire sits quiet, waiting, church steeple pointing toward heaven, cutting through the slanted snow, sitting center of county farms, welcoming visitors to the Blue Cloud restaurant but wanting them to leave after a spell, seeing Ned and JD at the post office and collaring Reverend Thompson in the square to discuss the holiday pageant, going to bed thinking of the cake not ordered from Brown's Bakery, waking to the best coffee ever made and a world of white.

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: Irving Rusinow


Stark Canyon Echo Beauty

The sandworms are absent
I call for them
Trudge about
Oil a thumper, get it running
Watch for wormsign
That's how it goes these days
Accept it, I'm told
Take the desert for what it is
Soak up the stark canyon echo beauty
Feel the brown, orange, tan
Splashes of deep verdant green
Bring it into my bones like O'Keeffe's Abiquiu
A landscape with infinite inspiration
I suppose
But even she had a nervous breakdown.
A world without my friends is too barren
So I walk with heavy feet
Hoping for the roar of makers.

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: Walid Hassanein


Two Dogs

The dogs sometime sleep together when it's cold, leaving empty the cushion closest to the glass door, icy there, lonely, separate.  Together, they huddle for collective warmth, or to face off to see if the original squatter will give up his post.  Perhaps it's fondness that brings them together, dog love, if dogs can love, pleasure in company, life companions. What does it say about the one second to the bed?

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: Poem Fix


Sea Clouds

From above
Banks of clouds are oceans
Boiling against each other
White rolling crests
Cradling helpless hidden boats
Puffy balls of vapor as far as the horizon
Disguising the torrent below
Symmetrical rows of diamonds
Floating fields of crops
Incendiary folds, hills, lakes
Offering to support the plane
And carry it to heaven

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: Sandramat



Thinking about Isis
Running away from her
Drives a man to abandon everything
Take up with thieves and liars
No wings
No prayers
Just a harsh barren landscape
Icy, outrageous
Dirt and cramped quarters
Of the mind
Isis isn't far away
In the meadow
Hair crazy and tempting
Fresh and blood boiling
Ruling over everything
Eyes fiery, swallowing 
No words for her exist
Only pain and actions that can't be expressed, explained
In love with her
Or forced into exile

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: Flanker



The person sitting next to me is doodling.  Small little flowers.  Each with five petals and a small circle in the middle.  They are begging for color. Yellow.  Or a shade of bright pink.  The flowers--are they daisies?--are asking to be freed from the page, to grow wild, fall to the floor and replace the carpet with hundreds of petals.  They long to push toward the horizon and relieve the lack of concentration, the boredom that comes from meetings like these.  Where can I find such flora, life that consumes the observer and settles things?

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: Poem Fix



Sinterklass in the Netherlands
Tonight, Sinterklaasvond
Stick a carrot in a shoe and leave it by the back door
The white bearded wonder has a universal skeleton key
Replacing the vegetable with presents and candy
He carries a tall staff
Aided by black faces
Dark from race or soot
Gifts in burlap bags
Brought to America
To suffer shame and greed and cartoons
Lost to movies and shopping malls
Flailing on rooftops with Norelco shavers
And lies told to children so they will behave
Milk and cookies
Gift receipts to aid in returns

© Poem Fix 2012



The Russian winter white dwarf hamster is unaware he's going nowhere.  He climbs aboard the wheel, leans into it, excited about travel and surprise, new vistas, exotic foods.  He's hoping for a shapely mate at the other end of the endless moving sidewalk, a nice smelling female amenable to snuggling and more.  This makes him run faster, hope in the distance, love waiting, tiny claws digging in.  But he is disappointed.  Again.  The new realm is strikingly parallel to the old one.  And the one before that.  Furniture is arranged similar.  The same food is served, water spigot, too.  The big hand looks nearly identical.  Is this how the world is ordered?  Modular, structured, equivalent?  He retreats to the new nest, same as the old nest, to consider things and plan tomorrow's journey, running farther to find a place he's sure is out there.

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: Mylius


I Call From Airports

My father is always glad to hear from me.  He lives in a shrinking world and drives a car that only knows five places to go.  He mostly stays within his own walls and the accumulation of years, preparing, waiting, eying the bottle of caramel colored liquor a dozen times a day.  I call from airports, making his day, answering the same questions, offering continuity, knowing that one day the news won't be good and that, like all living things, his voice will grow slower, tired, Memphis drawl more pronounced until, as his twilight takes greater hold, we have another innocuous conversation for me to return to again and again.

© Poem Fix 2012


Philip Roth Retires

Philip Roth retires
And all I can think about is
Raw liver
And the false Anne Frank.
Writers don't retire
They die
Lose their powers
Fall into senility
Kill themselves to end
Private pain.
But Roth retires
We scratch our heads
Denied another glimpse into
Nobel's shame
Yet forced
To finally be allowed to study him in
We consider our own retirement
Wish it might be so complete.
Damn him
Unless he has a secret cancer
Because our future discoveries are drowning in his head.

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: Poem Fix


Old Money, New Whiskey

I bring my whiskey to check out.
The liquor store clerk is upset.
He says, You bought that last time
There's a world of amazing whiskey out there
You should never buy the same brand twice
Until you've tried them all.
But I like this one.
He takes the bottle from me.
He says, That's no excuse
You can't have it
Choose another.
He motions at a top shelf
Where a dozen strange whiskey brands
Stand tall
Certainly expensive.
He looks at me in a superior way.
He says, They're only a few dollars more
That's nothing for a true whiskey connoisseur
Like yourself.
I feel harshly judged.
He takes a fancy bottle down and says
You need to buy this one
I'm telling you
If you go through life not sampling them all
Then how do you know what you're missing
Because the one you don't try might turn out to be
Your favorite.
But the one I want is already my favorite
That's why I came in here.
He looks at me hard and says
How do you know
How do you know anything?
I feel naked.
He says, Buy this one
I'm telling you.
Beaten and bullied,
I lay down old money for new whiskey
Take the nectar home and find it
Sweet and smoky heaven.

© Poem Fix 2012


Requisite Haiku

Lost poem to cyber
Vanished, dead and forgotten
Quick, the clock turns back

© Poem Fix 2012


Five Red Doors

Out my window
Across the street
Five red doors
Yell fire.
Five red doors
And steps for escape
Pushing out into the world
Don't miss me
Come to me
Five red doors
Sirens calling
Looking south in silence
Quiet mouths
Longing to open
Engulf you.
Step outside the
Five red doors
To smoke and chill and
Talk in private
To push your lover flat
And fall into crimson.

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: Poem Fix


Three Drinks

Three drinks
And I know it's time to stop
Maybe one more
Big mistake
Guy in the corner plays guitar
Voice too high
Now a Bill Withers song
Still too shrill
Am I the designated driver?
Better stop now
Down the road
Another bar
To find a way to sobriety
Why don't I feel cold?
A two-step plays
Let's chase each other around the room tonight
While fat old cowboys glide around the floor
Seeming content and happier
Than I can remember
Hold it together man

C 2012 PoemFix


Animal Mortality

If we are the only animal that knows
Its own mortality
Then what to make of the mother gorilla
Who cradles her dead baby
Elephants that nudge the bones of dead relatives
Giraffes that won't abandon a corpse
Grief or curiosity
Puzzlement or reflection
If they know death
Is it the same as ours
Do they understand aging or illness
Consider the possible outcomes
Fragility of time
Do they prepare, fret, deny
Embrace darkness when it appears friendly
Are they ready as some humans
Or lash out against nature
Rude and intemperate

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: Nevit Dilmen



Unshaven man with one tooth
Challenges me to a
Game of 8 ball.
He has shaky hands
Watery eyes
Tired look that says
I can take him.
I down my fifth beer
Break the balls
Claim stripes
Finish him off
Before the next round comes.
He rests the cue on the table 
Says good game
That I shouldn't worry about life so much.
He disappears before I challenge him on that.
I sit heavily on the stool
Eat the orange slice
Wonder which of my teeth
Will go first.

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo:  Poem Fix


Owning You

Hurry up, will you?
We'll take all the time we want
It's in our interest. 
But you?
Lego, pawn, interchangeable
Jump when we say jump
We have money to make
You're moderately in the way
Snap to it
And turn the lights off
On your way out

C 2013 Poem Fix



The other team scores.
Last moment's elation
A field goal pretty much
Ends the season.
From coast to coast
In every home
Our demise is witnessed
Over gravy.
Near humiliation
Heading home to turkey and smiles
Shake it off
Carve the bird in silence
Thinking of the play that
Turned the game
Makes me want this holiday to end.
No thanks
Another game
Another failure
Another game next week
But those own me in fantasy are winners.

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: NFL


Thanksgiving 2012

There will be no Thanksgiving at their house
Turkey, yes
But no bowing heads at a table
No taking turns to relate personal gratitude.
In their home
Gloom pervades from upstairs
Insulates everyone from
Pilgrim worship.
Someone may still cook a bird
Make stuffing
Serve cranberries
Try to force a little cheer
But darkness has taken hold in that unassuming house
Yielding only to time and Febreze
If there is thanks to be given
Let a glimmer of it find its way there
Even if it is just a dusting of empathy or hope.

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: Marjory Collins, Farm Security Administration


He Said

Everything is a compromise with women
Which is how I guess it's supposed to be
But that doesn't make it any less
It always starts so nice
With lust and sex and longing and
All things nasty and fantastic
But it never stays that way
Before you know it you're arguing
About what kind of soap to buy.
They try to change you
Brush crumbs from your face
Dress you
Get annoyed when you fart
When it used to sort of
Turn them on,
A predictable arc from
Discovery to concession
From earlobes to
Taking the phone off the hook for a week.
I wonder what I've left at her apartment
That I'll never have the courage to retrieve.

© Poem Fix 2012
 Photo: Sam Smith


She Said

Sebastian hasn't called in a week
Which is the same amount of time
I haven't called him
So it's a stalemate.
Each day this goes on the
Longer it goes on
But I'm putting my foot down this time
And I'm ready for it to end
If it comes to that.
I love him
And sometimes I feel he sees it, too
But the disagreement
The stupid disagreement
Over what I don't even want to acknowledge
OK it was about the soap
And now it's come to this
And our lives are slipping away because of
Stupid things like pride
Or something resembling it.
Maybe he called but my phone didn't receive it
That happens sometimes
Technology isn't perfect
So now he might think I'm purposely avoiding him
Which I'm not.
I'd just about take his call than anyone's.
Maybe he's out ring shopping all this time.
I can think of a lot of things to delude myself.
Why would anyone be attracted to me in the first place?
There's nothing likeable or beautiful about me
I'm certain of that
But there are some things I do well.
I'll just sit here and wait
Stare at the phone and will it to ring.

© Poem Fix 2012
 Photo:  Holger Ellgaard


Postcard Oceans

There's a funeral this morning
Shower and shave
Offer respect
Black suit
Tissues in pocket
Comfort for others
The sky is as bright and blue as it is possible
The azure of postcard oceans
Exposed and full and ready to
Open heaven
With angels and trumpets and
Automatic entrance
We will look down at the
Open earth
Wonder when we will join him
If the bread truck is speeding around the corner
To knock us underground
Hold hands
Then walk away
Get in the car
Drive back to the
Rest of the day
Then tomorrow
The petty things we discover and
Make important

© Poem Fix 2012
 Photo:  Poem Fix


How to Kill a Mouse

I captured a mouse in my pantry
Cornered on a shelf
Excited, nervous
I brought a plastic kitchen trashcan to the edge
Goaded him (her?) to the ledge with threat of a
Large can of Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin on the right
And a box of granulated sugar on the left
Nowhere to go
Clearly frightened
The mouse fell into the trashcan
Looking small and defeated
Cowering at the bottom
My brother once told me that one mouse
Turns into a hundred more
That drowning them is
Fast, efficient, humane
So I took the trashcan outside
Its passenger quiet and curled
Filled it halfway with water from a hose
The mouse struggled mightily
After a while it gave up
Dropped from the surface
Eyes bulging like a cartoon
Bubble rising from its mouth
I spilled the trashcan on the driveway too late
Nudged the lifeless rodent with my shoe
Its soul had fled
I scooped him up with a piece of cardboard
Threw him in the bushes
With what was left of my innocence

© Poem Fix 2012


Muse No X

Aretha Franklin
The Beatles
Cheap Trick
David Forman
Elvis Costello
Frank Sinatra
Green Day
Harry Nilsson
John Prine
The Kills
Lucinda Williams
Mavis Staples
Nick Lowe
Otis Redding
Paul Simon
Randy Newman
Talking Heads
Van Morrison
Warren Zevon
ZZ Top

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: Michael Maggs


The Color of My Life

The white kids in class
Call me their token black
Or a word not so kind
And point to me as proof
We're integrated
But one black boy doesn't
Cut it.
They recruit me for basketball
Another form of slavery
So I wipe my sweat on them and
Drunk the ball over their too small hands.
Girls corner me behind the cafeteria
Make me pull down my pants
To see if it's true
Which it is
But they are scared of me
Or their parents are.
Teachers are proud to have me
Like a cut that needs a Band-Aid.
I don't know what my parents are thinking
Or what they intend to prove
Through me.
I just want to get educated
Get a job one day.
Mr. Drearson says not to let it get me down
To wear my darkness proudly.
He is trying to make a point with me
Which I appreciate
But he does it to get closer to god
Or the person he thinks he should be.
He cares enough OK
But he should stick to geometry
And leave the part that is the color my life
To me.

 © Poem Fix 2012
Image:  John Vachon for U.S. Farm Security Administration



For now
I am satisfied to be his eyes
My horse
Way to the world
An equal partner
Fair and just
Was I made for him?
My limbs are useless
His are strong
Rock like, steady
My hands and muscles
A cruel joke
His are youthful
Like his face,
Open, blind, lustful,
Unlike my rotten mask
Together we walk the Levant
Bound together by dreadful truths

© Poem Fix 2012
Image: Tancrède Dumas


The Burning of Columbia

When Columbia burns
She burns
Brought to her knees
Given to Sherman
And his unchained
Federal prisoners and
Tasting liberty
Sweet nectar
Glorious emancipation
Anger and vengeance
They tumble and fight
Loot and light
The city with flame
Roiling in high winds
Until a heart of the South
Eclipsed by blood brothers

© Poem Fix 2012
Image: William Waud


A Small Square Inch

There is one small spot
In the middle
On the back of my head
I can never see.
I strain in front of a mirror
Open the medicine cabinet
Strain to keep my neck from turning
But that one area
A small square inch of hair
Remains forever hidden from me
Like the far side of the moon
I shouldn't care about this spot
But having never seen it
I wonder if it's really there
Or if there's a reason it is so elusive
Which makes me want to discover it
Even more so
So much a part of me
Yet always away
Behind me
On me
Like a carbuncle
A scab I yearn to rip off

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: Walters Art Museum


But For a Gold Mine

I can sense the end is near
I'm ready
Bring it
Comforting and comfortable
I've lived enough lives
To make up for all my sins
I embrace them all
Gladly owned
I am a collector
So I hold this globe
Willing it to be the last thing I see
The last thing I touch
My life
Good and evil
I might have been a great man
But for a gold mine
Now all I have are these memories
Longings for love, achievement, a childhood sled
The nostalgia of lost innocence 
With effort I can look out the window
At my huge world
But this small snow globe will do
It's everything

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: © Turner Home Entertainment


I'm Smart

Paulie's sick
So I drive papa to town
Where he stops at the office and
Gathers oranges and a green pepper.
Now he's sprawled on his side
Red flowing from so many holes
While I sit on the curb
Watch my world fall away
My brain swelling
Now the others have confirmation of my weakness
They think I'm mentally handicapped
I'm not dumb
I'm smart
But that's only hearsay now
Because everyone's great man
My papa
Has fallen.
I can't, is all I can say
Because that's my life
My future.
I can't.

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: © Paramount Pictures


It Really Was No Miracle

I open the door
The world is in color
Frightening and pastel
Creepy little people bend and bow
In broad lapels
Pointed hats
Tall striped socks
Hiding behind a bubble
A pink woman
With jewels on her head and neck
The tiny humanoids dance around and
Praise me for murder

© Poem Fix 2012


The Heroic Weather Conditions of the Universe, Parts 1 and 2

Starts with solitary high notes
A whistle sound
Metronome up and down
A music box plays somewhere
Ballerina twirling around in pink
Her white slippers trailing behind her
A counterweight melody forces its way in
Blocks tap to emphasize playful tension
We are waiting for the organ, welcome
Surprised when the huge bells take over
Relieved when they fall to the wood blocks
Familiar, comfortable
Whistling that leads into the horns
And a bank of singers who make it real,
Surprising us with their humanity and
The second time around a banjo takes it up
While the xylophone has its moment
Harps let us know there's an angel somewhere
But they disappear when violins are plucked
Like clockwork
We feel that something important is happening.

© Poem Fix 2012


The Last Time I Saw Richard

The last time I saw Richard
Isn't a Joni Mitchell song
It was when he put on his
Yellow scarf
And looked at me
As if I were death,
Like I'd done something
Horrible to him,
Which I had, in a way
But no one deserves that glare
Fierce and scornful
Like a Kabuki mask
But the memory of his flesh is still there at night
I think of him with nostalgia
As if everything we ever had
Was theater.

© Poem Fix 2012 
Japanese woodblock print by Torii Kiyotada VII 



The child eats dirt
It tastes like home
Or an imagined home
Where there are no orphans.
Earth is organic and
He carries vials of
Sweet topsoil
In his backpack
Hoping for seasons and

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: Carla Antonini


Second Thought

The beggar is shaking a plastic cup
The coins dancing inside, making music
The lyric says drop money in so I can eat.
I avert my eyes and continue past,
Watching my breath in the cold
Looking back to see the poor man
Sitting on blankets
Still rattling the cup.
I touch my pocket to see if I have change
A quarter or two after my coffee
But I'm already several paces away
And I don't want to backtrack.
Guilt wraps its hands around my neck
Slipping its cold fingers under my scarf
I've been judged.
I double back to where the man sits
Still asking for money, desperate, demeaned.
I stand in front of him to ensure he sees me
Dig the coins out of my pocket
Lean down
Drop them purposefully
One at a time
Inside his cup.
I feel good.
He looks up at me and nods.
He says, I saw you walk by and knew you'd be back.
I turn and move quickly away
Afraid I've been discovered
A fraud
A giver only on second thought.

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: John Manuel


Dispatch to Evangeline

I finally muster the courage to
Pass a note to John
Who slips it to Millie
She gives it to Evangeline.
I am attentive to her
Perfectly pressed hair
And that one freckle above her right eyebrow.
I love her
Miss Kenatol is teaching denominators
But I am busy composing my
Dispatch to Evangeline.
It comes out half-hearted
Because revealing the truth to her
Would be admitting it to myself.
So all I can write,
In my neat handwritten scrawl, is
If you like me I will like you back.
John doesn't open the note
But Millie takes a peak,
Wry smile.
Evangeline reads my words,
Looks up
Scans the room
Finds my eyes.
I look down, mortified, embarrassed.
What have I done?
All the blood in my body dissipates.
I bury my head in my arms.
Miss Kenatol asks what's wrong.
I say I'm trying to memorize something,
Which satisfies her.
I see Evangeline write something on my note.
She passes it back to Millie
Who opens and reads it,
Then on to John
Who holds it out to me.
I reach for the talisman,
Bringing it close but not opening it,
Afraid to reveal what's inside.
I don't want to know
Just yet.

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: strngwrldfrwl from Japan



I light a candle and
Crap in a Ziploc bag.
The building has no power
No water.
The elevator is stuck in the basement
Half filled with putrid water.
We all meet in 7B at the end the hallway
Because Ed and Jason have the large apartment on the floor.
We each bring a bottle of wine
Sit in their large room
Look out at the dark city.
Red wines mix well.
Soon we're asking Ed and Jason
Intimate questions
Like who's the catcher.
They laugh and say
They both catch.
After a while nothing matters.
We line up the empty wine bottles on the windowsill
Looking like so many dark skyscrapers

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: David Shankbone


In My Backpack

Dell Latitude E4300
Tatiana vanilla flavored cigars
MEElectronics in-ear headphones
The Doctor's Brushpicks
Albuterol spray (two)
Office keys (2)
Loose change
Business cards
Caran d'Ache pen
Lip balm
Fake gold Pirates of the Caribbean medallion
Stolen inside-the-trunk release handle
Walgreens acetaminophen
iPhone earphones
Blackberry earphones
Sprint wi-fi connector
Sans Nom matches
Targus computer remote
Bic lighter
Neomycin and polymyxin B sulfates and dexamethasone ophthalmic suspension
Extra earphone batteries
Audio cable splitter
Thumb drive (2)
Extra earphone buds
Confidential work documents
RollingStone, October 11, 2012
Norwood, by Charles Portis
iPad 2
Moleskine notebook
Drug samples
Breakfast voucher from The National
Notes for a story on Arizona Inn stationery
Unused US Airways Above & Beyond recognition card
Hand-drawn birthday card from daughter ("I love you. You are the best dad in the world.)
Handmade bookmark from daughter
Nintendo DS with Yoshi's Island game card
Son's passport and birth certificate
Hair spray
Fluticasone propionate nasal spray
Aquafresh toothpaste (2)
Lagerfeld classic cologne
Splenda (8)
Stevia in the Raw (2)
Inside a small red pouch: acrylic tooth fairy stone kissed by my mother before she died

© Poem Fix 2012
Photo: Poem Fix