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