Jack, for Heaven’s Sake

The truly pious
will never get to heaven
for they don’t know how
to sing or dance.
Kerouac roams freely
like a rogue elephant
unable to get a good buzz on
but not for want of trying.
He thought it would be
Edenic, a garden somewhere
between Babylon hanging
and the lobby
of the Royal Hawaiian
but it bears a closer
resemblance to Grant Park
or rural North Dakota
where the Coke machines
along the roadside
are often empty
and you are rarely hit
by golf balls the size
of hailstones.


Recently appeared in Aurora, Down in the Dirt Vol. 167 (2020)

HAVING WRITTEN

I suppose I ought to be glad
that no playwright has ever written
about me, for that is a fame that always
seems to end badly, unless it is a comedy,
and that, too, is dangerous ground,
for such plays tread heavily for a laugh.

Consider Shakespeare, and ask
yourself if yo would want to ever be
one of his protagonists, no doubt ending
up prematurely dead, and carrying all
manner of sin and angst to your grave,
while others gather to note your failures.

I suppose I could try a one-man show,
autobiographical, but only if I directed
myself, and even that would be challenging
as I don’t take direction well, but my early
attempts at its creation failed miserably,
as my audience, the mirror, made clear.

YEATS IF ONLY

Cheever was having a bad day,
that much was immediately obvious.
Perhaps it was the two martini’s in town
before lunch, but he says it only made him giddy.
We all know better and by late afternoon
his mood has soured completely, his emotions
have slipped back into turmoil.
He says a few cocktails will cure him,
or at least make him bearable.
He will soon consider AA again,
drinking dry the liquor cabinet in the consideration.
Elsewhere and in another time, Borges reminds us,
an Irish poet, held prisoner in the last days
of the Irish civil war, knows he will be executed
in the morning, and so slips out of the house
that serves as his prison, and into the water
icy, frigid, now hating the Barrow river.
He swims as best he can, promising
that if the river god allows him to live
he will present her with two swans.
He does live, he does place two swans
onto the river the following spring,
and he dreams one day of visiting Coole.

ON THE MENU

The waiter we know so well
tells tonight’s server
that we are poets and she
should ask us to order
in iambic pentameter.
We write him a limerick,
which she delivers with a smile
before returning with our wine
and a pad to take our order.
She seems somewhat sad
when our order lacks rhythm
and I explain that vegetarian
just will not be iambic.
she smiles and says until the meal is done
one night only can’t you just be vegan
even if dessert must be dactylic.

CHARLES

Bukowski, you old satyr
when you croaked
was there the great
American novel locked away in your head.
When you pickled yourself
was it for fear that the words
locked away inside
would spew forth
like your lunch
so many nights
as you verged
on alcohol poisoning.
When you read Burroughs
could you picture
the young boys
bent over the back
of the aging sofa.
We have read
the countless eulogies
of the other men
who only regretted
that your words
did not fall from their tongues.
I stood in the City Lights
for hours poring over you
when I had too little
to lure you home.
Now you rest on the shelf
alongside Ferlinghetti and Bly
and someday I shall
catalog the lot of you.


First Published in Backchannels Journal, Ed. 2, 2019
https://www.backchannelsjournal.net/edition-no-2-2019