Archive for October, 2013

First, My Clothes

First, my clothes
an assortment of cacky, tan
and black pants varying in size over the years.
Then my journals,
newspapers I’d published in,
magazines, old radio stands.
Finally, art pencils, watercolor brushes,
gels and printing inks.
I stopped at my poetry books,
then decided it wasn’t worth the chance.
The mold on Love Poems had already turned green.

They laugh when they’re terrified,
and mock when they’re apologizing.


My Father’s Shoe Polish Kit

Two pieces of hair cutting comb
so we wouldn’t get split ends.
Toenail clippers, a fingernail file,
one half-squeezed tube of Preparation H,
one full tube of toothpaste,
tampons and minipads to the side.

You can only keep some things so long.
My father’s shoe polish kit
sits in the top of my closet.
Griffin Allwite self-applicator bottle and brush,
the white liquid squeezed out on Easter morning.
Lanolize your shoes with
Esquire Boot Polish.
The Esquire Footman
has the same Kiwi horsehair bristle brush.

I sat on my mother’s bed
and he brushed his shoes back and forth
like a man playing a rough violin.
The smell of saddle soap and black tar still remind me of him.

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The Headless Horseman Lives in a Hallway

The headless horseman lives in a hallway,
with florescent lights
in a building behind Safelite Auto Glass.
He carries plastic bags to and from Krogers
and parks his Buick behind the building where he lives.
Tonight the moon is shining,
and I stand in a revolving door of headlights.
On the yellow caution signs on the sidewalk
my shadow shifts back and forth
as if I’m walking on a highway.
He takes his baseball cap off as he passes me
and looks like Doc Holliday.

The Headless Horseman Always Wears a Hat

The headless horseman always wears a hat,
no matter how he’s disguised.
First, as my brother
disgusted I must throw out my old clothes,
then as a young business man texting on his phone.
Today, he’s a thin skeletor woman squatting on the sidewalk
and tomorrow he’s a maintenance man removing gutters from a condo.
He wears an orange shirt and large white gloves
and blinks in the bright sun.
The gutters sag from years of wear
and lay beside his white truck,
black as the South
too many years of roof tar and soot
streaming through its mouth.

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404 Unfound

404 Unfound

We make sure people transfer back and forth
between visible and invisible,
usually in an airport.

So now we sit in the Grand Hotel
waiting for Garbo to fall in love.
I don’t want an accordion either

or a land of chewing gum machines
with triple turn knobs
that still take a nickel.

I could no more fly on a plane than a stranded Moses.
Me and Moses we stay home
and take care of our ten broken toes.

You can shake me up all you want
or ask me to buy a cigarette plant
with my pieces of plastic and filling station hands.

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Wedding Photos

Sometimes that’s all we have left–
even for those of us who realize it wasn’t a mistake.
I see a boy without the bruise,
and a girl without the grin.
There they are in all their ugliness
ready to begin and frozen in midair.
They breathe like they are surrounded by Bach.
Sometimes in the eyes, they don’t need to be young.
Their tuxes
loose attics
that could not wait another season,
and could have been more used.

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