13 Ways Of Looking At Bourbon

As a short life
that bites and quickens the blood
before swirling the drain,
he downed the shot in one go.

The bottle of bourbon
was his djinni demon,
granting his most beloved dream
in the black-out oblivion
of inebriation.
Silence.

So much that was hard to swallow
in life
he washed down
with firewater burning
at 180 proof.

He cut his worries
like he cut his bourbon—
with chunks of ice-cold indifference.

The angels drank their
inspiriting share
and in return
blackened the world
with their drunken hymns.

Sour mash teemed,
life becoming death
as bacteria ate themselves
toward extinction—
Man likewise.

The golden amber liquid
sloshed inside the glittering glass,
a magical potion dispelling illusions
and opening portals
toward the truer realms of
personality.

The bottle,
like his patience,
had been depleted,
shattering over the
skull
of the belligerent country bumpkin.

They lubed the wheels
of their lovemaking
with bourbon foreplay,
only for the wheels to slide
right off the tracks.

Barrel-chested
and full of himself,
his blood burned hot as bourbon
until the day
a bullet
un-bunged his heart.

They distilled their culture
using corn, rye, malt,
limestone springwater,
coal, lime, salt,
and plenty of caustic.

White Dog so pure
it brought tears to their eyes,
and helped them breathe fire
to burn crosses.

The rackhouse collapsed,
spilling its barrels outward
like a dying sow
birthing a fat farrow of piglets.

Southern Gothic

The field spread, wan and wilted, wallowing
like a pale corpse before the front porch,
beneath a gloomy gray sky, swallowing
the sun like a fog-shrouded torch.

The old man sat in his rocking chair,
grinding the planks with a scraping screech
and his wife sat on the steps, hands in hair,
plaiting it as she ignored his speech.

“Don’t go runnin’ ‘round no more,”
he said, the rifle loaded in his lap,
“‘cause I won’t be married to no whore.
I’d rather be a widower than a sorry sap.”

The woman only giggled, and continued braiding
while he upbraided her with his threats—
at her back the house paint was chipped and fading,
the windows cobwebbed with dead insects and regrets.

The second storey window was dark, the kid’s room
empty, ever empty, since they were married—
and in the haunted silence of that gloom
all of the past and future and hope were buried.

With a sigh she said, “Nothing ever grows here.
None of my vegetables and none of my flowers.”
She blinked away a single bitter tear
and sighed again. “Ain’t nothin’ here really ours.”

“I’ve got some good roots here,” he said,
“and they got a taproot to our hearts.”
She scoffed. “But the flowers are all dead,
so who cares about the other parts?”

“You just think you’ll be happy flyin’ free,”
he said, “like a seed on the sinful wind,
or you think someone will pluck you from me—
maybe a rich fool wanting a cozy friend.”

He lifted the cold-barreled rifle in each hand
and felt the reassuring heft of the stock
and, with a curdling frown toward his wedding band,
he aimed it toward her, listening to her talk.

“Your gun don’t work no more,” she said,
“no more than the one between your legs.
Go ahead and shoot me in the head—
your gun ain’t nowhere near big as Greg’s.”

“Woman, you are tempting the Devil,”
he said, his voice as a whetstone on a blade.
She stood up, smirking, ready to revel
in the roughspun hatred they had both made.

Her dress was white as dandelion seeds
and clung to her body loose, a dress
hinting at the yet-youthful curves, and lewd deeds,
of a breeze fluttering higher at that airy access.

“Should have known you were a dead end,”
she said lightly, patting down her skirt—
she was a lithe flower, but she would not bend.
“You’d think after all this time it wouldn’t hurt.”

He smiled sourly and the porch’s light
drew a shadow mask down to his jaw line.
“All I gave you was cleaning vinegar, right?
And all you ever wanted was fancy wine.”

A cow lowed in the distance, a moan
carrying on for a long time, as if to splurge
upon the wide-mouthed vowel, maudlin, lone
as a farewell song, a Southern Gothic dirge.

“Think you can bolt from me?” he growled.
“I got your number, Missy, with this Winchester.”
“All you ever had were guns.” She scowled
and thought of the first time he had undressed her.

He could smell honeysuckle in the air
and it stayed in his mind, for a time,
but he also smelled lavender in her hair
and on her neck, soon to be a kissing crime.

His finger gradually weighed upon the trigger,
the muscles and sinew tightening with death.
“You think you can just leave me for some nigger,
but you ain’t.” The rifle exploded its gunpowder breath.

The world was deafened, silenced, slain,
and her eyes closed to utter void,
yet she did not blossom from her brain
and instead saw a doe, far afield, destroyed.

She watched in horror, and in relief,
as the doe collapsed, rose and fell and rose,
scrambling and moaning in its grief
before bleeding out among the fallow wheat rows.

“Go on, get,” the old man said. “Go to your buck.”
Wide-eyed as a doe, she hurried toward her car
hoping she would start a new life, with a little luck—
but she did not get very far.

He aimed the rifle and fired again,
a grin spreading across his empty-eyed face.
He said, “I wanted you to see how I’d win.
Did you honestly think you’d ever leave this place?”

He watched her crawl, her dainty daisy dress
now a crimson-and-white tie-dye,
and when she stopped moving he said, “God bless”,
lipped his rifle and kissed the world goodbye.

The True Spirit Of Christmas

When they think of their holly-jolly season
have they not the wherewithal of reckoning or reason
to think of the jolly fat man with his rosy-cheeked smile
but an avatar of delusion, an effigy of denial?
Think back to our ancestors and their bitter winters
that bit with winds and snows, the icy splinters
of that fanged desolation with its arctic blasts
and the famine and the silence, the starvation that lasts
much overlong, as a cruel-clawed hag of want
whose every kiss leaves us shivering and gaunt;
and so do not deceive yourself with dazzling lights
or warm fireside carols, or candied chocolate bites,
nor smile in cheer of a frosty-bearded elf—
rather, see it from the distant ancestral self;
look back through the cold and the darkness
to see black and white, life and death, in all its starkness:
see this wendigo calamity of each passing year
returning round again with the gift of fear,
and humility, and the keen awareness of Death
as they huddled in huts together, their communal breath
heavy with cold, an apparition of prayer
frosting upon our lips, stillborn upon the air,
and recall, too, the jolly saint withered, frost-bitten,
his fingers fallen off after he has eaten each mitten
and his red suit now white with the furious blizzard
while he wanders, snowblind, like a deranged wizard.
See him burn down a whole forest of Christmas trees
to raise his body temperature by a few degrees,
and now he calls out to children, shakes his sleigh bells,
and hungers for youthful meat while the wind wails.
His reindeer shun him, for they all wisely know
not to trust a starving man, or his laughing “Ho ho ho…”
I suppose we ought feel merry for a bellyful of Christmas hog
rather than long-pig roasting over the cruel yuletide log.

Stampede On The 1%

How easy it is for a pride of lions
to divide and conquer
a herd of cape buffalo,
corralling them with fear
until their united stride dissolves
and they scatter, their power and
momentum disorganized, chaotic,
a buffalo by itself tackled, wrestled
to the ground, torn apart,
and ultimately forgotten by
the grateful survivors
until the pride inevitably hungers again.
There may be safety in numbers,
and the odds may seem in your favor
as you look among the dull-eyed creatures
among which you count yourself,
but how much better it would be
if the herd rallied together
and stampeded into the pride,
trammeling them under hoof, goring
with their hundred-horned fury
the predators that have hunted and
haunted them for generations
just along the peripheries
rather than fleeing for a time
and then settling down again,
often within sight of the pride
as if almost in chummy camaraderie;
as if the crimson-stained snouts
did not hint at the true nature
of our sharp-toothed masters.

And our own culling complicity.

Regarding T.S. Eliot

His work is as
skein and needle,
his muse a Frankenstein butcher
applying with a nib
the stitches whereby
a plagiarist’s poem is composed
with the tattered scraps of other works,
words stolen straight from the tongues
of antiquity’s ghosts
and constructed into a
shambling,
clumsy,
graceless
monster;
his work is a mass grave
of decomposing
corpuses,
once beautiful and alive,
now a smorgasbord buffet
without choice, each leftover
shoveled down the intrepid throat
with a gravedigger’s workaday
carelessness.
Kitsch mish-mash and mush-minded
nonsense,
as wayward as a daughter running away from home
and as indulgent as the pimp letting a
hung jury of 12 men
sentence her to death by bukkake,
those 12 hollow men being
12 APOSTLES
whose magi-moneyshot
attempts catharsis by
ego-masturbation,
each in need of an exorcism
via oni-onanism,
ejaculating a pretentious
binding agent
for the quiltwork “masterpiece”,
the magnum opus
laundered from a sundered sundry of
less schizophrenic minds.
Nor am I merely
a rabid attack dog
shredding his pedantic homework apart
so he can stop showing it to the
misguided English professors
with whom he has engaged
in an unhealthy
brownnosing symbiosis.
How can anyone shred
what is, by its nature, piecemeal plagiarism?
It is like smashing sand.
He sought to concoct a
totemic golem
from a hundred other heads
and brought the misbegotten thing to life
by slipping his own renowned name
into its mouth.
Take one of his chimeric works
and unstitch the borrowed parts:
you will find,
at its naked core,
vacuous space.
“Shantih, shantih, shant…”
No! I shall not make peace
except over his anonymous grave.
Yet, how can I obliterate a tombstone
of hundreds of thousands of hearts?
The poems of this
shrike
have been inscribed voluntarily,
merrily,
by hundreds of thousands of people
with a masochist pen.
And though his works are as idiotic as a
Jub-Jub bird
lost in the arid
wastelands,
they persist
like a meandering lovesong
sung by a deaf goat
fed to surfeit
on a library’s worth of books.
Yet, to me,
his poetry will never be
anything other than
a sprawling, fetid plate of tangled
haggis
with the shit left in.
So dig in,
April fools,
if it makes you feel smarter
with a mouth full of
sheepshit;
to swallow it down with a smile
is nothing short of a
triumph.

Ghost Highway

A November night, after the rain,
and the country highway has a slick sheen
that glosses darkly, like an obsidian pane,
and beyond it lay a nocturnal Autumn scene.

The moon is buried in a shallow grave
of clouds like black soil, spread over all,
but there are no more cadence rains, save
for the droplets on trees and eaves, slow to fall.

A dull green glow from a distant houselight
illuminates an absconded backyard revelry
of empty lawn chairs, a canopy wound tight,
and the twisting branches of a tarantula tree.

Rows of houses, side to side on either side
and shoulder to shoulder, or apart, in kind,
but all crowd toward the highway as if to hide
from the dark hills lurking just behind.

Soon the brick walls of the local school
are glimpsed here and there as the drapes of Night
are pinned back by each bright electric spool
atop lampposts which glow with pale light.

No one passes upon this lonesome road
nor are houses lit with restless souls;
it is a ghost highway, like the stories of old—
a place where the silence of the world tolls.

And mists dream non-thoughts along the highway,
roaming like ghosts in constant, aimless drift;
a lethargic mob lost, purposeless and led astray,
floating as the world dies away,
and the woeful winds lift.

Vixen

Headlights glinted in a pair of mischievous eyes
before the fox turned, disappearing behind her own tail
and into an overgrown field, the tenebrous skies
falling heavy over the blackened backwoods vale.
Headlights dimmed and died and the man stepped out,
gazing across the glass, darkly, of a reed-riddled pond,
and walking down from the dead-end lane’s turnabout
toward the driveway, and to the farmhouse beyond.
The house was large, old, three storeys tall
and its porch had but one outside light shining
to glow across the porch, peeling back the pall
of Night as it weighed upon the horizon’s lining.
Each window was a skull-socket in that half-lit facade—
all but one on the top floor, in a far corner where
a single foxfire candle burned; and so, with a nod,
the man approached the tree that stood parallel there.
As he looked up he remembered her freckled face
and her pink lips as she had waved goodbye,
riding her bike away from his much-maligned place
after promising a taste of her wild strawberry pie.
He had watched her while his blood burned and rose,
Lust a devil that had taken to rutting inside his head
and he grinned like an ape to think of her clothes
torn to reveal strawberry-and-cream flesh outspread.
So he climbed the oak, rising with a lust-feverish grasp
on branches and twigs and even the bark’s scales
until, at length, he came to grab the hot window clasp
and raised it, hearing, for the first time, fairy bells.
“I’m comin’ in, darlin’,” he said, his breath lurching
as he gazed into the candlelit room, his grin so wide
that he looked like a beast upon that branch, perching
like a Nightmare astride a dreamer with nowhere to hide.
He was so startled when the rifle met his eager eye
that he lost his grasp and fell from that tall tree,
tumbling headfirst into his final bed, to forever lie
while a fox laughed, as a girl, with glee.