The Slow Suicide

I have oft slain myself
with many leisure hours
spent idle on a shelf
while my dear dream sours—
squandered much in repose
when I might have else gained
much more, or so it goes,
had I not thus refrained,
and in wasting the hours
wasted myself in course
and whatever powers
of mine might provide force
to propel with the stream
of my goals and desires,
profligate unto dream
while my dull life expires.
So many my phases
spent sawing my own thread—
sawing my thread with wear
as Atropos raises
her scissors as fated
to spur strident regret
as I see the frayed seams
and how I also whet
Death with layabout schemes,
for languid was my mode
when ample time blessed me,
but now that I grow old
I am no longer free
to seek diversion for
lounging as I so please,
but must face Death’s black door
and the chill in Fall’s breeze.
I who have taken day
and made a dull, dim thing
of every sunray
that could crown me a king
with the riches of Time,
(a precious rare tender)
rather than this crime
as my own self-lender
indebted evermore
and never to be repaid
as the mortgage grows more
with debt indolence made,
for I am a turncoat
against my own season,
a suicide whose note
was slow in its treason.
Hark! The clock strikes again
as day drains to the lees—
it is a mortal sin:
suicide by degrees.

True Love

Whenever Earl’s hapless love life
suffered a dry spell,
he found himself a willing wife
in a bourbon cocktail,
and if she ever gave him lip
he would give it in turn,
kissing her cool glass for a sip
to taste true love’s sweet burn.

Earl thought they were a perfect match,
at least for his own taste.
When sad he tossed her down the hatch,
fingers tight on her waist
while he wobbled a wayward dance
that filled him with drunk glee
as he spilled her down his good pants
and fell down, all dizzy.

It was a Mint Julep, his drink,
and some made fun of it,
but he never cared what drunks think—
he never cared a spit.
While other men drank Black Label
and the women drank beer,
Earl drank Mint Juleps, when able,
meanwhile having to hear
people mock him in the tavern
for his “lily liver”
each patron eager at a turn
to sing him downriver.

Their many nights out together
were always rough-and-tumble,
whether in fair or foul weather
he would often stumble,
and often he would come home late
with a black eye in pairs
from when his ice-and-sugar date
had thrown him down some stairs.

Still, no matter how rough and wild
each party and its fight
they were nonetheless reconciled,
sharing a bed at night—
a wet bed at night, all soaked through
as he cuddled her close,
sipping at her minty green dew
for a lullaby dose.

Throughout the years Earl’s love affair
with Mint Juleps was strong;
though he was mocked, he did not care
and drank it all day long.
You see, it was a favorite
of Francine, his late wife,
so he wanted to savor it
now and always in life,
for it reminded him of her,
of the first girl he kissed—
first kiss, first and only lover,
the girl he loved and missed.

The Patronizing Patronage Of Alfred Prufrock

I have pinpointed the precise problem
with the poetry of
TS Eliot
and it is in his lack of confidence,
which is to say, his ego, his
proportion,
for he overcompensates his
Americanness
with self-aware learning,
bastardizing natural
talent
with stilted posturing to impress,
like a painting by
da Vinci
framed in a gaudy gold neon lit
toilet
ready to ironically flush itself down.
Being a poet primarily of
English
he was an Anglophile,
as are most,
and being dissatisfied with his
Missouri roots
he lopped off his dandelion head
so the fragmentary seeds could drift
across the salty Atlantic
and settle on the isle of Albion
where he would renounce America’s
rough-spun Plebeian quilt
for a Patrician’s patronizing banner.
It was his lack of confidence
that spurred him toward his
adoptive homeland,
seeking Anglican angels
to sing him to sweet surrender,
trading a mongrel empire on the rise
for a purebred, dying one.
He was a
Hipster gigolo
fucking an old aristocratic socialite
beyond her prime,
yet still proud enough to taunt his
flaccid inferiority complex
as he withdrew from her primly preened
hedges,
all the while ejaculating profuse
apologies.
And for what?
A wasteland of would-be
conviviality
between himself and his
tea-teetotaling, modernist pubmates,
all of them condescending
and yet Eliot being so smart
as he admittedly was
being also self-aware enough
to know he was a joke to them,
a novelty from
Missouri
(Misery?)
and desperately seeking approval
due to his colonized mind.
But he was never really accepted
for going Native.
Woolf conflated him as
alien to her as an
Australian
for all the difference it made
while riding her waves of
hyper-association.
And I pity him,
truly,
for he never loved himself,
not really,
as he sought acceptance on
foreign shores
like Boudica if she had
betrayed herself
for the sake of Britannia.
He applied a stress-test
to fracture poetry to many facets
only to be fractured
himself.
Like any true-born English intellectual
he preferred the language of
French,
or the pretense of it, anyway,
but failed to be
embarrassed of his own
Britishness, too busy being embarrassed
by his Americanness.
If not for Academics
equally insecure as Eliot himself
and thus seeking a sense of worth
in a world indignant and derisive
toward their pretenses…
if not for Academics
entombed in their ivory towers
and peeking through ivy curtains
to scoff at the Plebeians down below…
If not for Academics
peddling codas and ciphers
for his esoteric babble
then Eliot would never have been
but a scornful footnote, at best,
in the annals of Poetry.
See here how I kick his
corpus
and yet it remains aloof and insular and
masturbatory and cryptic?
This is the best poetry the
modernist
could muster,
and would have been better
with his newfound silence,
or at least that is what this
simple Kentucky boy
tends to think
after having attempted once
to cut his own roots
and drift to far shores.

A Meth-head To His Madness

Eddie was fascinated by flashlights,
as all Meth-heads are,
and he would click a flashlight
on and off
as if sending some SOS signals
to a UFO among the stars
as if he hoped it would
come down and take him somewhere else;
or he would aim the halo at the walls,
dragging its luminous circle
up and down
as if trying to bleach with light
the stained, decaying world clean.
The more Eddie’s teeth rotted out
and the more his skin bled
with cankerous craters,
the more obsessed he was with flashlights,
turning them on and off,
on and off,
being able to turn off the
flashlight,
but never his disease.
All the haloes in the world
cannot save Man from himself
and before the end
Eddie told me of the time
he saw the Devil—
not when he was taking,
but when he was being taken
by his Stepfather
in the old, mildewed shed
while his mom was sprawled out
on the trailer’s living room floor,
high on acid.
“No angels saved me back then,”
he said,
“and none are gonna save me now.
None are gonna save nobody.”
I told him, “That’s why people have to
save each other,”
and he laughed—
a laugh not of madness,
but of insight.
“What do ya think I need savin’ from?
It ain’t the Meth.”
He turned the flashlight off.
“That’s just the way out.”

The Three Torments Of A Writer

Premature Burial
Sometimes when I am writing
I pause,
I doubt,
I fear that I am
nothing more than a
premature burial
scratching his vain thoughts
on the lid of a
coffin
already buried deep down
in the deafening earth
where no one will ever
read them.

Pillory
When I commit to an act
with several acts of writing,
I know not what judgments
will befall them—
if they will be taken
to the town square
and elevated on a
podium
while all sing their praises
or if they will be dragged
in impatient contumely
and strapped to a pillory
while all ready
their fistfuls of
rotten tomatoes.

Guillotine
Were I able to ascend
enthroned in my triumph,
of the written word,
would I be merely the
mark
of some career assassin
with a deft, duplicitous dagger
or would the more outlandish feat
be to turn opinion against my
temporary fame, infamy
transforming throne to
guillotine
as my moment passes
and I can no longer
make headway within the
fickle domain
of public opinion?

Moonshine And Spirit Chasers

MOONSHINEA

Haiku Shots

Amber sunrise, smooth
as a hot toddy down the
wide, welcoming throat.

Ice crystals clinking
like piano keys played in
a bourbon’s cadence.

The wind slurred wetly
like the town drunk shouting for
one more whiskey shot.

This camaraderie,
warm in both belly and heart
like a smooth bourbon.

An alchemy of
corn, rye, malt, and the seasons—
Kentucky distilled.

Moonshine aged into
bourbon, a clear sky aging
into flaring dusk.

Biblical bad times
and proverbial good times—
whiskey always flows.

Joyful frogs hopping
from one bar to another
in a wet county.

Crossing over the
amphibious county line,
a tongue dry then wet.

Whiskey in her Coke,
Louisville lights like umber
mixing into night.

(Currently writing a collection of poems centered on Bourbon and Bardstown and ghosts and such.  The image above is the working cover for the collection.  Seemed like something they might be willing to sell in the local gift stores.  Guess I’ll see soon enough.)

Music Lessons

She professed her passions wholly mute
when enjoined at the cusp, lips tuned to lips,
yet he played virgin curves as a flute,
fingers fluttering with their deft-toned tips,
and he blew in measure so astute
the melody resounded through her hips,
and therefrom did vibrations take root;
from pelvis to legs, from bosom to nips.