Gaunt Haunt

The winds moan among the fallen trees
and the black-faced knobs all collapse beneath
the Eastern night sky while Bluegrass banshees
wail like wan women in endless grief.

Twenty-odd men have been buried
underneath the weight of other men’s greed
whose hankering for wealth’s harvest harried
them into a cult’s incautious creed.

Crawling on hands out of their dark lair,
the gawping ghouls of graveyards are thus gaunt
with want of food and water and sweet air—
they rise, they rise from their ashen haunt.

Those not smothered in their darksome holes
die topside with every labored breath,
the coal never leaving their sooty souls
even after they have escaped Death.

Burning away their fear and sorrow
with rotgut whiskey each night before bed,
they do not want to think of tomorrow—
once more descending, the living-dead.

Therapy over telephone lines
fails widows whose thoughts are ever so veiled
with the shadows of the catacomb mines
wherein their loved ones are thus withheld.

A wendigo howls among scalped hills,
the countryside a galled, ghastly giant
whose quarry are those its livelihood kills
and feeds, each the other reliant.

Misplaced Beauty

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See the weeping cherry willow tree
standing at this rural road’s bend?
Its mournful pink petals bloom free,
yet tremble in an alien April wind.

The bough darkens with distiller’s mold
and an overcast Kentucky sky—
does the tree dream beside this road,
its roots longing for the soil of Sendai?

It dreams as a lost lover whose reminiscences
amidst dandelions and bluegrass
remind that it is a foreigner born by cedar fences
while restless race horses snort and pass.

Kentucky Gothic

Darkly webbed withered vines
strung out along the telephone lines;
deep-holler, river, mud-bank valley,
stained sidewalk, cobbled, and colonial alley;
white siding, cracked, and black-eyed shutters,
gully-gushing bent-tin gutters;
funeral procession through the murk,
tinted windows, veils, shadows lurk;
cedar, birch, ash, and oak,
brick and mortar, glass and smoke;
clouds and grays and mists and rains,
decaying leaves and shattered panes;
she walked here, each day, along this road
from nowhere to nowhere—twelve years old;
mortician smiling behind a cadaver
as if he is glad, at last, to have her;
buried in her flashy fuchsia dress
with a woman’s blush, a little girl’s tress;
soft satin inlay within the coffin
and the bow in her hair that she wore often;
sonorous sermons to come to terms
and hard mahogany to hold off the worms.

Moonshine Melody

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The whiskey barrels are
shouldering shadows,
their hot, sour-sweet savor
breathing up into crisply chill
starlit air
and pressing warmly
like a cellist’s
fine fingertips
as she softly saws a
falling-leaf lullaby
with moonwash gentleness;
and where the faint fluorescence
blooms from lightbulbs above,
portals open with pallid light between
stacks of distilled
and their nostalgic

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.

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

The bottle,
like his patience,
had been depleted,
shattering over the
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.

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.

Haikus IV

Whittling her body
with a chisel-sharp hunger;

Limestone-lipped Lethe
from which forgetfulness flows;
Kentucky Bourbon.

She opened herself
like a silk Japanese fan:
cool smooth skin, tattooed.

Her smile slants sideways
like a fence after a storm—
how can I mend it?

Noodling in Kentucky
where Southern girls bite harder
than snapping turtles.

A Christ-like scarecrow
welcoming carrion birds
with his outspread arms.

Acoustic chord struck
with sweet nothings and kisses;
heart string serenade.

Looking glass angled
to catch the glow of her face,
pond mirroring moon.

These severed fingers
still trying to pinch the pen
to stop the bleeding.

Tweeting so loudly
while you remain cooped, wings clipped;
internet crusades.

Creaking like timbers
of a ship tossing at sea,
her jaw grinds at night.

Pa rum pum pum pum
the little drummer boy played;
some hear a war song.

The fury of Zeus
threaded into taut cords
to power kids’ toys.

Black roses blooming
like mascara around eyes,
planted by knuckles.

Woodpeckers tapping
at code with beaked fingertips,
hackers look for bugs.

Spankings from my mom and dad
were only temperings for weak steel;
a hammer and anvil love.

Lying as perfectly still
as a corpse is no unique talent;
all master it, given time.


My brain was restless
like frog eggs ripe with tadpoles
eager to burst free.

Notching no arrows,
violinists aim their bows
and pierce many hearts.

How happy you are,
like a fine, fat pig in mud
deaf to the whetstone.

Termite-eaten stump
seeping white pus from black bark;
a gangrenous thumb.

The age spots spreading
along her arms, legs, and breasts
were Time’s watermarks.

Ink dripped from the quill,
blotching the still-life sketch with
life’s own signature.

Such harsh handwriting,
as if the paper was skin
and each word a wound.

How sweet the jingoist song
of a butcher’s blade biting to bone;
how sweet each nation’s anthem.

Silver silos stood ready
like ballistic missiles set for launch,
the fields aflame with sunset.

When their tongues wagged with envy
he thought them green laurels in a breeze
and crowned himself with their leaves.

Her heart was a creek—
the water shallow, stones slick,
snakes silent…unseen.

She fumbled through her own life
like an actress baffled by curtains;
never could take center stage.