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A Poetry Journal
©2004 Lummox Press
Edited by Ed Jamieson, Jr. & RD Armstrong
Well, kids, as National Poetry Month fades into memory, here's the next issue of DUFUS.
In this issue, the bulk of the poesy was selected by Ed, though I still keep my hand in the game a little bit. And I did the layout using FrontPage; partly because it's been recommended to me for it's simplicity and partly because I had some bad experiences using an online editor in March. So I thought I'd give it a shot. And it's been so easy!
Anyway, this issue features poets from as far away as Russia and as close by as Los Angeles. A lot of the poets came to us via the Lummox Journal and they were referred over here, where poem length is of no concern...as you will see as you scroll down. There've been a few changes: if you've been here before, you'll notice I've left off the cities where the poets are from. Also, there are no bios. A friend of mine, Steve Goldman, has told me repeatedly that it's the POEM that matters, not who wrote it. So I'm trying it out, just to see what you all think. Your feedback on this is appreciated.
To submit a poem to ED, click here or visit Lummox (link above) and read Ed's bio (staff link) to see what he likes. While you're over there visiting the Lummox Empire, you might want to buy something from the "merchandise" section - you know, support the operation that brings this stuff to life. If you're looking for other places to submit your work to, I suggest the LSW Links. Hell, it's all over at the Lummox...everything you need to know (even some things you don't want to know about)...
To submit feedback, click here - I'll respond to any reasonable email.
Well, we hope you enjoy this issue.
dance it as if you mean it
some unknown country full of water
some hard to hear lingo
some shaky evidence of humanity
coming soon to your front door
dance it as if you mean it
they'll be asking for you at intermission
when all will be revealed,
the invasion is getting a bit painful and gray
the monkeys are going over the exit strategy
a broken hemisphere just showed up for tea
i'd like to oblige everyone, but i forgot my number
could someone afford anything a la carte
some anointed asylum where the inmates
roll naked with God on an hourly basis
they never told me which God though
as the restless wages fell through the
holes in my pocket.
dance it as if you believe it
believe it as if you could dance to it.
Only the grim reaper gets to steal my dreams…
Dream I am
in Santa Barbara
in a big hotel
plumbing not right so I call
downstairs to see if
there are any vacant rooms
“the one next to you is”
“I’ll come down for the key,” I reply
“you don’t need a key--- it’s
open -- Death stays
there; we keep it empty for him.”
I need a shower pretty bad, so I decide to
go in the room -----it is strangely
still like entering a freezer.
I get in the shower wondering where
he is and
if he’s watching
will he get hard
when I stand naked --
if I stay here
will he force me up against the glass
ride me against
the pane that is
his alone to
shatter. I dry off
head out of room thinking
can I pass in and out of death
like an empty
hotel room --
will he remember
me when we meet
To a standard.
The blue necessity on
Every pink face—
If God came in
A hundred sizes,
We'd complain about the color.
And men came in rainbows,
Size would matter
There was something about being in the dark that made
me beautiful and at the same time something tore at my
insides telling me it was time for a change. This
situation wasn't natural, not in the sane way. Not at
all like the fish in my aquarium. Had I blown my
chance? Did I lose my youth in the very hours of
enlightenment? Just then a shock wave went right
through me leaving me with this horrendous
discontent-- a loss that was suggested to mean a whole
lot of nothing. And he was barely telling me the
truth. Ok, so I'll pull my panties down thus far and
leave a little to the imagination for now. The black
lights will convert me back to loveliness. I think
it's time for a drink to smooth the conscious then my
body will come writhing down to your level
surrendering on the dance floor to your patented
leather shoes. Oh God. I'm blind. My hands craving the
distance, feet sliding, keeping balance. I'm not there
anymore. I am here with you and alone in the dark.
Sometimes I try to go to sleep at night but the dust
that flies around gets sucked in my nostrils. My head
starts to ache and I pretend not to notice or I'll
wish it on someone else. Sometimes I pretend you can
feel these things that no one needs to know exist. You
think and think all day long and as soon as you hit
the bed, you're gone. I'll never forget the morning I
woke up with blood on my hands and all over my
clothes. I was lost and cold and could hear girls
screaming in the next cell. There was that throbbing
again. It comes and goes. We don't legislate through
walking distance and I am not transforming through
time as you thought. I'm standing in the same old
room, walking around in circles, trying to get around
the growing piles of feces and it's getting deep in here.
The Shamrock Bar Circa 1976
I selected Cozy Cole, Johnny Cash and
Santana on the jukebox. The chicken fried
would melt in
And I would
buy the rounds,
the major portion
of my rent money,
springing for drinks
for the bar. I set them up
I drank a lot that year, in and out of bars
along the streets of East Hollywood. Two in the morning
going way out to Barney's Beanery
at the other end of town, very stoned
a bag of weed, maybe some
Acapulco Gold. My rent was cheap,
$110. a month
for a tiny, but comfortable house
in back of a bigger house. The electric
and garbage were included
with my rent. I was making around $600. a week
running an adult bookstore and a little
now and then from the writing. Though I was
drinking close to a $100 a week and another $25 or $30 on
weed. That night I was in two fights. Walking
into one bar, in the Roosevelt Hotel, punching a guy up the side
of the head over his girl friend.
I had come on to her when he had walked to the
restroom. Can't really blame the guy;
but he did threw the first
punch. I let go with
a sharp left jab to his nose and a round-house
right to the temple. He went down hard,
his girl friend screaming
like a rose in a jar of piss. The bartender jumped over the bar
with a nasty
black jack in his hand. I chopped him
in the throat just as his feet hit the floor and he went down to his
knees choking. I ran out of the
bar, down Hollywood Boulevard
about 3 blocks and
into The Bunnyhole, a joint that had
become one of
my hung outs, run by Miko,
a pretty little part-time hooker,
who had come over from Vietnam shortly after Saigon fell a
few years before. The place was jammed up with people
a couple rows deep at the bar. l saw Miko standing at the end of
the bar talking to one of the waitresses. My eyes must have
been wild. I saw
her large black opals
into mine. There was recognition in her look,
a psychic sense wavering
over the distance of all the
and drunken souls between us. But what she saw was rage in my eyes,
and it didn't take a mind reader
to know there was
I had had a taste and was ready for the
next one, and I knew there would be a next one. I was on an
ass kicking roll. I was staggering just inside the door, trying to
keep my balance, trying not to look totally berserk.
Miko was pushing through the crowd to get to me. I relaxed for an
instant and leaned against what I thought was the door frame.
But the door frame suddenly moved and barked, “Get the fuck off
me you stinking drunk.” It was huge guy
brown leather jacket, who promptly shoved me with both arms
the real door frame. My head hit hard and I thought
I was going out, and then I crashed to the floor.
By that time Miko got to me and was leaning down. “You
okie-dokie?” she asked, her eyes full of concern and fear.
I told her I thought I was fine
and checked the back
of my head
It was sore as hell and a bump was forming.
Her and some guy helped me up. The idiot who had
shoved me was now standing
at the bar with his
back to me laughing with his friends as if nothing happened.
Miko told me I should go home and sleep it off, and was gently,
with pleading eyes pushing me toward the door.
I told her I needed a glass of water. I lied just to
get her out of
When she went for the water
behind the bar, I walked over to brown leather jacket,
tapped him on the shoulder,
and when he turned,
I crouched slightly and hit him in the nuts with my right fist as
hard as I could muster. When he bent over yelling sharply from the
pain I pulled his jacket up over his head and turned him back around
banging him forcefully once, then again, head first
into the oak bar apron. I let him loose and he fell to the barroom
floor trying feebly to untangle himself from his jacket. Just to
make sure I let go with a booted foot to his face. I turned and ran
out of the bar and up Hollywood Boulevard to Vine I ended up at
the Shamrock bar on Santa Monica, where I didn't have
to hit anyone. There I met Susan, an actress, who was staying
at the Tropicana Motel down the street. She was
there to meet a famous movie director from New York, who was due to
cast a movie in one of the rooms the next week. She had
this fantasy about getting a major role in the film, by
seducing the gay director, and turning him straight.
But I didn't mind her delusions, we all need them
to survive. She was gentle and wild, and the sex was good. She had
raven hair, her nipples dark dark brown,
eyes like sea and sky.
Goalies and Saves
On a rainy week day
That I should have been working
I met a friend at a donut shop for coffee
He’d renewed his faith because
His mother died recently
A few days after my father died
But I didn’t want to find God
And picture my old man
Being flown to heaven by winged angels
More true to his memory
His flesh is rotting
In fact there was no funeral
He donated his body to science
So some medical students at Cornell
Can practice hacking people up
And in his spirit
Or rather in that spirit
All that religious mumbo jumbo seems superfluous
Ah, but my friend
He wanted to save me If only he could get me
To read the scriptures
But what was he trying to save me from? Myself?
I tried to get saved once
It was really horrible
For all his compassion
I don’t think Jesus really wanted me on his team
And anyway the whole being saved thing was so repressive
I wound up cheating on my girlfriend with a prostitute
And almost confessed my sins
In front of the congregation
Thank God common sense prevailed
And I kept my mouth shut
But my friend was persistent
Told me he’d take me to see The Passion Of Christ
But I didn’t know if sitting down
With a tub of popcorn, a coke and a box of Ju-Ju Bees
To watch Christ being tortured for two hours
Would be good entertainment
And I politely declined
Though I worried
If refusing the conversion
Would affect our friendship
But I figure after my friend
Gets over his mothers death
He’ll become less devout
And by then my father
Will be dissected
Into neat little parts.
SEX FOR LIVER
It was the cosmic glue of our love.
The outward expression of my inability
to be romantic. The rocket fuel of our passion.
You got it? Need one more? How about:
The embodiment of Thor, the Norse God
Of Thunderous love.
We could transcend irritation, bad weather
and snow storms locked securely in our love
capsule, until the day her anti-depressant
kicked-in. Until the day a posse of post
depression Greek sex bandits named
Lexapro, Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft rode down
the middle our bed and blew up our love nest.
The Four Grecian Riders of the Apocalypse.
Seeking the balance that medication brought her,
but wanting the pleasures of intimacy, she searched
for the right pharmaceutical drug.
Promising sex, with only the side effect of liver damage
or death (only one of every 250,000 actually die),
she came upon Serzone. The bearer of sex and death
all in an easy to swallow tablet.
She was willing to take the risk. Ready to put it all
on the line and ride that pony into the sunset for sex -
the non verbal language of our passion.
"Yes, but what if it kills you? Or ruins your liver?"
Maybe my desires, my passions were killing her?
But she'd already given up drugs (at least the illegal
ones) and alcohol too, and had surrendered her anxiety
disorder and depression to popular medication, but
chanted "God damn it, I'm not giving up sex!"
I loved her perverse sense of justice. It wasn't based
on logic, but rather on passion.
"Well, as long as it's going to wreck your liver, why not
just start drinking again?"
"No, I'm staying sober." Again her perverse logic.
The unpredictable universe between her ears.
The broadest canvas a writer could hope to find.
She was better than my fiction. I awed at the
vistas I saw in her. The river of tears that coursed
through her sleepless sexless nights as she clung
to a life that had gone ipso-flipso.
She knew what she was willing to sacrifice.
We knew what we had to do, and that night
had liver and onions before going to bed early
in order to get a few extra rounds in. It seemed
like the only holistic, symbolic, metaphoric thing
to do. We traded sex for liver in the name of love.
THIS POEM IS FOR SALE
This poem is for sale to those who work in Show Business.
There will be no exposed breasts.
No unbleeped uses of the word “fuck”.
No tiny nipple covers.
No grinding against other people’s bodies in airplane lavatories.
No complex thoughts or subversive ideas of any kind.
This poem is determined to be loved by everyone.
This poem is suitable for Clear Channel Entertainment.
It can be printed on all their billboards in the U.S.
People will flock to Clear Channel concert venues and pay $250.00 a ticket to hear this poem read aloud by Sting.
This poem will say nothing about George Bush Jr. or the war in Iraq, however it will wave the flag on occasion to please Clear Channel overlords.
Every so often, this poem contains lines like “I love the blandness of Clear Channel Entertainment” and “Ryan Seacrest is God”.
This poem believes in fitting in.
This poem wants to be adapted for movies.
Mel Gibson can do almost anything he wants with this poem.
If he wants to add lots of crucifixions and mutilation,
this poem will understand.
This poem wants to be turned into an epic in the tradition of THE PASSION, BRAVEHEART and THE PATRIOT.
However, this poem draws the line at homophobia.
It refuses to be thrown out of a window for an easy laugh.
If Mel Gibson doesn’t want this poem as a movie,
perhaps The Rock will.
This poem can be set in a British Columbia location-to get away from those pesky unions in the States.
This poem can be made to accommodate lots of wholesome beatings with practically no blood-all the better to obtain a PG-13 rating.
Everyone will be able to smell what this poem is cooking-and that will be first-weekend grosses
exceeding $100 million.
This poem will please both the FCC and Congressional investigators.
This poem will sit in front of Michael Powell, Sam Brownback and Joe Lieberman and testify all day long.
“Freedom of speech? It’s too dangerous! We’ve got to protect our kids by censoring everything in sight!” says this poem to bipartisan enthusiasm.
All this applause will make this poem’s selling price rise exponentially.
Meanwhile, job creation, the deficit and the quagmire in Iraq escape true scrutiny-don’t dare be unpatriotic.
We’d rather discuss this poem.
This poem is for sale to those who work in Show Business.
Its value is especially high when people are afraid of
what to say, what to create, what to stand behind
when the Business increasingly answers to nervous stockholders who care more about profit and public image than art.
This poem believes that freedom is a concept
too painful for people to manage on their own.
This poem believes in taking that pain away forever.
The Body Bag
My usual drive to work was in progress.
Streaming along the freeway, oblivious to others.
Up ahead were the brake lights that threatened my prompt arrival to work.
'Another crash', I annoyingly thought.
Slowly, the cars filed by the contorted wreckage, paying homage to a fallen
My turn in the precession approached. The street was littered with
pieces of windshield reflecting the sun as if someone had dropped a satchel
Exhausted flares had become mounds of white powder, warning no one.
There was no urgency. No edge. The Corner's van sat calmly with its back
A gentleman leaned sedately against the van inhaling a cigarette.
Just past the vehicle sat the bag. Sable black unzipped and occupied.
I stared at death, with its stiff hand exposed.
I envisioned the person within. A man, a woman perhaps?
Opinions, secrets, fears, plans?
Had they just washed their hair that morning, removing residue?
Whose heart will be broken by the afternoon?
There on the pavement lay the remains. I searched for other bags but found
Officers nonchalantly investigated the scene.
Blithely rolling an instrument around the parameter of the site.
Gathering details. Documenting tragedy, like they had done a hundred times
Turning death into a task. Estimating the decedents time of demise.
Nothing personal. It's just a job. Professionals can tune out the impact of
I ached for this unknown corpse. Briefly connected to this soul.
Someone's father. Someone's mother? Someone else's unspeakable grief.
Kelly Ann Malone
sex with the piano
wild modernist sex with the piano -
it doesn't mind, i close my eyes and
give it all i have.
sometimes i rest my head on it,
my flighty fingers go feverish
with love making.
i only learned in high school
so sometimes i elicit spunky clichés
or i hold the melody wrong
or i stop suddenly and catch my breath.
its realist love making
very stark and all for myself -
i use the piano.
i hold its hair back
and tap rhythms on it, i try new positions.
when i touch it right
there is a certain crisp eroticism
and i lean into it, following it
never letting my fingers off.
the orgasm spreads through several keys
and several melodies, unclear modulations.
i must mention that the foreplay
is a prelude of chords and unformulated ideas.
the sex is very slow and
the releasing of tensions and their sudden abundances
leads me to taste new arpeggios.
i leave two wine glasses on the mantle.
i have slept with it enough now
to marry it, and tomorrow i will write
and read it a poem.
poem while looking for the most brutal word in the english language
and what it
always comes down to
is either money or violence
a windowless room
filled with harsh white light
any number of men standing around
a naked teenage girl
and then the camera zooms in tight
on her face
a voice from
somewhere behind her saying
a slow pan down her body
none of us sorry for anything
Scheduled to see you at 6:43
I'm sleeping on a bus
as the woman next to me waits for me to move.
wants to tell me
about her cancer
and how her son was killed
by a drunk driver
I am sorry by Danbury
as she moves to how clever the jokes printed
in Reader's Digest are
and how they removed all the Roy Rogers from
and waaaaaaaay back,
when she wasn't too proud
to take a hand out--but today she clips coupons.
I am sorry by New Haven
since I have my own problems
as I try to block her out,
and think of you, my destination
and how we make love--
the only things that seem real to me now
Everything else is all "too" real...
or not real enough
and this bus is not moving quickly
Who would have guessed
in the first grade
when I tore
a piece of paper
from my Blue Horse pad
and Miss Moses slapped
my left hand,
that one day I would
pour out my heart,
and create magic...
breaking the mold
with a chastised hand.
Brenda Kay Ledford
Art of Nature
saline shoreline unwinds.
The tongues of waves lick at the sand
changing her shape like a dancer.
Scarves of sunset colors
flail past her face,
Carrie Ann Thunell
TO PHILIP LAMANTIA AT FIFTEEN
The literary monuments of the 20th century
Recede a little more under the weight of
A new year and with it they carry
Your young letter to Charles Henri Ford;
The one announcing your existence
And "longing for the marvelous."
I found it recently, rummaging
In a storage bin. The original 1943 envelope
With a canceled V-5 war stamp
Held in place by a rusted paper clip.
Your desire for the "indigenous
Realm of fantasy" is touching.
Sixty years later, under the lights of
Saint Marks Chapel, I saw the same longing
In your seventy-five year old face,
When you spoke of attending
Catholic mass every day.
Do the drugs you take
Today provide a better
Experience than your visit
To "Rimbaud's paradise?"
Erik La Prade
I thought I'd desire you as long as
The desert desired a drink
Only to realize that deserts don't.
They are as quenched as the rain forests.
Instead, deserts are places for temptation,
For our ancient recollections.
Yet their winds erode permanence;
They swallow footprints,
Require but sparse fulfillment,
Will show you a mirage
Because you are weak: so much water.
I became a desert soul
Thinking I could desire you so long,
Losing my footprints in the sand,
Searching for an oasis.
I am no longer thirsty.
I am arid.
At night, I will chill them to the bone;
I will hide them in my vast, tiny sands.
Amanda J. Bradley
FIRST THING IN THE MORNING.
Waking up full of hope
and forced to walk away from it.
Wishing all one's problems away
and piling up stocks of errors.
Wiping up one's stained repute
and throwing mud on it again.
Working out a scheme for change
and getting worn-out in the process.
Waltzing off with an annual prize
and watching out for perjury accusations.
Wallowing in affected pride
and waiting for self-pity to return.
Isn't it time to weigh
the wrong against the right?
Comforts of Fear
You are the murky film that coats my independence.
Baptized in dread. Left matte and damp.
Muscles of freedom stay weak from neglect.
My deep inhale of contentment is halted by apprehension.
I pick the skin around my fingernails until they are raw.
The smoke from my cigarette stings as it infiltrates the open wounds.
My jaw aches from constant clenching, in turn dwindling the stature of my
You distract me from my life. Fleecing my destiny, one layer at a time.
You run so deep in my veins, slowing the flow, consuming serenity.
Yet I fear a cleansing transfusion.
Comfortable, abundant fear. Oh, familiar anxiety.
I can feel you. I can touch you. I know you are there.
Kelly Ann Malone
JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN
johnny was a hot head
in country for nine days
the pride of basic training
and america’s ‘finest’
“make us proud son” just
itchin’ for some action
“gonna get me some gooks”
his unit walked into an ambush
“victor charley, victor charley!”
johnny took rounds unknown
once while crouching
another as he dove for cover
more as he lay on the jungle floor
screaming his guts out
while the battle roared around him
“finish the job, finish the job!”
he thought he would die there
but modern warfare cleans up well
and he was laying on the table of a hospital ship
before he knew it
a nurse explained to him later that
he was going home because they couldn’t
extract all the bits of shrapnel
johnny left the army with a morphine habit
and a handful of twisted metal
his broken body healing slowly
his broken mind never quite making it back
every couple of years
he’d be back at the va hospital in westwood
getting another piece of shrapnel
his ‘metals of valor’ he called ‘em
kept the pieces in a jar in the garage
told me how sometimes at night
he’d wake in a sweat
frozen on the bed
the roar of battle again in his ears
until he realized it was only traffic
that the body laying motionless next to him
was only his girlfriend
but the terror lingered
like the faint smell of rot
the last time i saw johnny
he told me how the shrapnel in that jar
had begun to talk to him
how he’d begun to spend long hours
in the garage staring at his “trophies”
he told me he’d bought a gun
(much to his girlfriend’s dismay)
a small pistol with enough power to
‘get the job done’ and he gave me a look
so’s i would know what he meant
and i did
‘cause i knew that at night
even when the nightsweats weren’t working their magic on him
johnny would hear that tiny chorus
buzzing in his left ear
and it would only be a matter of time
before he’d have to obey
that order he’d heard himself screaming
that afternoon in nam
“finish the job! finish the job!”
and it is no wonder
I feel queasy doing it
to what exactly?
The whims and personal opinions of an editor?
The likeliness of rejection,
well hell all of life is rejection
Acceptance breeds rejection
I never said the pledge of allegiance in school
I never listened to any of my lovers or my mothers
I never bowed my head to pray
or closed my eyes, folded my hands
I never did find waldo in those stupid books
Jeffery S. Taylor
boogies with the lady on TV.
One-two, up-down, he swings, sways, twists, turns to the
mirror, stops, transfixed, measures every crease,
sees grinning teeth, bare skull,
regrets the child he never knew, mourns the wife he lost...
whose breasts, despite stretch marks visible at noon,
he always wanted to hold
whose belly, even after its curve became a bulge
he loved to stroke,
whose arms still wrap around his waist...
Orange butterfly, brilliant on grass, fertilizer pungent,
the old man on his knees, steel trowel striking...
hearing lost, legs trembling, he chases children
whose skates threaten his fuchsia, cuts bouquets
for the woman next-door, who won't kiss him,
who groans twice a week in her lover's arms,
who paints nightly to capture one lonely man.
I want to ride
in the back of Sylvia's car,
curled under the lid
of her trunk,
make a nest in the textiles
jumbled there: the pink
towel with white roses
the royal blue nylon
sleeping bag bunched
on sky-blue dropcloth.
I want to bury my face
in the down pillow,
wrap my shoulders
in a purple cobweb
of lacy wool shawl,
shove my feet
into the beaded
I want to ride
home to Sylvia's studio
snuggled in orange jacket,
and suck on a green
as I float
among colors like flavors,
textures like songs,
paintings like poems.
disconnected countryside squalor
a city racing, ready
I could easily
Insanity seems to be
only a few steps over
the line, a wrong
Normandie & W. 23rd
Voices in an alley
speak my name
Their shouts and cries
off the hard concrete
slabs that constitute homes
in the forgotten
part of town.
Four Year Degree
On Sundays she's the Seasons Coffee girl
but she is so much more
fighting her way out
of painted-over wooden doors
each steaming macchiato
just another toot
on the horns of the experience express
Oh, the bright and longing moments
that black coffee drinkers miss
coworkers and old men coughing
while the Indigo Girls wail
what's the matter here
San Francisco sings to her and
other missions bleached like bones
and sunsets shared
with new ex-boyfriends
poured between her toes
that hourglass her life
holds red and purple dreams
crushed fine, like colored coke
or skulls from slaves
they used to use
to turn brown sugar white
Time are the days
I have put on hold
to give me more time
more chances for hope.
And I hoped for the days
for two hands to hold,
but time gave no chance
and time in my hands,
were days spent alone,
with hopes to withhold,
and my two hands alone.
In time this might change,
and chances might come
to hope for more days,
and more hopes still to come.
Is there hope in my hands?
The hands of time are cold,
while I call for more hopes
and chances to hold.
These days I'm not alone,
I give time to my hopes;
holding on to my calls,
calling out for more hopes;
more chances to come,
more time to recall:
two hands in my hands
to hold in this cold,
as days become long,
so hopelessly long,
and the colder the days,
the more I hold on,
the longer I have
to call upon my hopes.
So, I unfold my hands,
I hope that the cold
will come to an end,
will leave me alone.
Alone with my hands,
and all the time in the world,
to hold you in my hands,
put an end to the cold,
put my hopes in your hands,
and let time run its course.
I cannot walk the way of shapen stone
Nor breeze its breathless gardens
Feel not my free eyes upon each step
Take no unclenched hands along
I cannot love its siren birdsong
Or heart the sway of deceived trees
Or underfoot so many stolen pebbles
Lest I slip and am stolen too
I cannot cool in tower shadows
Or be selfish around each corner
I feel, as a number
On a pocket money platform
Not free to scuff my shoe against the verge
I cannot move drumming unwary
For so many minds there are to count
Although the small house embraces my vision
Vast are its dungeons sick and dry
I cannot pump the blood of commerce
Or swim the circle of its path
But it is pushing me with guilt
And I will walk into myself
Such pickled gold contradiction
How dare you make us love yet staler bread
I cannot walk this way of shapen stone
But when it's run me down I know
A shapen stone shall mark my head
He left in spring, juicy with youth,
cello in his arms, eyes full
of tears and the view fading-
his beloved city's spires hazy with distance.
Decades later in December he returned,
cello in his arms, eyes full
of tears at the rubble, his city's spires
crumbled, run through with rats.
His heart shredded with the knowledge
that his own people had done this-
destroyed their city of dreams,
slaughtered their hopes.
When the Serbs started shelling at twilight
the old man clutched his cello, ignored
pleas to enter the bomb shelter, walked
into the night alone.
At the pile of broken stone and twisted steel
that once was his home, he climbed
with aching legs to the top.
Settling himself on a flattened slab,
he stroked his bow across the strings. Wisps
of white hair blew in the gentle wind.
On his upturned face snowflakes fell. Shells exploded
at a short distance and, in the growing dark,
the essence of ancient Christmas
carols drifted like incense
through the ruins.
"A Slovenian is about to become the first person to swim all 2,360 miles of
the Mississippi River, if pollution, lightning or gators don't get him
first." LA Times 7 Sept 02
I thought he would speak of achieving satori or getting into touch with the
rhythms of the universe
Mississippi, mother of all American rivers
unpredictable as a slow-eyed woman with a deck of cards
wide as Mamma's loose hips
long muddy snake, inspiring awe as she gave Samuel Clemens
wild turns on the riverboat,
the shifting turns of her, the sliding remaking of her banks
by the mad rising and falling of turbulent water
and Huck and Jim's long summer nights, sleeping and fishing
You can smell the wisteria, the sweet moss on her edges
"He has suffered an assortment of stomach, ear and eye ailments along
Dodging garbage and old tires
He listens to a Slavic band that scrambles along the bank beside him,
playing his favorite umppah tunes "amid swarms of black flies"
At night he downs bottles of red wine and curses the sores brought on
He swims through Cancer Alley on his painful way to New Orleans
Why does he do it?
I am looking for a hero, a river poet, someone who smells sweet,
weaving sultry musical strokes into the river, swimming in jazz riffs
understanding the cosmic humor of Mark Twain, the long sweet drifting
mystery of the South
He is a small squat man with a pot belly.
Others are amazed that he can swim for so long and so far
Despite downing the crates of wine, he has lost 30 pounds
He spits out raw sewage with a barrage of curses
He is quoted as saying,
"Sometimes I have it very very bad. But always there is tomorrow."
If I were music
Like a childhood song lingering in your ears,
you would dance by the cracks of this ice I have broken
and watch it melt, till the surface is clear
The breeze would carry those notes long unspoken;
If I were music, this cold would disappear
For under the ice is a river; and it's warm, and it's calm
And as you float on its water, you'd remember the tune,
and the song on its wave will return
like a bird to the summer; like petals in June.
If I were music, I'd bring you that tune
And through the breeze, I would whistle
My tone will be soft; rocked by that river, flying in the air
You'd follow the bird, pick those petals and solve the riddle,
for there's no threat, no fear, no sign of despair
If I were music; my music I'd share
With you, I would listen to all the summers of the world
With you, I would wait for new petals to unfold
For you, the sweetest melody, the most tender kiss
with my hands I would play, like a feather on your lips
As the sunniest day rising before your eyes,
you would wake to my skin beating by your side
And the harmony I have braided throughout for so long,
you would treasure it inside you
If I were music, I'd sing our love
THANK YOU MR. HOOVER
It was one of those brightly colored dresses
that look cute on little girls but absolutely
scandalous on adults. She was examining
A twenty-year-old Hoover at a yard sale
for signs of excessive abuse. She crouched
down low like the setting sun, the dress
Teasing the gravel and dust, then she stood up
with her chest sticking out and her back arched.
Golden corn silk hair trailing heavenbound.
-I'll give you 5 for it, She said.
-It's all yours honey.
It certainly was.
Rock and Roll
Before we came to know
our noble Rock ???n Roll:
A rigid, timeworn oak on
churchyard grounds of thought
of a rebel???s
Short Poem-Letter from Alamogordo
poised on an arc in space in the air
the white cursor
jumpily across a short space of the screen
puffy clouds & blue sky in the pixel desktop
there is only the language
doing what it 'likes' to do
what it most does best
the black shape
through the thin air
above Alamogordo & the great White Sands of southern
where our Air Force
presides over the skies
the white cursor like
a small jet plane
high among the fluffy clouds
icons of folders & programs
the black shape
high over Alamogordo
none other than
the black horror of 'Stealth'
Mandeville State Mental Hospital, Mandeville, LA (October, 1987) 8:31PM
The World Series is on tv.
The Minnesota fans are equipped with white handkerchiefs and a busload of
It is my first night here and I am more frightened than I ever knew I could
I see the doctor in the morning.
It is just me and the two black orderlies
Who often sit behind the glass bubble to my right
I call Clockwork Orange.
They tell me I am manic-depressive
Which they explain to me means you have mood swings that range from
Disturbing lows to manic highs.
My ankles still hurt from the chains the cops put around them,
My wrists ache from the cuffs.
The state policeman driving the cruiser reminded me earlier that day that I
better take my meds
Or I might be here a long time.
I sat shivering in the backseat as I saw my parents following closely
in the OIive Oldsmobile Cutlass that they had bought just a year earlier.
Both of us taking that 26-mile journey over the Lake Pontchartrain bridge
The longest bridge in the world.
The silver harmonica I held in my right hand was clutched tight as if it
could rescue me
From the surreal scene I was about to enter.
Yet in some way I felt relieved that I was finally dealing with the
that had Paralyzed me for 23 years.
I would end-up staying a month and going back to other psych wards for the
same problem in 1990 and'93.
Oh, yeah, the Minnesota Twins won their first World Series that year.
Radomir Luza Jr.
I Took Apart
Today I took apart the wall
the ivy, clinging
to its sides
Today I took apart
inside the body
sane and insane
Today I took apart
a sit com actor
a camouflaged soldier
a political speech
a barking dog
inside the landscape
wolves ceased to howl
Today I took apart
an electrical circuit
rigged to scowl
a planned trip
to a war zone
turned to a funny poem
Buy Low Then Sell High
Down Size like Raindog
has been asked to move
a second time 20 years
one space he was stuck
When we are young fool
Around on all the girls
Especially a war going
great for the Pentagon
The old farts on drugs
Medicare assisted life
Moved and The Reserves
Rotate the rental pegs
Our economic disasters
I lost another idea today.
My mind had labored so long
To give birth to it, and now
It is already dead. I hold it,
Its cold, ink-stained body
Lifeless in my fingers
Which had held it once
With such pregnant joy.
Now I must crumple it, toss it,
Move on to the next
I look down the endless pit
Of the trash bin of my dreams,
And see the tiny bodies
Piled one on top of the other,
In a grotesque testament
Of my stillborn creativity
And miscarried intelligence.
My hand trembles to clamp the lid;
One of their faces is peeping out
And an arm is stuck,
Dangling over the rim.
I cannot bear to look on them.
They were not merely the shedding
Of an overactive imagination;
They were living things,
Murdered by my indifference
And hidden forever
In the dark, smelly alley
Of my thoughts,
And in the empty places
Of my notebook
Where the paper has been torn out
And a few remnants still cling,
Strangled by the spiral rings.
thinks I'm great.
I put my key
in the lock,
He watches me
I sort through
next time slip.
Like I said,
thinks I'm great.
Las Vegas Observatory
in a city of excess
My overdose a writer's work ethic
In a hotel room skyscraper high
above the lions' den din
Where tortured souls
are mauled around the clock
And under the influence
of addictions flaunted
like faithful accomplices
in the form of playboy bunny suits
Billing loose slots
and serving free liquid lure
That summon fast fortune illusions
and materialize into mousetraps
Machines vomiting money
And hawkers handing out
Acceptance springing the traps
that authorize assisted suicides
Or shows staged in this Las Vegas lair
Entertainment I chew up
and spit out
In my own addictive den
Port Authority Bus Station, 41st Street and 8th Avenue, NYC (7:20PM)
I think of my wife probably boarding the 99S to Jersey City inside.
Outside four New York City police officers stand in a group talking
While the parade of passengers, prostitutes, homeless men and hangers-on
A thick man holding a gray paper bag jumps in front of the car before me and
looks at the driver.
He says something, I think in Spanish, and raises his arms as if to say,
"What the fuck, man. Watch where you are going." There is no one behind
A black woman in coat, gloves and scarf pushes a stroller as if she were
pushing baby Jesus. She looks down a lot.
A thin and tall black man stands next to the statue of Jackie Gleason as
Ralph Kramden in "The Honeymooners" and extends his hand looking for change.
He doesn't get any.
Down the block a middle-aged man sleeps in a brown paper box. He does not
move. The box surrounds him like the cover that should be there.
Young hispanic and black men in bandannas and New York Yankee caps get down
to the music they hear in their heads. Some have Walkman in their hands.
They all wear unbuttoned jackets.
Over there, near 42nd Street, a white man in a business suit talks to God
and the neighborhood. He wears black earplugs that look like huge beetles
with time on their hands.
Rufan from Bangladesh stands behind his food cart. His bestsellers are
shish kabobs and knishes. He still remembers the George Harrison concert
against famine in 1971.
"I love that guy," he says.
The night is dark and bleak. You can almost hear the buildings scream.
Yellow Crown Victoria taxis lineup to take the next passenger to hell.
A hell the elderly man with a cane seems to have risen from as he deposits a
dollar in the Salvation Army bucket. He even rings the bell a few times.
I walk away only to return at midnight.
Radomir Luza Jr
G. Hagen Hill
ya know, it's funny
though i thought i'd never
but i once gained inspiration
from being alone
now i sleep, sit
stare at the floor
blow my nose
pace up and down
wait for the sound
of that loud, rattling muffler
and that broken, unicorn keychain
to inspire me
to give me meaning
to bring me back
He enters me like water
Parts my red sea
His pupils of flame and
Mouth full of night
Don’t scare me
I have waited for this burn
My whole life
Our bodies know how to love
Better than we do
Remembers life’s silky swim
Hot pressing touches
Make us immortal
If only for the time we touch
Here in our wet Eden
Save me from the dark
Eskimo Pie Girl
Other Lummox Poets
Cesar Chavez Tribute
The San Pedro Poems by RD Armstrong
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This site updated May 25, 2004
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