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Poems from Thieves Jargon

I like my poems; I guess that's all I can say about them. They're not for everybody.


Car-tire against gravel,
rough smell of beer
and roasted corn,
heat-lightning like a sine
wave loops across a pit
of gray sky between pole-light
and the quiet barn;
the low of cows,
moonshine slips in like a tongue
through the treeless hedge fence;
the empty faces of women glow,
a child in shirtsleeves gums an apple
while the mutt runs a rough circle
around the feet of your friends,
pissing every time someone raises a hand.
Your wife says fuck it. Goes to bed.
Shuts the door. Says go ahead and drink.
Be with your friends.

Wrong words get said.
Your head breaks like a fist
against a stone wall,
knuckles feeding fire.
Somewhere the swollen lips
of angels call you home,
but before you go smash-mouthed
in to the house to watch your kids breathe,
stagger into your marital bed,
you tongue-kiss a seventeen-year-old,
realize the sweetness in her mouth
is your own blood.




Don't call me late again, knocking your drunk
head on my door. You're a cracked engine block
sitting in the car like always but useless as tits
on a boar hog at least from the outside.
You burned the eggs when I let you cook
that one time and we ended up eating
bear-claws for breakfast and cold coffee.
You shook so badly you couldn't press
the button on the microwave and your whole life
dribbled out of you in sobs like you'd pissed
down my leg. I can only do so much for you,
prop you up when you're about to hit the floor,
buy you Cokes to wet your chapped tongue,
clean your pretty blue cowboy boots of puke,
curse when you kick them against the divot
in the floor near the entrance of my trailer.
You need the heat turned up high and blankets
crowded between your thighs. I left your bra
and panties on last night; I didn't want you
to think I'd taken anything from you but now
I've pretty much decided: I wouldn't piss on you
if you was on fire. This time it's all on you.
I've had enough. I'm only interested in how you burn.


Dear So and So: a gray lick of water pounds your bare feet.
The ocean's heart opens in front of you, a failed embrace.
Cold salt and hard driftwood slam in the eddy between
two immense boulders and a dinghy shudders in its shallow
mooring. The crack of rock on rock fills the air.

You can't write a fair poem about the ocean without the death
of something. Oceans hear you but take revenge in their own
slow time. You shouldn't be out in this rain and wind but yeah:
there it is. I snapped the picture. The very last one.

Walk into a redneck bar in mid-coast Maine in 2022.
In flip-flops and tight jeans, she'll be numbing her ganglia
with gin or by the memory of you putting up sable curtains
on rods at the apartment with the lobster traps outside;

the way you fucked her raw on the tar roof with no blanket;
she picked gravel from your knee abrasions with a whiskey-
soaked washcloth and your Buck knife's dulled blade; it'd been
years since that knife had been near a stone but she sat nude

at your feet. You felt the tips of her breasts glow. Strewn-haired
and damp with sex, she'll turn to you now, glass-tipped,
fornicatory in her slippery movements and she'll nod in disbelief.
It's 2022. 20 years of salt water spitting right in your damned eye.

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