April 1980

Southbound 57

Perpetual Change at volume

blown channels disguised

by open windows

First time past the great river

to places with more sand

and waters foreign to my tongue

A new sun

A new air to breath

and the relief of being unknown

Prepares you for death in a strange century

We could harvest the slag heaps

or move to higher ground

We’d rather go home

but roads no longer go back

to that familiar place

Where we dreamt that someday

we’d be up late at night

sharing Johnny Carson’s ashtray

…if the universe

“What if”, my friend Fritz has asked me. In those moments unguarded I am caught, unawares. He bludgeons me with his bitter irony. And yet I always accept more.

“What if, my friend, the universe is indeed nothing more than some vast, fetid pool of reproductive goop….”

Goop? I interrupt him, quite certain this is not a term common to 19th century German. He continues unfazed…

“…. a festering, susurrating ocean of seed and egg co-mingled. A perfect, self sustaining machine of cells, combining and recombining…”

He was again sounding more German. I decided to not fixate on the goop.

“….and all life is attuned to this symphony by olfactory bulb; no memory, only direct stimulus to the brain stem.”

Fritz comes and goes. Often he is here and only sits as a silent observer. Other times he concerns me.

“Yes, my friend. A pheromone paradigm, eh? What do you think, Thomas? In that construct what is the supreme being?”

On some occasions he simply will not leave until engaged. I had to reply.

“Well, Freddy, in that construct I will say that the supreme being is Ramses Buttplug the XVI, the Great Intergalactic Aardvark. He crawls about the catwalks above the space/time fabric, probing the goop with his long, sticky tongue. He sucks up entire planets indiscriminately with each dip from the pool, thereby dispensing justice in an entirely objective manner.”

He remained silent a while. I had almost begun to believe he had gone.

“Ja, I had forgotten about the Aardvark, but you are wrong my friend! In that construct it is we, the ants, who are supreme. Through our consumption the Aardvark is poisoned.”

His logic is ever infallible. I forever dread his coming; I forever dread his absence. He pours two tumblers of whiskey, then raises his glass in toast.

“God is dead?”

I raise my glass in reply, “He is indeed dead, for we have killed him.”

We drink in silence. Then he is gone. My friend Fritz.

Time and space

All these twisted, tortured memories

have their own anatomy

Pieces only meant to fit

into certain symmetry

Something ugly shimmers in the airwaves

stealing it all

to put out on display

A subject now to all manner of decay

Hyperconnected for communion

It’s the new mental health therapy

where every psychosis is shared

The fabric of this space is folded

and goes nowhere


Sixteen inches

It’s forty years on, and now

I can walk and find myself

in hallways we once roamed

None now to remember your name

I am here now

I will bear witness

that Jay was here

His shy smile and nervous laugh

Dark eyes and hair

haunted like a beaten dog

We were mates from the Old School

our proud rural contingent

We were quiet

We were artists

and they ignored us

Until you drowned

in 16″ of water

I wasn’t there

but I know what happened

So sorry

We could not say goodbye


An Ode to Swanson’s


Furniture an abomination

Why surely the floor is our place

Thirteen inch black and white on rainy Saturday

Kukla, Fran and Ollie host a foreign film

baffled by French names

entrapped by November rains

we begin to feel the hunger pains

These days when the migraines

were blinding

No light from beneath the door

No, I’ll light the oven

Swanson’s to the rescue

Harrisburg schoolyard

Old roads traveled again, to places familiar. Places change and roads remain. Signs neglected as their namesake beckon.

Harrisburg schoolyard still in the same place, but the children are gone. The villages dotting the old 3C wither upon tenuous vines. The bricks are all still connected, with boards on her windows. With these blind eyes she stares across the lot, seeing black, white, shades of grey.

None remained here to claim their legacy. Now we are the spawn of wicked spirit, expected to atone for the sins of our fathers. Our parents voted for Nixon and were appalled when we should besmirch the law. We left these places to be left alone somewhere else because our debts will never be paid.

Tempted away, follow the lane from memory long. The library gone and the grass uncut; weeds poke through cracks in the asphalt, in waves to crash upon crumbling steps. Her stories tower still; imprisoned, her doors chained shut, yet when feet touch ground shuttered orbs blink.

A world grown alight, filmed in monovision, we come alive within the celluloid. 1972; theĀ poingk! of the red, playground ball. It sails past the diamond fence to grapevine and briar beyond. There is Mr. Montgomery in his cardigan green, his pipe casts wreaths about his head. His back to the library, the smoke forms mirthful leprechauns like the ones that live in his soul.

Penny Hemphill in your gingham dress, we were both tall and gangly. Your kiss was soft, but we were innocent. We could not know to want more. I wondered for years later, did your eyelids remain so pink. I imagined playing dot-to-dot on your freckles and would you know me now?

We laughed at National Geographics, though we didn’t really know why. Hiding from Mrs. Schmidt in her campaign t-shirt, scowling over her pince nez. Mr. Montgomery visits with his son. Rides his bike there every day for lunch. Home from the war and never right again, but for us he was just David. It made Mr. Montgomery happy, and it made him sad.

There are no more teachers, no more students in this place. Harrisburg playground is empty before her long, brick shadow. If waters have not claimed her in fifty years I may visit again.


Minor keys descending

herald of our doom

Soundtrack for the march of time

Serpents in quicksilver and smell of voodoo

spill from monastery gates

You’ve made me what I am

and I curse you for it

No purpose for a final chapter

to a tale already ended

in every way that matters

No thread of subtext to pull

that will revive this garment

All raiments have been cast to dust