Tyson West

Tyson West

Tyson West was born in Boston, Massachusetts and grew up during the 1950s, the era of beat poetry. He kept growing in the 1960s and was tear gassed in the People’s Park riots in 1969. He grew up in Western Pennsylvania, attended University of Virginia, and lived in California for a time. He has lived for the last 45 years in Eastern Washington State in the smoke and dust in the bottom of an Ice Age flood plain. He crafts poetry in various styles and genres, including Asian micro form, form verse, and free verse. He has two poems nominated for the Push Cart Prize. He received third place in the Second annual Kalanithi Contest for his rondel "Under the Bridge". He has also published fiction in various genres. He is listed on the "Haiku Registry" and is a member of the Furry Writers Guild.

Stars of the Afterlife

if dying is anything like vagal nerve fainting
how bad can it be - my mind blurs
consciousness contracts
into a
tiny
white
spot

but
death
itself
opens in
some vast unknown space
where prophets and philosophers
assure us that our feelings and fears will still matter

if
we
have no
memories
of mountain ranges
that drops of water brushed away
before we were born – how could death itself be any
more painful–the atheist left
us in an odd but
comforting
open
bright
void

to
the
gong of
a brass bowl
sculpting the silence
the bald monk in the saffron robe
begs for rice and enlightenment neither of which are
vital – with an infinity
of lives perfection
is just a
matter
of
time

of
course
you have
no recall
for god created
your immortal soul at your birth
heed my catechism and you will suffer great joy
the kindly christian counseled us
but step on a sin
forever
you'll rot
in
hell

she
lights
incense
cuts her deck
into arcanas
tells us we have been here before
the pagan priestess promises more lessons to learn
i only wish i could recall
knocks from prior lives
already
she claims
i
know

i
get
allah
only is
god but he still needs
scads of angels to scoop each soul
painfully from its body – pass judgment on its faith
apply punishment of the grave
he won't let one soul
fade away
into
the
dark

when a soul with whom i used to wander laugh and buzz
drifts off to leave a withered husk
it takes its feelings
and leaves me
with my
own
loss

from
that
void i
shall weave tales
and sculpt such a globe
to justify in artifice
the time breath and love we squandered on one another



First appearance "The Fib Review" Issue 29


 

blizzard clouds swallow
the wolf moon – dreams rise to
a squirrel's nest

First appearance in "World Haiku Review" (March 2019)


American Legion Silent Night

I cannot spiral past the American Legion nee The Metals Building
These four decades down the wrinkling gyre of my brain chemistry
Without admiring its awnings and pseudo star sticked windows
Geometric stepped patterned roof steeply defining
Its dormers lipsticked during each remodel
Above the ever changing bars inebriating its street level.
Inevitably as well I return to the question
Of a baby who or may not have been
But definitely is not now.
The Belleau Wood marine turned garbage man dyeing tan
The polyester curtains of my rental house during the fall of Saigon
With the incessant flow of bare assed Chesterfield smoke
Heard his wife, an old nurse
After stubbing out her Kool pause,
Raise her fine plucked eyebrow, and spin her tale
Of young people during the 1918 flu epidemic dropping dead
In doctors' waiting rooms at the massif of the Paulsen Building.
The old man hacked, scratched his crotch and glanced at his woman
Applauded by my wonder
Then raised her the tale of he and his bud
Gleaning galvanized cans one Christmas Eve
At The Metals Building where they found the soft pink
Of the newborn cold and stiff inside a can
They had unsheathed from its lid.
Grateful for work during the Great Depression
They nodded to one another and dumped the can and corpse into their barge exhaling its tetraethyl lead exhaust
Charon and Hermes silently in red felt trimmed with white fur
Psychopomped the child seen alive only by his mother to the landfill.
The not baby Jesus as his body dissolved,
Rose to life over draft beer, coffee and eggnog
Into a tale often repeated into blue carcinogenic haze
Purified by the old man's lungs and lips
And the applause of his listeners' gasps.

First appearance "Kissing Dynamite"


Elegy for Hawkings

Pi day twenty eighteen
I scrounge Bud Light cans along Northwest Boulevard
The red hound braids her urine
With the scat of chihuahua and coyote.
Surviving clouds of a front from the Gulf of Alaska
Splotch and splatter across horizons.
Trolling for haiku I lie skunked
In the prop wash of Hawkings' final weightless flight
An SUV sloshes out another beer can as its mass accelerates by
Studs scraping the asphalt.
Between clouds rorschaching above the sewage plant
Adorned in salmon pink lights huddled by the black river
The stars reorder themselves.

First appearance "Shotglass Journal" Issue 25


Slow Freight

The last time I saw nordic Ralphie he was cleaning up the forty ouncers from a six day drunk at his flat.
He emptied the ashtrays, heaped like Rainier,
Tossed out the stale pizza crusts and poured out the flat yellow dregs
From the last bottle standing next to his lace curtains.
The hummels of the waiter and the hobo looked down from the high shelf
Wondering how he would live through the next mood swing in this slice of sobriety.
The last time I saw Ralphie his blue eyes glowed – "Kid I rode the slow freights out of Denver to Salt Lake and Frisco twenty five years ago. My train ticket was my first drink. A gay waiter can always find a job."
The last time I saw Ralphie he complained of stomach pain
Popped Tums, "God, I loved the wine and steaks and boys
And the never ending rails-who cares where we go."
Bill found Ralphie on kitchen floor where he sat down and laid back and died sober.
We drove up the curving road in Greenwood Cemetery,
Past the rich men's mausoleums and ornate effigies of angels, to the stoneless potters field.
The preach opened up a can of words of resurrection in Jesus
And a heaven where there are no railroads,
Then spilled them out into a banjo over our jungle campfire.
From the hill we heard the long low horn of the slow freight
Rounding the curve of the trestle above Hangman Creek
Bidding hail and farewell to the queen of the road.
Ralphie used to laugh over the words of J. J. Hill: If I had enough Swedes and whiskey, I could build a railroad to hell.

First appearance in "Clones, Fairies & Monsters in the Closet" an anthology published by Exter Press


Nourish Haiku 1

the last fly and i
measure snow fall sharing
our late lover's tea


Homesteads

Her family had clung to that patch of soil over a century.
It must have been the four graves in the yard
Twenty five yards or so north of the house
Laid carefully in the red clay so that
Should the dead open their eyes they could see the white framed two story house
Where ma formed the lard filled pie crust
Baked the cornbread and in which pa sat and smoked clouds
Replaying in his head
The victories at Manassas, Chancellorsville and Cold Harbor
To refine the family myth explaining the end at Appomattox.
Their great-granddaughter whose angry flesh fit neatly against mine for a time
Further retold, refined, and reshaped tales spoken but never written down
Just as the Chickahominy a few hundred yards or so from the house
Shifts its thalweg to drift and reform oxbows and islets in alluvial mud.
"When they ran out of cannon balls, pa fired round river stones at the Yankees."
Her mother proudly served her redeye gravy in the hundred year old boat
Simmered just as her grandmother larned her and which
We drizzled on our biscuits with a well-worn but cherished
Century old silver spoon.

Somewhere a dozen clicks south of Vilnius
Decays a cottage just as old
From which my grandfather fled
Before the Russian soldiers stamped into the village
Looking for a few good boys to join them.
In all the years I watched his pipe puff the Edgeworth slices he so carefully crumbled
Lit with the kitchen match struck against his trousers
Drinking his warm Ballentine Ale
He never spoke of that last sunrise over the first morning smoke that day
Nor the ocean nor glacial till he would never turn again.

First appearance in "Nourish Poetry"


Funeral Food

I
She asked where had his body gone
For though he slipped at the twist of summer
His memorial was marinated in the first November snow
Not deep and sloppy?savored soft and thin
Then baked hard with the whisk of the northeast wind
Still he would have driven his body were it here to ski Lookout Pass.
The library of the rich man's club
Holds no books but the collected wisdom of
The walk in fireplace worthy of a baron's castle
Where once were spit roasted
Whole elk, swine, and kine,
To nourish the gentlemen only who regeneraled battles of the Great War
Over their whiskeys evaporating into clouds of cigar smoke
While alien tipis in Peaceful Valley below
Smoked the last wandering red men formed of the red fish from the Great Stinking Waters.

II
She asked where had his body gone
The fireplace now lined with unsooted tile
A ceramic log orange with sterile gas from the Dakotas
No smell of fat flame nor cheroots from the colonies
Along the south side of the room tables with a server's smile
Her name tag reads Corrine Smoke (really)
Whose great grandmother may have carved slabs off the haunches of roasted stag.
Tables now scattered of fingerling sandwiches
Tuna and tomato and cream cheese
Sliced bell peppers, red, yellow and orange
Veggie dip with its hint of wasabi
Slices of Chinese pork loin with hot mustard and sesame seeds
Homemade potato chips deep fried no doubt in heart healthy oil
Not the tallows of the roaring 20's where our lost one first saw the sun
They don't make cooking fats like they used to

III
She asked where had his body gone
His fragile niece beamed up from LAX a galaxy and half century away
Blonde with her cane and emmy
She had trekked on the Enterprise and climbed Hill Street
To spin recollections of her only uncle and taste his funerary food
Never wed forestry professor
Most of the mourners in the mosh pit
Long past three score and 10
Except for his outdoor friend, ski and biking buddy
With whom he hiked Glacier
Warming the sleeping bag in the tent
Two specks of blood pulsing amid the icy rock
And he took her once to the symphony
When the taller white haired indoor friend could not attend
And the balding student recalled his love for the spiral grain of Douglas fir

IV
She asked where had his body gone
The medicine woman recalled his leaping
The boulders on the California beach
To scatter his sister's ashes to the Pacific
Sonya photographed dark haired John Steinbeck's penciled moustache in the 1930's
And her younger brother's blonde locks, the innocence
She cautioned not to marry the German girl after Hitler's suicide
They never counseled him against the legion of lovers
His innocence seduced on its own.
His meals were eaten slowly all the mourners agree
How each meal glacially sliced and savored
Each bite rewondering anew the spice and the fats holding off the snows
The long Christmas dinner in Ireland
Where he chewed each bite of plum pudding
In his deliberate and immoveable feast.

V
She asked where had his body gone
As the old lover and the young one rose together arms around each other
To warrent his kindness blossoming the beauty of the mountains
And the music of the Brahms
Who both missed his lean body's energy and bounce
Recalling how slowly he savored each morsel
The actress out of character arose
To thank the gouty professors weeping at the tales of slow meals
No one ate enough with all the time in the world
So Corrine Smoke packed the remaining funeral food
In the Styrofoam clamshell urns
For the mourners to savor slowly and deliberately in silence
The fingerling sandwiches and roast pork in memory with him
Though we all knew, no one answered her when
She asked where had his body gone

First appearance in "Subterranean" (now defunct)


Triolet 5

Measuring your wrinkles—numbering my grey hairs
We twist and trust—we have nothing left but time
Young hours sparkled once to wrap our neat affairs
Measuring my wrinkles, numbering your grey hairs
Time aged into a sticky mass that loops and errs
Our certainty now leaves us as our muddles climb
Measuring our wrinkles numbering our grey hairs
We wist and rust, we have no thing left; but time ...

First appearance in "Shot Glass Journal" Issue 20


Fibonacci 5

while

thin

winter

sunlight splits

against jagged ice

intoapastelfandango

thegirlwithtangerinehairandalimeumbrella

laughs behind a carnival mask

we light red candles

dream away

a cold

white

day

First appearance "The Fib Review" Issue 25


A Happy Elegy For Fidel
11/25/16

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, I re-read tonight
Your "One Thousand Fearful Words For Fidel Castro" on this date of his death
And the internet, that beacon of truth, proclaims he survived over 600 assassination attempts
I didn't know they kept stats for such a thing
Like major league homers by switch hitting Cuban left fielders, but
Fidel did way better than Jesus who after all
Bought the hacienda on the Pharisee's first try.
Just as I remember the azure eyed and Lady Clairol blond Jesus weeping over my pre-puberty
sins,
I vividly recall the young Fidel haunting my childhood's end
The bearded boogie man with big cigar and green army fatigues whining in the broken English
of a Tijuana pimp.
Seated at the right hand of Nikita and branded by Ike and Jack as the dark one,
I had no idea that Fidel had driven out Batista and Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky
Who peddled drugs to flabby American tourists
Looking for a floating crap game and a blow job ninety miles away from our pristine shores.
Hell, you would have thought the DEA and CIA
Would have loved Fidel's ass,
Any enemy of sex and drugs is a friend of ours.
But it was that commie thing
That name you could call the skinny kid with glasses on the middle school playground like queer
or faggot
That back in those days would shut down any argument.
While I was an acned middle school groad,
Lawrence, good liberals like you
Sensed the interplay of our cold warriors and warlords fancy dancing and
Walter Cronkite pontificating against the asbestos curtain backdrop of Schlitz beer and Camel
cigarettes.
Watching the vapor trails slimed out of aircraft crawling like slugs at 30,000 feet
I was scared shitless of fallout from a nuke from Havana hitting Cleveland ending the
nothingness of my Halloween candy
Farting on Santa's lap and my looking down Doris McAdoo's blouse in study hall.
But in the end your hero and my villain turned out the same
Fidel survived his endless speeches at the UN and Revolutionary Square
And boatlifted his opposition to Little Havana
Leaving Cuba, reclining like the Naked Maja, in the path of hurricanes and tropical storms,
To survive on Soviet and Venezuelan handouts
And build a damn good medical system so El Jefe need never trust a foreign surgeon.
Smart enough to play his people against their government Fidel would blame
Ten US presidents and their CIA directors for their eternally rebuild 58 De Sotos and lack of the
internet
Once Fidel ascended to the throne in 1959, even Ché knew the revolution was over and took his
style off to Bolivia to leave his beautiful corpse in the Andes.
Fidel never needing to replay his revolution
Flipped off Republican or Democrat administrations with bipartisan furvor.
In the same class as Generalissimo Francisco Franco who shot enough of the right people in the
beginning,
He received that greatest reward to which any dictator can aspire:
A state funeral and nine days of mourning
After dying in bed at 90.

First appearance in "Clockwise Cat"


Half Yellow Face Speaks With Yellow Hair

It does not take a shaman's vision
Born of smoke and pounding of a drum
To see that the angle of the sun warns us
To discard our blue jackets
And don the eagle feathers
That our women have sewn on deer skin
So our souls may ride
The trail of the dead above us.
We Crow choose to die as warriors not soldiers
For warriors do not ask why we face Sioux rifles and war clubs.
In this instant
I see souls of your children's children's children
Fly winged horses to places called Ia Drang, Mosul and Raqqa
Dismount as we do to fight here
To embrace the thirst and the pain
As they rise into the spirit of battle.
Relieve Curly, Goes Ahead, Hairy Moccasin and White Man Runs Him
From leading your command toward arrows and bullets.
We will join Major Reno by the trees
To ride toward the Dog Soldiers and Lakota as warriors
"You and I both are going home tonight by a road we do not know."

First appearance in "Beyond the Hill" an anthology of military poems published by Lost Tower Publications


The Road To Lynchburg

One fine day of Virginia May
I stuck out my thumb at the University crossroads
Just over a century after they shipped Stonewall Jackson's one-armed body
Home to Lexington to be enshrined a mile from VMI.
My 18 year old hormones were hitching south to a city
Yankee troops had never defiled.
The slicked haired man with his white socks and black shoes and his sunglassed gal
Who picked me up were hospitable enough
To offer me a swig from the bottle of Bacardi in their glovebox
I poured a few drops into my can of Coke out of courtesy
And politely laughed at his quip
That the Chevy full of Negros we passed was a "carload of coal".
Once he dropped me at the coffee shop
I dropped a dime to tell Kay I had arrived for
Cups of feelings and beltane fires of cigarettes
She showed me the town none of which I can recall
Save for the rusty hull of the Marshall, the packet boat,
That carried Stonewall Jackson's body by canal to Lexington
The battered steel remains - the relic had been elevated on a pedestal displayed at the park
Near the chained and padlocked cyclone fence of the public swimming pool
Full of dried blown leaves and candy bar wrappers
Permanently closed by decree of the town fathers
Rebels against federal desegregation
Whose grey uniformed ancestors had stood at attention in tears before the casket
In transit from Chancellorsville back to the edge of the Shenandoah Valley.

First appearance in "Rat's Ass Review"


Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Andrew, you were not in search of Plato's ideal of classic beauty
Nor were you looking for soul shattering passion
When you dropped by your neighbor's house for a cup of coffee and the latest gossip.
All great affairs start by chance
As if God braids random bodies and souls to spiral with glittering multicolored and textured
hormones
To rise with the yeast of longing, as in his avatar of Yahweh, he tested Job,
Then watched the suffering and ecstasy blossom.
You found the German girl or
Did she find you,
Wearing high cheekbones, braids, and pale blue eyes,
And the few extra pleasant pounds of middle age,
Carrying also her husband and four children in her martial struts.
Of course you were no young and baggageless swain yourself,
With Betsy whose calculation like the sun's gravity pulling you back constantly
From travels too far on paths wildly strewn with elderberry blossoms and thistle.
You came to visit your old friend Karl,
In whose Teutonic efficiency you found one of your earlier aesthetics
Karl, whom she nursed in his private Gotterdammerung.
It must have been her hollow cheeks,
Or maybe greying blond hair that enchanted her braids, or her desire,
You came to paint them enough, that
Pulled the two of you into the secret
That took on a life and aesthetic of its own.
Did you two at one point exclaim
That it was bigger than the both of you?
Over two hundred sketches, tempura and oils of her proved
It was not a spicy one night stand.
In full sun wearing the broad brimmed hat in which you painted Betsy years ago,
Loden green felt in the mist of a winter's trail,
And her pale body naked with the sheets around her knees
Helga slept securely in the nest keeping warm what the two of you would deny
Was post orgasmic satisfaction.
Of course denials were as cozy as that feather bed in Karl's guest bedroom
For all concerned
Since everyone always lies about sex.
If the fruit of the truthless tree
Is "Lovers", that oil of her seated nude next to the open window
With sun beams suckling her soft pink nipples
And caressing her pale side
We appreciate that at times untruth can be beauty.
But the deepest dogma of the long hours
Of your fermenting infidelity into art
Completely misled the caustic critics
Who panned her looks as less than classic.
Perhaps they couldn't forget your father's cowboys, pulp pirates and illustrations for Lovecraft
stories,
Or your crippled Christina confined so young and vulnerable on the smooth shaven yet savage
farmhouse lawn,
Or that you didn't splatter with Jackson
In his last drunken convertible ride.
In art like life, it is more mature to love quietly for a cause
Than die gallantly for one.
In spite of Betsy's hurt and angry words
And clutterings of critics whose wit would not permit
Them to stand silent before the monolith
Of the myth you and Helga sculpted from pillow talked clichés
We see you did not love her because she was beautiful
She is beautiful because you loved her.

First appearance in "Rat's Ass Review"


All The Best

Baby, we can debate all night
Whether all the best cowboys have Chinese eyes
But no one questions that
All the best despots are voids
That the vacuums of their wills struggle to fill.
Just this last century Joe the man of steel
After poisoning Lenin and ice axing Trotsky
Packed his emptiness with wisps of thirty million starving souls.
Adolph checked out - raging against the fools who followed him
Singing the sad old country song
How he poisoned his dog and suicided his wife
While the Russians repo'd his pickup.
Thank our founding fathers who set us up to get served only despot lite.
Donny the fat bully, our bone spur commander in chief,
Rises with all the panache and morals
Of a drug dealer with dementia –
So high and tweaking he can't recall his own lies.
Our world and myths need be much softer - for this is where we eat and sleep,
My teen twins with their partners du jour
Chatter so wisely foolish at my squeeze and I across the Olive Garden table
Dreaming of elite universities that will reject them
But ready to settle onto the safety net state U campuses
Where they will have their ignorant insecurities abrated away
And become snared in the candy crush of student debt.
The Honduran waitress smiles to fluff her tip
As we twirl our pastas in the simpatico glow of corporate consistency.
Some smiling basketball star
Or country singer will tweedle that we are all family which
We will believe because love, even the fake stuff, is the coziest quilt.
Donnie in his dark web will swirl in his bowl of tweets and
Fire his way through bureaucrats, lieutenants, and flunkies who laugh behind his back
Then leak his secret servile slather of Putin.
Yet our lives will go on
This chaos and incompetence
Will go off the air if not get cancelled mid-season.
Our children will have children
With no idea that their lives are harder
So long as smart phones message them on Facebook
And the Olive Garden keeps our blood sugars
At levels where all is well.
A new leader will appear on the air
To entertain us.
And most of us will be there
Debating all the best.

First appearance in the anthology "Orange and White and Tweets All Over",
published by Thurston Howl Publicationsbg.


My Angel of Mourning

You stand alone over the corpse of a girl
Who succumbed I presume to consumption
While big bearded men at the saloon complained of Grover Cleveland's piss poor captaining
Of their great ship of state.
Once a block of Vermont marble pardoned from the lime kiln
Pure enough for the drunken stonecutter to shape
Into an angel looking forever homeward
You hold to your vows to keep little Emily in her grave
Who if she arose would be texting her BFFs
And pummeling the Shadle High wide receiver in ambiguous taunts
To befuddle his plain spoken apologies,
While she screamed
At flickering patterns of light displaying
Dances of the walking dead.
Now washed over a century of acid rain
I am moved by your dissolving innocence and devotion through it all –
The genocides and world wars hot and cold
That filled the air above you.
Even if I mended your broken wing
It would not change your feelings for me
As you watch over her who no one living can say they knew.
My only hope of our union lies
In my ashes being scattered at your feet
Then I will be sure the lichen spots under your eyes
Are not just tears for Emily but also tats to show your sorrow
For never having loved me.

First appearance in "Unrequited" an anthology of love poems about inanimate objects
published by Kelly Ann Jacobson


Chance Encounter

My buddy Darrell slid into me in Seattle
The shade of his name carved on dark polished granite
In the Garden of Remembrance
Battlement at symphony hall
Surrounded by artful young beards caressing pacifist lattes
Creative girls with horizontal striped stockings
Climbing Capitol Hill
To covet earnest watchers in Argentine restaurants
And debate the war du jour.
Specialist Darrell D. Deever
Lost his debate in Iraq 2007 IED
Pooka and I often saw his father
On our Sunday afternoon cemetery dog walks
Mourning in the
Massive red Dodge Ram pickup ghost
A young man's faith in machinery
Scented with Middle Eastern oil
Dad patching the hole in his America with spring flowers and fall pumpkins
Pictures of family and balloons and pennies
On his grave
At the peaceful shelf above the Spokane River
Darrell's body below bathed in formaldehyde
As much of it as they could find
Takes up little space in the coffin
Once wrapped in a flag
Now folded in a triangle on dad's mantle
Thank you Darrell
For had you not volunteered
Our princes' egos and priests' lies
Would reach out to me and my boys
To join their great game.
Instead you became
The alliteration on a stone slab
Among four thousand other names passed by
In the indifferent hive above Puget Sound.

First appearance in "Lost & Found: Tales of Things Gone Missing"
an anthology by Wagonbridge Publishing


The Children's Hour

Glitter in green and gold hoar frost grey
Holiday cards from old lovers and ex-spouses
Purchased predicable parables
Illuminate long night and flush
Regrets into the flow of a grottoed virgin.
The white crunch of unseen steps
Children from the fog surprise
Fully fooded and fibered
Never quite what I imagined they would pupate.
Once laughters and sleigh bells fall silent
And my partner's snores echo only then
Can I properly protect the blue blond woman of whom I never speak
And our famished ghosts.

First appearance in "Beat-itude" the National Beat Poetry Festival 10 Year Anthology


Lost in the Crack

Killing the little copperhead was so unnecessary
Your father could have set down his Lucky Strike
Picked up a broom and box
Then release its scales to shine near the Chickahominy
A good quarter mile south from the century old farmhouse
Entombed in its tradition and 10 acre curtilage.
My brother arrived at Glenn Allen to transport me to Sacramento.
After our 1970 summer of love
Young people were converging on the impoverished plantation
Where your great great great somebody died and is buried in the side yard
After the War Between the States –
Your father told me over and over how they fired river rock at the Yankees
When they ran out of iron balls
And how the old soldiers in the rest home
Wept when they spoke of Stonewall Jackson's death.
Then one more soldier, a young one this time, converged
Your PFC younger brother on leave ambushed us all –
Your sudden joy, as deep as a cannon's barrel
As you hugged him
Cracked then exploded like a stone cannon ball
Spontaneous radiation I'd never before seen in you – or since.
But we had our script and you strut
Your anger and entitlement.
We were not so sick of one another
We were ready to forego
The fights and bickering we had left.
I should have crawled quietly away
But I believe in destiny and boot heels
I still mourn those fresh scales shining in the August sun.

First appearance in "The Poets Domain", Vol. 32, published by Local Gems Press


Annette: A Homecoming Elegy

I had hoped to see her
Head cheerleader and eternal queen
Of every homecoming, prom, or pageant puddle
In our grey mill town wrapped into the last
Of the Pennsylvania hills before the land flattens
To become a place called Ohio
Where my eighteen year old classmates ran their '56 Chevys for 3.2 beer.
Among the bouquet of daughters of welders, teachers, preachers and profs
She perked and smiled to fluff up in popularity beyond Mary Lou, Judy and Karen
Whose slender curves and couture
Outshone Annette's big bones and Presbyterian style.
She wanted it so badly
She even smiled at Stinky of the feebleminded trailer park kid and Derek the dweeb
To captivate their votes
Quite a risk she took
As neither of them could read the real reason
For the sudden shower of her attention.

Flying eastward after a fifty year fissure
To confront my memory of her at eighteen
Only to find her middle aged smile and hairdo
At the obit table among the bucks who bought the paddy in Nam
And the early cancers, car wrecks, heart attacks
And suicides no one will acknowledge.
So among wrinkles and talks of wonder kids and silences over careers and changing the subject
when asked about marriages
I've never learned her version
Of where she rested on the day she fell through the crack.
Did she love her husband and three kids
Or his MD?
Did she regret plagiarizing Cliff's Notes for her junior English essay apologizing for Lady McBeth
Or just the high heeled student teacher, who used the same source, catching her?
Was her smile so calculated because she wanted the tiara
Or because she needed it?
And maybe I would have learned as well why Phyllis of the narrow eyes and sharp smirk drew my
desire
Or why Annette like Marilyn Monroe who I should have wanted with all my heart
Beause mother and every normal soul said that I should
Flew as a flag I cared not to follow.

First appearance in "The Poet's Domain", Vol. 32, published by Local Gems Press


Evicting The Porn Star

Sister Magdalena
Though our lips have never modulated notes for our carnal ears
Our souls sing arias of silence
Each to each
Why else would my body orbit your cloister on midnight walks
Elevate my famished eyes to your room darkly
Known only from the glowing flesh of your inner candle
Lit as you face my angel standing watch?
Sister I seek your counsel
For the soft tide of guilt burrows under walls of reason
Your Clorox convent saves you from the chatter of the breeders
Neap tides of young hormones
And long walks on the beach
Binds you to the treasure
Of snowy apprehensions with San Juan de la Cruce up his seven story mountain
I crave the icy reach of your savage purity
To gauge if I dwell too long in this monkey house
I confess my pain
In evicting Sister Tia
Brilliant artist in allergy free PVC and fauxskin
Soft like life as elastic
As your flesh or mine
Unhardened by conviction or canons
In twenty six stock colors
Sister Magdalena
Pray to your exclusive gods and goddesses
Cloaked in their miracles and martyrdoms
In which I cannot believe
Except through my credence in your glow in the dark faith
Popping as chemicals unzip and spiral in your soul
So long as my mind does not decouple its conviction that
You and all Poor Clares who trade intimacy of body fluids
For intercourse with soft words and night
Forever deny doubt,
Then only together
Can we partake of the chalice of my guilt.
I forced Tia from her tabernacle on East Wellesley Avenue
Creatrix of Moby Dick, Sexcaliber, and Bendable Winky with as much remorse
As if I repossessed Wolfgang's harpsicord
Or collected the surgeon's invoice from Vincent
For bandaging his bloody ear
I, incubus, drove Sister Tia's aging porn star flesh
More famous that your spirit on the sinternet
To the city of angels
Sister Magdalena
Though I have never crossed
Your convent tilt up slab walls
Through your eyes I have seen the statue of the virgin
Gracing the center of your scrupulous garden
Arms open at her side
Foot on the neck of the asp
With the apple in its mouth.
I and all the eaters of apples
Halt before the long crosses etched in white guarding the four corners
Of those aggregate slabs
Tall resurrection crosses
In the shape of a crusader's broadsword
Shaft too long – arms too short to pull off any decent crucifixion
Perfect for beheading heathens and martyrs or
Protecting the virginity of your prayer space.
Sister Magdelana,
Your prayer – your art transmutes desire through
Words delivered in slam ecstasies
To an idea of deity above
Commissions of controlling matrons
Certain in the power of your chastity and the perfection of your craft
Long to dance under a golden shower of
Happy homes, gifted grandchildren
And miracle cures for cancers upon the scattering of their DNA
Sister Magdalena
Once pulled from the stone
The sword's edge cuts truth in
Precious metal sparkling stones
Through the eye of an artist who shares Tia's gifts,
Inner light and visions with
The realism of Mr. Ed or Clifford,
The abstractions of Octopenis
Or the rustic charms of Big Jake,
Truth in twenty six stock colors
Regardless of testimonials
Tia stands with your prayers swords and statues
As our spirits kneel before the enigmatic smile
Of the virgin of your childless garden, we see her wink
Knowing full well that she could not have crafted her passionate mysteries
And the art of her son's sacrifice
Without touching the phallus of the Holy Ghost.

First appearance in "Danse Macabre"


Bread and Butter Note

April 9, 2011
Dear Stevanya,
A note of thanks for the quiet tea
We shared in your spring garden last night cooling
After those final obsidian minutes of sunlight.

The gift of your silence and indifference
Is always precious to me.

When the wild birds of my ideas fly into the mists you sculpt
Into clouds with eyes of long dead ancestors,
I am touched by the ambiguity of your wink.

There is so much color in the tall white fence
And your spotless white lawn furniture, cups and saucers.

I adore the complex simplicity of your decoration
As I do the charm and wit in your voiceless repartee.

Were it not for the ghrine of the distant motorcycle
Or intrusive nightingale aria
We could have heard the murmur of our heart beats.

I am graced with your generosity in allowing my shell of organic chemicals
To react within the walls of your stark yard
And permitting the parallel lines of my consciousness
That ultimately converge
To caress the sphere of your thoughts
Where lines passing from point to point always fall
And there exists no left or up or down or right.

I will always treasure the unexpected bite
Of your soft fingers on the back of my hand
Where your body ricocheted just once as I kissed you goodnight.
Devotedly your loving,
Tyson

First appearance in "Home Canned Forbidden Fruit" a collection of my poetry, published by Gribble Press


Call The Fire Joe

Cookie, I know your dark drinking secrets
But you got no notion of mine
So we can jaw around this dying campfire
While the moon limps down like a three legged coyote.
I don't care if some fruity song writer
From New York City claims out here we call the rain Tess, the fire Joe and the wind Maria,
The embers of this fire is burning out nameless
While we hang this last bottle of whiskey
And rehearse our eulogies for its funeral.
Our campfire don't need no name
Not like our buddies
We drove with on yesterday's trails
And who are the dust we choke on today.
Cookie, you got even more grey whiskers and fewer teeth than I do
These young bucks snoring away in their bedrolls
Couldn't handle the whiskey or the truth under this clear black sky
Nor are they ever going to appreciate that some of the stars is missing
Since they can't see yesterday's sky.
That Jimson boy rides frisky and free, reminds me
Of my partner Joe just after the war
Same strawberry blond hair and easy laugh
We shared many a bottle and many a hard dirty ride
And many a lady at Miss Lucy's sporting house
But we could only share feelings up to that line
That a real man draws
For fear he will be less of a man.
There was them two ladies
Miss Susan and Miss Elspeth
That Joe and I would pass back and forth
Neither was any great looker
Not like some other younger slim fillies Miss Lucy kept in her stable
I'd go upstairs with Miss Susan and Joe with Miss Elspeth and next payday we would trade
across
Older and a bit stockier
They still looked perfect after the whiskey started playing the piano.
They conversed about more than the coins
And the arrival of the next stagecoach
They could see the magenta in the sunset and puce in the cactus blossom
If we weren't cowboys and needing to drive up this Goodnight Loving trail
We might have ridden with them on a good night loving trail of our own
A few head and an couple quarter sections
Miss Susan could almost see the lace of the sins in my soul
And loved me anyhow.
Cotton Eyed Joe
Where did you come from?
Where did you go?
I know where my Joe rode off to
We buried him in Wyoming
Too far from a town to carry his body
I've always wondered if I knew then
What I learned in all those starry nights
Silent except for the dust and the voices of the cattle
That there ain't no great eye of God watching us
Or even if he was
Would even care how close Joe and I could have gotten.
Fearing mostly the scorn of the other young men who was thinking they was going to live
forever
And the whuppings from our daddys
We high tailed it from any feeling that a silk dress is something pretty
Not just the body of the lady that's wearing it
After all these years of hard saddles and even harder women
I just wonder if there was some soft place we was missing
Where we might want to bed down for a while
Some place near cool water
Before I sleep with Joe under this hard prairie soil.

First appearance in "Cowboy Poetry Press".


Under The Bridge

It's just a choice of what we want to lose
The moon hangs in the cold crisp air all night
To wash me and my pain in gentle light
My bro's harp wraps my soul in smoky blues

Without some nurse's orders I sip booze
And smoke fine weed and cigs to my delight
It's all a choice of what we need to lose
The moon shines in the cold crisp air all night

Sure there's a hospice bed for me to use
A room that's sweet and warm where sheets are white
With morphine for my pain. But I'll sit tight
To seek and check out with the drugs I choose
It's all a choice of how we want to lose

First appearance Third Place 2nd Annual Kalanithi Writing Contest of Stanford Medicine

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