My only job was to kneel in a field & flick
the heads off pink clover. Most of the older boys
were away & the President was not himself. Beyond
a crumbling gate, the field tilted into pine,
into birch. I was certain choppers hid among
low branches at dusk. In what was likely a dream,
Aunt Carol insisted Freddy had been captured
by salamanders. I'd fallen asleep on the job,
a clover stem between my teeth. A pinto came,
stood over me & swished away no-see-ums
with her long tail. Definitely a dream.
Cousin Freddy was never captured, but
by a swamp, orange salamanders thrived
beneath scraps of his fatigues. In time I learned
to love the chatter of Cracker Jacks in my head,
as the adults smoked & the nightly news loops droned.
-poem previously published at Springfield City Library Poetry Contest
If only he hadn't kicked the class bully
in the nuts during lunch. But it was either that
or snorting lime jello and tomato sauce
through a dirty straw in front
of the entire Glee Club.
Let the rest of them dodge that wacky red ball.
Let them choke on dustclouds and Gummi Bears.
There's something to be said
for lying face down in a dumpster
on top of a stack of Playboy centerfolds.
-poem previously published at Adirondack Review
Leaving A Trail Of Slime
In the school yard, we snorted
angel dust, and you tried to strangle
me when I tossed your Frisbee into the street.
I feigned asphyxiation, and when you loosened
your grip, I kicked you in the nuts.
Next day, we did it all over again.
The time you crashed the El Dorado into
the plate glass
window at Mr. Yan's Chinese Take-Out,
then punched the cop who confiscated your cocaine,
I was tripping on No-Doze 500 miles away,
cramming for finals at college.
They say you found Religion
in that dingy corner
of the prison library. But on the outside,
you couldn't feed your appetite
for Ecstasy and prostitutes
by hustling Bibles door to door.
So now, you're dealing weed
out of Denny's on the side. You've got your own
legion of Born Again Potheads, and a private
table in back, where the hacking
and wheezing never reaches the late night diners.
I happened upon you the other day.
You told me you've been walking on water,
swimming on land. You swore it was never
too late to save my eternal soul.
Listen, man. I had my breakdown long ago,
and I've been peachy ever since.
When I told you that, you slithered
away like a slug, leaving a trail of slime.
-poem previously published at Niederngasse Magazine
Jesus In the Psych Ward
"My dad? he used to call me a pussy.
He liked to ram the message home hard.
That's why I'm here," my roommate tells me,
not mentioning how he snorted Ritalin
then stole the Holy Water from St. Judes.
I press him about it and he confesses,
"Sometimes I think I'm Jesus."
I try not to stare at the gashes on his forearms,
try to ignore the yeast infection on his tongue.
Behind barred windows, we all ooze something,
so I concoct my own princely stories
and tell him lithium pacifies my Gandhi.
This makes both of us feel at ease.
Besides, I figure he could be the One.
-poem previously published at Gumball Poetry
In the ward you have to draw
blood to the surface with blunts--
a hairbrush, a Dixie Cup.
My roommate, a three-timer,
showed me the ropes.
We swapped medications
and I thought I would become him.
Perhaps that's what I needed;
to be ten years younger with a tattoo
of Dee Dee Ramone naked,
and a scar, kissing the jugular,
impressed with a number two treble hook.
All that changed
the night he tried to hack
off an eyelid with a plastic spoon,
and everyone was pissed when the head nurse
announced there'd no longer be
Cream of Wheat for breakfast.
-poem previously published at Southern Ocean Review