Monday, August 11, 2014

Song of the South (for Michael Brown)

So there was Ezra was impounded in Pisa accused of treason and
Trading tobacco now with fellow inmates forbidden to talk to him.
Colored mostly, soldiers fighting for a country

That hardly fought for them. Taken away like Louis Till after
3:00 a.m. line-ups to be hung for murder and rape.
Not even 3 weeks in the gorilla cage could keep Ezra from

Praising Il Duce in 11 lines on a piece of toilet paper
And later writing his cantos on a table made from a packing crate
By H.H. Edwards after he had gotten the charity.

Would Ezra or anyone have guessed that 10 years later
Louis Till's 14-year-old son would be brutally murdered
For the crime of whistling at a white woman in a store

In Mississippi, where a jury declared d the accused innocent?
After the trial, though, they were happy to brag to a magazine
About what they had done as if they had done no wrong.

Distinguished Senators Stennis and Eastland looked, then, at
Louis' hanging and announced themselves satisfied that the
Same bad blood flowed in the veins of the son as the father.

Originally posted April 11, 2011.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Dr. Benway Consults

he told his patient that
he had often cured such a mania
but that just in case
he should find
a transistor radio

[for William S. Burroughs]

[originally posted 4/23/09]



Born: February 5, 1914, St. Louis, Missouri
Died: August 2, 1997, Lawrence, Kansas

Friday, November 22, 2013

On the Assassination of John F. Kennedy

"The President's been shot," he said seriously.


We heard about it; it was what we talked about.

Brains and blood and bones in an upward curve

And his body across the woman: that's what we imagined

Though we'd be proven wrong by slow motion film

Showing his body just as if we were there with him.

But we didn't stop looking; we haven't stopped yet.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Velvet Underground

Glass windows that hid them.

Her boots white. His black vinyl.

Leather across their backs.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Slow Twist

he's being carried past us.
it is, as a thing, a new way of looking,
a slow twist,
a kind of indignation.
we still feel it, though,
but not as much as before,
this emptiness in the middle.



[For Michael Jackson,  Born, August 29, 1958; died: June 25, 2009.]

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Dr. Benway Consults

he told his patient that
he had often cured such a mania
but that just in case
he should find
a transistor radio

[for William S. Burroughs]

[originally posted 4/23/09]



Born: February 5, 1914, St. Louis, Missouri
Died: August 2, 1997, Lawrence, Kansas

Thursday, November 22, 2012

On the Assassination of John F. Kennedy

"The President's been shot," he said seriously.

We heard about it; it was what we talked about.

Brains and blood and bones in an upward curve

And his body across the woman: that's what we imagined

Though we'd be proven wrong by slow motion film

Showing his body just as if we were there with him.

But we didn't stop looking; we haven't stopped yet.

* * * *

From the Las Vegas Sun:
Forty-nine years ago today, on Nov. 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas’ Dealey Plaza.

The assassination and subsequent slaying of shooter Lee Harvey Oswald shocked the country. In the five decades since, the assassination continues to capture the imagination of authors, filmmakers and the public. It has sparked hundreds of conspiracy theories and studies into who — if not Oswald — was behind Kennedy’s slaying.

Robert Blakey, an attorney who served in the Justice Department in the 1960s and worked on drafting the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations act, served on the House Select Committee on Assassinations that was established in 1976 to investigate the assassinations of both Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.

Unlike the earlier Warren Commission, which found Oswald acted alone, the House committee concluded its two-year investigation with a report stating Kennedy’s assassination was likely the result of a conspiracy.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Twin Killing

Anything he could have done
Would have been better than what
He did, just then, do.

* * * *

"St. Louis' Lance Lynn breaks his bat as he hits into a double play during the second inning."

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Andy's Shoes

"Andy's Shoes" by Richard Avendon

Holes in shoes showing socks a reminder of impecunious days
You were pissed off back then stuck it seemed in nothing but
Shitty commercial art jobs that just barely paid the bills
A series of one-night stands with commerce not a marriage
Drawing shoes until you could cop a better gig doing your art
It's trippy to think of how well it has worked out for you
Maybe the shoes were portentous of success and not of defeat
For awhile you thought to emend those shoes from your story
But then you decided to wear these cut-up shoes like a caterwaul
To draw attention to your feet and damn the veracity

* * * * * *

[Note: Written as a continuation of an exercise introduced at a workshop called "High Art/Low Language: Experiments in Poetic Style," conducted by Eileen G'Sell at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, where Elizabeth Peyton's exhibition "Ghost" had been on display.

Participants in the workshop viewed the exhibit and picked two images to write poems about, choosing from five "high culture" and five "low culture" words that they had drawn from a hat. For this exercise, I used all of the words in the order I wrote them in my notebook.

I couldn't find an on-line image of Peyton's "Andy's Shoes (After Avendon)" so I used Avendon's original phototograph.]

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Song for the South (for Bob Dylan)

So there Ezra was impounded in Pisa accused of treason
Trading tobacco now with fellow inmates forbidden to talk to him.
Colored mostly, soldiers fighting for a country

That hardly fought for them. Taken away like Louis Till after
3:00 a.m. line-ups to be hung for murder and rape.
Not even 3 weeks in the gorilla cage could keep Ezra from

Praising Il Duce in 11 lines on a piece of toilet paper
And later writing his cantos on a table made from a packing crate
By H.H. Edwards after he had gotten the charity.

Would Ezra or anyone have guessed that 10 years later
Louis Till's 14-year-old son would be brutally murdered
For the crime of whistling at a white woman in a store

In Mississippi, where the accused were acquitted?
Though, after the trial, they were happy to brag to a magazine
About what they had done as if they had done no wrong.

Distinguished Senators Stennis and Eastland looked, then, at
Louis' hanging and announced themselves satisfied that the
Same bad blood flowed in the veins of the son as the father.

Originally posted April 11, 2011.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Is That A Poem In Your Pocket Or Are You Just Glad To See Me 2012


You can pick up a FREE copy of "Poems For Your Pocket" Tuesday night (April 24) at "Poetry at the Point," a reading sponsored by the St. Louis Poetry Center and held at the Focal Point, 2720 Sutton Boulevard, in Maplewood.

I'll be reading along with my •chance operations• co-conspirator Chris Parr, Brad R. Cook, Jessica Baran, Susan Lively, and Kristin Sharp. The event is free and begins at 7:30 p.m. For more information, call 314-973-0616.

Jane Henderson writes in the Post-Disptach:
Writing poetry has rarely been a paying gig —- not to mention organizing the events. On Tuesday at Focal Point, those who make it happen take the spotlight themselves.

"Most of the money you make goes back into promotion and other related things," says Susan "Spit-Fire" Lively. She's in charge of Open Mic @ the Inn series in Belleville.

"The biggest challenge is not overworking yourself," she says, while noting that "honoring and publicizing the artists in the events is very important."

In addition to Lively, the St. Louis Poetry Center is presenting poets/organizers from Chance Operations; Fort Gondo Poetry Series; Poems, Prose and Pints; and the St. Louis Writers Guild.

The Mayá Cafe next door to the Focal Point will donate 20 percent of dinner proceeds to the center. In other words, a burrito dinner before the event is another way to support poetry.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Dr. Benway Consults

he told his patient that
he had often cured such a mania
but that just in case
he should find
a transistor radio

[for William S. Burroughs]

[originally posted 4/23/09]

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Design & Intent

Worth trying but still dubious.
Not only a searing burn
But also arguably easier, too.
Some are good and some are not.
But this idea appealed to us, nonetheless.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Haiku

How can "tears" be one
syllable fucking up my
beautiful haiku?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Public Service Announcement: "Drip the Rag" Accepting Submissions


"Send driptherag@gmail.com a text document with the title of the piece, your name, and the poem itself, formatted as you'd like it to appear in print.

"Any and all previously unpublished poetry will be published.

"No editing, no censorship, no questions asked."

Friday, September 16, 2011

Black Diamond Detective Agency, Part 3

The World Mystery Convention, Bouchercon, is in St. Louis this weekend, September 15-18, and that seems like a great time to re-post these excerpts from a short story.

Way back in 1980 I took a fiction writing class at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville taught by Lloyd Kropp, and my final project was a short story that, frankly, doesn't live up the the promise of it's first two and a half pages. Those first pages, though, are worth posting here.


It was 10:30 by the time I felt sufficiently revived to venture out of the office into the streets. The first place I went was to the bank where I cashed a check for $100. From there I made my way to a barber shop where a saint with scissors managed to get me looking somewhat respectable.

The next stop was a Goodwill resale store where I picked out a sort of cliche movie detective outfit: dark suit, tan overcoat, and a battered but not beaten fedora. I was hoping that Curt would get the joke. I returned to the office where I changed into my getup. Things had been going well and showed every sign of continuing that way.

When I called the public library to ask for information about Ramiland, I was connected to a very friendly and helpful librarian who sounded like she'd be a lot of fun when she wasn't being a librarian. She didn't know anything off hand about Ramiland but told me that she could locate some sources for me if I wanted to come by and pick them up. I told her that was fine and told myself not to get too excited about the librarian. She was probably about 70-years-old and most likely had a figure like a baby elephant.

She wasn't and she didn't, I found out when I got over to the library. We had a pretty good time talking and she thought my detective outfit was as amusing as it was supposed to be. We exchanged phone numbers and promised to make it out to a club sometime in the very near future. The only sources she had been able to find were articles in two magazines, which she handed over to me with a wink.

And here, dear reader, my story grinds to an expository halt never to recover, except for this brief passage:

It was around 2:00 when I finished reading. The librarian I took the magazines back to was 70-years-old and did have the figure of a baby elephant. She had a pretty voice and I was in a good mood so I flirted with her for a little bit. We didn't exchange phone numbers, though, and I didn't even get a wink.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Black Diamond Detective Agency, Part 2

The World Mystery Convention, Bouchercon, is in St. Louis this weekend, September 15-18, and that seems like a great time to re-post these excerpts from a short story.

Way back in 1980 I took a fiction writing class at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville taught by Lloyd Kropp, and my final project was a short story that, frankly, doesn't live up the the promise of it's first two and a half pages. Those first pages, though, are worth posting here.


My clothes were in even worse shape than my hair. The Hawaiian tourist shirt had never been the height of fashion and was now just barely wearable. It did go, more or less, with the Army surplus fatigue pants I had on. The splotch of puke, my own or someone else's I couldn't remember, on my right thigh came pretty close to matching the flowers on the shirt. I didn't think Curt or his family would appreciate that too much.

I looked around the lovely Black Diamond Detective Agency for something else to wear but couldn't find anything. I did find my checkbook in a pair of black-and-pink checked pants that I couldn't remember ever wearing. Looking at them now, I was glad that I didn't. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had $450 in my account. It was obviously money left over from the last time I had worked as a laborer on a construction site. I certainly hadn't worked on a $450 case for a least a year. As a matter of fact, I hadn't worked on a case of any kind -- cases of beer excluded -- for 6 months. Maybe I'd been working on too many cases of beer.


(To Be Continued)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Black Diamond Detective Agency, Part 1

The World Mystery Convention, Bouchercon, is in St. Louis this weekend, September 15-18, and that seems like a great time to re-post these excerpts from a short story.

Way back in 1980 I took a fiction writing class at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville taught by Lloyd Kropp, and my final project was a short story that, frankly, doesn't live up the the promise of it's first two and a half pages. Those first pages, though, are worth posting here.


It was 9:45 in the morning when the ringing of the telephone ended my sweet dreams. I know it was exactly 9:45 in the morning when the telephone rang because I'm a detective and I get paid to remember little details like that. It had been a long time since I'd been paid for remembering little details, though, so I did a fairly good imitation of a man leaping out of bed to answer the phone. The imitation was flawed because I was sleeping on the floor of my office and only had to roll over on my side to answer the phone. As far as I was concerned, I was leaping out of bed and it's the thought that counts.

"Uh, yeah, what do you want?" I inquired of my caller.

"This is Black Diamond Detective Agency, isn't it?" I allowed that it was and further admitted that I was George Blake, head honcho. "George," the caller continued in much happier and excited tones, "this is Curt Simonson. I just got into town a couple of days ago and I thought I'd give you a call to invite you over."

"Oh, hello, Curt. It's been a long time. You've been off in Africa or someplace, right?"

"That's right. I've been doing fieldwork in Ramiland in eastern Africa. The political situation got pretty hot so I decided it was about time to come home to the family for awhile."

"So you're back at "the Mansion," eh? I think I can still remember how to get there. What time do you want me?"

"Around 3:30, if you can make it. And, George, I may have to ask you to mix a little business with pleasure."

"That's fine with me. Lord knows I could do with a little of both. I'll see you at 3:30, then. 'Bye." I hung up and began getting ready for the upcoming reunion. The first thing I needed, I saw when I finally located a mirror under a pile of old newspapers on my desk, was a shave and possibly a haircut. A haircut soon became a necessity when it became obvious that no amount of combing was going to produce any style other than grubby. It'd been a long time since I'd dealt with anyone who would mind hiring a detective whose hair was grubby.

(To Be Continued)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Reading at "Poems, Prose, and Pints" at Dressel's on Tuesday, September 6

I will be reading on Tuesday, September 6, at "Poems, Prose, and Pints" held at Dressel's, 419 North Euclid, in the Central West End. Reading begins at 7:00 p.m., and admission is free. Other schedules readers are Billy Foster, Pat Piety, Jason Dockery, Dawn Dupler, Sarah Kuntz Jones, and Stef Russell. Music by Kevin Renick.

Camera Obscura

You make a pin-hole camera
from an old cardboard box
with film stuck inside at one end
and a hole pricked in the other

You uncover the hole and
light streams in exposing
the film and then magic
and science work it out
and a picture is made

Exposure of the film to light
can be minutes
not even seconds or
fractions of seconds
time enough

The still is captured sharply
but the moving
blurs and becomes
indistinct

After you make your camera
someone says
hey, let’s make a picture of us
fucking

And so you do and the picture
shows skin on skin, yes
but neither bulging veins
nor butterfly labia
nor, clearly, is any
penetration revealed

On the periphery but not out of sight
captured in their quotidian glory are
a broom and a dustpan full
it is true

Published on Troubadour 21 on September 7, 2010.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Reading at "Poems, Prose, and Pints" at Dressel's on Tuesday, September 6

I will be reading on Tuesday, September 6, at "Poems, Prose, and Pints" held at Dressel's, 419 North Euclid, in the Central West End. Reading begins at 7:00 p.m., and admission is free. Other schedules readers are Billy Foster, Pat Piety, Jason Dockery, Dawn Dupler, Sarah Kuntz Jones, and Stef Russell. Music by Kevin Renick.

The Wedding Dress

He had moved his mother's wedding dress
time after time, from apartment to
apartment, city to city

Friend to friend, lover to lover

Until we found him hanging
A white apparition in a candlelit room
Acrid myrrh failing to mask the death-stench of shit

"A fruit on a loop," the cop called him

[Note: Inspired by an anecdote CA Conrad told on the Poetry Foundation's "Off the Shelf" podcast.]