Showing posts with label poems. Show all posts
Showing posts with label poems. Show all posts

19 November, 2012

Intermezzo: Don't Mourn (Joe Hill and the Slow Enlightenment)

Now the boss the law is stretching /Bulls and pimps he's fetching/And they are a fine collection/ As only Jesus knows. -- Joe Hill, Where the Fraser River Flows

97 years ago today the state of Utah assassinated Joe Hill by firing squad after a kangaroo conviction for the murder of Salt Lake City grocer John Morrison and his son. According to legend, his final word was "Fire!"

I use the term assassinate deliberately. The evidence against Hill was flimsy, and the only reason they bothered with the firing squad was because the first bullet intended to silence him without the bother of a public trial didn't do its job.

After, according to the legend, Joe's ashes were sent to every state in the union-- except for the state of Utah, at Joe's request; he didn't want his remains to ever exist in the same state that murdered him.

Those of you familiar with his legacy know that his final exhortation to
his fellow Wobblies was not to waste time mourning for him, but to organize. Joe Hill believed that an organized and honest union was the only thing keeping working people from being exploited by organized capital -- those who get rich by mooching off the sweat of others than by their own work.

Today isn't the only day Joe Hill crosses my mind, of course. I enjoy the music he left behind -- those old Wobbly standards, many of them written to parody religious hymns -- and I thought about him quite a bit when I was Out and About earlier this year. I wrote earlier in the year about Cletus the Dog Man, who I met in Rapid City South Dakota; he was one of many I ran into or saw or overheard who were simply out looking for work. Most of them had no interest in leaving the place they thought of as home. But they felt like they had no choice.

That's part of the impossible situation created by those who have political power and influence in order to keep those of us who really have the power from ever being able to exercise it. If there's no work where you live, you're supposed to have the guts to pack and go find it -- as long as you have the gas money or ability to travel, of course. And if you can't do that, well, you're shit out of luck. The Michelle Bachmans and the Rand Pauls of the world would say that maybe God doesn't want you to have a job.

And don't forget the other caveat: if you DO travel around looking for work, don't travel by bus, because that means you're white and/ or ghetto trash and automatically a homicidal maniac and rapist.

Or, as I was mistaken for twice, Mexican.

In other words: work and pray,live on hay, you'll eat pie in the sweet by an by.

I do appreciate Joe's sense of humor. Though fewer people know the hymns, the parody is still a good one, and the satire is apt. The 21st Century is shaping up to be a repeat of history we've already lived but seemed to have learned nothing from.

Good thing I'm learning to play guitar again. There are plenty of songs that still need to be sung, and plenty of stories and poems,too. We're not done yet.

02 January, 2012

Scratching the Itchy Foot

The first part of the trip will be to go visit my daughter, Stella. It's been a couple of years since I've seen her and I want to make sure she's not taller than me. Stella is 17, focused on getting out of high school alive as well as intellectually and psychologically intact. She's also starting to look at colleges and is looking for a job.

That used to be an easier thing: finding a job. When I was a kid, all you had to do was go fill out a McDonald's application and you could have a job. There was poverty, there was unemployment -- but a kid who wanted to earn money and begin that lifelong love and hate relationship with the IRS had a reasonable shot at finding some sort of demeaning, dignity impugning, soul killing job that paid very little and left none of  the feelings of satisfaction often talked about in pre-employment literature.

Right now in America, there's 4 people for every available job. And that doesn't include the 15% unemployment rate for veterans returning from the wars they fought to keep Halliburton in business. Unemployment benefits are stretched, and there are those -- we call those sons of bitches REPUBLICANS -- who would cut off unemployment insurance and let people starve. We also have some folks -- we call those assholes DEMOCRATS -- that are going along because their mommies keep their balls in a silk bag in the back of an armoire. Right now we're living in a country where we have The Haves and The Have-Nots. Right now we're living in a country run by politicians who are signing away our freedoms. Right now, the banks and corporations have taken over.

Right now, it's only getting started.

And right now, there are stories to be told. Someday, we'll have historians explaining to our grandchildren what all this recession bullshit was really about and what the long term impact of shrinking civil rights and banks on the national tit was. Or maybe we won't. Maybe we'll have talking heads and history memes on social networks, lost in the shuffle between the Two Girls, One Cup video and the latest free social networking game that eats up computer speed and distracts people from seeing the world for what it is.

Re:visionary is my way of trying to tell the real story in real time. There are stories to be told, songs to be sung, poetry to be written. Re:visionary means,  for one, revision. Life, like a poem draft, often  requires revision.

For another, it means Re(garding) Vision. How I envision my self, the country, other people, the world. 

And I'm hoping you like what you read.

23 December, 2011

Two Short Seasonal Poems and An Unrelated Bit


December early morning sunshine
it fools me into believing
the earth is warm. But one step
outdoors and the cold wind
rippling my bearded cheeks reminds me
the tree limbs aren't bare
for no reason. Christ, I think
why can't they stick to
warm weather holidays?


This season of fat men with a penchant
for breaking and entering leaves me
odd, at the bottom of empty scotch bottle
searching the chair cushions for loose change
to put towards a pack of smokes or a cheap 40
that will help me stay warm. Winter has a way
of seeping into my bones; and it will not depart
no matter what prayers and hymns I sing.


Souls, like old wool socks, wear thin at the points of heaviest wear.
The difference is, you can always buy a new pair of socks.

22 October, 2011

It Goes Without Saying

You're in a meeting
you'd rather not be in
and I am at the bar –
drinking dollar beer,
thinking about the bars
in college when
Thirsty Thursday meant
dime drafts all night.
My friends and I, we'd
each walk in with 2 or 3 bucks,
fill a table with plastic cups of
cheap warm beer,
and watch the frat boys
strike out, stumble out
to the sidewalk to puke,
leaving behind tables
of untouched beer. After
we were sure they were
gone, we'd drink their beer,
and my friends,
who were better with girls
than me, would try
and pick up the girls.
(Drunk sorority girls
will sometimes dumpster fuck
so they can later claim
to be culturally well rounded.)

Trading shots with
two local musicians
and a well-endowed
bartender four years older
than my daughter,
I think about
the night they raised
dime drafts
to a quarter, and how,
we felt like we'd been
robbed and drank anyway.

Somewhere around the third hour
you stopped by the bar
to pick up the car
and everyone was surprised
when you left me there
without giving me a hard time
or seeming to judge me at all
or even the casual
Don't get arrested”
comment that even
tolerant wives will tell
wayward husbands
who still insist
on keeping up
drink for drink
with the crusty old bastards
with the souls of fallen gods
even as the world outside
slips into another winter
from which
it may not return
and from which
we might not
have the will
to save it.

26 April, 2010

Day 25 and Day 26

Freedom – Poem 1

the axioms don’t match out
when you unravel them
cat style, like a big ass
ball of yarn (like in those
cartoons you watched
as a kid before you realized
that all you’d ever
really learn you got
between commercials)

instead of truths
we were given
mislabeled canned goods
and told it was freedom
when really
it was expired creamed corn – yet
when we complained
all we got in return
was a sad smile
a knowing nod
and another expired can
in which there was a career
we were told to do
it was what our parents did
and their parents before them
and it was unwise to ask why

and when the canned goods
ceased to satisfy
we were told
to resort to scripture –
abridged and edited
for someone else’s benefit
and told
to settle down
to buy a house
to have children
and pay our taxes

and when all that was done
we were told we were to wait
for an obscure obituary
in the back page of a small town paper
no one bothers to read because
everybody knows everybody’s business
the day before it runs

and when they throw the dirt atop our corpse
and all our loved ones mourn us
and leave plastic flowers
and forget
there was once a time
when all that mattered
was that we were alive
for one more sunrise
(and it was glorious)

and then
we will be left
reduced to one more axiom
for a hebephrenic preacher
who wants to spread
his fear of life in favor
of an empty hope for heaven

Freedom – Poem 2

When did I
buy into
all this

20 April, 2010

Day 19 and Day 20 Poems

Day 19: I in the Universe

I am not as strong
and the dirt is not as soft
as I would like. My hands
haven’t the calluses
of other men,
and I am old enough
to learn my limitations. But
I am still enough of a man
enough the son
of my father
enough the grandson
of my grandfathers
to move forward understanding
that the world was not created
by knowing but by billions
of small cataclysmic errors,
each of which began
with the rising of the sun.

Day 20: Epigram #1

When human beings have finally destroyed themselves
and the cockroaches take over,
will they birth artists, or will they eat what we leave behind,
then shit it out and call it divine influence?

08 April, 2010

Day 7: And the man said -- / Day 8: So It Goes

Day 7: And the man said –

when you are hungry eat,
when you are thirsty drink,
when you are poor go to work,
when you are bored go out and play.
when you are horny fall in love,
when you are not jack off.
when you are upset drink whiskey,
when you are upset never cry,
when you are not drink beer.
when you are dissatisfied buy something,
when you are happy sell it all back.
when you are about to die
tell people you made peace with God –
that will make them feel better and
that is the only way
they will leave you alone.

 Day 8: So It Goes

My grandfather was the hardest
working man I have ever known. Even
after he retired from the mill
he had to keep working
like greyhounds have to run
whether there is a track or not. Every morning
except Sunday, he woke up before the sun
drank his coffee and read his paper
while sitting on the toilet and

put on his clean and ironed gray shop clothes
and went out to the workshop
he designed and built himself
and he stayed there
except for a half hour at lunch,
when he went back in the house
so my grandmother could make
his sandwich – unless
someone hired him to build something,
like cute little Nancy Houserman’s parents did.

And when he died
they all attended the visitation,
along with Nancy and her parents
and they all cried a little,
remembering this man
who did not know how to stop
until the cancer gave him
no other option.

And after he was gone
the world moved on
and Nancy and I grew up
and by now
her parents probably sold the house
to people who don’t even know
the name of the man
who built the staircase.

04 April, 2010

Two New Poems: Days 3 and 4

4/3: Fallen Cedar

My landlord’s sons made short work
of the fallen cedar in the side yard and
hauled it away in the beds
of several full-sized pick up trucks;
I didn’t approach them and offer
to help or to ask them what
they intended to do with the wood
because it was a silly question
and because they might have noticed
from my tone and general demeanor
that I will miss that ugly tree;
it was here long before me
and maybe
before this little old house;
and I also don’t want
my landlord’s sons to see
the guilt in my face because
it was probably my arrival
that made them remove it
sooner than they would have

4/4: In a Moment of Silence 20 Minutes After Waking

We slept late but it’s still
too early and the coffee
takes too long to kick in.
These Sunday mornings
remind me of others

when I was appropriately shod
in uncomfortable new shoes,
fit into unyielding new clothes
and herded off
so’s not to be late
for the absurd Sunday School
Fashion Show and yet another
telling of how the dead
can rise again and how
crucial it is to believe
in the impossible even though
upstairs, the preacher is,
at that very moment,
reading a long list
of the sick and the dying
who will not return
in spite of
what they professed
to believe.

Looking back now
I still find it impossible
to believe or to understand
how that all worked, or why
on those mornings,
it was more of a sin
to sleep in
than on a morning like this one
in which
there is no resurrection
save for the one offered
by a fresh cup of coffee,
a book of poetry,
and a comfortable chair.

24 September, 2009

4 New Poems: Essays

Essay: Regarding Poetry

Left to its own devices
a poem is its own and
only best explanation.
Everything else
is some dead poet’s ego
getting in the way, trying
in vain to outlive the lines.

Essay: Regarding Occupation

Every job is designed
to do one thing – use you
up, brain and body.
One way or the other.
The trick is knowing that
and having the insight
to sleep in.

Essay: Regarding Art and Compromise

Whenever a would-be artist
speaks of compromise –
with the husband or wife, the kids,
or the day job—check the eyes.
If you look close enough, you’ll see
what’s left of the soul evaporating
and escaping out the ears.

Essay: Regarding Happiness

The Puritans and the Buddhists
got it right – all life is suffering.
Today I put two dollars on a horse.
It held its own until the last turn.
Up until that moment, I was floating
on my chair. When it lost (came in last)
I drained my beer and walked home.

26 August, 2009

New Poem: Dialogue of a Functional Relationship

Will we be alright? She lights a cigarette,

watches him carefully for contradictory

body language. Yes, he says. We’ll be okay.

She’s nervous and blows smoke like a factory.

Are you sure?

Yes, he says.

Are you lying to me?

He lights a cigarette,

feigns offense. No.

Why’d you ask me that? Would I lie?

She smiles. You might, she says.

To make me feel better.

He smiles, leans over to kiss her.

As long as you know.

13 August, 2009

Some New Poems and Other Minutiae

[Note for the 1 or 2 of you who actually read: I'm in the process of revising the novel that I have posted bits over the past few months. Although I've decided to stop posting bits of the novel, though, I haven't forgotten you -- my one or two true followers who are either up late at night and drunk or wasting time at work.(Either of these, by the way, I consider a good and noble use of time.) These poems, written altogether, are my part of's 2009 August Poetry Postcard List. I've always been a poet, first and foremost, and it's a good way to keep writing whilst I revise said previously mentioned tome. But, as usual, I'm late. Money, lack of postage, etc, has put me a full 13 days behind in the August Poetry Postcard Challenge. I will be sending these 10 to unuspecting folks in today's mail; but I wanted to share them with you, my one or two loyal readers, as well. Though chances are I could just give you copies when I see you at the bar. With Warmest Regards, Mick]

Postcard Poems (Aug 09) –Batch 1


Chance of rain
and the world
is washed away –
precipitated participation
in mock end time trials.
We are told by the only one
who sees, and we dismiss him –
the bastard’s just one more
old stinking drunk.


Spare a dime for your destiny,
or a quarter for the secret
of quantum space; all knowledge
is summed up
in the vague ramblings
of a dirty old man
who lives under the bus stop
and assaults little girls
like the troll
in one of Hans Christian Andersen’s
badly written nightmares.


(We have lost the language
to describe crucial events.)
In the desert, when it rains,
people stand aghast, staring
at the sky, and drown.

On television they call it the Rapture.
God comes with a gurgling noise
and then disappears.


Brown shirts in the streets
skinheads on the news.
At least we’re honest now
about who we are
beneath all our polite smiles
and coquettish gazes.


The library is an air-conditioned hell.
The print is quickly fading from the books
no one reads; the magazines are all
ghastly pictorials of dead pedophiles
and other mummified media creations.
Small children play tag
in the reference section,
using dictionaries and outdated encyclopedias
as traps for more literate playmates,
who will trip over the tomes
and break their necks.


Old men saddle up in bars
drink dirt out of cracked mugs
and reminisce about a time
when the taps weren’t dry
and the bar maids were young
and worthy of masturbatory fantasy.


Bereft of the bloody religion of our forefathers,
we have dug up previously interred bones,
painted them with the make up left behind
by ex-wives, old girlfriends, and dead mothers,
then salute ourselves
for our very American ingenuity.


Outside, pacing on the sidewalk,
one more wandering prophet
begs for pennies
and blesses those who ignore him.
Three blocks up, near the pawn shop,
tired old hookers ply their pussies
and drink rot gut memories
from broken condoms
and old Styrofoam cups.


A tidbit of interesting news:
the symphony rolled through town,
set up, and tried to play. In grand appreciation,
the gathering crowd attacked,
gang raped the flutists and players of reed instruments,
repeatedly sodomized the director,
and lopped off the percussionists' hands
with rusty pitchforks. (The brass players
were bludgeoned to death.) Then they were all run
out of town naked, into the desert
where they are sure to die of exposure.

The Sheriff was later quoted,
calling it a textbook example
of quality mob justice.


Sort memos to strangers
describing (narrowly)
what the afterlife consists of.

Rawhide hands whose calluses
are filled with dust
drop tired quill pens and sigh
as the ages of the Earth
contract and prepare
a repetitive rendition.