Prompt 19/The Lawns of the the Flood Plains

There’s no chance to miss the rain.
It’s a sheet that falters every fifth day and transforms into hard pellets that feel like a bruise
you can’t return.
The region has more rain water than the means
by which to clean it,
said the
five weeks ago
when they pretended to joke
with the meteorologist,
a dapper man
whose suits used to predict whether
our sports teams would win or lose.

A day back, maybe outside one of the
last gas stations that hadn’t been looted,
a fellow kept me entertained by
telling me how, in the army, he turned urine
into potable water.

I wish I had learned the skills the world needs now.
Like how to make one’s pee a refreshing glass of clean water.
Or, how to rebuild a generator.
Every new day is waking up to the worst internship ever.
And the credit is being deemed worth a place at the shelter –
what used to be a Pier One Imports –
when someone in the group has found something not contaminated
for the night’s dinner protein.

We all sit on our floor pillows
and, when anyone’s in the mood,
crack jokes at the guy who got a major in Marketing
to write content for the weed-killing industry.

Prompt 16/Metonymy

An editor with whom I worked
always talked about the rags
he wrote for
with a sort of defiant pride.

They may have just barely survived,
but he was around to nurture them
and sip from amber memories
every time
he coached us fledglings
to kill our babies.

I watched
as my own stories
gushed my mentor’s resources
and embarrassed my conscience
in the week’s mail.

Now that we have fake news,
the yellow journalism of the Gilded Age
wears its mustiness
as a peculiar base note
for a world that views war as a movie
and calls “hanging out” sex.

The testimony of other men’s daughters
papers the walls of politicians,
and academics flog their credentials
to distance themselves
in flight plans.

The Yellow Kid poses
in front of a hotel
he’s just named
for himself.

Prompt 15/Outside In (The Voyage Out)

The dusk was saluted at the hotel by  
electric hours to kill                            
the peevishness of dissipation, who lay back      
in long arm chairs
cigarettes in hands

The evening was dressed                                  

the mail had been distributed from England

This seemed hard to silence the lion when its (sic) stimulated

Some loathsome sheep cough 
a patter of conversation just when the bones are being mauled.

These comparisons did not rouse a glance around the room 
eyes fixed upon spears arranged to run points whichever way approached

Oblivious of surroundings 

Perceiving mind a complete blank
fixed attention upon creatures 
too far to hear little theories


Night Shift

So many numbers get lost in a night
so many corresponding letters of the alphabet, too.

What events are on the verge of not being under your control
because you can’t redirect your own thoughts?

The way your billboard painters present the retelling
of what more reliable sources reported,
no one must get any sleep where you live.

Out of Step

The radio plays old rock and roll
on the porch of a house overlooking the
the same park your apartment does,
albeit a different angle.
One of the men, in hard hat and towel hung around his shoulders,
walks through the yard to where one of the men
cuts tree branches, all left
on the sidewalk
to block your passing.

A yard sale across the street
lures you to hustle across Hardesty,
and although you have no spare dollars,
you walk up the steps to ask a woman who doesn’t speak English –
and neither do you speak Spanish –
“How much for this shirt?”

You smile, and allow yourself
to revel in a moment’s breeze
and walk down the street
to the strains of
“Duke of Earl.”

Grand Avenue

A friend of mine moved from an apartment we both lived in – but consecutively –
To her mother’s home in the suburbs
While awaiting one of a sequence of
Rescheduled surgeries.

She fell
Getting off of a bus on Grand Avenue
With its warped surface that scuffs loafers
And trips worn out sneakers
With equal disregard.

Grand Avenue has some old beauties, but was
Mainly the dividing line between which side of downtown had money and which side was just
Waiting to go to the East side.

As I wait for a bus,
An older lady sits cross-legged on the pavement. In the 50s, Grand Aenue’s heyday, she would have worn a dress and fretted into
A damp handkerchief.

Carrying my market bag, I, too, if I had been walking down Grand Avenue in the ’50s, would have resembled a McCalls dress pattern cover, if slightly wilted by June mimicking July.

Grand Avenue’s glamour is faded and a shirtless man whose tattoos settle into the creases of his aged flesh spits on the other side of the street

Another poet, maybe Ginsberg, would give prayers the Grand Avenue’s lost.

I get on my bus, rebuking myself for paying another fare, forgetting I still
Had time on my transfer.