Natural Selection (12)

I looked at the crowd, so like myself.

Brown eyes, brown skin, brown hair.

At the highest clearance level, I had access to readings – stories, really, fables – about a time when humans had blue eyes. Or green. Hair called blonde. Or red. And white skin.

Fortunately, human-engineered genetics shifting ended diversity. The world was a better place

when everyone looked the same. No one was uncomfortable or nervous around another. There was no fear of knowledge – all genius was implanted through microchips. Everyone worked toward the same good for all. Competition ended. No one had a beauty advantage.

No one got ahead.

Po Boy 40 (11)

I always wanted

to ride into town,

point my Colt .44

down the street,

fire off some rounds over the heads

of strangers and friends.


Bulbs burn bright red,

inviting patrons

up the steep steps where

the red-haired girl waves

from the top stair,

saying good-bye to the dreams

she could never quite imagine.


The bullet hole in the mirror

would like to tell a story,

but reflects only the misery

in his gray eyes, as I wheel

my Strawberry Roan

around on his heels,

Dodge gunfire

and ride out of town.


Quietly, Percy lived

on Section 1in an Eastern

Montana dugout,

listening to crickets

and meadowlarks, a lonely

conversation on windy plains.


Lively, Allie wanted

to dance, and joined her cousin

at the Richey dance.

Allie – with California beaches

in her genes – swung her hips into

Percy’s arms, that unsuspecting fall night.


Leaving the brutal January winter,

Percy lived up to his promise

and traveled to Long Beach,

stealing away his Dancing Queen.


On the Edge of Heaven

“Angel Wing,” I said

my name.

They buzzed me into the

hallway with light yellow walls.

I didn’t need an I.D.


We always visited at Thanksgiving

surrounded by various hues

of orange, black, and dandelion.


Mabel in her Mad Hatter blue

linen shirt followed you to the table

and hovered, talking to herself.



you followed us

back down the light-yellow hall,

clung to the door jambs

begging to leave with us,

banging on the door

after they pried away your fingers.


This time,

white snow blanketed the patio

where we would sit the last time.

The tree leaves were green

that day, lush

with harmonious vigor.

You asked,


“Where’s Bob?

He should be back

from the garden by now.

He knows he needs to visit

when family is here.”


You asked where I lived, again,

even though you knew I had just answered.


“Where is Bob?

He will be so unhappy

that he missed his family visiting.”


Your great-grandsons were so handsome,

and you commented, again, on my naturally curly hair.


“That Bob makes me so mad

when he won’t come in

from that garden

and visit his family.”


I was supposed to tell he was buried

six years ago, and you

were at the funeral,

but I didn’t have the heart.


This time, though,

you sat in your colors

of truth and wisdom

on the edge of heaven.

Black Widow

Often, Black Widow, you emerge

seemingly from the walls

in the damp, dark,

undisturbed coal room.


You couldn’t just enter

the room. No,

your eight legs swift

in spurts of three.







Your pregnant belly


The red hour glass



Who were you looking for?


Sexual cannibalism, lusting

for your next victim.

Venom sloshing

in your glands.



You play dead.

He approaches.


You flick silk.



his organs

through fangs

so deep.

Having a Drink with Charles Bukowski (8)

“ … later she sat there in her slip / drinking Old Grandad / and she said / what’s a guy like you doing / living in a dump like this?” by Charles Bukowski


After you wrote on a slip

of paper, we took turns sipping Old Grandad

from a Dixie cup, and you said

“What are you doing

with someone like this?”

Inside Out (7)

You unzipped

my spine

and crawled

inside before it closed,

trapping you inside.


You fondled your way

through, your muted

screams without echo

off my ribs as I consumed

you bit by bit.


You used my spine

as a ladder to escape,

the damage too much

to take as you straddled

my aorta: thump, thump, thumping.


Each beat a rhythm,

a musical song

to which both hands




the blood

at your elbows

as I breathed

my last breath.


I don’t remember

the whiskey rage

that propelled me to slosh

my drink and yell

“Fuck you”

to anyone who would listen.


But, they didn’t listen.

Instead, they just shook

their heads, looking at me

through the plexi-glass that separated

me from the pill bottle

that whispered “take another”

in a milky voice.

I spilled my drink.


I looked over at you,

learing at me,

and I wanted to kiss you

but I couldn’t move,

couldn’t lift my hands

to scratch your face.

It wasn’t supposed

to be sloppy or  awkward.


You inserted


into my life.

The needle you kept so close

to you dulled with time, and my fingers

smelled like menthol cigarettes.

The Tire Swing

There is a scent

of memory,

triggering disjointed visions.


The tin bucket

holding rocks or wood pieces.

Our versions of bologna sandwiches

with discount Mayo.


The three-legged wooden table …

A red-checkered cloth …

There was always a dented, silver coffee pot

left wondering when the next cup would be poured.


After endless hours

playing school

in the abandoned

chicken coop,

recess beckoned.


We whooped our way to the corral,

our playground.

Our classroom was a grain trough

for bum lambs,

forgotten or adandoned by their moms.


We clambered over the sagging fence

by the faded pump house

where my mom, as a child,

used to stash

Orange Crush bottles

in the chilly water tank.


The current from the Galloping Goose

pushed us up the hill,

as it danced by on the railroad tracks,

enjoying its last years on the rails.

The nice man in the caboose always waved.


I must have been 4 or 5 years old.

Around ’85, an out-of-town excavation crew

removed the last tracks heading into town,

and blew up the bridge trestle,

finally silencing the railroad engine forever.


In the late 70’s we could not

have seen this coming.

Our main concern being

who was the first to the tire swing

by the old house.

It was this person who got to choose

the sitting order.


The three of us could fit, but

you wanted to be the highest.

You didn’t want to feel the weight,

or the hot, black rubber beneath

shorted legs,

shortening your breath,

as you planted your face

into the tank top of the one

above you. Inhaling

scents of sweat, heat, and the

soil of generations of commitment

to the relentless Eastern Montana land

beneath your feet,

as you tried to push off,

legs slipping off the bald rubber

held by the twine

my grandfather’s hands tied years before

He died.


Leaving us with disjointed memories,

playing school

to the fading sound of the train horn

still floating on the never-ending breeze.

I Do

I say I understand,

and I do,

But I don’t.


And I do

say I love you,


But I don’t.

You see, understanding

Comes with forgiveness.

Love comes with understanding.


So, when I say I understand,

or say I love you,

I mean I forgive.

But I don’t.