Friday, December 10, 2010

A BALMY NIGHT IN WINTER




Warning: this story uses crude language, discusses private body parts, and is likely to upset prudes and the humor-impaired.

***

I had an adventure last night. You might not think the bathroom is a likely setting for an adventure, but as they say, shit happens.

When I got home, I was troubled by two distinct discomforts.

First, I felt like I had hemorrhoids. You know -- that itch, that feeling unclean down there, that need to give yourself a good wipe.

I also had pain in my lower back.

I was tired from sitting all day, which I’m sure had everything to do with both kinds of discomfort.

So I headed for the bathroom to get some relief.

First, I gave myself a good, cleansing, cool, wet wipe. Ahhhhhhhh.

Then, I grabbed a tube of Icy Hot and squirted some on the two middle fingers of my left hand.

Then, fatigue affected my brain. Instead of switching to low back mode, my brain remained in asshole mode.

I didn’t realize until after I’d done it that I had mistakenly wiped the Icy Hot on my tender asshole. I didn’t realize it, in other words, until my tender asshole was on fire.

Calling 911 is no help when your asshole is on fire. First of all, they’d just laugh at you. Plus, you’d need a very small fire truck that could climb stairs, and firemen and hoses as proportionately small in relation to you as, say, Tokyo is to Godzilla. So much for my fantasies of being rescued by a firefighter with a huge hose.

I grabbed another cool wet wipe and tried to clean off the blazing ointment. However, being wet, the wipe caused the ointment still on my hands to immediately soak through and, so to speak, fan the flames. So I tried using yet another wipe to get the ointment off of my hand.

Then, still burning, I pulled up my pants and went downstairs, where my partner was watching YouTube choral videos under headphones. I was now falling apart laughing, and it suddenly seemed more important to share this experience than to stop it.

Soon we were both helplessly cracking up as puffs of smoke rose from my incandescent bottom like signals designed to send a message to the Indian in the Village People.

“How,” you may ask, did we solve this problem?

We didn’t. In about another minute, the sensation calmed down to a not unpleasant warmth – or I got used to it, I’m not sure which. It was at worst a curious distraction from the Buffy reruns with which I spent the rest of the evening. Somebody kinky might even develop a taste for the sensation.

I think it’ll take awhile, though, before I can convince my partner to try it as a lubricant.


-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey

(All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced or duplicated in any form without the author's written permission. )

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

AT LAND


(Maya Deren)


AT LAND

The 1944 film by Maya Deren

The title
Is a gag, of course.
When someone says
That he’s “at sea,”
He means that he’s
Not in his element.
What if you were of sea, but
At land?

We begin with waves,
Then we see the woman
Washed up,
Coughed out of the sea
Onto the sand;
On her back, wide-eyed,
She watches gulls
Wheel overhead
Like buzzards.

She hoists herself up
On a ladder of
Driftwood, as if
Climbing a dead tree --
Not trying
To reach for the sky, but just
Peering through leaves.

She sees
A long banquet table.
Men and women seated
All along both sides of it,
Talking, laughing,
And smoking.
She crawls up
On the white tablecloth,
Slithers among them.
They don’t see her.
They keep up
Their conversation.
She crawls on.
Somehow she doesn’t
Spill their glasses.

At the far end of the table
Lies a chessboard.
Just before she reaches it,
The man using it rises,
Leaves his place.
She looks at it
As if not comprehending
What a chessboard
Might be for.
Didn’t they have chess
Undersea? The pieces
Now move by
Themselves;
Her eyes follow their sliding.
One knocks another
Off of the board,
Off of the table; it falls through a hole
In the rock below
Into the sea.

She follows it down,
Her bare feet finding
Stone
Heated by sun,
Moistened by waves.
She probably
Is not aware
That what she follows
Would be called
“A pawn,” or of anything
That the word “pawn” implies --
This mermaid we’ve mistaken
For a woman.

The story will go on,
Such as it is.
Witnesses will argue later
Over what it meant.
The wiser ones will see
The beauty in it.


-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey

(All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced or duplicated in any form without the author's written permission. )

I'm eternally grateful to my late teacher, Alexandra Grilikhes, for introducing me to Maya Deren's work many years ago (among other things).

For more information about the brilliant filmmaker/actress/dancer/theorist Maya Deren, read her Wikipedia entry:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_Deren

For those who haven't seen the film, here it is, as generously posted on Google Video. It's about 15 minutes long, and well worth the investment of time. It's absolutely beautiful.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

DEMOCRACY HANGOVER


(PD photo from Wikimedia Commons)


Well, one more election
Didn’t go the way I wanted.

A friend posts,
“Well, I voted.
That did a lot of good.”

I get the sarcasm,
But I’m still glad
I voted; spared myself
A share of guilt.

Yes, I knew the folks
Who checked out my identity
When I went to enter the booth
Were enemies, despite
The smiles they wore.

The booth received me
Like the Catholic confessionals
Of youth, though all I had
To hide my secret
Was a curtain. At least Catholics
Get a door.

I felt more like I was taking
A quick shower. And yes,
I thought of Janet Leigh
In “Psycho.”

Unlike her, I wouldn’t feel the stabs
Till morning.


-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey


(All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced or duplicated in any form without the author's written permission. )

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

ONE WORD, MANY TEETH


(18th century engraving)


“Run.”
He felt himself
Losing control, and told me to,
Before the change
Took hold of him –
With rage,
The moon did not need
To be full.
For he was full –
Full of betrayal,
Full of boiling blood
Spilled over boundaries.
He could roll back his clock
Before civilization
Rounded off his jagged edges,
But he could not
Keep himself
Buttoned in calm.

And I could not decide
What the word meant.
His voice, so hoarse and low,
Sandpaper scraped across
Steel cords.
Too tired and yet
On fire, “going again”
Although we’d pushed
Long past exhaustion.
Should I
Run on empty,
As they say?
Should I run a scam,
Fake my reaction?
Run my gesticulations
Up the flagpole,
And hope he salutes?

His beard
Begins to spread
Over his cheeks,
His throat;
His brow,
To overrun
His forehead.


I realize
The word was
Literal,
But he is gripping
My wrist now,
His long sharp nails
Digging their trenches
In my flesh,
His palm ablaze
With more hair
Than my arm,
His hot breath
Close now to my throat.

My last thought:
Ginsberg never
Howled like this.


-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey


(All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced or duplicated in any form without the author's written permission. )

Thursday, October 21, 2010

THE RATIONALE


(PD photo from Wikimedia)


Deliberate cruelty…is the one unforgivable thing.

Blanche Dubois in Tennessee Williams’s “A Streetcar Named Desire”


Some say that bullying is good for you –
Toughens you to face life’s many trials.
But those who don’t survive, and those who knew
And loved them, find this argument beguiles

Only the guilty who’ve gone free. Broken
Beyond repair, the absent spirit haunts
The family it left behind. But when
The guilty look back on the blows and taunts,

They see foundations of a cool career.
Their future is a long one, well-insured
Against the treatment even they must fear.
Strike first. Pain is for others to endure.

Though nobody will miss them when they’re dead,
They die thinking they stayed “one step ahead.”


-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey


(All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced or duplicated in any form without the author's written permission. )

Saturday, October 16, 2010

ANOTHER MOTHER DREAM

Dream: I’m going to stay overnight at my mother’s house, after a period of estrangement. (Actually, the house in the dream is my grandmother’s, two doors down, but it’s my mom inside).

It’s getting dark out. The lights in the house are on.

Someone (Leroy?) is letting himself in to the Hocker house next door. I wave hello to him. He waves back. I’m waiting on the opposite side of Allen Street for traffic to subside, so I can cross to my destination.

The Hodgnoski house, to my left, is overflowing with pink roses. I can see them over the wood fence around the small triangular yard. I know the yard is all paved over with concrete, but that doesn’t occur to me in the dream. I feel a covetous pang. It would be nice to live with roses.

I finally cross. My mom is standing at the window, watching me intently through half-shut blinds. She is till angry.

I’m carrying a briefcase full of work. I realize that I’ve forgotten to bring any clothes, toothbrush, etc.

I climb the three stone steps, reach into my pants pocket for the key. It’s on a ring with many others, noticeably smaller than the rest. When I turn it in the lock, the end of it mostly breaks off, but I can both get the lock open and pull the damaged key back out.

My mother does not move from her spot at the window. I stand there on the step, not going in, staring at the broken key in my hand.


-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey

(All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced or duplicated in any form without the author's written permission. )

Thursday, October 7, 2010

DOCUMENTARY


(1921 Schrader ad)


“Other men can’t begin
To compare to them,” she said.
The interviewer had removed
Him-or-herself, so she was
Talking to thin air.
She meant
The bikers
She revolved around
As if she were a moon
Caught in their orbit.

She belonged to the club
As a whole, and could be
Passed around. She’d do
What she was told,
Cook or clean,
Strip to earn money
To support them.
It was their job
To concentrate on
Big criminal business.

The “property of …” patch,
She said,
Was a sign of respect.
It would tell a passing stranger
Who she was.
I thought, but what about the stranger
In the mirror?


-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey


(All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced or duplicated in any form without the author's written permission. )

Thursday, September 30, 2010

UNPROVEN IDENTITY





At the bank
On which the check was drawn,
I was forced to open an account
To cash the check.
According to society,
I don’t exist,
Although I had
My state photo ID.

I couldn’t demonstrate
That I was real –
My mere flesh
Was not enough;
My blood, not
Visible. Perhaps I should
Have cut myself.

But then, the hospital
Might not have treated me…


-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey


(All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced or duplicated in any form without the author's written permission. )

Friday, September 24, 2010

THE MOMENT CAPTURES US


(Illustration from "Old Deccan Days: Hindoo Fairy Tales, 1888)



You lost control
of the kayak,
Trying to turn it around.

I wanted a snapshot
Of the alligator,
Lounging on the log
Stuck in the center
Of the river.

The current
Was stronger
Than you were,
Which shouldn’t
Have been
A surprise.

The 8-foot gator
Turned his head,
Eyes on the camera,
Then dived
Across my lap
Into the water,
As the boat
And log
Connected. Had he lashed
His tail, he might
Have broken my neck,
The way I know
You wanted to.

The camera
Was too cheap
To catch the moment;

All I have left
Is a blur.


-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey

(All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced or duplicated in any form without the author's written permission. )

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

“BIG” JACK


(Public domain photograph by Anna Cervova)


His eyes are watery.
Not such a surprise
Since they’re blue,
But they’re also red
At the corners,
Behind the thick glasses
With broken brown frames
Held together at one side
By bunched Scotch tape.
His V-necked t-shirt
Shows a chest
From which all hair
Has disappeared.
His guard uniform,
Long unworn,
Hangs cattycorner from him
On the outside
Of the closet door.

He sits sunken
In his yellow-green
Stuffed chair,
His black and white cat
Sacked out
On the back of it,
Fretfully drowsing in
A twitchy dream.
Old books line the shelves
Built in the wall beside him,
An assortment of odd titles:
Ancient “Advice From Heloise,”
“Word War II Chronicles.”
Collected crossword puzzles,
And “Essays of Bishop Sheen.”
From the left arm of his chair
There hangs the cord,
With red light, of
A heating pad. His wife
Will have to watch in case
It starts to smoke, or so
She likes to say.
Him, she no longer watches,
Though he smokes a lot
These days; the doctor says,
“just let him go. It’s too late now.”


He looks at, and past,
The TV where the blurry picture rolls,
For scenes he remembers
More vividly than the last hour.
His cousin the priest
Will come later
To hear his confession.

His son, who towers over him,
Now knows
That hanging on
Will hold him here;
He overheard
The hospice lady
Tell him so.
He suspects this time will be
Their final visit.

Like the doctor said,
“just let him go.”

-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey



(All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced or duplicated in any form without the author's written permission. )

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

QUALIFIED


(Public domain image from Tango Desktop project)



Your sneer
Lights up the room.
Sadly, nobody
Knew to wear sunscreen.
It would have helped
Had someone cried,
“Hey, here comes
Cancer.”

You take a situation over
Without notice, or perhaps I should say
“Warning.” Nobody else could speak
Without some haughty
Comment from the stolen seat
Where you roost
Near the front of the room.

Now the rest of the game –
For you it is a game, if not
For anybody else –
Will be your turn.
All other turns
Were cancelled
At the moment you arrived.

Your rant is full of references
To the Old Testament.
You talk about it
Like it’s history;
You cite deeds of its characters
As if they’re facts
We share as common knowledge.
You offer no proof
Of your contentions;
You act like
No proof is needed.
All anyone should need
Is your pronouncement;
Your pronouncement
Makes things so.
How like the God of the Old Testament!

Somebody with eyes to see
Catches the rest of what goes on,
The subtler part
That many people miss (though
Everybody
Feels affected by it).
The dark and boiling cloud
That gathers just above your head,
The little lightning bolts
That strike at members
Of the audience.
A person with a nose for news
Can sense a tang
Of sulfur in the air.

Your intention is
To shrink the rest of us,
Leave us diminished
In the presence of
Your vast hostility.
But you’d snicker
Should somebody point this out.
That is the hidden center
Of your message:
That you’re so much better than the rest of us.

Hell would be an eternity
Of lectures
Like this one.


-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey

(All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced or duplicated in any form without the author's written permission. )

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

NYC SUBWAY VIGNETTE


(Public domain photo from Wikipedia)



Freezing February night. Switching trains.
Manhattan subway stop – wish I could remember
The street number. Near a college, the sign said.
Been about 25 years,
But I’ll never forget
What I saw there:

Long, narrow platform; no one on it
Standing up
But me and a beat cop in uniform.
Station deserted except for him, me
And a couple of homeless guys
Passed out on two of the benches.
I didn’t care, being
Too nervous to sit.

Anyway, this cop strolls up to one,
Twirling his nightstick
As if it were a baton. Suddenly
He grips it by the handle,
Slaps it hard
Against the soles of the guy’s feet.
I thank God he’s wearing shoes.
The loud crack makes me jump,
Although I saw it coming.
The guy barely revives, looking up
Puzzled, luckily
Anesthetized on something.

The cop says, voice ringing out
Off of concrete, “Those benches
Are for PEOPLE,
Not you guys.” Then he looks back,
Flashes me a smile, white
as a blackboard soul drawn by a nun
under his little Hitler moustache.
He expects to see
Approval.
I feel sick, look
Down.
I worked late.
I’m just trying to get
Home.



– © 2010 by Jack Veasey

(All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced or duplicated in any form without the author's written permission. )

NOTE: "Baton" is actually now a common name for a police officer's club, but when I refer to the word here, I mean the kind marchers twirl in parades.

Friday, August 27, 2010

GRYPHON


(Bevan crest, 1892)



Your family crest
Frightens me.

Why the winged lion?

Are you trying
To lay claim
To some nobility or courage
Nature didn’t quite provide?
This symbol
Just says
“Predatory power,”
Boasting
That it can
Swoop down,
Not merely
Pounce.

Why would a normal lion
Be inadequate
For carrying the colors
Of your clan?

It might make more sense if your name
Were “Griffin.” Even then,
I’d wonder whether
You really intended
Irony.

The ability to make most creatures
Prey does not
Encourage us
To trust; it triggers
The impulse to run,
Futile as that tactic might be.

-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey


(All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced or duplicated in any form without the author's written permission. )

Friday, August 20, 2010

HOOT


(Wade concertina, 1886)


The old man
Pushes buttons
To play music.
Tourists passing
Donate to his hat, while
He sits
Bald
To the elements.
The songs are
Traditional, so old
That no one knows
Their authors
Anymore, telling stories
Of a life no one alive
Remembers. His low voice
Cracks like paint.

Passersby usually assume
That he’s gone blind,
But he just keeps his lids
Closed tight, so he can look
Back
Farther than the eye can see.


-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey

(All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced or duplicated in any form without the author's written permission. )

Friday, August 13, 2010

CLOWN


(Photo from The Orchid Club photostream on Flickr; reproduced under Creative Commons License.)



Naked, he is
Not very impressive.
He looks in the mirror
Only to apply his makeup,
To check details of disguise.

His clothing hides
His shape, skinny
And haired in odd patches.
It also hides his scars
From surgeries, supposed to
Fix his damaged heart.

The cushion that covers
His belly and crotch
Helps to fill out the plaid pants
that hang suspended from his shoulders,
A tight pull he always feels
And must ignore. After the pants,
He puts on the huge shoes, supposedly
Foreshadowing his phallus
In old wives’ tales
He knows nobody believes.
Another constriction, a bowtie,
Guards his vulnerable throat,
And looks absurd against his flannel shirt.

His face, he paints white as a mime’s,
Though any gestures he’ll make
Will be broader. His eyes, he paints
the way he thinks a woman would.
His smile, he conjures slowest --
It’s his favorite effect – it doesn’t change
No matter how he feels.

The crowning touch?
A worn fedora hat, a bit
Of Indiana Jones, though
They won’t let him hold a whip –
One time he did,
And got carried away. Last,
He puts on the bulbous rubber nose,
Which doesn’t help his cigarette-distorted breathing.
It’s red, to imply
He drinks;
One truthful note
Stuck on a symphony
Of lies.

When he appears,
Nobody laughs.
The children’s eyes only grow wide
Because they’re frightened.
So he humiliates himself
With falls and such,
Until he has them howling
Like a pack of little wolves.

Oh, well. At least
He doesn’t pose for velvet paintings.

He puts on his public persona
A piece at a time,
Like so many of us,
And, like us,
He draw’s work’s energy
From anger.

-- © 2009 by Jack Veasey


(All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced or duplicated in any form without the author's written permission. )

Saturday, August 7, 2010

DESK JOB


(Public Domain photo from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Fluorescent lights make everyone look ill,
And all are chained, though these chains can’t be seen.
The hardest work is waiting, waiting till
The stroke of five disarms the time machine.

And all are chained, though these chains can’t be seen;
Each link’s a payment pressing to be made.
The stroke of five disarms the time machine,
But bills and bills and bills wait to be paid.

Each link’s a payment pressing to be made,
Each moment mortgaged till some future moment comes.
Bills and bills and bills wait to be paid,
As – between computers – conversation hums.

Each moment mortgaged till some future moment comes,
More and more paperwork piled softly in the bin.
As – between computers – conversation hums,
Forbidden music mustn’t complicate the din.

More and more paperwork piles softly in the bin,
In cubicles the gods insist must look the same.
Forbidden music mustn’t complicate the din,
and no framed photos. Just a plate that says your name.

In cubicles the gods insist must look the same,
Where light that’s natural must never penetrate,
Are no framed photos. Just a plate that says your name.
And where your heart should be, a leaden paperweight.

Where light that’s natural may never penetrate,
Year after year of furtive search will only find
Where your heart should be, a leaden paperweight,
And no song but the drone of the dulled mind.

Year after year of furtive search will only find
That what we see remains all that we will,
And no song but the drone of the dulled mind
Can ease the ache from all this sitting still.

What we see remains all that we will.
The hardest work is waiting, waiting till
Retirement blunts the ache from all this sitting still.
Fluorescent lights make everyone look ill.


– © 1995 by Jack Veasey

(All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced or duplicated in any form without the author's written permission. )

Friday, July 30, 2010

ALIEN HOSPITAL ROOMMATE (Or, THE LIMITS OF TOLERANCE)


(Hey, I had to show you how he ended up in the hospital, didn't I?)


ALIEN HOSPITAL ROOMMATE
(Or, THE LIMITS OF TOLERANCE)



I suppose it’s a good thing that we’re trying to get along with them. It’s certainly not fair to deny them anything just because of where they’re from. They should be able to use the pool at the hotel, of course. If everyone else gets out of the pool when one gets in, that can’t be helped. You can’t control everybody, now can you?

But let’s face it – if given a choice, would you share a hospital room with one?

We have one TV between us. True, we each have a remote. But it doesn’t matter which button I push, when he can just flick out one of those tentacles of his, without getting out of bed, and change the channel back. So he picks all the programs. Ten hours a day of nature shows about squids and octopi gets old fast, let me tell you – and what do I care how homesick he is for a world where everyone has tentacles?

And the first time the doc needed to check his private parts, what does he do -- have the doc just drag the curtain around, like anyone else would? Oh no, he has to eject this cloud of noxious-smelling black fumes for camouflage! The staff were quick to point out that it’s harmless, that it doesn’t pollute the air anymore than an octopus pollutes the water with its ink. But they don’t have to lie here and smell it all afternoon. I don’t care how much Glade the nurses spray in here, I can still smell it. And I don’t care if he just did it by instinct – what it means to me is that in here, it stinks.

Then his squeeze comes to visit him, and they do pull the curtain around. If I wasn’t hooked up to all these tubes, I woulda been outta here. I know they were just kissing hello, but I never heard such a disgusting sound of slurping and gurgling and smacking in all my life. And the flashing red lights! You’d think he just pulled in his own private ambulance over there!

I used to be a lot more liberal, but now that I’ve had to live with this for five days, I think we need to ship them all back to Venus where they came from.


-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey


(All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced or duplicated in any way without the author's written permission.)

Friday, July 23, 2010

CHANCE LINEAGE


(Family tree illsutration by Dimaro, released to Public Domain on Wikipedia)


My Mom and Dad
Both married other people
Briefly. In 1950,
Five years before I was born,
They both got divorced.
Rose had deserted my father;
Walter subjected my mother
To “indignities against her person,”
As Court put it. Walter took exception
To Mom’s claims,
Which didn’t get him anywhere.

Mom and Dad married each other
That same year. I wonder
If their exes have outlived them.

I wish I could talk
To Mom’s first husband.
I suspect she learned
A lot of moves from him
That she would later use on me.
“I don’t blame you,’” I’d say.
“If it had been possible,
I would have divorced her myself.”

But I guess I’m glad
That Walter drove my mom away;
Their breakup spared me
From a guttural last name
It would have choked me to pronounce.
And the personal indignities
That Mom would rain on me
Gave me a lot in common
With my harried father.
As for Rose, I guess she wanted
Someone stronger.

None of us can know
Just what has vanished
In the gap between
The things we want
And what we end up getting.

-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey


(All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced or duplicated in any way without the author's written permission.)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

LAST GOOD RUN


(photo, Who Needs A Virtual World, by Todd Huffman for Needle Exchange; from Wikimedia Commons)


For some folks, the biggest and best gamble
Is a hot vein full of snow.

Pull the tube tight. Smack the spot.
Ah, there’s that glimpse of red. Then
The blue bubble penetrated by a needle
Pops and lets out
This exhilaration sweeping you
Beyond all inhibition, this last
Reckless test of manhood.
Purple marks maybe remain, but soon
They’ll fade.

The storm
Slams into your brain
And cracks it open like an egg,
Your skin lights up; sparks
Crowd the corners of your eyes.
Impossible fullness overflows
All inner dams. Shafts of piercing cold
Poke up amid the heat blast
Rising through your throat,
Then slice between the thin walls
Of your pulsing skull.
You drop to your knees,
Embrace your optimism -–
Since, if anything goes wrong
While you’re in this state,
It’s too late for playing savior.

Then comes the sudden surreal
S l o w d o w n ; wait,
Where are you rushing off to?
Your heart hits the wall.

I wonder whether I’ve got
One more good run
Left in me
, Shawn told his brother.
Those would be the last words
Anyone could quote.


-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey

(All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced or duplicated in any way without the author's written permission.)

Friday, July 9, 2010

PICKUP


(Photo, Redneck Repairs Part 1, by Dave 7, from Wikipedia)

It’d be nice
To meet a nice guy
,
She thought, wandering
Down the hill to the dirt road
That passed her parents’ property.
Or just to get stoned,
Added the devil
On her shoulder.
She thought she was smart.
She thought she knew
The way the whole world worked,
Although she hadn’t seen
That much of it.
She thought she was tough --
Defying her father,
Wearing tube tops,
Smoking cigarettes.

The pick-up
Had no license plate,
But she could only see it
From the front.
The driver wore
A baseball cap,
Like everybody else.
His windows were rolled down,
But she could smell
The sweetrot odor
Of the smoke.
He leaned over,
Popped open the door
On the passenger side.
She caught his smirk at her
And glanced uphill
At the old house, feeling
A fleeting spooky twinge,
But never dreamed
That this would be
Her last look at her home.

It would be about a week
Before the local paper noted
That she’d vanished,
And a dozen men
In baseball caps
Would fan out through the woods
In search of her,
Half of whom
Had picked her up
On the same spot,
Though only one
Had done more than just flirt.
All of them knew
The girl was jailbait.


--© 2009 by Jack Veasey

(All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced or duplicated in any way without the author's written permission.)

Friday, July 2, 2010

RECITAL



(Illustration from the Dance of Death by Michael Wolgemut (1493)

A dance troupe
Stands in backlit fog;

The fog is fake,
But music
Makes it real.

The dancers move
As if they are
Afraid, scatter
Across the stage
To search
For a way out --
But no matter
Where they go,
We can still see them.

We feel their fear
And want them
To escape
From this great threat
That we can’t see;

The music has described it to us
Vividly enough –
but the fourth wall
still blocks their way.

If not for that,
We feel how far
The drums could
drive them;

Imagination
Takes its shape
From limits.


-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey

(All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced or duplicated in any way without the author's written permission.)

Friday, June 25, 2010

LITTLE SPARROW


(Edith Piaf, 1951, courtesy J.B. Assieu Albertini)

In Memory Of Edith Piaf


“I regret nothing,” she sang.
It was her anthem.
It is not mine,
Though there are days
when I could truly say the same.
How I view the past
Depends on where I’m standing
When I dare to think of it.

Most of the people
her voice has touched – decades
after her death –
don’t speak her language. She had
a throb that pierces
every culture’s armor.
“I don’t speak French,”
A young girl told me once,
“but I get every word she said”.

I don’t know the details
Of all that she didn’t regret, but I think
I’ve made a good guess. Many faces
I can barely picture now
Manage to haunt me
Nonetheless, at least
From where I stand today.
But I don’t regret
What songs I’ve carved
From that.

Let those who hear
Fill in their own
Echoes of faces.


-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey


(All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced or duplicated in any way without the author's written permission.)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

FERAL CHILD


(Illustration by J. Lockwood Kipling, 1895)



At first, they thought
It was a raccoon
Rooting through their trash,
Leaving a mess
On the back porch.

But one night, Lizzy
Got a look at him.
After she switched on the light,
He was gone in a second.
She never saw a person
Move so fast.
Though it was fall
And cold, the boy
Was naked, but
She barely saw his body.

For that instant, her eyes
Got locked with his:
Wide, green, wild, and full of –
Was it fear? His face
Was framed in crazy hair
That stuck out on all sides
And had leaves in it,
And lice too, she would have bet.
Then he was a blur,
Shooting off toward the trees.

She’d been half asleep
And headed back to bed.
She’d sleep no more that night,
Though there would be
No more disturbances to hear.
How old was he, she wondered.
It had left her, not afraid,
But more unsettled,
Her old view of life disrupted
By this unpredicted possibility.

She woke up her Charlie.
He called the police.
They went out back
With flashlights, poked around.
One stepped in human dung
Wiped on dry leaves.
The other said they’d had a similar report
About a week ago – a woman
Down the block – and she’d
Been able to describe him.
He didn’t sound like any
Missing children from the area.
Liz shuddered, picturing a tribe
Of missing children
Living hidden in the woods,
Something like Lord Of The Flies.

But she felt sure
That this boy wasn’t missing;
He’d been lost since birth.
His parents were not
Looking for him.
She felt sure
There were no words
For what he’d been through.

She wondered whether she
Should leave food on the back porch,
Keep the kid
From messing up their trash –
Well, OK, keep the kid
From starving. She flashed briefly on him
Catching birds for food,
Dismissed the image quickly
Lest it clarify too much.

As far as they knew, he never
Tried their house again. But from that night on,
She would keep the cat inside.


-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey

(All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced or duplicated in any way without the author's written permission.)

Friday, June 11, 2010

EYES OF PREY


(Public domain photo from US Fish and Wildlife Service)


(from an exercise by Marilyn Tenenoff)


I stand before my enemies,
Anointed in eye shadow.
I never did like purple,
But I chose it
Because it is the color of confession.
I confess I am what these hunters
Would aim for
With their blunt arrows of fear,
Seeking to kill
The hidden qualities
I mirror, when I paint myself
For love, and not
For war.

The rabbit’s eyes are on the side
To warn him
Of what’s creeping up on him,
To give him lots of time
To flee. I am
As gentle
And as fragile,
But I look straight on
At what comes after me.
There will always come a momentary
Meeting of the eyes,
So I can haunt these predators
After they chase me,
Wound me,
Even if they kill me,

I am the wild spirit
Shot down and falling like stars
In their midst,
In this country
They say they have tamed.


-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey

(All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced or duplicated in any way without the author's written permission.)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

RAIN DANCE


(Public domain photo courtesy http://www.public-domain-image.com/)

For Ron

You ran outside
To dance
Under the cloudburst,
Get yourself
Drenched,
Tempt the lightning.

You peeled up your T-shirt,
Pulled out the waist
of your jogging pants,
Both front and back,
To catch as much rain as you could, then
Struck a goofy ballet pose.
And you kept
Looking back at us, grinning
To please
A dry but bemused audience
Behind the store front window.

“You know, he does
No drugs or alcohol,”
Your former girlfriend said,
“He just gets like this
Naturally.”

I laughed, dismissed
The strike of
Inner lightning
Waking up the dancer
Long asleep in me,
Whose wounds no longer let him
Run out in the rain.



--© 2010 by Jack Veasey

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

AN OPEN READING FAUX PAS

For Stacy, whose name is not Tracy.


Last week, I got up to read –
A bounce from your poem –
And mentioned you
By the wrong name.
You corrected me
Loudly.

I don’t know
Why my mind
Won’t wrap itself
Around your name.
I’d even asked
Another friend about it
Earlier that night.
He gave me
The right name. But
The wrong name
Popped out of my mouth.

Meanwhile, people
Were waiting
For my reading.
I tried
To introduce my poem,
While you commented angrily
On everything I said.
I cut off eye contact with you;
I met the eyes of the crowd.
You got up and left
Before the poem
Started. Later,
Yet another friend
Would tell me
You did not leave
In a huff, but I found that
Hard to believe.

I’ve known you
For awhile, talked with you
Often, and should
Have known better.
But I’d been embarrassed
That I couldn’t grasp
Your name, never
Admitted it to you. I kept
Asking others about it,
But it just wouldn’t stick in my mind.
I should have just written it down;
I don’t know why I never did.

And now
The secret is exposed,
Having been blurted out
In the worst possible way,
In public even -- to embarrass you
As well as me. Worse
Than calling someone the wrong name
In bed; there’s not even
A third party involved
To mix things up!

OK, there’s a problem
With my memory, a glitch
I hope is not a glimpse
Of worse to come (my mother
Died with Alzheimer’s.)

But what I did
Was not deliberate.
Perhaps the way you handled it
Was also not a choice –
Sudden anger
Sometimes overrides
The will.

I will do what I can –
Apologize to you.

I only hope
That I remember to.


-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey

All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced or duplicated in any way without the author's written permission.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

ABOUT MY ABSENCE

In case anybody's been wondering, I haven't been updating my blogs because I had no internet connection for over a week. I'm back on now; things should be back to normal (for me, at least) in a couple of days. Sorry to disappear like that.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A VISIT TO YOUR MYSPACE PAGE

For Essra


Last night, I listened
To your song
About your father.
It made me smile
Sadly.

“He was always mad as hell,” you said.
I remember.
You mentioned
How handsome he was.
I remember that, too:

Dark skin
Dark hair
Dark eyes
Dark spirit --
But fiery, always
Still burning.

He told me once
That war
Was natural,
Just Nature’s way
To shave off
Excess population.
I told him I thought
That’s why some people
Were gay.
He huffed
And shrugged that off.

He always had to be right.
He had that in common
With you; that,
And a charm
That doggedly disarms
All but affection,
Even when a rough edge
Cuts.
Your philosophy, of course,
Is just the opposite of his.


I noticed that I was
High on your friends list,
Though I haven’t been in touch
In much too long,
And I was moved.

How often I forget
What is important
To attend
To what is
Merely pressing.

The passing of my own father
Was one of many things
I thought might change that.

Then, I blinked;
Years had gone by.


-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey

All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced or duplicated in any way without the author's written permission.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

GOOD SHEPHERD


(Bernard Plockhorst (1825-1907), The Good Shepherd

Judge not, lest ye be judged.
-- Jesus Christ, quoted in Matthew 7:1


Before you read
Your poem, you tell us
That the subject
Will be Christ,
Because He’s
Your priority.

You don’t call yourself
A “warrior for Christ,”
And yet that’s the impression
You create
Of your intention.
You seem very angry.

Your poem cites
Several Bible passages,
But, to your credit,
Mostly doesn’t try
To quote them.
You say you don’t care
If we sinners
Are offended.
“He didn’t save us
So we could be polite,”
You add. You glare
Into my eyes
As you steamroll your way
Through this part
Of your poem.

You say
You did many bad things
Back before you were saved.
You robbed
And hurt people.
It seems less
Like a confession
Than a threat –
You hurt them,
And you could hurt us.

I remember
My grandmother’s favorite
Holy card, the one
With the painting
Of Christ carrying
A lamed lamb.
Christ’s eyes
In that picture
Were gentle.

Paradoxically, I also picture
Warriors for Christ
Who killed and tortured millions
In the Inquisition --
Especially old women
Like my grandmother,
Who worked to heal the sick,
Who offered herbal cures
And helped deliver babies.
For what crimes
Were these women killed?
Well, one might say,
“God knows.”

I feel like that lamb,
Looking for a shepherd,
Seeing nothing here
Except another path
To slaughter.


-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey

All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced or duplicated in any way without the author's written permission.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

THE BULLFIGHT PAINTING


(Public Domain photo from animalvoice.com. The painting I describe in the poem below is not in the Public Domain, but maybe it's better to see an image of the subject that doesn't even try to prettify it.)



One of those hideous paintings you see
In a bar or a barbecue joint, that
The owner adores and paid a big fat
Price for, by a name in the industry

Some folks call “Bullfight Art.” The matador’s
In white, cape red as the bull’s blood, which we
See spread across his broad black back, set free
From veins by banderillas in each shoulder.

The cape’s a blur, trailing white lines behind
It, a nod to Impressionism. For
Art’s sake, the bull’s head lowers, aiming toward
The cape, although his tormentor’s nearby.

The man’s the center of the scene. His grace
At murdering belies his tranquil face.


--© 2010 by Jack Veasey

All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced or duplicated in any way without the author's written permission.

Friday, May 7, 2010

EX-TWILIGHT


Photo of sunset from orbit, taken by NASA STS-127 crew. From Wikipedia


April 30, 2010, 6:30 PM



Last day of April,
The kind of day
When evening looks like
Afternoon
To those
Slow to adjust;

As my partner and I
Pull out of
The restaurant’s dazzling
Parking lot, I say,
“It’s so nice. Why don’t we go
For a drive?”

-- Forgetting he has night work
Starting in an hour.

Back at home,
The blazing sun
Still lights up the drawn shades
That face the West.


-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey

Friday, April 30, 2010

AND THE SLAM GOES UP IN SMOKE


photo by Nerval, from the English Wikipedia Project


God, I’d like to take
A big drag on a cigarette –
It’s been so long.

Remembering the night
I stormed out of
The slam, sat at
The bar and filled my lungs
With burning menthol
I’d just bought
From a machine.

And the black dude
Who had read the homophobic poem
And got the huge reaction
That drove me out of the room
Came up and stood next to me
With no idea who I was,
To get a drink,
And I just answered his hello
Like it was nothing,
Thinking maybe I should even
Offer him a blowjob
Just to blow his mind.
And Randy, the slam organizer,
Sidled up to me
And said, “I didn’t think you smoked,”
And I spat out, “I don’t,”
And left, and never came again,
Boycotting
The damn slam
Forever.

Smoke
And the memory of smoke
Have teeth for me.
The word
“Slam”
Has more than one meaning.

Later, I’d explain
The how and why
Of my perpetual new absence.
But for now,
I’d suck the fumes
That killed my father
And march out into the night,
A private kind
Of Pride Parade.

Only the taste of smoke
Is a fond memory,
A measure of defiance,
Doing something
That is not
“Normal”
For me.


-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey


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Sunday, April 25, 2010

A SCRUFFY IRONY


(Old Beggar, by Louis Drewis, 1916)

I dress for comfort.
Sometimes, I forget
To shave.
Sometimes, I’m mistaken
For a bum -- even by people
Who know better,
Who have seen and heard
My work, if not
Appreciated it.

A local art gallery hostess,
Who’s been often
Rude to me,
Now cringes, fearful,
Should I pass her
On the street.
So I’ll glare at her
To add to the effect.
Frankly, it tickles me
A little – the absurd
Assumptions of
Her tiny mind.

What we lack in wealth,
We make up in
This power given to us
From a distance
By our disenfranchisers.
Since it’s about fear,
This is some sort
Of advantage.

As for the so-called “powerful”
Who rule so-called
“polite society,”
Those of us whose calls
They’d smugly not return
Can stalk them
Through dark alleys
In their dreams –
The demonized
At last
Supreme, at least
In certain situations.


-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey

All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced or duplicated in any way without the author's written permission.

Monday, April 19, 2010

X AND Y

It horrifies you that I tell the truth
Because you look much better in a mask.
You’ve worn that mask since early in your youth.
It horrifies you that I tell the truth
When you’d prefer the gleaming photo booth,
And how it lets you look just as you ask.
It horrifies you that I tell the truth,
Because you look much better in a mask.

My view of you creates embarrassment,
Because I can’t blur certain features out.
Your soul wears earrings. I see where you’re bent.
My view of you creates embarrassment.
You wish you were a straight line, and you meant
To smirk, but all you managed was a pout.
My view of you creates embarrassment
Because I can’t blur certain features out.

If only I were not born to describe.
If only I could learn to shut my mouth.
But then, I couldn’t serve you the sweet bribe.
If only I were not born to describe,
To testify, to witness for the tribe.
But then I couldn’t kiss you North and South.
If only I were not born to describe.
If only I could learn to shut my mouth.

You’ve moved along. I’m sure you miss my skills.
You couldn’t stay and risk being exposed.
I take a sip, and swallow my nerve pills.
You’ve moved along. I’m sure you miss my skills;
I pleasured you. But talking, talking kills.
My mouth kept moving. So your door was closed.
You’ve moved along. I’m sure you miss my skills.
You couldn’t stay and risk being exposed.

To see you now, I’d have to close my eyes.
But I’d still see you stripped of your disguise.


-- © 2009 by Jack Veasey


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This one is a sort of hybrid of petry forms. I used the triolet for the stanza form, then concluded it with a heroic couplet, like you would a sonnet. I like writing blatantly about sexual situations in forms -- there's a tension between the technical control and the subject matter.

The "mask" in this situation is a metaphor, not literal. This nameless guy from my checkered past is "straight" to his family and most of his friends.

X and Y is a play on words -- it refers to Ex and Why.

Friday, April 16, 2010

BROKE



Broke is a good name for it.
You don’t feel
Whole. Your feet have been
Knocked out from under you,
Or your core torn out,
Or something.
You have only
Emptiness
To stand on.

A friend tells you
You’re being “lame,”
And that’s
A good word for it
Too. Lamed,
You feel you
Can’t go far
From where you are.

More than demoralized, you feel
Disabled.
Empty wallet,
Empty gas-tank,
Empty stomach –
How to start,
Without the fuel?
No spark of verve
To trigger you
Back into movement,

You feel like a car
Abandoned by its driver,
If a wreck
Feels anything.
Feeling – that much,
You can do;
The one capacity
You wish you could shut
Off.


-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey


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Saturday, April 10, 2010

AFTER PETRARCH, POEM 99 FROM THE CANZONIERE


(Petrarch by Bargilla)


Your hopes and mine have proven false again.
But let’s aspire to serve the highest good.
We’re happier when we have understood
It benefits one to uplift a friend.

The meadow’s seeming peace appears to bend
And lose its symmetry if serpents could
Be hidden ‘twixt the grass blade and the bud.
Despite this danger, here, our spirits blend.

If you long just to quiet your own mind,
few shadows lead one to a freer space.
Retirement’s best with crowds left far behind.

You might well ask how dare I wear the face
Of teacher, when temptations led me blind.
I was led here, but moved at my own pace.


-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey


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This is my English language version of a sonnet written in Italian by Franceso Petrarch (1304-1374). I don't know if I should call it a "translation," because it's not literal -- it takes a lot of liberties. Here's a literal public domain translation by A.S. Kline:

Since you and I have seen how our hope
has, so many times, turned to disappointment,
raise your heart to a happier state,
towards that great good that never cheats us.

This earthly life’s like a meadow, where
a snake hides among the grass and flowers:
and if anything is pleasing to the eye,
it leaves the spirit more entangled.

So you, who’ve always sought a mind
at peace, before the final day,
follow the few, and not the common crowd.

Though you could well say to me: ‘Brother
you show the way to others, from which
you’ve often strayed, and now more than ever.’


You can see how mine has become substantially different. In working toward making the translation back into a sonnet, I changed its meaning. I basically wrote my own sonnet based on Petrarch's.

For those who can read Italian, here's the original:

Poi che voi et io piú volte abbiam provato
come 'l nostro sperar torna fallace,
dietro a quel sommo ben che mai non spiace
levate il core a piú felice stato.

Questa vita terrena è quasi un prato,
che 'l serpente tra' fiori et l'erba giace;
et s'alcuna sua vista agli occhi piace,
è per lassar piú l'animo invescato.

Voi dunque, se cercate aver la mente
anzi l'extremo dí queta già mai,
seguite i pochi, et non la volgar gente.

Ben si può dire a me: Frate, tu vai
mostrando altrui la via, dove sovente
fosti smarrito, et or se' piú che mai.

I'm thinking about producing a number of these based on Petrarch's sonnets. Maybe I should call them interpretations, rather than translations?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

DECADES LATER, FOR MY LATE FRIEND STEVE


(Photo by S. Sepp, from Wikipedia)


All these years after your death,
I’m told
that everyone knew
how I felt about you,
though I never breathed a word
to anyone, not even you –
everybody
in the class we took together
chronically;
even your lover Bob,
apparently, those nights
I slept on your couch,
way too drunk
to go home. He knew
what I was drowning
and was kind to me,
and made no confrontation.

Years later,
when I had a lover
of my own,
you reappeared,
and newly single;
you brought poems
and photographs
that found their way
into the paper
where I worked.
You worked
at the drugstore
at 15th & Spruce.
I’d stop by
to say “hi,”
have a soda; we’d both
keep it light.

I would hear
that you were dead
before I even had a clue
that you were sick.
It was so sudden
in those days, the “new disease”
nobody really understood yet –
swooping down
the way a hawk would
on a squirrel.

I’d no longer looked at you
as I once had;
I’d still had no idea
that you knew.
You must have –
everybody else did,
so they told me.

I wonder,
when you came
to reconnect,
if you hoped
I might still be free.
I wonder
if you didn’t know
that you were ill yet.
I wonder
if I dodged
a bullet.

And I wonder,
if I had been free,
and you had known
and told me,
if the knowledge
would have stopped us --
old friends
just crazy enough
to die for love.


-- © 2008 by Jack Veasey


All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced or duplicated in any way without the author's permission.

This poem appeared previously in Issue 9 of the literary magazine Fledgling Rag,. Thanks to Editor/Publisher Le Hinton.

WHEN I REINCARNATE


(photo from Hiren & Punkaj)


Forget this New Age princess
Shirley MacClaine stuff.

I want to come back as a biker chick,
Get passed around (at first) from guy to guy
Like a cheap bottle
That tastes better
Than it should. Let me
Get gang banged
On the green felt of
The pool table,
And leave a deep impression
Of my legendary ass. Let me
Rock the clubhouse
So they’ll all want
One more taste,
Although they never
Dreamed they would. Let me
Provide the inspiration
For knife fights
Between the Bros,
For tattoos
That immortalize me --
Till that fatal accident
Or liver failure.

I want to be the subject of
A jukebox song, one
Guys will wait in line to play.
Let me be
That mistake
That breaks up
The bland marriages
At last, and
Let me be long gone
When hubby turns around.
Let me leave behind
The mark, the sting, the scent
That sticks
Forever. Let me be like
The road
That left them
Restless.


-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey

Monday, April 5, 2010

GULLS, PIGEONS, AND HARE KRISHNAS


(photo by Alan D. Wilson, www.naturespicsonline.com, from Wikipedia)

Gulls on the wall
Watch humanity pass
With no apparent interest.
When you can fly,
What else
Grabs your attention?

A Hare Krishna told me once
Whatever fills your mind
Determines how
You’ll be reborn.
If you fixate
On sex, you’ll come back as
A pigeon. “A dirty
Bird,” he said, sounding
Like a grouch grandma.

I pointed out to him
That pigeons fly.

Flying seems
Exhilarating
When you can’t do more
Than dream about it.
And I dream about it
Often. Always have.

Hare Krishnas,
On the other hand,
I only see
If it’s a nightmare.
Those who cannot fly
Hang out in airports,
Knowing what they do
In spirit
Can’t come true.
They fixate on
The ones with lots of
Baggage who can’t
Get away so quickly.
Them, they’ll trap
And badger
With their version
Of the truth.

Gulls and pigeons
Bring
Only a song –
Gurgles of love,
Cries of release,
The language
Of the winged
Who know
Only this moment,
Who can fly
Without waiting in line
To buy a ticket,
Whose truth
Waits for them,
Somewhere,
High in blue air.


-- © 2009 by Jack Veasey


All rights reserved. This work may not be duplicated or reproduced in any way without the author's permission.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

IS YOUR CHILD AN ANIMAL?


(photo by PETA, found at Wikipedia)


Stone lions are safer
Than real ones –
By which I don’t mean
They won’t attack;

No one will try
To tame them,
Make them into pets.

They’ll guard the door
On either side,
Like dogs, but
They won’t see
The irony.

They will not long
For living flesh
Between their teeth,
Or dream of leaping
On a running zebra’s back.

Once, I talked
To a bear at the zoo
On a steaming hot day.

His cage was small,
Barely had room
To turn around –

He looked
Bedraggled and
Depressed.

I asked,
“are you unhappy?”

He rolled over
On his side, looked
At me upside-down,
And groaned;

I’m sure
He understood.

A bratty little boy,
Running around
Unsupervised,
Plunged through
A group of pigeons, scattered
Them, stopped
Near the cage,
And screamed
To split sensitive ears.

Sadly, the bear
Was too dis-spirited
To even try
To reach him.

So we humans allow
Our offspring
To run wild,
And yet build cages
For the kings of
Beasts, and
For those damaged grown-ups
We consider “monsters,”

And we blame their state
On their neglectful
Parents, and it all
Goes ‘round in circles

Like a lion
In a cage


-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey


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CONTROL: A RATIONALE

So “normal’s” how things are when no one grows
Out of their brother’s hand-me-downs and ways.
Too much change – no, we can’t have that, God knows.

A normal boy gets by at school. His clothes
And haircut suit the general tone these days.
So normal’s how things are when no one grows

His hair too long, or paints his nails, or shows
An interest in stuff teachers call “a phase.”
Too much change – no, we can’t have that, God knows.

Some water’s deep. You wet more than your toes,
Get sucked in, and become one of the strays.
So normal’s how things are when no one goes

Far off the path, follows their untrained nose,
Ends up a headline in the birdcage trays.
Too much change can be dangerous, God knows.

Trust family. When in on you they close,
It’s for your good, despite how it dismays.
So normal’s how things are when no one grows.
Too much change – no, we can’t have that, God knows.


-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey


All rights reserved. This work may no be reproduced or duplicated in any way without the author's written permission.

I shouldn't have to say that this poem is intended to be facetious -- when I get didactic in the last stanza, I don't want people to really do what I'm saying they should. But I've been taken literally before when I didn't want to be, so -- this poem is a sarcastic comment on how I was treated when I was growing up.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

BRUISER


(Photo by Rory Bowman from Wikipedia)


You see a shadow
In the wrestler’s mouth
Instead of teeth –
could be he’s wearing
a protective mouthpiece.
He won’t admit
He has a phobia of dentists;
It doesn’t pay
A guy like him
To be afraid
Of anything.

Long ago, he garnered
An Olympic medal,
Before he settled
For these shiny belts
That cover his pot belly;
Each exchange of belts
Is mapped out
Like a dance.

A hard career:
A lot of injuries,
Both accidental
And arranged.
They call the bleedings
“red for green” –
he earns a bonus
when his flesh is torn.
Everyone says
Drugs are forbidden
By the rules,
But his shots pump him
Through the pain.
The agony he shows the audience
Is all pretend;
In private life
He wouldn’t even wince,
And he’d despise
Someone who whined.

At least the name he uses
Is his own, though
Whether it’s a good or bad name
All depends
On when the match is
In which tour.
His tights remain
Red, white and blue
In any case,
An homage
To his old Olympic triumph,
Always claused
In every contract.

The only pains he has a problem bearing
Are the ones that follow him
From town to town,
Not caused
By any injury.

He has no room
For real relationships –
His loyalties
Are written in,
Then out.
He sees it all
As one huge effort –
Getting through
The time until
Retirement,
When he, at last,
Can start to live.


-- © 2009 by Jack Veasey


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Sunday, March 21, 2010

WIDE LOAD


(photo by PRA)


Since his wife left,
His life is more
Expensive –
Whores charge more
To do the things
He wants.

Restless
At the rest stop,
Looking now
For more than
Fuel and food –
He sits in shadow
In the cab, chin
In his hand,
Exhausted
From some run
Not yet half finished.

He thought
His journey
Was over,
But home
Is no longer
Where it used to be

For this driver
Who drives people
Away.

-- © 2009 by Jack Veasey

A HOLIDAY

We walk along the plaza in the sun.
I miss our pets, and hope I locked the door.
You can’t escape, despite how far you run.

The ancient temple gleams. The Buddhist nun
Speaks English. Did my bet mention the score?
We walk along the plaza in the sun.

Each foreign man looks better than the one
Before him. Smiling, you call me a whore.
You can’t escape, despite how far you run.

My therapist prescribed this trip. Some fun
Might soften our sore spots galore.
We walk along the plaza in the sun.

You say I’ve always been the only one.
Guilt stings me as you talk, and talk some more.
You can’t escape, despite how far you run.

Location can’t unlink a chain begun
When one thing led to others long before.
We walk along the plaza in the sun.
You can’t escape, despite how far you run.

-- © 2009 by Jack Veasey

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"A Holiday" describes a fictitious vacation taken by a couple. Though they're far from home in an exotic location, they remain preoccupied with the state of things at home and the issues that chronically trouble them.

The poem is a villanelle, a form which has two refrain lines. The most famous example of a villanelle is Dylan Thomas's "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night."

Saturday, March 20, 2010

DEAD FRIENDSHIP DREAM


The Dream, by de Chavannes

***

Last night I dreamed about you. These days I don’t let thoughts of you stay long when I’m awake.

You had a new wife. She was obviously stupid, but then, she’d have to be. Of course, she knew nothing about me.

You’d been through some terrible experience that left you like a child, brain damaged, blank. Your house was a remote cabin. Your son was waiting for you to attend to something, but I’m not sure you knew who he was -- though he was a child again, too.
He was more open now, no longer cooler than everybody.

You sat on the floor in the middle of the living room, naked from the waist down. No one thought this strange. I was floating through the air as usual. No one thought this odd either.

Your wife kept patting your shoulder, muttering mindless stuff meant to comfort you. You were oblivious. You babbled nonsense, baby-talk.

You were no longer who you were. I felt the loss of that, and let myself. You seemed somewhat defenseless, but I couldn’t bring myself to punish you, though I remembered you deserved it. I just kept floating around, watching.

Your son and wife, who didn’t know each other, didn’t seem to find all this the least dramatic.

I woke up, and felt mometarily sad. I usually don’t let myself feel sad about you long; I didn’t this time, either. But I didn’t jump back into hating you right away, like I normally would, now that you’re less real to me than the dream was. A dream is your only unguarded path for getting near me now.

I am beginning to be less afraid you’ll try some other path. And I am less inclined to mentally rehearse the moves I’d have to use to shoot you down.


-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey

Thursday, March 18, 2010

REAL MAN RONDEAU




A real man knows; that’s why his smile is thin.
He keeps his secrets wrapped in his thick skin.
You’re kept an arm’s length back, where you belong,
Though what he took from you has made him strong
Enough to fight you off and – he thinks – win.

A real man tells you that to feel’s a sin.
He feels that way, of course, but can’t begin
To recognize how his right might be wrong.
A real man knows

How gentleness can threaten, for he’s been
Out saving face among men just like him:
Alone and lonely, singing the tough song
To keep the pace, and carry all that weight along.
But where to turn when all his walls come falling in,
No real man knows.


-- © 1994 by Jack Veasey

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

SPIRIT ANTHEM: AN UNSUNG HYMN

SPIRIT ANTHEM

Lyrics by Jack Veasey

The spirit may not have a name
Nor laws to live by to impose
And yet it fills this empty frame
With light the way rain fills a rose

The spirit may not raise us high
Above what strangers we might fear
Yet shake the hand, and meet the eye
And all mistrust may disappear

The spirit flows through us like blood
And we all bleed when wounds invade
The spirit makes flesh more than mud
When from our struggles bonds are made

The spirit lives in all and each
despite what differences we see
Don’t turn away from what can teach
Diversity is unity

The spirit can be recognized
In every shade the rainbow holds
No one excluded or despised
Beneath this flag the sun unfolds

We find our path, we sing our song
Our faces open to the sky
We find the spirit is too strong
To be held down, or to deny

The spirit lives in all and each
despite what differences we see
Don’t turn away from what can teach
Diversity is unity

© 2008 by Jack Veasey


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Here's something different: a song lyric, a first for this blog. At the request of my life partner, I wrote a completely new lyric to an existing tune -- a contemporary Christian hymn -- to make it nonsectarian. At the time we were members of a Unitarian Church; he was choir director, I sang tenor. I think what I came up with expressed the Unitarian view of spirituality and community pretty precisely. When we rehearsed the song, choir members expressed great enthusiasm for it.

However, all groups have their politics. The song's use in a service kept being put off. This seemed to happen a lot with my attempts to participate creatively in church services. I'm tempted to say a lot more about this situation, but the subject raises my blood pressure to an unsafe level.

The song was never performed at a service, and we no longer attend this church. The song wasn't the straw that broke the camel's back for us, but what happened with it didn't help. There's no point in a creative person remaining in an atmosphere where creativity is regarded as an inconvenience at best, and a threat to the status quo at worst.

All of which leaves me in a weird position in regard to this song. It was written to be performed in a particular situation which will now never happen. The lyrics are very specific to that. It also says something that I wish were true, but found out was NOT the case in the church I wrote it about (though it expresses the ideals that church is SUPPOSED to be about accurately, I think). I guess it needs to be set to a new tune. Or maybe it's just one of those efforts you have to chalk up as a learning experience. At least there's nothing to stop me from sharing it here.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

LOVE PARK


(photo by AMP for Wiki Take Philadelphia project, 10/14/2009)


(Philadelphia’s JFK Plaza, with Robert Indiana’s famous LOVE sculpture added in 1976 to celebrate the Bicentennial)


To visit this spot in your hometown
Is somewhat unsettling. Again,
You see
The letters of the word LOVE
Stacked into a square, the V
Lopsided, the fountain –
With its water sometimes tinted
To promote something-or-other –
The skate-boarders,
And the junkies,
But no lovers
Going public with affection;
The most well-known public incident
Caused by a coupling here
Was not sex but
A stabbing, when one homeless woman
Killed another who she thought
Wanted her boyfriend.
The park is not a monument
To Love, but to the tendencies
Of cities.

At least the letters
Are red as spilled blood; that much
Suits the danger
Of the situation. Often, unmedicated
Crazy folks may scream about apocalypse
And fill the air with messages of fear.
It makes you wonder
Whether FEAR’s the word
That should have been
Immortalized in steel.

You remember
Bringing your bagged lunches
Here when the sculpture
Was new, when the word LOVE seemed
A bit more like it might belong here.
Traffic continues
To circle the spot,
In a flow daily events
Don’t interrupt.

This same sculpture sits
In other public places,
Spread out all across
The planet,
But the feeling
Its name drops
Is more elusive –
An abstraction
(NOT in the artistic sense).

-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey


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Friday, March 12, 2010

CAROUSEL


Photograph by Andrew Dunn



Parents watching are a blur
Wooden horses rise and fall
Music blares from a machine
Brass rings beckon to the tall

Chariots fixed to a floor
Zebra, tiger, lion, pig
Saddles carved in wooden flesh
Rabbit hops but does not dig

Grip the pole pierced through the heart
Of the steed that never sweats
Will the runt grab any rings?
Flask-drunk Dads are making bets

You are grey yet you will ride
Unafraid to look the fool
Grabbing greedy at the rings
Not concerned with looking cool

I ride on the horse behind
No, I am not in pursuit
Close my eyes and see my mind
Hurtling down a darkened chute

Faded murals that we pass
Picture when we weren’t born
No one finds the ride too fast
Young girl straddles unicorn

Stirrup dance, three quarter time
Brassy tune too stale to hum
When there was no fatal crime
Nothing beaten but a drum

Turning back and then away
Only half a ticket left
Flashbulb catch the flying day
Here and now there is no death

-- © 2002 by Jack Veasey

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

TROLL



The long-haired, chubby, bare-assed
Rubber dolls
Of the sixties
Always got your image
Wrong, though they got
Your height right.

You are small – so small
You need sit on
Two telephone books
To see your screen
And reach the keys.
You never smile,
No matter how you feel.
When you are exultant,
You sneer.

Your victories
Are small,
Like you.
You fire off
A sharp dig
And picture your enemy
Fuming.
You dismiss your distant
Victims like some little general
Sticking pins in maps
Of spots where shells
Will hit. No one
Can see you
Or reach you,
No one can win
Over someone
The truth does not touch.
You don’t care
If your enemy is right,
Or if his words
Would make more sense than yours
If anybody else would listen.
You don’t live in the same world
As the rest of us. You tell wild lies
About the lives
And personalities
Of people
You have never even met,
So they’ll be forced
To correct you with facts
You can then twist against them.
Any information
Is a weapon, even
That which proves you wrong –
It tells you what’s important
To your enemy, what
Else to lie about.

You are a self-appointed
Miniature god
Whose rage
Creates his universe.
You’ll make life hell
For those who break
Your least commandment.
You will rule
This message board!

Looking down
From your “high seat,”
Dizzy with what you think
Is power, not admitting
Even to yourself
That you are lonely
“at the top,” you feel
Your crown
Cut off your circulation,
And mistake it for
A buzz.

Dying alone
Is a small price to pay.



-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

PLEASE LOOK AROUND

If you find that the first item here is one you've already seen, pleaase look around. There are over twenty pieces of writing here now, posted during this and last month. If you click on 2010 in the column to the right, everything posted so far will appear on this page.

You'll also find a link to a new page in the column to the right, Blogs From Eons Past. It's a selection of blogs -- all creative nonfiction, no poems -- that I've posted over the last three years at Eons, the social networking site for Baby Boomers.

Thanks for visiting! Please leave a comment if you feel like it.

Jack

Monday, March 8, 2010

CHROME AND CROSSED SIGNALS


(photo by David Shankbone)


My partner and I go to a certain diner in our small town as often as we can. Outside, it’s all chrome, and has the design of a classic old diner, though it really wasn’t built that long ago. They play a lot of music from the 50s and 60s, and have an authentic soda fountain where they can make egg creams and such.

This diner’s first owner was our ex landlady. We liked her, and started going to support her business. But now, two owners later, we go because we still like the food and atmosphere. However, the story I’m about to relate happened relatively soon after the place first opened.

Late one afternoon we went there for dinner. Our waiter was new, an obviously gay man. As a gay couple ourselves, we were happy to see that they had hired Family.

We didn’t stay happy for long.

Mary Wells’s bouncy old love song, “My Guy,” came on. Another source of delight – we’ve both loved the song since our, ahem, long-ago youth. Our waiter, on his way to get our glasses of water, was dancing around to it. When he came back, he found us smiling and singing along.

This is when his attitude changed from civility to apparent seething hostility. He slammed our glasses down and scribbled our orders loudly on his pad with a scowl. When I ordered coffee, he pointedly asked, “Do you want that WITH your meal, or afterward?” This weird question foreshadowed treatment to come.

He brought our food when it came out, but otherwise haughtily ignored us. We each got one drink, and no offers of refills. Whenever either of us tried to get his attention, he would look away with a huff. Meanwhile, he lavished constant gushing attention on the table of ladies next to us, to show that his scorn was reserved specifically for us.

We were totally bewildered by his behavior. And, of course, we didn’t leave him a tip.

When we paid, our friend the owner was at the cash register. She asked, “How was everything?” I told her the food was great, as always. I was tempted to add, “but the service was horrible” – but some intuition stopped me. I just let the incident pass.

Later, I deduced what must have happened.

Our waiter’s gaydar must have been on the fritz. When he saw us smiling and singing along to “My Guy,” he apparently thought that we were having a joke at his expense. He took us to be straight and homophobic, laughing at him for dancing to the song. It wasn’t at all professional of him to punish us for that – a good waiter would have shrugged it off and ignored it. But at least I could understand why he reacted the way he did.

He didn’t last long at the diner, possibly not even at his profession – too thin-skinned, I’d bet. But for an obviously gay man, waiting tables in a Central PA Bible Belt small town diner must be a tough job sometimes. I’m glad it wasn’t us who got him fired.

-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey

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