Sunday, March 28, 2010


(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
When he, at last,
Can start to live.

-- © 2009 by Jack Veasey

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Sunday, March 21, 2010


(photo by PRA)

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

At the rest stop,
Looking now
For more than
Fuel and food –
He sits in shadow
In the cab, chin
In his hand,
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

-- © 2009 by Jack Veasey


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

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

"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


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


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



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


(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


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


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
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


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.


Monday, March 8, 2010


(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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Sunday, March 7, 2010


The tattooed man struck her as ominous
When she first saw him naked. But his face,
Wet from the pool, seemed open as his hands.
She scanned him for that quality that glows
From inside, and believed it there. His blue
Eyes didn’t hurt. She watched close for what moves.

Beauty seems a firm first basis, and moves
us in lieu of facts. Some call this ominous.
Nonetheless, her mood would shift the lights to blue
If she should pass a day without his face
Turned to hers. Anything that hums and glows
Needs tending. Soon this duty filled his hands.

He’d always had some task to suit his hands,
But he was used to wood, not clay that moves.
He’d shape her in ways that, sometimes, glow
And sometimes throw a shadow, ominous.
He’d read few books, and could not read her face.
He’d babble with no clue till his turned blue.

Her righteousness bewildered him. Soon blue
Became the shade of all his days. His hands
Strayed to more pliant subjects. Soon his face
Spoke fluently to her, and she made moves
That anyone could read as ominous.
Still he was startled, flushed with rage that glows.

Some men can’t see what, to some others, glows,
She found a substitute to light her blue
Flame, who bore a resemblance ominous
That she did not see. She fit in his hands.
Meanwhile, her “old man” wondered if his moves
Had failed him. With age, pain showed in his face.

Things occurred to him – hard for a man to face.
His inked skin was a warning sign that glows.
At his age, he could not count on old moves
That long ago could turn her music blue.
He had a problem in his empty hands.
The situation seemed quite ominous.

Ominous indeed. We see just the face
We first find in our hands. Eyes open, glow
Blue – we believe their light. And then time moves.

-- © 2009 by Jack Veasey

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The above poem is a sestina. It's probably the hardest poetry form, and I've made several failed attempts to write one over my thirty-some years as a poet. This is the first one that's worked.

The form uses six words to end its lines, which in this case are "ominous," "face," "hands," "glows," blue," and "moves." The first six stanzas each have six lines, and the end words fall into a prescribed pattern -- for instance, the last end word in each stanza becomes the first end word in the next. All six end words then appear in their original order in the final three-line stanza. Then you down six shots of Jim Beam, scream into a pillow for six minutes, and hibernate for six months. (Just kidding!)

When it works, you have a hypnotic, beautiful poem. But you have to be REALLY careful to pick six words that bear that much repeating.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Photo by Hovev

He shows up beside you
At the bar.
You’ve stopped in
To recuperate from work
Before the shaky subway sojourn
Home. You imagine
He has, too.

You’ve never liked him
All that much. Easier
To keep him friendly, though.
You tell him you’re doing OK
And let him ramble.

He goes on about Elaine.
Her cubicle
Is not that far from yours
Or his. He tells you
She’s a lesbian.
He heard her
Talking to her girlfriend
On the phone, then
Glimpsed them
Meeting on the street.
You barely know the girl,
But like her more
Than him – seems like
A reasonable person.
You nod
And grunt, expressing
No opinion.

He reads this
As a show of interest,
Keeps on talking,
Gathering excitement,
If you’ve pictured girls together.
It’s clear to you
That he has.
You say nothing, stare
Into the depths of your beer.

He says he bets
That a real man
Could change Elaine.
She wouldn’t want a woman
If she tried
A guy like you,
For instance.
You check his eyes
And see
He’s also pictured
That. And he wants
To plant that picture
In your head, hopes
You’ll tell him
If anything happens.

You down
Your nearly full beer
In one gulp,
Slap the tip
On the bar, check
Your watch. You lose track
Of the rest of what
He’s saying. Your partner
Is waiting at home. This guy
Has no clue who you are.

You walk briskly alone.
The smog-infested air seems
Fresh and sweet.
Even the screeching subway
Sounds like music.

-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey

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Thursday, March 4, 2010


(photo by Sharese Ann Frederick)

In Memory of Billy Mays, 1958-2009

Burly and bearded, shirt sleeves
Half rolled up, he holds his product
And barks at the camera
In a voice pitched higher than you’d think.
His tenor’s not the lone surprise.

It seems he’s always selling something different:
Super strong adhesive,
Putty that seals leaks,
A wash that smells like oranges
But cuts through years of crud
When rubbed on any surface.

He looks like a bear
And sounds like a songbird, albeit
A loud one; his smile
Is so white, it could blind you –
Anyway, you just can’t help
But trust him. You thank God
He doesn’t sell religion.

You hear there’s a fan club
Of gay men who wish
He would bed them, but he’s faithful
To his lucky wife.

You see him on the tube
Practically every day
For decades.
When you hear
That he’s died suddenly,
You feel a pang.

You wish you had opened
Your wallet,
And not just your heart.

-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey

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Streets run like water
Spilled on the world,
In bright sunlight, hissing
On the way.

Street kids play
With paper boats
That float in gutters,
Catching them
Before they reach
The sewer, unafraid
Of cars
Or germs.

But unlocking
The fire hydrant
Is a crime. Hide
The magic wrench,
or it might get confiscated
By the cops!

Sadly, it isn’t safe
To play at the real river,
Only half a block away.
The cops find
Floating there.

-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey

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Yeah, I know. "Morbid" ending, right? I refuse the label "morbid" because it implies it's inappropriate to write (or even think) about certain subjects. Growing up in the city, we were all aware that playing in the streets had an element of danger. And the river -- the Delaware, which flowed right behind my house -- was even more unsafe. If we had forgotten this, we might not be here today.

But by the way, there was originally a "Mary Sunshine" version of the poem, with this additional stanza at the end:

All the more reason
For defiance,
For just grabbing
Any shred of joy
You can.

Fellow poets advised me to edit it out, which felt right to me. I guess we're all "morbid!"

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


(photo (c) Ralf Schmode)

I want to revisit the house
Where the white wolf lives.

I only went there once.
She came right up to me
And sniffed my hand.
I called her “Sweetheart,”
Though her name was Amber.
She looked right
Into my eyes,
Followed me
All over the house.
Her owner – if you can call her that –
Said, “She must like you.”

I also met a caged squirrel
With a broken back
Who’d come there to retire.
(The lady of the house
Worked for the Game Commission).
Amber seemed to have no interest
In the squirrel,

But, when I sat on the sofa, tried
To climb onto my lap.
“She’s not allowed up on the furniture,”
The lady said -- like anyone
Could stop her.
Amber kept her back legs
On a hassock, lay her head
Against my chest. I’d go home
covered in white fur.

“Weren’t you afraid?”
A friend would ask me later.
“No,” I said. “She was
So beautiful.” And she was smaller
Than I thought she’d be,
And seemed so dignified
And strangely delicate.

My only disappointment in the visit?
She found no reason to howl.

-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey

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(photo by Doris Ullman, 1930)

A nun entered the convenience store. The clerk on duty quickly hid his hard core porno magazine.

She glimpsed it before it went under the counter. Inwardly, she cursed her curiosity. Trying to weed out one’s interest in sex, she thought, is like trying to find zebras under a microscope. Once again, the colors of her habit made her think of zebras, not the penguins of cliché. She pictured a stampede of tiny zebras on a slippery glass strip, a doctor finding zebras in a teardrop.

She bought band-aids, Ben Gay, and Gatorade.

Her mind filled with things miscellaneous: pyramids and ceiling fans, tattoos and powdered wigs, fists and French kisses. The porn glimpse had triggered her imagination.

As she passed through the front door she saw the cover of a tabloid, with the photo of a frat boy in a wedding dress beneath the words, PLEDGE STUNTS. She silently thanked God they hadn’t made him wear a habit. Then she smiled, despite herself, at that last image.

In her mind, to chastise her, a mushroom cloud appeared behind the crosses three on Calvary.

Some fears are bigger than God.

-- © 2010 by Jack Veasey

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010


(Flickr photo by HBarrison)

We argued in your truck
Out on the road.
I can’t remember
The subject, only
A welcome interruption:
As you flashed
Your hot blue eyes at me,
A black bear came
Scampering out of the woods
Into our path, oblivious
To us as you, the driver,
Were to him. I lay my hand
Gently on your thigh. “Look,”
I said, in a quieter voice
Than either of us had been using.

You did. You saw.
As if feeling
Your eyes on him,
The bear looked up at us.
Startled, he jumped straight up
Into midair, like some old
Cartoon character – all four paws
Left the ground at the same time.
He turned and scampered
Back into the woods –
And that’s
The only verb for it;
Delicately, like a romping lamb.

We both
Forgot our argument. We’d both known
That this area had bears, but neither of us
Had seen one before.
We shared a grin, and drove on
In delighted silence.
I left my hand
Where it was.

-- © 2009 by Jack Veasey

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