Category Archives: Poetry

Lost Highways and Exit Ramps

I hear Odin drives an old beat up Ford
Primer for paint and two coon hounds chasing smells
From one end of the truck bed to the other
Howling something fierce the whole way down the road
On that unknown highway, chasing dreams, booze and ass
Trucker’s cap tiled to one side, shaded eye
Long Beard
And Mother Mary stands with thumb 
outstretched looking for a ride
Joseph got old, and not with age, baby Jesus come and gone
The excitement a blasphemous memory
We all chase the faith just the same
Even if it ain’t faith we know it by
But some other name

I’ve been down some of those exit ramps, they always
Say, speed up near the bottom, on these darker roads
Construction zone signs are a given, only the danger
Is the drive
Been down them exit ramps on backroads 
In places I don’t know
Chasing the saga of some elder mythology
Some broke down, lint in the wallet, college student dream
Like Poets and bards of yesteryear

But by God, look at them stars, stretching out, teasing fingers
Like man and God, the constellations touch ever so lightly,
Separated by a billion million years
Made in their image, our atoms see their reflection
And in the black void of our being, big bang lets loose
Her sweet song of chaos coming down the turnpike
Promising a chapter two…or is it three?

Let’s hop in the old car, two door handles missing, one
Window doesn’t go down, and see what sights there are
Chasing campfire trails and the thick smoky promise
Old stories, time travel, adventure and a warrior’s game
I know your soul smiles, I see it through your flesh
You remember the old gods well and the rush
That was pagan magic and runes and circles and dances
Wilder days are imprinted on our being

I hear the whispering sound of your life living out
Loud poetry has called, but something more
You’ve awakened what amber promises and beer bottle hope
Was only the first baptism of, what those other things
Teased and promised,
Poetry has revealed.

The lost highways are haunted ways
Of hunger and never being satisfied
Of living best after you’ve died
Not to flesh or paper thin realities, but to concepts
Windows down on that older road, listen to the tree frogs
Hear the wind singing her song to the rhythm of pine trees?
Smell the pond thick with stagnant green algae
The creek is calling, her melody your melody, poetry
Alive. Glory to the gods, a being come alive
Haunted ways are calling
Who will you be?

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Of Coffee, Caffeine, and Morning Breezes

Just heart burn, a bowl of cereal, and The Civil Wars playing

Thinking about a woman I don’t know

Or might know but not know that I do

Wondering how much longer this trying road will wander

 

Life is like

And then I stop, because the truth is much more troubling

Life is like life, and that’s all

Any of us can truly say. But that’s alright, ain’t it?

Just one more soup bowl to be cleaned, that’s life

Summed up with a side of toast and raspberry Jelly

 

Long day stretching out across a short horizon, has the sun

Wobbled up over them Kentucky hills?

There’s something to be said for the smell

Of coffee, caffeine, and early morning breezes

 

Got my poetry packed, my stories ingested, notes ready

Pen in pocket, jeans laid out, shower going

Teeth brushed, and student’s mask worn

But still I’m sittin’ here wondering

About that fat burning ball of light, the short stretch

Of a long day. What’s the creek smell like back home?

Sugar creek, Lock 8, old hills, little holler

Here I am in Lexington big and wide

Thinking of a little place down the road,

Wondering. What’s this day going to hold?


Not a House, But a Home

I was born of creek rock, Indian Soap, and chigger patches

Raised up on the dancing embers

Of a burning hot stove making dry wood

A work of art with its fiery touch

And burning appetite

I am the twang at the back of the throat

That sounds like banjoes in a july festival

Learned out of me by my hunger for a proper education

Until I fill my fuel tank with Kentucky water and shining moons

Bourbon truths on full moon liquor

The echo of generation upon generation

Rising up like muddy water

In the Kentucky River, rain drops falling

Making her grow fat and furious

The spring mud slides and roads buckling

Under the shifting weight

Of all that change

I am birthed in the firecracker pop

Of a February freeze

Winter’s fourth of July declaring

Independence from all the safety of warmth

And modern civilization

I am born of the tree frog song croaking out

On a creaking night and Katie-dids doing

What Katie-dids do, firefly Morse code

Two blinks, one blink, two blinks

Katie-did songs and tree frog revelations

A summer night on lock eight road

I am the home of all these stories

As much as they are mine

Little trailer with the built up room

And the porch light burning defiant against the night

Not a house but a home.


The Punch Line

(Dedicated to Danny Cotton, written in the ink of my tears. Find peace brother)

 

Life so short,

you were a gift

to the world

partially opened, only

somewhat unwrapped.

A Gandhi waiting

for the mic to turn on

you were heard

in the amplifiers of human heart,

felt in the vibration

of friendship.

A tidal wave of reality, shifted

by your presence,

by your loss.

Candles will burn

in your memory, causes will glow

new life, your legacy

a long beam of light.

 

Today, we will hold

our friends, hug

our moms, gaze

deep into the wizened eyes

of our fathers,

contemplate the deeper meaning

of liberty, democracy, and truth,

of life and passion, of laughter.

Your lifeblood

is life force for a whole

new cause. I am awakened

by your sudden sleep, I am listening

now more than ever

to your silent voice. I will dedicate

this poem, to your memory

write the next poem

to your legacy, as I try to do you some honor

carrying your banner, lighting myself

in your laughing true passion,

walking into the darkness.

 

The joy of God,

it is said, is a life

truly lived in

passion. Your life is God’s joy.

Smile, wherever you are,

yours is the best punch line

delivered. You made a joke

of death, by a life

well lived.

 

 


Song of my Spirit

My shrine is a Sunday dinner

My Holy Song the sound of family laughter and forks clanging

My holy communion in the long talks we share

And Walking Dead Marathons

The most sacred thing

Is the smile of those I love

The whisper of God’s voice

Is in the sound of the creek out behind the house

I grew up in—where porch swings sing country melodies

 

This is my religion

The sound of the winds in the tree tops during winter

The smell of rain in the spring

The early morning dew weighing down bright green blades of grass

God’s face smiles from a sunset rolling behind hilltops

His promise of protection in the half wink of a crescent moon

Shining out against whatever darkness there may be

 

This is my faith

The sound of dogs barking their greeting when I visit

The smell of wood burning smoke from chimneys

Dad in the yard grinning and waving as I pull up

The old fort I played in as a child—leaning with age

The trees that roll down the hill to say hello

Mom in the house cooking, cleaning, smiling, knitting

Aunt Trish and Uncle Billy joining us for dinner

The riddles said with a laugh

 

This is my hope

Grandma cussing worse with age

The mule from my neighbor’s field whinnying out her salutation

The smell of the bluegrass in the dog days of summer

The sound of tires following the road

The small church I preached in—resigned from—that has been there

The way everything looks yellow in the early dusk of September

When the sun sets

 

God’s spirit is in the hummingbirds

Buzzing and chirping their little laughter, profanity, anger

Darting one way and then another

Dancing and daring for a drink of red nectar—sugar, water, dye

 

God is not a fixture on a church steeple

Is not a book held sacred

Is not a ten point lesson plan

Is not a yard stick to smack people with

Or a sword, guillotine, or rack to kill, maim and hurt

 

 

God is Love

Is life

Is joy

Is vibrancy

Is in the pushing up of a single blade of grass—

Through rock, soil, sky

God is not our limitation

God is in the infinite depths of the mind, the universe,

God is the seed the farmer plants—

The hope the farmer has when watching the sky

The great stalk of corn rising, promising to feed, to sustain

The hope that drives us, the dare that emboldens us

 

God has one great home—

Our world around us, our hope within us, our friends, our family

Worship God in the joy of a single breath

Whomever God whatever God may be to you, in you, for you, of you


In the Underworld, A Song

 

He was just a man

But was he?

Sitting there in the subway

His long golden hair

Danced in the artificial wind

Of the Cement Jungle’s underworld

Where on each side of our island of stone

Subway cars rolled by in violent force

Stealing people from one place

And inspiring them to another

Then the man presumably homeless

With clean features and normal look

Parted a smile that ripped my soul

And to this day I have never forgot

The crazy jags of those crooked teeth

And Cheshire cat eyes

Now looking on me

In me

And those long bony fingers of his

Strumming the guitar he once had on his back

As he took a seat in the dead center

Of this underworld where my friends and I waited

The rushing command of people everywhere

And yet it was only he and I

And the song he began to strum

What terror in such perfect ordinariness

Was it his condition, his smile, his unnatural eyes?

Or was it something more I sensed

Some hint of a past full of violence

His fingers danced upon the strings

And out came the song I remember never hearing his voice sing

“Hotel California”

His lips moved but the sounds of the city stole his words

And though I have forgotten much of that trip to New York

I have never forgotten the presumably homeless man

With golden hair and unsettling eyes

In the underworld of that city

And the song he chose to play

Begging for a buck

Begging for attention

And how he got one but not the other

He stays in my imagination still

Was he a man?

Or a monster in human flesh

I am grateful to have not found out


I Want Love

I want love like a foreign country

Where I wonder the streets in happy lost abandon

And pass not through in a hurry but soak up the culture

Where I sample the many delights

And taste the greatness of what otherwise might be common

I want love like a summer night

Filled with shooting stars to wish upon

And the soft private songs of isolation

Where being on our own road is a good thing

And the promise of laughter is always nearby

I want love like a snowy day in winter

Where the only option is to cuddle up

And has the peaceful feeling of sitting by a fireplace

Where sharing a blanket too small pulls us closer

And like the presents under the tree always a happy surprise

I want love like home

Where I can drive the roads blindfolded

And summon the sounds most comforting at a moment’s notice

Where I know I can be held in good times and bad

And can carry with me no matter where life may take me


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