Give you twenty bucks
for that old Ko-RE-an thang,
the pawn shop man drawled.
Horrified, I walked out. Tried to
hold tight to you, beautiful
blue first love stratclone guitar.
But the Ford’s tires were flat,
the bills were due, and you
never sang in my hands.
We just never connected
like I would with others, later,
with lower actions whose necks
felt better in my fumbling
hands. But beauty stutters
the lips, and you were ocean
midnight neon airport lights,
the color of the sounds I wanted.
But those thintread tires needed
changing. We said goodbye.
Sometimes I still try to find you.
We’ll reconnect on eBay, maybe
Craigslist. I poke my head
in some south Austin pawn shop
hoping you’re still around twenty
years later, that headstock nick
from the ceiling fan a story
only you and I will ever know.
This Is Not a Literary Journal: Ode to a Thing
I guess if you’re going to try to write to your own prompt, you might as well write one of the examples.
wide-eyed little boy
holding my hand in parking lots
school’s coming so fast
This Is Not a Journal: Who Holds Your Hand?
Twelve paper vessels, lavish in design
floated down the flooded street
the other night. Each one bore the false
teeth of a good lie as they floated past
in the storm’s runoff, singly and in
groups, committees of gnarled words
settling into sentences. What time was it?
When did you leave? Do you remember
that day? These are the things I’d ask
if tongue and teeth and pen were still in sync.
PAD 15: Use 4 of 8 from a Word List | This Is Not a Literary Journal: Visit Peake’s Prompt Generator
Both gave me lists of words. I used some.
sometimes there are coyotes
all around the house
they bed down in the front yard
in the trees and behind my memories
asleep with one eye open, stars
twirl the pole counted and known
they’ll rise and howl at owls, the moon
or anyone else impersonating
strangers who come up to the yard
they stalk a defensive perimeter
while we sleep while we dream
they open the fridge and eat
the last of the girl scout cookies
a little whipped cream for their coffee
come morning they’ve gone, a few
paw prints in the dewy grass
Not a Literary Journal: Ode to an Animal | PAD 11: Defensive Poem
and she said the waves would come
the way she said the stars were gone
beyond/beneath were synonyms
and for once I listened and believed
how was it that we found our way
in imaginary boats
across this sun-flecked sea
where she said sharks once lived
beyond horizons and beneath the waves
ocean curls waves foam
sand toes sunk deeper down
lifeguard flags snap warnings of sharks
and wind and high concentrations
of bacteria washed down from floods
two days drive north of here
how was it that we found our way
how was it that we found this sea
how was it that we knew the stars
how was it that they led us home
Not a Journal: List Poem about a Body of Water
The polished geniuses on TV talked relativity the day my favorite chili joint closed down. Rumors say it’ll be resurrected someday inside a luxury condo retail office project, which just reminds me of the punk clubs of my youth—old warehouses now torn down as the knights of progress routed the nights of rock n roll, leaving behind one faint note, the endless sustain of a beautifully overdriven pawn shop guitar fading forever beneath silent city stars, a ripple in passing gravity waves.
This Is Not a Literary Journal :: The Prompt that Keeps on Prompting
Blue eyes mean avalanches, the old climber warned. Passersby glanced up at condos rising downtown like fingers set to claw the sun. So little light filtered down through the shadows, everyone shivered in the heat. Two panhandlers played the same song in different keys on opposite sides of the street. One man, with crampons and ice axe, started to scale the tallest condo. His friend watched him begin his ascent then ducked into a Thai restaurant where members of his support group met on Tuesdays to start a new political movement. Avalanches could be metal, bricks or piles of trash, stony absences where everything that mattered used to be.
This Is Not a Literary Journal :: Leaving Mount Everest Alone
the cold doesn’t respect
you. the tattoo hides
behind your jacket. the wind
goes digging sharktoothed
nibbling skin. everything
hidden surfaces. revealed
true-love shark tattoos swim
deep away from weekend
fisherman cold and insolent
on seas they claim they own.
This is for the “True love shop” prompt at This Is Not a Literary Journal.
fluorescent light, linoleum.
Two cold-blooded singers
face off in the corner, circling,
testing–lunge and feint.
I wash my hands.
Watch the black-clad
rivals unable to back down
or go around until someone
brings a broom and dustpan,
sweeps up these two, away
to feed chickens in the yard,
their twelve legs locked
in pointless combat.
For Prompt #1 at This Is Not a Literary Journal: Write about the first animal you see today. I didn’t include my dogs, opting instead for wild animals. Those turned out to be crickets and the beetles that appear to stalk them, both of which have infested our school, and are now being swept up and taken to feed the chickens.