Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Barking Up the Wrong Tree

—Poems and Photos by William S. Gainer, Grass Valley


Yeah kid—
been a while.
Still missing you—
That won't stop
no matter how many
birthdays go by.

You still wear that
red lipstick?
It's your color ...
I can see you
blowing out the candles

Make a wish, kid—
something big.
I got mine—
you're in it.
Happy Birthday—
to you.


I’m sitting here
messing around
minding my own
Out of the corner of my eye
I see the cat.
Then I hear the dog
But it’s not really a bark
something more like burrr
maybe kind of like a burff
short and low
quiet like
more just
to get my attention
than anything.
The truth is
we don’t have a cat.
It’s late
and I been drinking.
I’m glad the dog
saw it too.

 Alice Barks Up the Wrong Tree


I have a feeling
I’ll be buried
by strangers.
The kids grown,
lost to their own lives.
a few.
Most hoping
I won't take too long.
The dog
might miss me,
the cat
not so much.
We never were
that close.
So the dog it is.
If there's anything
it's for Alice,
the dog.
Keep her happy,
and fed.
Don’t let
the postman
try to pet her
he was never
a favorite.
And make sure
she doesn’t
sleep alone.
Neither of us
ever liked
sleeping alone.


you have to wonder
if Marilyn
ever got to
just set by the
loose, comfortable
straps undone
hair messed—
not caring
what she looked like
smoking a cigarette
sipping gin
no Kennedys
no Sinatra
no Rat Pack
just sweet dreams
of DiMaggio,
red roses
and some kid
from Santa Cruz
sending her
love letters …

Picked up the new winter hat
I think it’s black.
It was supposed to be
Kae St. Marie says it is gray
just a very dark gray.
Isn't that what black is—
a very dark gray?

I like the fit,
but black isn’t my color.
Now I’m thinking
people are
fucking with me!
I got it on the table.
Peek at it
every once in a while.
Still think it's black.

The lady at the hat store
said it was gray.
I'm having second thoughts
about this whole deal.
Who can you trust?
Even the light seems to lie.
I just peeked again.
That hat is black.

Alice Working Security


When I used to drink,
which was considerable,
I’d tell stories.
I loved telling stories.
Like the one about the guy I knew
who knew a guy, who knew a guy
that could have been.
You know how that works—
it just piles on to itself.
Then there was this woman I knew,
had three toes on her left foot
and no thumb on her right hand.
Something to do
with an horrific bowling accident
and a botched surgery ...
The whole thing
was settled out of court.
A nasty affair.
she's never recovered.
They’ve removed that brand
of ball polishing machine
from across the county.
There’s probably a few older models
still running up in Canada,
but when they wear out
they’re gone too.
The company went belly up
a year or two later,
their new pin setting machine
kept dropping the nine
they couldn’t get past it
sales never made expectations.
Rumor has it
that if there was a decent attorney
in the county at the time
she’d have three prosthetics,
all working
and minimally noticeable.
But you know how corrupt
it used to be
everybody on the take.
Hell, she was just a housewife—
her husband never took her dancing
that often anyway,
oh there was the Christmas parties
with the guys from the plant
and the occasional wedding reception
over at the VFW.
And her thumb,
hell she just pushed a few tissues
in her glove when she went to church
folks just thought she had a gentle grip.
It was a shame about her mind though,
slipping away like that
and all the dope they gave her.
Christ, no wonder the kids turned wild.
The oldest boy had that trouble.
The army was supposed
to straighten him out.
That was an ugly deal.
Feral, I think they call it feral
the kid was just too far gone feral.
But that’s a whole-nother story,
another time maybe.
I gotta go by the post box.
See if my check’s there.
All this talking
dries an old man out.


Today's LittleNip:


No cooking prep,
mistletoe hanging,
or rum drinks to set a mood.
Just the continuing drone
of knives being sharpened
coming from the kitchen.
Lots of knives …


—Medusa, thanking Bill Gainer (and Alice!) for today's tasty potpourri, wishing him a happy belated birthday (yesterday), and noting that more of Bill's work will appear in the new issue of Rattlesnake Press's WTF which will be released at Luna's Cafe tomorrow night (and filmed for TV), 8pm. 

Alice exposes herself in the line of duty