—Artwork Courtesy of Norman J. Olson,
Boiling two eggs
in another nothing night hurtling toward
Listening to doo wop,
waiting for the one big nothing
that comes finally
all these little nothings
that fill up the mornings,
noons and nights
and also waiting,
in the meantime,
for this water
as the doo wop boys,
(most of them gone now
to the big nothing)
do their shoo-bop
just for me.
The night is now
twenty minutes closer
to becoming another day.
The water has long boiled.
I peel the eggs,
on my way to a few minutes
of another little nothing.
Shoo-bop shoo-bop shoo-bop.
She lives someplace called Blum, Texas
and I imagine it looks like that town in
The Last Picture Show,
right down to being in black and white.
I live somewhere else, far away—not that it
makes any difference.
She has dark brown eyes, a chestnut brown,
and she bites her fingernails down to the nub
when she’s feeling anxious (she’s always
and then she feels very guilty about it,
the way she feels guilty about everything
and she hides her fingertips in her balled fists
whenever someone else is around
and she is cognizant enough to do it.
I talk to her once in a while
and we don’t really talk about much
but it makes me feel good anyway.
I look at her photograph as we talk on
her small demur cleavage and her one dimpled
her teeth that try to fight out of her pursed lips
and the freckles that dot her nose and cheeks.
She looks like a drawing in a fairytale storybook
or a sprite in a Dark Ages painting
missing only her faerie wings,
although maybe she pins them down, close to
so that no one can see them—
but I see her dark hair too wild to behave in
wind or rain
and the look that I perceive behind her eyes
and I believe that I know who and what she is,
even if her every thought and movement
I don’t know how she contains herself—
such feral sexuality and wildness,
but I know for certain she is contained.
We were talking earlier today
and neither of us really said much.
I enjoy listening to her voice.
It was the first time we talked in a great
I kept looking at her picture as we spoke
as if, just by willing it, she would rise off
of the paper
and appear before me here,
all the way from her perch in Blum, Texas
(wherever that is)—
floating off the ground a little,
barefoot and marvelous before me,
her wings all aflutter,
too young and with her too old soul,
her smirk infused with so much sadness.
A sadness of childhood and death,
of a lifetime pinning her faerie wings under
and forfeiting herself to life on this solid
because society demands that of all of us;
demands that, most sadly, of her—
a faerie-winged sprite
rotting away her sweet soul in a place called
Frogs making noises with their fat throats
In the darkness while the rain falls and falls
And they advertise their lust in the night
While I wait for you and you do not come
And I know you will never come and I wait
Because you promised and I can’t admit
you’re a liar.
I forgive you but my greatest fear
Is that God does not love you anymore
Because of what you’ve done to me and that
weighs on me
While the boy frogs inflate their vocal sacs
And cry out in the wet darkness for the girl
Who will come to them and then they’ll
While the rain falls and the rain falls and
the rain falls in the night.
I used to be the same as almost all of you
Or should I say no different from most of
the rest of you?
During a heated argument with the wife
I would do just as she did—
Without thinking say the most hurtful and
Thing that I could possibly say.
In my defense, she usually did it first
But I still did it back.
That is how I lead my life—
Ready to return the bitterly smacked serve
And scour a heart with vitriol
At a moment’s notice,
Not even thinking about it.
How exciting to have face flushed, heart
And that feeling of hate and satisfaction
When my words pierced a chest like the point
of a sword.
Watching the face of the foe twist up
And waiting for the response that would
surely hurt me
But not nearly as deep a wound as I had
The idea of that makes me sick now.
My anger now is always turned inward, at
It’s better that way. Controllable.
For others I have only pity when they attempt
To top me in argument with comments about
Or my beard or my face or my fat or my dead
It feels so good, being better than most of the
rest of you
And especially my wife, now X,
Who still has everything I once had and now
Except for one thing—
The ability to aim the anger inward.
The one thing I have is being better than her
in this specific way.
Holding my tongue instead of my knife of
Is the only reason I can sleep at night.
The satisfaction of this.
I used to be no different than most of the rest
And being gentler now feels good.
It’s the only thing that feels good.
If I died tonight
it’s possible the neighbor cat
would wonder why I no longer pass by
on my way to the community dumpster
or to the path where I take my walks.
Perhaps he’ll wonder about where
that strange man who always stops
and gives words to his not-understanding ears
has gone to.
Does he wonder about other people he’s met
that he now no longer sees?
Does he understand death,
contemplate his own—
or is his purposeful avoidance of danger
100% unthinking instinct?
If the neighbor cat does wonder
about where I’ve gone to,
how long before he forgets me?
Forgets our moments
of me spouting babytalk
while he rolled on his back before me,
looking up into my eyes
and slow-blinking his approval?
Nearly every night
my own death crosses my mind
and like an adventurous bon vivant of
I pair my death with different people or
as if it is a standby wine
opened with a new meal for the first time.
Tonight I pair my death
with the neighbor cat.
If he walks across my dreams tonight,
slow-blinking the answer
to tonight’s pondering,
I’ll be sure to let you know.
You are orange-red like a fire in the distance,
Like bees rising up in their quivering oneness
Like the sun in anger from her early morning
perch above it all;
Like the sun in nightly decline, falling so
Into blue-green seas of nightly tranquility
Or nightly despair.
You are orange-red like the vibrations of
Like deep dirt dug up to plant trees or gather
Like iodine on the wound that will not heal;
gamble of every night
In hopeful repair.
THAT PAINTED PICTURE OF US
I keep staring at that painted picture of us
That sits above my bed
With its muted colors—
You lying naked but under sheets
And just one half of my face
Peeking at you from behind the curtain,
Reflected in the mirror
And reflected in your eyes.
Your eyes are downcast,
The position of your face bashful,
The position of your body defiant
As I remain hidden and watching you.
I stare at it before I go to bed every night
And it causes me to sob and to shake.
It is the only painting I have ever painted
And even then, it is a collaboration
With you. Of every one of my suggestions,
Not one was implemented.
My colors would have been somewhat bolder
In places. Your eyes would not be cast
And I would not be behind the curtain
But closer, much closer.
It’s always been your painting,
I just inhabit one corner of it—
Paintbrush ever ready.
Your skin is breathing all over me.
White puffs of cool air.
The room is sighing.
The light countermands the dark.
Your hands glide winged along the cliffs
of my body.
Your lips climb my mountain face.
We are thigh to thigh.
Your lower lip exquisite to my teeth.
Your body shudders like Armageddon.
Indistinct voices in the hall are ignored.
The bed is a sanctuary.
The bed is a tabernacle to worship the
The bed is an island.
We lie fixed and tangled to the other.
Leg to leg, face to face.
Smiling just a little.
Sometimes I wake up here
In the middle of the night
And I open my eyes to find
Such total darkness
That it seems as if I haven’t opened
My eyes at all
And a wave of fear overcomes me
But then my eyes scan the room
And find the smallest light
Somewhere outside the window
And I know I am still alive,
Here in this room,
And the fear subsides,
Only to be overtaken
By a mixture of relief
What is it about this time of night?
The clown who laughs all day
Sits on his trunk of disguises,
Crying into his sleight-of-hands;
The drunk is no longer swaying
And the room does not spin
As he lies in bed, shaken
In his moment of clarity;
The waitress is off her feet,
Cursing the moon,
Not wanting the sun;
The singer rests his throat
And his fingers strum nothing,
The guitar resting atilt in the corner;
The farmer ticks the seconds off,
His ears awaiting the rooster;
The whore sighs a moment’s relief;
The old woman can hear herself creak;
The sun sneaks up on the road ahead;
The poet has something to write about.
The best craftsmanship always leaves holes and gaps…so that something that is not in the poem can creep, crawl, flash or thunder in.
—Medusa, with thanks to John Tustin for his return to the Kitchen this morning with his fine poems, and to Norman Olson for returning to us with his equally fine artwork! It's been far too long since we've heard from either one of them.
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running down the street
buck chases doe—
sprightly girl slips away