poems by Donnie Cox

back-end of the rainbow

night slides into daylight
i sag like a wounded man
behind the wheel
of a black cadillac
longer than a baptist sermon—
tapping gray ashes
from a vanishing number
into the open mouth
of an overworked ashtray—
morning’s first victim
of the boredom
that creeps along
waffle-house highways
the fading blue light
of “oldies radio”
reaching out
like a lifeline
from the back-end of the rainbow
old songs—new songs
nothing adds up anymore
borrow one here
carry one there
a million sorry calculations
never satisfied
down this dead-end road—
ninety miles an hour
between now & not now

in the beginning—

god said:
let there be
rompin’ stompin’
thrill killer
of pills & whiskey
goddamn louisiana
goodness gracious
shake it baby
shake it—

chantilly lace
on lolita’s face
burnt & breathless
in back
of a sam phillips
cadillac limousine
making tracks
towards “haney’s big house”
where jerry lee
will hammer out
one more chapter
in the old testament
of rock & roll


— for mack harmon

let’s go down
to the “cobra club”,
jam enough coins
in the jukebox
to play “voodoo child”
until daybreak
drink kentucky deluxe
shoot some 8-ball
deal a little texas hold’em
until i fold’em at the flop
disappear at the turn
or go belly-up on the river
to hell
with playing it
close to the vest,
screw all the good advice
i’m gonna gamble
with loaded dice
throw snake eyes at the moon—
ride hell-bent
on night’s pale horse
straight down the path of
into the wild, sweet
neon streets of possibility
& if we can’t find
anyone who wants
to scuffle
we’ll fucking
ruffle each other
like we’ve done
a hundred times before—
it’s nights like these
make me drop
to my knees
& pray the sun
won’t come up tomorrow

lower eastside lullaby

sharp stars against
black-washed sky
a rotting rag doll
lies limp
in concrete sleep
backbone bent
by cement
hugging a metal
subway vent
like a warm
dream-sent lover—
frail shadow
that pales
each day fading
from rage
to resignation
to nothing
of the imagination
that lingers
at the edge
of alley battleways
behind billboards
with painted smiles
in the midst
of natives
nobody prays for


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