David L Tickel

fourteen poems

Not Rimbaud

I found a
Punk/New Wave
Bar even though I’d already moved on to
Early Dylan, Motown.

The first night at the bar
I knocked out the back light of my car
Leaving the crowded
Tired parking lot.

The place was
A haven in June, better than
Radio, even though the drinks were more expensive than
The old man’s bar.

However by
August, the joint was
Quirky, lacked depth. My days
(my college days too) were over.

I found a
Passive wedding band, a
Busboy job in
So-called family restaurant.

When I returned to college,
Almost two years later,
After my parents threatened to throw me out of the house, I was
Homicidal also.

I thought I was
An artist, thought I had a legacy but I was wrong. I
Used self-pity,
Too many chords

Robert Creeley

Staggered out in front of a
Car. The
Female driver hit one of the
Wood posts supporting the town’s electricity.
The driver
(thank God) wasn’t hurt.

But that was the last straw, according to the
Old bag district judge. I’d spent the summer
Gathering citations. She gave me
A few choices.

I used the
College money my mom’s mom–grandma was
Certainly no drinker–had left me. A B actress had
Done time at
The detox/rehab–

Sloshed buddies picked me up after my
Three week stay,
Just in time for New Years.

Both lawyers were unhappy,
Almost two years later. I didn’t
Say where I’d been drinking before the accident.
I was
A drunk, not a rat. The driver
Had also been partying
The night before


Three thousand miles away it was the Summer of Love. I was
Six, walking down
The neighborhood hill. I spotted
Older boys to my left. The
Smaller boy walked towards me. I
Trusted him, thought he might walk by but he
Pushed me down. I got up & ran. He
Laughed, didn’t run far.

I was a block away from
My house. There were
The two boys again, in front of
An inconspicuous house. The freckled slit-eyes of the smaller boy were down
At the walkway; I
Felt it in my gut; it was time to run. I ran
Along the side of the house, down the hill. A dark speck in the
Fall sun,
The killer stood at the top of the hill.

I lied
A lot, told
The kids I was
Twelve, in fifth grade–told them my mom
Was pregnant w/ her tenth kid–told them I
Knew judo–told them I lived at least a block from where I actually lived.

I got off at the wrong bus stop. As the bus driver pulled away, Slit Eye
Jumped out of the bushes, put his
Dirty palm over my mouth. He
Had my school book, ran away w/ it, laughing.

Slit Eye’s real name was Tommy, not Chipper. Chipper was
Tommy’s little brother.
Confusion made
Their mom laugh. My dad told Tommy and me to shake hands. Tommy
Didn’t think it was necessary. His mom
Threatened to whack him. We shook hands.

Nine years later Tommy and I met on a high school wrestling mat. I
Lost by one point.

Sweet Home Alabama

Is a
Decent song minus Ronnie Van Sandt. I’m not glad he’s dead.

“Hope Mr. Young
(I’m no
Neil fan myself), will remember/A southern

Man don’t need him around…Watergate
Does not bother me/Does your conscience bother you?…”

Ronnie Van Sandt was
Quite a street fighter, legend says. Everyone’s good at something. As a
Live performer he was no James Brown, no Iggy Pop.

How would he
Approach the song today? I didn’t spend the last thirty five years
In a museum

The Back of the House

I was
Suicidal, amongst the gifted. My
Companion at the dishwasher talked to
/gesticulated to himself.

Rick the manager wanted to move me up to cook
Or waiter but I was
Scared of knives, no
Smiling actor.

Lori was a waitress,
Germanic, Polish, physically in her prime. She read
Newspapers, Harold Robbins and Stephen King.
She sang Sea Cruise to me, she couldn’t sing,

She thought Sting could sing, not Jim Morrison.
I gave her one of my
Pencil drawings, my high school photo.

I always helped Rick
Unload the truck, Fridays. My co-workers
Were jealous. According to them, Rick and I were

Rick had a
Woman, a wife. He liked my “demented” sense of humor.
We both liked
David Bowie, Iggy Pop’s keyboard player.

I prayed when
God existed, when my
Nervous stomach was upset. Everyone was going to hell,
Barring some of my co-workers.

Ernie the fat
Black cook and I were classmates in junior high;
Ernie didn’t remember me. I was Charlie Watts,

Using my
Fist and palm on the
Metal counters; Ernie was Mick Jagger.

I quit hitchhiking. Too many
Perverts and drunks. I bought a ten speed,
Took the train

Dead Weight

I thought my
Sick dog had eaten some of her
Old food, hidden under the couch.
Or so I hoped.

The next day I had to
Fly to Alabama. My parents
Had bought me a ticket. It was
Ben Roethlisberger, their alma mater, the GMAC bowl.

The police museum in Alabama, w/ pictures of Patricia
K, one of Charlie Manson’s girls.
Seven floors up, my parents and I shared a room.

When I returned, I went to the used book shop, purchased a
Dull book on mythology, my
OK-appearing dog
Took me for a walk–

Trotted through the graveyard. She then lay down on
Someone’s lawn. Her body
Was a rocket, almost

May I?

The first day of kinder-
Garten Mrs. West
Dragged me into the classroom.

Big ugly girl sang
On the Good Ship Lollipop. The

Patient monkey bars. A
Cartoon amazon’s angry hammer, on
Holy Thursday. Cadwalder Park
Was a still life

Of George Washington sneaking across the Delaware.
Miss White was black.
Martin Luther King was
Like Einstein, a mad scientist.

Hell broke loose in second grade
But Mrs.Hill was nice. The vomiting and wet pants.
The Rhondels singing Leah


We were at the Haunted House,
Listening to the Stones’ new album, Some Girls.
Polish kid, who
Worked at the hobby store, had the keys,
Let us

All in; we grabbed
Models, tossed them into the

A month later, I had to
Visit the cops, my parents found out.
Respectable Charlie Watts: When the Whip Comes Down


Was the right size,
A pinch shorter than I,
A ghost
In the foot of the Catskills, w/
Stanley Cup belly button, mother of our son
Ziggy Partridge, daughter of teacher in our
District, tic tack toe champion,
Walking hand in hand w/
A man, one of our classmates, as
Elton sang Bennie and the Jets for the first time, as
The bus drivers (not the
Faculty) watched her bum
Hits off of cigarettes,
Flesh-stockings on the charter bus to the United Nations,
Answering a scared dial tone, w/
Surname not the same as her near-twin sister’s,
Pubescent naked as I caddied for my parents
In southwestern Ohio,
An aborted Playboy bunny (AKA:Inulka),
A natural blond, w/ dance partners
Falling like leaves

Below the Bleachers

w/ the other cheerleaders,
Disappearing freckles on
-Liz-abeth’s lizard face. Her body
Of course has changed.

I hate the
Funny campus radio. But there’s
Every Move You Make and King of Pain,
The Police.

We attended
The same elementary school. Liz the
Gymnast. I was
Trying to coordinate the
Kick drum w/ the
Sticks. Liz’s parents
Made sure she was in bed early. I was
A health nut, drinking
Cow-milk by the gallon,
As the Jackson Five and Stevie Wonder
Sang the Wall and If You Really Love Me.

I’m in the library,
Up on the third floor, reading
Enid Starkie biographies, the wrong books.
Miracle Liz appears, asks me if I remember her. “Sure,” I

Blurt. She tells me where she’s staying. (I’m
Still a shy asshole, I
Hide in my
Self-pity, my fantasies.)

I’m also at the pig roast,
No prince, on a two day bender. Liz

Unlike Liz, I’m not a college senior, about to graduate. I’ve been
Out in the
Shitty workforce

Brian Jones

It was
Uh-1969, Ok?, fall, when I accidentally
Made a mouth in my ankle.

Jim the
Diabetic who lived across the
Street, had the

Stones’ Honky Tonk
Woman. A musician like myself,

Eight years older than me, Jim
Made me touch his
Limp dick once.

Bought Through the Past Darkly for $4.99, at the
Drug store. Where did I get the money?

The next morning was gray. I
Felt a bit under the weather. I had
An appetite at lunchtime.

I went home for lunch
Because mom was there. I
Left the house to return to school, I

Took a piss in the bushes
By my parents’ bedroom window, I
Observed the foam. I

Crept back inside the house. Mom was still in bed,
Watching soap operas. I sat in
My favorite chair (the rocking chair)


Modest living room, I
Made some noise, got mom’s attention.

One of mom’s
Bloody alcoholic
Bosom buddies was wheeled in as my stitches were removed

Rabbit and Bullfrog

Thursday evening, snow
Illuminated danger. They
Walked to CBGBs.

They were early. They sat
At the best table. Rabbit had lost weight
And hair; she ordered a white wine,
A ginger ale for Bullfrog. (No

Velvets, no
Young folkie Dylan, so Bullfrog
Used his imagination.)

Midnight. CBGBs
Was jumpin, but Rabbit
Had had enough wine.

Friday evening, “I want head till I’m dead”
Sang the
Cowboy punks of Max’s Kansas City. The

Mighty Stooges were long gone. They
Could barely afford two train tickets back to
The Midwest,

Back to where Rabbit’s dad hung himself,
Back to the
Pill popping guitar garages of Bullfrog’s Chicago.

They’d left their keys in
The apartment. A
Fancy parked van blasted ethnic disco
As they banged on their
Metal door

Boris & Natasha

Dreamt a baseball killed a-
Don’t get sentimental, OK?-boy. His
Brain was pieces of paper w/ words on them.

In my head,
The Velvet Underground’s Sunday Morning as I
Came to.

Clean blue sun.
Baseball teams (guys my age

And older) warmed up. I
Got off the bench, followed my empty
Breadcrumb beer bottles and cans back to

The woods,
Sentimental backpack.

At mini-distributors they didn’t let
You carry out entire
Thirty-packs. You paid for the first fifteen,
Then set it outside the
Glass door.

A couple of bums
At the mouth/ass of the woods. They followed me.
We sang
The Little Ol’ Lady From Pasadena.

When I returned at
Virtually broke, the bums were

Stretched out on the ground, snoring like
Charlie Manson’s-
Have you read Bly’s Sibling Society?-victims

Welcome, December 1981

Blue collar frat boys partying inside
An old Trenton row home. They’d given me a ride from City Gardens,
Where Joan Jett played the Little Drummer Boy. I was
Freezing, no longer in a blackout, on the
Solid front porch,
Twenty-four hours into a bender. I pounded on the door. They
Were safe & warm, playing-
Big deal-cards. “The bridge is
Just down the road,” they
-reiterated. The beer was inside,
The phone too. I could hear their
Muffled laughter,
Some of their talk. (One of their ex-girlfriends had
Lesbian; it made sense
To me.)

I opened my eyes. The sun was
Way up, another answered prayer. One of the boys
(a four-eyed Indian like myself) had opened the door.

His pals
Elsewhere, the Indian sat
Taking his medicine,
Draining the keg, watching the Three Stooges

And a pre-game show. He
Gave me permission. I began draining the keg. He
Kindly told me to leave.

I walked towards a
Windy public telephone, thinking about
A book I’d never really read, Berryman’s Dream Songs. I

Began to jog as the river below me, under the bridge, smiled.
Bob Dylan and
Me were still alive, unlike Punk and New Wave

Terroristic Threats

Jim’s daughter
Is not as guilty as OJ. Is she as
Innocent as Hurricane Carter?

Jim drove a
Made to last ‘70 GTO. The cops stopped him
In Yuppieville

(Where each homeowner was
Into their second mortgage) saw a
Native American.

Alcoholic go go dancing daughter wrote-

Not when she was drunk-letters. The cops
Had stopped Jim many times.

Can’t find Terroristic in the

One Response

  1. I like it. Welcome home Jim.

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