Jack Henry

five poems


rivers

when roman candles burn through city skies,
i will flow through Los Angeles
the snapping turtles bite at turn signals.
i will flow through Los Angeles.
with songs of no tomorrow sound.
i will flow through Los Angeles.
and devils tell stories like nursery rhymes.
i will flow through Los Angeles.
when red sparrows drop from yellow leafed trees,
i will flow through Los Angeles.
and silver snap car crash silhouettes shine.
i will flow through Los Angeles.
trees weave in concrete towers.
and i will flow through Los Angeles.
concrete cascades list against fallen angels.
i will flow through Los Angeles
with dreams of purple iris.
i will flow through Los Angeles.
down on 6th I will dance.
i will flow through Los Angeles.
where bobbing lizards are all the rage.
i will flow through Los Angeles
and smell the first breath of light.
i will flow through Los Angeles.
my soil like ants in December.
i will flow through Los Angeles
and smile at transistor radios.
i will flow through Los Angeles
just as she flows through me.

when i flow through Los Angeles.
churches will explode with pyrotechnics
when i flow through Los Angeles.
asphalt rivers will bleed back to red.
i will flow through Los Angeles
and taste the salt of sated eyes.
and when i flow the sea will call my name.

drawn to your line

it started plain
down on LA streets
in gathering
clouds
lingering moss
your melody of life
music
bright and simple

and yet,

you failed
and fell
and floundered
across flat seas
your damning words
too simple
too naught
too nothing
for my tired mind
your fat cow tongue
speaks a nothing
language
words no man can
hear
no woman can share

it plods
and drags
and slows
my cancer breath
to a wincing
gasp
a low echo
a tired violin on
the edge of a
subway stage

it started plain
you and i
alive
NYC
LA
Boston
Chicago
tearing
asphalt from
black flat rivers
that flowed
with metal and tin
tearing voices from
tall ceilings
of libraries
and coffee shops
but now
you fail
me
now
you fell
down
on me
now
you dropped
your last
rose petal
on me

and now
hate and hate
and hate
and rage
you spurious
words
liver bled
reality
i cannot
step
across the same page
the same street
i cannot
suck breath from the
same luminosity
i saw you blending through lamplight
on a tired rosebud avenue
in Sacramento
haggard and washed out, a mere
brain flash from previous interpretations
alone there on the corner, with a little
hat and an old borrowed coat
you didn’t see me
or hear me when
i called you name

but before you
stepped to
the bus
before you stepped
from the corner
our eyes caught
blood flesh on barbed wire
and the burn
it grew
and grew

you took my last
dime
my last metaphor
my sentence
my line
my structure
my woman
my house
my torment
my demons
my devils
took them took them
buried them into
your black heart
and vomited
life, lightning bolts

and now you!
you!
you!
are king
and i am
nothing
but

dust

.

bar sitting

i sit in the back
of a drag bar
smoke cheap cigarettes
back lit in purple
neon
and wonder:

is this where i first fell down?

old 80s pop songs
by one-hit wonders
play on a beat up
jukebox

two septuagenarian
transvestites dance
on four-inch heels

i watch colors fade
across grease heavy walls,
thin flicks of lightning
dash as i flick
out my smoke
in an exhausted can
of Pabst Blue Ribbon

time twists me in knots,
i cannot remember
where morning
last felt like spring

my limbs arch like broken
rainbows and yesterday
keeps stinking up
the joint

i light another cigarette,
a barmaid brings me
a bottle, half full and
overpriced, the dancers
laugh just as the
front door opens, reminding
me of daylight
but i don’t move an inch

there’s a bus stop on the
corner and i have correct
change
perhaps i should stand
perhaps i should fly
perhaps i should open my
eyes and move past my present

song changes, trannies
shuffle off, i take a long
look and sigh

i remember:
i never actually did get back up

slippery entrails

woke up early tied to my post
burned in half-light, dust
and anomalous rhythm –
blight stretches across
this dark valley
where tall trees and
scornful meadows
used to reign supreme
over nebulous things

if i cry for freedom
my freedom will fall
if i cry for anything
words will be swallowed
forgotten, and based through
slippery entrails
of yearning beasts

Japanese tourists w/little shiny cameras

they keep them
out of the spotlight,
off the stage,
tucked away and forgotten

wouldn’t want to disturb
Japanese tourists w/ little
shiny cameras who
wander oblivious between
and amongst the monoliths
and petroglyphs of an
American past

there’s no monument
to the homeless

as a ragged man
stood and stared up
at Lincoln on his high
thrown, he smiled
through broken teeth

he stood on the spot
where martin luther king
went to the mountain

police took him away
as school children in
matching shirts sat
on marble and ate
peanut butter sandwiches

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