from the Poetry Cycle The Iron Light


     1.) Ashes

I see my father brought

to his square hole

by the gatekeeper

of the cemetery.

The gatekeeper reaches up

from his golf cart

and passes a cardboard box

the shape and size

of a ream of paper to me.

The Pastor clears

his throat as I,

kneeling, put the box

into that hole.

He reads his bit.

I take out his envelope,

the Pastor pats

my shoulder and walks

back down to his car

to look into it.

The gardener comes up

to replace the dirt

and a patch of grass.

He bolts the brass

nameplate on.

It's done.

     2.) Mom

Returning Home

I see my mother like a sodden towel

slumped into her expensive chair.

The oval surface of the vodka shivers

in her tumbler like a mirror,

on the wall after

a trembler, rheumy eyes

wet as a fish, hissing at shadows,

unaware she has taken a piss.

I think “these were my monsters?

looking at this.


A grimoire of emotion glows

in the wet waning crescent

of his teeth as he bites a lip,

takes a glance over a shoulder,

his door-framed silhouette leaning

in from the piss yellow light

of the hall into the bedroom.

A tumbler of Seagrams and

ice cubes rattles in his shaking hand.

The toddler in the cradle is like

a small loaf in a large baking pan.

Inked in by the black ink of a pen,

cartooned into one black wash

of ignorance, of being helpless, of a

future being scripted there and then,

the shadow stands back-lit in an upright

rectangle of tainted illumination,

all the evil of a life lived

being dealt, (in turn), lies and dismay,

concentrated like evaporated milk

in him. Like some sad Stockholm

Syndrome victim, this boy became a man

willing to do the Devil’s work for him

and pass adolescent daydreams of

sexual conquest, domination and

psychic mutilation onto

the next generation like an

inherited venom.

  Gender don’t matter to them.

  Eroticised by helplessness

  and given an opportunity

  when nobody happened

  to be looking down from Heaven,

such are not mere Sociopaths.

They crawl out of a well found

at the back of a cave

in which eyeless chameleons

shift through all the shades

of darkness and Neanderthal bones

embrace the bones of mountain lions

which, in turn, embrace them,

like Esmeralda and Quasimodo

in a shallow grave,

predator and prey both eaten

by a thing more ancient

than life on Earth

and destined to outlive all

the Gods and all the races of men

that made them.

  Gold does not put gold

  in their eyes

  like a candle into a lamp

  for illumination.

  They need not Praise, nor

  fear the fame of Blame.

This is a thing that entered Man

as they walked out of Africa, a thing

that spread like a plague slow

to waken with them. After a Nuclear

Conflagration they will stand

covered with grey ash

visible at last - alas

with no on left to know them.

Framed in a door frame, the

silhouette takes a long pull

on his glass, the sperm

of darkness rising in his spit.

Like a mirror that reflects

his own image in a distant Past,

he sees his own darkness

in that darkness, and

he gives his lips a lick. He

exhales with a hiss -

a snake that sees a softness

that it longs so much to kiss.

     ROOM 3-D

Hidden in plain sight like the mirror on the wall

at the end of the bed, I walk away from the

shoes with the sox, toes tucked in, pants and underpants

collapsed like an accordion onto the shoes, pant legs hooked

over the heels just the way I unbuckled my belt

and dropped them.

With my T-shirt bunched around the forearm

that I hold a tumbler of vodka in,

I walk barefoot into the yellow glare of the bathroom

and set my glass on the toilet lid and flick

my T-shirt into the hamper.

As I stand in the shower, steam making pearly billows

that, (as pretty as a pretty girl pushing

a pram in an ugly playground),

roll into the dark bedroom,

I finish my vodka. Using the bath towel

to stand on, strangely afraid of electrocution,

I use my T-shirt from the hamper to dry on.

Today is as separate from yesterday and tomorrow

as three railroad cars connected by iron handshakes.

I feel momentum but have no choice in direction.

I will come to an end that is not a destination.

I hear some fucking. Some conversation.

This Hotel rents to both Men and Women.


Out here

the roads go on section lines.

The country's flat

like a map,

640 acres in a glance!

You wince,

lighting a smoke, hand cupped

to shield the match flare

- so you know

there’s sulfur in that pop,

and the drag

filling your lungs,

with the taste of

dirt in your spit, and the sun

makes you squint

like a Priest smelling sin...

what you got -

the beginning and end of all things

in a single snapshot.

Riding the “walking plow”,

the middle horse is in the furrow,

good and evil

walking on each side

like guards walking a guy

back from Court to his cell.

160 acres is what your dad had,

what you have is what

you have laying on your thigh

until, squatting, you

straighten in a row

and walk out to hit the road,

thumb up like a smiling Nero

letting the loser walk out of the arena

just like the Hero,

but you when you look in the mirror

in the Chevron “Men’s”

and know what you know

- it’s either Greyhound out

to San Francisco

to work the docks

or hitch to Oregon to plant by hand. Man,

you were born to be buried never married.

And you’ll die in some Hotel somewhere.

After 30 years of this -

its the thumb hook

or the palm hook,

the Devil wearing mittens, and

either one of them

will shuck you like a corn cob

and grab you up out of your shoes

and toss you into the box, Bob!

You won't feel the bang board.

You won't feel the

crib drop.

You'll go into the infinite bin

of harvested men.

Corn for the cow. Slop for the pen.


Roy? Roy was born in the coal town

of Rock Forge, 3 miles outside a

Morgantown West Virginia,

1939, June 17.

He went to school for a while

and then joined the Marines.

His wasn’t a happy home, I suppose.

Mom had 13 kids

all day long

cooking and cleaning.

All day long the trains

would run on the tracks

that cut the town in half.

They carried nothing but coal.

His dad worked in the mine

on his knees, with a shovel.

Roy likes to drink coffee.

He worked all his life

as a trucker, driving

a Peterbilt truck.

Never got married.

Never had a kid.

Roy died Spring 2015. It

was the last thing he did.



      what I see


I step out on my porch, holding the front door

as if a tornado might whip around a quiet corner

to tear me up into the sky

and yank me back and forth like a kite!

I look out and the house across the street from my feet

seems the same I saw the day before.

My tea kettle whistles for me to go back in. So I do.

My lodger, Gail, all but never seems to leave her room.

But, I am an old widower, knows the Bride as does the Groom

and knows the Pantry and the Kitchen, knife and spoon.

A tray covered by a towel is left for her at 8 and 5,

and at 9 and 7 I return for them.

She doesn't recall me, but knows a Friend.

On a lunar calendar, on significant days

after midnight she goes out into the garden

behind our house, a girl in a nightgown

one might see on a visit to a sanitarium.

She steps, head down, by each flower, lips pursed

as if a mother beholding a muddy child.

My eye watches from a divide in my bedroom drapes

as my robe falls open and the cold from the window glass

raises goose-bumps on my thighs.

She looks up and blinks for rain is starting to fall

from a star-filled, cloudless sky.

Her shift melts to her torso wetted and see through

before she spits out some water, and AMAZED,  

comes back inside.

I huddle under my blankets and tremble

like an excited child!

What will she think? Will she laugh

to walk by the bathroom to see a hot drawn bath?

Oh this imp, this impudent mite of a world, a secret place

hidden like a particle in the important and infinite

avalanche of space.

For all the bossy things you say and famous things you do...

When someone you love slips and slips away from you,

love curls its hidden width and breadth.

Love, that is the bright force of the Light,

is also Love, a dark force

more strong than Death and Night.