Five Miles Outside of Austin (Rhymes and Tropes)

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Listening to alt country on Spotify I begin to wonder….

who are all these country boys
with their cowboy hats, pickup trucks and beards
staring clint-eyed into the mythical distance
listening for the call of who knows what
a phantom cattle drive, perhaps,
anything at all to git them
back on the road again;
and who are all these country girls
left behind or waiting
and why the hell do they care
about these feckless drifters
who love their whiskey
as much as they dread commitment
and why does all this happen in Texas?

rhymes and tropes, folks
rhymes and tropes

and slowly through
a Spotify fog
a Spotify trance
in the distance
a song emerges…..

Five Miles Outside of Austin

I’m five miles outside of Austin
with a pounding in my head
full of yesterday’s whiskey
and wishing I was dead

I left a girl back there sleeping
as dawn began to break
I gave her all that I could give
and I took all I could take

and I wish I had done better
that I hadn’t stayed so long
now I’m five miles outside of Austin
and I’m stuck inside this song.

Five miles outside of Austin
and I’m stuck inside this song.

II
Down the road, a girl is waiting,
drinking beer and playing pool
waiting for deliverance
waiting for another fool

and I’ll dust the road off of my coat
and walk through that door
she’ll say “howdy stranger,
I ain’t seen you before”

but now my head is beating like a bass drum
there’s stubble on my tongue
I’m five miles outside of Austin
and I’m stuck inside this song

Five miles outside of Austin
and I’m stuck inside this song.

 

Photo (by Marie Feeney) of Lukas Nelson and Neil Young at Desert Trip

 

Of Statues and Limitations

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Of Statues and Limitations

As we round Lee’s Circle in New Orleans
talk turns to statues
and the topless monument;
the shuttle bus driver tells us
that Robert E. Lee’s statue was removed
under the cover of darkness
by a crew dressed like ninjas,
to avoid recognition.
People woke up the next day
to find the statue had disappeared.
A photograph on Wikipedia
shows the statue being removed
in broad daylight by a crane;
reality is nearly always more prosaic.
She also tells us that she grew up in the neighbourhood;
as kids, they just called the monument,
“The Statue”, they did not know or care
who Robert E. Lee was.

In 1966, the IRA blew the statue of Horatio Nelson
off its pedestal on top of Nelson’s Pillar
in the middle of O’Connell Street, Dublin.
To my parents’ generation
Nelson’s Pillar was known simply as “The Pillar”.
(Dubliners are very fond of the definite article:
“How’s the head?”
“Are you still playing the soccer?”)
To them, The Pillar was a landmark
a place to meet your date
en route to one of the cinemas
on O’Connell Street to catch a film (2 syllables)
and perhaps a humid snog
in the back seat when the lights went out.
To the IRA it was a symbol of British Imperialism
of British oppression,
an insult to our patriot dead;
blah, blah, blah, boom!
The IRA was a particularly unsubtle organization.

Is all this just facile juxtaposition,
chopped up prose
masquerading as a poem,
or is there a point?
Yes, yes and yes:
see what I think is
there are people who look up at statues
there are people who believe
statues are looking down on them
and there are people
who look straight ahead
and keep moving forward
into the future,
leaving the past
to its state of disrepair.

 

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Top photo taken at the Takashi Murakami exhibition (The octopus eats its own leg) at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Bottom Photo taken in Medellin, Colombia, statues by Fernando Botero.

Free Associating in New Orleans

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Free Associating in New Orleans

The waitress in the restaurant on Frenchmen Street
tells us that the rack of lamb changed her life;
that the flank steak with an ocean sauce of baby shrimps and clams
is to die for.

Surf and turf.

America continues its love affair with protein.

General Bonespur pulls out of the Iran deal.

The first cab driver is from Saudi
his mother is from Pakistan
he tells us that Pakistan
is a better place to party.
No surprises there.

The second cab driver is Egyptian.
We talk a little about Trump’s America
but mostly we talk about Mohammed Salah,
the Egyptian Messi
Egypt’s pride and joy
who is also a good person
gives back to his community
has sponsored seven weddings
in the village he comes from.
Now all of Egypt supports
Liverpool Football Club.

The third cab driver is Jordanian
The fourth cab driver is Algerian
we commiserate, our national teams
did not qualify for the World Cup;
we talk about lack of money
pampered players, poor coaching.
We couldn’t be happier.

Immigrants in cars talking soccer.

 

Don’t Play in the Traffic

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Don’t Play in the Traffic

they met on a zebra crossing
it was a pedestrian affair
she had an air of competence
he…just had an air
they went downhill from there
to her house
in the middle of a roundabout
near the station
one morning they looked out
and the cars had changed rotation
the clouds were tinged
with a tawdry shade of orange
the sky was diffident
the sun judgmental
things would not be the same
would not be the same again.

 

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Tender is the Night

In New Orleans at the moment, I hadn’t realized that there was actually a streetcar named Desire, on Royal Street. So I decided to re- post this one. 

Tender is the Night 

tender is the night
long is the day’s journey into night
it’s easier to name a street car
than it is to name one’s desire
managing a glass menagerie
is hard, harder than one imagines.

 

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Short Unsolicited Advice on Writing Poetry

via Daily Prompt: Observe 

Short Unsolicited Advice on Writing Poetry

write long poems on short days
short poems on long days
you don’t need a drummer
but you do need rhythm
avoid melodrama
your head cannot explode all the time,
there is uncharted territory
between ecstasy and despair
look after your images
they should splash like cold water
on the reader’s face
observe, always observe.

 

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If a Relationship is a Bus

Folf Fest (2)

if a relationship is a bus
why then sometimes
does the bus leave the paved road,
the beaten track,
the path most trodden,
and bump off across
a corrugated desert
complete with tumble weeds
and plural cacti
(the wind is howling
at least, it sounds like the wind)
and that bus keeps bumping along
until it coughs, sputters to a stop,
and the occupants reluctantly step out
onto the desert floor
which is really an ancient ocean bed
strewn with the fossils
of forgotten fish
like the backlot
of some prehistoric sushi bar
they step out
breathe the bone dry air
and ask themselves how,
how the hell
did we end up
in this fucking bus metaphor?

Dog Days

via Daily Prompt: Cur 

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Dog Days

Oscar’s wife, Anka,
declared:
we need to procure
a guard dog
to make our home secure,
a real dog
not some mangy cur
some obscure miniature
some saliva dripping
skinny impostor
looking for a sinecure
a dog that barks
at every knock on the door
and when, Oscar asked,
should this occur?
Yesterday, she said,
or before.

 

Photo taken at the Takashi Murakami exhibition (The octopus eats its own leg) at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Nod to Bob

via Daily Prompt: Bestow 

Nod to Bob

I’m a poet

but I can’t

bestow it.

 

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Talking of Bob, here’s a post from the past

Bob Dylan’s Worst Line Ever

Last week there was a Simon Pegg retrospective at our local cinema and Slim invited me back to his one bedroom apartment after we watched an early showing of “Shawn of the Dead”. Slim had prepared dinner and by that I mean he had peeled back the tin foil edge of a take-out carton of butter chicken, removed the cardboard lid, and handed me a plastic fork and a can of Old Style lager. He then lapsed into one of his silences.

I found myself noticing the beads of condensation on the clear plastic lid of the steamed rice container. The rice was long past fluffy. The evening stretched before me like a Sunday in Ottawa. My only recourse was to ask Slim an irritating question.

“So, Slim”, I said, “who do you think is the better poet, Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen?”

Slim’s  face wrinkled in disgust. “Bob Dylan’s not a poet”, he snapped,“ he’s a poetic songwriter”.

“And Leonard Cohen is…..?”

“Leonard Cohen is a poet who writes songs”.

“Ok then, what’s your favorite Bob Dylan line, verse, whatever”

“I can only think of the bad ones”

“So what’s the worst Bob Dylan line ever?”

Slim blinked once like he was accessing a folder in his brain with an internal mouse.

“John Wesley Harding, ‘As I walked out One Morning’, third verse:

‘Depart from me this moment

I told her with my voice’.

It’s like saying ‘there’s going to be a jailbreak somewhere in this town’”

“But that’s Thin Lizzy”.

Slim looked like he had taken a sip of battery acid.

“My point is they are expressing the obvious just for the sake of a rhyme. It’s obvious that the jailbreak will be at the fucking jail and how else will he tell her except with his voice, they are in a field, for fuck sake!”

“Oh”, I said, reaching for a poppadom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Often ask Myself the Question ( James Comey and other imponderables)

 

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1

I often ask myself the question:
Is James Comey a bit of a wanker
a self-aggrandizing prima donna
who only looks honourable
when compared to Donald Trump?
I often ask myself that question.

2

I often ask myself the question:
can a man
mansplain to a man
or can a man
only mansplain
to a woman, and if so
if one explains something
in a condescending manner
to a member
of one’s own gender
is one, in effect,
cisplaining?
I often ask myself that question.

 

All Bubbles Burst ( 4 haiku)

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All Bubbles Burst

1
white Lexus on lease
new suit, shoes, two day stubble
bubble? what bubble?

2
cherry blossoms bloom
well-dressed ladies from Beijing
pose with hand on hip.

3
cherry blossoms bloom
the air is sticky with greed
houses, for sale, sold.

4
cherry blossoms bloom
the wrecking ball’s lazy swing
petals, debris, spring.

 

Three of these haiku appeared in previous posts at the height of the recent real estate boom in Vancouver; a boom that was driven by speculation, primarily by foreign buyers. Real estate became a commodity. Houses that had been around since the 1920’s were demolished and replaced by larger houses, some with an architectural style that had no context in the Pacific North West (white tiled French Colonial). Around where I live there was constant disruption: dump trucks, concrete trucks, agents knocking on my door, white Lexus’ (Lexi ?) driving up and down in front of the house every weekend, neighbours cashing in and leaving. Then like all bubbles, it burst or to be more exact, floated off to Toronto.

 

 

Luminescence (counter-intelligence)

via Daily Prompt: Luminescent 

Luminescence

The stars are out
luminescence rises
from the surface of the pond
I think of Tommy
Tommy Tumescent and the Hard-ons
yes you could say
they were big in the fifties
yes you could say
they rose to stardom in the fifties
all pompadour and pointy toe
and to counter this puerile nonsense
I also think of iridescence
finesse
obsolescence.

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https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/luminescent/