Thursday, April 30, 2009

#435: Backyard

It should be flat. There ought to be a tree
right there--a river birch as centerpiece
around which everything else falls in place:
the compost heap, the long landscaping ties
around the garden--tall tomato plants,
with their red ornaments and glutton birds.
And over there, of course, two metal chairs.

There ought to be a swing set you can see
from inside, at the sink, say, finding peace
in one tall, sweating tumbler, while the lace
of hops that climb the porch posts give your eyes
some shelter from the sunlight, and the dance
of wind and leaf speaks inscrutable words
designed to calm away your daily cares.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

#434: Grammar Lesson

A noun? Well, that's a person, or a thing--
could be a place--like Dallas. Boston. Crete.
Your dog, who you don't feed. Your Uncle Pete.
Your Lego blocks; that kite without its string.

Crete? That's near Greece. The country, not the lard.
Though both are nouns. One's proper, one is not.
A kind of name, like Archibald, or Scott,
Or Shady Rest Resort. It's not that hard.

An adjective describes the noun, you see:
The messy room. The sassy little kid
Who gets no spankings like his father did
For smarting off the way you do to me...

I tell you, if you'd been my father's son--
Whazzat? Ah, never mind. Now, are we done?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

#433: Communication Breakdown

I called my mom to tell her all my news;
I only got the answering machine.
Then Pop--I had a phone card I could use;
I guess he rand down to the Dairy Queen.

I tried my cousin--Dad's half-brother's son--
it rang and rang and rang; nobody there.
How many college buddies answered? None.
I slammed my phone book, fighting off despair.

The Operator would not talk to me,
And Information's some recorded voice
Tried 9-1-1-; I cried "Emergency!"
The sole reply was that damned beeping noise.

But then you answered, love--my lucky day!
Too bad I hadn't anything to say.

Monday, April 27, 2009

#432: The Rabbit's Dream

A bunny we'll call Moppettop once found
himself in some strange field; the grass was blue.
His floppy ears paddled a sea of sound
he'd never heard before. The flowers grew

on woody stalks three times their normal height.
They bloomed to platter-size, and smelled like rain.
He crouched there, motionless, until the night
came on in deep maroon. Almost insane

with dizziness and fear, at last he slept
and dreamed green meadows, red and golden flowers
that smelled the way they ought. When he awoke,
the magic of the intervening hours
had dissipated like magician's smoke.
Incurious, the rabbit looked, and leapt.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

#430: Drinking Buddies

We came out of the bar about as drunk
as we could get--unburdened, clumsy, broke,
and singing bawdy songs. We stank of smoke
and failure. In the street, a black cat slunk
away, afraid of all our boisterous noise.
He clattered down the alley with the cans
and moaned a hopeless music, like a man's
last cry before despair packs up his voice
in rough pine crates. My hat all bent to hell,
askew atop my wildly spinning brain,
I sang Oh Mary Jane, won't you be mine?
I've had my penecillin
--then we fell
into each other's arms and laughed the pain
into our collars. I got home by nine.

Friday, April 24, 2009

#429: Last Laugh

Nobody thought he'd take it quite so far.
He'd always been a prankster--leaving tacks
in teachers' chairs, those funny snap-gum packs,
the dummy leg you hang out of the car
to fake an accident. All fun and games.
But then his woman left him--couldn't take
not knowing whether things were real or fake
between them (honestly, nobody blames
the woman--how much plastic doggy-doo
and roaches could you stand?); but in his head
something went snap! They found him over there--
the buzzer in his hand, the metal chair
wired to the doorbell--smiling, sure, but dead.
Nobody saw it coming. Well, would you?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

#428: Demento Mori

I never did it in a cemetery,
and would not have succeeded had I tried;
my partners would have found it sick and scary,
or else preferred to make our love inside;

Those crypt tops don't make comfortable bedding;
they'd leave you all dissatisfied and sore,
however much you like the thought of wedding
your bodies over those that wed no more;

And so, my thoughts of carnal celebration
of life there in the palaces of death
cast off, I've had to do my copulation
in hotel rooms whose tenants still draw breath--

But sometimes I get randy when I see
a grave--it's the romantic soul in me.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

#427: Sonnet from a Begging Dog

I don't need hugs or lips-to-muzzle kisses;
I don't want walks around no parking lot.
Don't need to piss where Ralph the Beagle pisses;
But one more Milk Bone sure would hit the spot.

I don't want none of them hand-knitted sweaters;
Don't need a collar weighted down with bling.
No fancy house like Pat the Irish Setter's;
But liver snacks is my most favorite thing.

A goose-down sleeping pillow then, perhaps? No--
The hay bale where I'm bedding's fine with me.
Car seat for trips, like Frank the Lhasa Apso?
No thanks--I knows the bestest gifts is free.

So clear my bowl of them dry, crunchy pellets:
You're cooking roast tonight, man. I can smell it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

#426: Old Friends

I thought I'd need some poetry today
and so I pulled some favorites off the shelves:
Byron and Cummings--those speak for themselves.
The Brownings, Donne, and St. Vincent Millay;

I passed on Burns, preferring Heaney's brogue
to his; took Housman's regimental verse,
the holy joy of Hopkins, the perverse
delight of Lord Rochester, that old rogue.

Jack Butler, who can wrap his pain and mine
in smiles and mathematics, make them sing;
Marvell I took, Swinburne I left behind
with many others I'd have liked to bring.

"Next time," I promised, so to make amends,
then left, my arms weight down with old, dear friends.

Monday, April 20, 2009

#425: Dark Arts

They did not like the art he made--they said
his lines were primitive, his colors weak.
They claimed he had no eye and less technique
and should have been a house painter instead.

For season after season he endured
their withering critiques; he only sighed
to hear his talent slandered and denied,
and never raised a hand nor said a word.

They could not understand his genius yet.
They could not know what higher muse he served.
It would be years before they understood.
Then--when they saw his masterpiece, still wet
with all his critics' entrails, bile and blood--
he'd get the recognition he deserved.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Pub or Perish 2009: Sonnet Boy Reads Again

Last night I read at the Arkansas Times' annual Pub or Perish reading, held this year at Sticky Fingerz in downtown Little Rock. It was a great time, and my poetry seemed to go over well. Dorothy Allison, author of the 1993 National Book Award finalist Bastard Out of Carolina and the featured reader of the night, made a point of telling my my sonnets were "wonderful." So that was nice. :)

But why take Dorothy's and my word for it? Pushing the Sonnet Project into multimedia territory, I am pleased to offer free for download my complete reading from Pub or Perish 2009 in mp3 format, via

Just click on the link, select "free user" (unless you happen to have a Rapidshare Premium account), and wait until the link appears, usually less than a minute. It's about 10 MB big.

Also, I tried to record the kind intro David Koon of the Arkansas Times gave me, but my VR didn't pick it up very well. Once I start reading though, it comes through all right.

And let me know what you think!

CLICK HERE to download Scott's reading from Pub or Perish 2009!

#424: My Love, How I Have Failed You

My love, how I have failed you. I have yet
to book that flight to Rome, to take your hand
and lead you to the Trevi, Neptune's band
of demigod attendants soaking wet
with faux seaspray. I have not yet arranged
that long-promised Lake Country holiday,
those fields of daffodils where poets play;
nor London, Paris, Venice. I'm unchanged
in my intentions, dear, though how I ought
to make my words come true, I cannot tell.
Back then we lived on romance, without kids
or mortgages or day jobs. Just as well,
or else we'd not have promised what we did.

But one of these days, Love, I'll get you there.
You married me--after all, fair is fair.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

#423: Truffles and Bones

So once upon a time there was this dog--
a little guy, with hair all in his eyes.
His best friend was this truffle snuffling hog,
whose talent made him every Frenchman's prize.

They went into the woods one day alone
(their owner sleeping off too much red wine);
the dog in quest of some long-buried bone,
the hog for fungus much more rare and fine.

Then suddenly the dog began to dig
and pulled up truffles, truffles by the pound!
"This is easy!" he called out to the pig.
"I'm finding more than you have ever found!"

"Should I start seeking bones?" the pig then said,
and bared his tusks. The dog just shook his head.

Friday, April 17, 2009

#422: La Noche del Hombre-Lobo

They had him in his grave, or so they thought--
but now he stalks the moors and knows no rest.
The Gypsies, damn them--dirty, thieving lot!
have pulled the Silver Cross out of his chest.

Daninksy Castle's windows are ablaze
with torchlight; then at night, those horrid screams
that turn to howls. The moon's cold, deadly rays
bring down a curse that only Death redeems,

and that at True Love's hand, so says the lore.
The ancient legends teach no other way.
Look there, where on black velvet Luna hangs!
Tonight the Polish hills run red with blood,
and no virgin is safe from his dread fangs.
He's not that pure at heart. He does not pray.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

#421: Invisible Perv in a Girl's Dormitory

We've spread the flour in front of every door,
so check for footprints first, then go inside.
The curtains twitch--don't hang around for more:
get out of there and find someplace to hide.

And now, about the toilets--he's been known
to crouch there, pantsless, motionless for hours,
and some girls say, erect. Don't go alone.
Be sure before you sit. Avoid the showers.

But should the worst occur--you find yourself
pinned down, an unseen tongue tracing your throat
and hands under your boobs, kick out and yell!
There's tinted pepper spray on every shelf
in every room. Find yours, and make a note.
Invisible or not, we'll give him hell.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

#420: Artists' Model, at His Local Bar

Each Wednesday night the university
art teacher calls me up to have me pose.
Say what? Professor? Yeah, she's one of those.
Her students sure ain't seen the likes of me
in any of their textbooks! It's the burns.
She says the texture--ridges, pits, and whorls--
are good for shading practice. All the girls
stare hard; I don't mind that! The platform turns
so everyone can get a look.
The boys
try not to check my dick, but always do.
I wink and tell 'em I've had no complaints.
"A ribbed one's something every broad enjoys!"
I whip it out. Sometimes one of 'em faints.
Ten bucks and hour for that!

She's pretty, too.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

#419: Express Checkout Girl

She says she wants to die at forty-five,
which after all is twice her age plus one,
and seems eternity. Her race well run
before she's like the old man, still alive
but doddering and helpless, whom she spied
the other day shuffling between the rows
of frozen dinners, veins blue on his nose
and urine down his leg. More dignified
to quit before you get there. I just smile
and pay her for my frozen beef pot pies,
not trying to explain how thirty-eight
will stretch the road for her, adjust her eyes
to look for something more--another mile
to run, in case she missed something. Just wait.

Monday, April 13, 2009

#418: Worst Case Scenario

The skateboard waiting by the bottom stair:
concussion. Broken ankle. ER trip.
Deep tissue bruise. Brain damage. Just one slip,
and Tragedy can catch you unaware.

The bike ride down the driveway: not so bad;
but then, a speeding car. You draw your breath
to warn him--screeching tires and certain death.
And all your fault. You should have been there, Dad.

But worse than this: you make that one wrong choice
or say some angry words you can't take back.
Then years down the line: the blood-red hate
shot through his eyes, the venom in his voice,
his childish memories all edged in black--
and you, speechless and old, grown wise too late.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

#417: Not Looking for Answers

What? Set 'em up again? Yeah, might as well.
It's not like anybody's keeping score
or waiting up at home, so what the hell!
What was my last, a whiskey? So--one more;

At least the one--we'll see what happens next,
then judge what course of action suits us best.
If cured, we'll say good night, but if still vexed
by life or love or--well, you know the rest.

It's clear the riddle's answer that we seek
will not be found in bottles, vats, or cans;
we are not fools. We have not come for such.
For now, we're done with mysteries that leak
like icy water through our blistered hands.
So pour--I'll tell you when I've had too much.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

#416: Dangerous Intersection

The corner store is where they always meet,
long after all the windows have gone dark
and only alley cats prowl Dunham Street:
that fatal intersection near the park
where each of them remembers screeching brakes,
the smell of burning rubber, then the sick
flat slap of steel on flesh. It sometimes makes
the youngest of them weep. Their elders pick
the trash and detritus for souvenirs--
a shard of glass they can pretend got broke
on their own mortal coils. As morning nears,
each spirit sighs and dissipates like smoke.

The brand new traffic light reflects the sun.
It's eighteen months since our last hit and run.

Friday, April 10, 2009

#415: Gepetto

Upstairs, in that small room above his shop,
the puppeteer is carving something new;
his gnarled and wrinkled hands know what to do
as all around his feet the shavings drop
like Autumn leaves. His knife blocks out a chin
and notches lips above; the nose a twig
repurposed. Two knotholes will serve for big
blue eyes with just a little paint. Within
the hollow of his chest, where blind grubs ate
scant days ago, the ashes of his boy
now dead these seven years--a father's joy
whose smile made sweet a life he'd grown to hate.

A few more spells, perhaps another day--
his son will live again, and God will pay.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

#414: Machine

The bank of instruments and gauges glows
with green, unearthly light; the metal ticks
with heat. Somewhere an ancient mainspring clicks
its coiled potential down, while rows and rows

of switches wait. On each a cryptic rune
is carved (its function? maybe some dead name
important to its maker? All the same,
since none can read them now). Outside the moon

shines blue and cold, and there, at these controls,
a madman sits--brains addled by the tides,
his senseless eyes as red and hot as coals--
with power enough to split the world in two
before him. Elbows tight against his sides,
his fingers itch to see what she can do.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

#413: Dogs Playing Poker

They sit quite still, politely placing bets.
The cone of light, tipped with a green glass shade,
encircles them. New cards are dealt and laid.
They mark the passing time in cigarettes.

Reflected in the Pug's huge, umber eyes:
the pair of queens he's holding over tens.
The Afghan sees, and checks. The Beagle wins--
a full boat, rocking aces over threes.

A few more beers, the Boxer wants to fight
("How typical," the Bulldog notes, all gruff).
The Dachshund cashes in and tips his hat,
says Gutentag to all, he's lost enough.
Remaining paws divide the pot; that's that.
No one got bit; in all, a decent night.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

#412: Oh, Henry

Oh, Henry Miller! Tell me where you got
your glorious contempt for consequence--
the will to belch and fart at common sense
and dive headlong into a life of Thought.

Such all-encompassing, sweet unconcern
as yours for life and country, health and heart,
such unflagging belief in Truth and Art,
and damn everything else!--these I would learn.

If I had even half the fearless trust
in my peculiar muse, I'd fly to France;
I'd smoke, start drinking barrels of Merlot,
write sonnets just to get down some girl's pants,
and waking in some whorehouse, rise and throw
myself into the Seine in sheer disgust.

Monday, April 06, 2009

#411: Desire

Lie back and put your hands behind your head.
No covering up--that's good. Now spread your thighs.
Open yourself to me. Look in my eyes.
I want to see you sprawled upon the bed,
your nipples hard pink buds, your skin aflame,
the flower of your sex all wet with dew,
breathe in your passion's scent, and cover you
with hungry kisses, whispering your name.

I want to drag my tongue along the line
of calf and inner arm, elbow and knee,
the furrow of your rump. I want to taste
your every flavor, drink you in like wine,
be drunk on you, and make you drunk with me.
We have all night. There is no call for haste.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

#410: Mulligan 3

Some nights you have it, other nights you don't.
Now guess which kind of nigth this one might be?
Sometimes the muses will, sometimes they won't,
and no use being a jerk about it, see?

I've got a few ideas I kick around,
a line or two composed and good to go,
some incidental music, striking sounds,
But will they come together now? Hell no.

I hate to write like this; it seems a cheat
to spout iambs, beat them like a drum
As if to count to ten were such a feat,
I guess it's either this or sit here dumb.

What's better--silence, or misshapen air?
That answer I don't know--and don't much care.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

#409: Saturday with the Kids

It used to be, a weekend was two days
of fun and frolic, hours without a care;
we'd wake up with the morning's warming rays
near changed to afternoon--now such is rare.

We used to read our books in quiet peace,
sometimes all afternoon, and then at night
we'd go out to a club (dinner at least)
and make love till the dawn--that was all right.

But nowadays, it's up at six a. m.;
it's playdates, soccer games, overnight guests.
It never can be us, it's always them,
and gone is peace and quiet, sex and rest.

They scoff, "You'll miss it one day, just you wait!"
Maybe--but on that day, I'll sleep in late.


Friday, April 03, 2009

#408: The Bright Side

Let's try to see the bright side: most work days
the sun comes up, and you have things to do.
Your idle hands are where the Devil plays,
and staying busy's known to breed virtue.

The code comes hard and steady all day long--
yeah, sure, it's not exciting, but so what?
It sure beats digging ditches, am I wrong?
You want to sell fast food? That's what I thought.

By now I've learned just what a sucker's game
it is, to seek fulfillment in your work.
Whether you smile or not, the pay's the same;
so cash the checks. Stop moping like a jerk.

Hell, twenty years from now you'll wonder why
you ever wanted more. And then you'll die.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

#407: The Hazards of Marrying an English Major

My loved one has to be a Grammar Nazi,
Correcting me at every small mistake;
It makes her feel all smug and hotsy-totsy
to get her digs in while I'm half awake;

A typo in an email brings down thunder;
A misplaced adjective will stoke the flames.
There's hell to pay for every tiny blunder:
arch ridicule and denigrating names.

If I could diagram her in a sentence,
The subject and object of my desire,
We could forget anal retentive nonsense
And just wink at my dangling modifier;

Alas, though--it has yet to come to that.
Now, where'd I leave that darn red pencil at?

#406: Mulligan 2

There's nothing to it but to do it now;
I'm churning out another piece of junk.
Just get the ink blots down and don't mind how--
without some inspiration, it's just bunk.

And yet the show goes on, the way a clown
might tell his jokes to seats covered with dust:
nobody there to cheer or smile or frown--
but anyway, it helps knock off the rust.

So maybe, should I stay in shape this way--
no waiting for my muse, just ink and sweat--
perhaps when I find something good to say
I'll find myself strong, fit to bear it yet.

That's why I grind it out day after day;
I keep telling myself that, anyway.