For Nairb Eeryt

the moment you turned & walked into the room

my world went Peckinpah

explosions of laughter

and parking garage lore

you are the unlikeliest surprise

a penultimate friendship

my war horse riding brother

charging beside me off

to our generation’s wars

in armor made from James Joyce t-shirts

imagine my uncorked shock

to meet a lion experimental

unmormon poseidon

over-the-rhine renaissance

gypsy king

this day is your birthday

you sit back all Kerouac

this day is for breaking someone else’s heart

so stick around

i’m gonna read this poem out loud to you from a stage

my next gig in town

& there’s a band I wanna go see with you

every tomorrow night

The Gods of Greater Cleveland

running my thumb

along the lips of deep friendship

sunrise hanging from the ledge of

the apartment balcony

I held morning court


tapping my rocking chair toe

to the beat of day lilies bursting open

wearing ripped jeans and a kimono

smoking my breakfast

in aviator sunglasses

my hair mussed with last night’s lightning

when Lakewood perched Zeus and Hera

the Gods of Greater Cleveland

exclaimed adoringly

that I was beautiful like

I was on the run from the law in Texas

a poem is something that happens

between two people

let me tell you

that was happiness

Old Glory

the first American flag

my mind recollects

is one that hung

rote & mumbled to

by wide-eyed children

in my 1st grade classroom

all the others I choose to recall

have been draped

over caskets

2am pale blue tabletops

slouched my rental car

slow over gravel

through a dive bar cum diner parking lot

in the dodgy end of Pennsylvania

somewhere off 22 between Pittsburgh

& land in New Jersey i was looking to sell

i don’t remember

which ocean i was headed to

that trip

certain sure red paint chip barnwood

composing roofbeams of

the dispassionate cathedral

had a neon Pabst Blue Ribbon tattoo

it was too late for dinner so

i ate a copy of lunch poems with a cuppa black coffee

listening to The Guess Who drip maple syrup

down the hopeful jukebox thriving in the corner

These Eyes


whom among the swaying travelers

knew which song i needed to spend a dime on

as my failure was

eviscerating myself

always having saved a chair across

2am pale blue tabletops

for you




you are a book

i have kept open

in dimmest candlelight

long past

the reason of midnight

Ida Mae


my brain
has been afforded what
by American standards
is a decent education
by virtue of having been moved away from
antebellum mindsets squatting
within poor hollers of Appalachia
to a northern queen city
with an apple tree of universities,
thriving industry,
distilled culture,
telescopic scientific innovation
broadcasting river boontown featuring
towering architectural aspirations greater
than a rusty
double wide trailer inconveniently
located near a dollar store & a social security office
…all that said
no matter how elegantly polished my metropolitan existence
deep inside my bluegrass heart
there lives
a glorious smooth-talking
hillbilly warrior princess
named Ida Mae
when properly provoked
will unleash her fiery hick
Kentucky vengeance
by driving her
1985 bitchin’ Camaro Super Sport
in a Dukes of Hazard high arch
onto your manicured
yard of fresh green
systemic racial justifications
blaring Springsteen
as her war cry
over your racist flowerbeds
of suburban dread
rocketing through
your menagerie of signs screaming
Jesus Saves if Trump Stays
crashing through your
confederate statue fountain
of Mitch McConnell
sucking off
Jefferson Davis
decapitating your
Joel Osteen lawn jockey
with his tax shelter grin
then hopping out of
her chariot of progressive fire
to slash
your segregated soul’s
whitewashed tires



a girl child

two decades ago i took

an overdue trip to Central Ohio

introducing my former mother-in-law to her six month old twin grandsons

we got to talking about Kentucky

as all transplanted Kentuckians do

we bounced gurgling baby innocence on our respective maternal knees having our own little gossip social

curling wispy baby hairs in her worn fingers

her laughter turned to pained breaths

as she shuttered out

a mortifying truth

about a bluegrass upbringing

she was discussing how she had been repeatedly raped as a girl by her father in Hyden, Kentucky

ran away to something worse at 14

how her first marriage ended when she found her alcoholic unemploymed coal miner husband was molesting her two little girls while she was waitressing to support the jerk

fleeing north to Ohio with them

to single motherdom with three kids in the 1960s living in a car until she could afford a place to rent

tears streamed down

her withered cheeks

as she said

“A girl child isn’t safe growing up around a family of men in the South.”

20 years later i think of her words and the women in my biological family

four generations of women who tried to protect their genitalia from one family member

the irony of being expected to smile and pretend

give forgiving hugs

that i’m the one who doesn’t feel comfortable coming to the Thanksgiving table

not the man who couldn’t keep his hands to himself

Maslow’s Fire Sale

don’t you worry, working poor

the richest people

will always have access






god’s offering plate

drugs to feel good

meaningless trophies

abortions too

so go on fighting

about the right

to wear a gun

but not a face mask

in your red Trump hat

and Walmart shoes


Hypocrisy, KY

my lowest point
was when i realized
the wild turkey bottle in my hand
wasn’t just a prop on the stage
it was how i didn’t die that day
it was how i almost did

it was that time i had never been more drunk
for a poetry gig
than as a visiting speaker
at my university alma mater
slurring on the lecture room floor
of an admired mentor and professor

haunted by
the sadness in his eyes
as the class watched rapt
thinking me revolutionary
more queasy
less kesey
him realizing it was more
than dean martin affectation

it was ended relationships
via impulsive social chat

it was attacking my adored Lidia
my literary altar statue
smashing her online for being happy
for having a loving husband
for being brilliant
for having that next baby
the recognition
i never quite could

you’ll wear an apology as a gravestone
when your
father was a suicidal
sunday school teacher
with a bootlegger’s ethics
& a crooked grin
the man was
a goddamned
burning road map

tho you sure as hell better learn
to call yourself
on your own horseshit
to stay alive

when your sugar tit
Hypocrisy, Kentucky

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