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no demons may cross the cumberland gap

you can’t get from the desert south west to kentucky

the archway of plenary indulgence is not her path

demons choked on fear and comeuppance lose their way

oh ye of little faith

was there ever any doubt

Jesus was from Elyria

that Ostara was from Kentucky

and that Lazarus was from Newark, NJ

but he got stuck on 80 for ten years in traffic.

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the day i solved my daddy’s murder

tony soprano wanna be

unfortunate victim of my deliberate farce

you decided to

whack my daddy

fooled my mama

then you tried to get her

to take the blame for my father’s death

i

on the front porch of my mother’s home

was recently informed by the man who volunteered

to raise me that you had plans to move into my memaw’s house and take over my grandaddy’s land

pardon me all kindly-like

but over my dead body

wasn’t miss ida’s pills enough of poison

you already tried to give me alcohol poisoning twice

here Fred, sign this insurance policy and kill yourself,

i promise to take care of Alicia forever

.

you took my father and started molesting me

long before you fucked my parents over

those nights you would sneak in when gina kept me

you would “rub my tee tees” to help me sleep

brother-in-law

i told you on the back of that four wheeler at your 55th birthday party

when you lured me deep into

the same woods i explored in as a child

when you rammed your hand

into the pussy you had apparently coveted since my birth

that i would scream if you didn’t drive back to the mansion you built when you graduated from selling blow to construction

everybody is a gangster until it’s time to do some gangster shit

made my sister Gina a child bride

and raped Stacey at gun point in fort lauderdale florida

when you decided to stop selling weed to motorcycle gangs

and graduate to massive distribution of cocaine

who was that british chap again

the one who owned yachts in florida you moved the drugs in

.

you were so proud when you made your first million

but failed to mention to all the folks

you sold your salt water snake oil to

admit it you were trying to kill mom with it

that the first 50,000 was covered in my father’s blood

you pointed a gun at me in my mother’s home

you sold my father his death like it was a Kirby sweeper

the night before my 45th birthday

and that’s the night i saved my mother’s soul

i’m coming, john simpleton

the nephew of the most beloved cop

ever to fly a helicopter over pulaski county

has your number

i tricked you motherfucker

with a gun in my face

Venus Ramey is laughing at you from Heaven

everybody is a gangster until it’s time to do some gangster shit

well, who’s the gangster now

i am now the matriarch of our family

you want a crime family

how is this for you

if you or my sisters come near me or anyone i love

everyone will know john simpleton did this

the kentucky state police will probably want a word with you

if my sisters wish to see our mother

they will notify me first through my neices

so i don’t have to look at my ugly hearted half-sisters

memaw is laughing too

i remember her saying to me

when in doubt blame john

memaw always was the best therapist

you terrorized our family for 45 years

never again

knock knock

who’s there

a civil suit for the wrongful death of fred james young

time to admit to all that insurance fraud too

because talking someone into suicide with fake insurance policies IS PREMEDITATED MURDER

and i learned in fancy mortuary college during a law class that libel ain’t libel if what you’re saying is true

lemme see, yeah,

the tiny amount of money you killed my daddy for

that blue corvette you bought at old don jacobs in Lexington

remember that

the one you drove around three counties like king shit of turd mountain

the one you bought with the blood of my father

it’s amazing what a little bit of crazy and a whole lotta love can accomplish

the book now done

the good guys won

you are death incarnate

it’s my face with Fred and Elmie’s eyes

you’ll see

when you show up nervous to the pearly gates

guess what

you ain’t getting in

son

I guess being the first person to register as an independent voter in Lincoln County is the least interesting thing you’ve done

this is what happens when the sopranos finale ends

with christopher snuffing out tony

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Dedicated to the Memory of Marci Payne

desecrate

that is what we did to each other

when things fell apart

i don’t know how no one ended up

dying adriana style

in the pine barrens

of our shared new jersey

you swaggering Greek god

warring angel in cordovan boots

who taught me to love lone rhinoceros

until you traded in your poetry shoes for high heels

the same year i did

i should have seen it

i was willfully blind

you were trying to tell me

and when i figured it out

it hit me like a death

you read with big cats on St. Mark’s Place

became a beat poet of Freedonia

and then you died

the last night we ever wrote poems about each other on our blogs

you went to sleep

watching the Red Sox

on a Friday night and never woke up

when we celebrated Jimmie Tropeano releasing his Eduardo Jones faced Gutterfish into the wild

with a bottle of Johnnie walker blue

floating on clouds of clinking glasses

wild turkey Manhattan in Brooklyn

extra dry vermouth, two cherries

was the closest we came to heaven

we ate pizza candy while floating on stars on bloomfield avenue

we had strawberry sundaes in the same booth at holsten’s

where tony soprano stopped believing

i was so in love with your gregory peck cum bada bing badass

who took me on tour when you sang the blues

in front of larry holmes’ ringside

i loved you then

i love you now

i am sorry for the wake i left behind

but i disagree with you, i deserved it

your cousin said even though we were apart she still considers me your widow

i have emerged from behind the veil of grief and found pure gratitude and gladness

i lost you but i inherited babs

the poetry queen of Delaware

a Robin’s egg who’s rarely blue

two peanuts in an engagement ring box

a sister in jcm, and the painting of calamity jane

your obituary says you loved with a rare intensity,

but were fiercely loyal

boy howdy, cowboy

you kept that door knocker i gave you

so that you could come calling in my dreams

beat poet who was my bourbon king

i will forever apologize to your bones

a wise person once told me every person has a list of people they love until the end of time

they become your guardian angels when they die


i’m ready to see that lighthouse now,

after i visit our waterfall in Grace Lord Park

i was yours and you were mine

the way you loved me

is where i find my happiness now

i can hear your velvet gravel voice

crooning sweetly as we drive down the shore

of course it is, baby girl, of course it is….

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alanis, unironically

If nothing else you taught me

to channel rage into art

with your xennial angst anthem

every punk girl pressed her doc martin to the gas pedal

of her shitty car

you voice was my white lightening crashing into a Kentucky prairie

what i should know

how to

accept traffic jams

in your free rideshare

never play it safe, get on the damn plane

cover your heart by

taking an umbrella on my wedding day

take good advice

light up on every cigarette break

buy a nice portable cutlery set

marry the man of your dreams

don’t let someone else be your husband’s beautiful wife

oh, and apparently

Uncle Joey was a real prick.

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beauty digital photography

Date Night

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exposed cobblestone

it’s never quiet

in the city at night

however i’ve found

if my boots are planted quietly

amidst 3am lamplight

standing in space once occupied

by a storied brick house where my

great grandfather aged 90

lived and died

i can hear elm street recalling sadly

that he left for the hereafter

decades before i arrived

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pinpoint

Hell

is conveniently situated

between Ohio

and California

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activism Americana cemeteries childhood death destruction government government and a lack thereof health horror human behavior non-fiction politics reproductive rights

the republicans

believe life begins

at conception

and ends at the moment

an AR-15 is unloaded

into the heads of school children

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immemorial

this 30th of May

even the fireworks

sound tired

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astronomy baseball writing belief comedy comfort festivities happiness

heartbeats once acoustic

sunlit green leaves flicker over
a cincinnati restaurant patio
sunday brunch amongst contemporaries

a skyline mural
of an astronaut
looking to the stars
above our heads
downtown buildings
turning toward the sun

glistening libations
sweatily klinking together
a toast made to the ending war
fully vaccinated folks
introducing themselves as such
shaking hands
faces aglow with possibility
shoulders swaying
to kettle drum music
masks off gently
seeing smiles
for the first time in a year
our festive nature quickening
heartbeats once acoustic
have gone electric

the gentleman at the table beside us explaining
upon reserving his table
he’d requested a framed picture of Bill Murray and a congratulations card for “Jeff”
to await his party upon arrival at their table
there is no Jeff of course
restaurants who agree to accommodate his request
are how he chooses where to dine
when traveling out of town

our laughter turning on
theatre marquee lights
no one interested in food
it’s spring

the whole city has tickets to a Redlegs game

we have survived the plague
everyone is tired of eating
tired of fearing
tired of dying
yet everyone
seems ready to fuck