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Blood Relations

Kentucky thoroughbred

wild flower covered

rose wreathed

bluegrass hills

day lilies praying to face the sun

white horse fences on Derby Day

mint julep

drinking celebrities

wearing too much makeup and cloying colognes

spectator hats

pastel bow ties, open toed

espadrille intentions painted perfectly

round pen prancing

such breeding,

& the horses are pedigreed too.

The world of Man O’ War and

My uncle,

Etheridge Spaw,

my family’s last great horseman

elder statesman

until we got a jockey and horsewoman

in my niece, a true princess.

Etheridge had a voice like thunder

booming across a valley

melodic, bellicose, bass baritone

a cowboy hat the size of god

and a cherry wood pipe to match

stories of blood relations

unfurling in his pipe smoke


prince of our family

your memory I cherish

thoughts of you, on a faraway farm

just this side of a Kentucky heaven.

Bless and keep us through the days to come, uncle,

and thank you, kindly.

art literature poetry Short Stories sociology Uncategorized writing

Uncle Etheridge

my Uncle Etheridge
was grace personified
a Kentucky horseman
of noble heart

my grandmother’s dear brother
who frequently had
a formidable pipe
clenched between his teeth
and from him plumed
rich histories in tobacco smoke

finely crafted stories
commanding our young attention

dignified in a way few men are
what I loved most about him
was his deep bass voice
a black velvet tide
rolling toward you
a gentle thunder
over a Bluegrass prairie


bluegrass and white fences

has a way about it
that feels
both timeless
and impermanent
without ever
choosing a side

Jazz Music poetry Short Stories Uncategorized Urban Legends writing

see rock city

kentucky exists as
a painful dichotomy
for the native

it is lush green
awe inspiring in its beauty

bourbon distilled
crystal blue lakes
giving way to ancient streams

bluegrass growing atop
a bloody history
rich in the red clay

rolling cattle and horse farms
all the homegrown vegetables you can eat

but nestled into the picturesque hills
resides a poverty
like nowhere else in the nation

i come from a place so poor
the quality of life so brutally entrenched
few escape
the jobless rate
tobacco tumors
shorter life expectancy
and a disability check

dirty politicians
dirty preachers

absolute segregation
in lincoln county
all the black folks live on water street
because that’s where they’re welcome

you see
it’s still 1955 where i’m from
but a little more backwards
because now there’s crystal meth
to pair with
celebrated ignorance
taught as religion

people convinced they’ll burn in hell
if they don’t donate to jesus and republicans

i go back from time to time
to see my mother

being down home isn’t quite death
but you can feel it crawling up your sleeve

when my time comes
give me dignity
burn my body
cast my ashes back to the sea

i don’t want my bones
trapped there
to endure eternity

Jazz Music poetry Short Stories Uncategorized Urban Legends writing

a day at the races

he’s a friday night
masquerading as
a tuesday morning

don’t you believe
the happy horse shit

but i’ve already called my bookie

so you saddle up however you like

i’m incapable of anger

merely a loose-toothed child tonguing
the impending loss with sick delight

Jazz Music poetry Short Stories Uncategorized Urban Legends


my war horses stirred in his presence
they began to snort and stomp
shying away from the fence line
their ancient wisdom
sensing evil

he shyly admitted the beasts
never much cared for him

a shadow fell from the peach tree
over my heart
knowing what was to come

time proved him
to be a snake fully engaged
in the act of eating himself

tail in mouth

the O he makes
becoming smaller and smaller

soon all that will be left of him

is an asshole turned inside out

Jazz Music poetry Short Stories Uncategorized Urban Legends

the parthenon

i had a little place down off sixth street
all swollen wood and tin

you could smell the river moving from there
but you couldn’t see it

unless you made your way
through the dead people
walking toward
clark’s embalming school
over on elm

the century had just turned on us
and we were due a war

he swaggered in on a black lace evening

tall as a yankee
but no less a cowboy for it

american mythology in his hat and spurs

i offered a bourbon bottle and glass
with one hand placed upon hip

“Where you from, stranger?”


“Ohio, Georgia, or Greece?”

simultaneous smiles emerged

because we both knew the answer


where his boots would be resting that night



you love(d) me well and often

in that sick
bottomless way
you love everything

in order to lose it

you force your horses to run into the round pen
then set it on fire

just so you can write a mournful poem
about the sounds of their wailing agony

i don’t miss you

i miss how i felt when i was with you

but see

i love a good horror story

and you were a real fucking scream

poetry Uncategorized

all the pretty ponies

kentucky at keeneland
thoroughbreds is full regalia

and the horses look lovely too
women in hats fine enough for the fairest lady
heels and barely there dresses
men in bow ties and plaid pastel blazers

their station in life on display

social climbing atop sugar cubes

for the mint julep
the smell of bourbon and burgoo

and a stout cigar
just another day at the races