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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

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you can sit at a table

drinking wine

palms flat to the wood

without remembering

that table was ever a tree

but my heart will never forget

it bled for you



kill the radio

it’s your voice
that always got to me
you damned well knew it
causing me to explode forward
bloody haired
through the windshield
of our history

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the year i carried a copy of ferlinghetti’s book poetry as insurgent art like a pentecostal carries and twists their bible

i saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
thoughts of kissing me
sleep on disreputable futons
show up at hotel room doors

just about the time
one of my gods said
i was coming close to my

but i’m nowhere in proximity
upping the ante is perhaps required
my addictions too mitigated by motherhood
and the yolk of practicality

i’m not lesbian enough
i’m not disenfranchised
i’ve never been to france
i’ve never given anyone a hand job for a grant
ted hughes has not yet abandoned me

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a casket was the best place for you

i soften remembrances of you
so that i may live

but there are days
when the truth
of what you were

is flung from your grave

as the world
stages another revolution

terror rises from my earliest memories

my big sister
running with tiny me in her arms
to lock us behind a door
away from your belt
because i had toddled too near
your neatly pressed slacks


the day you walked to my swing set
to beat four year old me


for innocently repeating words
i didn’t understand

from your tongue
to grandma’s ears

you were kind enough
to slam me back down on the slide
when you were done

leaving me screaming atop the play mountain
the stream of urine
running all the way down between my legs
past my white sandal feet
the full length of the hot metal incline
then finally
dripping onto blades of grass

and it’s all i can do

to not drive deep into kentucky
with a shovel and lye
to liquefy your bones

alleviating me
and the earth
of what’s left of your weight

oh, fred

you’re perfect dead

a casket was the best place for you

Jazz Music poetry Short Stories Uncategorized Urban Legends


when it is
this cold

i worry more

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the wisdom of last night’s lipstick

i walk along the street
with widow’s ankles

beneath an umbrella of spider webs
and butterfly wings

the wisdom of last night’s lipstick

passed unadorned doorways

watching the
ornamental cherry lanterns
hanging from trees
drip autumn rain


leaves who have lost their desire
to retain chlorophyll

exposing bloody red motives
cast to a barrel for burning

our love affair boarded up in the summer house

the light is giving way to tones of decline
a soft funereal glow

i kiss the lamp posts to ignite their fire

a sapphire ring upon my finger
tucked into a pocket of london fog

this is the time of year
memory holds court

as we mourn the never wills
and the never was

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the day aunt lena jumped in the well

mausoleum chambers

fill my mother’s house


the lavender room

with grandmother luvenia’s bed

and soft pink crystal light fixture from the old house on fishing creek

is where the spaw and bates families are entombed


the bed spread woven from funeral ribbons and loss

cherry framed antique portraiture

hang as illuminated death masks of my ancestors

behind the old convex glass


shoe leather faces

whip stitched lines

and battle scars

their backs curved

from bending to god’s will


their great depression was their existence


i look into the women’s changed eyes

who lost children


they had faded to a barely living shade of gray

known only to battlefields

and beds sickened with scarlet fever


country life is a sort more merciless than most

particularly to the feminine persuasion


mother swears the cicadas were screaming in the june apple trees

that pot steam august day meant for sewing bicentennial dresses

the day aunt lena jumped in the well


i often walked by the sealed haunted thing as a little girl

lungs filling with fear

wondering why that day

she chose to turn potable water into tears


was it the four year old daughter

named venus

born and died in the month of april

buried beside the church


had the clocks her late husband made wound her tightly enough to do it


or was it simply senility

i’ll never know


when had she stopped hearing the piano music

what had she suffered

that an abyss seemed somehow more comforting

than another day lost in the valley of stones


i close the memory of her with a crystal doorknob


cousin leland went into the well after the body

but her soul

never resurfaced