Americana geneology Kentucky poetry

Mabel Spaw Bates

Mabel Spaw Bates


I have dreamed about you

every night this week.

I would like to think you are visiting me

from the great beyond.

We’re in your house and

I can hear your voice,

I can smell your skin,

I can hear you laugh,

I can hear you sigh.

I can watch you smooth the table cloth

down with your hands

and wash the kitchen counter.

We watch Gone With the Wind together,

then have tea.

We look through an old Sears catalog,

we sort your quilt pieces,

we string buttons.

After we visit the Halls Gap Overlook,

we end the night at The Dairy Freeze.

I love you immeasurably.

The older I get,

the more I miss you.

Your absence is enough

to fill the world,

Mabel Spaw Bates.


Rest In Peace

literature mourning poetry Uncategorized

under catalpa trees

no death

represents a single loss

it is a lifetime of little ones

i didn’t just lose my father

i lost his voice

his cologne

him beaming as i accepted my diploma

the father daughter dance at my wedding

him teaching my sons to fish

family reunions under catalpa trees

but i remember the way he laughed

it was left behind in his grandsons eyes

and in

their gleeful bellies

his joy rising from the deep

it is simply

my favorite mercy

Jazz Music poetry Short Stories Uncategorized Urban Legends

two bedroom purgatory with a view of the bowling alley

he keeps me scattered
about the room
lacking a right angle

denied a proper burial
beside the ghost of a cherry tree

lost amidst
dusty poems
broken drums
unread books
ink sketches
and clementine crates

he never liked letting me go
not even from the bed
but his embrace
made for a happy cloister

i recall a breathable autumn day
a few months before we died

before i bled fuchsia nail polish
into the bathroom tile
horrifying the shower curtain fish

walking past the oil lamp specters of guernica silently
wearing my his place robe
hair wrapped in a terry cloth turban

he spoke softly into his black coffee
when he felt me moving toward him

“i decidedly like calling into the next room for you more”

in that moment we loved each other perfectly

Jazz Music poetry Short Stories Uncategorized Urban Legends


i lit a stick from the stash
of incense you sent me

the exotic pricey shit from bangalore
that saul got you addicted to

funky smell good we drove around looking for in every head shop and bodega
from hollywood to santa monica

it’s been so long since i’ve burned any
knowing you would surround me

that i would be engulfed
by a rising tide of anguish
if i breathed your air

like the back of the box says,
“Padmini Perfumed Dhoop Sticks with fragrance that lingers on and on…”

it is you who lingers on and on…

i want to believe there are a few hotel rooms
in los angeles
that still smell like we just checked out
an hour ago

hoping our ghosts
cling to walls and drapes
in the biltmore

places left behind that retain the scent of smoke
of two people who lived deliberately
and fell in love there

Jazz Music poetry Short Stories Uncategorized Urban Legends

for paul

it has taken me years to work up the courage
to sit across a table from you

to finally face you
as the living laugh
and clink their glasses

looking so lovely in the bistro light
even with the back of your head blown off

of course
you being fabulous
thought to match the blood with your tie

i wear my blackest evening suit
and veil

we begin to reminisce
about the last time
we saw each other

we had made love in oberlin
just before being forced to grow up

then moved with motives
and other reason lovers
to opposite sides of the world

the last phone call
we spoke of strong names for my coming twin boys

you wept about the ultimatum wedding present
bestowed by your new bride
an unwanted vasectomy
badgered you about
until you finally had

san francisco, money, and drugs
san francisco with a lack of money and drugs
and the problems which lie therein

i tell you about the day i ran into your mother
in a crowded outdoor market downtown
she told me you had been dead
five years
the victim of depression and a rifle
at the end of your bed

my breathing stopped
the buildings of the city exploded above me
into a burning swirl
my knees crashed to the ground
radishes and peppers
fell into a fissure of rumbling pavement

children in darkened corners say
my screams still echo
through abandoned subway tunnels

you explain all the why’s

i tell you
i like to remember your hands
lighting candles on the table
in your first cramped studio apartment
cooking buffalo chili
telling me about your newest composition
lamenting the bank job
making plans timed by clocks
that never wake a person who is dreaming

there is no check to pay

so we say our good nights and i love yous

one last kiss
before you put on your pin striped fedora

watching your ghost disappear into the rush of yellow streaked traffic headlights

knowing i will never stop looking
through peep holes for your eyes

Jazz Music poetry Short Stories Uncategorized Urban Legends

i could still hear her sing

it was an old white farmhouse
comforted by an ancient oak tree
my uncle louis had hung himself from
in ’73

behind it
there grew
a field of hereafter
and endless possibilities

finally a daughter born
to a man with three sons
and a woman who had done it all before

my father refused to allow my mother to name me daphne

the top floor was a heaven
at the top of the stairs

my tiny self
was too afraid of ascension

the corner suite playroom
was my domain
an addition seemingly built to suit my whimsy

a sea of dolls
and tupperware shape sorters
i plowed upon a yellow tractor

the remaining rooms were filled
with my father’s absence long before he died
floral prints
abiding beside
his brown leather rocking chair

siblings a decade older trying to accommodate this new little blight

my mother lived
in the bathroom

i could still hear her sing

Jazz Music poetry Short Stories Uncategorized Urban Legends

tiny buffalo

the bed they shared
was propped into position
by a stabilizing lock box
and books

sunday morning
would find them
wrapped together
choosing to remain
within the verdant lush
of his egyptian sheets

the linens were so luxurious
she wondered if they had fallen
off the back of a truck
but that was one of the things
she loved most about him

his high thread count in all things

his resourcefulness

his ability to survive
then have the audacity
to grow more beautiful
for having done so

clouds rolling across the ceiling

he would begin to playfully pester her
softly pinching her cheeks
touching the tip of her nose
which he claimed was his
atop a mountain range of pillows

tickle her lips
harumph into her ear
and cajole her into
saying moo
for him

he knew she would eventually comply
because it was
for him

his hand became various animals
roaming her fields
but her favorite
were the pitter-pattering fingers

moving from the crown
of her head
through smiling apple orchard cheeks
across curving plains of her

she would blush and giggle endlessly
as he would proclaim

it was the running of

the tiny buffalo

Jazz Music poetry Short Stories Uncategorized Urban Legends

blue note baby

every morning
as i dress for work
my record player
is spiraling blue train

eve spitting pomegranate seeds

the air surrounding me
fills with your cologne

my hips move
as if you were there
to dance around

tongue remembering
your mouth, bladed grass, and
the endless bourbon

baby, you have found a way
to make jazz forever sound
like california

poetry Short Stories Uncategorized

the night he died

i can no longer recall
the last words we shared
but it was something screamed in anger
whilst trying to force the earth
to bend to our geography

memories, blood, and paint
all turn to brown
when mixed and left alone to dry

my mind retains only one
fading recording
of his voice
a few words
he would say in the most desperate
hours of the night

“Baby, I’m tired, I need to sleep. This is not the last day that will see me loving you.”

…until it was

poetry Short Stories Uncategorized

lenny bruce’s eyes

the holidays stopped by
with a bottle of bourbon
tucked under his arm

a sugar coated lemon moon
hovering above his hat

he is beautiful
in the opened doorway

we share a heaviness of heart
more burdening
lenny bruce’s eyes

i tell him thank you
for remembering
i’m sometimes very little
and act accordingly

his smile becomes centuries

a coltrane record begins to spin
my favorite things
in the corner

all of it carried in his pocket

as he pours spirits
into perfectly mismatched glasses
and says

i’m here because
we spend this time of year
surrounded by people
who are gone