pickle smile blues

shakespeare & co.

shakespeare & co.


the old lady broke my pickle

jar, coins across the floor.

she picked out all the quarters,

didn’t close the fuckin’ door.


oh, mercy, momma,

you’re just a two bit whore.

you don’t respect your daddy,

he want you that much more.


so come on home, baby,

when your sober and poor,

come back to me woman,

shop your daddy’s store.


he’s got a big ol’ pickle

jar of foldin’ cash,

been savin’ it up

just to kiss your ass


again . . .

the fool he’s always been,

a blue . . .

briney pickled fool.


i’ll buy you diamonds & dresses,

honey, a big convertible car,

anything, sugar, whatever you want,

just get outta that fuckin’ bar.


i can’t think straight

since you been gone.

if you’ll put away the booze

i’ll mow your lawn.


come back baby,

stay for awhile.

just let this ol’ canner

give you a pickle smile.


oh, mercy, blue . . .

i’d do anything for you,

pickle my beets, sugar,

scrub your honey pot, too.


they say, sweet pickle momma,

you’re just a two bit whore,

say you don’t want your daddy’s

little pickle anymore,


but if you come back, baby,

come home for awhile,

this ol’ love-struck trucker

will give you a sweet pickle smile.


it’s true . . .

i’m the bread & butter pickle for you.

ooh, blue lady . . .

pucker up to my dill and chew.


baby, i gots the right pickle for you.

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black lab

How ya doin’? Good to see ya. Pull up a chair.

Me? Well, I’m still here, and I shouldn’t complain,

But I been better. Seems like everything is goin’ to Hell—

Had to bury my old dog here the other day.

So I’m all alone now. You know My cook passed away

A couple years back, and then my old dog got tore up

By a pack of goddamn wolves. So I had to put him down.

Buried him right over there. He was a good old dog,

Just him and me out here, somebody to talk to.

I’d had him for 14 years.


And I never figured them wolves would come back,

But I sat out here the next night, had my .22

Pistol just in case they showed,

Didn’t think so, not in a million years.

It was just gettin’ dusky when sure enough

I seen that white son of a bitch come slinkin’ up

To that spot where he got my old dog.

There was blood scent there, and he was a-sniffin’

The ground, so real-slow-like I grabbed my gun,

Laid it across my arm, and squeezed one off

Into the dirt. That old wolf jumped back and ran

Off about four or five yards, stopped and looked at me.

The next one I pulled off found its mark,

And he went down, so I walked over to finish him off.

He was dead: one little hole above his right eye

And the back of his head blown off—.22 long,

Hollow point. Big son of a bitch, one of them Canadian

Transplants, must’ve weighed 150 pounds.

His molars was ground down pretty good, and that old

Yellowed fang was a good inch and a half long.

He’d been around, weren’t no spring chicken.


By then it was dark, and I was still pretty upset

About losin’ my old dog and all, so I just went on in

To bed. And the longer I laid there the more I thought

About what I should do with the carcass. I decided

With all the politics and bullshit about the wolves

And such, the best thing would be just to get rid of the son

Of a bitch, so I got up and got dressed. I backed

My little pick up over to it and horsed him onto the tailgate.

It took me awhile to get that rat bastard into the bed

Of the truck. I bet he weighed more than me.

Then I drove down to the old bridge over the river,

Backed up to the railing, and rolled him over the side.


‘Course nobody ever asked me or anyone who lives

Around here what we thought about relocatin’ wolves here

Or grizzlies for that matter, but I think they should’ve.

We got to live with them. And I’ll tell ya

It ain’t no picnic watchin’ a pack of those bastards

Kill your dog. That old dog was my best friend.

‘Course none of them care what I think. They’d like to see

All us old-times out of here and livin’ in a city,

Then they could do what they want. And I don’t know

What they want, but you can bet your ass it has to do with

Money. They don’t give a good goddamn about the land

Or the animals or the folks who want to live out here.


I’m 86 years old and I never lived in a town. Hell,

I worked sawin’ logs till I was 68, and I’d a-kept goin’

But they couldn’t pay me under the table anymore.

So now I just do odd jobs for folks who bring me things

Like meat or groceries or beer . . . I got loaves

Of banana bread in the freezer. You wanna beer?

I got a whole bedroom full of beer. I might drink one or two

A week, but I don’t drink much anymore. Yeah,

I believe in “live and let live,” but when you kill my dog,

You cross the line. He was a good old dog. Hell, he ran

Right up to ‘em, bein’ friendly . . . never had a chance.

I think I’ll go get me a cat in a week or two

Just to have someone to talk to. I figure a cat

Would be good company, and he’d at least have a fightin’ chance.

He could run up a tree. A dog don’t stand a chance.


Well, I know you can’t shut me up and I know you gotta go, but

I’m sure glad you stopped by and listened to me run off

At the mouth. It gets a little lonely up here talkin’ to yourself.

It’s been kinda quiet since the cook died. And now

That my old dog’s gone . . . , I’m fixin’to get me a cat.

So next time yer up this way I’ll buy you a beer

And introduce you to my new cat. Well, drive careful.

There ain’t no log trucks to speak of anymore, but ya gotta

Watch out for them Volvos. And there ain’t no hurry.

We’re all gonna get there before we know it anyway,

Some just sooner than others. I’ll leave ya with this one:

I eat when I’m hungry, and I drink when I’m dry,

I lay down if I’m sleepy, find salvation when I die.

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psyche flowers

The sun warm on my face

and arms, air cool

on the back of my neck.

“Senor,” Dylan on the stereo,

wafts out the window

backing up the birdsong,

soloing duets on this summer

morn. A lawn mower

sputters to buzz-roar-drone

as a jet sweeps overhead

on its airport approach

eclipsing the white scythe,

cloud-looking crescent moon

in the blue sky. A breeze

picks up, the sunflowers dance,

Luna wends her way over

my tablet into my lap,

rests her wet chin on my hand

and begins licking the hair

on my wrist before moving on

to her own coat, toes, and nails,

periodically touching her

damp nose to my skin,

then nuzzles her head under

my arm. She’s become

quite lovey-dovey after years

of neglect. Finally sated,

she moves to the table top

to spread out and snooze in the sun.

I wake to the harmonica riff

in “Just Like a Woman” and two

moons, yellow and full, twin

candles burning in the midnight

fur of her, then shuttering

down. We doze again

letting easy summer roll in . . .

“Forever Young,” forever here,

forever and always another

year turning back and forth

the mother and the sun.

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how to write a poem


clark fork

eat sauerkraut for breakfast

build a fire on the living room rug

nap in a musty crawl space

begin digging your way to Burma

listen to Hank Wilson’s nasal croon again

let the splits in your fingertips squeal

do the cryptoquote and crossword puzzles

finish your cold coffee

walk to the river

talk to yourself

jump in

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not so lonely blues


ain’t got the blues

this mornin sun has

slanted through the blinds


ain’t got your blues

for lack-a money honey

so you kicks my behinds


ain’t got the blues

been snorin till my pussy

licked my nose


ain’t got the blues

I had for breakfast

when I refused to buy you rose


ain’t got no blues

a growin moldy fur

on my last orange peel


ain’t got no blues

little darlin hammerin

regret for a shit deal


ain’t got no blues

this afternoon that final

notice in my slot


no I ain’t got no blues

motherfucker a taste

of you is what I got


ain’t got the blues

this evenin naggin me

to comb my hair


ain’t got your blues

cuz my fuckin life

ain’t goin nowhere


ain’t got the blues

stuck in my throat from

gobblin bony trout


never got no blues

from any woman

who decided to eat out

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photo by David J. Spear

photo by David J. Spear

Lawyers study here

Poets sleep

For inspiration

Dream lawyers

Surfing Santa Cruz

Or net neutrality

Poets savor

Coffee & bacon


Hair on end

Pillow mussed

Ratty bed-clothes

Blue lawyers spin

Poets dreaming

Keats penning

Un-urned odes

Melancholy notes

Feathering musky

Fever soaked sheets

Lawyers lie

Naked and tied to

King-sized beds

Buy black leather

Wood-grained testimony

So help them God

Donated furniture

Oak & brass

To support

Sleepy poets

Dreaming justice

For all & peace

Given the chance

What Lennon asked

In Ghandi’s name

A twist of Irish

Knowing money

Can’t buy love

For broken benches

Let alone

Sandy beaches

Ginsberg to Darrow

Gaza to Graceland

American nightmares

Silent as the snow

At Wounded Knee

What we need

Why we fear


To laugh & breathe

So live it up

& let live

Since we’re here

Air conditioned

White on black

Leather chairs

In the lounge

Not hanging

On the streets

Of South Chicago

Or in Walnut

Trees wafting

In the winds

Of change . . .

Love is free

Or it isn’t


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The irascible old radical

cussing on the toilet

in the rest home

wasn’t John Muir, Bob Marshall,

or Robinson Jeffers,

but he lived in the wilderness

of his mind, a Buddhist

warrior who called Ginsberg

a cock-sucking Commie-Kike.


He knew he was losing

it and there was nothing

he could do. Anger

was his constant companion,

and he hated it, certain

the fucking game was rigged.

After sitting on the shitter

and mumbling for 10 minutes or so,

we asked if he needed anything.


He suggested we read poems,

so we obliged, stood outside

the opened bathroom door

and read him our verses

while he sat and shat,

praised and panned them

before drifting off again.


When finally we announced

we had to go, he stuck out

a hand we each took

and shook before leaving

him there hunched over,

eyes closed, the same posture

we’d found him in

nodding in his wheel chair

when we’d arrived an hour ago.


As I closed the door,

I wondered where he’d gone.

Perhaps back up into mountain air

to search for wolverine and lynx

there, or maybe he was living

a haiku in his head,

just floating out to sea.

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what it is


the intimacy

of drinking at a bar

sitting on a stool

next to someone talking

and listening to you

it could be a friend

or someone you just met

but it’s like you

really believe in it

as some sacred honor

to the bullshit

honesty of spirit

hunched so close

in the afternoon

you need only whisper

as the bartender preps

for the night shift

when you’ll shoulder

closer yet to yell over

the stereo-cranked

hooking-up pool-table crowd

of course alcohol helps

intensify this fragmented

tryst clamoring to

create companionship

still it’s surprising

the philosophers

and scholars you meet

statisticians, politicians

fallen angels

and the streetwise

theologians smoking

weed cigarettes and hawking

blue pills to old men

chasing hot-rod dreams

it doesn’t matter to you

what tomorrow will bring

when your elbows are on the bar

and you’ve time and money

to spend in conversation

laughing and drinking

in the voice, the eyes

of a new old friend

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Letter To The Poet, Loriette


for Sheryl Noethe


A quick note, Doll,

to lift you up,

to let you know

you are The Shit.

You really represent

it, poetry, the generosity,

the exploding heart

and the pure human disease

of fear swimming deep

in the marrow of our bones.


A poet’s job is to speak

the truth

as they know it

at any given moment

in the pulse of sunrise

or in the shrill glare

of their own blindness.


The poet’s task

is to capture the glib

grail and the drunken tool.

The biggest challenge

for a decorated

representative of poetry

is in negotiating

the minefield of proper behaviors

and that stormy sea of cold

steely eyes peering down

long noses to insist you dance

blandly to their off-key


then bow falsely

to collect your ball and chain.


You know my advice, Lori,

for a poet pressured

to politely pose under wreath,

cloaked in perfumed

political robes, and told to smile

and wave with lips closed—

Dearest, just tell them

to go fuck themselves.

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often made fun of

labeled immature

spoiled children

immoral freeloaders

drug addled

out of control

taxing resources

and wasting time

hippies defied the rules

in a very short while

they changed the world

psychedelics allowed them to see

everything is connected

man woman blood stone

flowing dimensionally

light soul love home

red yellow black and white

everything is one

pulsing wave slim pickens

waving buck naked

astride big bang

out of chute number two

a raging hard-on

clutched in his gripper

hippies knew

but didn’t care

they were a joke

to the power structure

they danced and smiled

kept getting fucked

up on fun tickets

so something had to be done

and they were really easy

to kick the shit out of

but the bully always begs

a hero a movement

a call for justice

a fucking war

social revolution

turning on

tuning in

and dropping out

sparked many fires

that scorched the asses

of the white-males

who owned the world

hippies opened the door

authority tried to slam shut

but alice had taken

us down the rabbit hole

and through the looking grass

to what was behind the hanging

clothes in the back closet

our fear of the unknown

was just that

rush of adrenaline

before the new journey begins

because it’s all a trip

one and the same

it’s all discovering

our atomic relativity

love is energy

man and woman brother

black cop or white

mothers let’s begin

a new foreign policy

exchanging acid for guns

the hippies made love

not war their minds were blown

they could see

and there was no way

they could continue

playing by the old rules

keep doing the bidding

or pulling the triggers

for frightened aggressive

dogmatically entrenched

old men determined

to hold out against change

ignoring the seasons

and denying cemeteries

those goddamned hippies

found the key that fit

pandora’s secret box

the one she hid under her bed

full of giggling and fucking

and funny little phrases

like do your own thing

and love the one you’re with

come on people now

smile on your brother

all you need is love

so just love one another

love is all there is

call it god the universe

endless love is free

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