April 22, 2013, Five New Poems, Five Old Ones, from the Roanoke Era, 1986-1991


On lead guitar is
Bradley Carr, adding “Midnight
Hour” to the
long list of covers
sprinkled with original

gems like “Out the Door
and Down the Road.” We
opened for all,
from Bobby Blue Bland to Roy
Buchanan, Toy Caldwell, back

when the Iroquois
rocked, and Roanoke
offered rogues
a way to scrape by
on very little: not that

we knew any! It
must have shocked you to
find Andrey
forced in, but right then we were
as good as any band had

to be to
continue the tour, pay for
small pay, enjoy
camaraderie and
each other’s antics.

Even I
have a child now, and often
wonder what’s
going on up there.
How are you old friend?


Other than being
the creatively inclined
power in the rhythm group
that drove nails into shit shops
and songs into the

hearts and feet
on nice days to be
doing something. You
also went,
by old green Volvo

to count cigarettes
for Mary Ann. We were damned
spies cutting into some poor
sap’s meager extra wages
earned form smuggled tax

free boxes.
My favorite moment
was not on stage, but
when, to her
surprise, you lifted

the covers
on naked Penny. Exposed,
and tasty
one might add,
all she could do was

blush when you
asked if I was going to
join in the
fun. The best times of
my life still ring clear.


How many
bags did you drop off
for Gitsies? When you lost the
love of your
life, broke your Les Paul and dove

into one
bottle after the
next, who failed to tell
you a better girl
would be along? Who

forgot to
force you into your
rightful slot as a full-time
band member?
I guess I screwed this hidden

too. Even morning
sober your guitar
made Dogwoods bloom and
sad men cry. You were

the great one,
but never cut yourself some
slack, some space
from which to re-grow,
as the bean sprouts in

the dead black
cabinet, or down a well.
Recall, please, your own
Kindness, simple times
Down by the river.


You cranked us
up, stole band members,
pulled practice together, and
even bought
a van. By God we

were going to be
rock stars, ,or at least
regional favorites. ‘Shrooms for
the first show at the
Cave at Roanoke College.

Then a run
to Harrisonburg,
opening for Boyd Tinsley:
in the pre-Dave days.

The Coffee Pot break
was as solid as
the glue you used to found us.
Your speed was full tilt
in a group of laid

back. Never
to forget the glory days,
now so far
away, but you found
a niche in music,

while some of
us hung it up completely.
For you the
motivation runs
deep. Rock on young man.


You dropped young Jule
into unknown Roosevelt
apartment, took off with Lee
to scope the Rochester gay
scene, or dance, or to…

She woke up
and cried, fell back to
sleep, woke up an cried, so I
hugged her and in my
mind I cried.

Back then I thought you
could replace the giant hole
in my heart; then two others
tried, but I cannot be changed
so they tired, as you

saw again
in beloved Hamburg;
even Brahms neighborhood
could not smooth over
the fact that

you were with
the new right man, and I had
stayed past the
expiration date
of the plastic key

in the nice
inexpensive place you found
us. You knew,
better than I, how time
flies, makes bad moves worse.

Five Old Ones from the Roanoke era:

God of Death

Jesus Christ would not be proud
To see religion in this state. (Virginia that is.)
TV evangelists preach a canon of intolerance.
Jesus never expected people to hate in his name.

Building amusement parks in homage to God
Makes as much sense as waging war for Christ.
A god who attracts such diverse attentions
Is not a nice god or even a holy god.

He must be the god of money, or,
The god of land acquisition, or, perhaps
Even the god of death. Now that should
Set bells ringing in your bible-belt ears.

The god of death destroys life and love,
The god of death is worshipped in America.

Modern Sonnet One

October hangs an orange half-moon
Necco wafer colored illumination:
Confectioner’s halo, sugar dusted hallucination
Bouncing (barely) between bushes.

Rays, through fog’s insipid blockage,
Hypnotize your member and the mound.
Life-barbaric deca-dents your soul.
Dogs howl at your heart, impure.

Wind infects limbs like lambs unwooled;
Directs your body to hooded lips.
Suggestive steam, libationary longings,
Foreskin forces dextrous dappling.

Sordid yearnings rectify your column,
Twitching tunnels tantalize.


Watercolors fill spaces between
Pine branches as the moon delivers
Inconsistent reflections
To a wandering man.

Winds blow, rearrange
Shadows at his feet.
This starts him thinking.
He angles across a field.

He enters darkness,
Lured by solid colors,
Wallowing away from fields
To a thick-boughed stand:

Crashes into sticky bark
Falling under weaving cones
Crumpled in a mass of blue,
Surrounded, cold, but sheltered.

Soup is Good Food

Coffee grounds, like so much weeping,
Never find a place. You can’t fertilize with tears,
You can’t exasperate yourself with leftovers.

Eggshells, like so much death,
Have no place thinking. You can’t explain their existence,
You dare not whisper in their presence.

Fifties decor, like so much sex,
Never adds to the place. You keep your condoms
Hoping to avoid disease. Never get a chance.

Kodachrome, like so much tax,
Places judgement on obstacles. You grind
Existence into death, snapping housefly moments.

Banana peels, like so much emotion,
Send ball lightning through your place.
Nothing grabs like solo meatloaf dinners.

Face of Death

A certain double-breasted bag-toter
Totters toward a balding muse.
She, red-haired proliferator,
Makes his dreams uncommon
With a mound, abstract, but dense.

She hails from Pennsylvania,
Chocolate covered glasses
Melting into cheeks
Above a smile; two hands
Stuffed in black wool pockets.

Now she laughs at fashion,
Leaks another glimpse: vanishes
Before the double-breasted
Has a chance to grab a piece.
A wake of snow entices.

Our gentle bag-toter
Unprepared to face
Her face of death
But hot to chase the rest,
Lunges, parries, turns into

The safety of a library,
Where he dreams the Muzak
Version of Beethoven’s Fifth:
Imagines Ludwig working up
Five thousand RPMs six feet under.

A syphilitic soul,
Nonetheless adventurous,
Ludwig forges through Bavaria’s bedrock,
Digging a tunnel to her door.
This attracts the double-breasted.

Allowed, by mere coincidence,
To follow Ludwig’s lead,
Double-breasted brings his bag along.
The face of death inspires
But demands sacrifices

Beyond double-breasted’s realm.
He may have to hang on
For dear life. He may have to
Get naked, be inspected
And ridiculed before gaining access.

The bag lends moral support.
“Ludwig is probably playing a prank,”
He thinks, as subconscious yearnings
Drag him through town,
Around rules, above convention,

Into the laughing, bouncing-butted
Body with the face of death.
She snarls. His actions verify
What she suspects: a gap between
Reality and his brain. She blends

Into his dream, asks him what he wants.
“Now I know your body,
It’s better than your face,
We felt good together,
Got some drugs around the place?”

This takes her by surprise,
So she pours a mushroom tea
And offers tea and Oreos
Which he readily accepts.
“What makes you care about me?”

Spouts the face of death.
“My friend Ludwig led me here
After you had vanished.
He knows what I should do,
He wants me to do you.”

She often has to sit and dream
Of proper male behavior,
So she teases him along.
“You want me so much,
But you hang there unappealing.

Why don’t you masturbate
So we can go another round?”
Toter stiffened to the test,
And said, with a wry smile,
“Death on the doorstep.”

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