New Year’s eve storm

let me wait out the storm right here

let me smoke cigarettes in the truck stop

let me order a plate of ham and scrambled eggs

let me pour on the tabasco sauce, let me

pay 85 dollars for someone to wash down

the Peterbilt before the five hundred mile

run to Spokane

don’t let anyone tell you that the

New Life Church of Christian Brotherhood

has all of the answers

or the Pope or the Dali lama

don’t let anyone get in the way of Progress

don’t flag down the latest politician

looking for a free bus ride

call a cab if you need one but

don’t expect to get off without paying a dime

it may be New Year’s Eve in Times Square, but

it’s still just another day in Kansas City

Philly and Evanston, Illinois.

and in Paducah.

expect little – pay a lot more

that’s the best way out, take the express lanes

if they are open

push it to the floor if you must but

watch out for oncoming traffic

lyrical ghost

The lyrical ghost
is usually 9 miles ahead
of me
he runs on fumes
and caffeine
so I don’t try to catch up
…he’ll run out of gas
the sorry old goat
he lives by his wits
but I don’t
let him
taunt the Old Man…
I give him
a porch to sit on
when he passes thru town
when the moon is new
and he has
that old dog with him
…that 15 year old dog that sits behind the
cane chair…
chewing the cockleburs out of his fur
that old black dog
he’s stiff in the joints
(the black dog)
I make the damned ghost
swear that he will be gone
half an hour before daylight

The lyrical ghost
says there there is no
ride like a 68 Bonneville
no piece of highway like
I-49 South
no mountains like
The Boston Mountains
no land
like east Oklahoma and
the Cookson Hills
and nothing like a big block Pontiac screaming across five states in one night
don’t take the guard rails with you,
keep it between the ditches
count the lines,
smoke ‘em if you got’ em
give it your best and pray you live until Sunday
no hubcaps needed
no state troopers need apply
he’s a damned outlaw

get up when it’s still dark
check the oil and the brake fluid
kick the tires
call for the black dog
and then just drive away

I hear him rattling around
nights when I can’t sleep
and Leah works until
at the casino
I hear him come in through
the back door
I hear him
throw his keys at the
hook by the basement door, then
he puts
Dave Dudley
on the Philco,
he plays
‘Fireball rolled a 7’
on the record player
after that
all I can do is get up and
write a poem

Merry Christmas from EEOTPB

The other day I received a holiday card from some friends who live on the other side of the country. It was the type of card that they had put together themselves using an online service. It featured a picture of themselves, their two kids and their dog. I like getting cards like that. It takes time and effort on the part of the sender and since I don’t see these people often, I enjoy the family picture. So it is somewhat inexplicable that I reacted to the card the way I did (I was in the middle of a bad day anyway).

“Look at this,” I said to my wife. “There is something really wrong here.”

I handed the card to her, saying, “I can’t believe Jason and Elizabeth (not their real names), let this go out like this.”

She looked at the card and handed it back to me. “I noticed that too,” she said, “ but Jason and Elizabeth have had so much going on in their lives this past year, I’m surprised they had time to send out cards at all. I mean, it’s only an apostrophe.”

I looked at the card again and there it was, staring me right in the face, ‘Seasons Greetings’, sans apostrophe. Didn’t Jason and Elizabeth know that right there between the ‘n’ and the ‘s’ there was a very important piece of punctuation missing?

“You know,” continued my wife, “this isn’t one of your technical books, it’s just a card. I know that you like to edit restaurant menus when we’re out, but really… you should just be happy they remembered us.”

I conceded that she was right. I was going over the top with my red pen.

Of course, our friends could have avoided the ‘Season’s Greetings’ apostrophe trap by using the apostrophe-less greeting, ‘Merry Christmas’, or the more politically correct greeting, ‘Happy Holidays’. But, perhaps it’s all not that important in the end. Maybe this is the time of year to let the small things pass. Maybe we need to quit nickel-and-diming one another. Forget the apostrophes and semi-colons in our lives (especially the semi-colons). Time to put the red editing pen away and pour a cup of eggnog. Call up that old cuss of an uncle to tell him that you forgive him for refusing to pay for the prop he busted on your outboard back in 1986. Time to turn it down a notch or two…drink a little, but not too much…eat some sweets, but not too many…turn off the television set for a few hours…put the away message up on Lotus Notes. Enjoy the season, it will be over before you know it and we’ll all be freewheeling into 2016, Campaign 2016…hang onto your hat, what a year it’s gonna be…

Thanks to all who have taken time out of their busy schedules to read EEOTPB this past year. I appreciate your support and your (usually) kind (but always welcome) comments. I look forward to reading more of your work in the upcoming year, and I hope you will continue to stop by here as time allows.

I wish the best of health and happiness to all.

w.e. Patterson

like I need a hole in the head

“Copy editor, must work nights”

That’s not the job for me,
so I tell the
lady at the
New Jersey agency
that I have the flu
and I can’t call
her back until
next week

I am not worried…I have
687 dollars in my
checking account
and at least
a dozen
unread poetry
books on the
wicker table by
the back door
and I quit smoking
last week…

…there’s a case of
unopened port wine
in the basement,

…and the lawnmower is torn apart
on the workbench
in the garage

I need night work like I need another
business trip to Seattle
…like I need another meeting with
that senior manager from
San Jose who drives
the Audi and
smokes clove cigarettes,

I need night work
like I need that waitress
at Wranglers’ Inn
in Missoula
with her attitude
about “last call customers”

I need night work
like I need light yard work