Summer/Palm Beach, FL

Summer nights in Palm Beach
you can almost wear
the heat around your neck
on a multi-colored lanyard
smell the night air drifting up from the
Boca ghetto 20 miles to the south
watch the bejeweled sky light up
like the gems in the shops on Worth Avenue
expect everything – you can afford it can’t you?
don’t drink the water
was it worth the hangover?
was it worth the Jacques Selosse?
that you’d ordered – spilled
for that special occasion
Don’t ask the waiter who couldn’t wait
to steal your Lana Marks bag,
don’t count on him,
he’s a traitor who’s fled West.

Keep up appearances
and don’t forget the dogs,
you’ll need them to keep you company
at the Breakers
after the politicians have left the room.

SO
talk the talk and enjoy the ride.

It ends in West Palm at the dog track.
It ends in a seedy poker room
with half a dozen guys smoking cigars
and talking legalized pot.
It ends in a sunset you will never see.

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don’t change a thing

don’t change a thing
please
don’t move
the McCoy pottery vase
that has stood
on the cherry wood table
in the front room
for the past 16 years,
leave it where it is…

leave the paper roses
where you found them
on the porch swing,
crumpled and soaked
in port wine,
leave the keys to the
’75 Chrysler New Yorker on the
Grand Hotel Key Rack
beside the basement
stairs
remember
it’s all in the details,
so don’t move anything
if you don’t have to

pretend
it’s morning again
So just – roll over,
it’s only 8 am
sleep for another hour
after all, the trains
don’t run on Sunday
later on
we’ll take the dogs out and
let them run
along the shore of the lake
just don’t change a thing
I’ll turn my hat around
and wear it backwards
I will offer you a clove cigarette
and a cup of black coffee
we’ll walk to
the railroad bridge
and we will put our back
to the summer wind
but we won’t change
a damned thing
ever, if we know
what’s good for us.

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,
compadre
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
downstairs
nights when I can’t sleep
and Leah works until
4Am
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

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

So
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

out of gas on the way to the dance

four miles south of town
just beyond the great bridge
the ‘75 Plymouth bucks to a halt,
no gas in the tank
it is there that Naomi tells me
that she’s half Kiowa

…she’s from Norman, Oklahoma
and she doesn’t mind walking…
but then she says:

“…we have been walking
since time began,

…we walk when we have to
we walked across the land bridge
70 thousand years ago
we walked across the
fucking continent,
at a mile and a half a decade…

…we walked when we were
about to give birth,
we kicked snakes
from our babies beds,
we burned our dead,
we left our crippled
to die alone
on rock outcrops
in the stinking desert,
we walked for 18 thousand years…

no

…we walked for 27 thousand years
with only dogs to pull our packs”

Naomi and I get out of the car

…she cools off a little

and we walk

south,

down the Garden State Parkway

toward the Exxon station

at exit 105

sweet sanity

…remember Sanity,
she was a cheap date

you left her on the
dining room table
at your aunt Loraine’s place
in Grand Rapids in ‘73,
(the summer you turned 19…)

…you abandoned her like a
bad tuna fish sandwich
wrapped in waxed paper,
at a bus depot in Moline
two years after that…

… you gave her away
to that girl with the wayward smile
when you had 57 bucks of
credit left
on your visa card…

…you welcomed her home
in ‘83 and again in ‘84 but then
you decided that there weren’t enough
wasps circling the moon…
…not enough flies landing on
the butter dish…
…not enough hounds barking…
…not enough moths playing the violin…

…you threw Sweet Sanity in the face
of that micromanager
that you worked for on The Street
in 1985 – Mr Plaid with the
tinted glasses…

…you prepared for meetings
…you called in the gamblers
dismissed the whores

you called the guys in the West Coast Office

when all bets were off…

…you lost at the slots
you drank at the bar
you bought the house
in Mt. Pocono…

…you traded the shotgun
for three cords of wood…

…you drank cheap vodka
in a smoky glass
and you sat in
poets’ bars…
…you stood up for
a cause that
won’t exist for
another
one hundred years

Sanity, don’t bet on her
she’s a dangerous ex-wife
she runs from you
then
she ruins you,
but you only know for sure
that she’s
left town for good
when you sit
upright in bed at
3am when the
dogs howl and
the wind is evil
and north has become
south and
the moon is in bed

AND

sunrise isn’t for
at least 3 and a half more
hours

the Florida panther

there is a panther lurking
around the shed behind
my house
I saw him last night
his

hungry…killer eyes
glowing in the
Everglades night
like twin lightning fires

in the sawgrass

I hadn’t spotted one since
’08, but there he was
a big, two hundred pound male

…a panther lurking,
waiting for his chance
to move with utmost
grace toward unsuspecting prey
he wants to
…take his name off of the
Endangered Species list
…so he can say to hell with
the environmentalists
and the tinhorn developers
and their lapdog politicians…
AND
when they are gone
& their carcasses picked to the bone
he’ll call everyone he knows
in North Jersey
and in Brooklyn and in Staten Island
and in Philadelphia
and in Grosse Pointe
and he’ll even call
his cousin Rachel,
that poor lost soul who
hangs her palm frond hat in
Panama City and he’ll
announce that
Panther Valley South is alive
and well — and open for business
and he’ll
charge them just two and a half a grand
on their Visa card
for the down payment
SO
don’t dismiss the experience
lightly
…don’t wait for the 18-hole course
to open sometime in the
spring (someday)
…well maybe, wait for it
but don’t plan for it…

you thought that fucking panther
was endangered
didn’t you…
but he lives

JUST

don’t bother to look for him
among the gators
and the snakes –
get out your binos and look for him just before sunset
that’s when he feeds

…look fast and you’ll spot him,
coming out of the grey, twilight mist,
steaking up I75 North, then
pausing momentarily
at the Alligator Alley
toll plaza, before pointing
his leased BMW west
into the
setting sun
toward
Naples

smoking a cigarette on Exchange Pl., 1993

Often
you remember
last times
more than
you remember first
times

you remember the last
Cigarette that
you smoked…ever
it was 1993
in July…
the day after
the loneliest poet in the world
died,
you read about it in the Post
but you
put it out of your head
for a couple of hours
then
you went outside
on 10:30 break
and you walked down Exchange
and
finally
without any remorse
at all, you walked up to
the first guy you saw
lighting up
and asked him
“hey pal, could you spare a smoke?”

he was a big guy,
he had on a paisley tie
choked up
tight against his neck
hypertension written
in stalactites across
his red cheeks

“what’s it worth to ya”
he says
Bellowing it out like a
gasbag Texas oil guy
in a Vegas whorehouse

he shakes a pack at you

…Chesterfield Kings

…you hesitate…

“Are these cancer sticks
too much for you son?”
he raises an eyebrow
his face
looks a little more red
than before…

and you tell him

“not at all”
and you say that
you are
well acquainted
with the risks
of
smoking

The passing of Misao Okawa; moving on to National Poetry Month

Enthusiasm is at the bottom of all progress. With it there is accomplishment. Without it there are only alibis – Henry Ford.

I thought I should mention that Misao Okawa, once the world’s oldest person has passed. Ms. Okawa died peacefully in a nursing facility in Higashisumiyoshi, Japan on April 1st the age of 117, just one day after I mentioned her in in my blog-post of March 31st. That particular post was geared to reminding us all (myself in particular) that no matter how many years we are allotted, that time does run out, and if there is anything in particular that one wants to accomplish, then there is no better day than the one you are in, to begin.
As I noted in that earlier post, Ms. Okawa mentioned in one of her final interviews, that life to her had “…seemed rather short”, leaving me to wonder what hope there is for the rest of us mortals if the world’s oldest resident felt that life had been short.
Upon the death of Ms. Okawa, 116 year old Gertrude Weaver of Arkansas, the daughter of a sharecropper, assumed the title of the world’s oldest person. Ms. Weaver, who would have turned 117 on the fourth of July of this year, had scant few days to enjoy the honor, as she passed on April 6, passing the super-centarian torch to 115 year old, Jeralean Talley of Michigan.

…moving on…

April is National Poetry Month. And since EEOTPB is sort of a quasi-poetry blog (although I didn’t really intend it to be so when I started out a couple of years ago), I think it is only fitting that I mention National Poetry Month in this space, and to further mention what I’m going to do to observe it (especially since April is more than half gone already…go figure that).

In honor of National Poetry Month, I have ordered a few more copies of my poetry book, titled “Outrunning the Storm”. I will be giving these copies away until they run out, so if you’d like one, drop me an email at wepatt@hotmail.com. Send me your snail-mail address and I will ship one out to you. Free of charge.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to write a review or anything. Hell, you don’t even have to read the book if you don’t want to, but honest, heartfelt, reviews are always welcome.

And don’t worry about it if you read this next month, in May – after National Poetry Month runs out (expires). I’m no stickler for details. If I still have a book, then you have a copy.
Mahalo
–ed