Nap Time

Big lake like a sodium free ocean
Skinny boy body bereft of bad
Habits
Mud-slinging breaks the surface
Of August morning water we want
To be clean and calm light sifting
Its sharp fingers through us

Making us young and less pink
Skin taught by the sun
Building dirt castles
Where water meets our clocks

Stand still little boy and be taut
Preparing for an altruistic battle
With unknown forces pulling sand
From lazy old beach head
Lake, pool, ocean of the
Primordial snooze
The sleep of the dead

Two hours breaks the sun in half
Spring forth bulbous birth
Keep the body of water and flesh
Playing in the fountain with youth

from Fat Poet Dies in Grain Elevator Accident & Other Poems

#NationalPoetryMonth

The Candidate

Sniffling down a back country road
Heels digging in, gravel scraping
Brown patent leather shoes fresh
From a misguided campaign
Hands shaking

Country smells like a determined spring
Ring through the nose
The pig don’t rut
Shade of the magnolias keep
Blood from boiling beautiful
bad dream turned real

Shot to the gut
Lead and flesh and silent organs
Curtsey and dance uncomfortable
Waltzing and pulling unfriendly
Arm in arm not knowing

What had you done
Slow crawl to a kudzu grave
Sunshine on your forehead
Taste of blood and spring in your mouth
Now you start to know

from Fat Poet Dies in Grain Elevator Accident & Other Poems

#NationalPoetryMonth

Breaking Up with the Living

Death unto my eyes comes from a distance.
Hurry and wait like renewing
Your license to be.
No frail painted endings can be seen from my fire.
No tears for a lucky number.
Winter stumbles in like a drunken trapper
Not knowing to be sad. The day ends
With a fuse bright that doesn’t look back.
Not of my heaven on earth
Shall I go. Dust like those before.

Touched you small.
Time stops
Not for those who ask politely
Then pressing autumn leaves
To a familiar ground. I have come
To think of you on this day
Don’t worry for me
Safe and away my part has been played
Go today and embrace
The sun or the rain. It’s still there
Beside you I rest,
We move on with a nod.
It’s not you, it’s me.
I’ll call you.

from Car Sick from Circus Peanuts

#NationalPoetryMonth

Marry Me

Down by the creek doors always open
I said marry me
You said ferry me
To the other side of this wide life
You’ll be my wife
Little white church
In a green green field

Dancin’ in the aisles when the prayin’s done
Rippin’ an’ shoutin’ like the Lord wanted
Us ta have fun til the morning sun
Sunday’s here, Saturday’s gone
But you and I can’t be wrong
Down by the creek doors always open

Pretty pretty woman
Gonna be my bride
Goin’ down that river side by side
Dressed in white
My heart high like a kite
Pull my strings

Dancin’ in the aisles when the prayin’s done
Rippin’ an’ shoutin’ like the Lord wanted
Us ta have fun til the morning sun
Sunday’s here, Saturday’s gone
But you and I can’t be wrong

Doors always open
Put on those rings
Down by the creek
Find what you seek
Little white church
In a green green field

Stands so quiet for us to arrive
Then makes us dance when the prayin’s done
Floors creakin’ to the beat of our hearts
Just like the good lord wanted done
You and I have become one

Little white church
In a green green field

MUSIC & VOCALS By Rob Meany

from Wanna Be a Rock-Star, Can’t Play a Gui-Tar

#NationalPoetryMonth

Goddamn Miller

Please set up the cannon to be shot in the early morning
The Governor is coming to town and we care
Not a bit to drill the new fuse hole
Find the cannon red and blue steel buried under dirt and
Time up on Miller’s homestead.
Why can’t goddamn Miller control his boys
It was probably the middle one – what’s his name –
Tommy – he’s got a four year old son and the mother
Lives down by Manchester near the airport
If Tommy could hold a job that little boy could
Have what the others do
Stealing cannons is all the Millers ever seem to do
Tommy’s grandfather stole it
His father didn’t
He did
Not that I care but I don’t even know if he has
A job
And two out of three millers stole
The cannon
not properly working in over 150
Years
Go by and see the boy
Try not to mention the cannon
Mary

from Car Sick from Circus Peanuts

#NationalPoetryMonth

Young Forest

Cowering before the gangly young woods
Enter and be freed by sapling twigs
Biting the side of a frost captured face
Taste the frozen palette of the bright
Colorless world painted by blushing winds

Enter and be claimed by life and death
Co-mingling on a forest floor
The crunch of death is buoyed
By the sparkle and snap of life
Enter and be new by the quiet
Punctuated by the drum roll of a grouse
Welcoming by moving away
Tucking a crisp untamed naïve aire under wings

Enter and be not judged
By the young inhabitants
With only growth and sky on wooden minds
Running rings around us
Dreaming of straight and narrow poplar ideas
Don’t hesitate at the cusp
Age from within and be a part
Play a part in something bigger
Make your way
Into the center of solitude
Enter and be you

from Fat Poet Dies in Grain Elevator Accident and Other Poems
#NationalPoetryMonth

Intangible

She cut her teeth on diamonds and fire
She was the love of my strife
Held her near as horses trampled
By elegant and emaciated
Veins of red ice frozen still
Estranged from tomorrow
Tethered to yesterday’s gone

She was my kingdom
I was her scene and electricity
Of the human kind
Enough energy to keep sharks away
Not enough to move it forward
Like winter in May
We said nothing and looked away
Secretly crafting a plan
To see spring one day
alone

We remember each other’s guises
Better than the memories
Hoofs beat sawdust of the circus
The three rings
Life love hope
She put on three shows a day
Made me a high wire balance act
We were together like stars and night
She was gone in bad weather
Disappearing like a tangent

from Fat Poet Dies in Grain Elevator Accident and Other Poems

Gotta Look

Hey you with your books
Don’t gimme your looks
Off your high horse
And talk to the pawns
We don’t live in fastidious times
Puttin’ down hideous rhymes
But to get to the point
We’ve gotta look around
To get to the truth
We’ve gotta be found
Love is like
The longest hike
A blackboard with writing
Two kids play fighting
The tide and the moon
Makin’ an agreement
Dove being sent
You paying rent
Cherry bombs
With a vodka furnace
It’s gonna churn us

Hey you with your books
I’ve got my hooks
And ladders that shatter
The windows above
The mercury will give ya a shove
Fire on the second floor
Kills the third floor
Fire on the first floor
Squatter on the dirt floor
Bustin’ up chifferobes
Dancin’ like Hazel Motes
The prophet dotes

Hey you with your books
Call ‘em chefs or call ‘em cooks
When the sun hits the pan
Egg’s gotta fry
When the boy hits the street
Mama’s gonna cry
Love is like
A cruise missile
Gotta blow the whistle
Lay in my bed
Of silk and thistle
Held back by the bottom
Pushed down by the top
You’ve got your presidents
But we’re the residents

Hey you with your books
What’s your favorite hymn
This life is crooked
It needs a shim
Sham is to the public
Shiv is to the rhetoric
Wake before you go
To sleep
Shut up before you go
To weep

Hey you with your books
It’s your move
Queen me with your rooks
Catch your breath
Take my breath
Knock this world
Inside out
Books make the route
Move over
Hey you move over
I’m comin’ up
I’ll eat those books like fire
Spit out the words
My mouth’s for hire

Hey you with your books
I’m comin’ up
I’m givin’ the looks
And makin’ them mine
It’s all gonna be real
Real fine.

from Wanna Be a Rock-Star, Can’t Play a Gui-Tar

The Refrigerator

The refrigerator is rotten
It’s shiny and stainless
Stealing glances from the stove
Upright and dependable
But cold and keeps to itself
Lately a smell emanates
From beneath its non-sentient seething
When questioned it remains
Impervious and above reproach
What’s going on
What are you hiding
I scream, not caring
It outweighs me and gives
Ice that I depend upon
For drinks that give me courage
To scream at it
Is it you
Who are you
Protecting
Vegetables, meats
Don’t make me come in there
You need to cooperate
You damn rotten refrigerator
I need more ice

from Fat Poet Dies in Grain Elevator Accident & Other Poems

Learning How to Say Goodbye

Saying goodbye can be hard, especially for teenagers. An important part of growing up is learning to say goodbye. I don’t mean to dying people. I mean on the phone. With the advent of texting, the art of saying “goodbye” has fallen by 92%. My wife, I’ll refer to her as Cynthia, and I are trying to explain to our teenage daughter how to end her rare phone conversations with the word “goodbye”.

Most of my friends my age had teenagers many years before me. I talked to those teenagers on the telephone on ocassion. Those teenagers all had similar telephone abilities. Generally, a small selection from several families proved to have limited abilities of passing messages on to parents and saying goodbye at the end of a conversation was a near impossibility.

I was able to remedy the problematic message taking by simply not relying on my friends’ children to take a message, but there was nothing to do about the awkward no “goodbye” goodbye. Luckily for me, I’m a big proponent of non-conformity. However, the social cue of ending a phone call with the word “goodbye” or sometimes “bye” was something I had grown used to over multiple years of phoning.

I get it. Things change. Elvis swung his hips and the teens turned out ok. And every generation after, the teens did something the older people didn’t like. Yet every time, the older people end up dying and the teens become the older people – who eventually don’t like something the new teens are doing. Because of this history, I could really only be amused by the lack of “Bye” knowledge of the new generation.

Somehow I had learned the protocol of saying goodbye from watching the previous generation use the telephone. It seemed less like a form of etiquette and more like a verbal marker to let the other person know the call was officially over. However, that said, ending a phone conversation without a goodbye was paramount to a hang up on the other party, falling directly into the bad manners section.

But some years ago I started to think that maybe the teens were onto something. At the time, my business partner and I ran a successful online business with me in Minneapolis and him in Virginia. My business partner, I’ll name him Dave for this story, and I spoke a minimum of ten times each day. We talked about everything that people in business would talk about ranging from customers to workflow to new equipment purchases. Unfortunately for Dave, he also heard long stories from me that had nothing to do with the work we did each day.

In thinking about my friend’s teenager hanging up on me when he was done talking, I struck upon what I thought to be a revolutionary idea. Every conversation that Dave and I had ended with a “goodbye.” I told Dave that if we worked in an office and talked near our cubicles or if I went into his office and had a conversation, we wouldn’t end each conversation with us both saying goodbye. By us saying goodbye, over the course of the year we were wasting upwards into the minutes of productive time.

Dave listened patiently to my rant as he often did – as I literally wasted minutes of productive time explaining to him how we could be more efficient with our time. After making my point, I hung up immediately without saying goodbye. Dave was (is) such a nice guy, so it seemed a little rude. But I realized that I just needed to get by “The Man’s” goodbye programming and begin these time saving measures immediately.

We implemented only like a two person operation could, phasing this new plan in like right now. It took a while to make the no goodbye system work. First, Dave kept forgetting that we weren’t saying goodbye anymore. Next, we went through a phase where we weren’t quite sure if we should hang up. We would ask if the other had anything more to say. If no, there was a quiet pause where the word goodbye would have gone, followed by the hang-up.

These are the kind of things that I find humorous and for this reason I can keep this in the front of my head at all times. For me, every phone call was just another chance not to say goodbye and see how quickly I could hang up. Dave was usually thinking about more important things than me and sometimes would forget not to say goodbye. I would even call back and ask to try that hang up again if we weren’t too busy. I didn’t know this at the time, but Dave had a lot on his mind and to top it off he may have been in an abusive relationship – with me.

This only lasted for a couple weeks and eventually ended. The stamina it took to stay on top of not saying goodbye was too tremendous. I don’t have any pictures from the time, nor did Dave tell me this, but I believe the stress of not saying goodbye could have led to Dave shedding some 30 pounds of his already lean frame. On the other hand, I began ending conversations at home with Cynthia by saying “goodbye” in order to compensate for never saying it on the phone. Up was down and down was up.

What I learned from this experiment is that while the goodbye was not always necessary, it was a helpful social marker to end conversations. Maybe switching to the shortened version of “bye” would have been the best option.

We are now teaching our teenage daughter how to talk on the phone. Believe it or not, there are times when it’s actually easier to just talk. I try to stay patient when I call her and I get a text back that says, “What?” If she would have only answered her phone, she would have instantly had her answer. The talking on the phone requires the use of full words and not just acronyms. And at the end of those great big unabbreviated sentences via the voice, you get to use the friendly indicator named “goodbye.” Maybe my daughter can cut it down to “GB”. I’m ok with that. As long as she occasionally answers her phone with her voice. Thanks for listening. Goodbye.

Saddly Yours,

Jason Spafford

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