You Know Who

He emanates an ugliness beauty parlors couldn’t fix

it’s not imaginary that victims hear his psyche cackle

his every breath spews a malevolent excretion

A most prized possession being a mirror bloodied and in shards


Grievance bleating his perpetual static state

warped by depraved and inconsolable neediness

his vessel always on the ready with decomposing bile

branded the mega alpha and omega but of the self-con


All life viewed through a prism transactional

a life long loser incapable of addressing reality

Solomon once wearily shrugged after saying,

“you can’t fix evil, it’s unrecognizable to itself”

A Lullaby For The Dark

Sour neighborhoods cluttered with soft hard kids

the gates of egress adorned with prickly spikes

no directional signage for life’s stations of the cross

very few chutes, mostly mirages of ladders, minus rungs

perchance to dream, sure, more likely just lay low


Slickly oiled up and anointed as tabula rasas

ensconced in the insidest of sick jokes

breathing in and out in a sundown world 24/7/365

the keys to any kingdom always beyond grasp

it’s a fabled concept spewed by word torturers


In even the most forlorn, yes, resides a dim glimmer of hope

can it ever intermittently eschew dormancy, or even artfully rule?

Try attempting facing the mirror and diving through the distortion

seeking the sprouting, shunning the stunted and gnarled

while praying all searing pain and hurt could be exit wounds

Family, or Not

* Inspired by the Bruce Springsteen song “Highway Patrolman”

We was raised on a family farm way out of town

croppin’ wasn’t easy but the lifeblood we found

two boys, me and Jed, our sister Rose died at eleven

buried past the barn when he was twelve and I ten

one day here, then gone, Mama said it was the fever

told me not to say a word and everyone believed her


Jed soon turned dark, just ugly treating others

we was the same but so unlike blood brothers

he earned a reputation, it spread and soiled me

kids would quietly edge away, watching fearfully

but Becky Cook took to likin’ me, be it luck or fate

with her I felt alive,  a liftin’ of the heaviest of weight



Life moves on but absence ain’t just not being seen

Darkness shadows families, we claw at the holes in between


My parents said don’t you dare bring her around

When I’d ask why, they’d say you just calm down

Jed told me to do it, with a look like he knew more

Then he’d smirk and continue on with his chores

one day Becky called wanting to see me by myself

Daddy and Mama in town, Jed to parts unknown


She showed up and I told her I liked her smile

I went to find my  favorite book, floatin’ all the while

when I returned, she was gone less a single shoe remaining

I called her name to no answer, silently spittin’ out a prayer

then I heard a scream outside and tore into the yard

Jed was draggin’ Becky away like a corpse to the boneyard



Life moves on but absence ain’t just not being seen

Darkness shadows families, we claw at the holes in between


Jed turned, let her go, then ran into the barn

Becky shaking, her dress dirty and blood adorned

Daddy’s truck appeared, he asked “why’s she here?”

“Jed hurt Becky” and Daddy’s eyes displayed fear

“He’s in with the livestock and I want at him”

Daddy had Mama take us inside, him pale and grim


A single shot rang out, Daddy took two hours to return

sayin’ “there’ll be no more problems, nothing of concern”

an hour later, he spoke again with “it’s time for the truth”

he said, “Emory, this is gonna taste like bitterroot

it was evil but family, what Jed did to our sweet Rose

but taking it outside us left me nothing but what I chose”



Life moves on but absence ain’t just not being seen

Darkness shadows families, we claw at the holes in between



The Sound of One Hand Writing

I’m still on my John Prine-ish (if that isn’t heresy) binge. Let’s call this a music-less song rather than a poem.

I got a woodpecker in my pants

some mistake it for a fer-de-lance

it makes my legs sway to and fro

although both my feet flatly say no


I’m stuck with a pair of alligator arms

don’t worry, they’ll do ya no harm

And the eyes I own aren’t the same size

On the beauty way, I’ll win no prize


(Chorus) We have our bodies til death do us part

I think mine was assembled a la carte


My disks are each fully fragmented

still in place, yes, but slightly dented

biting into moon pies makes me giggle

when I get up, my thighs they wiggle


I need to minimize my gluteus max

ain’t all diets a personal sin-tax?

lost count adding up my multiple chins

Let’s call it a maximizing of all my skin


We have our bodies til death do us part

I think mine was assembled a la carte


My nose knows what’s fingerlickin’ good

food tasting should be my livelihood

Throughout my boyhood I just misunderstood

Not too many spark plugs under my hood


We have our bodies til death do us part

I think mine was assembled a la carte


You know my toes, they refuse to twinkle

when it come to snorin’ I’m Rip Van Winkle

my pecs been the victim of some kidnapping

I’m a piss poor candidate for chromosome mapping


The few muscles in me are the slow twitch kind

I’m disinclined to ever seek peace of mind

nobodys ever asked me to pee in a cup

cause my human algorithm has never added up


We have our bodies til death do us part

I think mine was assembled a la carte

The Past, the Present and The Future


Not final thoughts, call them edible words

written hard in mind and put away wet

Evil is, yes, the world’s purest desire

and humans will never break from its twining

it’s a backwater oozing enchanting siren songs

laden with devil hybrids and soul strip mining


Long before this nation’s so-called founding

chains were placed heavy across human hearts

call it the original-est of mankind’s sins

the scars on the Blacks in order to tell them apart


Death freighters sailed across the dark seas

Lower in the water, burdened with heavy hate

the ticket-less cargoes bound for King Cotton

timeless auction blocks still the South’s soulmate


Label them holy shrines or places of the damned

hellholes of Wallace, Maddox, Connor and that filth

the reality is there’s a new generation always bidding

the latest now nattily dressed in suits and ties of silk


Oh, come one, come all to the public lynch

it’s a swing and sway of the three-fifths faction

for when it’s a state’s right to maim and then kill

you cannot emancipate solely with a proclamation


Call it an alignment with the status quo gospel

brewed and marinated in feral and fetid DNA

always remember, ‘it’s Mr. James Crow to you boy’

for the genocidal will never stop seeking prey


Yes, human giants climbed many of the mountaintops

alerting and and warning about fires of five alarm

challenging the plaintive ‘we’ve always done it this way’

battling malignant foes laden with a love to harm


But this ill extends far beyond the southern seceders

to constituents professing kinship with the Golden Rule

but when human innocence is profanely slain

the thirst of all is quenched by the vilest of cesspools


Have black lives ever really mattered?

only in the futures market of the enslaved

angels yes, but among us there are no better devils

much history is home sweet home for the depraved

An Anecdotal Report Pedaling through Ireland

The Land of the Silent “H”

This past summer, I returned to Ireland for another bicycling trip, this one a  tour of the Southwest County Cork area. I booked it with Irish Cycling Safaris, a Dublin-based company that sponsors week-long tours in seven different regions of Ireland. Rides average 30 to 35 miles per day, with the nominal tour leader transporting luggage, setting up bed-and-breakfast accommodations and passing out maps of our daily cycling routes.

My tourmates’ ages ranged from 25 to 63, with England, Austria, Germany and Spain represented in addition to the Unites States.

We began in Cork City and pedaled our way to Gougane Barra (a beautiful lakeside monastic setting), Bantry (with its beautiful bay), remote Ahakista, Schull, Baltimore (no Cal Ripken sightings to report), Clonakilty and finally Kinsale on day seven.

I enjoyed two previous tours with Irish Cycling Safaris. Recalling these past experiences, actually recalling the pain of these past experiences, got me to spend a fair amount of time on my bicycle preparing for my Tour de Cork.  The memory of a behind that feels like it has been newly branded with an outline of a bicycle seat is a great motivator.

Many Adventures

So what did I learn on this tour? The first lesson is the Irish do not believe in street signs.  No, let me amend that statement. They do not have street signs, but in Cork City at least, street signs are embedded in the sidewalks near most street corners. This works just dandy for pedestrians, unless the streets are crowded. But is useless for cyclists or drivers unless you enjoy pulling over every couple of blocks, heading for the street corner, and peering down to check where you are.

Forsaking street signage and asking for directions is also the beginning of another grand adventure.  The Irish use landmarks—go left at the brown barn, cross the alleyway and then head right past the yellow house. Be forewarned: the colorblind should stay far, far away from this isle.

Gastronomically, eating in Ireland, even for a vegetarian as I am, is a surprisingly enjoyable endeavor. Most restaurants offer pasta or rice dishes in the evening, and wonderful soups were always available in pubs during our noon-time breaks. In Dingle, on a previous trip, I enjoyed the variety at the World Cafe, which featured entrees from 10 different countries.

On the other hand,in out-of-the-way Ahakista, our bed-and-breakfast hostess did her damndest to fulfill my request for a vegetarian entree. I believe all four of my courses featured one common ingredient: mayonnaise. Thankfully, dessert did not.

But that’s why the Irish have Guinness—to make what is wrong, right. Or at least to forget about it for a while. Guinness is considered a cure for anything and everything.  Digestive problems? Have a Guinness. Arthritis? One Guinness coming up. Marriage problems? Drink two or three as necessary.

The famous Irish Pubs

Speaking of imbibing means speaking of pubs.  Irish pubs are like coffeehouses here, or even gossip. Remarkably, there is no pressure to make a purchase when you enter a pub.  Unless you go to the bar and place an order, you’ll enjoy uninterrupted conversation and music.  But don’t bother asking about no smoking sections.  There are none.

Musically, the standing joke on this tour was there really is no traditional music played anymore in Ireland. Every time we stepped into a pub to inquire about music that night, the answer was “ye be wanting to come around tomorrow night” or “sorry, last night, now that was a session.”

Listening to the people talk can be a bewildering experience.  Irish men can seemingly have a conversation simply by using vowels. Two men meet and bystanders hear ‘aaaaaa,’ ‘ooooo,’ ‘eeeee’ in various combinations and intonations. Then they shake hands and one of them just bought a horse.

The Irish also tend not to pronounce the letter ‘h’ when speaking. The phrase “three thousand cattle” becomes “tree tousand cattle.” Check out the next Irish band that comes to town to see if I’m right.

I also learned a new word that’s great for multiple uses: dodgy. A bad drink is a dodgy pint.  A bad lie on the golf course is a dodgy lie.

Other Irish phrases of note: A botched operation is a “medical misadventure.” To offer to “know someone up ” means to be willing to knock on their door to awaken them in the morning. Asking someone to “go for a ride” is a much more intimate request than one involving a bicycle.  Substitute what you thought “knocking someone up” meant for “going for a ride” and you have it.

The Irish may be a bit shy at times but they love to talk, and a complete stranger will do just fine. Accommodating is another word that describes the Irish. No request is too large or small. One could probably ask for an audience with the Pope and they would get right on it.

And whoever said the Irish area a pessimistic lot should explain this phenomenon:  almost every freestanding house in this wet climate seems to have a backyard clothes line in use. My guess is it gives the clothes a second washing.

In closing, cycling in Ireland requires accepting these absolute truths: 1) the cycling route always leads toward the darkest clouds, and 2) no matter which way your wheels turn, you’ll encounter a head wind (and a pub). Slainte.

(published in the Mid-County Post, Travel section, March 12, 2002)