The Drummer

He palms the zebra-print lighter

he forgot to give her.

He found and pocketed it

the day before she ran away.

Now he grapples for it

when he isn’t practicing set

to calm his shaking hands.


Ta-ki-ta boom

burst the red bubble blisters.

So he goes out for a 99cent

coke bottle and a pack of cigarettes.

He eyes the flushed girl

in line in front of him.

She’s hot–


and 7cent short.

No I don’t have dime

but I can spar’a quarta

he cracks, shooting it across the counter

with a finger flick.

She leaves fast.

He buys a pop and a Camel pack.


The crunch of the ice rings nice

against the silent night.

His sits on his apartment stoop alone

seeing her red lips

swollen to a pucker from the cold.

He holds out his broad scarred hands

like to cup the vision of her round ass.


He lights a clope and draws.

Squinting at the zebra print against the frosty night

he wraps his fingers round it tight

steadying them against the shiver.



You alight

from the dark controlled capsule.

Adrenaline hits your veins–

Your breath escapes you–

Your eyes, glossed over

by torrents of air,

hallucinate fire mirages.


Your parachute billows

behind your camouflage suit

like peacock plumes.

It catches hard at your chest

righting your falling body.

The treeline comes into view.


You thud and roll

in a muddy plain.

Your kneecaps ache from knocking

on impact.

Your head throbs.

You stand, a worn rag doll:

You always come tumbling after


Carolina skies

Wide open like the highway

Pink seashells smilin’

A Tribute

On gray days like this one

The air thick and humid

We drive, circling the city streets

smoke winding before our eyes



Today, like many others,

I hug the park perimeter

lean right, steer across the bridge

and halt at the curb.

Inside the gray house

with the barren yard and stubby

crumbling stone wall

Grandma sits in an armchair.


Shades drawn, the light is a dark musty yellow.

She is pregnant.

There is no father like there is no lamp

Only the armchair in yellow light.


I don’t say a word

but take her to the hospital

–more like a super mall decked

in plastic palms, wishing fountains and grease.

Her room here has white linoleum floors

and a bed spread in white sheets.

It is dark, too

Except for the white glow peeking through the blinds.


There is a complication with the birth

explains a man in a white doctor’s coat.

She needs staples in her stomach

I nod silently.

She lurches at the staples

Blood sprays from her stomach

It fills her mouth.

I close my eyes,



I’m gonna name my kid Coliapea.

These things float up from the bottom.

The white roses stand straight

in the sea-glass bottle.


The flower buds droop

—-as if nodding

at their necks

Eclipsing the golden glow of the lamp.