to my first house, to how
we lived there.
We sang Sunday morning
gospel songs listened
to the Stamps Quartet
on the radio at noon.
Twice a year heard fiddlers
in the Tomato Bowl.
Did somebody lock
the front door? Don’t worry.
Go to sleep.
from Cherokee: Book 1 (Barnburner Press, 2001)
He wrote Words
and read it to her
while she bathed
& when he was done
the paper flew
from his hands at her
slicing her skin.
She started to bleed
and as the water got redder
she said Now look what you
have done. I will die from
paper cuts and he said
Words cut too.
from Things That Hammer, Things That Cut (Barnburner Press, 2001)
One comes to be of just such stuff as
that on which the mind is set.
On my way in
to Dallas’ oldest bar before anyone
knew it was Dallas’ oldest bar, she ran
up to me. Middle-aged too young. She cried
my husband’s after me, trying to kill me
with his Bowie knife, chasing me.
I just gave him the slip would you like to
have a drink with me was the kind of invitation
hard to turn down but before
we could finish a beer the door was kicked in
by some guy. Shit. I knew him from work. The nut
in charge of the reproducing machines, still
trying to pass the bar exam at 50
with greasy hands. I’d seen his cheap suit coat
fall open when he bent down for more Xerox
paper to reveal the Bowie knife stuck in his belt.
I asked Is that your husband? as he stomped
to the table. He answered That’s my wife
as I got up to move to the bar.
The bartender said: Don’t Worry.
It’s OK. They are Regulars.
from No Evidence (Barnburner Press, 2001)
I’ve seen a picture
of small blue birds flying
from the mouth of a man
But I can’t remember where I saw it.
I asked a friend
who works with Oriental art
at the Kimball Museum in Ft. Worth
if he knew what the picture was & he said
The museum has a statue of a dying man
with notes of a song leaving his mouth.
I said, Maybe that’s it.
Did the notes have wings?
& were they blue?
He asked No but would you like to hear the song?
I said I don’t think so. Not yet.
from Birds: An Almanac (Barnburner Press, 2003)
Sunday we drive down to Palestine
a week early for dogwood blossoms.
A little southwest of town we cross the Trinity,
down where Magnolia was & Riverboats when
Palace-steen was an international city trading
European goods, to build a town:
3 main streets & a square.
The country comes up to the town, stops
& surrounds the first house. Too early
for dogwood, we wander in the pineforestfloor
where streamlets disappear in limegreen moss
down around. Outside of Elkhart’s a replica
of the oldest Baptist church in Texas full of bees
when Roxy & I look in. There are 2 graveyards
the otherside of a chainlink fence
is a small carved stone heart headstone
not some Teutonic turnip but a small clean
marble heart on an iron base & next too it
are 2 faded grey cardboard hearts
with holes punched to let the light thru
to spell MOTHER & UNCLE. Just out of
Tennessee Colony, another city claiming to
be international but having just
a small pier out in the river. In its graveyard
Alison finds 2 Styrofoam red & white hearts
as if Valentine presents to the earth.
We return to Dallas the backway.
from Black Tom & His Sulphur River Vision (Barnburner Press, 2005)
(1939-2006) was a beloved Texas poet whose ancestors helped establish the earliest frontier settlements in East Texas. He was founder and executive director of the Dallas literary organization WordSpace and was a Fellow of the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. His numerous books of poetry and prose include Jack Ruby and the Origins of the Avant-Garde in Dallas, Cicada, Cam I Sole, Famous Men, Epics, No Evidence, Birds: An Almanac, A Book Of Diseases, The Quiet Man Stories, and Queen City of the Plains, and his work appeared in over 200 magazines, including Southwest Review, Exquisite Corpse, Another Chicago Magazine, and The Texas Observer. As director of WordSpace, and as founder and operator of the Barnburner Press, he supported and encouraged countless writers, singers and artists throughout Texas and beyond, and he inspired many with his example of living and writing on his own terms.