Brightest At Night (a country song for Mike Leon)

I don’t know about you
But I’m a country star at heart
In the smoky spaces of my brain
The old standards are always
About to start

Each morning I shake off
Sequins—they fall like dust from my dreams—
And sweep them away with the past
That pursues me with the reek
Of burnt-out schemes

There’s no question left I can answer
So there’ll never be a need to ask it
I’ve burned all the bridges I’ve written
And I ain’t got no nest egg nor basket

I don’t know about you
But this son shines brightest at night
When the whiskey burns hot in my throat
And carbonized grudges turn to
Diamonds of spite

Each morning my hands shake
And I brush off the questions of why
And ask myself when, where, and how
I keep moving with no way
To say goodbye

Posted in Art, Art is lies, Art is theft, Cliches, Country music, Country song, John MacKenzie, John MacKenzie Poetry, Michael Leon, New poems, Poem tweets, Poetry | Leave a comment

The Movement of Hands

The moon is where now?
I have forgotten to look.
Time has tied itself
To the movement of your hands
On a keyboard in the night.

Posted in Art is lies, Autumn, John MacKenzie, John MacKenzie Poetry, Micropoetry, New poems, Poetry, Tanka, The Moon, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Cold Wind

I know of others said to be better poets,
Who claim to speak clearly and truly of everything;
Whose eyes, they say, fall on mountains or rivers
And see always the shape of the lips that urge them

To freedom, whose ears hear whispers of affirmation
Day and night from sibilant forests streaming
Down towards the sea in the air we know the sun
And the ice caps spin between them as purposely
As ragged fingers twirl fraying threads of sweaters
While quarters fall occasionally into a bowl.

How can one hear anything but questions murmured
In the cadences of birdsong and waterfalls?
There is a cold wind across these deserts of cash
And carry; why do you not feel its sting on your lips?

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When Frost Settles

I was born in the autumn
And, though I hold no wishes
Nor illusions of rebirth,
I do like to wake early

On these days when frost settles
Heavy and white on the grass
In the morning with the geese
Loud in their flight overhead.

I sip slowly at coffee.
I remember the dark taste
Of tobacco on my tongue,
And etching your name into
Frost layered on glass. Tonight,
Will I close all the windows?

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Charlie the Boxer Returns to Town (poems from old notebooks; April 23, 1990)

This road from the jail
makes better walking than driving;
more scabs and scars and open sores on it
than on all the bodies of my roommates
living in the ashes of the burned-out bar
on Sydney street
where we pillow our heads between rusting spikes,
and blankets belong in the same myth
as the second storey.

Some call the jail “The Sleepy Hollow Hilton.”
But, as far as I can tell,
locked up has this in common with knocked-up—
either you are or you ain’t.

Around here we collect
the drippings of conscience
like bacon fat in old mayonnaise bottles
shoved to the back of the fridge
and forgotten.

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Whenever light is dim, there is always
The sound of crows confabulating.

Mornings are different from evenings only
By old accidents of spin direction.

If all atoms were of reverse polarity,
The soles of our shoes would still grow thinner.

The blue sky would slide to and from red daily
As our eyes parsed relative angles of light.

In the distance, crows would continue
To display theories of pointilism.

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the persistent
illusion I suffer—
that an I exists—will cease to

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