The Argonaut Poets-in-Residence

In Between Up Close

After the Rain

We sit alone across the table,
unable to account for the storm
driving through our lives like tourists
slowing to point at the sight of us.


Avocado Lovers

Blacker than the heated night,
they meet in secret
and fight each other
for the ripest of the virgin fruit.
Shameless, they strip down
to piano teeth and pin-dot eyes
that flash like beacons
and leer at the avocado trees.

There is something like lust here.

And they dig, and dig in a frenzy,
they dig and lay their seeds
deep under the trees.
They love the avocados.
They love to feel them slowly
and eat them without haste,
without waste,
without guilt.
They love to peel them gently
and indulge in the pasty taste
until their bellies bulge and shine
like their pregnant women.



So my father placed third in the ballroom dancing world championships
nineteen fifty something the man was smooth he simply took command
of the floor like a master made it his own as a child I remember dancers
stepping off the floor to watch their eyes glazed over with some certain
satisfaction at falling witness to this magic as for me the waltz is a waltz
is a pleasure to share and I do favor a good two step fox trot and swing
but with my rock and roll heart I want mostly to rip it up work up a sweat
burn off the old dancing shoes but good somewhere in between up close
I mean touching feeling the beat together I’ve decided is the place to be


piano lessons in the heartland 101

three years on that old bench in that house
curtains billowing like parachutes around me
the keys of the piano were ice cubes dripping
through my hot fingers sizzling onto the floor
each note a drop of water each drop a note


do not disturb

the discretionary sign
hung from the doorknob
of the door to the room
in dallas in a holiday inn
untouched by your hand
for three long dog days
it waved to the house-
keepers like a wind sock
come clean another day
give me time to neatly lay
plastic in the bathroom
compose a goodbye note
load the pistol with only
one bullet or reconsider


Rx #4434890

lets say i was a braver man
lets say i was courageous
enough to grab this madness
bare handed by the collar
force its frothing mouth open
shove these thirteen little pills
down stroking my throat gently
stroking to make me swallow



before this
before the workshops
before the readings
before chicago
before the critic
before love
before vows
before litigation
before my son
i cut my teeth
on fire and ice
on the road not taken
on mending wall
in the sixties
in eisenhower elementary
in the heartland
before africa
before shakespeare
before shaking all those poets hands
before erica
before carolyn
before gwendolyn
before all the others
we learned about him
we watched all the films
about his life
his poetry
his story


thin line

i dont understand this business
of anger i just
dont get it
i dont understand
the heat of this language
hateful words bang
bang gotta blame
anyone but
ourselves anyone but
us us
mean mister misters
gone and
done it again
i dont understand
the purpose of
this is my dilemma
and i find no comfort here


this also is vanity

applying my mind to wisdom madness and folly
there is nothing new to be gained under the sun
there is nothing new to be learned and honored
nothing that i have not already loved and lost to
the business that god has given to sons of men


the silver coin

a remnant
of old experiment
a token of old fears
remembered in my hand
paul kruger
the first president
on the front
a springbok on the back
suid afrika it says
soli deo gloria
still smooth
and ominous



hands pushing pen
hands performing
hands of a poet
hands of laughter
hands of conviction
hands shaking
(shaking hands)
hands in the ocean
hands gripping trees
hands full of cameras
hands holding babies
hands giving care
hands exploring
hands in the wilderness
hands in the dirt
hands picking flowers
hands clapping
(clapping hands)
hands stealing
hands on the steering wheel
hands on the throttle
hands cuffed
hands full of promise
hands off


tramp of the galaxy

done with the day’s challenge
i reflect slow down
watch the screen savers
flying through space and
having fought the good fight
my three storied craft cruising
i check the star flooded portals
secure the doors mop floors
greet the passengers
and attend to the roar of
the engines behind me


last night

say i had my way and
i had the green in my pocket
i would have left the highway
last night i would have
stopped at the diner
ordered a dreamy three egg
and cheese omelet ah
and a cup of sugar
some lipton orange pekoe
and hash-browns yeah
actually served by somebody
biscuits but no gravy
real butter melting
i would even have chanced
an onion or two
just to see you smile



that day i torched all the poetry
i was a sick but determined man
i was looking for liberation like
the great bra burners of the 60s
in pajama bottoms at high noon
i dragged out the olive trash can
gathered up 29 years of poems
every one i could lay hands on
doused them with liquid starter
struck a match and tossed it in


new dancing shoes

new tempo
new beat
new step
new rhythm
new swing
new kick
new moves
new confidence
new strength
new faith
new desire
new music
new taste
new tricks
new shoes
new attitude



I’ve never been to Scandinavia,
but I think of Vienna again today.
The old baroque city, dark with
fascination and those monstrous
cathedrals on every corner, and
there is the Hapsburg’s palace
with gold leaf trim, how I stared
at it wondering how many people
died in order to afford its existence.
I’ll bet there isn’t such decadence
in Scandinavia, I can’t imagine that,
not like Vienna, or Rome, or even
in America with our own decadent
fast food cathedrals on every corner.


the birds

barbed wire…im thinking…
barbed wire strung across the sky
when i look at them spread out
across the electrical lines and
hitchcock…im thinking…
hitchcock back from the 50s
when i watch them gathering
on the rooftops and when
they fly their crazy loop the loop
in and out of view i am dizzy



it takes courage to admit defeat
to lay the weapons down
to declare oneself unarmed
before anyone else gets hurt
it takes courage to succumb
to ones fear to overcome it
to surrender to the frankness
of the unknown you know dont
want to be held prisoner exactly
perhaps someone will just kill me
and it wont really matter anymore



Said to be
With seed
Once in a lifetime
So certain
Like love
Then lost


Cigarette Break

I stand outside with two tourists
They are watching me smoke
As I inhale and hold the smoke
Deep in my lungs with purpose
One talks about Amish carriages
Back home in Pennsylvania he
Asks have your ever seen them?
Damn things get nailed by cars
Every now and then he drawls
Yep all black…nothing but black
And his brother nods in agreement
Sometimes they get drunk and pass
Out and the horses know the way
Home but they don’t know to stop
For traffic lights and WHAM the
Brother smacks his fist in his hand
I can tell they are brothers they
Have the same peppered beards
The same blue eyes of conviction
The same ironic believing smiles


Slice in the sky

Glowing hot coal
slender ember of orange
sprinkling diamonds
blanket of stars
sparks of sparkling sugar
tickling my eyes
this little child inside
wants more I
want more I
taste it I
want to savor
save it for later I
turn away I’ll say
just for a moment
and it’s hot white


i believe

in love at first sight
in the power of words
in the differences
in our sexes
in passion
in pain
in no
in yes
in hope
in perhaps
in whatever
is left


Copyright 2006 by Jeffrey Spahr-Summers.