Wednesday, March 14, 2012


The study in my old cottage on Myrtle Street
& that concludes Nightingales in a Stateside Zoo, both the book & the blog. All the poems have appeared here in the same order as they appear in the book. This blog will remain intact, tho “shuttered,” as the saying goes, in case anyone would enjoy reading the poems in the future.  Thanks to the readers who did stop by to read & comment during the blog’s active period. Comments will still be taken, but all comments will be moderated from this point forward simply to keep spammers out of the stream.

As I mentioned in the blog’s opening post, these poems are “old”—the most recent one is either “Asleep at the Wheel” or “Frankie’s Flight,” either of which may have been completed as late as 1990 after I’d already left Charlottesville for San Francisco. The oldest is “Dogs as Chorus to the Late News,” which was mostly written in Burlington, Vermont in 1982 when I was still an undergraduate.  I’ve matured & composed better poetry since those days, but I think the overall quality of the poems justifies making them public, & the best of them (while far different from anything I’d write these days) are strong poems in their own way.

My days in Charlottesville, Virginia were formative. Not only was I fortunate to have two very good teachers in Charles Wright & Gregg Orr, but I was also fortunate to have formed friendships—initially based on writing, but ultimately based on much more—with a handful of dear people I still call friends today. & there are others from those days who have passed inexorably out of my life—sometimes to my great regret—but those experiences have also shaped me. I know two things: you can’t go home again, but paradoxically you also may continue to return emotionally to a place. Sometimes that’s a grave liability; at other times, a mere fact. These poems are the almost tangible residue of many experiences—tangible & imaginative—that were once practically real.

Saturday, March 10, 2012


The good ones, sure, earliest steal away,
And, as the afternoon moon,
However extravagant, also shy,
Looks lost over a disenchanted day
Paling, so Emily from each love and town,
Ran, silvery, away.

That's how, half-way or in-between,
Up in the air, some creatures learn to stay alive.
The best, first, learn to fly,
And I, grounded, watched her careen,
Her bracelets jingling to bind, above
This cruel world.  Lightly though she shone,

She, tremulously, kept high
When set off, scattering like scattershot,
Fated and powdery;
Her glances, laughs (like dice shook) denied, denied.
Please swing low, sweet chariot.
But, distant, she survived.

And once in a blue moon, bluer than her eye shadow,
She, spiritually, into my room
Wavered or slipped, wary as a spy,
And when we kissed, this shivered like a window's
Winter scene when white light gleams.
Then, she'd change to go.

Emily, you chose most the gray
Gloaming, but after a dozen beers,
Like the harvest moon, excitable, frizzy,
Your orange hair drank light.
But light can't stay.  You caught the train to a state that wouldn't scare.
You left the world every which way.

Jack Hayes
© 2010
This poem originally appeared in Timbuktu

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Mysteries, like which nightspot to frequent, we posed,
Mysteries five hundred miles higher than sunspots' puzzles
We posed ourselves, and gave up on rest,
And we could probe, until the last barroom closed,
Like heaven, closed to all but the angels,
Could speculate about the lives of the blest.

So Noel, lost in visions cosmic or comic,
Comic, yes, as a pratfall's hopeless injury,
Asked, as he watched hungry or graceful waitresses,
"Archangels are they called, or anorexic?
God blesses, right, the lovely and the hungry?"
Then waitresses flew, draped in black dresses,

Past the gaudy bar's art objects, and vanished
To snatch, out of sight, a drag, a bite, an unquenching sip,
And we conjectured, still, inside the Black Rose,
Drinking all in only, how angels were nourished.
I, lip curled, asked, "If on the tip
Of a pin a million angels could shed their clothes,

And that's the Word-Made-Flesh by God Ineffable,
The tip he'd leave, how many could thrive,
Unstarving, fetching, and blissed,
In a hospital, on the point of a hypodermic needle?"
The waitresses served, and all kept themselves alive,
Though all would leave bamboozled, exiled, unkissed

From the Black Rose Cafe where lights and ice like stars shine.
When Noel asked, "How do beauty and hunger feel?"
I, through a glass peering, "It's like being mystified,"
Said, "It's, like in the Holy Land, cringing at every shrine."
Angels, enigmas, waitresses for real—
As we posed mysteries to hide (what?) to hide—

Didn't pause, trays poised, around a transcendent mirror
For bleary, investigative, or lonely eyes
Which brainstormed a universe, lonely or chained, for the sake
Of (which is more chilling than Jordan) flesh really, and terror,
Terror to think: starvation, chill, and lies.
Noel whispered, "If I die before I wake..."

Jack Hayes
© 2010
This poem originally appeared in Timbuktu

Saturday, March 3, 2012


Feelings, in anesthetized days, passed on,
Passed on and out, out of time, out of bodies,
And Emily, we, how our days were numbered,
Then forgot, hypnotized in the park,
Under, during that underworld December,
The needle-scattering undead trees.

And once, those damnable, undead trees,
Like modernized Furies, sullenly looked on
At an episode, later, like r.e.m., unremembered,
When obliterating, for timelessness, our bodies,
Hieing past the wrong end of the tracks,
We slept, numbed, amongst mythic lovers numbered.

Our days, though, Emily, had been numbered,
And blown away, too high, past the mad trees,
We couldn’t freely, look back.
So fading, from our bench, away, and gone,
Untimely from our bodies,
We felt the underworld’s cold, cold as December.

*   *   *

And under, during that underworld December,
The business-end of the gun barrel-grey skies,
We froze outside the theater in hard rain
After witnessing, on the filmed streets,
Love suffer yet another murder
To deaden & thrill a matinee film noir.

Throughout, Emily, our private film noir,
We hoped to forget how our days were numbered.
Instead, love, daily we murdered
Each other, aiming mostly between the eyes.
And if the sky, loaded with more than sleet,
Rapid-fired its freezing rain,

More under the gun, still, than under rain
We froze, cornered like lovers in films noirs,
And while the Salvation Army blew Silent Night
Dirge-like, on that night best unremembered,
We said the long good-bye.
And love underwent cold-blooded murder.

Jack Hayes
© 2010

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Nights found her out, nights that at zero
Left her more than in the dark;
And behind curtains, in unfamiliar windows,
Artificial candles sparked
Whitely, electrically, hopefully
To guide homeward benighted Daddy or Baby,

But not misplaced, misguided Lucy,
Who only, when snowstorms flared
Up blindingly in streetlights would walk—for safety—
Down candlelit, frigid, care-
Less streets along which she hoped to find
Nothing at all, but rather, to watch through white wind

The candles keep their vigil behind
Normal, expectant shutters,
And watch them burn religiously through nights unkind.
Lucy patrolled, ashudder,
Good neighborhoods under snow’s cover,
Leaving foot-prints where gusty white-outs led her.

Like candles, she swore, “No surrender,”
But hoped for nothing hidden,
For nil in houses that, like Advent calendars,
Promised… but wouldn’t open
Doors to her.  “I’m invisibly free,”
Lucy, through snow, said.  “Someone’s coming home, not me.”

Jack Hayes
© 2010
This poem originally appeared in Timbuktu

Saturday, February 25, 2012


Young lovers, the latest sky turned on,
Achingly, its sharp lights as, window-shopping,
Emily and I, by mannequins stared down,
Wondered why, enthralled, we were stopping
To view the department store, and therein, our reflection.
Could dummies, angelic, lead us into temptation?

These angels grinned at closing and eternally,
Sniffing, beatifically, roses,
Plastic, in their fists, or silken ivy.
And Emily adored their twisted, perfected poses,
Because they froze, impassible;
We, neither, guessed it would be impossible

For them to deliver us their good news.
But when the store turned gold lights off, its presents
Ascended into the safe, obtuse
Black velvet firmament
Where angels exchanged gifts in divine
Amnesia not induced by any anodyne.

And Emily exclaimed, "Let's make like angels,
Let's pretend that somebody turned out the big lights."
Young lovers, the stars above, painful,
Dilated our pupils in spite.
We couldn't burglarize the empyrean, join mannequins,
So we moved, feelingly, on through our chill and our sins.

Jack Hayes
© 2010
This poem originally appeared in Timbuktu

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Static I can't turn off frequents, with words,
Like a radio gibbered and tuned far left of center,
Lately, my head.  You hurt, Stridor, like pangs,
but I've memorized better:
Voices that echoed, ho, in a hospital ward,
Yell from the hospital, scream from Mt. Zion.

They listen up, downstate, in the asylum.
Lucy, I said, Lucy, adjust now your dial!
Nowadays I can't turn myself off even,
But, manic, reprise oracles
Catching as jingles you sybiled in seclusion,
Yelled from the hospital, screamed from Mt. Zion.

Other songs, airwaves!  Wish you'd play
Live from Lucy's cranium in her sanitarium
The news, the news.  O thin air, order Lucy,
She'll change, I swear, the station.
And I can't conscience, like feedback, monodies
Yelled from the hospital, screamed from Mt. Zion.

Lucy, auricular, locked-up, it's bad luck
Or amplitude that modulates
Voices divinely unseen no goddamned Doc
Can pick up; but friend, it's unforgivably late
Where my head broadcasts.  Radio, talk.
Yell from the hospital, scream from Mt. Zion.


 Jack Hayes
© 2010