Saturday, December 31, 2011



This happens, let’s say, in June
on, oh, any day the extroverted sky
might with this shy earth
either quarrel or honeymoon,

when, stepping out, it’s not unusual
to view near intricate azaleas
hand-in-hand boys and girls,
such hybrids any observer must puzzle;

that’s when, to her front lawn’s fringe,
the cowboy, bold as a Ford,
drives to court and spark
so irrepressibly that her narcissi cringe,

and though she’s attired modly,
his lady (fatuously dated),
bent toward sensible renaissance flower beds,
trowels red clay to sketch another century.

When he sees top-heavy tulips
(to her, carpe diem’s darlings)
he’s irked as by painfully bookworming kids;
he prefers his desert, infinite, stripped,

so he strokes his hood’s even polish,
he taps his blinding boots.
She shrinks toward Campion’s formal tunes
as he whistles country, refuses to notice

how he snapped under one boisterous heel
her solitary peony.
Why does she hunt, melancholic, for band-aids?
Some incongruities spring can’t heal.

Jack Hayes
© 2010

Wednesday, December 28, 2011



Downtown, parking lots spread out as fields
Where Chevies graze on tar.  Attendants yawn
And off-key hum in booths, their jackpots healed
Forgotten else, by crackling pure-gold songs.

The city planners planted also willows,
Drooping, awkward, in rows behind the benches,
And locusts small.  But Pamela can't borrow
(Can't buy) some shade or any tune that drenches

Craziness.  And I'm broke.  We stroll tonight
And lie how gardens sprout on balconies,
And fortune damn that we can't buy on credit,

Unknown as we are (noble, though).  So please
The cops, the moon, or men who hum in light
Someone for unnamed madness could sell identities.


Drive-in, or movie, or rustic pleasure house,
Where palms (or cypress), plastic, lean in pots,
Of course undying... easy place to get lost.
Moreover, dear, there's never an antidote,

Such as a map.  But on the wall are pictures,
Legends, they say, in color, breathing.  Laugh
You don't, though rude men fixed on loco desire
Buzz their songs.  I don't know what to ask.

Contrite or charged, such odd and flickering shows
To watch with you, like kaleidoscope books of romance
(For instance, the voyeur hunter his dogs dispose

Of teachingly) make it hard for me to convince
You, Pamela (supposed) or else Jane Doe,
That I'm no counterfeit boy, that I'm your negotiable prince.


Maybe willows whine like insomniac lovers;
Who can tell?  Or if the cedars are worried,
Or laurels eavesdrop?  Mainly, they stand for cover,
So that, along their lanes can walk with pride

The lovely.  Or the strange, who aren't exactly,
In this forest, quaint or marvelous.
And though, Beloved, we know the names of trees,
We'll safer walk disguised, anonymous.

Because (whichever) Pamela or my dear,
While boughs enclose our heads like paper bags,
The crescent moon, lecher or psycho, leers.

From his grin hidden, you start your crying jag--
But trees and Arcadians maintain their costumed careers:
Along the boulevard, other princes dress in drag.


The groves, perhaps, have kept it, where leaves shake
As shake your hands, frustrated, reaching to handle
What's lost: your daytime self.  And what's at stake?
The night-birds ask.  The quest is more than a gamble,

When winds are confused, when planets are ill-humored,
To look too close nightlong for this-- your name
Or True Love.  It's the bogged-down folly rumored
Of The Man-in-the-Moon, who actually lost his home.

But Pamela (is it?) we're in town under stark
And lovely trees stained silver from above
(By his skewed love.) Admit we can't turn back,

Admit from legends we are far removed,
Such as the lanterned moon.  We're in the park-
Ing lot to lose, anonymous, our lust as we drive.


A good bet everybody's tired and sick
Too much, to hear this update on Pan's death.
Yet rambles on Arcadian news, prolix
As romance in pastures, till someone catches breath

Or else forgets a note.  And only Silenus
Somewhere drowses, choosing muscatel
Above bad news.  On our corners, singers, nervous,
Will twitter, lisp the climax in detail,

Since much it explains: as, how the moon is modern,
And the trees, and breezes lapse laconic,
How new-enameled fields become unlearned,

And how the nymphs and satyrs speak elliptic-
Ly only, goat-god having missed the turn
To wreck, as I and Pamela, in newfangled panic...


Pamela, safe from nasty moon and goats
You'll never be again-- and ditto willows.
Arcadia pulls the curtains, flicks the lights,
And waits for hypnogogia on pillows,

Twiddling collective thumbs or counting sheep.
By law its lullabies are flip, obscene,
And when cock robin's mentioned, he never cheeps
Or bobs.  However, the moon knows what he means.

If therefore, we went flying, as in birds,
Beyond the law, the moon keeps up his watch,
Our secrets cypress tell.  To say the words,

The True Love or Who are you is the catch,
The inescapable ditty, to be unsure
That we were nameless mortals lured to dreams and snatched.


There was a country clever at disguise,
Where people knew to hide and dressed in yellow
Where unbelievable, in a minor reprise,
The moon had eyes, the poplars in imbroglios

Of tavern songs danced widdershins, a wish
To night-winds passion-tossed came true in spades.
Where something fades.  A black-and-white, a bookish
Country, wherein swish crepe and masquerades.

For her there, flowers I picked, a black bouquet,
Crazy for day, like flowers in hospitals, ah,
When night-shifts patrol.  Lacking romantic haze,

In starkness it makes-up.  And Aurora
There bolts doors.  She steals, nonetheless, away,
My dissembled love, from stolen dreams named Pamela.

Jack Hayes
© 2010

Saturday, December 24, 2011




Please, I was born uptown; but it's winter and
this hillside tarpaper shack isn't
my home, though here I roast pork three times daily for my
make-believe father

who drools for hams he's strung up like convicts or
children, lost, who only swing about
waiting for bidders.  Fair weather watched my kidnapping
when I was driven

off by this farmer who lives to slaughter his
hogs, to gorge on bacon, chops, entire
Decembers-- no cereals for growing girls, and the
calendar stalls like

his filthy silver.  His fingers smear me as
blue as hams that shudder under his
tainted knives.  He tends to me.  Mother in stores, reclaim
me, or I'm rendered.


Sisters, we thrive in private on sherry and
Freud and the Brontës.  Circling chairs in
a living room under ficus branches (twisted in
gestures we know from

agreeable boyfriends who possess no
notions) we study each bouquet while
love-birds shriek.  Our grove's so full we kill proposals to
the green bottle's dregs.

In secret we answer Freud's question.  Dora,
you scammed him, we'll toast you and also
Emily Brontë, who stashed the key to her diary in
her corset and spied

amongst hedges.  Our thirsty boyfriends are locked-
out, perplexed.  As blossoms shut they ex-
change stories, uneasily spy on our hide-out while
our faces redden

in elegant glasses; we sink as in bath-
water, frankly naked and strengthened.
Ficus shakes.  Freud hasn't a chance, nor boyfriends knocking
voyeurs' death-wishes.


If this household didn't need a look-out, if
stray creatures didn't skulk under our
porch and whine, I'd be free inside my room.  And the guy
downstairs plays hide-and-

seek like it's solitaire; but it's summer and
satellites cruise skies as purple as
bruises.  Yes, I walk hecticly, but who'll protect him,
stumbling to package

stores or napping in shrubbery?  I tuck him
in, and he can't pronounce "thanks."  Outside
traffic's moving slowly tonight, and it's all my fault.
Strays are hungry, while

owls complain, like women who yearn for creatures
to foster.  Father, as when your head-
ache bore me, his hangover loves me.  In cities and skies
nothing else looks out.

Jack Hayes
© 2010

This poem originally appeared in Timbuktu

Wednesday, December 21, 2011



Blue-skinned lilacs exhale liquor & Lethe
& TV screens, & huff carbon monoxide.
I'm still alive, while beauties drift, white moons,
this night sans ces étoiles as Baudelaire wished;
which seeps through Janet's nervous system.  Here's Dante
plucking the suicidal blooms in Hell-- But
I want to grow all navel, like a calyx
& exhale liquor & Lethe & TV screens.

Hamlet cogitates bodkins, inhaling flowers
Mother planted as bulbs.  He grows all navel
& huffs the carbon monoxide.  Tea leaves bleed
black through a brass infuser, & streets black out
where beauties drift, white moons.  But what pianos
could phrase Last Rose of Summer like my sister's?
Meantime, the Mister, cadaverous drunk on the lawn,
that night sans ces étoiles as Baudelaire wished,

reeked, flowery, of Sneaky Pete & the Bijou theater,
his flesh gone orange as poppies Mother planted
as bulbs.  Here's Dante & beauties on blacked-out streets,
& what pianos!  The radio drifts between talk shows
like sister's rubato fingers, or Janet's nerves.
I'm still alive, although I've grown all calyx
& also cadaverous drunk as the Bijou theater.
The blue-skinned lilacs exhale liquor & Lethe.

Jack Hayes
© 2010

Saturday, December 17, 2011



Behind a house the bog gestates; ooze
& sulfur reeking eggs & kitchen matches;
this is how things get started;

& the house melting into the swamp's
viscous shadows, & the family asking,
do we hear drums or a pulse?

& chain lightning-- what it vivifies
when it's whipping the soup electrically up
till phosphor & ions boil

& life slithers from chemical muck,
as though this were the world's original night--
time to start telling stories.

& the house has no chair for Plato,
& nowhere for Immanuel Kant to sit;
but there's a chair for Jesus,

& it's near the trash compactor
that grinds down fishbones before it spews a mulch
to sink, it's hoped, in the earth,

& creatures, amphibious, hungry,
crawl.  Adam would gawk, but it isn't his place;
that's morning at the zoo, that's

a park on Peoria's outskirts,
elm crowns floating like green balloons just prior
to gravity's invention;

& there's nothing here that says, Heaven
or Newton; except in the house one clock ticks;
& what stars the cumulus

clouds don't feed on don't gleam like ideas,
aren't connected like dots by kids in the house;
they're holocausts, they're starving

& live off Mind.  How could Blake answer
this radiance scorching the firmament &
smoking out God & carbon?

& below the ignis fatuus
between the cypresses glimmers more greenish than
Thanatos; & cypresses

& night hawks unthinkingly croak &
night's opening wide; no more word of mouth or
stories recalling first light,

there's only one house & it's melting
into one amoebic puddle & gonzo
deeper than psychology,

& sons & daughters find themselves,
their vertebrae squashing ferns as they lie back
to couple with giants

& beyond Freud's help & where, nearby,
lie strewn dilapidated washers & sinks
some deluge vomited up.

The family succumbs to the big beat,
& it's soup; then there's no place at the table
for Aristotle to sit,

& Prometheus needs a new hide-out;
a houseless porch near a back road curving back
on & devouring itself.

Jack Hayes
© 2010

Wednesday, December 14, 2011



Why should young May make a run for November,
its sidewalks where bills glued to newsstands
rage polis and hard-core, gall and fear,
where cars swoosh past and rattle

sounds like bones turning charcoal gray from inside--
not branches scratching easterly winds
in Deutchland, but echoes recognized
by May, who rushes on?  In

her cold water digs in the cold-water district,
its one window, this gives out on walls
spray-painted dripping by anarchists.
There she tends the black flowers

her spray-bottle drowned.  This is her becoming,
more ill than plants and white as bread,
she's coughing when ambulances sing
hymns to the adult, blank sky,

and she finds things: books, smokes, the broke universe:
one razor blade's glint makes the half moon,
parents screwed up tight are sky and earth,
and buses moan, grown old,

sigh exhaust which is not the north wind even
that chilled romantic Deutchland and hummed,
to please old men, Death and the Maiden.
Nothing's green, it's all governed,

and she and the boy must jump each other's bones
in the cemetery, beyond the law,
but frozen as oldsters, to the bone.
November is what they howl.

Jack Hayes
© 2010

Saturday, December 10, 2011



Frankie falls asleep into the big questions,
big, irrational, both, as a continental map.
Look, could this be her life, these pink and green shapes
and the cities she sees, dizzied, like seeing stars?

Big, irrational, both, as a continental map,
her sleep swells into a hugely moving country,
and the cities she sees, dizzied, like seeing stars,
swirl, and the moon inhales them, but won't reply.

Her sleep swells into a hugely moving country,
where lilting, polysyllabic, unnatural states
swirl, and the moon inhales them, but won't reply.
Her thinking's twisted to twisters that sweep her up

where lilting, polysyllabic, unnatural states
babble and tumble through ungeometric spaces.
Her thinking's twisted to twisters that sweep her up,
her questions echo, like Dorothy gone for real,

babbling, tumbling through ungeometric spaces.
How it must toss and turn her, uncomfortable country!
Her questions echo, like Dorothy gone for real;
could all America slumber in such lost dreams?

Look, could this be her life, these pink and green shapes?
Frankie falls asleep into the big questions:
Could all America slumber in such lost dreams?
How it must toss and turn her, uncomfortable country!

Jack Hayes
© 2010

[The photo—as was the photo that accompanied "Asleep at the Wheel"—was taken during a 1989 cross-country road trip that originated in Charlottesville]

Wednesday, December 7, 2011



I had to stare at something besides my coffee
something told me.  And there was flashing money:
a quarter and a dime left for the waitress
were shining big as planets over Texas
on a napkin.  I had to hear this story
she told the truckers, about her penniless father

who'd rented a trailer outside Austin.  Her father
migrated south of trees where, black as coffee,
treasures bubbled— or so he'd got the story
on a spree— these lakes of oil, pools of money
under the whole unpromising stretch of Texas.
He'd blown his stake.  Then, he married a waitress

who passed this to her daughter, the way this waitress
slid out eggs.  She pocketed tips for her father's
marker and mailed change weekly down to Texas.
I had to listen to something besides the coffee
sizzle in its pot or the register ringing money.
Nothing stopped me hearing another story

I told myself.  It haunted me like stories
heard when five; that someone was always waiting
in diners, watching me, not plates, his money
dwindling, but still alive.  I knew my father
was in that booth.  With two men, gulping coffee,
he was hunched.  He'd been invited to Texas

by men in bone-white hats who claimed, In Texas
nothing grows but cactus.  They're green as stories
your fathers believed, as twenties.  He sipped coffee,
rattled tall tales, off the cuff, to the waitress,
and spoke of checks in dry hands.  Why was father
talkative in this diner?  I fumbled for money,

his wallet I'd picked for years.  I held the money,
while men in dazzling boots were offering Texas
and fossils (they didn't promise trees).  My father
wanted gold.  His knack for telling stories
half-believed, he'd willed to me.  Our waitress
filled bottomless cups until they gushed with coffee.

And the old man finished coffee, lost for money,
and swore he'd mail the waitress cash from Texas.
Stories are spent; and what can I lend father?

Jack Hayes
© 2010

This poem originally appeared in Timbuktu

[Photo of the Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas taken on a cross-country road trip that originated in Charlottesville; but the poem pre-dates this!]

Saturday, December 3, 2011



Franny says "rest stop" I think "infinity"
I think white Formica counter Einstein's photo think
an Edward Hopper filling station rendered in negative
think "huevos rancheros" microwaved
How are they I asked (they were the blue plate special in
a Lexington Kentucky diner
Franny answered "green" I think
a used paperback Upanishads read in a jail cell in
St Albans Vermont
Outside off the lake a blizzard devastates logic
Then it's tonight
the interstate our Pontiac drives I think
Ionosphere except with lights        &

Tonight must be world without end
Few things exist except breath & Franny
inhaling the smoke's last drags exhaling
white-haired smoke that's a nursing home in Orlando
Time's measured there by what disappears
Then 1961 materializes
November & snowflakes spitting across its etiolated air
its picture tube
& Route 2's only articulated by a black-&-white
Into its beveled glass the parking lot then
telephone poles whole families get absorbed
So much for Fitchburg Massachusetts
So much for Grandmother who hauled inside her dress
a cedar trunk Prohibition Cowboys & Indians
Inclusive as a Volkswagen bus vacationing
& just as unsteady in stiff winds she moved

So much for American Primitive
Grandmother's a naive painting hanging in
a 51st Avenue gallery
itself an approximation of heaven        Hear its
whispers they're crepuscular        See
Grandmother's birches dwarfed next to livestock    See
the childrens' exaggerated heads
It's stasis like Thanksgiving Day's stasis
Then it's gone then it's
Kansas streaking a darker void across the void
Houses annihilated to blue & white lights
the signals they continue to transmit        I think
vectors dormer windows real time
See        the horizon has already closed its lids

Soon she'll talk in her sleep
talk Origin of the Species Colonialism talk
phylogeny recapitulates ontogeny she'll say
"Father's nose Mother's eyebrows"
Franny's slouching into the bucket seat gone back somewhere
Savannah her parents' sold home the Blue Moon Diner
Her face in the rearview mirror is a black-&-white 3"X5"
is her father's flight suit is San Diego 1959 is
a Quonset hut is her mother's Sears catalog
Christmas 1960 forwarded to Kansas City

Where is she
Her lids closed too        long drapes the troposphere swirls
convective swirls disturbing beyond
beyond her blue irises
& then she must be flying
sheer out windows through clouds beyond "Gestalten" then
barometric pressure
drops descends vertiginous then the whoosh
swooping tumultuous July 1965
The storm-front accelerates through her

through her great-uncle's farmhouse Boon County Missouri
White curtains rustle drumrolls
Microbes the Methodist organ The Times-Dispatch all stir
electrocuted alive as lightening zigzags    See
the old man's forehead it's titanic it's
a Grant Wood reproduction brooding nimbo-stratus it's
an Edgar Lee Master poem assumed
into New Jerusalem
So Much for Transcendentalism
So much for Walt Whitman

Franny's one among quadrillion raindrops
falling 48 hours past across
Indiana's fractured blacktop they showered across
the windshield        she says "Frieda Kahlo"
Immense eyes crying
black maize crying abortions crying
menses the moon's darkside big sky she falls through
Welcome home
The Midwest's uterus
swelled saturated with souls she's one she's shimmering
She's her parents' 63 Plymouth shimmering in
a silent home movie
& the car emerged as glistening crossing
the Kanawha Christmas 1966
the freezing rain sparking in headlights    I think

Naked singularity I
think Orphic fragment
Typeface whirling across the egg-brown page the bloodstream
metabolizing Tuinol Rheingold I'm in
a Syracuse New York bus station
February 1975 it said "I am
the child of earth & starry heaven but
my origin is of heaven alone"
My pupils constricted minute as Alpha Centauri the
Police requested ID arrested

transients they escorted out into
Boreas whistling sleet Country-Western ballads whistling
meteorites lost in the overcast
I think parsecs think
"Surprise Symphony" pulsed through the Pontiac's cracked
    speakers think
supernovas    the windshield spins white starlight the
headlights constellate golden within the
rearview mirror the
V-8 repeats "Who are you" roared but

But it's night
But it's night
Above Abilene the full moon moved as effulgent as large
as a John F Kennedy half-dollar but
it's much larger now
It's the Sunday New York Times
its pages turned to the crossword puzzle's page
There are things I've only learned from Life magazines
like quasars like conspiracy theories like
Prehistory DNA Sputnik
women's underthings from 60's movie reviews
But Kansas tonight is larger than the known world
I ask myself
What's it like to not be alive
What's it like to be a thought & I think
Descartes high-powered telescopes "Heartbreak Hotel" think
virus split-level ranch homes built post-War
think the truck plaza's lights at 70 mph think

What's it like to be two places at once
A town lost as Biloxi a Delta 88 parked brokedown
Above its vinyl roof moths hover   yellow bulbs
strung up across the gravel parking lot
Give up the ghost
The roadhouse is closed I believe my soul's loose
Catalpa's bony fingers reach down Sweet Jesus

Would I ask to be born again
The Gulf's air's drunk & saline
The backseat's a cradle
The ripped upholstery sticks to my white shirt I
can see my body
abandoned as Bill Monroe singing "Hiding Place" see
boots propped against an ashtray it's full as a graveyard &

What's it like to be two places at once
Nobody else home only the air conditioner only
a Louis Armstrong record
"What a Wonderful World" spinning
sound waves through a Houston apartment
Only palmetto bugs
gliding like the Wright Brothers as awkward or
in Boston
4 am on Washington St crystal methedrine
reciting at 78 rpm's & silently
Psalm 22 hyperventilating    in
Lyman Wyoming cupping a match lighting up a
Lucky Strike leaning against the brass laughing Buddha
The first puff's "The Cloud of Unknowing"    He sits
androgynous squat manic amongst
junipers old as Christ he gazes toward
the liquor store but
tonight's a Rothko canvas stripped of scarlets except
taillights it's broken white lines I think
I could be anywhere think
curved space think
Soul music for instance when

Franny adjusted the dial the dashboard
shuddered "Distant Lover" transfigured seraphically
hopeless (it was St Louis
oscillating still 90 miles west ascending
So much for Paradise Lost the Mississippi rolled
as always sleek with motor oil as black

as LP's she learned to slow dance to
So much for the Father of Rivers
It must have been that morning how many
millennia past
The Sons of Morning sang for Joy she was so much
younger those days like a joy-ride        &
the fm digressed
fading drifting Franny sang she said
"So many miles away"    she was
colors her Ex's palette knife scraped visceral was his
rage his psilocybin was
Cycladic Idols was the faceless Matriarchy
ossified in the Richmond Museum she was
her mother's department store
May Day window display the silk mums wired
was a black wallphone's buzz ripping up night was
Grandfather's cancer
was finches singing in the St. Louis Zoo

So much for the birth of Rhythm & Blues
one minute after Jehovah moaned "Let there be Light"
It must have been like
the "Big B-B-Q" sign blinking outside Topeka
half the bulbs burnt-out
It must have been like the Rescue Mission's
loudspeaker at 6 am roaring from the whirlwind in
a town sullen as Albany New York
March 1976 the voice echoed
"Exile" & alcoholics shaved with the shakes

So much for Wingéd Eros
So much for flatted sevenths for the sensorium
So much for Primordial Chaos
It must have been the Terrestrial Paradise then
San Leandro 1944 Chief Petty Officer
Hayes on shore leave he squints his pupils contain
the Philippine Archipelago Destroyers

& Bette
sitting under the citrus sky the date palms
which form quarter notes
which play "White Christmas" as if it's broadcast through
a cathedral radio
which must have been like Vermont 1956
Snow scrambled the TV picture the snow swarmed
spermatozoa flailing toward ovaries
seconds prior to my existence
I'm sure no lights were on    I think
X & Y chromosomes unzipping twining think
Creationism United Nations think
nuclear fission think Expanding
Universe "The Wonderful World of Color" I think
the Baby Boom then

Here comes tonight here comes
the traffic's metallic flux the current
rampaging over Interstate 70 flooding because
the Milky Way has overflowed it's streaming
hubcaps grilles chrome aerials
Here comes Franny
aloft in her parents' pre-Civil War
Madison Virginia house 8 miles high here comes
Frank Baum here comes Kansas here
comes Ursa Major spilling nihilism here comes
a Mack Truck's 20 ton momentum
here come Saturn rockets the Highway Patrol the glow
a Coke machine glows at 11 pm because it's a
Giant Red Star athrob beside the Exxon station &
here comes nothing except

the white-scarred sky Lord Jesus
How your Seraphim wheel
Wheels within wheels    Cirrus clouds
trail silver her father's jet fighter's vapor over
a grain elevator's silhouette        I ask

Which way's True West
Who's crossing Jordan River who's
sparkling drifting through its depths who's
looking up from underwater like
a Chevy truck sunk in a quarry looking toward
more darkness
Mamma Daddy it's your blue house it's
Crystal River Florida submerged in
humidity pinetrees time        I ask
Is it darker here I ask

Where are you Franny

Not orbiting Jovian planets
Not in suspended animation she's not
shivering rapid-eye-movements under blankets in
a Baltimore motel after the Orioles-Red Sox rain-out
No towels no soap
Not staring at an Old Testament epic televised in
a Nashville Illinois USA Motel
streptococcus replicating insider her larynx she's
awake    Franny asks
"Where's Colorado"

Earth rotates under radials    I think
rest stop think
inexhaustible java the round-the-clock
truck stop brews the cauldrons seethe the Otherworld's
glass doors rattle swinging they breathe hush-hush closing
consciousness out & the freeway out
The spigots & griddle hiss the spirits hiss I think
Wovoka a defunct C & O depot I think
the water tower straddling the state line at
Texarkana think

coffee pots more spherical than this globe they're gushing
Cadillacs Joplin Missouri fossils in fact
an entire Petrified Forest the boxscores &
a sentence in a Dreiser novel I skimmed over
they're boiling they're pouring
a Gideon's Bible's cerulean covers a black-covered
Thus Spake Zarathustra scanned smashed in Denver under
cumuli congealing &
they steam they gush
pre-Socratic fragments a stegosaurus
they're pouring out Hank Williams'
"Kaw-Liga" they're cascading everlasting
harmonicas & 5 & Dime stores I can't see anything
except Ike's
photo in the Bellows Falls Vermont Post Office 1959 &
a black velvet paint-by-numbers Jesus blessing an 18-wheeler
on sale at the Albemarle Virginia County Fair
September 1988        they scald they pour
a drive-in movie screen a Buffalo Nickel but
this is not America
This is what America sees when the lights go down

So much for St John on Patmos
So much for the Great Revival I remember
a Dallas newspaper smoldering on the median strip
Grass burning glossolaliac it's
Route 30 1 mile west beyond
Lake Ray Hubbard a Mustang breaking the speed limit zooms
past the Pentecostal Church        I think

"No-boundry-condition" &
"A Love Supreme" along kilocycles
shaking from Lincoln Nebraska honks
Be-Bop but reassembled in light of
Quantum mechanics I think
Franny's returning to her body

Light particles bombarding our 78
Bonneville they scatter across the dash across
the Levis the t shirt the spectrum coalescing
across her skin I
think Chinese Dragon think Medicine Wheel I think
Kundalini think my hands
scaling her vertebrae the steering wheel's grip I ask
Where's Oakland California mother
Where's the River Ocean where's
the Uroborus
OK I promise not to ask for eternal life I ask
What did I sleep through
"Infinity" I think  Wait a minute        it's
Franny's face turned toward the window her face reflects
mercurial the highway's glare where it's
dispersed across the maroon hood        I need
a smoke        the pack's crushed I think
the cigarette lighter's coils electrified
gleam galaxies wired together I ask
"What's it like to be two places at once"
Anywhere & here
15 miles east of the vanishing point
waiting at Goodland Kansas

Jack Hayes
© 2010

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


 Villanelle for an Ending

Fragile moon, the diva is singing—
Fatuous moon, in the worlds you mirror
Unlucky stars are merely splinters—

Lovers sweep away the splinters
They call words— & broken mirrors—
Fragile moon, the diva is singing—

The lp’s a glossy pool her singing
Escapes, merging with sky and mirrors—
Unlucky stars are merely splinters

And light from lamps is caught like splinters
In lovers’ eyes, those convex mirrors—
Fragile moon, the diva is singing,

Breakable sky—Lovers aren’t singing—
They watch the lp, thinking it mirrors
Unlucky stars that are merely splinters—

After the aria, the moon will splinter—
A perfect world exploded in singing—
Fragile moon, the diva is singing—
Unlucky stars are only splinters  

Jack Hayes
© 2010

[The photo shows a piece in the Smithsonian Sculpture Garden in 1985; the image seemed to fit the poem reasonably well, & there's also an autobiographical connection in the poem to Washington, DC]

Saturday, November 26, 2011



Though he is a person to whom
things do not happen, perhaps they
may when he is on the other side.
E. Gorey

His suitcase is very big, but it's not
a cruise-ship.  He wouldn't get far
floating on it, or trying to steer
by the handle.  He needs a real boat,
since his valise is probably
filled with inconsequential,
at least to sensible people,
trinkets— some photos, framed, and a diary
that hasn't been blessed with many entries.

His topcoat is very long, but it's no life
preserver.  It isn't orange
for starters, but colorful as porridge
perhaps.  It wouldn't excite the sea gulls even
and might be scorned as tasteless
by great white sharks.  So he'll sail at evening.
With him for company, the ticket agent's
bored.  The ocean rolls colder, vacant.

His ship is very late, and the land
erodes or retreats, so the shaky pier's
his final refuge.  Something looms nearer
on the horizon—
an island or whale in the full moon's teasing
unrefined light.
Terns squawk, berating onshore breezes
that blow them near.  He'll sail all night
 if ever, but has no snack to eat.

Finally, he's very cold, though the tide
promises a ship, or to deliver
a transport to save the potential voyager.
You might say he's dissatisfied.
But if steam would pipe from smoke stacks,
around which fluttered flags of every country,
he could make jokes with the first mate.
And if the gang-

plank dropped on the other side,
stung alive by ocean's frothing all night,
he'd shake hands with the by-now jovial captain
and sagacious travelers.  That's the new man.

Jack Hayes
© 2010

This poem originally appeared in Timbuktu
[Photo shows Charleston, SC harbor; the poem was written on a visit to South Carolina in 1986]

Wednesday, November 23, 2011



Into drizzle the dogs
are put out hooting,
to squat on the flagstones, blue

flowers shut down
hours ago, so no one
gives a damn for their song,

not wives & husbands
swallowing those last puffs, slumped
between sofas' arms,

not kids bunked, peachy-
skinned plates stacked in cupboards, they'll
crash down dreaming, but

the TV's a gas flame,
Chrissakes it sputters the same way
bug-lights fry bugs, &

something's gone wrong,
dogs pant foaming,
gargling their coarse slang,

licking at broth
from the sky.  Then yellow lights
are cut off.  But

no one has switched
the tube's knob, the idiot
box keeps cooking

airwaves like the sky's cooking.
Gadzooks! dogs shout, look
out, air's boiling over!

Jack Hayes
© 2010

Saturday, November 19, 2011



It can't be a comic situation, radiance spurting energized under the skin;
it must be perturbing or itchy, like poison ivy blisters or uncontrollable acne,
but some kids are familiar with this problem.  They over-expose the
                yearbook's film.
out-dazzling flashbulbs.  Weekends, they light up the visitor's scoreboard,
                but not to make trouble.

They're not alone.  Other kids know if they dissolve solids at the worst times,
                it's not a surprise;
it's as if, for instance, a locker room's cinderblock walls were instant
                powdered drink mixture.

These aren't under control, are secrets.  And how they were taught to relax,
                they forget;
they never get dates.  Because a life's unsure when fingers sprout branches,
                or what a brain suggests
in a not pleasant voice is gas on fires already simmering and subcutaneous.
And when their eyes, shameful to them though autonomous, concentrate to
after midnight, their parents' bedroom door (so vision supersedes any need
                for ears)
they'll botch it more if they phone, confessing or laughing, the good-looking
                regular ones.

Such conditions don't merit headlines, interviews, don't receive TV's close-up
in fact, aren't claimed to exist, except in muscle-bound fantastic comics
                parents trash.
So how could you know that, in unnatural August twilight, at grown-ups'
                backyard barbecues,
one boy teenager's aware his epidermis stretches, fibrous, leaves-out, as
                steaks char?
He's dynamic as an oak, but mobile.  He towers over suburbs, looking for
                villains to handle.

Another glows and senses he gives off infinitesimal lightning.  He's
                enigmatic, shining,
his hair's electrically curled.  What combustions, deep as tissue, are stoked
                to save this boy's world!
Meanwhile his uncle (oblivious) flips magazine pages portraying
                all-important people.

Another, his sister, sees (and is stunned, wishes to hide) white, too white,
                father's boxers
x-rayed and minutely as she sees mechanisms in every clock, in every
they're shocking as teacher's hands in see-through pockets.   And at
                dances, boys' hands fidget in pockets.
She's hopeless, she's certain.  From porch to lawn chair to TV room her eyes
                are too strong.

Listen, it's not that they lack auditoriums, courses, programs to show them
It's not that they have no teachers to lay down rules, for example what's good
                or evil.
The bad ones already are too big, the movies are moving much too fast. 
                Classmates cringe or giggle;
jocks, bullies, cool blond class presidents, cheerleaders know what to avoid,
It's not comic.  Transmogrified life's not for school, should only be penciled
                and inked.

So what if blame, as often ascribed, is traced to parents tested on fertile
                drugs, to radiation?
Through suburbs school buses still cruise.  Important villains won't ever go
                home after curfews.

Worse still, dailies ignore exigent kids.  Their existence is denied by
                ballplayers, eggheads.
They won't chat with prom queens, politicians, or earn a TV special.  Their
                parents'll never marvel.

Jack Hayes

© 2010 

This poem originally appeared in Timbuktu

Wednesday, November 16, 2011



I was a kid, and I was half-lost
in every unfriendly pasture, and
mostly, mister, they were unfriendly.
Holsteins spotted me as fast

as boys in pick-ups pounded freaks.
The cows would roll their stupid eyes
and chew like mad.  I'd kick up heels
through slop.  Then they'd kneel down to cuss.

I was a kid, and I was half-lost
in every drunken barnyard where
the old man and his buddies bragged
about their acres, tractors, herds,

and chug-a-lugged.  They hooted when
I spit up brew.  You're not a man,
they cackled.  Man, I trotted off.
Their rubber boots smelled worse than beer.

I was a kid, and I was half-lost
on every unpleasant hillside where
the probably-lopsided sheep
uprooted banks, laughed sadder laughs

than women I'd meet in redneck bars--
but that was later.  Farm boys winked.
They'd fleece me, too, just like they fleeced
their darlings.  Well, I hoofed downhill.

I was a kid, and I was half-lost
in every catch-all front yard where
the weeds were high as rusty cars.
When Out-of-Staters parked to buy


our trinkets and our squash, they'd ask,
What chores can you do, son?  You bet
I galloped fast behind a wreck.
(They never clicked my photo, sir.)

I was a kid, and I was half lost
in every late night parking-lot
where guys named Hoss and Slim would squeal
their Dusters out, and all the girls

were kissing, friend, like mongrel dogs
that yap in kennels.  And if I butted
in, guys howled, Who's horny now?
Oh, yes sir, I hightailed it home.

Stranger, in this nervous state
where German shepherds govern lawns
and rampage over flower beds
when a hitch-hiker, a lonely wolf,

stalks backwards up a curvy road,
and where the tourists brake and aim
their cameras at the wreathed barbed wire
or toward the unrepaired white church,

I figured out the law.  Oh, watch
the half-breeds reel (as natives point)
bamboozled from the gin mill, sir.
This country tends to oddities:

folks keep them trained in cross-hair sights.
And when I noticed curtains pulled
and windows glaring, I neighed loud:
Kid Brother, beat it down the line.

Jack Hayes
© 2010

This poem originally appeared in Timbuktu

Saturday, November 12, 2011



It takes over at such odd times
that lately she starts to expect it;
whenever a naughty question's asked

whether her elbow's cold on the fridge,
or her bare knees are pricked by the rug,
or if she's listening, prone on her bed,

or anywhere— on the bus with transients,
in a parking lot, out to eat Chinese,
or kicking stones from her shoe,

she feels, first, the comb push
up through her skull; high cheekbones compress,
her septum juts & curls.

Smaller eyes, which slide
toward her temples, stare at her red legs,
her claws & feathers, that stiff tail.

As she's a lovely woman,
she's such a gorgeous hen,
& mens' hands reach to take her back;

however, she doesn't need that,
spots a link fence she hadn't seen
& takes to circling.

Then she strains out the egg.
Then she clucks at the world.
She's never surprised.

Jack Hayes
© 2010

Pic shows graffiti in Chicago in 1984; the poem was written on this trip!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011



At least you can be uncertain about this life
and puzzle whether your souvenirs could be found.
Your old names have been scribbled in a list.

Shopping, you’re unsure if you need avocados;
and wasn’t there someone you’d promised to visit later?
At least you can be uncertain about this life.

You’re moody.  You shuffle the tarot, dim the lights.
The card of your distant past is the Wheel of Fortune.
Your old names have been scribbled in a list,

which must be some place, like your list of errands;
lunch with Sophie today, or next week Tuesday?
And whereas you can be uncertain about this life,

in your dream you’re Egyptian, the man is from Utah.
Next you stroll in Atlantis, he flies to New Jersey.
Your old names have been scribbled in a list.

Confusing… should you lose your cool or dance?
But you’re sure you lived last in either Ireland or China.
At least you can be uncertain about this life;
Your old names aren’t your own, they’re dreams for lists.

Jack Hayes
© 2010

Pic shows graffiti in Chicago in 1984; the poem was written on this trip!

Saturday, November 5, 2011



it was lonely underneath
an early sun,

and he was gone,
like an apple core thrown away.

He couldn’t be hidden
In that flatland

the wild herbs, the seeds,
like eyes, saw him,

the thousand seeds.
Through the short grass,

in snake country,
to the horizon, they waited.

Wild flowers, the pollen,
like eyes, saw him;

and the morning crows

Jack Hayes
© 2010

Thursday, November 3, 2011



Aurora, arch or whorish, spreads herself thin,
the horizontal, divine, clean gal, I mean,
and whorish I say because so rosily
posed, so photogenic, she reclines,
stretches herself like laundry hung out to dry,
while, Maudeline, lechery's itching my eye-
balls and lids seedily... those aren't underclothes,
but clouds, skimpy cirri, floozy's gauze,

she apparels herself blushing in, and lies
as earliest cars to the world sigh and buzz.
What's squintily dawning on me, Maudeline?
Prior to real sunrise her shame's a tease
over each erect and horrent pining pine,
so early birds chide and horrifically keen
"break it up" to us past the out-of-place moon.
Day will, like cops, break into our room,

since Aurora will betray anybody.
Pink-fingered, she—antiseptically sexy,
just, above frustrated traffic, half-undressed
strokes, strokes, as the banker strokes money,
and Maudeline, she'll put the finger on us,
it's time to shove off, love, for cash and the rush.
What's in my eye?  Aurora and dollar signs.
Love, ourselves we're losing as we come clean,

because only love's blind.  But blinded by light,
as autos give up the ghost in parking lots,
as industrious birds, hemming and hawing,
work and scold, the quotidian's sold and bought.
Dollar, dolorous, voluptuous new things...
I'm reddening.  Who's singing?  Darling, so long.
Aurora, bourgeois whore, gazes at, unfazed,
us: nightingales in a stateside zoo.

Jack Hayes
© 2010

This poem originally appeared in Timbuktu

Nightingales in a Stateside Zoo

Why preserve poems written 20 to almost 30 years ago in a contemporary blog?  This was the question I asked myself when I tried to decide whether or not to actually bring this blog into existence.  First answer—a personal & idiosyncratic one: I’m a completist.  My later poems are all preserved on The Spring Ghazals & The Days of Wine & Roses blogs, & so ultimately I knew I needed to dedicate a blog to these poems, the oldest/youngest member of the three.

Oldest/youngest—oldest poems, written when youngest.  & these are a young man’s poems & different in many ways from the poems I later wrote in San Francisco & Idaho; there’s more formalism, less spontaneity—or more control if you will!  Many of us have these characteristics when young I suspect; this must be what Bob Dylan meant when he wrote “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now,” tho perhaps he was still too young when he wrote that to see how true it is.

A brief history: I moved from Vermont to Charlottesville, VA in July 1984 to attend the University of Virginia MFA program with a Henry Hoyns fellowship in Creative Writing—a tad over than 26 years ago as I’m writing this; roughly, a third of a lifetime. 

A few of these poems actually pre-dated Charlottesville; "When Summer Broke" & “Dogs as Chorus to the Late News” were written in Burlington, VT (but revised significantly, I believe in Virginia), while
“The Déjà Vu Villanelle” & "Hen-Woman were written in Chicago during a visit there in 1984 right before I moved to Virginia.  Two of these poems also were actually written right after my move in 1989 to San Francisco—“Asleep at the Wheel” & “Frankie’s Flight.”  But these seem more at home with the Charlottesville poems.

A fair number of these poems were published in “Timbuktu” & “Little Friend, Little Friend”—many thanks to the editors should they ever pass this way!

A few quick notes: the poems will post in the order they appear in the book itself, which like my other poetry books is available here.  The book is divided into four sections: "Mutant Heroes," "American Dreams, "New Arcadia" & "Advent"; each section will be labeled.  Once all 36 poems have posted, the blog will become archival—still available to read, but with no new content after the final poem.  Finally, in a departure from my general practice when posting poems on my other blogs, I will post a photo from my Charlottesville days with each of the poems.

The book's dedication reads as follows:

These poems were written in another world, in another life, & after many years they are finally “on the record.”  I dedicate them to the people whose presence made them possible:

Brittany, Christopher, Eberle, Eddie, Elizabeth, Jenny, Jill, Jonah, Keith, Lana, Lisa, Mari, Meghan, Molly, Priscilla

Hope you enjoy them!

The image shows an illustration of nightingales (Luscinia megarhvnchos  - Nachtigall) from Naumann’s Naturgeschichte Der Vögel Mitteleuropas  (1905).  The image is in the public domain.