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

Saturday, February 18, 2012


Under the covers, or under the moon and the stars,
Those high-toned, exclusive lights
Towards which blue and lonesome cars,
Either on bypass or backstreet, didn't travel,
O wishful town, you blinked your lights
Like candles blown out in a circle.

And under your red and green planets,
Your radio towers, red-eyed, transmitted downtown,
From above and beyond, dizzying secrets.
At stoplights, in bedrooms, everyone tossed and turned.
Look, some won't ever make it uptown.
And the towers' eyes, insomniac, burned.

Abed, in that place, while my white nightlight
Persisted, miniature, stellar,
When startled awake by beaming, golden headlights,
Restive, I spun in vicious circles, thinking
How, town, you wished on fixed stars.
And the world (lights out) wouldn't stop spinning.

Jack Hayes
© 2010
This poem originally appeared in Timbuktu

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Everybody, seemingly, reached out
For a door knob, one significant button, the sky;
And everyone, I think, had their doubts.
As for me, at times I visited where
Puzzled, dizzy, grinning, apparently in mid-air,
Reaching for his whiskey, wishing to fly,

Noel laughed on his balcony.
Teased, let's say, by heaven's stark
Naked and hypothetically sexy body,
Which, move as me might, he couldn't touch
Any more than my cigarette's smoke that looped up, vanished,
He asked me once, "Am I whistling in the dark?"

Everyone, back then, wanted out of this world
And made phone calls, or love, or flicked their lighters,
Etc.  Noel had in mind a girl
Who lived crosstown or further even
Than that pinned-up Miss December heaven.
He tied red string around unsent letters.

"It's," I told him, "catch as catch can."
Satellites, shooting stars, and UFOs,
Like the ritziest diamonds, or anyway, zircon,
Decked high heaven coldly out.  The shine beguiled
Noel, glassy-eyed, who stared like a poor man's child.
"Everybody, someday, goes,

And mystically," he blurted, "finds someone."
Two stories down, pedestrians moved apart
As Noel giggled, "We are not alone."
Out in the cold, only my cigarette lit,
I hunched on the balcony, kept quiet.
Later, he named the sky Miss Lonely Hearts.

Jack Hayes
© 2010
This poem originally appeared in Timbuktu

Saturday, February 11, 2012


That night that poured out blacker than black coffee,
When the new moon (down the drain) outside my kitchen window
Ciphered its message,
I counted, abstracted, penny after penny,
The bits I'd saved.  Poor Richard was in the know.
And I fretted for daily treasures I couldn't salvage.

It was, I think, a Monday,
And Cosmo, my friend and mathematician,
Dropped by to gulp strong coffee and pernoctate.
I said, "There's bound to be hell to pay."
And he, low-voiced, "you're using the wrong equation,"
Said, and blew a smoke ring.  "You opt for fate."

Night tried to solve its problem
In time, as I inventoried savings and groceries,
And, like last week's leftovers, spent, I stewed
At this week's start, and swept up crumbs.
"It goes," I said, "to waste in complacencies,
And the unknown's lost."  He continued,

"We range, as differentials, free and available,
Elegant across infinite space,
Existing as our own specific solution."
He left his overcoat on.  Toward my kitchen table
The new moon showed a darker face
Than a kid who's stumped by a logician.

Jack Hayes
© 2010

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


We kept, our time grown short, our lives shadowed
Through smallish and buzzing rooms
Whose walls were, by few low-watt bulbs, yellowed.
And, sicklier than the faint sun,
Those bulbs (in silhouette, like spoons)
Kept Lucy's head, in chiaroscuro, haloed.

In those days, the pale sun, cut-down, sank,
And that Saturday. pre-empted, out of mind,
Through a sky transparent as a high-proof drink
The sun drowned like a rind.
And Lucy, then, got herself blind.
I thought it was daylight, not gin, she drank

As the afternoon blacked-out.
In shadow alone, she and I spoke together,
And she said, "A light bulb hurts, like a thought,
And thoughts fry you like pleasure."
I, also under the weather,
Slouched and muttered, "White light knocks me out."

Her few lamps, untouched and cornered, survived
Barely, and buzzed.  Their power, unpaid for, faint,
Winced.  What's turned off can't be revived.
"I feel I'm safer absent,"
The by-now eyeless saint
Lucy murmured as larger shadows writhed.


Jack Hayes
© 2010

Saturday, February 4, 2012


What could I, those blank nights (besides nothing) picture?
Like, the coming attractions, like any future…
Black & white photos tacked across each wall—
They seemed utterly real;
& all those scissored-out prints & icons
Were windows, & weren’t embellished with curtains,

Were frames cut into in my house,
Were scenes I came to, face-to-face.
Life & lovers captured in 8 x 10 squares
And I contemplated them, darkly, from a hard-backed chair.
They embodied, across my off-white walls, fictions.
But were they premonitions?

Beyond both the real & the made-up windows
Existed (as in these later days I know),
Somewhere else,
Where someone else (though between my house
And yours was space like the minutes inside a theater
When everything’s suspended in whispers

Until the curtain rises)—
You, Emily, as you  prayerfully washed your dishes.
Above you was pinned a postcard of the Virgin,
Mailed from somewhere organic & Latin.
Late nights, over the phone, you told stories,
Off-color, and heisted from movies—

Like “house dick,” like “high windows,” like “a mother…”
But I couldn’t get the picture.
Instead I watched my walls unreeel vignettes
While you said your prayers to chipped plaster statuettes
You brought home from dime stores.
Meantime, the future projected a double feature

Up against the wall, as if through a window
We might have come through whole.
Picture this… in either home
We might, in the flesh, have called each other by name,
And not like onscreen lovers.  Then it would matter;
This picture would move.  Bear with us, Vivid Mother.

Jack Hayes
© 2010

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


I bided my time, as thin air stays, empty,
Empty as restaurants after hours,
Uselessly lurking.
Once upon a time I bedded down hungry.
Later, as my fridge moaned, I locked the front door,
And through this city

Ventured in good hope.  Our Father's vacancy
Loomed larger (though immaterial) than a dirigible,
A macrocosmic doughnut hole
With which my stomach could identify.
But gleaming down the miracle mile
Waited an all-night bakery,

Where red-faced bakers, on night-shift, labor.
They're qualified in terms of pity,
Through contorting, punching out, and racking dough,
To serve to those, in spirit, poor,
And through roasting zeros
(Countless) to discharge such duty.

Our Father Who... Are you our breadwinner?
When, then, will we sit and eat?
I doubletimed it, okay, to soak a doughnut
In coffee two bits paid for,
But after still saw heaven blackly cut out,
And I returned, an empty sleeper.

Jack Hayes
© 2010

Saturday, January 28, 2012


The sky and all's unpeopled, so I mark time,
As though, marooned in an airport lounge,
Tallying swizzle sticks and membranous limes,
I were wasting myself on a binge.
And Muzak, I think, would smugly hum.
You have to wait, man, unreal, for shame.

Or words to that effect.  But stranded in this bar
In similitude (actually, on the wagon)
I'd peruse clear bottles' labels and not hear
Piped-in subliminal slogans.
I'm waiting, like, for visitors out of the air.
You have to wait, man, unreal, for shame.

And the air's entirely, from where I sit, empty,
As if never from the clouds
Into this metaphysical airport would taxi
A plane transporting, among its airborne crowd,
Anyone remotely as sky-blue as Mother Mary.
You have to wait, man, unreal, for shame.

And as though, through inclement weather, no one came
From the real world to me in the terminal,
No heavenly arms to take me home,
As though all flights, I mean, had gotten canceled,
I'm aground, like wrecked to Muzak, killing time.
You have to wait, man, unreal for shame.

Jack Hayes
© 2010

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Gloria in excelsis, oh I mean
Gloria dearest, you aren't even close,
Sipping your eggnog or snowbound in your suburb.
It's time for me to come clean,
Except, like Christmas Past, I'm a shackled ghost;
And the sign on your door reads: Don't Disturb.

If some people get hooked on visions,
Others simply get tied up
Like this naughty package I won't send—
Although it is the season—
And if your cheeks are flushed and you're in your cups
Laughingly spotting the Virgin, listen friend,

Pax in Terra is only one thing we lack.
This winter here, word for word out of Dickens,
Groans, and I'm turning up my collar.
Mostly I stay awake
Numbering every time I chickened-
Out.  And about the world and its dollars

I'm not writing.  I won't complain
When haunted by a wreath on a white door
Or tacky, spectral lights as, sweetheart, I watch
Neighborhoods turn on, homely, in thick rain,
About our children, wraiths who don't wake anywhere.
But as the church

(Donna Nobis) which I pass by,
Disquieted, as we go round, stands, and dark,
While your suburbs, under the mistletoe, kiss
(Our angels never were on high),
While downtown the stray dogs zealously bark,
I think (whisper and shake) it's you I miss.

Jack Hayes
© 2010

This poem originally appeared in Timbuktu

Saturday, January 21, 2012


Ex nihilo or out of the blue
As at my desk that morning, abruptly conscious,
I signed a check for every debt due,
December breezed in, a guest
Eerie as Amelia Earhart or an angel;
And, unlike the postman, exactly on schedule.

Nothing, then, made sense.
Things, like letters, falling out of the sky,
Sleet and rain and snow and providence,
Like packages, spilling, untied,
Were part and parcel, in fact, of December's baggage.
I got, I think, the message,

And scribbled, to save my life, my signature;
So my gas stove and my floor lamp remained safe.
I couldn't, despite this, figure,
As all-overhead came down, beyond belief,
Icy and random through streets outside,
Correspondences.  Could my house hide?

In principio, that is, for starters,
Shaken up by this visit or crash landing,
After handing my postman (late) the letters,
I brooded, unremembering,
Like waking straight from a blackout, minus a clue,
Or short an address like the Wandering Jew.

Jack Hayes
© 2010

Thursday, January 19, 2012


The fall came, for me, often down
Inside.  Then, deranging, stranger, this penitentiary,
Furnished barely and haunting, this desert,
This house concealed me.  Okay, unworldly cell,
Knocked-out almost, next to the furious gas stove,
I fell for visions more hermetic than sacred,

While trees got themselves naked.
Sentenced, rapt, withdrawn,
Conjuring virgins, my God, no God could approve,
Topsy-turvy, floored in ecstasy,
I eyed, across ascetically plastered walls,
Angels falling through cracks to flirt,

And keeping my eyes peeled hurt.
Under the table and curtains, broken as bread,
I fasted, except for spoonfuls,
And, stranger, I held my own,
Squinted toward sexy trees, for angels unmerci-
Ful climbed white walls for love.

Jack Hayes
© 2010

Saturday, January 14, 2012


November passed, friends, on the nod,
While I, holed up in an old house,
Fidgety, swept the hardwood to roust out God,
Who'd determined the rugs (few) to be clouds
And paid dust no attention.
Such desperate housekeeping had to be flawed.

My old life, then, like Old Golds, formed a bad habit,
Recondite, yes, as hibernation;
Cat's in the cupboard, but who'll find me?
And the solitary visitation,
While my wind-up clock dripped and dripped
Came from, garbled, the late night alternative station.

Believe it.  November slipped
Backwards into the biggest sleep.
Determined, yes, I paced the floors and tripped
On rugs' upturned corners.
Old God played furtive as a mouse,
Too cagey, as he bedeviled, to show his face—
Those days, hey, I knew no better, but swept.


Jack Hayes
© 2010

Thursday, January 12, 2012



elles viennent
autres et pareilles
avec chacune c’est autre et c’est pareil
avec chacune l’absence d’amour est autre
avec chacune l’absence d’amour est pareille

Samuel Beckett

I’m breaking the strict flow of the book by stepping in today to introduce briefly the final section of Nightingales in a Stateside Zoo.  As you can see, the final section is titled “Advent”—my timing as far as the blog posts go not being ideal, or at least no seasonal, but there you have it.  The section in the book, & really ever since the sequence was composed in 1986 thru early 1987 has had an epigraph that is a short French poem by Samuel Beckett.  Beckett also wrote an English version of this (at least I'm 99% sure of that), but I don’t have it on hand, so I’ll produce the following, from memory & I hope not too much as my own translation:

they come
different and the same
with each it’s different and the same
with each the absence of love is different
with each the absence of love is the same

That’s very close, I think, to his English version.  Anyway, it’s a beautiful poem—I chose the epigraph well, if I do say so!

The Advent poems themselves were written for the most part in November & December of 1986, & to some extent in early 1987.  The series was originally conceived as 24 poems taking a reader through the Advent season, with various feast days being marked (like St. Lucy’s & the Annunciation—represented here respectively by “Another St Lucy” & “Moving Pictures & Other Conceptions”).  The Sundays were to be represented by the poems with refrains, but only two of these were ever completed (“The Patience Song” & “A Little Night-Music”).  All in all 18 poems were completed (more or less.)

Again, looking back over 25 years, these poems now strike me—at least the best of them—as the best work I did in Charlottesville.  They were overall a happy combination of a structure that interested me, & a verse form with which I was comfortable, all falling into place by accident (?) with some episodes, encounters, etc. in my life that inspired me.

The first poem in the section will post this coming Saturday. Advent is as I mentioned the book’s final section; from here on out I won’t be posting photos with the poems.

Saturday, January 7, 2012



for Eddie Gehman Kohan

For al be that I knowe not love in dede,
Ne wot how that he quyteth folks hir hyre,
Yet happeth me ful ofte in bookes rede
Of his miracles, and his cruel yre.
Chaucer, The Parlement of Fowles

Incipit: meaning, enter, as Miss Text invites;
thus, Annie, our story’s opening, like the covers,
sexy, like a garden gate swung;
sexy, ah, as abecedarian shrubbery.

& June it was because this is a poem—
a funny thing—it was, too, June,
I remember, Face, we left the room I remember
as shelf upon shelf, boards under volumes almost moaning,

left to walk in shade, yes, amongst leaves:
magnolias, lilacs, ashes, the whole encyclopedia,
tulip poplars, crepe myrtles—into which
if we could turn, we’d turn out.

Annie, don’t turn the page, leaf through this;
because day to twilight turned like a page turned.
This prolegomenon, stroll under blossoms,
Face, this must be our life,

a romance, us, typical & self-conscious,
us, Amiga, romantically dressed
as black dress, jacket, tie, inked us in,
life to walk in the city park or Miss Text’s garden.

& into what could we turn ourselves
amongst, Annie, these literal & adolescent trees,
these posies lining, versifying the sidewalk?
We’re poets, too, I’ll make this up to you.  &

branches, volumed, limned, we read between them,
branches, cursive, uppercase, italicized, like
spelt it out: love’s a love story.
Annie, that’s what I meant to say,

an apology—away, away with words!
This must have been, under unhappy cedars,
Amiga, our life… Let’s make up…
which was when, in pain, like a first kiss risked,

we both, as I recall, to evergreens turned,
as evergreens, Face, to pages turn,
as pages turn for us.  Thus blooming to romance,
Annie, our life’s now an open book,

leaf upon leaf turned—so green,
so green we remained amongst, like in context,
magnolias, crepe myrtles, poplars; & were sexy.
From this green world, though, how come home?

Mr Mythographer, can we get directions
to Annie’s room where bookshelves almost moan?
Trees got carved with names.  Why not
come with me between the covers, Face, sexy text?

*    *    *

Hi! I’m in my own head, where fiction blooms.  Do you call this freedom?  It’s rampant, these perennials, this symbology, a repetition complex, they’re blooming, like, like crazy.  Not to mention groves from verse romance, or the downtown park, ornamental & littered, a lover’s love, a drunkard’s paradise.  But I feel fantastic!  Welcome to this green world!  I said green because it’s alive the live-o, as Miss Reader, who like any other spinster English teacher tends her posies, her anthologies, will attest.  Like me, she watches her pretty maids, keeps them in line, & her errant guys.  & she comes when Shakespeare calls, it’s high school, she plucks corsages daily as the prom will come to transform in time, in a romance, will metamorphosize.  I tell her it’s not enough, like a shipwreck, a magic kingdom, to stop at first reading, to get deflowered, that’s just the beginning.  Turn on, I say, the radio, the incorporeal will sing, & we’ll break free, & thus my well-versed garden grows.

*    *    *

Our future, its lyrics, cried, coaxed over the airwaves,
cried: wet dreams, magic, desert island.
At 99-megaherz, spiritous, buzzed, & from nowhere,
Annie, voices etherialized our wishes.

Breathe free, couldn’t we?  Except nostalgia,
nerves, for rescue, ached, like for 16 candles,
without wincing, to see them: not burnt-out.
We were hopeless, Face, we knew the words by heart.

Meantime, like golden oldies, prom night conjured
teens, teens in scarlet & excitable cars,
apparently Ferdinand & Miranda tuning in
the hit parade from thin air, which leads on, leads on.

Singalong?  Our voices, broken, breathless, however;
this June when, remember, we were marooned, like in high school
Golden Age, yeah, when how to make-out, memorize
lyrically, we learned—as if we’d been held back.

Allow them their charms, though falsetto.  We parked
romantically, yes, as a shipwreck, & yet the radio
teased, cajoled, ariose, devilish tunes,
bass deep as a gash, an undersea world.  Breathe.

& tunes in my head floated, while against the windshield
insects brained themselves like spirits braining themselves,
taking a chance in a disenchanted world; then
we got inside each other’s heads.

Tongues, bug-like, sucking. A hum, a hum.
Music’s creepy, & all outside’s a revenant dance.
Sex, sex, the buzzwords mosquitoes,
desperate & fancy free, dittied, & hey, autos sang

Hymen O Hymenaon squealing out toward the prom,
toward the faint or else washed-up future.
What Ferdinand & Miranda played, losing their heads,
couldn’t recall any refrain.  Be-bop-a-lula.

It’s breath exercise anyway.  They slow dance, then.
Annie, let’s put our heads together;
except tunes in our heads, like insects, hazed us,
our cover versions, Amiga, on your insular porch.

So much for artificial respiration.
Radio fading, unfathomable (as under the breath
wishes sink) these gold lyrics, out of their element passed;
if, Annie, our future stayed on the air…

*    *    *

& why not, I ask, why not?  Understand here, italics, lovely letters, lovely, skeletal, & once, like coral, alive.  Or else they’re underlined like us, Face, under an unconscious sea.  Accidents always about to happen, who’s their author?  Not Shakespeare.  They all lived once, pulp, fossils, the entire dramatis personae; what happened?  Radio dead, mast snapped, hull breaking up like into the alphabet, characters waving good-bye.  That’s how feelings sink, as Sha-la-la, Sha-la-la is all we can, drowning, sing.  But mermaids, mermen, those jerry-rigged & anonymous creatures, they sing; spirituals, maybe.  Did our station stay on the air?  What song did the sirens sing?  Who can fathom these things?  That’s how feelings sink, like eyes, into sleep & forever, how many fathoms deep.  It takes my breath away.  We need authorities now, if ever… Book them! Book them!  Whatever song the unidentifiable sirens sang, it’s arresting.

*    *    *

Once upon a time, whence we dated
our trysts—more distant than once upon times in print—
in moonshine, recall, or under, at least, electric globes,
us moving; & we were, as book jackets, pretty & frayed.

Mr Anonymous, or who else, Annie will endite us?
This old wives tale, drizzle intermittent
like irrepressible sobs (cloud covers moon), kidstuff,
like, an unhappy ending’s unexpected,

thus, downtown, spellbound, in illo tempore:
Transvestites, larger-than-life, transient, charming
as books, egg-blue or blushing, on kids’ shelves,
& police cruisers shimmering,

parked in front of the library.  Who’ll write us up?
Mr Anonymous, in best-loved books?
You, hennaed curls recklessly tossed, your kelly green jacket,
& me, hands in pockets, black jacketed,

walking, Annie, under the full moon’s legend,
which more hugely shone than a service station sign,
& us both in puddles reflected backwards,
like any world otherwise one falls into…

I’m taking this, Face, down myself, it’s untimeless.
Only transvestites, singing four-part harmony, get this—
they shoo-do-wa past streetlights’ ken—
only, in this authored world, only the lonely,

who stock, anonymously, kids’ shelves, get this.
Personify me!  See some identification?
As well as our own names, Annie, we knew zilch,
as the full moon illustrated,

or the police, like alarms jarring, turning sirens on—
(the Brothers Grimm got their name somewhere);
they silenced transvestites’ lullabies or farewells,
they erased, Amiga, momentously, the moon.

It’s midnight, do you know where your children are?
As bedtime is, Annie, for ever after,
as Mr Anonymous took it on the lam, I took this down.
& someone’s forever calling authorities up.

*    *    *

Phone’s ringing; somebody’s forgotten nobody’s home, somebody’s wires got crossed.  This is, see, the empty room wherein my Love & I live; empty: the better to write our poems; empty: furnishings would intrude, like witnesses.  Because our room is for sex, sex like kids’ games, names changed, unfair, scary.  Don’t call us, please, I swear nobody’s home, just us, cross-dressed, just us, riddles, just us, fantasies lived-out.  This empty room our dominion, emptied for sex, for our poetics, an empty room on a backstreet that’s unsigned by any street sign.  Evenings, I walk to the corner for smokes & a drink, one drink, the better to image, to versify, & she drives to the market for forbidden fruit to feed her dreams.  There’s no turning back.  We play kidnapped, tie on bandanas, we read poems, faceless, we switch costumes to play abductor.  Hold the phone; light gleams, & nobody’s home in these rooms, these stanzas, where we’re kept like secrets.

*    *    *

A vagrant I was a streetlamp held up-o,
wistfully slumped, I can remember that,
I can, Face, remember that cigarette smoke dusk,
all my lies & passersby, just past my reach.

Here I am, hanging on in my own poem!
True Thomas has got himself already carried off,
he’s in the bar-o, in happy hour twilight,
True Thomas, drinking his drafts,

& wasn’t I, as in ambiguity, too parched?
Neither awake nor asleep, but I held on;
around me, Amiga, shadowy, magicked cars braked & turned.
Consider crucial street signs they obeyed!

& Annie, anytime you’d be arriving-o;
unexpected guests, in half-light only, expected.
Except rosy neon—what else to wait on?
True Thomas, I think he drinks to forget,

True Thomas, can’t I follow you too to twilight,
Annie, then, you’d be arriving-o,
as I always wished, in my own poem,
& Face, as cars wrong-turned, there went my life,

there went my life in unworried storefront windows.
What else, besides still waters, runs deep?
My worries, wishes, overhung, dragged, held on
for dearer life, really, than willows against a river,

my worries weren’t, though, limbs, were untouchable.
Street lamps root in cement, I held on-o.
True Thomas perfectly dreamed, he disappeared.
Rhymer beware her sultry moon-dreamed hennaed hair!

& Annie, you’d make your appearance:
Queens in the gloom, under the evergreen neon,
Queens where streets, as poems cross poets, cross,
Queens that more than come & go.

Pick me up.  I can’t say anything true, else.
Something like, sleep’s muddy river I slouched bluely beside,
something like, let’s take an unending drive,
it’s your car, Face, it’s a folk song screamed from love,

it’s a missed turn, it’s a one-way street.
I’ve fallen already, & not headfirst & not to drown,
Amiga, sleepily.  I can’t tell the truth.
True Thomas in his Happy Hour, he’s invisible,

he’s sleeping it off in his very own poem-o.
I’m here again, I made it into his this poem
wherein I know Annie must be arriving!
But where’s Queen Elfhome, which corner’s forever her’s?

My streetlamp, Face, it was big & bigger than life,
bigger than promises broken.  I can’t be true.
True Thomas, he gave into twilight, he’s a poet,
& I’m slumped, & Annie’s arriving-o.

*    *    *

Here I am, nowhere, so where are you lost?  Listen, I’m out of state, like state of the art, or in the proverbial other world, meeting my maker & deadline.  A secret hiding place, this, outside (like damned poems) the law—its neon sign spells out: Vacancy & Silence.  $35 a night room, typewriter, bourbon, x-rated flicks—masked & storyless— & no memories.  So don’t ask questions.  Not born yesterday, I don’t stare at faces, I bury myself in pages.  True Confessions: lives transmogrified before your eyes, or merely gone to hell.  Have you seen her, my maker?  So where are you lost?  This message comes from the No-Tell-Motel/Avalon; like after hours, the Afterworld, fabled & sung.  I’m a journalist or a ghost-writer, see, I eyeball stories, 20/20, like true love.  Underworld figures & clandestine lovers, it’s another world.  Where are you lost, in a story?  It’s over, my deadline’s inexorable as Styx, & there’s no going back, no looking back.  I write without you, love-maker.

*    *    *

Lully, lully, Face, I kissed your eyes shut
once; then porch, bleeding hollies, magazines half-read,
I saw them in a different light—of course, blue.
& you, on the air, absorbed, sung to passing fm.

Yes, Virginia, ravishing, unconscious sweet nothing,
she became our heroine, tantalizing,
Leading you into the mauve air to say
singingly, I love you so much I have to vanish.

Annie, I can’t see you or anything else.
Wisteria pods, like damned cocoons hanging; soon moths,
aflutter like arrhythmia, appeared,
souls free associating, as I saw, dimly, us, &

Sweet Briar, Tidewater, Roanoke, Elyisan Hells,
any road, Amiga, we could go down,
go down like eyes following poems down pages, go
all the way, into the deepest, darkest state,

wherever eponymous Virginia haunted.
So I could see nothing for flowers:
Forget-Me-Nots, daffodils dreamed—I mean asphodels
blooming, blown, like blown away.

& I said, Sleep with me.  I said,
I hear forever your laughter echoing off these pages—
magazines, ghosts, laid open.  At 2:00 a.m.
a visitation of birds in the shrubbery.

This is after, then we were florally bleeding,
Orpheus crooned arrangements, I’m, Face, losing,
losing my place, though I have your voice in mind.
Lully, lully, I kissed your eyes shut.

Virginia flirted in spirit, we were in too deep.
You said, These love poems make for long good-byes.
I said, We’re out of time, like Memorial Day,
& Annie, we went down, dreamed, in history.

*    *    *

I’ve watched words, turned to memories & twisted, worm underground; fluorescent, segmented, fleshy.  Listen closely: all the dead lovers, the 3,000 years of poems, they mutter, So much for loss, of which so much is made.  Like, plant you now, dig you later; like Petrarch, addicted to loss & distance, doing Laura in; like Poe sniffing white lilacs in his window box as if he whispered sweet nothings; & always after dark.  Dr Lyric says you can see further under a full moon, it’s the only light to compose by, ink swallowed in immemorial night; it’s a suicide’s gambit, it’s life made art, it’s the last act, it’s Romeo & Juliet’s wedding cake being cut & tarantulas spilling out, the horror the icing hid, & the exigent pity.  Sad world, I’m lost for words!  So I try, “love/youth/grace,” I try, in sidereal light, Face, like under the honied moon, recalling phantoms; like us, these typefaced verses I wished out of this world.

*    *    *

A yellowish moon, like used, deteriorating,
an old paperback’s page, ripped off, unbound,
this, I said, above us once let characters run off,
lachrymose, yes, or else like ink left in the rain.

I don’t remember, Face, but didn’t Lorenzo croon
by the tracks & near a slow, deadly green river?
Fallen, he crooned like any punk, ungrateful,
crooned in his drama, modern, unmerciful, on the skids.

I don’t remember, this was about love anyway:
illiteral moon, Lorenzo, unnatural acts,
& us, Annie, face-to-face in the barroom,
squinting as if reading mind-boggling books.

What could Lorenzo know about us, he’s make-believe.
Like I made up the moon off-scene, like I made up…
Ms Mise-en-scène, when houselights finally blind
like last call’s lights, & moonlight’s erased,

she knows truth gets stranger than fiction.
What did I, Annie, know about this in the barroom drinking?
& meantime, I forgot your flesh’s texture,
I forgot what shade your irises showed through contacts.

Open our eyes.  We balked.  Lorenzo by the tracks
crooned, crooning like any tough who knows he’s going off,
who knows the score, sees moonlight guttered
as greasepaint melts, as newsprint stains fingers.

Our book’s closed, Amiga, it’s more than remaindered.
Censored world, yes!  Allusions sentenced to
another world, gone, like a library book taken back.
Through curtained moonbeams, only words get explicit.

Jack Hayes
© 2010
This poem originally appeared in Little Friend, Little Friend

Wednesday, January 4, 2012



Out of time and astumble, as May, in a gasp, appeared, the man, excruciatingly alert on the sidewalk, on suffocating bricks, murmured, “It’s time to set my affairs in order.”  Bees circulated down from many eaves, his heart hovered, his lungs buzzed.  Where was his will—to sign it—where was his love?  It should have been oh so simple, like in and out, like systole, diastole, but instead he doubled-up, but instead it lingered too springy all day, too fleury, yes, and throughout afternoon wasn’t his heart trying to keep pace?  Another cigarette?

Match flowering on a tender stem: inhale, exhale; and green leaves, as always, twinned themselves, a predicament, and his lover, the Queen of Hearts, came twinned as always, topsy-turvy, offering marigolds.  Annamarie and Marianna, his double vision, the spring ensemble.

Stomach in a knot, like a true love knot, okay?  What else, tachycardic or wrapped too tight, amongst snaky brick walls at the stroke of noon, was he to imagine?  What didn’t bud in Virginia flowerbeds?  Primroses, anywhere.  And stamina, lacking, lackluster, among perfumy blooms.  But ornamental and gorgeous cabbages, yellow, purple, contused; and daffodils, he resuscitated these, and their thousand injuries.  Might as well be a dreamed-up England, right?  A Renaissance right here and now!  Have you ever seen a dream walking?  Here she comes again, here she comes again, syzygial.

Breathe in and out.  He did.  This was, for the most part, coincidence, or insignificant as an untimed pulse.  Time out of joint or just dislocated.  “I bet they dreamed a lot then!”  His lover scattered crumbs—placebos, maybe—along the sidewalk cracks to cure birds bobbing heartily, fluttering, pneumonic.  Small change, really.  Annamarie crimsonly said, “I’ve got a line to Our Lady of the Lonely, and you're one, man, you’re inscrutably human and breathless.”  Ephemera, ephemera, she’s strewing roses, dispensing prescriptions, would rather metamorphosize undreamily, get real.  He blows it.  Breathe. 

Marianna said, whitely, “I don’t know what country this is, but I’d like to save everyone in it.”  She herself dodged anginose bees, the clot, she stepped over cracks where robin-run-away fantasized, she plucked an iris, she hoped to be plucked from phantasmagoria, too.  But he couldn’t look away to save anybody’s life.  A match, a match!

Annamarie and Marianna, they’re, like springtime long agone, a long time gone.  If hazily they blossomed between cracks, as his life passed, yes, before his eyes, they did, in poignant May know flowering, white, and scarlet pain as real as his, except growing.  Where was his will?  It’s simple, like systole, like diastole.  But wouldn’t he rather be pale, constricted, blue, in fact, a Forget-Me-Not?  If anyone can do anything in time, it’s his turn now, at the stroke of Mayday noon, as vines pump themselves up about the trellis, wherein, emergent, his lover, for all she’s worth, breathes.  Come around!  Because someday now, flowers will bloom for real.

Jack Hayes
© 2010