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