Page 776 of 777

Eugene O'Neill and One Hundred

He was not at home in the world.
The Gods chased him into a corner
Where
With a trembling hand
He touched
His certain romance with the universe
And Calendar.
Love was the cruelest month.

Mostly White Meat

[Author’s Note: This poem also appears in my play, The Weeping Water Cafe.]

A face, tender as a porcelain doll,
cracks under the white hot mirror of
quartz lights.
A voice,
feeble at first,
then shouts into my living room.

I stop,
listen,
and a wrinkled pea rolls off my fork.

Something about exploding fuel like erasers
and a lost cause
and bruised bodies
and They’re All Dead.
I can’t swallow my mashed potatoes.

A commercial.

They are called heroes.
Invisible chests are adorned
with the metals from exploded tanks
and their memories are bathed in the
salty tear from a child’s eye.

The apple cobbler doesn’t look so good any more.

The news comes in fast…
A blue sock hiding a charred bone washes ashore —
a bottle holding a plea for help
from another unknown brother in horror.
They didn’t know what hit ’em.

The paste, called gravy, hardens over my
television dinner,
mostly white meat.

Replayed before the bloodshot eye of ground pirates,
the white pencils explode carefully planned
speeches again
and then some more.

And so the heroes are back in the clouds
where they belong.

And the potatoes,
quiet,
and still unswallowed,
harden
into seven chalky headstones.

After the Music

by Steve Gaines

July 3, 1954

On my 18th Birthday
A Memorial to an Ill-Spent Youth

It was so long ago
and I seldom bring it back these days
surprised to look at that age of adventure
from this distant couch
unable to recapture that careless attitude…
reluctant to admit the inability I suppose…
but here goes anyway

Continue reading → After the Music

For My Father

by Steve Gaines

captured in the bronze of time
my father’s memory shines
hangs prominently on the granite wall
of my own mortality.

Continue reading → For My Father

Cast in July

by Steve Gaines

once more July!
and the oven of my birth
forty-seven years ago
repeated
the ghost of every Summer in between
suspended on the walls of my mind
inside my head
a cast off clutter of soft memories

Continue reading → Cast in July

Unnatural Selection

[Author’s Note: This poem appears in my play, The Weeping Water Cafe.]

I was kneeling, pulling dandelions
when I heard it.
There, under the mock black cherry tree
a young rabbit flat on its back
limp,
a broken toothpick spine.
The wail
describes an
underside ripped clean of fur
oozing red
exposing a pink
diaphragm.

Across the lawn
calm,
nodding,
the cat.

My hands
are city clean.
I consider nursing
or twisting the head.

Quieter now.
I name it Gregory.
His life stains my palms.
The eye closes.
An ear droops.
Last gasps
dribble
from my bleeding fists
and seep into patio cracks.

I open the garbage can,
place Gregory inside the
Gillette Dairy Ice Milk carton
and replace the aluminum lid
that doesn’t begin to muffle
the heartbeat in my fingertips.

Songs of My Sorrows

by Steve Gaines

I am chased through time
by the failures and promises of my past
I do not regret so much
as I wonder about them
to be satisfied with the results of my life
is not a matter of final judgment
results can be counted only once I stop moving…
or breathing
death…
of whatever sort…
is the result of having lived…
in whatever life
so to think about “mending my ways”
or simply learning from the errors of the past
are nonsequiturs
errors can become successes
after time rubs them smooth

Continue reading → Songs of My Sorrows