Wednesday, April 29, 2009


You’ve got to be kidding
One more time
The perfunctory olive branch

It would be easier to breathe
While choking on a knotted, grease
Soaked dish rag than to say the words

Another emotionally charged
Stand-off, we’re both right,
Just ask, either of us

Fools or sadists
We dance again on bruised
And bloodied toes

Trying exhausts
Any change seems
A vapor arriving too late

Extending the inevitable
Last gasp, maybe, clinging
To fading shreds of hope

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Attempt suicide and they put you in the state hospital. Escape, it’s more sneaking out and crossing the state line, they let you go.

It worked perfectly. Almost thirty years of obligations and expectations, done. Downed some pills and enough liquor to pass out and panic the wife. Lights, sirens and paramedics swarmed the house.

Couple of nights and it was all behind him; nagging wife, spoiled kids, dead-end job with that idiot boss.

Gone, all of it, he held the holy grail of a clean slate. It was perfect.

So perfect, he met someone new, and got married.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Fight

My knees pin his arms. “Give up.”

“Let go and I’ll kill you.” More spit than words.

I land one on his cheek. “Just quit.” I’m desperate, begging.

He’s focused, hateful, determined. “Never.”

I’ve no fight left but fear revenge. My last, feeble swing drags across his nose. Blood trickles. More threats. I jump, run. He’s so close. I feel him grab at my shirt. I round the corner, desperately lunging. Slam the door, turn the lock. I gasp.

He pounds the hollow wood, screaming, promising my demise.

Shaking I sit on the toilet praying for our parents to get home.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

twitter poetry

to short to elaborate
yet, i bargain for more
until in final capitulation
i accept the brevity
as all my characters
are quickly gone...

twitter contact: @jamesrls

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Hell’s terror, my sinful complicity (whatever that was) and the saving love of God. All told with flimsy Bible figures on dingy, flannel covered cardboard.

Fear or maybe hope churned in my gut. I raised my hand, was taken aside. I leaned in to listen as the kindly old lady’s warm breath puffed on my face. I made a choice, the right one, to ask Jesus in my heart, followed her lead repeating “the prayer.”

“How do you feel?” She asked. “Different? Better? Can you tell God is near?”

“Nope.” I answered. “Feels about the same as all the other times.”

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Striking Out

Porter was a mean somabitch, made Cobb look like a choir boy. Put two in the hospital, one ‘bout died. Prison and 12 Steps, maybe got religion. Commissioner said one last chance.

Vegas had a line on how long he’d last. Late August, he’s flirting with .400. It’s baseball, the world of redemption and miracles.

Blazing, sweaty mid-west game. He was one for three and up in the eighth. Swung early at first and low at the next. Ump calls the third and was attacked by a flailing bat. Benches froze. Cops wrestled Porter off the field, for the last time.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Yet still…

Another day of Pagan rituals blended
with evangelical fervor
we squint through the twilight
morning, standing damp-footed
in dewy, cemetery grass
for yet another sunrise service

I bow my all to Easter

Relatives and once-a-year attenders
drawn by the scorn of a long
gone grandma or some family curse,
now days called expectations,
arrive at church

I bow my all to Easter

Brunch in the basement
between services for
egg and bread casserole
hastily made the night before
with fruit and dry ham, barely warm

I bow my all to Easter

Overflowing sanctuary
new bright colored dresses
and enough ladies hats to force
even the most polite teenage boys
to smirk and jab their friends

I bow my all to Easter

Similar sermon with
a “zippy” new title, louder
does not make it different
or better, there is one
Easter story, get over it

I bow my all to Easter

“He is risen.” “He is risen indeed!”
some shout, others mumble
the silent few, hope not to be noticed
their obligation is clear
attendance “yes,” participation “no”

I bow my all to Easter

Families, friends gather for dinner
kids search for quickly hidden eggs
a few may not be found ‘til July 4
too much food and obvious table talk
candy, pictures and goodbyes

I bow my all to Easter

Cars chase dusk, disappear around the corner
a messy house, colored egg shells,
shiny foil wrappers, flimsy colored plastic grass
dishes to wash, leftovers to organize,
should have sent more with the others

Yet still, I bow my all to Easter

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

If words were…

If words were silent…
Would I notice,
Or even care?
Would their hush
Indicate absence and
Chew within until
I try to scream
Only to feel hollow
Breath fill space I
Cannot identify?

If words were silent…
Would I have thoughts,
Ideas, hopes?
Would anger boil
yet never ignite?
Would love die for
Lack of closure?
Would my wanting to tell you
Be reduced to vague motions,
Quickly misunderstood?

If words were silent…
Would there be an
Inner me? A psyche, a spirit,
An essence or a soul?
Something within to perk
Forth daily life?
Would I know that you
would know me?
And would you know that
I know you? Or even care?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Watching Luis

Luis was a sub-par pitcher but the luck of being left-handed kept him in the bigs. He had retired twenty-six batters. Some swinging, some watching, three pitches each. No bat touched the ball. All walked away, none argued a call. The crowd had begun to wonder if this might be the first true perfect game in baseball history. The twenty-seventh batter waited behind 0-2. Luis's heart raced between giddiness and terror. The sun and sweat mixed to burn his eyes. He released the ball early. It hung briefly before disappearing in the catcher's glove. The crowd froze awaiting the umpire's call.