Category: Poetry

returning east on a train

in the west
everything is voltage
the zip-zap
movement of energy
along conduits of music
culture and
the intoxicating world
of moving imagery
both cinematic and televised
but here in the east
i smell burning wires
i sense stale energy
power corrupt
vision tainted
stalled as the
amps build and kill
and rattle the icy windows
with death energy

© Rick McKinney 1997

Oh, Chris

unencumbered by pride
Never less resolute to stand
Fold rather
and weep
No matter.
We are not in times of war.
Quick!  Before you take me for
the worst sort of poet.
Poetry this is not.
Mere thought.
Mere keystroke meditation.
A box of grey light.
Music sad, instrumental.
A heart shaped candle from my love.
This is a eulogy,
as all words have been since you left me.
This is not poetry.
No rhyme, no meter, no matter.
This is not in the finest form.
It never will be.

© Rick McKinney 1997

patty potential

patty is a grocery store goddess
produce section waif apparition
in iceberg lettuce mists
jaundiced yellow half-light of
an eclipsed sun on her hair

she breezes by me in jeans
pink tank top
her assumed southern drawl
i glanced her smoky photo
in the academy players directory
ingénue, she’s called
her sister’s in there under leading women

richard dreyfuss on the phone at amy’s
and i’m a homeless author
collecting food stamps and
falling in love
with crooked-toothed
beauties of the silver screen
and why the hell not?
the tv is a window I can
crawl through
because I often do

ten years with the sheens
family dinner with mary crosby
kelly preston small talk and jacket swap
robert downey jr. to breakfast in venice
i am no stranger to celebrity
why not patricia?

i made a bet one night
in a mountain town kitchen
among actors, some working some not
that i could lick waif patty’s crooked teeth
before my thirtieth birthday

it’s not as crude as it sounds
just an instigator
a spoken goal
to keep me moving forward
happy in low times
when money is too tight for eating
and the x-girlfriend is in bed with a
heroin junky ex-con
and cackling in my dreams

then i can pull patty
from my treasure chest writer’s mind
run with her in some detroit ghetto
and shoot bad guys for her love
dance with her

kissing her silver screen
cocaine white smile
i will grin a cheshire cat grin

patty’s words reverberate in my liquid ears
like waves in coastal caves
and soon I’ll roll over in my
featherbed dream plateau
and sink my nose into her flaxen hair

ingénue you, patty
were made for brazen me
the b-word had to go her own way
to clear the path to my dreams

impossible dreams
are the dreams you have lived
and died for, died in
all other dreams are possible

patty is a possible dream
and potential oozes
from my ambient skull
screams for life
from the confines of an ink-stained
polystyrene whiskey dream machine

mazzy star tracks my rainbow-petaled
lotus explosion
my blossoming heart
tracks it with songs of
breathy self-love

there is no changing a god
zeus stood erect in his folly
hera in hers
and athena swaggers in my memory
as tough a jd drinking bitch
as ever i’ve known
i can love goddess patty
having first loved me

to embrace icons of culture
we must go to bed alone
walk clouds in size 14 dream sneakers
must open up our skulls
like dilated wombs
must reach beyond barriers of intellect
abandon intellect
soar with beer-drinking buddhas
hug silk-smooth madrone trees

i dreamt a dream of blood-ripe
cranberry trees and
sugar sand dunes
that soaked up their sanguine juice

it was sugar love in a shady grove
a candy cabin
and patty stood on the porch
awaiting me
her catcher in the sky

cranberry ice cream smile patty
i love you
you are my lindy love and
brad will be our tavi
and together we will walk
where others only dream.

© Rick McKinney November 1994

Looci was here

Formerly titled “Totally Keanu”

[Composite poem by four authors]

The cat ate flimsily
passin’ out on the highway
between the there and the not-there
(ching, ching, ding)
The sign told him so
“I’ma smoka cigarette”
said the pink cashmere cat
to the black smoke typewriter grill
(ringaling, ding)
The bike ate radiator juice
space island or spice island
either one
spoon fork copulation on a
polyurethane table top day
The tree crookilly had insects in its nest
I made pieces and then I made tops
“He wouldn’t even give the whore a hairpin.”
Purple woman with gypsy silver big ringathing (ding!)
Red trucks zip noisily into the unknown
I knew a guy named dong once
sung Michael Jackson sunset
Irish-Puerto Rican dream
Digesting birds and recovering fast
Half-n-half, whoops, I’m spilling Wow!
Money machines like rats
where Italian vendors once stood
The sky crumbles under the mountain
This is not how I thought I’d be spending
my Monday afternoon
Three torches, 32x on a box
and Doritos, cornflakes
Coca-Cola and BBQ tofu
burger burger burger meister man go
The instrument by making sound
muddles sound flow
No, the chime girl says
Takes her brown bag parcel of when
Walks out into the dwindles
of a new year’s night.

© Myk Loutzenhiser, Luciano Lenchantin, Chrissie Sarvella & Rick McKinney 1994

Long distance love on a thrift store couch

we hit a wall of words
and sit silent on the ragged
thrift store couch
distanced by miles
yet somehow still holding hands
the song lyrics on the radio sing
how did we get this far apart?

bored and irritated
I rise and round the corner
to the bleak room where
the computer sits humming

stars fly by on the screen
I sit and contemplate something
and hear her rise
and close the door behind her
as she goes downstairs to smoke
a form of meditation for her

they say distance makes the heart grow fonder
but I haven’t even left yet
and already we’re crumbling
and the words build up
in my head and
come to mind
at the strangest times:
you don’t want me
I’m poison

and I don’t want this
a year, probably two
long distance love
has never worked for me
but she won’t come with me
back to Bisbee
and I can’t stay

I drift into fiction
and she smokes all day
and together we come apart.

© Rick McKinney 1998


Bratwurst without the beer
that was last night
my kidneys talk
and spaghetti squash
What’s that thing?
asks Dany from Wales
Don’t you have squash in Wales?
We have a drink called squash
says Dany with a look that says
Of course you idiot
so I point to a zucchini
in the vegetable section
core-jzet, he says, courgette
We have different words for many things.

Dany is our
unexpected guest
he is a breath of fresh air
into my life here
a life without friends and
yet maybe I am soon to learn
that my need of male
has diminished
like a starved stomach
and that now
I need time alone
more than anything
that and to curl up with Jill
every night.

© Rick McKinney 1998

Gray Matter

Woeful magistrate of incipient dreams
My right eyelash twitches
irreverent of waning daylight you
Your contestable emotions impose
Others tease me, my
staunch hope for
[This doesn’t read well, doesn’t
touch you, you think,
that’s because I’m intellectualizing,
pulling at gray matter like a cat clawing a couch.]

My heart is on her front porch
where she confuses my corpse
with scavenger hunt clues.
Judge of my creative character
Jailer of my blackened heart.

© Rick McKinney 1995

Gator’s Kitten

The ferret is Gator
named after a baby alligator
that jumped in my lap
from a bayou embankment
and back into the swamps
of Jean LaFitte
New Orleans, 1994

The kitten is just

Gator and
Kitten dance in circles
on the living room floor
checkin’ each other out
Kitten hisses
boxes Gator on the nose
Gator sniffs her butt
paces around her
lies flat on the floor in front of her
Gator yawns and looks up at me
with a look that says, “So what?”
I write in my journal about
how great they’re gonna get along.

A few weeks later I leave Kitten
with my X’s little girl and
Gator with Marie
and go to Paris,
lose my head.

I don’t think
the two animals
ever saw
one another

© Rick McKinney 1994

Equality of the sexes

Quite oblivious
of the hypocritical nature
of her comment she said,
“And don’t take this the wrong way,
but boy was he well hung!”

wasn’t the first emotion
to enter my head.

It was logic
or rather a sort of grappling for context
a minute or two in which I struggled
to remember how exactly it went
when I would somehow
trample her sensitivities,
injure her frail

But, you know,
for the life of me
I cannot recall
having once stepped up to the plate
tensed for the swing and said,
“And don’t take this the wrong way,
but boy did she have big tits.”

For all my sins of insinuation and
moments of lustful thoughts toward others
Not once have I said such a thing aloud to her.
I have been very, very careful at this:
Our second attempt at forever.

My advice then to men
who think women
naive, innocent and frail:
take them at their word.

If a pale, thin
long-legged thing
tells you one day
that men should be put
in cages so that women can
watch their antics and laugh,
believe her and run.

And if a tiny doll
with turquoise eyes
stands on a soapbox and rants
then privately recants, saying,
“I’m the biggest hypocrite,”
 believe her.

young friend, young man!
Just because you’re the spawn
of a gender flawed
just because your granddaddy
was a prick
doesn’t mean
that you’re to blame
or that you should pay
for the mistakes of all men-kind.

Women are as tricky
slippery and sly as men
and as treacherous
If not as bungling.

Remember always what a tiny girl
told me about my instinct to protect:
“Nature makes us small like children,
but my brain is as big as yours.”

© Rick McKinney 2001

Brief Kodak Moment

For Crystal

(Written Mardi Gras season, 2002, gonzo style in ten minutes sitting on the ground in a parking lot while the Stock Family & friends packed the cars to leave the beach)

Moon full
and full of afternoon glow
in a light blue sky
Chris standing watch
ever the inspector
whilst young brother Jules
untangles fishing lines
and little Gabrielle fondles bright green
worms from the tackle box.

Claudia with her bright burgundy
boing-boing hair tied up over each ear
Crystal in the front seat ready to go
yelling “Honey! Honey!”
and Ilene speaking to Gabrielle in French
whilst the tall beautiful tanned guy carries
two ice-filled coolers back to the cars
and it’s the late light of Sunday
my first visit to the southern barrier islands
of Louisiana
and baby Devon’s first beach trip ever.

The gulls screech
and far off a chopper chops
and all these named houses high on stilts
trailer homes even, surrounded by marshlands
and the dolphins play
and I swim close and hear their breathing in the sea
the Gulf, Mexico far beyond across the water
and my lips smell of sun lotion and sea salt
and the gnats swarm, impossible
and the Stock brothers
sons of the beat man, the word man
Jules the lithe and muscular
cigarette ever-dangling from half-smile
like Andy Capp or James Dean
sunglasses black
baseball hat
and that mad crocodile troll throat
eking out words like wind through a skull.

Brother Chris so mellow
so impervious to the chaotic chorus
seemingly a constant around him
and Gabrielle sits down beside me
with her bag of baby carrots
and asks, “What are you writing?”

“Cajun crawfish boiled,” I say
reading a sign
and that blinding sun
paints the calm bayou waters
and the car’s smudged windshield
and my scratched glasses making
all of life zoom by flickering
like an old 8mm color reel
a real trip back in time
as we motor straight forward
across the flattest earth
smack into the sinking sun.

The Tobacco Plus Gas Station mini-mart
sign says “We now have daiquiris”
but inside the manager explains that yes
they have them but not yet the license to sell them
thirsty, we deflate and move on toward New Orleans
and the bars we know
but then a few miles up the road..

Frozen daiquiris all around now
and it’s Mardi Gras mambo
rockin’ pneumonia and the boogie-woogie blues
blaring through as we cruise the
homeward road singing Cajun praises
to Gabrielle’s green sun
and the Lord above
and whatever Mister dun
invented music
and sweet, sweet rum.

From “Boxed Wine & Pavement”
© Rick McKinney 2002