poems by Jack Henry


nothing useful


bar’s empty
except for me and ramon
town’s empty
rebels are coming

2:15 am
blue-black night
lit by canopies
of phosphorous light
satellite phone’s down

it’s just me
and ramon

we drink whiskey
straight from
blue bottles
with chinese labels
ramon smiles
his teeth, perfect

i trace my name
in dusty walnut
it’s no longer mine
i can hear the crack
of weaponfire

rumble grows
jesus unfolds his hands
i watch faces of frustration
burn american flags

ramon offers another bottle
rebels take him away
they ask me about baseball
and seven-eleven, mickey mouse
and brittany spears’

i smile, we share a drink
they accept my forged papers
seems i’m canadian now
one leaves then they all wave
so long
i trace my name in the dust
and wander off as well



blues jesus


got my plugs in, blues blaring
jimmy yancey ripping up and down the gate,
thick brown fingers, light on
black and white, soulful notes singe
gray corners of my wicked brain

this cat with good hair and fat eyes
talks loud to some innocent, no look,
pretender, folded back deep into a
run-the-numbers-same same cushy chair,
bleeding out jesus with hands moving,
jaws running and words breaking
through my blues tranquility

i see through letters dangling
up close like a whores smile
waving at me from a black tar
stage, weaving shadows through
red-blue light

he keeps talking - champion jack dupree,
professor longhair, van ‘piano man’ walls
- drown in his soup, splayed across
faux granite floors

if i wanted to hear lies about
jesus, i’d go to church, take your
mouth and fuck off, leave my blues



hopeless pinatas


moon rises too slow
reminding me
of what?
i haven’t a clue
but a memory
edges forward
slow like Sunday
slipping in the back door
propped open by
wino’s seeking salvation

it’s summer, my 44th, 45th,
can’t quite recall
doesn’t matter, really
time is a waste
only train tracks clacking,
late night whistles
break my skin

she says something
my siamese senorita
love, whiskey, foundations
of daily life

hopeless piñatas left over
from cinco de mayo
hang from formless branches
buttered by long days
and careless bashings of
drunken warriors

i stab out my last smoke
it’s bright flicker protest
wisps of graying smoke
rise slow, up between the moon
and i
and it’s damning slowness



my balls are too big to break


sitting in a coffeeshop
just me and a low-rent clerk
that would rather be jacking
off to a victoria’s secret catalog
than making minimum wage
doing nothing

big guy walks in
loud mouth, fat face, sweaty lips
i want to punch him
has that swagger
the kind you buy
don’t earn
the kind you steal
from others

clerk looks up
sighs, serves, retreats
big guy keeps talking
sucking oxygen
from a peaceable evening

“hey, man,” he says
“what’cha doin’”

“nothing. writin.’ fuck off.”

“writin’ what?”

“yer obituary, poetically.”

asks one too many questions
up tight, in close
breath burns coffee stains
onto my skin

“hey, buddy. fuck off, will ya?”

“poetry’s for pussies, ya know?”

it takes four seconds for me
to put him on his ass in
the back alley, my gasp hanging
hard on a cold night

“bring it, motherfucker. bring it.”

he scampers off, back to his meeting,
his congregation, his four x four cube, back at whatever corporate dysphasia he slithered from

i go back to my coffee, my words
and write this

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