Parting Is Sweet Sorrow

she left
didn’t leave
much of herself—
a blond hair
dropped without care,
frayed golden thread
on a worn and stained carpet,
a cup of coffee,
half-filled, unstirred,
and a smell lingering
on the morning sheets
like a winter fog lying lightly
over soggy ground

Those Hidden Places

Poetry begins when your childhood
friend plays with someone else;
when the one you love says
she only wants to be your friend.
Poems come from that secret
place where your uncle touched you
while your aunt wasn’t looking.

Poetry comes up from the bottom
of your soul, slowly rising like
stinking fumes of sulphur, like
bloated corpses that will not stay underwater,
that must find their way to the surface.

Writing poetry is like pulling your
own teeth without anesthetics,
like chewing your leg off to
get free of the trap; hanging
yourself in the cell to cheat
the electric chair.

What we call poetry
has many seeds; some
grow into flowers and
some into weeds.


I’ve always felt a bit off-kilter;
not in the same world as others.
A child trying to seesaw with himself
while the others played on swings.
Afraid to go to church because
the congregation prayed for
the final Rapture of death.
I believed that prayers came true

I always felt my nose was larger, that
I had on different colors of socks,
the right one brown and the left one blue;
as if the rear of my pants was torn,
as if my DNA came from alien worlds.
Perhaps I was a foundling
brought in from the forest,
having been raised by animals.

My thoughts stroll on different paths
than ones where others are jogging.
My hot air balloon is blown out to sea;
the rescue ship has sprung a leak.
I am locked in a space capsule when
it explodes, seeing only
blue sky, flames, and angels.

I should sneak off and hide somewhere,
before they realize there is a wolf
loose in their holy places.


They only exist in the
corners of the room now,
like repossessed spider webs,
the tenants gone,
unable to make rent;
dusty strands of silk,
fading threads of memory,
offering only glimpses here
and there, sneak reviews
of life already past, or recollections
of that bare sight of thigh
above a woman’s stocking,
before she lowers her dress.

All things you do
become memories and
attach like mistletoe,
needing a host,
slowly draining you,
sprouting white berries;
lovely to kiss underneath,
but dangerous to eat.

Or, perhaps they are like
the wispy ends of dreams
as you awaken,
not telling the whole story,
but letting you remember
just enough to keep you
from going back to sleep.

Naked In Dreams

Poetry is just too damned embarrassingly personal;
airing your own dirty laundry in public,
or writing unpleasant truths about your friends,
praying they won’t see themselves in the poem,
hoping they will see themselves in the poem,
trusting they won’t kill the messenger.

Reading a poem aloud is like
coming out of the closet to your parents,
like standing red-faced in the bathroom
with your pants around your ankles,
like loudly breaking wind in the middle
of your onstage plie’.
Poetry doesn’t always smell like roses.

The audience stares with blank gazes,
yelling, “Take it off. Take it all off.”
looking for their money’s worth,
wanting to see the poet’s naked soul,
even when they know that souls are invisible,
even when the poet thought
he had it lit in flashing neon.

Poets will continue to be caught and embarrassed
putting their hands down unbuttoned blouses,
sneaking back in their windows late at night,
slipping the magazines under the mattresses,
trading quick kisses with other men’s wives,
walking naked in dreams while others are dressed.

But, poets go on with their singing—
eccentrics in their own home towns—
with stains on their shirtfronts
and their flies unzipped,
wishing their voices carried better,
wishing for the silver tongues of gods,
reading poems with pebbles in their mouths.

Michael Eaton: “Growing up in Littlefield TX, rather than receiving my knowledge in the public schools, I spent my weekly allowance on paperback books learning about the world from writers like Steinbeck and Faulkner. I graduated from San Francisco State University during the experimental years of the sixties while living in a commune, with a MA in Creative Writing. I write to stay sane in an insane world. Currently living in Austin TX helping to keep it weird. To date I have poems published in over 20 magazines.”