the core of January

January 29, 2013 § 3 Comments

with the clearing of
the path
I lean the shovel against
the side of the shed
and stand for
a minute in
wind relentless
and flesh out a memory

trying to rework it
into a vision,
one warm enough
to melt the snow
around my boots
and the snow
on my shoulders
and the small ice dams
around my eyes

I strain to see through
frost that always seems
at its heaviest around
the core of January
when certain frigid
realizations float like
bergs on the surface
of short hard days

I have no control over
the shakes, when
I can’t seem to get my hands
to move in
logical patterns
and thoughts of endless winter
occupy a sizable amount time

but there is a load of wood
cradled in my aching arms
as I head for
a door that really
is closer than
it seems
and somewhere
there is a part of my history
moving through this world

hopefully in comfort
hopefully full in a life
hopefully quiet of mind
and steady of heart
and I pray
in possession of an
inner fire to
melt any fears
that threaten to freeze
out the dreams
that keep one
forging ahead

(c) 2013 Fred Whitehead

an old man in a park

January 22, 2013 § Leave a comment

at the end of
his arm
a hand
in the hand
a string
at the end of the string
a kite
and beyond that
an unimaginably vast sky
for a man
who is seven
and I doesn’t care
who knows it

the professor

January 20, 2013 § 2 Comments

“it’s about all you can do, really”
that’s usually
how the nights talks

most times, it’s how
they end too

I took the beer he offered,
nodded a thanks
and settled in to drink it slowly
and listen even slower

he went on
about squaring his deal
with whatever deities are
at the helm of this sinking
tub we huddle in,
coloring his phrasing
as only an artist can –
forty second songs
about dreams falling
away like petals in autumn

psalms about mortgages
and medical bills, woven in
scales and harmonies
in such a way
that they stick with you
for days

he poured a glass with a
perfect head and stared into it
as if the voice of
an oracle that only
he could hear
relayed messages
from long dead sages
from somewhere within
that ambered vessel

“I heard once” he said
“I don’t remember where,
but it went something like,
like, if you try to live your
grandparents religion
your are basically committing
spiritual plagiarism”
“I like that” I said
“yea” he said “me too”

then, I could see another shift
his eyes foreshadowing
another turn in the conversation
so I slid a fresh coaster
out of the holder
waited for him to finish
tapping a pint
and prepared
for another
long night
of learning


January 18, 2013 § Leave a comment

mountains erode
mountains rise
most likely at
roughly the same rate

truth be told,
even if I knew how to
calculate this number
I would not –
laziness or indifference
I suppose being the reason
it is just one more of
those things I think
about from time to time

things like
how many hummingbirds
would it take
to extricate a ’68
Coup DeVille
from a muddy ditch

or when will the children
of Abraham stop acting
like children

things like
how many newborn breaths
would it take
to inflate
the Bullwinkle Thanksgiving Day
parade balloon

or, on that slow drift
to the bottom of
the channel,
is an understanding
of affection
passed between
the manatee and
the unsuspecting
snorkeler ensnared
in the kind-faced
beasts hug

oh yes,
things such as that
and this,

what will I ever do
in the idleness of
the day
should these questions
suddenly stop.

(c) 2013 Fred Whitehead


January 17, 2013 § Leave a comment

I am,
by any measure of intent,
a barnacle that
has cemented
my craggy form
to the hull of
a ship called mystery

it is where
and from which
I feed my imagination

if you are to use
past attempts
with others of my
persuasion as
a barometer,
will be able to dislodge me

even if one was successful
in doing so
there will be left behind
a wobbly circle,
like a spirits kiss
on the surface of
a looking glass,
my signature as it were,

a final proclamation
that this
was created
by myself

the words escape me

January 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

the words escape me

this is what they do
when I am lost in a commercial
for a product guaranteed
to rid my lungs
of that damned incorrigible mucus
“look how much the cartoon
mucus guy looks like Uncle Floyd”

this is what I say to myself
as the words are filing
through the bars of
their gray cells

I whistle a bit of Carmen
and trace the contours of
ceramic animal life
in the layered dust of their
book shelf abode
as the words
are creeping along an outer wall
hidden by tall grass and
hoping for a fault in the stonework

later, I will look for them
but by then
they will have long ago
shimmied up a tree by the
edge of the enclosure
and have made that great
leap for freedom

still, I will go on
a lantern held before me,
a pencil behind an ear
a notebook in the back
pocket of my jeans
knowing that
of course they are gone

leaving me with no way
to colorfully describe
my neighbors garden,
the shopkeepers lack
of social skills
or, seemingly,
my collapsing universe

(c) 2013 Fred Whitehead

missing pieces

January 10, 2013 § 8 Comments

the parts,
the biggest ones,
the ones with all of those
edges and planes,
with all of those pockets
crevices and drawers
places that keep well
the solutions,
these missing pieces
are the places
for holding safe
the schematics of what
you are meant to be
with all of
the scenarios worked
out in advance
the parts,
the biggest ones
are the ones
that seem
to be missing
when we look

(c) 2013 Fred Whitehead

the new book promo

January 10, 2013 § Leave a comment

If you would like a copy of my latest book, Water from a Toad, it can be found in print and e-book formats on,,, and Also you can buy it from me directly if you see me bopping around our fair city of Buffalo, $10 casharoonie


members needed

January 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

members needed

that is
what it read
this marquee on
the front of the

across windshield of ice
across eyes attempting
focus in middle night
hue perfect for such a sign

red, red,
more red

(c) 2013 Fred Whitehead

social misfortune

January 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

the seat of reason was pulled
out from under me

spontaneity, a joker with
a spark in the eye
and the laugh of
a poker buddy
pulling the fourth ace
on the river

as usual, I was all in
left to balm
the burn,
file a note
in a folder
“things not to do again under
any circumstance whatsoever
as long as you insist on breathing”,
and to spend
the socially acceptable
amount of time
in exile

before slinking back
to tally the snickers
and sideways glances

the only real way
one has
to measure the
of such an offense

(c) Fred Whitehead

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