February 28, 2013 § 1 Comment

despair spreads gangrenous
miserable lichen on abandon gateway jewel gut wrenched renters writhe in gutted cityscape cat gut sewn shut eyes she had open when she showed for us once the way
from mother labor to familial table stocked end to end with the reward from work from work for work my uncle lived there once he said he went went there for work we would go with our windows rolled up right out of Windsor tunnel in the tunnel it is brighter than out of tunnel out to where my uncle lived there my fathers brother said he lived but I’m not sure he did if it was life it was busted it is only rust he said tighten the belt and watch your breath pour through shotgunned holes the shutters shut mouths stutter long along calls for tourniquet for suture for a future for gauze at least
cauterize it goddamit don’t just walk away and say it is only a memory
that there was a time the angels of the river sang Speramus Meliora and
the promise of
Resurget Cineribus rang from the cathedral crowned neighborhoods a small memory that there was once a light and where there is light you can fight the blight that right now tests the length of time a child named for the river can bleed before time itself declares enough and snuffs the candle of hope and weighs the ashes
of all that held out until the end

(c) 2013 Fred Whitehead

listening to animals

February 26, 2013 § 6 Comments

at first I thought
I was alone but
they were all there
reciting the liturgy of the universe
each in their own
particular vernacular
telling me that,
when I am done
I will just float away
and that I will
no longer have to haul
around the weight of
my mistakes
or worry about
living up to the
the archetype of some hero
shaped by some great epic
and I don’t know how
it was that I understood
all of this babbling
coming from
tree and brush but
I knew what they meant
when they told me that
I would no longer be
afraid of eclipsed suns,
things in
the corners of
unfamiliar rooms
or the unreliable
elasticity of time

another one of those things

February 21, 2013 § 1 Comment

I say
it is time to go
she does not move
I say again

reluctantly she
takes my arm and
we make the
walkway to the car

she fills the
passenger window
with waves
in the hundreds

it’s not the last time you’re
going to see those young’uns
I say, finding the gear

I know she says
narrowing her eyes
half those waves
were for the ones
you never give

I nod to let
her know I know
that it is
another one of
those things
she cleans up for me

(c) 2013 Fred Whitehead

have a better day

February 20, 2013 § 3 Comments

I realize that
this hasn’t been good,
has it?
and, yes
of course it could have
been different

you, for example
could have been
born thirty seconds sooner
or I
the same amount of time later

then our chance meeting
would probably never have happened

if I learned to pay a little
more attention
to the lights of this world
or more generally, the road ahead

and if you hadn’t been quite so
concerned with the chance
that your choice of
eyelid color may not be
subdued enough for your
presentation before the board
of directors this morning

we could have sailed
past each other
as we most likely have
uncountable times before
but, there is evidence
scattered all around us that
this is not
the case

here is my insurance information, and
for what it’s worth,
when I’m not involved
in vehicular carnage,
I’ve been told
I’m fair to middling
in the dinner company category
so I wrote my number
at the top there

here come the cops
to move things along

o.k. then
have a better day

(c) 2013 Fred Whitehead


February 18, 2013 § Leave a comment

before you find
the farthest feather flown
you must
open eyes wide
to worlds
you’ve been taught to not see
be not just the one thing
expected to be comfortably known
if it cuts short
a souls expansion
or disbands its energy

(c) 2013 Fred Whitehead

wander damaged

February 17, 2013 § 2 Comments

is there room
for me
to revive
in the spare setting
of your heart?

I assumed
that I could
rest there for a spell
since they tell me,
and by they
I mean them,

the ones you allow
to look into
your windows,
they tell me
you’ve been known to
prepare your table
for the love starved,

the temporarily lost and
wander damaged
such as myself

(c) 2013 Fred Whitehead

the missing years

February 15, 2013 § Leave a comment

I didn’t live it clear enough
to recall much of it now
but, then again

I didn’t think I’d
have to keep track
of any of it

it was so
and warm
even if it didn’t seem to
adhere to logic

if you go by how
others have
it chronicled,
I should be a dozen times dead

so I can only offer
a shrug and a thankful grin
asked about
those years

there are a million paths
into crazy

only one
back out

(c) 2013 Fred Whitehead

keeping files

February 15, 2013 § Leave a comment

so, I’m in the window again

for three nights running
I have watched
the same bunch of boisterous drunks on the corner down there

it is the sort of
weird sequential tableau
that holds my attention

for a while, anyway

allowing me just enough time
to craft back-stories
for each of them
working out their exchanges
with each other
assigning regional accents to be used as they
assault the sensitivities
of passers by with
insults and crass suggestions

I notate the habits
of the group as it
grows denser
over the course
of an hour or so
not much larger, mind you
but rather
weightier, thicker
newcomers seem to be absorbed
into its amoeba like form,
willingly I might add

I notice that as a unit
it breaths and pulsates
at odd frequencies

it’s language is one of short
loud words and sporadic silences
separated by laughter

eventually parts of
this organism start to peel off
and wander out to the dark edges
of the street

as I close my notebook
and reach for the curtain
one of the offshoots stops,
looks back over his shoulder
and gives me the finger

apparently I’m not the only one

keeping files on
the life forms
of the night

(c) Fred Whitehead

who is this?

February 14, 2013 § 1 Comment

“who is this?”

I slide a photo of a guy
across the table –
about 25 give or take,
with a head of
dark wavy hair that he
held at a confident angle

he seemed
barrel chested
beer strong
his mouth was smiling
his eyes were not

pointing at it with his
pocket knife, he says
“that’s your grandfather”

he uses the knife to rotate
the photo for a longer look
then shoots it back across
“Kind of a prick, that one”

“hmm…” I say and
hold it up so I can look at
it and past it at the same time

just a quick comparison
before I toss it back shoebox
it came from

I grab my glove
I grab my cap
and my
grape Crush
and head outside
my chest puffed out
my head tilted
in the manner
of my kin

sparrow hawk

February 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

above the metered
terraced steps
where I
conduct my malady
the arc of the kestrel
from arm to quarry
is art without effort –
wing beat staccato
a sopranos cry

Where Am I?

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