Free Range Poetry

Right Now Once More

When she was young, she'd listen to the radio
Waitin' for her favorite song
When it played, she'd sing along.

When I was young, I'd listen to the radio
Waitin' to hear her
When she came on, I'd sing along
Just like she did.

In your youth, a few weeks ago, you've never had to wait
to hear your favorite song
to hear your favorite artist
to sing along

It's never yesterday.
It's not even today.
It's always Right Now.
And Right Now Once More.
And once more after that.
Right.  Fucking.  Now.

We're doing 75 miles an hour down the highway and a song pops into your head.  You, Digital Native, are only a few clicks of your radio dial away from every song ever recorded.

"What's a radio?  Why do they call it a dial?"

That's when we get to the part
Where you're breakin' my heart.

Shooby doo lang lay, kid.
Shooby doo lang lay.

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Merry Christmas, Eight Fifteen!

(Major 8:15 started over Montezuma and was routed down through Amarillo.
We join him now, at night, over the Pacific Ocean.)


This is Major 8:15 hailing anyone to hear
I've been over open ocean for what seems like half a year
I see a spot of land below, thought I'd give this thing a try
It's pretty lonely here, the only car up in the sky!

A little north of Lubbock, the wind had turned me west
I fell asleep behind the wheel, which’s prob’ly for the best
I yawned as I passed Gallup, and I dreamed I saw LA
T’was all decked out in lights for the coming holiday!

It's dark and getting darker, as I fly into the night
but I'm sure there must be land down there, I think I see some light
I'd love to hear a tower, or at least a friendly voice
And I'd sure love to land this car if I had any choice!

(radio static)

Aloha 8:15, this is Honolulu Field!
You're a little bit off course, so we’ve had our traffic yield
You’ve been in that car so long, it’s hard to quite believe!
Just so you know, it’s Midnight, and tomorrow’s Christmas Eve!

Thank you Honolulu, it is good to hear your call!
I was starting in to wonder if there was anyone at all
If you’ve got some festive spirits, I could a healthy dose:
All I want for Christmas is to see the ground up close!

(radio static)

We read you 8:15, but we haven’t got a clue
I wish that there were something else or more that we could do
Your altitude is steady and your vector path is fine
You’re accelerating past us heading toward the World Date Line.

I gotta tell you tower, I don't know what the Seven Hells…
I swear to you my iPod's off, but Tower, I hear bells!
I can’t see a thing, I haven’t seen a plane go by
But I’ve got a funny feeling I’m not alone up in this sky!

When suddenly a brand new voice just broke across the air,
an old voice, half remembered, his accent sounds like everywhere
"Tower, you can take a nap.  This metal bird's all right;
I'm deputizing 8:15 – he's helping ME tonight."

“Now 8:15, you just relax, everything'll turn out fine.
You see, it’s Christmas Eve on the far side of that line,
and I’m a shy a couple reindeer, ‘cause Rudolph has the flu
and Dancer broke her goddamn leg – I need your Malibu!”

Santa, if that’s really you, let’s hear a Ho Ho Ho!
I’m not sure this car’s equipped to pull a sleigh, you know?
I’m glad to help and all, but tell me, what’s the deal?
The toys, and elves, and everything – really, are you real?

(radio static)

This is Honolulu Tower calling Major 8:15,
I think that you should know we’re tracking two birds on our screen.
You are not, repeat ARE NOT, alone up in that air,
And we’re getting word from NORAD we should all proceed with care!

“Eight fifteen, just pop your trunk and I will do the rest.
The elves are real, the reindeer fly, I’ve got the big red vest.
We’ll fly across to Christmas Eve with all these heavy toys,
And you can help me drop them off to all good girls and boys.”

I popped the trunk and felt a jolt, and fast as I could think,
A reindeer pulled up next to me and gave a little wink!
Then what next to my wondering eyes should suddenly appear
But a fully decked out sleigh in my rear-view window mirror!

Then the windshield went all white with a shimmer and a glow,
with a curtain-like aurora from the ocean down below
to the stars up overhead - and it was coming up real fast.
I guessed that all my flying luck had run out on me at last.

“Calm your tits now, 8:15, and don’t sound so damn tragic,
you’re not gonna die because of some old Christmas magic!
Now you lean on and honk your horn, and I’ll give mine a jingle,
and we’ll let the world below us know you’re flying with Kris Kringle!”

I tried to stay calm’s I could, since he sounded very certain,
And quick as Dasher’s little wink, we’d flown right through that curtain!
We were off to every house, and spreading gifts around
and I forgot a little while how I’d wished to come on down!

The night was shaping up a blur, we rose and dipped and soared
The reindeer pulled their heavy weight as my Chevy’s engine roared!
From Fiji to New Zealand to New Guinea to Bel Air
Old Santa kept us flying:  Destination, everywhere!

Every house in both Koreas, every address in Japan,
each apartment down in old Shanghai and every home in all Hunan.
From Russia to Australia, all of Asia, every 'stan,
and every town in Africa, from Cape Town to Sudan.

We hit 'em all, we hit 'em fast, we made a blur across the sky!
We left those gifts across the world for every girl and guy,
From Europe up to Iceland, Venezuela and Peru,
From Mexico to Canada, and Puerto Rico too.

That evening took a live-long day, but it seemed like just an hour,
Those reindeer really have some awesome staying power!
Next thing I knew, my wheels were down and my speed was nearly nil -
Santa Claus had stopped his sleigh just down from Dead Man's Hill!

"Merry Christmas, 8:15!  I think we'll do the rest.
There ain't that many houses left, since we're out this far west.
About that car of yours, from now on, please keep it on the soil;
check the brakes and change the tires, and don't forget to check your oil."

I stepped out of the car as my seat belt snap unlocked
and stood, a bit unsteady, as my view was partly blocked
by a team of seven reindeer and a massive bright red sleigh.
"Thank you, Santa!  Merry Christmas!" was all that I could say.

I sold that car on Christmas Day!  Since then, I walk or stroll.
And I sent cards to all my friends in air traffic control.
When I tell this story to my crew, they say that it's all talk -
But I'm here to tell you, brother, that's the reason that I walk!



[If you really feel you must:  Yes, I read it out loud!]

A Walk in the Morning

The sunrise is muted, subdued, as if the day is embarrassed about dawning.
A patch of purple-blue there, a patch up of almost-pink here.

Through a sky studded with bruises, the sun makes its slow way to the horizon.

The frogs and crickets have no shame, but the birds are oddly silent, as though they know some unholy secret about the morning.  With their silence, they become complicit in its guilt.

As I pause, I realize that my steps have been careful, deliberate, making as little noise as I can.  I, too, am guilty.  I would rather not discuss it, this black and blue sky, this oh-god-it's-you-again dawn.  I'd rather turn away, talk about something else.

The crickets are without blame; the frogs have no cause to hide from the sun's justice.
The birds hold their song, unwilling to pipe up the dawn a moment before they have to.

A dog barks, and I think my god, what have we done?

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open to interpretation



then again,


I mean, perhaps, on Saturday, if it's fine.
But it probably won't be.

Soon, though. Very soon.  Promise.

And no phones this time.  For once.  For me?  Thank you.

Everything tastes like metal. Joy, pain, despair, delight - all acrid, chewing tinfoil with iron teeth, a mercurial tongue clucking its disappointment in my choices.

So, yeah, sure, why not?  Yes.


But probably no.

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Rain on Seahorses

the rain
from the sky it falls
the beautiful notice it
most of all

the beautiful
up from the earth they spring
they bring us the sun in the bluest sky

the Moon's bright blood flows through the sea

the beautiful people
in the blood of the moon
with the horses
under the water

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fry cook in hell

one fry joint looks pretty much another
they all really sorta look the same
everybody knows you need to work there
but no one seems to need to know your name

the greasy spoon, the diner, and the truck stop
they all attract the self same clientele
they greasy kid, the trucker, and beat cop
the teen-aged temptress with her sales to sell

she walked in and i said, you are an angel
she laughed a throaty laugh and said, do tell
and I'd always kinda known that i had fallen
but I never really guessed how far i fell
that is when i knew i'd found my callin'
that's how i know i'm dropping fries in Hell

old Scratch has got a fryer full of oil
just waiting to find out which way you roll
and he's got that sucker up so hot it's smoking
so he can bite into my battered, breaded soul

i'm cooking here while devils want their munchies
i'm safe as long as the job and tips don't fail
i smile at the girl, hair back in scrunchies
and pretend that i can't see her teeth and tail

she tells me that she started as a fry cook
that she worked her way above the ranks from there
that i could do the same just like a boss
but looking in her eyes, i didn't care
i fell into her gaze and i was lost
such beauty that my soul could never bear
my battered soul reached out for hers, and fell,

deep-fried and golden brown

bobbing in the oil vats

of Hell.


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The Ghost of Old Oxford Road

Old Oxford Rd, Durham, NC

Old Oxford Rd, Durham, NC

The old ghost of Old Oxford Rd,
he "fell off his horse," so I'm told...
But his wounds look quite vicious,
which makes me suspicious
that they just might have been caused by gold.

Jack Hewett, in life, was his name,
and women his typical game.
He'd bet on a horse
And on dice thrown, of course,
But he usually bet on a dame.

Jack came to Durham one year
hunting for rabbits and deer.
On George Clement's farm,
he stayed safe from harm,
and usually stayed for a beer.

He'd come over from Hillsborough way
looking for game, for to pay
for his room and his board.
But, in hunting he scored
more with his staff than his sword.

He rode over to Chapel Hill
(which, you know, is remaining there still),
where he charmed a young thing
into having a fling -
even though she had ne'er inked a quill.

A young nun known as Sister Rowanne,
she saw only a big handsome man!
She'd been wedded to God
before puberty's nod
had changed her, as puberty can.

In the Chapel for which town was named,
that poor nun wound up quite ashamed -
for to do what she done,
while being a nun,
was a sin that was not even named!

Her order did not take it kind,
but old Jack, he paid never mind.
He'd won and he'd wooed her
and rightly he'd screwed her
and he put her straight out of his mind.

She tried to forget the damn stud,
but the moon waxed and waned without blood.
She swore and she spat
when she knew she'd begat
and she cursed that his name should be mud!

Her order said they would disown
when they saw how her belly had grown
With no star in the East,
They declared her a beast
and she reaped what the man Jack had sown.

Her cousin up at Knap of Reeds
could do what a young mother needs
He delivered the lad
but the story turned sad
for Rowanne's buried out in the weeds.

No grave consecrated for her,
for the church said her soul they'd abjure.
Her last words to her kin
were, "commit one more sin,
and somebody kill me that cur."

Her cousin had made goodly pound
and, as doctor, was easily found.
He made known that Jack Hewett
should be hard pressed to it
should anyone see him around.

A bastard named Will Arendell
Was the fellow who first "saw Jack fell!"
But an erstwhile nun
with oven... and bun...
seems to have paid him quite well.

Rowanne's cousin had furnished the purse
but, dying, she uttered the curse:
"Let his personal Hell
be the spot where he fell,
regardless of body or hearse."

Arendell, he knew Hewett from dice,
and had heard that his head had a price.
Out near Clement's farm
with intention to harm,
he startled Jack's horse with some mice!

The horse reared and the rider, he fell,
and the cobblestones did their work well.
On the road to Oxford
William drew knife and sword
and made sure that Jack went straight to hell.

So Jack Hewett haunts Oxford Road
and he will, while his debt is yet owed.
While the sunlight can shine
on his only son's line,
those cobbles remain his abode!

Jack's spirit is seen when the sun
lights this path through this deep forest run.
But when the ghost sees a habit,
he will run like a rabbit,
rather than gaze on a nun!

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Go Home, Winter, You’re Drunk!

The holidays are jolly, hanging wreathes and hoisting holly
with the reindeer and the snowmen standing guard
The Christmas season's calling as the mercury is falling
From Baltimore to Boston's Harvard Yard

T'is the season to be freezin' while we shovel 'round our hovels
And we'll celebrate the Winter, young and old
But the temperature's not dropping, while we're out here Christmas shopping
'Cause this Winter doesn't seem to like the cold!

Go Home, Winter, You're Drunk! I'll toss your coat back into the trunk.
Autumn's riding shotgun, cause Springtime has the keys
Winter's in the backseat with its head between its knees
Summer's gonna hold your hair / while you toss snowballs everywhere
Go Home, Winter, You're Drunk!

Frosty's sipping boat drinks, singing songs about the ice rinks
and I guess the weather's really lost its head
The elves are all in short sleeves and the snowman's having dry heaves
Won't someone put this Wintertime to bed?

This Christmas is so green it's blue, cause Winter's got the Irish flu
and the snowplows and the road crew's out of work
The Solstice and it's 82 / degrees, and I am telling you
Twelve beers has made this Wintertime a jerk!

Go Home, Winter, You're Drunk! I'll toss your coat back into the trunk.
Autumn's riding shotgun, cause Springtime has the keys
Winter's in the backseat with its head between its knees
Summer's gonna hold your hair / while you toss snowballs everywhere
Go Home, Winter, You're Drunk!

Winter just might sober up
the snowfall forecast's climbing
and we might just get some inches after all
It looks like things will whiten up
Shame about the timing
'Cause it ain't gonna snow here till next fall!

Go Home, Winter, You're Drunk! I'll toss your coat back into the trunk.
Autumn's riding shotgun, cause Springtime has the keys
Winter's in the backseat with its head between its knees
Summer's gonna hold your hair / while you toss snowballs everywhere
Go Home, Winter, You're Drunk!
Go Home, Winter, You're Drunk!

My eyes, they are not closing

My eyes, they are not closing
My eyes, they will not close
Until I look for one more hour on your face.

My limbs, though they grow heavy
My limbs, though they grow weak
Will hold until again you're at my side.

This coil powers down, old friend
old bitter, sweet, and lover
lonely sweet and memories that fade

But this I'll never let go
from the daybreak to the get go
'til again I rest within your standing shade

For you were always there to shield me
when the living got too brilliant
you were always there to ease my troubled gaze

My filter and my fetter,
my father and my better,
my farmer and my water and my maize.

You nourished me and hid me
you ordered and you bid me
and you never knew you did it, all your life

so I beseech and now I bid you
as before when we were older, that you
come and one last time grant me your grace

For my eyes, they are not closing
my eyes, they will not close
Until I look for one last hour on your face.

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Amarillo Tower

Hailing Amarillo Tower, this is Major Eight-Fifteen
I'm about to cross your airspace and you know what that could mean.
I got cleared from Montezuma, but I haven't landed yet
Please tell your planes to make a hole - I can't quite steer this jet!

8:15, we have you, you are headed for the drink,
but your altitude is steady, which should give you time to think.
Our local "drink" is also called the Gulf of Mexico,
and if you're low on fuel we have at least one Texaco.

Amarillo Tower, you are really quite a gas
If I could stop for petrol then I wouldn't need this pass
But I can no more stop this car than I can explain
Why this Malibu is flying through the air just like a plane!

8:15, your luck has held, and it's phenomenal
your altitude and vector path are cleared and nominal
We have half the town outside to watch you go on by
It isn't every day we see a car up in the sky!

Amarillo, thanks for that, I'm glad to be a show
but I think that I'd be gladder still to land this thing, you know?
A hundred miles back I had a run in with a goose;
Now the windshield wiper's busted, and the seatbelt won't come loose.

Major Eight-Fifteen, it's a shame about the bird,
Those air strikes can be messy, or at least that's what I've heard;
but no worries on the seatbelt, 'cause I think it's for the best
Local laws demand that they stay tight across your chest.

I hear you Amarillo, and if I ever get her down
I'll make sure I wear my seatbelt while I'm driving through your town
but right now I must confess I'd rather talk about my route
I'm a damn sight more concerned with getting DOWN than getting out!

8:15, we read you, and your vector's changing now
Since we know you can't be steering, we're really not sure how
But your route now has you headed South toward Abilene
By the time you get to Austin, you might manage to de-plane!

Thank you Amarillo, it's been fun and it's been real
I guess I'm stuck a while longer in this flying piece of steel
When I get down I'll look you up, assuming I get down
And if I do, I swear that I will never leave the ground!


(Next stop:  Christmas!)




[If you really feel you must:  Yes, I read it out loud!]