Thomas Kellar: Poetry

| Primer Gray | Stress | The Sleep Tight | Train Wreck |

Primer Gray

Smoke ring in a windstorm.
Old man with blindfold and cigarette.
At the university he had shown promise,
was called a diamond in the rough
but the years got away from him.
He pissed away his time.
Now he waits for the phone to ring,
for Gabriel to call
and ask for his last request.

From the beginning
desire was a map without names,
never sure where he was
or where he was going.
Change made for the sake of change.
Point A to point B
in a car painted primer gray.
He drank too much
slept too much
read too much
chased easy too much
never finished the novel
he sporadically worked
for 17 years.

Now the Rambler sits on blocks,
the manuscript lost in the basement.
He calls himself "invisible man on blue planet,"
the events of his life written in disappearing ink.
Nothing to offer as evidence
of having circled the sun.
Staring through kitchen window at winter sky
he chain smokes, sips hot tea,
waits for the angels to raise their rifles
and take him home.

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Somewhere just beyond
the valley of shimmering silicon,
hidden beneath dying branches
of a train track willow tree,
2 Mexican illegals work up a good buzz,
(Malt liquor and the swapping of lies.)
Cross-tie compadres
with all the accouterments of the homeless
Loosely thrown into a Safeway food cart.
Felix laughs at Ricardo.
"Mas cerveza cabron."

The Hispanic boys can see themselves
in the dark tinted glass of a passing southbound commuter.
Inside, upper deck, sits Lawrence,
marketing buzz-saw,
studying a memo regarding changes
in the company's 401K plan.
8 hours of giving corporate head
and home he goes.
It's Thursday night,
that means pasta primavera
and the season ending episode of Survivor.
One more day of tap dancing and the weekend is his.
Saturday he's got tickets for Aerosmith at the Shoreline.

Ricardo picks up a small stone.
He likes the feel of the granite in his hands.
Carefully setting down the King Cobra
he cocks his arm and lets fly.
Too late.
The train is gone
the target missed.

Inside the precision of that moment
Lawrence feels sharp pain to his forehead.
"Stress" he mumbles,
ransacking his briefcase for Tylenol.
"There's no way Susan and the kids
will ever know what I suffer
to bring home the bacon."

Now a mile back,
Felix laughs at Ricardo again.
"Hey mi amigo" he says
"you can't hit shit."

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The Sleep Tight

A thin film of eucalyptus leaves
and drowning mosquitoes
covers the dull translucent surface
of a circa 1950s chlorine deprived
kidney-shaped swimming pool.
The cement and water bulls-eye
for a three story, pay-by- the-week motel
called the Sleep Tight Motor Inn.
A sun warped sign on a chain link fence
warns, "No lifeguard on duty."
The lifeguard is NEVER on duty.
Skateboarding twin brothers
stand at the pool's locked gate
and complain…
"This is messed up," one says
"they should like drain the fucker."

The motel's stucco walls
are ashen/heat cracked.
Dark brown boards
frame bent window screens
and soap streaked panes of glass.
(some shrouded in aluminum foil)
Outside room 19
the doorknob wears a cardboard collar
that reads, "Do not disturb."
This amuses the motel's Peruvian janitor.
The two men renting 19
have not been seen in weeks
causing the leaf-blowing handyman
to develop a few theories.

Floor three
a middle-aged woman's
small, soft white hands
adjust the angle of a telescope.
Positioning the barrel
through a tiny gap between curtains,
she swivels it downwards
focusing on the Rite-Aid parking lot
across the street.
Last night she studied the Seven Sisters
This afternoon
as the telescopic eye in the sky,
the digitized voice of an angry prophet,
she fixes her lens on earth.
Picking up a cell phone
her right index finger taps redial.
Instantly, next to the newspaper racks,
the drugstore pay phone starts to ring.
Hidden, she watches and waits.
Someone will answer-someone always does.

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Train Wreck

Morning cloud cover shredded.
Long hours of naked,
Sun-raked sky.
Cosmos acetylene torch
welds the seam between earth and air.
Blue waves of Mojave August
rolling down.

After hell-hot night of meth-twitch,
hallucinogenic insomnia,
Freddy is still restless.
Spends most the day
leaving boot prints
In sponge-like asphalt,
bridge across sand, rock and cactus.
36 hours without sleep,
concocting deluded ideas
about last minute reconciliation
but Tina's bus is in L.A. by now...

Back at the pay-by-the-week,
the mirror above the bed
documents her disappearance.
An ashtray filled with half smoked
lipstick stained cigarettes,
empty bottles of rot-gut red,
abandoned detective novels,
(too many for a suitcase)
a broken-necked Spanish guitar.
Objects reflecting 50watt soft white,
distortions in beveled glass.

Late afternoon,
Pentecostal preacher in a red Taurus
leaves the highway
pulls up next to Freddy.
"Need a ride?"
Head down,
eyes locked on his own shadow,
Freddy continues walking/no answer.
"Heat like this can kill a man"
the preacher says.
Freddy grins like a mad-dog,
"you really think so?"

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