Tag Archives: poets

Otre vez

Miguel Seco walked into Café Cervantes
and slapped a fat coin on the mahogany bar.
Staring each patron in the eye, he announced,
“This gold goes to the one whose poem pleases me most.”
A hush fell as we all looked around.

A young woman rose.
She told of bitter-sweet adolescent love lost.
With kindness in his eyes,
Miguel shook his head.

The newcomer confidently quoted a trite ditty.
He beat hasty retreat
as if Miguel’s look could kill.

The town fool belched a limerick that won only a wan smile.

After some silence,
an old man stood straight and
spoke of youth as a gift
unappreciated until gone forever.
We stared into our cups, some sobbing.

Tossing the coin to the old man,
Miguel said, “Otre vez, por favor. Otre vez, Señor.”


[Café Cervantes is on the plaza in Poetica. It’s always open mike and most hours are happy.]

When poetry strikes

I walk the dog around the park,
Muttering a poem.
He looks askance
as I repeat lines
to etch them on gray parchment.
I nod distractedly to leery passers-by,
hoping I don’t look crazy
reciting rhyme to a dog.

If I ask the postal worker for paper and pen,
will he reach for his pepper spray, instead?
Will the news report “Postman repels park poet,”
“Park poet provokes postman,”
or simply
“Poet goes postal”? mjh



I’ve become the caretaker
of a small collection of works
by a minor poet
who abruptly stopped writing
when his muse moved on.

Did he feel like a man
whose mistress has taken
a younger lover?
Or was this as bad as
the day the dog died?
He never could say. mjh



It doesn’t seem the least bit odd
that all the members of the orchestra
are dogs.
Some in tuxedos,
some in black gowns,
sitting, waiting — good dogs! —
for the conductor
to raise a long meaty bone.
Some clear their throats,
some drool,
none look away for a moment.

It doesn’t seem the least bit odd
that everyone in the audience
is in a tutu.
Men and women dressed for the
ballet, though this is a concert,
each holding a pen and pad
planning to pounce
to snatch some new idea.
As if Beethoven for Dogs
weren’t enough.

It doesn’t seem the least bit odd
in the end
when the conductor puts down his baton,
most of the meat shaken off
to the delight of the First Chair.
He turns and bows
and then I recognize him:
the poet laureate,
the old dog himself. mjh



He caught
an adolescent’s mind
with sex
and wreckage,
a tragic fall,
and the grotesque
sheep child.
His was poetry
deformed and twisted
and I could not look away.
I had no words of my own
no tongue for lust
or sorrow
mouth open but mute
horny as hell
afraid I was ugly
sure that the world was.
He confirmed that and
changed it in the process.
The long fall turned beautiful
in the end because
any horror could be faced
and become a poem. mjh

18Apr97 – Las Cruces

I wrote this poem 14 years ago today. James Dickey died January 19, 1997. He was among the first modern poets I studied and enjoyed. I tipped my hat to him with my version of The Heaven of Animals.

Listen to Dickey

My Virtual Chapbook (table of contents)

some lesser poet

At Poetica Autowerks, we know
when you have miles to go
nothing gets you there
as rhythmically as a Frost.
While the Whitman leaves
little to desire,
kick the tire
of the new Emerson —
It’s transcendental!

Or maybe some lesser poet
can get you there
if you don’t care
where you go
or how slow. mjh


In honor of all the unknown poets out there, unlisted at poetry.org, unpublished except on the back of envelopes. Write on! The only thing worse than unread is unwritten. Happy Poetry Month to all. peace, mjh

Listen to some lesser poet

My Virtual Chapbook (table of contents)