no car crash, no orphan, no suicide, no mourning, no cat-o-nine tails

I remember once,
when I think I must have been
about 10,
and me and my daddy and my mother
were off
some stupid camping trip
probably Maine or Canada,
and we were in the '59 Plymouth,
a big-ass boat of a station wagon,
and I was in the backseat;

and they had been arguing
about who knows what,
and screaming at each other
as loud as they could,
and daddy came to stop sign,
and he said,
"Ricky, get out of the car."

and my mother screamed,
"No, Ricky don't move!
If you get out of the car,
he will drive this car into
those trees, and kill us,
and then you will be an

and so, as I would do so many times
in my life, I took my mother's advice,
and I stayed put,
and life, somehow
went on;

and I remember another time,
when I was about 13 or 14,
and although I don't remember
the cause,
I remember my mother being
on the phone with my daddy,
who was working at the time
on Nantucket Island,
as she and I stood in the living room,
me, with a carving knife,
ten inches long,
pointed at my belly;

somehow, daddy talked me down
from that ledge,
and life went on;

I remember,
just a year or so ago,
how I reminded my mother
about her use
of the cat-o-nine tails
(for those of you unfamiliar,
it is a leather strop, with nine
separate tines, to inflict
maximum damage)
and she said,
"I do not remember any such thing."
and it was then, that I realized
that she had inherited it
from my Nana, whom I loved,
and that realization
nearly made my head explode:
all that I had ever known,
relied upon,
felt secure with,
was a lie;

and so,
a nitwit,
soon to be forgotten poet,
with a story but not much talent,
had his early years formed.

October 23, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


no address

it's funny
it's one of those
that you nearly ever
think about
until it lands at
your feet;

that most folk
seldom meet;

and when it
touches down,
it grows --
so large,
that it removes the sun
from your sight --
no matter how strong
you think you are,
it fills you with
the biggest fright
of your life;

these days,
it is becoming a
no where to go,
even if you have a
temporary sanctuary,
as I fortunately do;

no address?
no work, no place to plug in
the computer;

no address?
no license plates,
no where to send the renewal;

no address?
no car insurance,
no where it is registered;

no address?
no driver's license;

no address?
no food stamps,
no where to send them;

no address?
no voting,
you are not registered anywhere;

no address?
no bank account,
no where to send the statements;

no address?
no mobile phone,
no where to send the statements;

no address?
no health insurance,
no where to communicate via snail mail;

no address?
no subsidized housing,
no where to inspect when your turn comes up;

no address?
no place to be,
to just be;

no address?
no hope,
only an ending;

so when you next
lay your head on your pillow,
remind yourself
of how fortunate you are,
with an address.

October 22, 2010.
Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved. Those rights survive me.


and let me know

I have trouble, these days,
remembering all the times
that you made fun of me;
it's so much easier
to remember all the times
that you made love to me,
and how you held me off
on our first date:
"Not tonight, sweetie"
was all you said, as you
straightened your skirt
and adjusted your blouse;
I also remember
how magnificently
I was, the morning that
you deserted me,
loading all the stuff
that you wanted
into that U-Haul truck
that was so poorly parked
in the driveway;
you stole five years
of my life,
and all that I had achieved,
and left me homeless,
alone, and bereft,
and even my so-called friends
could not save me;
my first wife drove me
from my zip code,
and you went one step further,
and drove me from my state;
what a cruel fate:
sent home to mom,
tail between my legs,
and then some;
and now, another curtain rises,
certain to close,
without many surprises,
and still, my mind
surrounds all the good times,
and I am mystified
at how life goes like that,
since I still feel like
I ought to hate you;
go figure,
and let me know.

October 3, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

Ricky doesn't live here anymore

he's on the road again,
another leg in his journey;
he says this will likely be
the shortest one yet:
not much rope left
in this rodeo of the absurd,
only a few steady glances,
and a handful of gestures,
along with the obligatory word
or two --
well maybe a few dozen
will have to do --
the not-so-favorite son,
off the photograph his last
setting sun,
off to finish, hopefully,
the remaining work to be done,
a few small battles
yet to be won (or lost)
and ready to pay the price
(or the cost)
for what he has had, plus
what he has lost;
what a ride,
what a ride!

July 27, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


10-year guarantee,
the label on the 10-quart cooler
loudly proclaimed:
a quart-a-year;
more than enough time.

July 27, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


the powerful message of dirty, mismatched socks

white, originally,
but now, worn for eight days straight
they are
Something Else,
including being
like so much else,
tumbling down these
stairs, catching each
carpet tack,
eventually becoming
just a loosely woven
tangle of threads;
but for now, at least,
you have a pair.

July 27, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

Shelter Skelter

She kept apologizing for the condition of the efficiency apartment on the first level of her home, just to the right inside the front door. "I know it's not much, baby," she said, her brown eyes searching my face for approval, "but it's clean -- I cleaned it thoroughly myself yesterday -- and you have a full bath, and the kitchenette, and provisions, and -- most important -- a real bed."
I looked into those chocolate-brown eyes, and took her hands in mine. "It is terrific, mi amor. It is everything I could need, and more. Thank you so much for this expression of your love." And it was: the simple act of inviting me into her home, offering me shelter, and food, and of course, her love, was beyond wonderful, cementing what was already a deep, strong commitment, the love of a lifetime. Everyone should have a chance at a love like this, once in their lifetime.
And sleep, when it came that night, after five nights sleeping in the driver's seat of my car, was glorious, beyond blissful. My muscles relaxed, and physically I began to feel restored. But my mind, still reeling from the events of the previous week, continued to roil and spin.
I awoke in the night with a start, unsure of where I was. The room was dark, that kind of dark that you only experience in very rural areas, that blackness that soothes some, and terrifies others. The only source of light was the blue glow of the Brookstone CD player and radio. Through the open window, the sound of the crickets attempted to challenge the strong, steady rhythm of her breathing, and the full moon lit the luxurious curves of her body, and made the hundreds of ringlets that framed her face sparkle like the crown jewels.
As I turned over and closed my eyes, I heard the soft whoosh of the front door, and then the drag of the apartment door against the carpet, followed by the unmistakable "click-click" of a semi-automatic pistol being cocked. Realizing that I had no defense, I opened my eyes, to see a small LED shining on my face. As the light slowly came closer, I considered a two-leg kick to try to knock the gun away, but there was too much danger of her being in harm's way at that distance. So I waited. And then came the boom, boom, boom, and three flashes of light.
I heard myself screaming, and could not see anything. Then I felt her shaking me, calling my name. "Baby, wake up, you must have had a bad dream," she said.
"Yes, a terrible one, a really terrible one," I heard myself saying, "your ex showed up for a visit in the middle of the night, and he killed me."

July 27, 2010.

Copyright 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

exit, stage left number two

on the cusp of success,
nearly two years of pushing,
pimping, hoping,
now limping
toward the finish line,
which I still hope to see:
still want to find a way
to keep producing,
until that last day;
dammit, let me write
my way out of here!

July 27, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

Comet the Wonder Dog

Comet the Wonder Dog looks at me,
his big, sad, brown eyes
full of knowledge, of understanding:
he sees the clock above my head,
ticking, ticking, ticking;
he looks like he wants to
bound over here, and grab me
in his massive jaws,
and just keep me here;
part of me wants him to do that,
and another part of me believes
that he really could.

July 27, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

the stops

so many times, for so long,
I played Life with at least
a few of them in, being
careful; now, baby,
I'm pulling them all out,
until the Ride ends,
and You should too.

July 27, 2010, for the Wifey.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


the philosophy kiosk

checked in with my old pal
the other day,
toiling away
in the philosophy kiosk
at the local mall,
and she said that
there was not much going on
at all,
just depression,
and of course
the immutable law
of gravity;
some mendacity,
too much atrocity,
and more duplicity
than one could count;
but hey, trouble is everywhere,
it's like dirty underwear,
it's the smell,
not the amount;
and I just smiled,
and wished her well,
as the whole of us get ready
to march into Hell.

September 29, 2010. From the forthcoming collection, Spoken Rage 2.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.



the amphitheatre,
formed naturally by the basin
that is the lake
on this mountaintop,
carries the echoes
of our having been here,
speaking in low tones,
since voices carry on the water;
when we are gone, too soon,
others will fill the spaces
that we leave behind,
with their own hushed
their own echoes
of a short stay,
and their imprint
will be just as fleeting as ours.

July 27, 2010, for the Wifey.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


drug aid

the television commercials
had me conditioned:
"was I healthy enough for sex?"

I was, accordingly,
to find out:

(back soon)

three times.

and don't get me started
on that whole "erection
lasting more than
four hours" thing;
She's on my speed dial.

my doctor can fend for

September 18, 2010, for the Wifey.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

pot o' gold

a trillion
any hold:
the darkness,
the only
your brief
upon the
final step,
is found
not terror,
a pot o' gold.

September 18, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

having done

philosophers cogitate
while poets and playwrights
and lesser such
consider much
of life:
from the rude
to the polite,
always stopping
to note wrong
from right,
and the vast chasm
of uncertainty
in between:
life as life,
and life as dream,
for what can seem
to be none;
not for being sure,
but for having
for having
for simply
having done.

July 27, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


the last of the impatiens

the remnants of the impatiens
stare blankly, if brightly,
right through me, as the sun
reminds us both of stories
of past glories, of sunrises met
with few worries,
way back then, way back
when life was buried treasure,
and not just a sunken measure,
with little left to play,
with little left to pray,
if praying helped plants
or people.

July 27, 2010, for the Wifey.

Copyright © Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


bound by chains

a seldom seen scene,
when the careless son
of a careful man
encounters a woman
of uncertain parentage,
unswerving in Her resolve:
"don't tell me what to do"

not merely sparks,
but fireballs ensue,
as destiny drives me
to You:
not a simple kismet,
but a foreshadowed
it must always be
"see you later,"
as I can never say
"goodbye" to You;

time roils,
and words spill out
like watermelon seeds
from the mouths
of summer's youth,
and the simple truth
I lie in the basement
of Your heart,
but bound by chains.

September 3, 2010, for the Wifey.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


the difference

between You
and Every One before You,
is how well, and
how completely,
You love me;
such that I feel
and daily am thankful,
for such an amazing woman
to yearn, to burn, to turn
to me.

July 26, 2010, for the Wifey. From the forthcoming collection,
For the Wifey: Lessons in Love, Passion, and Laughter.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.



the sounds of You sleeping,
so rhythmic, so sure,
lull me like little else,
and make me want more:
to cuddle You,
and feel You, like an infant,
as You mold Yourself
to me;
I am blessed,
even as I am distressed,
loving You now,
but dreading Tomorrow,
when You will be taken
from me;
I want You to live,
and thrive,
to shine,
to be alive,
and yet I know,
that without Your miracle,
these seeds will not grow;
I stand askance,
waiting, as always, for
Your glance of approval,
and I cry, inside, at the
thought of Your removal
from this life,
from my touch,
from my taste,
from all that we know;
fight, dammit, fight,
against all of the things
of the Night,
stay with me, please,
stay with me,
and let this illness
be blinded by the Light.

August 19, 2010, for the Wifey. From the forthcoming collection, For the Wifey: Lessons in Love, Passion and Laughter.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


not at all certain
if there is a Hell,
but I am most positive,
that if there is,
I am saving you a seat.

July 24, 2010. From the forthcoming collection, Spoken Rage 2.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


the storm rocks the sailboats,
gently at first,
but as it gathers strength,
with more violence,
more insistence,
that the boats give way
to its power,
several of them
seem in danger
of swamping;
but the rhythmic rocking,
I find quite soothing,
as I try to focus
on the storm
inside of me.

July 23, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

The Book of Ruth

Jane Hamilton's first novel
really deserved its
PEN/Hemingway Award in 1989:
Ruth's voice is simple, but strong,
and every sentence
pulls the reader along.

July 24, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.



the irony of once again being
just after learning that
my first poetry collection,
"Songs from the Road,"
written while I was last
will be published soon,
is not lost on me;
on the eve of having
my first poems to be published
in "Notes" magazine,
I ought to be celebrating,
eating well,
and sleeping late;
woulda, shoulda, coulda,
and a little more misery
to feed to the Muse.

July 23, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


My Dear

memory fades,
and then comes into focus:
a few shots of whisky,
and more than a little
and I remember You and I,
and a bright August sky,
and my nerves rattle
and my heart does battle
with my head,
and I remember how glad
I am that neither of us
is yet dead,
since there is so much more
to be absorbed,
so much time yet
for You to be adored;
I could stand on the highest
mountain, and shout to the
clouds of what I am certain:
that You remain
the most important link
in this life's chain;
nearly a year now,
that we will celebrate
next week,
and still the mere thought
of You makes me weak;
not gonna get all sappy here,
just some lines,
wound tight, late at night,
to tell You:
You're My Dear.

August 18, 2010, for the Wifey.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


where hardly anyone dances

Thursday night
at the town wharf
the day's heat sucked out to sea,
taking the humidity with it:
good riddance;
the 200-plus
teenagers gathered
for the dance
suffuse the air
with newly brewed
and testosterone --
birds with new feathers,
learning how to
walk the walk,
much less fly --
the air hisses
as the music
makes everything
while the not quite full moon
presides over
the trusted ritual
of the dance
where hardly anyone dances.

July 22, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

Stuart Woods

it sure must be nice to be Stuart Woods;
here, in the fiction section of the public library,
he has a whole shelf -- three feet --
of his books, all shiny and coded with
the little white tags on the spine in the
secret librarian language,
thirty-three of them in all,
nearly as many as Buk;
not as satisfying to be Janet Evanovich,
though -- only nineteen -- but hey,
maybe she's still writing.

July 23, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.



the clouds do battle mightily this night,
with lightning flashing
across the whole horizon to the east,
crashing into each other
like hell-bent lovers reunited;
ah, the bolts and sparks
that do so fly, I know them well;
the negative
and the positive
smashing the air
in between them,
setting it on fire,
just to watch it burn.

July 21, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

lone man, in a harborside gazebo, late at night

where the day has been most surreal:
dispossessed of the roof over his head
by the Authorities, brought by
the mother of the only child
through a large prevarication,
to send him packing
in ten minutes;
and vocabulary fails
to capture the monstrosity of such;
best left for another day,
with dictionary at hand;
the sights of the day, ludicrous,
all of us and each one of us:
grown men trying to fly kites,
and others trying to know the likes
of certain doom, without too much gloom;
people being people
and blind to being observed,
recorded, set down, noted,
each and every one
their own fool,
like me, the lone man,
in a harborside gazebo,
with pen in hand,
late at night.

July 20, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


my blood

could run brown,
for Grampa's Pico,
or orange for
Daddy's Tennessee,
or gray, for my mother's
or red, for my
Ol' Virginny;
but it runs true blue
for You.

June 29, 2010, for the Wifey.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

a short one

just pass me by,
since you don't want
to see me cry;
I'll help you out
I'll just die.

June 29, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

bloodstains on the page

the page of my pad
on which this pome was
written: stained with
my own blood;
no, not from a self-inflicted
wound, from the bite
of one of those plentiful
blood-sucking little bastards,
the Massachusetts
the latest mutation
of which are the size of
and they attack your face,
especially your eyes;
screw Al Quaida,
these skeeters
will finish us off first.

June 29, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

just You

mosquitos and spiders sleeping,
and the sound of my heart leaping,
when I see on my phone
that the call is from You,
You who among all, are alone
enough to sustain me
with or without
a loaf of bread or a jug of wine;
promise me, mi amor,
to forever, siempre,
be mine, as I am thine.

June 29, 2010, for the Wifey.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


the Celtic knot ring

I stare at the Celtic knot ring
on my left hand;
it matches the one I bought You

and even though they are
sterling silver,
You told me that Yours
turned Your finger white,
and that You couldn't
wear it

and I thought at the time,
"well, maybe She doesn't
really love me, after all"

such an ass I was,
since now I know
just how much You do love me,
en Su cabeza a Su pies

I will never doubt Your love
and I will wear the ring

July 7, 2010, for the Wifey.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

struggle and see

what will make
the next great thing?
trying mightily,
and seeing.

July 11, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


strong enough

only hope that
I am strong enough,
with hands
big enough,
to keep You
from being
snatched away;
for dozens more
for lovely dances,
like those
that we had today;
te quiero mi amor,
in every way.

July 11, 2010, for the Wifey.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


the miracle

you might say
that neither of us
deserves it,
has any claim to it;
you might sit and listen
to our stories,
and to Our Story,
and laugh your way
through Disdain
and Ridicule;
you might discount
and scorn
you might look askance,
and shrug off everything,
as lustful Coincidence;

but we know --
we really know --
and you would be

July 11, 2010, for the Wifey.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.



it is so hard,
these days,
to have Optimism,
with Hope
and Truth,
handcuffed together
to a drainpipe in a back room;

in a world where
Majesty is ignored,
and Travesty is adored,
we arrive at the
Tri-City junction,
the function of all our
as the core of our nation
"Welcome to the Tri-City area --
Mendacity, Duplicity, and Complicity --
and we commend nothing,
we are worth nothing,
and we have nothing,
not even Love for each other;

in what dark corner,
in what dank cellar,
in what forsaken spit of land,
will we find our hind legs,
and once again,

not for me, or for you,
but for our grandchildren's grandchildren
once, but right now,
right now;

get up, dammit,
all of you,

demand that Love
and Truth
once again rule;
that every living thing
no longer suffer the fools
who would chain us,
demean us,
overtake us,
devour us,
eclipse our imprint,
deny our existence,
and run roughshod
over our dreams,
as the tracks of our tears
become just what they seem,
cascades of happiness lost,
signposts of the cost
of silent screams;

Buk said,
and Allen bled,
the central theme:
live with a purpose,
die with a wish
that you made come true,
but most of all,
and stand up on your hind legs,
shout to the rooftops,
howl, if you choose,
and be free.

August 10, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


birthday anniversary 56

in which She
began it,
the only one that has
found us together,
shared laughing
and loving
in sunny weather;
She looks in my eyes,
and tells me that
She loves me,
as I am consumed;
I have this night,
and this day,
and another night
with Her,
and I need only
to trap it under
my eyelids,
and barricade it
in my ears,

July 11, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


I really do heart New York

partly, of course, because
I spent the first one-and-a-half
years of my life as a resident
of 123 West 125th Street
in Manhattan,
which, along with Choctaw and
Portuguese genes, helped
give me my sense of rhythm
and even of blues;
but also because the City
gave me You.

June 29, 2010, for the Wifey.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


disabled veterans' picnic

a couple of them in chairs,
and all of them
bent and twisted
into various
mangled states,
some with canes,
and all with a hobble,
or a shuffle,
having left
their agility and who knows what else,
in a jungle
on the other side of the world,
decades ago;
today, they are brought
in a Veterans Administration van
to Mattapoisett
Veterans Memorial Park
at Ned's Point
for a picnic
in the sunshine
next to the harbor;
I tell one of their
caretakers how inspiring
it is to see them,
and I remind him that
he has job security, since
we are creating a whole
new generation of them.

June 29, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

the little kid in the minivan

out today, doing some store-hopping
to stay cool and pick up a few things,
and I parked next to Ocean State
Job Lot, and get out of the PT;
next to me, a gold-colored minivan,
backed in, engine running:
through the tinted glass,
I can still make out a toddler
in the back, with a blanket;
but there is no one else
in the vehicle, and no one
around outside it;
okay, I say, mom ran in to
get something real quick,
and I go into the store to
look around;
thirty minutes later, when I emerge,
the minivan and the little kid
are still there, just as I had found them;
I go back inside and tell
the store manager, who goes out
to investigate, while I call the police;
next to me, standing in the line, a man
tells the clerk that he will be
right back, and hustles outside,
leaving his purchases on the counter:
you reckless bastard.

June 29, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


quiet moments and loudness

I just bowed my head
in reverence
to the many moments
that I have had
burrowed deep inside you

and wordsmith that I pretend to be

I have no words

for your magnificence

and I damned well wish that I did,
because such words,
if they existed,
would make for one hell of a pome,

just like the sound of my tears,
as I miss you forever,
would make for one hell of a song.

July 19, 2010, for the Wifey.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

a white dress shirt

I want to buy
a white dress shirt

not because I need one

worthless poets and bums
don’t need one

but I want one
just so I can have
Your lipstick stain

on its collar

that's not too much
to ask for,
is it?

July 19, 2010, for the Wifey.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


the fat lady next door

she makes me nervous,
and I'm not the itchy type
but the way she eyes me
from her perch
on her deck,
makes me feel like
I am on her menu;
dammit, what a meal
I would make,
to maintain her girth;
then again,
maybe she doesn't want
to barbeque me,
maybe she just wants
to screw me;
even worse:
I'll take the fire.

June 29, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


death, palpable,
as the air thickens
and breaths quicken,
with thoughts awry

regrets multiply
as visions past
fly by,
too quick
to ascertain
what remains

hope's flower,
quickly devoured,
as needs' hour
refuses to reply

sleep's peace
and no release
as a lifetime
of vicissitudes
consume me

slumber, sleep,
these dark passages
I cannot keep
as regret, remorse
and illgotten course
overcome me

no repair
for the irreparable,
only despair
for the irreplaceable,
this night

come silent,
come quick,
despicable one,
and take me now
before the sun.

July 18, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


the cardinal

the cardinal is visiting right now,
perched on a branch
of the white pine cluster,
visible to me
through the screen of the patio:
his arrival
has greatly concerned
the wren family,
whose hatchlings cackle in their nest
on the other end of the patio;
friend or foe, they chatter,
Mr. and Mrs. Wren,
flitting from branch to branch
of the lilac,
studying the larger bird
for clues;
you can't be too careful
these days, wren or not.

June 29, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

mel gibson

my heart beats
for many things:
my daughters,
the Wifey
and her children,
my planet,
my people;
but not for what
mel gibson said
to his mistress,
nor how many times
he cursed her;
not for what he said,
what he didn't say,
what he should have
said, or to what sea
of troubles his
anger issues have led;
I have my own
bag o' regrets
that I can rummage
through, if need be;
so please, please,
just let mel and me be.

July 17, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

if he loved You

if he loved You,
as much as You thought he did,
if he loved You,
half as much as I do,
he would never have done
such injustice to You,
never would have
betrayed Your allegiance,
never would have
left You alone
for this last dance;

no worries, then,
mi amor,
as he shuts that door,
I am here,
unworthy of You,
but standing
next to the open window,

July 16, 2010, for the Wifey.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

crazy as hell

the next time
you think about
the impossible,
remember this poem:
the story of the Wifey
and I is crazy as hell,
and if you had told it
to either of us,
two years ago,
we both would have
pissed ourselves laughing;

nothing is ever

June 29, 2010, for the Wifey.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


garden delight

trim your hedges?
hell, yes, I will level them,
and all your hostas,
hydrangeas, and hollies;
I will uproot all your mint,
and lemon balm and
dig up your chives,
and grind up your sage,
and not one Douglas fir
will survive;
I will come for your lilacs too:
and chop them up small
for kindling;
and your mountain laurel
will be history, as will
your emerald arborvitae,
and your precious Kousa dogwood
will become a fine
walking stick;
your azaleas will make a
fine start to the bonfire of all
bonfires, on which
to roast you slowly,
very, very slowly.

June 29, 2010. From the forthcoming collection, Spoken Rage 2.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

Mrs. Freshley's honey buns

in a long box,
at the Dollar Tree;
they can sustain me
for three days:

thank you,
Mrs. Freshley,
wherever you are.

June 29, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

my prayer

walking in these
would have killed you
long ago;
and I pray that
you are given
all of the mercies
that you have denied me.

June 29, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

the only chapter

hey, hey, sista
I'm not just anutha mista,
I'm the one who loves ya,
spins the world for ya,
takes ya to the edge
and brings ya,
who knows what swings ya;

you're no shorty,
you're the only chapter
in my whole life's story
that matters to me;

hey, hey, sista
sure am glad I kissed ya,
I'm the one who loves ya,
spins the world for ya,
takes ya to the edge
and brings ya,
who knows what swings ya;

you're no shorty,
you're the only chapter
in my whole life's story
that matters to me.

June 29, 2010, for the Wifey.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.



my love comes with no price
and it comes not once
nor twice, but however often
it is needed;
a million times over

it has no cost
it seeks only to
please You, to give You
what You need

not just gibberish,
like all those words
strung together, relatively
meaningless turds

June 29, 2010, for the Wifey.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


my love comes with no price
and it comes not once
nor twice, but however often
it is needed;
a million times over

it has no cost
it seeks only to
please You, to give You
what You need

not just gibberish,
like all those words
strung together, relatively
meaningless turds

June 29, 2010, for the Wifey.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


not much room

left on the page;
only enough to tell You
that as I age,
You are the only One
that I desire,
as my Love for You
goes higher.

June 28, 2010, for the Wifey.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


never, ever, about stuff,
on account of when
I buried him, just over
five years ago;
I saw what went into that box:
not much, really;
no cars, or stereos,
or fine wines, or works
of art; pretty much
just him, in a suit,
with a photo or two,
and his glasses;
so I have reset
my priorities:
it will never be
the stuff,
it will be only
the hearts that I touch.

June 28, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

ever on

soon will come the night,
where mosquitos implore me,
and spiders mostly ignore me;
the night, so blessed,
that the wax on my back
holds my wings steady,
as I sit here dreaming
of Your timeless beauty,
married to my eternal duty,
to love You like no other,
out in the open, all at once,
no cover, no blindness,
only the juices of
bathing the aches
of certain illness,
what we carry, what
makes us plead to tarry
in this life just a bit more;
pipe dreams galore, and
so much more in store
for those of us who
keep marching up that hill,
well or ill,
hungry or filled,
ever on, mi amor,
ever on.

June 28, 2010, for the Wifey.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

beauty and the rest

we suppose that
if we surround ourselves
with enough things
that are beautiful,
that we might seem somehow
less ugly by comparison;
enough sonnets,
and the brazen entreaties
of the drunken lecher
will seem less unseemly;
enough marble, tooled,
will draw attention away
from the dysfunctional
family backstory;
enough of the right
cosmetics, applied judiciously,
will render the most porcine,
the more beauty
that we pile up around us,
perhaps the less we will
see ourselves, and be seen,
as the vile bloodsuckers
we really are.

June 28, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

the soundless windchime

it still stands straight
a lower branch
of the emerald arborvitae: and
I'm sure that he thought
he had come upon
an enormously clever idea:
flatten a tablespoon,
and bend four dinner forks,
hang them
from a tunafish can
with fishing line, and, voila:

if only it had ever made one sound
in forty years.

June 28, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


a soft boom

the whole sky bleeds
as the giant plops of rain,
thunderous, victorious,
conspire to take my attention
from You, Your scent,
Your silver lining:
they will lose,
as Your entwinement with me
is now complete,
one soul embracing the other.

June 28, 2010, for the Wifey.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

eternally true

with You, it is never merely
an afterglow --
it is an everglow --
the thing that
let's me know
that I will never let
You go,
what tells You all
that You need to know;
what set apart
the still from
the flow;
what will always be,
and always grow;
You into me,
and me into You,
all that lasts eternally,
and all that is
eternally true.

June 26, 2010, for the Wifey.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

all three

today, you all looked
so beautiful,
so serene,
so self-assured,
so damned grown-up,
that I stopped,
and wondered
where the hell the years had gone;
I saw three sweet,
smart, lovely young women,
charged with an extra dose
of life, and possibility;
and I was then immediately
held captive
by my legacy;
I love you, all three,
much more than
I am able to express

June 24, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


you looked so beautiful today,
your excitement
and nervousness
completely masked
by that radiant smile;
you stood tall
(the tallest of my three girls)
and proud,
but no one
could have been prouder
than me,
at how wonderful
you have turned out:
lovely, smart, gracious,
and still with
"a heart of gold" --
now a young woman,
ready for the next steps
in the orchard
that will be your life --
I hope that I will be around,
to see you
harvest those apples;
way to go, Riri,
way to go!

June 24, 2010, on the occasion of the high school graduation of Rianna Susan Pursley.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

Jihane Haddou

she spoke earlier today at her graduation
from Yorktown High School
in Arlington, Virginia;
she was at the podium,
on the stage of D.A.R. Constitution Hall
in Washington, DC;
only 18, but so eloquent
in her praise of an America
that offers opportunity to all;
she arrived in Arlington
in June 2006, from North Africa,
and spoke only Arabic and French;
in the fall of 2006,
she enrolled as a freshman;
her moving address today
was delivered
in perfect English;
and that, in the true sense of the words,
is remarkable
and incredible.

June 24, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


bacon number 2

possibly the best food
ever created,
and too much of it
is bad for you:

June 22, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

on the upswing

on the plus side,
I haven't yet
had to resort
to eating rats
or roadkill,
as this life tries
to cause my
not my tradition
of good home-cooked food,
but the Dollar Tree
is keeping me alive;
if only they carried
little bottles of
things would really be
on the upswing.

June 22, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

the moths

the first one arrived,
moments ago, as if
sent from a casting agency:
body too large for wings,
struggling mightily
toward death.

June 22, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

the best of fortune

the robins
and the purple martins
are having a big skirmish
over worms
as I think of You,
too far away,
but still beneath my eyelids
and nestled in my heart;
the bickering birds
are making a lot of noise,
as I consider
how fortunate I am
to have a seat
in the temple
that is Your love.

June 22, 2010, for the Wifey.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

my list

a pretty short one,
since it includes
and maybe some
hot sauce.

June 22, 2010, for the Wifey.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


here to say that
I have thoroughly
plumbed the depths,
and they are quite

June 22, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

bad clams

"whaddya doin', big fat neighbor lady?"
I call out late at night;
she does not reply, of course,
since her windows are closed,
and I am only whispering;
the light in her bathroom
stays on for over fifteen minutes,
and I am guessing:
bad clams.

June 22, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


there are now seven
staring at the light:
waiting for the payout.

June 22, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

capitalism to the extreme

the current U.S.A. national debt
of 13 trillion dollars
is enough money to
buy nine iPhones
for each of the approximately
6.8 billion people
currently on the planet

alternatively, we could just buy
one iPhone,
and invest the rest
in BP
or Goldman Sachs

or we could just put all the money
in a big pile,
and set it on fire

June 22, 2010

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


Lunch Is on Me

"Lunch Is on Me"

My latest visit to see the Wifey found me on her home turf. Normally, we meet at a location halfway between where we both live, making it easier on both of us in terms of driving distance.

This visit found me returning from Washington, DC, where I had gone for my youngest daughter's graduation from Yorktown High School in Arlington, Virginia. The trip was a long one, about nine hours, which found my Chrysler PT Cruiser quite sick when I got there -- to the tune of $775.06 -- but the graduation ceremony, held at D.A.R. Constitution Hall in Washington, was magnificent, and Rianna looked beautiful. It was a very proud day for both of us, her two sisters, and her mom and stepdad.

Since on my return I would be passing the Wifey's location, we made reservations for two nights at a hotel about 30 minutes from her home, so that we could have our monthly visit. My departure from Virginia was of course delayed from my original plan: instead of leaving about 2:00 p.m. after having lunch with my three daughters at Ghin Na Ree (the best Thai restaurant in metro DC) on Friday, June 25, I did not get to hit the road until after 6:00 p.m. That fact, coupled with a four-plus hour drive in an area that I was completely unfamiliar with, most of it at night, turned that leg of my travels into a six-hour marathon, finally arriving at the hotel after midnight.

As planned, we had been in touch on the phone as I traveled, and as soon as I checked in, I called her.

"Hi, baby. Room 131. I am so wiped out."

"Oh, thank goodness you are finally here," she said, "I have been so worried. I'll be right there. I'm at the 24-hour diner across the street."

"Excellent. I can't wait to see you, baby."

When I walked the length of the hotel's first floor to Room 131, I was tired, but elated once again to spend some time with her. I inserted the keycard, saw the light turn green, and grabbed the lever handle, pushing it all the way down. Nothing.

I tried the keycard again, and pushed again. Not a budge. Slowly, I retraced my steps back to the front desk. The night clerk, an old Indian man, seemed uninterested.

"This key is not working," I said, "and it feels like the door is locked from the inside."

"Oh, when you inserted the card," he intoned in a very serious way, "did you push the lever all the way down?"

"Yes," I replied proudly, "I did push the lever all the way down."

"Oh, but you should have pulled the lever all the way UP, very firmly," the night clerk said, smiling.

"Great, thanks," I mumbled, certain that immigration reform is just around the corner. I returned to the room, and shortly after, the Wifey arrived. We spent a few lovely minutes greeting each other.

I then began what the Wifey calls "the unbelievably laborious process" of unpacking my car with all that I have brought -- which always includes food and drink for the one- or two-night stay, plus my clothes and other necessities. But this time, owing to my exhaustion and the lateness of the hour, I took only what we absolutely needed that night, resolving that the next day I would get everything else. So it was mainly toiletries, smoked oysters and crackers and hot sauce and vodka. Ready, set, go.

We had what I will only describe here as a marvelous night, and the Wifey rose before 6:00 a.m. to go to work. That left me with the opportunity to enjoy the free breakfast at the hotel and then to get some more sleep. The breakfast was not what the chain is known for because this location's restaurant was closed for renovation: so no eggs or sausage, just bagels, mini-muffins, orange juice, apples, and yogurt. Disappointing, but adequate.

Then, after about three more hours of sleep, I rose and shaved, showered, and dressed, and began "the unbelievably laborious process" of unpacking my car. The Wifey was due to return from work at 2:00 p.m., and I wanted all the grunt work done when she returned, so that our time would be well-spent, focused on each other. Well, actually, I was supposed to go out for more vodka and some wine, but I already told you about "the unbelievably laborious process." Although I did find the time to sit down in the lobby and log into my email from the hotel's desktop computer. Which was, of course, where the Wifey found me when she called.

"Where are you?" she said. "I've been here for nearly a half-hour, and assumed you were out getting beverages, but then I looked in the parking lot and saw the PT."

"Hi, baby. Sorry, I didn't get out to the store. I'm in the lobby checking my email."

"Stop that and come to the room now."

"Of course. I'll be right there."

Luckily, it turned out that she was not angry at all, she was amorous. I love that woman.

Later, we left in her car to head to a liquor store. As she started it up, she turned and smiled at me.

"I don't think, in our nearly a year-and-a-half, that you have ever been the passenger, while I drove," she said, still smiling.

"You know, baby, I think you're right, as you usually are. Should I just buckle up and close my eyes?"

"Eh, don't make fun of my driving. I've never been in an accident that was my fault," she said.

I buckled up, and as she left the parking lot, she gunned the engine, laughing, and I closed my eyes. The electrifying ride to liquor store took only about fifteen minutes.

"Okay, we're here, Mr. Scaredy Cat. You can open your eyes now and pretend to be a man," she said.

"I will, let me just let my stomach stop doing flipflops," I said.

"Oh, stop it and come on. We should be in and out of here in less than ten minutes," the Wifey said.

"I know. I'm just stalling, because when we are in and out of here in less than ten minutes, we will then be back in this car, with you at the wheel," I said.

"Eh, with that 'tude, you can walk, dude," the Wifey said. She often rhymes her sentences.

"Okay, okay, here I go," I said, wobbling alongside the car.

Sure enough, we were in and out of there in less than ten minutes. And I resisted the urge to close my eyes for the return trip, along with the urge to take a drag on the vodka. We survived the return trip to the hotel, and got out of the car.

"Wow, look at that, we are still alive," the Wifey said, smiling.

"Yes, baby, we are, but I think we only have eight lives left now."

"Shut up, and open the hotel door," the Wifey growled. She always smiles when she growls, which makes it appear to the casual observer that she is fawning over me instead of ripping me a new one. She's got talent.

The rest of our afternoon, evening, and night went fairly predictably, by our standards: we ate, drank, laughed, watched movies on HBO and loved fiercely and often. Each visit that we've had, beginning in August 2009, has been different, but each one has been wonderful, and has solidified a deep bond, that has grown despite much misfortune suffered by both of us in the rest of our lives. We usually laugh our way through dark moments.

This morning, she woke me at 8:45.

"Hey, dude, roll out of bed. I've showered, and sex makes me hungry, so let's go get our breakfast and bring it back here," she said, smiling.

"Of course, mi amor," I said as cheerfully as I could manage. I could have slept for another year.

"And do not complain to me. I got up to tinkle at like 3:00 a.m., and you were watching HBO and drinking vodka," she said, smiling.

"Oh, baby, you must have dreamt that," I said, lying.

"Eh, move it, old man," she said, smiling.

So down to the lobby we went, and returned with full plates and full pockets, and my obligatory coffee, fortified with sugar, Splenda, hot chocolate, hazelnut creamer, and regular creamer. Each cup should come with its own insulin syringe.

"You know, baby, you should try my new coffee creation," I said, hopefully.

"Dude, I do not like coffee," the Wifey said, "and you know that. Let me have a sip," she said, smiling, "hey, this is pretty good, dude, but I have to have a Coke."

Our breakfast went uneventfully, unless you count the Wifey scolding me to eat.

"You eat so slow, baby," she said, smiling, "and if you were a mom you would eat a lot faster. Someone is always trying to get their fork into my plate."

"I've always eaten slow, baby. It lets you digest better, and you only eat until you are full."

"Whatever, dude. You know why I want you to hurry up and finish," she said, smiling.

I did know, that's for sure. If my unpacking the car truly is an "unbelievably laborious process," the reverse, of getting all my stuff packed up and back in the car before check-out time is "the equivalent of watching paint dry in a rainstorm," according to the Wifey.

But this time it went well, at least by my estimation, and we had nearly 30 minutes to spare.

"Wow, you're done," she said, smiling, "that is a record."

"Just trying to please you, my love," I said, feeling proud.

"Well the key is not working in the door," she said, smiling, "so we have to walk to the front door of the hotel."

So off we went to get the key reprogrammed so we could get back in to our room to get the last of our things and have a few "goodbye" romantic moments.

Once we had cleared out of the room, the Wifey suggested that we just take her car and go to the mall to hang out for an hour or two, since she did not need to be home until 3:00 p.m.

"Well sure, baby, that sounds like fun," I said, not sure how I would handle another round of being her automobile passenger.

"Yes, it will be," she said, smiling, "and lunch is on me."

"Wow, thanks, sweetie," I said, "that's very sweet of you."

And so off we rocketed to a local mall, where she parked at a location that seemed like there was no actual entrance to the mall.

"I always park here," she said, smiling, "because this is where there is the pharmacy, the photo place, and a hairdresser. You can always get a close space here, because people are in and out all the time." It was true, we were only about twenty feet from the hidden door, and into the mall.

We went in through a JC Penney store, with the Wifey pausing a bit to check out the children's clothes on sale. We window shopped our way through the sprawling mall, and then the Wifey announced that we would have to go upstairs to the food court for lunch. As we stepped on the escalator, a little girl playing on the first level caught my eye, and I turned to watch her as we rose, putting both hands on the handrail.

"Are you afraid of escalators?" the Wifey asked, smiling.

"No, baby, I was just watching that little girl."

"Oh, okay, I was just worried that it was more unmanliness. No worries," she said, smiling. I felt less than adequate.

We emerged into the bustle of a gigantic food court, with at least two dozen little storefront eateries ringing a sea of tables and chairs.

I should mention at this point, for context, that the Wifey is legendary for her frugality. She has taken being a frugal, careful shopper to an art form not previously seen in modern America. She never pays full price for anything, and her coupon-clipping skills are without equal in the western hemisphere, at least.

"Okay," the Wifey said, smiling, "this is how The Boy and I do this: we start here on the left with the sushi place. The server will offer you one, and you will take it, even though you don't like sushi. You will just hand it to me as we walk. Then we zigzag along, and we finish with the sandwich guy. The bourbon chicken is the best," she said, still smiling.

And so we worked our way through, sampling food from over a dozen of the eateries. By the time we reached our starting point, I was full.

"There," she said, smiling, "now a little car ride back to the hotel to settle your lunch."

I really do love her.

June 27, 2010.


my history

thought about
writing a whole lot of different shit
maybe the who, what, when, where, why
and how of it;
and discarded that vacant,
used-up bit,
an over-employed twist
of a whatchamacalit;
settled on laying down
most of my history,
including the parts
that heretofore
were more or less a complete

but Hell's bells,
I'm an enigma to myself,
so most of that crap
needs to sit up on that shelf:
the one I polish,
but never touch,
the one I relish,
but not too much,
the one that tells,
but never fells
the truth tree,
the total expiation of me,
the one that quietly
sits in the corner,
all fucking Jack Horner,
with a bright purple thumb,
as if I might become
someone that you might
want me to be,
maybe just a little more free,
more than locked up
in an old cast-iron bathtub,
making a Viagra commercial
to endlessly run on the tv;

so, anyway, the truth is
that my history runs back
as far as the is is,
back to the beginning of
what was me, what is me;

and frankly, recounting it
is way more than I can handle
like lighting a fuse
with a one-inch candle;

suffice to say,
there have been many roads,
some of them populated
with angels,
and some with
but not one damned thing
in all the songs that I could sing
would mean one damned thing
about how much I love You:

my history, my Dear,
I relive with mostly fear,
and I pray every day,
that most of it is never repeated,
except for the good parts,
the ones that were superheated;

I've done some bad,
but I think mostly good,
and who I am today,
is how I want to be understood.

June 12, 2010, for the Wifey.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.



mind stretched
in so many different directions
that it is a freaking wonder
of wonders
that it is there at all:
everything collapsing
on top of itself;

and yet, next week,
I travel over 400 miles
to be there for the high school graduation
of my youngest daughter:

but, commencement of what?

commencement of the end of this planet?

commencement of the beginning of the end?

here I am, a grown man,
standing alone in a field
of shattered dreams,
of silenced screams,
of our inhumanity to ourselves,
and I have no answer:
I am vacant,
I have no descant,
I am merely remembrance,
not quite transcendence,
but equally

whoever is in control,
(and mind you, I have neither time
nor patience for conspiracy theories),
please, please, please
will you simply release us
from your sharp-taloned clutches,
let us fall free down to the ground,
from which we sprang;

we are sorely tired of the battle,
and do not care who won;
we are only desiring
the peace of the undone;

if you must, lay upon us your planks,
and carry yourselves over our ranks;
but do us only one favor:
on our defeat, do not savor;

it will come again, a long time from now,
to devour you,
and your mercy now,
might one day absolve you;

we, the defeated, offer no counsel
to the victorious
more than simply that winning
may not always be so glorious;

go, then, as you must,
to seek gun barrels
instead of trust,
and know then that you seed
far more than you will need,
far more than you will reckon,
but so much more
that will beckon,
and cast aside your creed,
and leave you bent,
upon your knees.

June 18, 2010, for Rianna Susan Pursley, my youngest daughter of three such, in whom I present my very best work in this life. She graduates from Yorktown High School on June 24, 2010. I love you, RiRi.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


Lightning in a Jar

[Note to reader: The following came to me as a PowerPoint slideshow attachment forwarded by my pal Darcey Bellington. The slideshow features some haunting background music, and some gorgeous graphics. Since I am PowerPoint-illiterate, I have chosen to re-type the powerful message so that I can share it with a wide audience. If you would like to get the slideshow, send me an email or a private message, and I will forward it to you.]

If you could fit the entire population of the world into a village consisting of 100 people, maintaining the proportions of all the people living on Earth, that village would consist of:

57 Asians
21 Europeans
14 Americans (North, Central and South)
8 Africans

There would be

52 women
48 men
30 Caucasians
70 non-Caucasians
30 Christians
70 non-Christians
89 heterosexuals
11 homosexuals

Six people would possess 59% of the wealth, and they would all come from the USA.

80 would live in poverty
70 would be illiterate
50 would suffer from hunger and malnutrition
1 would be dying
1 would be being born
1 would own a computer
1 would have a university degree

If we looked at the world this way, the need for acceptance and understanding would be obvious. But consider again the following:

If you woke up this morning in good health, you have more luck than one million people, who won't live through the week.

If you have never experienced the horror of war, the solitude of prison, the pain of torture, or were not close to death from starvation, then you are better off than 500 million people.

If you can go to your place of worship without fear that someone will assault or kill you, then you are luckier than 3 billion people.

If you have a full fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head, and a place to sleep, you are wealthier than 75% of the world's population.

If you currently have money in the bank, in your wallet, and a few coins in your purse, you are one of 8 of the privileged few amongst the 100 people in the world.

If your parents are still alive and still married, you are a rare individual.

If someone sent you this message, you're extremely lucky, because someone is thinking of you, and because you don't comprise one of those 2 billion people who cannot read.

And so?

Work like you don't need the money.

Love like nobody has ever hurt you.

Dance like nobody is watching.

Sing like nobody is listening.

Live as if this was paradise on Earth.

Send this message to your friends.

Bypass those who are determined to see the worst in the world, no matter what.

If you don't send it, nothing will happen.

If you do send it, someone might smile while they are reading it, and that will be a positive.

Apart from that, simply have a nice day.

-- Author unknown, circa June 15, 2010.

mi amor de siempre

breathe deep,
and inhale me,
as I do You,
every moment
that we are
wound tight
against each other,
our sweat
(Your glistening)
in a sea of sheets
beyond recognition,
pointing the way
only to sated souls,
clinging to each other
in an ever-growing sea
of emotional insecurity;

take comfort,
mi amor de siempre,
as I do, each time
we touch eternity,
as was always
meant to be;

draw me close,
never let me go,
be my heart,
be my host,
be all that I know;

You are my alpha,
and my omega:
my Only One,
even when this life
is undone.

June 9, 2010, for the Wifey.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


Български rhapsody

and then,





then wemixitupabit:

one never knows;

always moving,
always exciting,
Bulgarian music
strikes like lightning,
and strolls
like clouds passing.

June 10, 2010, for Kat.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

slow down

slow down,
cut your speed,
and let me love You,
in every way
that You need:
let me please You,
tease You,
do everything
that will release You
scour You
of all those past miseries,
all that make for
of love forsaken,
of elation
never taken
to its natural release;
please, please, please,
let me adore You,
let me restore You,
to Your rightful pose,
what any fool knows:
is above me,
some unknown
some something
that will let us be
simply One,
never to be undone,
merely us two,
wound and bound
into a simple,
gleaming song
that is never more
nor less
than simply
slowed down,
into One.

June 8, 2010, for the Wifey.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.



in the dark,
where it is damp --
the moisture,
supernatural --
and the resulting
of what lies
just out of reach;
reach for me,
my Beloved,
even though
I am no Jesus:
I am not even Saul,
I am no one
except the one
who adores You,
who will guide You
to safety,
in my abrazo,
so final,
so extreme,
so unrecoverable;
I am Your goal,
as I must be,
if You are to survive
the clutches
of the dark hands
that lie just beyond
Your view;
lie with me,
my one-and-only,
and know
the safety
of my everlasting embrace.

June 8, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


March 26, 1982, number 2

I was on fire
with a sense of
and you lay serene
in your
sea of tranquility;
and with every rung
that we climbed,
it never once
crossed my mind,
that you were
all at once,
through with me;
when that moment came,
and I heard its name,
I stood hollowly,
not at all in a pose
that showed the best
of me;
I looked entranced,
vacant, askance,
and I had nothing,
absolutely nothing
with which to advance;
I regret my blindness,
even to this day,
since what we had
never should have been
thrown away --
torn up, like so much
and put in the street,
for dark night forage --
we once were special,
and I regret that we
turned out to be
plastic, not metal.

April 15, 2010. Like most disasters, without this one, I would not be in love with the Wifey today, so the silver lining lives.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


sitting there,
same spot where
I've sat for nearly two years,
and with all my
observational powers
in full bloom,
I never noticed them
before this morning:
over a hundred feet
of grapevines,
lush and full,
with big leaves and
hundreds of clumps
of tiny green grapes,
all along the fence;
I'm going to keep
my eye on them,
even as You slumber,
too far away:
later this summer,
we'll make wine.

June 6, 2010, for the Wifey.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


Nick Kristof had a tumor and we are both happy now

you might not even know who he is,
but he's a major league columnist
for the Grey Lady,
where I have never managed to land,
even though Dana Pangaro and I
pledged to meet up there
ten years after our high school graduation;

of course, at that time, me and Dana
were more interested in skirts and skiffs
that ledes and riffs on the latest political mess,
if it glimmered in the shade,
and shimmied in a dress,
we were all over it;

which is partly the explanation for why
thirty-eight years later,
that we are both doing other things
(although still skirt fans,
not so much on skiffs anymore);

so I read today that Nick had a big brush
with mortality recently:
a tumor on his right kidney,
and suddenly, he said, not much else
was important
but living some more;

I have been subscribing to that
credo for a while now,
for different reasons, but similar
enough, that I can relate:
kiss me now, not later,
tell me you love me today,
not tomorrow,
and let me go ahead and play,
and leave the sorrow
for another day,
maybe far away;

in your mind's eye,
the best camera going:
a big, brutish sort,
filled with heart and soul,
and damned well worth knowing,
who knew his way with words
and who was not afraid to let
words have their way,
who was always happy to arrive,
happier still to stay,
and always sad to leave,
always fearful of being a stray;

looking at that dark door,
and wishing it away,
wishing it away.

June 5, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


the hearts of angels and the instincts of toads

however risky,
gives bourbon
its proof:
sublime, sipped slow,
it both reminds
and forgets
wasted youth;

if you want truth,
go find a history book,
these lines are only
a single look
at what has passed,
what did not get
at Auschvitz,
or Chosin,
or Baghdad;

slip on by,
you of the weak knee,
of the ready, erstwhile
since here you will find none:
this is Us, laid bare,
curses and blessings
all wrapped up into one,
foibles and follies,
and baby girls dressed up
like porcelain dollies,
and men made to stand tall
and die,
when they would rather have
simply laid with their women,
who still cry
for love taken from them;

oh pity, and reverence,
and all that they pretend,
will not accompany any one of us,
when we meet our end;
not goodness, nor mercy,
nor vile intent,
will capture our rapture
or forgive us our souls lent
to lust for power or
greed or any other base seed
that caused us to follow
and never to lead;

hindsight is well
acknowledged in Hell,
as it shows the sufferer
where avoidance
would have served him
to swell;

all of us, consumed,
on an enormous funeral pyre,
stripped of thought,
mystery, and desire;

we stand bleak,
unadorned, naked in soul,
left to seek, blind,
one last roll
of the eternal dice,
which garners nothing;

too much, though,
for some simple lines,
too much history,
for too little time;
let it stand, then,
however incomplete:
that what swallows us whole now,
is the result of our own feat;

we stand at eternity's solemn crossroads,
with hearts of angels,
and instincts of toads.

June 4, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


saying it all

I might spend a lot of time,
jotting down a few lines,
plumbing love's depth,
maybe stick in some rhythm,
get your attention with
some fancy meter,
but mostly it's all the same:
lost, erased, torn up,
fed to the dog,
left in the wilderness on a log,
vanished late at night,
swallowed up in self-pity's fog,
you name it,
and I've framed it,
right then and there;
so imagine my surprise
this sunny morning,
when She said it all,
right into my eyes,
straight-up, with no warning:

"I have to go, in like
five or ten minutes,

but my heart will be with you
all day."

June 2, 2010, for the Wifey. Thanks, sweetie, for letting me steal a line from you for like the one-millionth time.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


A Few Minutes with Betty, Chapter 20: "This Is Mom's Friend, er, Shakespeare, and this Is Dad's Friend, er, Shakespeare"

(or, "Platinum Means Expensive, but Not as much as a Talking Piñata")


"Hello, Betty, you golden goddess."

"That's me; although, my hair is more white than golden now; damn pool and sun."

"Hey, I like the idea of an older version of Betty; what's mom's number?"

"I didn't say gray; more like platinum."

"I guess platinum means expensive."

"Damn, skippy. And my mom is married to my weirdo dad."

"I know, that's why I thought I would fit right in; nobody would notice me."

"That's probably true."

"Well, there ya go. And you thought your family was strange up to now. Heh heh."

"They are."

"I can hear you now, Betty: 'Yeah, and so, get this: at her age, my mom takes a lover. Yes, I am telling you the truth! So anyway, she takes a lover, which is embarrassing enough, but then my dad takes one too. And the kicker of kickers? It's the same lover. The same person! A man. And a friend of mine! I kid you not.'"

"WTF! That is creepy on so many levels."

"See, mad skillz. So last night I wrote my next chapter for the novel, well the first third of it, and then outlined the rest of the chapter since I was on a roll with the action and didn't want to lose anything to my pillow overnight. So I am pretty happy that I finally have stuff down on paper, because by the weekend I had to have something going. I don't want to be the wet spot in the bed when it comes to my other six co-conspirators."

"Ew. Thanks for that visual."

"Oh calm down. And if you know where all the bus stops are, seems to me that you might have spent a little time riding the bus."

"Cute and true."

"So the chapter is called Sometimes Life Is Just a Little Too Real, and it features a murder, the aftermath of an explosion with dead bodies and body parts, a gun battle in the street, an unlikely hero, a fugitive from justice, the end of an extensive police sting operation, and a little mystery in the last line."

"Seems like a packed chapter."

"It is, but damn I am enjoying this project. And the elapsed time? About 30 minutes. It flies."

"Wow. That makes me want to write."

"Well, for some reason, with this chapter, unlike the other three, I spent a lot of time thinking before I wrote a word; I didn't even have the title until last night. The other three chapters, I guess, where more setup chapters, where this one is bringing stuff together, finding resolution, etc., so I have to write much more carefully, things have to fit with other things, etc. But it's going to be a great one when I'm done, hopefully tonight sometime. And we are up to 24 chapters, with at least 6 or so being written at this time."

"You all are really on a roll. Well done."

"Yes, I am pretty pleased. Plus, they are all so much damn fun to play with."

"Be right back, I need to go get something to eat."


"I'm back."

"Well that's fine; it's not as interesting as your front, but it does have its advantages."

"Ha ha, Shakespeare. As if."

"I remember years ago, seeing a woman somewhere, maybe the beach or a pool, and she had a tramp stamp, and it read: 'Exit Only, Buster.'"

"I use that as a running joke in my house. I'm still trying to find the time to get my belly button pierced."

"I imagine there must be some traffic collisions in that joint. I thought you already had it pierced."

"No. I did, then I got a new button."

"Ah, yes. Nip and tuck."

"My children think it's funny to punch me as hard as they can in my stomach since I can't feel it. I'm like a party game or something."

"A talking piñata."

"That's me."

"Well, I am going to run along and see if I can pound out a little more of the new chapter before I move out to the day's excitement. Talk to you later, Betty."

"No problem, I have work to do and errands to run. Good luck with the writing."

"Thanks, Betty. And don't forget to say hi to mom and dad. Heh heh."

"Stay away from my family, Shakespeare."

June 1, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

a full-blown canter

She tells me that after
all this time,
this time,
She's a little nervous,
as my breath catches,
and my heart
skips more than one beat;

She does not realize
as the best thing --
the brassiest ring --
ever to enter my orbit;

and I attempt to assauage
Her fears, to engage Her
in light-hearted banter,
as my heart breaks into
a full-blown canter.

May 30, 2010, for the Wifey.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.



while you are trying
to decide between
the chipotle salmon wrap
and the prosciutto-cheddar
on focaccia,

I'm trying to decide
whether that dude
eyeing me from across the alley
is going to try
to plant a shiv
in me when I go
for that half eaten hoagie
that just got tossed
into the trash.

May 6, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


tomorrow's blues,
yesterday's news:
the path that you travel
is partly the one
that you choose;
the other measure:
where you are pushed,
prodded, cajoled,
tricked, waylaid,
when you've
overstayed your welcome,
and then some;
so you run
to another one,

but seldom fast enough.

May 7, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


this tree

doesn't care if you look at it or not,
or even if you are here;
it has no stake in you at all,
and nothing about
immigration reform or
the Transocean-Halliburton-BP oil spill
in the Gulf of Mexico
is of remote interest:
not how families are destroyed,
nor how good men and women
are either slowly driven mad,
or slowly driven to horrible
acts of mortal desperation;
this tree will stand here
for a good long time,
with you, and the seasons,
coming and going,
and your existence,
unless you have an axe,
is of no consequence.

May 28, 2010. Viva la raza!

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


calmaté 2

even though
I monitor the news
(I am a working journalist,
after all),
I have failed to notice
until just today,
that there is a worldwide
to get me to calm down:

mi compis, en Arizona
assure me that
wanting to see my papers
has nothing whatever
to do
with being
Jewish in Europe
in the early 1940s;

but I am not assured,
nor will I ever be
of such a progression:
my memory,
and their memories,
will not soon be

take your boot off
of my neck,
lest I be required
to shove it up your ass.

May 2, 2010. Viva la raza!

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


A Few Minutes with Betty, Chapter 19: "I Love Me a Good Organism" (or, "Penis Shrinkage at Cocktail Parties: Crisis or Hype?")

"I love thunderstorms!"

"Hiya, Betty. That's funny, I love naked women."

"In thunderstorms? How do you keep from getting electrocuted?"

"KEEP from getting electrocuted? Now you tell me. I guess I misunderstood the whole organism thing too."

"Orgasm, not organism, Shakespeare. Someone should smack you about the head and neck."

"Busy for dinner?"

"Just me and the kids."


"I was informed by my husband that he made a sale, so he's demanding booty upon his return home."

"I bet if I drove a Jeep you wouldn't have said that."

"Now I have to find some pirates and steal their treasure."

"I sold too."

"Not your body. Selling that doesn't count. My husband sold people a useful product for the improvement of their home."

"Nevermind then."

"I will be right back. Okay, I am back."


"Have you been smoking the crack again, Shakespeare?"

"So I am chugging along with my new chapter; got almost three pages done, and all of it outlined. And no, I put the crack pipe down when I am writing."

"Well that's something. Look at you writing!"

"Maybe snort a little glue, but not much."

"I wrote three sentences the other day."

"Well it's easier to be motivated when you have six co-authors. Sorta like a platoon with guns drawn. When you are writing by yourself, it's a naked woman of a different color."

"Oh, I love when I have naked rainbow women parties, so I know exactly what you mean."

"And here I thought those went the way of Tupperware parties; you folks in Virginia are so progressive."

"Not really all of Virginia. Just me."

"Ah, still fitting right in to the neighborhood, are you?"

"Yep, that's me, square peg jammed into round hole."

"Dammit, I know there is a joke for that, but I can't think of it. I imagine all the women will be electing you May Queen any minute now."

"I doubt it. I'm not Obama."

"So, not 'Most Likely to be Admired,' eh?"

"Not really. But look, I really care too."

"I know, sleepless nights: 'Dammit, how can I make those frumpy biotches LIKE ME MORE?'"

"Exactly. I cry myself to sleep, Shakespeare."

"'Maybe if I just lower my come-hither, Imma-steal-your-husband vibe, that will do it.'"

"None of these husbands are worth stealing. Enough wasting energy on those cows."

"Okay, new topic. You choose."

"The rights that men should have in the decision of abortion. Go."

"Um, not very many at all?"

"Sorry, inside joke. We were at a party and it got uncomfortable due to the talk of gay marriage. Someone asked to change the subject, and that's what I said."

"Ha ha ha. Good one. Made the gay marriage talk seem appealing, no?"

"Pretty much."

"'And instantly,' Betty said, 'I could hear every penis in the room shrink.'"

"Well, George picked up his beer and walked away from that conversation."

"Smart man."

"He does that a lot, especially when his brother and I get into it."

"Oh yeah; no need to be in that crossfire."

"He has the same name as you, Ricky, but he's such a douchebag."

"Those are headshots."

"I'm good at headshots."

"I know this."

"It's nice to know a Ricky who doesn't think that the world should be as it was in the 1800s."

"With three daughters, I have what I hope is the enlightened view."

"His daughter is screwed."

"But really, I have been involved in women's rights since 1972. I worked on the ERA."

"You are so old. I wasn't even alive yet."

"I know, that's why Michael and Meredith call me Dirt."

"Ha ha ha ha ha ha!"

"Listen, Betty, I have to go cut some green beans. I bought two pounds, and am going to freeze some."

"You may want to consider having yourself frozen, before you fossilize. Dirt. Snort!"

"That's Mr. Dirt, to you, whippersnapper!"

"See ya, Shakespeare. And don't break a hip cutting those beans."

May 29, 2009.

mourning doves

I never realized
before this morning
how much noise
mourning doves make
when they are making
mourning doves:

they sound larger
than they are,
even in the late morning
though they are far
from mourning;

She tells me
that I am quite loud
when we are studiously
avoiding making
mourning doves --
just practicing the moves --

and I reply that it's
just my feeble attempt
at being a mourning dove,
and She seems unimpressed.

May 23, 2010, for the Wifey.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


what the well-dressed rat is wearing

with the rest of the working poor,
I went to Dollar Tree today,
shopping oh so cautiously,
holding my dollars,
as I walked the aisles,
until they were damp
from the latest cold sweat;

then I went to the Salvation Army thrift store:
since I must be thrifty,
it's the store for me;
and the results were mixed:
I found a decent sport coat
so that I can look professional
for the interviews that I won't get,
but not without a lot of searching;

it seems that only the real skinny guys
are dying, and leaving their widows
with closets full of sport coats
to get rid of; the bulky guys, like me,
we are apparently outlasting our women,
since the women's section was
five times the size of the men's,
and every size you can imagine
was represented;

I may be the last rat left on board,
but I've damned well got a sport coat.

May 22, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


this moment

I've given up on making
long-range plans,
although it's a pretty
radical step,
and so I don't recommend it
to most folk;

I used to plan everything,
my meticulosity rising, at times,
to obsessive heights
(which I am afraid of),
and I suppose that generally
it served me well
over the years;

but now, it just seems like
too much work
to trim a candle
that could self-extinguish
at any moment;

ten centuries from now,
ten decades from now,
ten years from now,
ten months from now,
ten weeks from now,
ten days from now,
ten hours from now,
ten minutes from now,
ten seconds from now,

all that will have really mattered
will be the moment that just passed
while you were reading the line above;

of course, I worry that planning
on not planning anymore will,
just like expecting the unexpected,
put me right back where I was:

at least, as of this moment,
that's the plan.

May 17, 2010. (Yeah, I know, "meticulosity" is not a word. Sue me.)

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

Good Morning!

I came over around dusk last night
and pissed all over your
perfectly manicured shrubs,
just to signal my displeasure
at you starting your lawnmower
at 7 a.m. the other day

I managed to hit
your Shasta daisies too
since I had drunk so much beer

I was going to fuck your wife too,
but decided that I couldn't decide
whether that would be
showing pity for her
or pity for you,
so I went back inside;

this morning
I watched the birds
avoid your shrubs
and the bees steer clear
of your flowers,
while your wife emerged,
looking needy.

May 16, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

that's really why they call it the blues

Buk said that enduring
is only meaningful
if you come out with
at the other end,
and that enduring
simply to endure
is the unfortunate plight
of millions;

and now we stand at that
sober grey gate,
and stare at lives
empty --
of no consequence at all:

we cast no shadows,
with our pale hearts
trickling sickened blood,
pushing us out the door,
down the street,
for one last lunge
at meaning.

May 16, 2010. (Bukowski reference: "her only son" from The Night Torn Mad With Footsteps, 2001.)

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.



Rudy's wife was from
and spoke only Portuguese,
of which Rudy
knew not one word;
they were married
for 20 years
when I knew them,
and though the word
never passed between them,
they made it,
enjoyed it,
in the shadow of the shade
and the full sunlight of the glade;
never a moment wasted,
the future plans laid aside,
as the present they tasted:

ah, communication,
a beautiful thing.

May 16, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

purple kisses to die for

Her lips, warm and soft,
purple, from some really good
red wine, find me,
and I am dispossessed of reason,
with folly as my only craft,
floundering under Her incantation,
willing slave,
the next link
in a long concatenation;

She consumes me,
day and night,
and if I were
a stronger man,
less deprived,
less depraved,
I might well take flight;

but I stay,
one more go of it,
one more try,
one more purple kiss,
before it is goodbye.

May 16, 2010, for the Wifey, to whom I am wed for all time.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

how uppity we can be

my oh my
look at all of us
standin' by
watchin' you
plot your little tricks
and try to see
what sticks
when you throw it against the wall:

face it
you don't have
bullets enough or time

as we stand up to you,
we will show you
the mercies you have withheld

as we retake our civil rights
as we stand tall
and free --

how uppity we can be.

May 12, 2010, por la raza!

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


that's how I glide;
and on the edges
Just Right,
day after day,
and night after night:
working it,
working it,
with all my might:


May 15, 2010.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

old school, new school

when life's indictments
are handed down
(if they are)
I hope that I am included
on the docket
that charges some
with adoring You,
from near or from far,
as I have done both,
and presently do continue
to hold You
(and hold You),
most closely,
mostly mostly,
astride my chest,
though positioned
most better the best,
my chin,
to bide my way in,
to seek out,
to employ,
to enjoy,
that sweet nectar
You do sway me,
and I swoon, for You
to have Your way with me,
and then
we bounce,
and we trounce,
and we give everything
a stir,
and You move,
and I groove,
on Your little patch of fur,
and I smile,
all the while,
when You go that extra mile,
and we swing,
and we sing,
and we hold back
not one thing,
and we rock
around the clock,
and the boat never finds
the dock, and we go
and we go
and we go,
for hours,
four hours,
rainbow showers
it's all ours;

and then we subdue,
me and You,
and we take a martini
or two
or three
or whatevah lets us be
You and I,
touching the high of the sky,
passing by the good lord
of love, smiling down from above,

and we recast
and have a repast,
and consider all that we have
and bow our heads in
solemn silence,
to the memory
of all the expelled
of love, tender mercy,
and the gradients


April 26, 2010, for the Wifey.

Copyright © 2010, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.