stared at me
with razorblade eyes,
my torment;
drilled right through me
pinning me
to her wall
with her lips pursed
and jaw set,
ready to deliver
the worst yet;
I smiled my best
vacant grin,
sure that she knew
nothing of what lay
within, nothing of
my shameful sins;
as she drew me close,
and I felt her blade,
I encircled her waist,
and completed
that trade, sinking
mine in to the hilt,
without blinking,
without blinking.

February 28, 2010. From the forthcoming collection, Spoken Rage.

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

still in love with you

Al Green wails in the background,
as I consider things:
You and I,
and the color
of your mood ring,
tinker, tailor,
lover, sailor,
holding hands
and seeker,
and meeker,
both with
to keep;
Al Green wails in the background.

February 28, 2010, for the Wifey.

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


true love

thought I might be gettin'
a little too
too much like
too much time
spent in the embrace
of the tropical
so I took a cruise
down all memory's rivers,
looking for all of what
I have had to lose,
extra baggage,
love's lamentations,
and the 1980s baby carriage,
all the stuff,
that I had accumulated
that vanished,
as I sat emaciated
in the Massacre of '08,
too late:
surveying the damage
just makes me quake;
and I am left at the feet
of the startling realization,
that I have given up
more than I have ever had:
I am in the red now,
except for the fact
that my soul can still sing,
it can damned well carry
a tune, and it can scamper,
and scurry, and make a big
flurry, and no one will notice
anytime soon;
turns out, that what I've
managed to amass,
is more about makin' love
than gettin' a piece of ass,
and to be real honest with you,
that pleases me a lot,
and it puts me with the few
who are less concerned
with the number of passes
they've made,
than the number of hearts
that they have laid
in the shade, and given comfort
and solace, and all that is good,
every one of them, perched
in soul trees throughout
the neighborhood;
and I whistle,
and you worry,
and my heart is as red
as a giant Bing cherry,
and the crowd watches,
with anticipation,
and the whole thing gives way
under the weight of an elation,
that though I may leave
without much of a prize,
I leave with the gleam
of true love in my eyes.

February 27, 2010, for the Wifey. ♥

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


no goodbye

left arm aches
as I set down these lines,
but I am not here
to speak of pain, refined;
I am here only to say again,
to remind, that all of us
are here
for a finite time;
live well, then,
and love those around you,
one never knows when
one will need love to
surround you;
keep in place
all the joy that you trace
one way or the other;
sometime it may serve
to show your soul to another;
be gentle, in all that you offer,
one day, it may be what
you must proffer;
and always,
be a kind person:
that way all you learn
will be lessons known,
a lifetime grown,
not time alone,
but time with your fellows;
cast dark and dreary,
or cast in fury and loud hellos,
whether slipt by in courses,
or snuck by on stilettos
as a friend said once,
"snick, snick";
grab this life, dammit,
with two hands,
and have at it:
I will never say goodbye,
at which I am worthless,
but only "see you later,"
of which, for sure, I can profess:
later, much later,
I can confess, I will see you,
much more than less.

February 26, 2010.

Copyright © Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


thanks Part One

thanks to all those drivers
from 1954 to 1968
who didn't crash into either
my daddy's or my mother's
seatbeltless cars;
thanks to all those deadly
childhood illnesses
that stayed away from my door;
thanks to all the girls
who flat turned me down
in junior high and
in high school,
you taught me humility;
thanks to all the catholic priests
that I knew as a boy
who didn't make me stroke them;
thanks to Len Roberts
and Bob Gilkey
and Bob Johnson,
who all nurtured a young writer
and believed in me;
thanks to all the slimy, smarmy
characters that I have slipped past,
for not knifing me in some alley;
thanks to the Jamaican police
for taking all the money
out of my wallet, and then
letting us board our flight home;
thanks to David Halperin,
whose dive off the top of his
19-story dormitory in 1972
taught the 18-year-old me that
I was not, in fact,
immortal or unbreakable;
thanks to so many drinking
and drugging buddies
over the years, for not leaving
me for dead;
thanks to Karen Harvey Crook
for showing me my first naked
female breasts;
thanks to Howard Stern
for sticking with me when we
tried our first mushrooms
on Halloween in 1974,
stumbling all over the Back Bay;
thanks to Tammy Fukushima's husband,
for not finding out that I was banging
his hooker wife and killing me
in the alley behind our
apartment building on Westmoreland
in 1977;
thanks to Manuel Garcia,
for letting me hold on to that
.44 magnum to ward off muggers;
thanks to all the women who dodged me,
dumped me, doubted me, damned me,
and divorced me, over the years
you put me in position to find
the love of my life in February of 2009;
thanks to Dana Pangaro,
with whom, at 17, I smoked my first joint --
dude, neither one of us made it
to the staff of the New York Times
in ten years, but hey, whatafuckingride
thanks to Buk,
for showing me how to make a poem seem,
and to Billy,
for showing me how to make a poem gleam;
thanks to the Boston Red Sox
of 1974, 1975 and 1976,
who helped me understand
the concept of hope;
thanks to Jacques Futrelle,
whose work helped me learn
how to solve mysteries;
thanks to Grampa and Daddy,
for teaching me carpentry
and a zillion other things;
thanks to Nancy Lou Jackson,
for fucking me so silently
and yet so perfectly on the floor
of her parents guest room in 1977,
and then for cheating on me in 1979,
but still taking me to see Bill Cosby
at the Filene Center for my birthday;
thanks to Robin Lee Stinnett Williams Smith Lomax
for sharing a house with me for almost a year
before she lured me into a shower with her;
thanks to whatshername,
who bought my first house from me,
enabling me to buy my second house,
and to the Unnikrishnans (who could forget
that one?) for buying my second house
from me, and to the Thomases for buying
my fourth house from me (the third one
went in divorce #1), enabling me
to be homeless;
thanks to my first wife,
who swallowed,
and my second wife,
who would not --
you both taught me
important lessons about love,
trust, and fidelity;
thanks to John Fitzgerald Kennedy,
who first inspired me to
political activism, and
public service,
and to his kid brother, Bobby,
who helped me refine
my sense of obligation
to my fellows, and his
kid brother, Teddy,
who helped me to understand
how helping those less fortunate
made me more fortunate;
thanks to William Shakespeare,
for showing me how words
can be strung together in infinite
ways, evoking every emotion
that the human being knows;
thanks to John Updike,
for showing me how succinct prose
can paint a picture,
and to Philip Roth,
for showing me how elaborate
description can paint one as well;

I have run out of energy tonight,
and you, dear reader, have run out
of attention, so
we will continue this,
another day;
there is much more to be
thankful for, as you will see.

February 23, 2010.

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

let it play

you imagine that you are alive,
and then you show it,
you believe that you exist,
and then you know it;
you turn sharply on your heel,
to those who play to feel,
and your countenance
shows your zeal for being alive,
and you linger not for long,
as your trail betrays your song,
but yet every bump belies,
every sunset that has
filled your skies,
and you thank whomever it is
that you thank for such,
and you go on thankful
for so much, and you just
let it play,
you just let it play,
you just let it play.

February 23, 2010.

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


A Few Minutes with Betty, Chapter 17: "I Love Me Some Hot Boy" (or, "If You Eat Glass, Use Hot Sauce")

"I have returned."

"Hiya, Betty. What are you wearing?"


"Good choice; ha ha ha ha. Boy, did I walk into that one."

"Of course you did. Okay, I have a crush on a young movie star. I feel like I'm 12."

"Oh my; who is it?"

"Nope, not sharing. He's about 28 and very, very attractive. I feel like I'm trying to rob the cradle."

"So he's like four or five years younger than you, and that's robbing the cradle? That makes me a pedophile then; Jody was 19 years younger than me."

"He is like six years younger than me. And no, that one made you a pervert. But you already knew that."

"Well I have a membership card and all."

"I like hot boys with boy eyes."

"So what's with not sharing? We share everything except undies and toothbrushes."

"Good thing. I don't wear undies."

"It certainly is."

"Sorry, my phone is ringing off the hook. When you stop paying bills they really pester you."

"It's all them 28 year old movie stars who just read on the internet that you are a 'constant commando'."

"I wish. Especially if it's my hot boy."

"If it is, I want v-i-d-e-o."

"If I got a chunk of hot boy, I would certainly have that on video."
"Although I suppose you could just smile the whole way through."

"Oh, I have to go see if he is tall. George will be SOL if he is."

"Ha ha! I'm tall."

"Come on, six feet? But are you 28?"

"Yeah; and I'm almost twice 28."

"Oh, he's six foot one!"

"He's two, two, two men in one!"

"I would snap this kid in half were I to get my hands on him."

"Boy your engines are revved this afternoon; something in the oatmeal this morning?"

"George had to 'work' this morning. So I'm in a mood."

"Why the quotes?"

"I think he was afraid I would hurt him."

"Wow; if you could somehow bottle that, what a market!"

"I would be RICH."


"I would be good at being rich."

"Wow, when the kids go to bed tonight, he's in for it."

"He totally is. And he made a big sale last night. That also turns me on. Plus I found hot boy on SNL and am watching it on YouTube. HOT!"

"I can tell; steam is rising from my monitor every time you type."

"It doesn't help that my Aunt Flo just left from her monthly visit."

"And I hear your little pheromone chorus in the background singing 'take us, take us, take us'."


"Oh good ol' Aunt Florence. I know her well. I used to buy pads and cigars by the case."

"It's really bad when I try to negotiate with him: give me just 15 minutes? Ten? How about five, and you can keep working?"

"That is so sad."

"I know. Sigh."

"But see, he is driven to return you all to financial security."

"I know."

"He has committed himself completely to that goal."

"I KNOW. AHHHH! This is why I NEED hot boy."

"Damn woman, you almost came through the freakin screen with that one. Is there a big red X painted on your roof too?"

"If I could leave the kids here and go to the movies alone, I could at least look at him. Of course there is."

"Well I sure wish there was something I could do to, er, help you, Betty."

"That's okay. I'll have it taken care of."

"You are hilarious."

"You have no idea, Shakespeare. I cannot stop moving around. I have all this built up energy."

"Of course; idle hands and all that."

"I ran 5 miles this morning; 100 sit ups, and jumping rope. It didn't help."

"Good lord, you may just burn a hole right through George tonight. Have you tried chewing through the dining room table yet?"

"It's glass; three inches thick. That would hurt."

"Use mustard."

"Hot sauce."

"There you go; plus, I am betting that it would melt as you approached anyway."

"I am hot. HOT! I need hot boy."

"I can see that."

"My short, brown-eyed hot boy left early for work today."

"At this rate, you might need two; you should see if he has a brother."

"Good idea, Shakespeare."

"That's me, the good idea man. And I don't mean George, I mean the movie star. We know that George has a brother."

"George has five brothers. And all five are ICK."

"That's actually a relief; although a video with six brothers . . . ."

"Let me look up hot boy. He has a sister. At this point, I'd do her."


"I saw that coming, you perv."

"Well I don't usually have that problem; sorry."


"Oh shut up."

"You shut up, old man."

"I knew it was only a matter of time before you threw that one at me. As I have told you before, I prefer 18 with 37 years of experience."

"Meh, being 18 sucks. Better is 28 and hot. That's the place to be."

"Well that reads even better, 28 with 27 years of experience. That may need to go on the business card."

"Just make sure it's tasteful."

"Of course, I am all about my target demo."


"Why are you growling?"


"Frustrated about what? No nasty?"

"Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes."

"It's just a few more hours."

"He could be out until midnight."


"He came home last night at 11:30."

"Oh you will not make it until midnight."

"I watched a movie with hot boy to get in the mood. And he didn't feel well since he didn't have a chance to eat, so I let him go. I didn't want to break him."

"Of course not; milk the cow, don't shoot it."

"At this point, dead cow sounds good."

"This is a crisis. We have to think. Don't you have a bunny? Maybe time with a bunny would tide you over."

"I could skin it and make it a purse."

"Not that kind of bunny. The kind of bunny that you hide on the top shelf of the closet."

"I would were my children not here. And sorry, but eventually, Betty needs the real deal."

"Well there's the bathroom, and I know its a poor substitute, but we are trying to avoid a meltdown here."

"Keep thinking until you come up with a useful idea, Shakespeare. I am going to go watch the hot boy movie again."

"Okay, good luck, Betty."

February 21, 2010.

no words

no known metaphor
or expression
seems to capture
the depth of depression
as my eyes fill up
with the sight
of your departure:
split in two,
cut off at my knees,
none of these will do,
they cannot
how much I moan
deep inside
and find no comfort
as I watch the harbor empty
will the rolling out of the tide;
this sadness I hope
will be the last of my life
with which I must abide.

February 21, 2010, one last time for the Wifey.

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


I love you,
while you slay me,
while your battery
is charging;
I feel the blade
slip in, and
I watch the blood
fall to the floor,
being careful
for it not to
stain your feet;

turns out, I am
good enough
to share
what's left of this life,
one love's fealty,
put ahead of strife;

no matter,
I will intersect
with your orbit
in the next life,
faraway, not today,
and there again
to make you
my wife;

no adios,
of which I am
see you later,
of which I am
barely able;

only know
that you are the love
of my life,
and that our future
is inescapable;

and that,
though eons pass,
while I traverse
seas of broken glass
on my lips,
my love for you
does enable
a history yet to be,
me for you,
and you for me.

February 20, 2010, for the Wifey.

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



the wind
through me
as I sit in the snow,
just a scrap
of the man you
used to know,
who could swing you
up in the air
without a care;
please know
that inside
that fire rages,
just like before.

February 19, 2010.

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


last battle

the shape of the sun,
and the color of fun,
all give way
to the face of a gun;
the visage of so much
left to be done,
the last stretch of a mile
left to run;
yet I sit here and
about what I realize,
and I realize that I have
not yet come to the
reality that is really me,
I have so much more
to be won;
and the rusty razorblade wishes
of those who would damn me,
fall away like some
oceanfront shanty;
living today like there is no
and pasting my wishes
on top of my sorrow,
I will not grieve
in a futile attempt to relieve
what always winds up
as a mere attempt to deceive;
I will stand up, and grab with
both hands,
every scrap of every bit of everything
that lands on the table, the chair,
and yes, even the floor,
and I will yell at the top of my lungs
for some more;
and though I know too well
that folk like me are destined for Hell,
I will whirl like a dervish,
through each little skirmish,
and I will come out on the other side,
master of nothing, except
for my pride;
and the chorus of angels,
and devils divine,
will all scurry and stagger
in the face of my time,
and I will ride through
steadfast, to the other side,
and legion will not soon
turn the tide;
and if it is true,
that spirits rule,
then it will turn out
that I was no fool.

February 17, 2010.

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


hip hip hooray

the sips come easier,
one by one,
as the whole of the whole
becomes undone;
and the smiles spread
all around the table,
covering the grimaces
as best they are able;
and the song goes 'round
and 'round,
and the muffin man
is running the town;
the conductor stops
and consults his watch,
but his watch is not able
to capture the smiles,
disappearing now,
all around the table;
and the pretty little girl,
with the curly brown hair,
smiles through her tears
until she is almost not there;
and the morning begins,
as the mourning begins,
and all the beginnings
reconnect with their ends;
and we all stand and sing,
and our voices do ring,
they ring and they ring
as the muffin man sings:
"aces and eights,
aces and eights,
happy the man, whose
woman awaits"
and a cry goes up from
the hardy band,
and it rises and floats
all across the land;
and the poets do dream,
and the ramparts do gleam,
as all 'round, nothing
is quite what it seems.

February 16, 2010.

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


this disease deserves no capital letters,
it seeks to steal my life,
even as I live it,
take my voice,
and make it silent,
steal my fingers,
and make them invisible,
it challenges me
to a fight to the death,
fists clenched in mortal rage,
eyes searching for one more page,
heart breaking,
as I have so much more to say;
but the left arm,
which used to carry
a hundred pounds without strain,
is barely able to lift
a coffee cup without pain;
and often, while typing
I grimace,
and again stop and fight through,
because I have words
filling me up that I must
put down,
so that in a hundred years,
maybe someone will give me
a crown:
"what a master, was he,
in soliloquy,
that he took his last breaths,
just to educate me?";
the advent
of the torment
has rather surprised me,
as I always figured that my demise
would be violently:
I have been a rogue,
a most unspeakable devil,
and there are many men
who would like to send me to Hell;
but this discourse arrives
at an opportune time,
as I take this disease
and render it sublime:
I am guilty of what I have done,
but I humbly request more time.

February 15, 2010.

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


a candle

it's a candle, dammit,
and it has a wick,
surrounded by wax,
and if you are rich,
maybe a color is not
what it lacks,
but it is still just
a candle:
and it does not fucking matter
what you think of it:
from the moment that you pop out,
wet, weary, squeezed, teary,
gasping for air,
that fucking wick is lit,
and your life is your life
whatever you and the world
make of it;
whatever you break of it,
whatever the world freaks of it,
whatfuckingever either you or
the world fucking makes of it,
or takes away from it,
simple addition and subtraction,
simple addiction and detraction,
simple stimulus and reaction,
and you struggle and you sneeze
and you spend a lot of time
skinning your knees,
and then all of a sudden,
years pass, and tears gas
up your eyes, and you realize
that you have been fed
a shitload ration of complete
lies, and now
you are grown up
(whatever the hell that means),
and you finally discover that
the way you walk depends
on how much the winds of life
make you lean, and which way,
left or right,
north or south,
east or west,
and with all the rest of the poor,
sorry, misguided masses,
you try your best to make
educated guesses
as to where to go,
what to do,
as you desperately try to find out
who the hell are you;
and boy oh boy,
if you had realized,
years ago, how much of this shit
was bullshit,
how much better you could do
now, with eyes wide open,
with the code broken;
and you struggle, and you wheeze,
and spend most of your time on your knees,
not praying to some concept,
but praying for release,
and you find none,
and the story is nearly done,
and you realize that no one
has won, no one is redone:
more terror in the mirror,
and the total absence of sun,
it strikes so hollow, even as
you run, you shake and you
quake, looking at the barrel
of a gun, and then you know,
you know for sure, that there
is no cure for the human condition,
it was always a mission
from which no one returns;
so don't just sit there in a corner,
and growl,
stand up on your hind legs, and

February 14, 2010, in memory of Allen Ginsberg, one of the first to help me see. I love you, man. From the forthcoming collection, Spoken Rage.

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


my valentine

one day for love?
not enough little boxes
on Your Hello Kitty calendar
to give space
for this endless race
from the middle of me
to the center of You;
down the hallways
and back alleys of time,
not time enough
for all that flows,
Yours and mine;
echoes old,
and songs new,
striped mornings
covered with
passion's dew,
I strike eternal chords,
for a billion days
with You.

February 14, 2010, for the Wifey.

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



snow swirls,
clouds my view;
all the ways that I ever knew;
lets me escape,
for a brief review:
how did I get here,
surrounded by You?

turns out, it's
no matter,
a discussion for
another day,
as I lay enthralled
with all that
gets in the way.

February 10, 2010, for the Wifey.

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

happy first anniversary

You are the One
making the rough, smooth
and the bitter, sweet:
my dreams,
given wings,
and my desire,
at Your feet.

have sex,
wake up


February 13, 2010, for the Wifey, who is "da best."

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



scanning the familiar horizon
as I enter the park this morning,
sun filling the top of the sky,
I see the massive ship
moored off the coast of Nashawena
and I wonder what it is there for;
then, I see the first
of the rockets
explode off the bow,
heading quickly
for the center of the village,
and I realize
that they are finally here.

February 7, 2010.

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


old enough now
to understand
that the comfort of ritual
saves nothing,
no one:
it merely offers
of certain doom;
a candle
burning in a window
of a locked room.

February 7, 2010.

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



looking at me,
with eyes dreamy,
yet steady
and focused:
am I the locus,
as you perch
is it me that before all else
you would rather have
even in need,
I cannot steal
what he threw away:
I am thoughtless
and empty,
as white gives way to

February 1, 2010, for the Wifey.

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


memories resound
and steam escapes
all around:
visions of You
centuries have come
and gone,
and still,
this bond
is so strong:
I love you, siempre,
mi amor.

January 30, 2010, for the Wifey.

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

you can count on me

in nearly a year now
that we have been in love, and
when all the chips were
really down,
I have never failed you,
and I don't intend to start now;
not braggadocio,
just fact;
and a reminder
that our love drives me,
and keeps my strength intact:
I will be with you
on every step of this
most painful journey,
and with every step
on the way back;
and together, this will be
and also our future
in this life,

January 31, 2010, for the Wifey.

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

one more question

old aphorism
said that there was
a fine line
genius and madness;

okay, but what if
there is also a fine line
between reality
and unreality?

what if your wildest dreams
are not really dreams
at all, but merely

what if, all those dreams
were to come true,
in a minute or two?

what would you do?

and how would you know,
that the one doing
the doing
was you?

January 19, 2010.

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


tried to catch you

tried to catch you,
wanted to latch onto
all that we have seen flow,
sight unseen;
wanted to hold you,
still do,
but I was unsure
of where you have been;
and so I have consigned,
to the sometimes
merry measure
to which I am assigned:
if it be your pleasure,
that I may be forever
bound with you:
it is that future
that I hope to be true.

January 25, 2010, for the Wifey.

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