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.