Here’s a video clip from a recent reading at I did at UrbArts in St. Louis.
Here’s a quick funny one up on Rusty Truck:
I have a poem in this book published by Paladin Knight Publishing. Also, it contains poetry from many of my friends and acquaintances and gorgeous photography from Tim Wherry. John Dorsey, who has a brilliant piece in this collection, put us all in touch with the publisher. This was an exciting ekphrastic collaboration project where each of us picked a photo and used the image as a muse.
You can purchase it here: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=recession+in+neverland
Another poem up at Rusty Truck.
Just got a text from the Almighty.
He’s running a little behind.
He was on his way to your subdivision
to bless you in your five-room,
three-bath abundance because
you are so much in need of divine grace.
Anyway, the heavenly El Camino picked up
a bolt off the road in the sidewall
of the driver’s side rear Firestone
because of all that highway
construction on Interstate 35
and, wouldn’t you know it, his spare was flat, too.
He called triple A and is just waiting for the tow truck.
Oh, he said to tell you that you’ll be fine
but you should have figured that out by now
with your health insurance and 401k balance.
He also mentioned he can’t stay long. Something about Aleppo.
Scot Young over at Rusty Truck was kind enough to post a new poem of mine. Take a gander, but only if you’re not offended by salty language.
Lament in the Key of 4G
Out here in the Heartland, wind howls
hot across browning grass and concrete and cars.
We lose our voices; lose the sound of words
we use when shouting above the din of our lives.
Nothing provides comfort, so needed here –
this loud life.
So much to remember.
We carry expensive dig-
ital phones to track our appointments,
send our truncated messages in dig-
angelic text, take our calls, give us
direction so we are never lost wherever
we are and wherever we
go we never escape; noise follows footsteps and driving
and spending and
working and working and working.
© 2015. All rights reserved by author.
Rumbling Through Dreams
At midnight and two, it shook walls
with a diesel and steel roar
that could wake the deaf,
yet in a little house built next to tracks,
my brother and I,
stacked in bunk beds,
slept a practiced sleep
as the Burlington Northern rumbled West through our dreams.
Walking in measured steps
from crosstie to crosstie,
I followed that line,
eyes forever to the horizon,
never losing sight of the point
where it all comes together,
stopping only to mine the best pieces of rose quartz,
mica, and coal,
from beside the tracks.
When a train would come, off in the distance,
before moving clear,
like an Indian, I put my ear
to the rail just to hear
the music of steel rolling over steel.
And, at the end of the day,
all walked out,
I dropped my treasure in a tattered sneakers box
with collected stamps, Bicentennial quarters,
Navajo tears, and letters from grandparents
half a continent away.
In the mornings before breakfast
in arid Colorado summers,
I ran to the tracks
to the special place on the rail where I put pennies
the night before,
smoothed flat by impact and mass
of trains carrying coal from the mountains,
sugar beats from the eastern plains,
delighting in the occasional remnant of Lincoln—
a nose, an ear, an eye, a texture of beard,
an e pluribus unum,
each atom of currency destroyed each a different way.
I dream of riding trains,
of snaking serpentine through the American patchwork.
East Coast forests blending
into Great Plains wheat,
rolling Ohio hills flattening
into the Kansas horizon
slamming into the sheer granite faces
of Rocky Mountain cliffs
and then, through desert sand,
to the sea.
I dream of salt mist and factory smoke,
ponderosa pine and sequoia,
of rain pelted windows and thick valley fog.
I dream and in my dreams, I ride trains
and do not make good time
but rather ride forever on trains that never stop,
longing to reach the place just ahead,
the elusive point of perspective
where the rails merge,
where the separate become singular,
where all things bind together
to be the one thing, whole.
© 2008, all rights reserved by the author.
“The poems in Shawn Pavey’s Nobody Steals the Towels From a Motel 6 examine the seasons in the author’s life, broken down into days and then into moments, whether it’s a warm Kansas City wind, drinking on 39th Street, or a moment of quiet contemplation filled with the uncertainty that comes with just being alive in the 21st century. Pavey’s poems are straight and honest, taking the time to just live now and put it all down on paper, something that the rest of us usually put off until tomorrow. His words are as spare as bone, leaving the wind and taking nothing for granted.” John Dorsey, author of Appalachian Frankenstein
“Shawn Pavey’s poems capture the longing we feel when we lift the needle from a record album. In the turntable’s wishwiswish between Stratocaster riffs, there lies hope and resignation, Bruce Springsteen and hungry cats, maple leaves and ‘plastic blasted into space.’ Pavey’s poems give voice to our hunger for life, a medieval song heard through 21st Century earbuds.” Al Ortolani, author of Francis Shoots Pool at Chubb’s Bar and Waving Mustard in Surrender.
“In Nobody Steals the Towels From a Motel 6, I was reminded of how a gifted poet like Shawn Pavey doesn’t try to convince his readers to have things we don’t need but to slyly persuade us to open our eyes to the presence of the treasure of those things we cannot live without. In this book we have love, surprise, death, angels and more pictured for us in a flow of language both ordinary and extraordinary gracing us with a dancing vocabulary’s most lyrical and unforgettable choreography.” Chuck Sullivan, author of Zen Matchbook and Alphabet of Grace.
It is a simple act,
the brewing of coffee in the chill
of a dark March morning.
My cheap automatic drip machine
belches and spits a grotesque sound
as pleasing as any cello concerto
or crow squawk,
making music to make me wake.
The sun will rise soon.
This sky will move from black to gray
and from the window of this low-rent,
I’ll see the three-story side of Queen City
TV & Appliance,
its top to bottom cracked wall anointed
with a healing concrete salve and stitched up
by two iron bars bolted into brick.
But now it is only a black slab in invisible decay
in the shadows of new monuments
straining up from downtown Charlotte streets,
scratching at the horizon with jagged spires of steel and glass
shiny like aluminum foil crowns
littering the sky like a playground.
Cars already begin to sputter by on the streets below.
A block away to the West, an ambulance siren screams,
dopplering around a corner.
Buses will soon lumber by
with their high pitched diesel moans and sighs,
short sharp squeals of air brake expulsions.
Ceiling creakings above me signify movement,
an unknown body staggering
into the consciousness of another day.
It is business a s usual:
a toilet flush,
a cascading of pressure-fed water through
a shower nozzle
bouncing off a metal tub.
The sun has risen, silently.
I somehow always expect to hear it creak and groan
in the well-worn motions of a task
so ancient and lasting
that maybe we don’t even notice the sounds;
the universe itself being such a well-oiled,
well-maintained cog works,
its machinations leaving us in a silence
we don’t even notice our own noisy bumbling
through the days and nights of our movement.
And remarkable even yet is the singing of birds,
pigeons and robins,
dingy with the dusts of city living.
Early morning light finds them perched on power lines
through which the juice of coffee makers and electric alarm clocks
flows in turbine generated currents.
The brick wall through my window begins to glow
as only orange and red cooked clay can,
vibrant and dull.
Coffee has brewed and I sip it slowly in new light
where somewhere away from this city
dogwood trees bloom fragrant, crucifix blossoms
and finches and towhees may sing sweeter songs
than the awkward soundings
of mocking birds on telephone lines
in the center of a rumbling city
yawning and cursing itself awake.
© 2008 by Shawn Pavey. All rights reserved.
Leonid Meteor Shower with James
Our bodies clothed against air cold
enough to freeze water where it stands,
James and I stand and look skyward, to the northwest,
sipping coffee in the dark of our yard.
Crazy enough, we two,
to watch rock burn in the sky
as the matter and the atoms of the matter
component parts reassembling
into something altogether new.
This, we will not see again.
90 years will pass.
We will not see
this rain of rock
of fire of ash
mingling with the air we breathe.
We will not taste on our tongues burning
sky, crackling energy, as steam
from our breath swirls a silvered
motion away from our bundled up selves.
Big as fists, big as elephants’ heads, as small as a grain of sand,
sizzled dark sky two hours before dawn
November’s July 4th fireworks
raining bright fire
down on us,
exploding into air connecting us
to all that is in
this infinite expanse
where we spin in perfect symmetry.
90 years will pass,
politicians will die.
Captains of industry will die.
Priests will die.
Before meteors meet us again,
lighting a dark night with embers,
we will all die.
meteors will shimmer a dark sky,
they will pour upon the earth,
spread dusts from places we have not seen,
they will come again
out of darkness as before
when the world still steamed in the chill
from its new birth.
They will bring with them
fire, a breath they will breathe
into bones and dust and ash,
they will breathe into the air, stain the sea,
vapor into clouds a fresh mattering.
Who will stand in the cold dark then?
Who will smell the fire in the night?
Will they coat themselves against frost and ice,
drink the black coffee of morning before light,
will they delight in a spectacle of fiery mists,
will they fix their eyes on heaven?
© 2008, Shawn Pavey. All rights reserved.