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.
“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.
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.
On the passing of Lucille Clifton, 1936 – 2010
I would like to think
that B.B. King named his guitar for you.
I know he didn’t. We in the know
know the myth
the real story –
we know that it is not you
whom he played to make music so sweet
that I, a grown man, cry when I hear it –
but I am comforted thinking it is so
even though you did not need a man
for making music, your wide hips
spinning men like tops
(we never doubted it for a second!)
and your words spinning out
to the sky because the pages could not
hold them for long, Lucille,
could not keep them silent all black and white
your words like you bigger than what they laid upon
and they echo like you now that you’re gone
so that sadness cannot take
hold for long, Lucille.
© 2010, Shawn Pavey. All rights reserved.
Little Big Star: for Alex Chilton (1950 – 2010)
“I never travel far without a little Big Star”
— Paul Westerberg of The Replacements in the song “Alex Chilton” on Pleased to Meet Me
All that mattered was the song, Alex,
the letters and the words
and those succulent poppy hooks.
We danced for you, Alex,
we learned diminished chords for you, Alex.
We bought your records.
We played them on our turntables
until the vinyl wore so thin
that light passed through the grooves
and it is that light that we miss, Alex,
but it shines on wax and gleams in bright
binary code like the light we drank from you –
our “Blue Moon” in darkness.
It will sustain us for now, Alex
until that next misfit unearths
a copy of “In the Street”
without a thing to do
except talk to you.
Previously published by PresentMagazine.com.
© 2010, Shawn Pavey. All rights reserved.
In winter, the body knows
it is born to vanish.
Flesh turns to dirt, bones
wash white in March rains.
Life churns, returning
to wet layers of earth.
We – dead and dying, rotten and rotting –
look up to a sun far away and wait,
wait for the body and the solar body
to pull each other closer,
moisten skin with sweat,
green the dead husk of the world.
In spring, the body knows
it is born to sing.
Previously published in the Winter 2011 issue of The Main Street Rag Literary Journal.
© 2011 by Shawn Pavey. All rights reserved.
Damiel’s Lament: A Prologue
after Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire
I know no thing –
if I lift a stone, the stone remains in place.
What I hold is an idea of stone,
an abstract of stone.
Through all of my time,
I carried this weight of not weighing,
watched every thing,
from before the arrival
of humans, rising from the valley on their two legs,
shouting to no one and every thing at once
to now, this city and this dust
and this dirty air, this Berlin.
There he is.
The old man who walks with such strain,
such purpose, there by the wall,
the multi colored painted wall
stretching for miles through the heart
of this city, creating two countries
out of one place.
There he is.
The old man from before the old war.
Stories – he thinks these thoughts
and I, listening, hear them —
stories spill from his old pen to his white page.
He thinks and he writes
and the thinking and writing become the same
and I, listening, always listening, hear
Why am I here and not there?
How can it be that I, who am I
wasn’t before I was
and that sometime I, the one I am
no longer will be the one I am?
I hear these thoughts, all thoughts –
his, hers, all –
every one and they are not mine.
I am no thing in this body.
This body is nothing.
© Shawn Pavey. All rights reserved.