poetry

oh tannenbaum or a christmas tale (updated)

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 i want to thank all of you who read this poem.  the poem isn’t about my christmas this year.  it concerns my christmas in vietnam during the war and the cutting down of a small pine tree at the beach.   i also wrote about it a few years ago using prose.  it’s back there in the vault somewhere.  i wanted to present the scenario in a different way this year.

at any rate,  this minor adventure is never far from my thoughts at this time.   it’s just one of those life things.  i hope you all take the time to remember those in the military and those of us who are less fortunate this christmas. 

i wish you all a wonderful and peaceful christmas and a very happy new year. thanks, again, to all of my readers.

jmh

 

mosquito dreams
slip through
the seams
christmas time
all isn’t sublime
hopes hang
then falter
nothing can alter
the dim hopes
the sad schemes
all slip and
slide in between
reality it seems
trumps those
our dreams
with more
sad silent
screams.

visions of a tree
frightful and small
scrawny and tawdry
ready to fall
vainly to bring
hope for us all
out on a limb
a viper does crawl
slippery silver
death kneel after all
three colts bark
staccato
viper shashimi
before it falls
while the tree
grows new life
it saddens
us all.

jmh

from december 2008 all rights reserved. tipping is optional.

fly me to the moon

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we’ve landed
again
in
las vegas.

actually more
like
drove in.

sinatra
live
at the
sands.
&
some ella
soothe
&
cool
the ride.

we like the
drive.
once
past
barstow

the real
deal
desert
kicks in.

the austere
moon like
desert
filled with
dappled
colors.

crystal city
and our
favorite
hotel
the
palazzo.

visions of
foie gras
dance in
our
heads.

five chances
to play
dress-up
for
dinner.

dead
ghosts
like frank
&
the soprano
crew

walk
the
casino
floors
once again.

i suppose i’ve always liked las vegas. i think it might even be hereditary. mom and dad were married there in the spring of 42 just a couple years before he shipped out to euroland and the war. yeah, sure there was a fairly long spell when i’d hit lake tahoe, rather than vegas, either on pre or post dove hunting up in the central valley. it was nice. quiet. a good place for cards and drinks. plenty of drinks. a late breakfast around 10 or 11. steak. eggs. carbs. plenty of carbs. then campari and soda. with a twist. until i’d fall into bed whenever. even a nice elevator ride chat with patti labelle once. drink still in hand. i oozed how wonderful she and her sisters had been that night down in the showroom. i hadn’t seen them. it just seemed like the right thing to say. though i’m sure they were. or maybe getting off on the wrong floor and scaring some guy so bad he hid in the ice/coke machine room. i thought i was on the right floor. ah, no. two floors from where i was supposed to be. poor dude. i wonder who he thought i was? yeah, tahoe. nice place. maybe even in the winter. i wouldn’t know.

back when i was a kid when my folks hit vegas, tahoe, reno, carson city etc. i was dragged right along. my dad would look for a dice game and mom would find some quiet slot area and i’d watch her play. it would last for awhile but eventually some guy would show up and tell my mother i wasn’t welcome. i’d end up out in the car. napping or people watching until it was time to leave. i guess i was lucky i wasn’t kidnapped or worse. but then those were different times. stuff did happen but not nearly as often as these days.

when i got older but still not 21 i’d play the slots with mom. usually the same end however. i was told to leave. i was also lucky i never hit a jackpot. they would have kept it. no sitting in the car though. i’d just wander. looking.

one of my favorite vegas trips was right after i got back from the nam. my folks took me. the trip was on dad. i don’t remember much other than a very nice dinner at the top of the mint hotel. perfect red fatty protein. then after dinner mom and i went to a show. vic damone and jan murray. vic was great. jan was killer hilarious.

that trip was the first time i followed dad around while he looked for a dice game. he knew what he was looking for, and maybe or maybe not, he’d find it. the game. he had an instinct for it. when he did find what he was looking for and played. he won. i could never figure it out. maybe if he’d taught me craps at age 5 instead of poker i’d know. at any rate, it was always interesting to tag along on his dice game hunts.

they’re both gone now. though i’m sure when the brown eyed girl and i make one of our vegas runs they tag right along. dinner at joel robuchon’s or bouchon. happy that we’re happy. how do i know this? hmm, yeah. ok.

my dad passed away a couple of years ago. mom a few years before that. we had planned a vegas trip in june but dad got sick. or sicker. we had to cancel. he passed away not long after. we went in july. we usually make a pit stop at a mickey d’s in barstow. as we were leaving this big fly made an appearance. you know doing one of those fly dance things when it’s hot and sorta humid. buzzing you. it even made it to the inside the car.

the most persistent fly i’ve ever seen. as we got back on the 15 we played the game of cracking a window and shooing it out. somehow it always managed to get back in. this went on for a while. we eventually got it out of the car but it somehow attached itself to one of the windshield wipers. all of this at 75 miles an hour. it hung on for a time then miraculously got sucked into the cars ventilation system and ended up back inside the car. unharmed. the brown eyed girl and i looked at one another and at the same time said, it’s dad. maybe it was. maybe it wasn’t. maybe we’ll never know. but, well, you get those feelings at times. that’s all i can say.

las vegas. yeah, it’s hereditary.

jmh

the old west meets the old east

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this morning
in the
crapper
reading
one of those cooking
magazines.

some guy in
north
vietnam
driving by a
sidewalk barber
shop.

the lightning bolt
almost tossed me
off my throne.

yeah, viet
hair cut joints.
picture
the
wild west.
back in the
day.

cornered.
by the marshall
a
bird
colonel.
jesus son
get a haircut.
yes sir.

next morning
we grab a
jeep
our horse.
four guys.
fully loaded.

a cloud of
dust.
a whiff
of smoke.
a quick
ride into
what passed
for
downtown.

a sea
side fishing
ville
by day.
indian country
by night.

i am the
walrus
fades into a
smelly dead fish
rot.
not
horse shit.

ft apache.
dodge city.
tombstone.
somewhere
off in
the
distance.

park out
front.
one stays with
the horse.
M-79 &
a bag of
rounds.
grenades &
buck shot.
nasty
effective
bad juju.

inside under the
barber’s sheet.
M-16 cocked and
locked.
we take turns.
first out
spells
the horse
sitter.

deed done.
crappy hair cut.
ride back to
the old
french mission.
maybe stop for
pho.
maybe not.

at some
point.
the whole
barber in
the ville
thing
was
deemed
too
hazardous.

a deal was
cut.
he came to us
on his day
off.
sunday
afternoon.

the wild wild
east
got a little
tamer.

it was
a long time
ago.
but it
doesn’t take
much.
some days more
so
than others.

jmh

# 501 in a series of posts

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eddie otto was born on
the mean streets of your town.

back when the streets were tamer
but by no means park like.

he lived by his wits and fists
or by whatever means he could.

you have seen him off
and on your whole life.

sure sometimes he was
away and out of sight.

like the stint at the
Q for instance.

but he was always there
sitting on a curb.

or the guy at the store
in line in front of you.

or sticking that pistol
in your ribs the night
you got car jacked.

sure he is older now
maybe not as spry
or recognizable
as he once was
but still
if you looked at him
and the mind was allowed
to remember.
well shit yeah
i know this guy.
crap.

does he
remember me?
if i turn around
and try to act
like someone
just called
my name
from somewhere
behind me
i wave and go
the other way
maybe he won’t know
it’s me.
will he?
or do those kind
of people
remember or forget
their victims?

god
has it been that long?
can he be out?
wait
they never
found him.
just the wrecked
burnt out hulk
of my car
over in shiteville.
fuck me.

you are immobile.
your feet failed
you now.
it’s like you are
stammering away
at your dad
again
a 16 year old kid
trying to weasel out of
some damn
thing or another.

then there’s a flash in his eyes
and a flash in his hand
and a pain like no other
ever in your life.
on your back
you see the stars moon
then nothing.

the only thing
left is
blood pooling
on the
sidewalk
as your life
is
bleeding out.

eddie otto is
already
around the corner
into the wind
once again.
taking the streets and
alleys like only
he can.
to his place in time
and space
in your town.

jmh