The Poet Spiel

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a Piaf tragic love hymn kind of grey

no not the kind of grey
when Piaf’s lusty laments
embrace you grey
a wrap-its-arms-around-you kind of grey
a dusky fatalistic tragic love hymn
sing-it-one-more-time sort of grey
no     not that kind of grey

no     nor like when the clouds hung low 
and wrapped you like a comforter grey 
on your days off in your grey plaid flannel shirt
when you used to pry up cattle pads
on the Hanson ranch

and for every pad you came upon
a lush mushroom     that certain grey 
that kind of soft tranquil grey
you could take back to the cabin 
to pleasure in

no     this is the grey
like she abruptly disengaged you mean 
outright robbed you mean     you don’t know the why 
but she got ahold of a certain piece
of you     your fond memory grey     her laugh
your grey matter     that lump you keep dear     your birthright

took it hostage
buggered it
made it what it was not meant to be kind of grey

so what you thought you recalled
of her warmth     her fond greetings 
barely hung by a thread
and you know the thread was sustained by you  

that piece of your memory now hers for the tromping
so you’re forced to divorce yourself
from the agony she’s driven

though it’s your brain she’s fucked with
your head you live in
as hers is a loathsome grey     a razor wire grey
she’s twisted round your neck
without the benefit of rhyme

so you labor to disown her
and still that thin wretched thread re-ignites
some trickle of fire     some vague connection
and you beg the grey of her 
the her you’ve lost     that thread

connect up to her head not yours
to spark whatever robbed the life of
what you wish     you think     you still hope   
the two of you once shared                         

Previously published by Puddinghouse Publications

in this part of town 

as this hombre roasts on the hiway
you could poke him with the heavy fork he’s meant to use 
for spreading broiling black rock 
and he would use bare hands to shove the rock 
before he would poke you back

you could watch a crow snatch his slice of bread 
and he would shove his fist beneath his ribs
then swallow the gruesome stabbing at his gut
just like the rest of these laborers as they sun-scorch
the egg and re-fried beans they salt from their brows  

but this hombre dare not think not yet of one home beer
no doubt pisswarm as the only medicine he will get if
the battery cranks on frank’s or pedro’s chevy truck
to haul him back to his old lady always napping
where he does not know the names of all his kids

who will jump him to beg bucks he’s sweated but may never see
as he stumbles toward his lone dead olive tree for scant shade  
aside his mudbrick walls which bear ancient bloodstains 
spilt from his splintered jesus who does not poke back
so long hung from a rope in this stilled life without soap

as in this part of town— 
      —not even a rabbit screams
when you slash its throat
A lifetime of mental illness and decades of psychotherapy provide rich material for Spiel to work with. At age 76, queer and confounded by loss associated with vascular dementia, he struggles to keep his lips above desolation. Internationally published as The Poet Spiel, Spiel’s most recent book is: “Dirty Sheets: 28 stories of passion, pathos and payback” published by Rain Mountain Press. He has published more than a dozen books. Learn more about his body of short stories, poetry, spoken word and his lifelong career as a visual artist at