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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Featuring Wayne F. Burke


my Uncle tells me to go
bring back his bowling shirt,
white with gold letters
yes master
right away
but I hesitate a second too long
and feel the pinch of his fingers
like pliers
on my earlobe
and am led around the
a kind of dance
not a waltz
a tango
of pain
that does not end
when he lets go
I carry it with me
up the stairs
and back down
through the years
the gold of the shirt
staining my hands
and nothing I could or
can do
to get the stain off.


I was back in my hometown
and met a guy
I knew
in a bar
I had not seen him in years
he asked me how
I got the scars
on my face
I did not know they were that
I could have told him
it was because I had lived a little
but did not
he would not have understood
he had never left town,
his face was as unmarked
and smooth
as it had been in High School
where we had been children


two brick chimney stacks
as high as the misty mountain top
of snowy Greylock
which an eagle perches over
grey & white
wings outspread
on the street of a sidewalk 
outside a funeral parlor,
my cousin
the solitary hiker
tells me stories of his exploits,
as my sister
in a box
leaves to hover
for a moment
with the eagle
before both
fly off.

Henry Charles

Bukowski sits on a stool
at the supermarket cash register
fat-rolls around his belly and straggly hair
he wears a fire engine red supermarket shirt
and is bullshitting with a woman customer
instead of ringing me up
and I get upset
grab the glass jar of oil, or honey, or
and stalk off without paying
and go to the back of the store
(I work there too; wear the same red shirt)
and meet Jigs, a childhood pal
and say "fucking Bukowski is on the register"
and he says "Chinaski?"
We get onto an elevator.
The oil, or honey, or whatever
is all over my fingers
because the jar leaks.


I worked as gas station attendant
for Harold's Gulf
the blue and orange sign
and Harold
in his office 
smoking a cigar
"goddammit!" he'd bark
"don't squeal the tires!"
I went to work hungover
and sweated through
my blue Gulf Station shirt
Harold called me into his office
told me that I had B.O. and
I should do something about it
I said "thanks Harold, I will,"
and went back into the garage
where it was shady and the sun
could not hurt my eyes
and where the car noises hurt my ears
I watched for beavers whenever I washed the
windshields of cars:
beavers were the best part of the job
besides the pay check

Wayne F. Burke's poetry has been published in a variety of publications. His three published poetry collections--all from Bareback Press--are WORDS THAT BURN, DICKHEAD, and KNUCKLE SANDWICHES. His chapbook PADDY WAGON is published by Epic Rites Press. He lives in the central Vermont area.

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