Three Poems by Paul Hellweg

Reading Bukowski Backwards

It’s been said we read to know
we’re not alone. Hungover,
breakfast at Mike’s Diner,
chipped-cup coffee, black, strong,
bring it on, bring it on.
Tried reading my favorite poet backwards,
caffeinated fields of asphodel,
my beloved skid row elocutionist
read like a Jedi Master, green,
wisdom for now, truth for the ages.
From the poem, the last winter:
“Now long too
waited have I,
on it bring, on it bring,
agree can we now ...”
Up, down, backwards, forwards,
direction matters little,
poetry inspires, words resonate.
Seeking affinity anywhere, I’m desperate
for the one and only message
every spirit craves, every soul needs, and
until I find it, I’d like another cup of coffee
and one more good poem, black, strong.

Breakfast at the Local Diner

Attractive young women peddling death,
cholesterol, bane of arteries young and old,
refined carbs, ticket to front-row seat
at the next diabetes fund-raiser.
Bacon, eggs, pancakes,
ample butter, extra syrup,
delectable as the servers,
sweet, friendly, earnest,
low-cut uniforms,
Wonder Bread breasts and
leave-me-a-big-tip eyes.
I only go there hungover,
these days all too frequent,
the artery-clogging fare and
a twenty-something’s smile
antidote to life’s pain.
This morning, that is enough.

God Is On Our Side, but Where’s Buddha?

June 1968, year of the Monkey,
mud-brick hooch thatched with rice straw,
dirt floor, dirt yard,
yellow-skinned babe toddling bottomless,
defecating anywhere, anytime the urge arises,
mama-san rushing over,
dangling babe by arms,
no Pampers, just mongrel mutt
delighted to eat the mess and lick clean
blissful baby butt.

Seeing that, on routine patrol,
armed with M-16s and
all the best firepower technology had yet
been able to muster,
we gagged and berated and condemned,
but mostly gagged.
They’re the Other, we thought, not one of us.
We’re civilized,
we have disposable diapers choking our landfills
and a proper sense of shame
when it comes to bodily functions,
not to mention B-52s capable of bombing
this shithole country back into the Stone Age.

June 2011, year of the Hare
three boilermakers thus far tonight,
desire strong to write a poem based on
the theme of forgiveness, but
whom do I forgive?
Them, for shooting me, or
myself, for allowing all that horror
into my life?
What I really needed was sufficient courage
to just say “No thank you, Sir”
when my dear uncle Samuel
requested my attendance
at his then current tea party,
the one in Southeast Asia,
3.5 million human beings destined to die
for the sake of our myopic national interests.
Old, young, male, female, babes without diapers,
they were the Other, them, not us, but
most of “them” didn’t have
the option to say no,
not when we brought the war
to their doorsteps and
didn’t even knock before entering.


Anonymous said...

Not trusting something from a magazine called "Black-Listed", I had to read "Backwards", backwards. It worked! And I'm not even enhanced by distilled spirits, "tip me big eyes", or the feeling of being civilized in an uncivilized world. So, there might be something to this poetry stuff, and entering before knocking..


Leeroy Berlin said...

Especially loved the last one.


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