Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Poems By Richard D. Houff

Richard D. Houff was the editor of Heeltap Magazine and Pariah Press from 1986 to 2010. He has had recent poetry in Chiron Review, Homestead Review, and Misfit. His most recent collection is Night Watch and Other Hometown Favorites, from Black Cat Moon Press.


We liked cruising Main Street.
It was a repetitive procession 
of cool cars and muscle;
we owned the streets on Friday,
and Saturday night until midnight.

The cops had a shift change at eleven
and by twelve, they were out doing
the creep. And by being relentless in their 
pursuit, they always caught a few
    curfew violators.

The sheriff’s department was in charge
of the countryside where they took
pleasure in harassing us for parking
on gravel lanes off the main roads.

If we were making out, the fucker’s 
would gawk in hopes of seeing
tits and ass. An added joy for the deputies
was to bust you for possession. In our case,
cheap beer, which they confiscated
and consumed when off the clock.

No one ever got arrested back then
unless you were belligerent
or being a pain in the ass.

Small town justice for the bad boys 
meant you had a choice between
the state reformatory or enlisting
    in the army.

Vietnam was getting serious
and from our side of the tracks;
we were ripe for the taking.

Jeff dug fast cars and was a damn
fine kid who lettered in track.
We never dreamed he would come
back with his legs blown off, but
in typical Jeff fashion; he ordered
a special Mustang that didn’t require
    the use of his legs.
I remember the day it arrived,
a beautiful looking ride on display
at the local Ford dealership.

I also remember the day Jeff took 
it for a drive to learn the controls and such.

Feeling quite comfortable,
he drove out on the highway
and put his foot to the floor
then turned into a cement girder 
beneath an overhead bridge.

Richard D. Houff

Flower Children: Summer of Love, ca. 1967

On Saturday, I met this girl that didn’t
seem right in the head, but hell, I’m nobody
special. So I kept listening to her head talk
in manic mode; I figured she had done
a bunch of white cross or something.

She was talking about some guy
who OD’d and died on the previous
Saturday at a party she attended.

I was sitting on my front stoop
trying to wake up with a pot of coffee,
and she just kept rambling.

My attention went to high alert
when she said, the party took place
right above my digs.

She also said, that a few of the guys
carried the body across the street
and stretched him out on a neighbors
lawn while the party continued
like nothing happened!

I thought the people who lived above me
were a bunch of squares, but this sudden
change seemed a little to fucked up to believe.

On the other hand, if they had smoke,
some acid and all the usual
shit; maybe they weren’t as dumb
as they appeared to be.

The girl asked me where I was last
Saturday, and I really couldn’t remember.

After she calmed down, I asked her
if she wanted to blow some weed;
maybe do some body painting prints.

She thought that would be fun,
but still couldn’t help wondering
whatever became of the stiff.

I told her he was in Nirvana
playing with unicorns, and she
actually believed me.

Richard D. Houff 

Scene One

While standing in line
at the post office, I couldn’t
help noticing the poster

     By Purchasing These Stamps  
You Will Help Provide Shelter Pets
         With A First-Class Meal.

A black lady in front of me said,
“shit, they can buy me a meal.”

I suggested, Mancini’s, a high end char house
    on West 7th St.

And since we both coexist 
in the same ‘hood, we laughed
and agreed to settle
for the always attainable
crave box from White Castle.

Richard D. Houff

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