Friday, July 6, 2018

Poetry By Richard D. Houff

Richard D. Houff was the editor of Heeltap Magazine and Pariah Press from 1986 to 2010. He has had poetry and prose published in Aldebaran, Brooklyn Review, Chiron Review, Louisiana Review, Midwest Quarterly, North American Review, Rattle, and many other fine magazines. His most recent collections are Night Watch and Other Hometown Favorites, from Black Cat Moon Press, The Wonderful Farm and Other Gone Poems, from FlutterPress, and Adventures In Space and Other Selected Casualties, from Alien Buddha Press.

Poor Richard’s Horrifying Life: Part 3

Taking a direct hit
to the head from a half-full
beer can thrown from a 47 Plymouth
pickup was my first brush with death

Stealing pop bottles from
“The Cottage Inn” a roadhouse
on the outskirts of town, resulted
in a shotgun blast to the ass—
this was my second brush with death

The hubcap business ended on a sour note
after meeting the three-legged junkyard dog,
off his leash and lightning fast—
this would be my third brush with death

By the age of ten, I had adopted the three strike
baseball philosophy to most disagreeable
situations, and after having had three close calls,
I decided to retire back into doing absolutely nothing

A seven year run without too many issues
proved to be a good batting average, but the
Mickey Mantle mentality came to an abrupt halt
when the casualty reports from Viet Nam
became more than local news

Dead Flowers

Hidden from windswept fields
and choosing to walk forest paths

he groans against
the cancerous growth of night

And there is no comfort here

Curling fetal and closing his eyes
over a blanket of wet leaves

he listens for ghosts
near a cluster of saplings

The mid-summer earth is hot
and unforgiving

He places a piece of bread
in his mouth and chews slowly

Hunger is a cruel forecast
but the big city can be a far worse
reward for runaway children

and those who would embrace
with open arms

Outside The Kennesaw Hotel
Minneapolis, Minnesota Ca. 1968 (Summer)

Everything is in hyper-mode:
heat altering heads under cruel
and tattered awnings

Concrete, asphalt and black tar mix,
create a Mississippi Delta affect
heading crazy fast toward noon

On our block, tempers flare unspeakable
and Leon carries a gun tucked under
his shirt; tails hanging easy

I’m just a punk kid walking down
West 15th St. counting window fans,
paying close attention to a new model

My room could use air flow;
maybe Leon could get me one

For now, we’ll visit the park
and find a shade tree to kill some time,
smoke a few numbers and relax

Leon is my friend,
he’s older and wiser

Leon is my friend,
and I’m scared shitless of him

Fresh Sheets

Here we have a mega-capsule
Of fossilized bureaucrats

The planners of urban renewal
Going nowhere

Humorless terrorists hard at work
Incorporating the world

With genuine manifestations
Of complete nothingness

And so we trip along
Over glass shard paths
Strewn with false securities

Poor Richard and a few followers
Smell something fishy and choose
The detour route

Past boarded-up homes and storefronts
United hand in hand
Skipping toward the madhouse

Where piped-in music beckons
As a fruitful solution to all of the above

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