Previous Feature: David Spicer

David Spicer has, in pursuit of the word, worked as a paper boy, dishwasher, bottle loader, record warehouser, carpet roll dragger, 11th and 12th grader babysitter, medical journal proofreader—to list just a few. He has the usual poetry wall of his own work, but tries to keep that in perspective.

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Ballad in Plain D of Orange Head, Cher, and Stackalee

Jack Frost leaned into the trashy Idiot Wind bar
after I told him I’d be there in a yellow chair,
chatting with Mona, Isis, Donnie the orange head.
Hurricane, the waiter, wrote down our drinks:
Mona a Highway Blues, Isis a Frozen Mary,
Jack and I craved a Dos Equis, Donnie a mirror.

Stackalee swaggered in with gypsy gal Lily and a meer-
cat, Baby Blue, in a Panama hat nibbling a Mounds bar.
Drinking, recounting stories about Baby Blue, merry,
the duo bought pickled eggs from bald barmaid Cher,
who joked, “What does Baby Blue wanna drink?”
Stackalee muttered, “A root beer with a lotta head.”

We snickered, except Donnie with the orange head,
loud mouth, and small hands groping for a mirror.
Jack Frost offered Donnie a kick-ass drink.
“Thanks, man! I’ll whirl over to the bar.”
Roller skating, half-lounging in his swivel chair,
he ordered Cher, “Baldy, gimme a drink I’ll marry.”

Cher didn’t like that, said, “Alrighty, Orange Mary,”
and, flames in her eyes, poured beer over his head
as the room applauded, jeered the buffoon in the chair,
who skated to the john, combed his hair in the mirror.
“I’m great,” he told himself, rolled back to the bar,
slowly asking Cher to make an ass-kicking drink.

Cher mixed Donnie a delicious bourbon drink,
warning him in a stern tone, “You can marry
this, but call me Baldy, I’ll kill ya with my crow bar.”
He smiled, “Believe me, I wanna keep my head.
I know you run this great place–and I’m a mere
mortal–so I’ll mosey to the table in my tall chair.”

Cher glared at Orange Head in the swivel chair
returning to the table with an orange face and drink.
Growling at Baby Blue, “You’re too ugly for a mirror,”
he knocked off her Panama hat: “Can I call you Mary?”
Lily screamed, “I’m gonna smack your fuckin’ head!
Hey, Cher, toss me that goddamned crow bar!”

Stackalee didn’t need a crow bar. Sitting in his chair,
he pointed a Glock at the buffoon’s head, gulping a drink,
and trumped Donnie, who loved to marry a mirror.

Poet’s Note: This poem incorporates characters from Dylan songs.

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Too Many Choices

SWAT stomped and stormed
into my basement, commanded
“On the floor, motherfucker!”
It wasn’t like I was a mercenary
or samurai. Hell, I was twelve,
though tattooed with spiderwebs
and longhorns. I slept in a hammock,
freezing and frowning, had played
hooky from my Catholic school.
That’s the crime I committed.
Soon SWAT cycloned out of the house,
but not before “Go to school or get a job!”
My dog Caesar barked, and I changed
into some rags, snorted a little
something, uncorked a bottle
of Merlot. A precocious child,
I calculated whether they found
my Smith & Wesson. Nope.
I had a ripping hangover, scrawled
a poem to Grace, my godmother,
a chiropractor on the reservation.
Caesar barked again an hour after
SWAT’s departure. “Heal me,”
I commanded and searched
the cupboard for my Bowie knife.
Confiscated. Now, I realize,
I had too many choices:
preach from a bully pulpit,
create cartoons for money,
be a windshield salesman or a poacher,
among other useless occupations.
“Who claimed life ain’t fair?” I say,
and now I’m richer than the devil.

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All Hail! Copies of David Spicer’s first book, Everybody Has a Story (St. Luke’s Press, 1987), can still be found kicking around over at Abe Books. Please, click on the cover image below to learn more . . .

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