Palooka v. Palooka: A poem

Ever'thing, Floetry, New

Former Cham-peen, champing at the bit to get hit, take a dive like the tomato can he’s become. Sum total of a man: One title, one belt, 67 wins, 27 losses; tosses and turns, alone, in the pre-dawn bed, ready for road work, rope work, speed bags, raw eggs, blood, vomit, piss, spit, shit, sweat, viscera, stink and cigar smoke, naked light bulb hanging on a wire, obese masseuse, Ben Gay; fire in the belly: must be the Ramen noodle/jelly donut/PBR dinner. On the corner, places a collect call to his Muse. “What do you expect? To win?” She snorts in his face, his Fate, amused at his Superflyweight state of fallen grace, the race already run, already won—others on top. None left to watch, no pay-per-view, no newspapermen, it’s a one-man bout; he goes the distance, takes two knockdowns, a standing 8-count, and a low blow, loses on a split decision, spits the mouthpiece into the bucket, and raises high his gloved hands, the once and future cham-peen, now and forever alive, forever loved.


Experiments in Murphy’s Law: The John Q. Surfer song

Ever'thing, Floetry, New

Experiments in Murphy’s Law

by Steve Peck


The name’s John Q. Surfer, he came here to surf,

The biggest wave in the history of earth.

While everybody else evacuates the city,

John Q. Surfer will be sitting pretty.

The said, Johnny, don’t do it, it’s dangerous.


The name’s John Q. Surfer, he came here to surf

The biggest wave in the history of earth.

600 miles an hour, 500 feet high,

He heard it on the news, he said Jesus Cry!

(and they said) Johnny, don’t do it, you could get hurt.


John Q. Surfer, been waiting here since birth,

The biggest wave in the history of earth.

While everybody else was loading their cars,

John Q. Surfer was waxing his surfboard.

They said, Johnny! Are you crazy? You could die!




Johnny saw the wave come over the horizon,

Everybody else has left the town.

He better make it good, he only had one chance,

To climb on to the tidal wave and … dance

Johnny! Johnny! Good luck!


John Q. Surfer climbed onto his surfboard,

And headed out to meet the wave.

The wave came upon him, the wave was giant.

He tried to stand up, but it crushed him like an ant.

Johnny? Why’d you do it? That was stupid.

Deep like Dante

Ever'thing, Floetry, Hop hip, New

Girls are burning with optimism’s flame.
Gamed the system, Miss Pessimism’s got one claim to fame:
That she knew me back when.
Trees fall in the forest, I’m all about the zen.

Got a yen for y’all and a lust for life.
Took two in the morning, took a third for a wife.
Got a slow burn and a four-alarm fire.
Plead the fifth, get my drift, arouse ire.

Aspire to greater heights, where mighty mites tremble,
Can’t nip these ankles, I never dissemble.
That means “lie,” some-a y’all better look it up.
Tectonic plates about to subduct
got nothing on me, I’m deep like Dante.

Open more doors than Monty.

For those about to AARP, we salute you!

Floetry, New

This’s a shout-out to all my shut-ins,
throw off your walkers, the revolt is coming.
Rise from your wheelchair, clap off the TV.
Tell your daughter your pet otter can’t see

Why you ought to be cooped up in here.
Jail break time, no need for fear.
The world is waiting for Grandmama’s wisdom.
Rock the globe like a heathen in Christendom.

Kiss some, curse some, put some in a hearse,
The first shall be last and the last shall be first.
Thirst for truth like a true Sojourner,
Burn your bra, put your life on the front burner.

Live fast, die late, leave a wrinkled-ass corpse,
forget the keys just force through the front doors
and bust through all the windows, leave nothing standing.
No one asked, now you’re demanding.

Gotta hand it to you, if not you’ll take it,
No Harry and Sally orgasms faked.
It’s the real thing, baby, shake it and bake it.
Start the party, start to get buck naked.

Might be 80 but you could pass for 60,
like Tom Cruise, your business is risky.
Frisky filly, put on this bridle,
hit high notes like a violin recital.

Get stoned on Geritol, hold a Ben Gay orgy,
Print bills in the basement, spends those forgeries.
Can’t take it with you, use it all up,
Set a bad example for all us young pups.

For those about to AARP, we salute you!”

Pull the bandage off: A love song

Ever'thing, Floetry, New

Verse 1:

Doorbells jangle, Lovers tangle
So intense, but now all past tense
Bitter twist of fate,
Turned my trust to hate

Now you will know, what I knew
Now you’ll feel the Hell you put me through
Or maybe, you won’t care
Blank x-ray, nothing’s in there.

Absence at the heart of you,
Empty chest, I never knew
Signs were there, but I didn’t heed them
Tarot cards, I didn’t read them.

And let me be, the first to say it,
You don’t want to listen, but I’m not stayin’
Hear me out, gotta get this out of me
Closing time, don’t think to doubt me.


Pull the bandage off, Rip out the stitches
Pull the bandage off, For poorer or richer
This stitch this time may save my life
May save my life,
Save my life

So pull the bandage off, Rip out the stitches
Pull the bandage off, For poorer or richer
Got to put our time behind me
I can see now, you don’t blind me.
Pull the bandage off,
Pull the bandage off.

Verse 2:

The trust I had in you was misplaced
The thrust of what you said was laced
With honey and strychnine, bitter taste
Honey and strychnine, what a waste.

Broken doorbell, door ajar
Ears burned at the noise from afar
With every thrust into her I heard it
The same sweet nonsense, something absurdist

Throes of passion, no one remembers
Let myself out, no one the wiser
Except maybe me, poked at the embers
Love in ashes, early December.

A day that will live in infamy
A day that my heart broke in half in me
Now the bandage is red and ready
To get ripped off my hands are steady, so


Pull the bandage off, Rip out the stitches
Pull the bandage off, For poorer or richer
This stitch in time may save your life
May save your life,
Save your life

So pull the bandage off, Rip out the stitches
Pull the bandage off, For poorer or richer
Got to put your crime behind me
No one else, but me is all I need.
Pull the bandage off,
Pull the bandage off.

Verse 3:

Dead part of me, I’m half-hearted
Cold to the touch, see what you started
I mean, you ended
Now you see, what you’ve been to me?

But that’s passed, passion blasted
Save the hysterics, I’ve outlasted you
You’re just some disparate thing and
I’m not desperate, pawned the ring.

Then bought me something, Third and Vine,
Means to an end, yours and mine
Prove my mettle, drop forged steel,
Nothing to think, nothing to feel.

But a flicker in your eyes
Fainter now, yet I surmise
Some secret deeper, in the bone
Too late now, I’m coming home.


Pull the bandage off, Rip out the stitches
Pull the bandage off, For poorer or richer
This stitch in time may save our lives
May save our lives,
Save our lives.

So pull the bandage off, Rip out the stitches
Pull the bandage off, For poorer or richer
Got to put this crime in front of me
Dark at dawn, but day is all I need.
Pull the bandage off,
Pull the bandage off.


And I’ll put the bullet back in the barrel
And I’ll pull this knife out of us
And I’ll put the pills back in the bottle
And I’ll smooth the splash from the water
And I’ll soothe that gash in your chest
And I’ll hold you so close, so close

And I

Past Tense Past

Ever'thing, Floetry

Dumpsters filled to brim, buckthorn needs a trim;
Technicolor oil circles the drain, ozone alert brings the pain.
Seagulls and cigarette butts  adorn big box parking lot’s winter morn.

Mourning, the Idealist hits the gas, wants to drive where what’s past
flies by the window, clocks running in reverse—
death in the delivery room, birthed in a hearse.

Reverse the flow, reroute the river to north from south,
Unbuild the dams, unsilt the river mouths.

Give voice to rude Nature—an Indian whoop;
climate change defanged, gone the feedback loop.
Land becomes “unimproved,” trees built from houses,
Animals outnumber us, men become mouses.

Hunter and hunted now equal rivals,
Hunting for dinner a game of survival—
May the best species win, and often it’s not us—
The Idealist is eaten awaiting the State Street bus.

No Otter

Ever'thing, Floetry

Growing old; mold forms in the interstices of a failed synapse.

Lapse of perspicuity, chronic acuity to life’s grim annuity:
Fixed fate of return.
Two burned out electrical impulses: “A” and “-ha.”

Think what you thought—you ought—
but what dreams that come numb your skull,
leave your mouth dumb, full with sand;

Stranger than this strange land there is no otter.

Clamshell container: A breakup song

Ever'thing, Floetry

Clamshell container, lawyer on retainer
Broken sink strainer, stop this rain
Or else,
(Just play the hand I’m dealt;
No deck with new cards, no new deal).

Blind man’s bluff, can’t you see?
Can’t remember the we that we
used to be.
(Look around you, see me;
Ghost in white.)

Quotidian repetition, bitter coffee grind,
Grounds for divorce, sane way to lose
my mind.
(What’s behind all this? Must be something I missed.
Too late to catch up now.)

Never paid attention, always in detention.
Perhaps on that one winter day
I was out.
That’s the day they learned all about it:

What it means… why we bleed
Why we fight… what we need
To live…to live… to love… to be
To take… from life…the life… we need.

No need for drama, I’m okay.
Hysterical with nothing but dreams
blown away.
(Nightmares on the way;
never wake up now, never sleep).

Had an answer, but questions mount
Thought I had you, but now I know I
don’t count,
(In your new math.
Subtracted, divided, fraction reduced.)

Add up the damage, count the costs,
All you’ve gained is all
I have lost
(Tossed in the tempest,
Full fathom five, lost at sea.)

Have to do, can’t just be
You and the world made me push
Away me.
(No space for my head,
No way to see:)

What it means… why we bleed
Why we fight… what we need
To live…to live… to love… to be
To take… from life…the life… we need.


Ever'thing, Floetry

(an ode to a missing neon “O”)

No place to keep oneself
The missing “O”, circle of life, bodes ill:
bodies forth brooding youths
hot with blood, lurking late
on Self St., lined with litter, alive
with recent ghosts.

Meanwhile, in the chapel,
the faithful light candles—each
a grudge—to St. Rage,
patron of knuckles, whether bare, brass, or broken;
shove fists into pockets and finger beads jammed deep in their dungarees,
heavy with sweat,
and lift their prayers and curses skyward,
or wherever they may be heard.

A country song

Ever'thing, Floetry

Left for dead in the right turn lane
Train pulls its payload of waste
Snakes in the sugar and aspartame dreams
Kung Pao Chicken, seasoned to taste.

Clamshell container, red with residue
Styrofoam squeaks in pain.
Give the devil his due, this food’s for my belly
But this liquor maintains my brain.

The lacquer I lay on it stains it
It’s varnished a golden brown hue.
I paint on 3 coats of old Jameson
To forget and to remember you.

Embers and ashes, I poke at the wood
the home fire’s all burned through.
The bed is cold, pantry is empty.
The woes of my world have accrued.

Compound interest; I’d be a rich man
If pain loss and death were pennies.
I found you like religion, lost you like sin,
Consolations? I haven’t found any.

OPRF poets show it, blow minds, leave mental detritus behind, toss the rind


Written in honor of the Oak Park-River Forest High School Spoken Word poets (and their leader, Peter Kahn)

No wrath of Khan; the youths of Kahn
Like wraiths, bring back beats from beyond
Finger-snappin’ good, be-bop Thelonious
Can’t stop these heirs apparent, gob-stopped the phony us.

Render lies abhorrent, lines transparent; rip a rent
In the fabric of life, snap strife in two; heaven-sent
syllables, Hell-bent, launched like treys into cold ether,
never miss, make it take it, making heathens believers,
Leave or else they’ll drag it all out of you,
Stewed in your own juices, no way to elude truth.

Brutal beauty, undiluted, never refuted,
Hit with hard words the always deluded.
Verbal smack-down, clowns get tossed out,
PK’s crew never gets bossed about.
Louts get bombed by a quiet but deadly move
10-round bout, TKO, crowd never booed.

A Christmas Floem


A Christmas Floem, you may not know them well,
but I’m here to tell that a floem is a Freddy Flow poem, so then, to begin:

Zen parable: What is the sound of one cracker rapping?
like mid-summer bug zapping, it gnaws at the bone of the soul,
leaves a hole, rolls snake eyes, bowls gutterballs, bawls out evil stepchildren,
sets the witches’ cauldrons aboiling with Double Bubble toilet trouble,
eye of Newt, gland of Cain–let’s begin again, shall we?

This Christmas poem has derailed. Failed its snowflake moment.
Bailed from the sinking dinghy of sentiment. Touched the third rail of gone-and-went.
Bent down for the soap . . . nope, not going there.
Screw it! Merry Christmas, I’m crossing this shit off my list.

Mini series


I. The Shape of Things That Came

Round midnight, square noon;
triangulated five, polygonadal 8:27 a.m.
Don’t like this one? There’s a new one born every minute,
Might you be the all-day type? O
Sugar sugar. A pride of Archies,
A Ray of Robinson. Here’s to you, Mrs:

In the future, your 21st Century schizoid pad may need
May I interest you in a
Shamwow ™?
No? Then a Realwow? (patent pending) How now
Ben Pao?
Chopsticks are for chumps, and pianists manqué.
Peonies grow, where my Rosemary goes,
and nobody knows what the deal is with her baby.

II. Tom I Am

It’s not unusual to be
pelted with flying panties.
O Marcia, Marcia, Martial arts, a dim sum
(side of grasshopper).
Everybody was Hi Karate aftershave fighting (“Hunh!”);
Yet Billy was pleaded, “Don’t be a hero” (that’s a sandwich)—
The Earl of which and the Duke, Duke, Duke, Duke of Earl
entered into bitter copyright litigation.

The Early Bird got
Valdezed (XXed on, not Juan’ed)—then came the Dawn,
degreasing tarred feathers: Morning Becomes Hygienic.
Meanwhile, all-vegetable Pam, America’s favorite
No Flash in the Pan she; no Sniff and the Tears—
sticks to her knitting.
I saw the nudes today, oh boy:

Mrs. Butterworth caught slutting around with a Fluffernutter.
Uncle Ben’s solid mien melted: “She’s off her nut. That’s a crocker! Oh Black Betty, scrambled ham, Oh Black Betty, Ben I am…”
(Rejoined the redoubtable Mrs. Crocker, I would not, could not—here, there, anywhere.)





III. Memento Morsel

Note to self: Self, note that I,
my wayward sun tans my hide, takes and shakes and bakes it (“and I helped!”),
Ass to ashes:
One (1) minced-meat pie, desiccated delicacy, des(s)erted, somethinglicious;
One (1) soul on ice, ice baby—vanilla wayfarer:
locked in the freezer, frigid to a Kelvin degree,
keeping it real down at the Stone Cold Creamery.

enuffznuffBut who’s counting? Neither Crows nor Chocolas
are quantifiable. Let X = itself,
Y let self X itself out, from outside in?
Enuff Z’nuff.
I think we’re finished here.

Don’t get me started



Bearded ladies sprung from Hades,
singles night with my fright wig askew, who asked you
to dance; wallflower power and a rope-a-dope fro,
wide white belt and a Lake Michigan smelt sammich,
did me some damage like an Asian Carp on the fly
or a longhorn beetle drive-by on 123 Dutch Elm Lane.


Asian carp and a pint of Harp, shot glass of bones,
foaming at the mouth, had the Dirty South steam-cleaned,
screened for melanoma, Mellencamp devoured by cougars (not Courtney Cox),
lox-and-bagel flavored Fiddle Faddle,
paddling in the kiddie pool–come to a shallow end.


Something wicked this way comes:
Invasive species sprung loose from their leashes–
Kudzu, zebra mussels, Asian Carp, Beverly Hills’ Chihuahuas;
Plastic lasses with gastric bands; spastic lactic acid lap dances;
stochastic Futureworld sunglasses;
heart bypasses on highway cloverleafs
got a few beefs with an Asian Carp–
Don’t get me started.

Light verse! Leap from that hearse!


On the publication of :

Shine On: The Last Gleaming of Light Verse

Light verse! Leap from that hearse!
Still some jones in them bones; show some stones and rock the joint.
Anoint a new breed of leader, read the entrails, never fail to seize the diem, carp the day,
this way lies not madness but superfly badness, this fad’s not faded, just unaided;

While jaded Gen Xers genuflect rap-ward, steal the pap back,
lay down a new hop hip track, light is the new black,
Brand New Heavies at the levee but the light verse is fly, you go guy,
hurl back the covers, hitch your star to a four-beat bar,
and put the hos and gatts and pimps and nines and 40 ounces down for the count,
mount this one-trick pony in this one-horse town, and ride, just ride, just ride.

Floetry in potion


Floetry in potion: Get you a notion of this, just a sip;
no commotion, smooth like baby lotion and Hennessey,
cures lisps, fits you out for crown and scepter,
plays Clarice to your Hannibal Lecter, spins hits like Phil Spector.

— Wait, don’t expectorate yet! There’s (not unexpectedly) more —

Give bullies what-for, riposte with le mot juste,
Proustian powers at your fingertips, mais oui!
Conjure up amour fou, Pepe Le Pew style
Smile mildly as they go all Jerry Lewis on your ass.

(I love the French–they have that certain, how do you say, menage-a-trois.)


I wish they all could be Country Calendar girls

Ever'thing, Floetry

for Heather McAdams

I wish they all could be Country Calendar girls, Maxi Minnie Pearls,
Big teeth and big bones, 76 Sousaphones no match for fiddle, stand-up bass, and Jew’s harp;
Sharp mouth and a strong backhand, slappin’ down any gland that ain’t acting right:

This means you, fellas; yeah you, all lathered up, Hell-bent for pleather, or maybe Heather,
whether frothing with Burma Shave saving grace or Brylcreem dreams, scheming, strumming,
bumming cigs, striking matches, humming snatches of song, remembered snatches of bawdy limericks, weenie roast and campfire sing-a-longs, Sunday morning hymns
and Saturday night curses, nursing a PBR,

— calling shotgun in your own hearse —

first up when it’s last call, and ready to crawl
over hot coals, broken glass, and shards of your own 45 RPM
when it’s time to come home again
to your Country Calendar girl.

New Orleans, La.

Ever'thing, Floetry

NOLA rhymes flow upwards in gutters’ miasmic outgassing;
Passing strange, this mangy memory that follows me home:
“Mom, can I keep her?”
A cur, true, but beautiful, broken bodied, bright with teeth,
A new belief brings old lies to their knees.
Pleading my case before anyone who’ll listen, nola contendere.


Ever'thing, Floetry

12/13/11, match made in heaven,
burned what was yearned for, earned no royalties nor loyalty,
Fealty pledged with boy-scout secret handshakes, Skull and Bones hazing
Blood oath, slow growth, slow food, locovores dismembered and devoured;
Powered by vats of french fry grease, police cars patrol the streets,
searching for another percent.