That’s Not Bad

In the doctor’s office—
a computer, printer,
some chairs, and an exam
table we won’t use;
latex gloves, a biohazard
box, and two other waste cans;
a sink that may get used.
On the wall a framed art print.

Voices in the hall 20 minutes
after my appointed time, but it’s
okay. I can write this poem
and be glad I’m alive. Knock.

Two doctors walk in. My regular guy
and his knockout resident from
the A&M med school. We greet,
shake, talk small, then good news.

Return in six months. Shake again.
I drive home. Stop for gas.
I wear a smile—cuz good news.

Look both ways driving home, for good news and bad.
Check the tires and mind the gaps.
Doctors sure have changed over the years—for the mo’ betta’.

Poetry: Do not Sleep!

it’s nine o’clock at night again. some are dressing to go out, not me—too tired.
too tired for anything but sleep, yet, here I sit
writing this poem about being too tired to do anything,
including write this fucking ridiculous poem
or prose or whatever the hell it is.

it’s absurd to fight off sleep like this, like a child fighting the inevitable,
but if I give in now, I will wake at two or three in the morning,
in the middle of the night, flummoxed.
I’ll sit here and drink water (after I pee); wishing I was sleeping.
maybe there’s an unused nightmare out there waiting for me,
to give inspiration or whatever nightmares do for us.

why? tell me why. I want to know why it is that I will try for a few more minutes
to pretend that I can…what? what can I do?
is there a world full of people out there who cannot
or will not do what I can do?
bless their hearts as the conceited among us write away
nodding at the overstuffed closet.
who needs competition from hidden talent?

right here and right now, exhausted with limited cognitive ability to crank
one out by jerking off my brain and spewing words to the page and saying,
fuck yah, man! a poet. I write this sputum. so what?

it turns out that how I feel and what I say, I am—
and you are too—holy shit, that is exactly how I feel!
am I pissed off about nothing? just fucked up and angry
for the very reason of no reason. we need help. are we crazy?

it sucks for me and I’m sorry it sucks for you, but it’s so fucking true.
it’s us. not me alone. not you alone. misery love, love, loves company.
that’s how it works to be human. nothing can save us except writing.

Look both ways. It’s the middle of the night and every form of refuge has its prison.
Mind the gaps and the sidewalk cracks for the want to—the reason of no reason.

Poetry: Awaken Fighting Dogs

No dog
in the fight?
No skin in the game?

Is it win or lose tonight,
or is it all the same?

Why fret so?
We should not be
in such a stew
of sleepless nights
with what we know
when worries bubble
in brainless brew.

Why lose sleep
over what if thoughts?
Solutions to problems—
none that matter.

Dreams fill empty gaps
where a mind creates mystery;
a dramatic telling
of the heart’s striving,
yet somehow
still surviving.

A reality set apart,
within each dream
suffering its own malady.

Look both ways with sleepless obsession into endless obscure what ifs.
Sleep in the gaps of neurotic tension.

Poetry: Sound

See it, good and bad, it’s there
but not silent.
Connections have sounds,
vibrations from nature
give pleasantries, threats, and
danger its voice.

Acoustic waves of sound,
perceived in brains
through resonance with timbre.
We hear the soft breezes and roaring
winds perceived as warning,
we hear gentle rains in nature’s
song, and we know the destruction
of the hard driving, relentless torrent.
Quieter or louder, we feel
the sonic texture before our
brains make sense of thunder
and lightning,
before the train passes,
before volcano eruptions
or earth quakes. We hear.

We welcome the pleasantry
of music to our ears, yet we
know the damage of unprotected
loudness, of sonic torture. We
see with our ears, we determine
location, we find friend or foe.

The gift of hearing stands out
not to be assumed as always
there. If no sound is heard,
it did not exist for us.

Without hearing,
our connection with nature is lost.
And maybe with love.

Listen to the rhythm, hear
and feel the music deep inside
your body—then dance.
Dance.

Hear the sounds but see
them mindfully taking mental
shapes—the arts—the senses—
never to be assumed,
never ignored, to be both
cherished and used. Sense all
of life: the sights, sounds,
the tastes and the smells.
Feel the touches of it all
and welcome it until only
the sound of silence
remains.
And a lover’s voice,

listen, hear, love that sound.
Listen, listen, listen; hush.

Look both ways and listen to the sounds.
Hear the drop of rain fall into the distant gap.

Poetry: Outback Cowboy

Where ignorance is king,
where men wear silly expensive hats
and spurs and can hardly put
a coherent sentence together,
that, what I just said is not true,
these cowboys are on top of
their game.
I am always confused
if you’re wearing spurs,
where’s the fucking horse—
or cow? Always confused.

I want to sit on my back porch
on a rainy Wednesday night
with a cool porter
and listen to Seger
and write a poem
about how I feel. About life
or death. About important shit,
like vanishing telephone poles and
parked cars and garage doors
and the Stepford wives or
Beatles and Stones and old dogs
eatin’ chicken bones.

I’m not a branded Texan,
ah got no gun or rope,
no horse, nor spurs
in my immigrant collection.
Just Bob; this notebook,
a few memories and
confused convoluted feelings
about everything except the rain.

And boring people
who are interesting, and interesting
people who are not and why
none of that matters.
On my back porch,
where ignorance is king
an’ old Bob can still sing.

Look both ways when you wonder about what you think.
Look for gaps in cowboy hats, that’s how the light gets in.

Poetry: A Friendly Jab

On break, having coffee,
at a walk-to place from work.
Age came up.

Larry could always make me laugh,
a raised brow or expression,
his subtlety with humor,
the ability to play it straight
with a sincerity of stupidity.

We volunteered numbers,
all 40-somethings.
Larry looked serious.
“I just have one question.”

He’d set the bait. I knew better,
but one must play along.
I took the hook,
lest all fun be spoiled.
He looked straight at me,
and patiently awaited my response.

He was from the Buckeye State.
We met as underage roommates.
Both junior Air Force enlisted. Later
each married Texas gals
both opted for university:
Larry to UT, I to A&M.

As roommates, Larry thought me loud,
badly behaved, and unworthy of him.
He was classical. I was rock ‘n roll.
Incompatible, but no harm done.

Twenty years later
while wrapping up military careers
as Air Force officers,
he was a chopper pilot who served in Nam,
I was a B-52 crew dog.

When our paths again crossed,
we were distant friends, no more.

I asked, what’s your question, Colonel?
He asked, “If you are younger than I am, why
do you look so much older?”

I’m older than Larry now.
Rest in peace, my funny friend.

©Bill Reynolds

Look both ways. Mind the gaps.
All the best stories are past, or soon will be.
Remember.