lunes, 16 de noviembre de 2015

MICHAEL McNEILLEY [17.521] Poeta de Estados Unidos


Michael McNeilley

Michael McNeilley, poeta, periodista y escritor estadounidense, fue Director fundador del National Student News Service; trabajó como reportero y corresponsal en Washington, D.C.. Escribió cientos de poemas y cuentos que publicó en numerosas revistas, tales como New York Quarterly, New Delta Review, Poet, Chicago Review, Sonoma Mandala, Hyphen, Minotaur, Slipstream, Chiron Review, Poetry Motel, Plazm, DAM, Lilliput Review, Cafe Review, Boulliabaisse, Writers' Forum, Green Fuse, Rockford Review, Mississippi Review, God's Bar Unplugged, X-Connect, Fox Cry, Impetus, Tight, xib, Penny Dreadful, Exquisite Corpse, Atom Mind, y en diversos sitios de Internet. McNeilley dedicó su vida a la poesía, abordando una gran multiplicidad de temas: desde lo lírico a lo sardónico, lo urbano, la vida de los últimos tiempos en Norteamérica, lo autobiográfico, etc.. 

Murió repentinamente en el 2000.



Michael McNeilley
Selección



Crédito

demasiado rápido
demasiado mojado
y ellos

avanzaron
y cerraron las puertas
del auto

y el tanque de gasolina
se rompió y
estalló

y ellos estaban allí dentro
cuando nosotros
llegamos

ardieron hasta morir
cubiertos con
la gasolina

que todavía
no habían
pagado




6 preguntas

acaso siempre debe existir
la distancia
no importa cuánto nos acerquemos

aislamiento contra la posibilidad
de acción en cadena
interpersonal

es el tiempo una línea recta
un círculo una flecha una espiral
están el futuro y el pasado

aquí también o es el tiempo más bien
como una manta con las que nos tapamos
la cabeza para protegernos

y cuál es nuestro estado relativo
si tocamos o no tocamos
si estiramos la mano sin la más mínima

esperanza de tocar
acaso el espacio entre nosotros
se convierte en parte de nosotros también

es asunto de substanciación
que si cerramos los ojos
un buen tenor

nos puede hacer llorar
en un idioma que
no comprendemos

si nuestras noches pasan inadvertidas
si estamos tendidos quietos con los ojos abiertos
o si nuestros sueños se desbordan

importa más o menos
cuántos gorriones
pueden caber en esta rama

o somos simplemente
como marineros
que escrutan el horizonte

durante mucho tiempo lejos del puerto
el mar es inefable
nuestras manos tan pequeñas




límite de la ciudad

éramos sólo niños y
no había posibilidad
de ir a casa de un amigo

el primer auto a años de distancia
y esperando estaba una
lenta y dulce muerte

así es que caminábamos al ocaso
en silencio entre
las filas del maíz de agosto

en el campo más cercano
no muy lejos de su casa
sin nada en las manos

nos desvestíamos el uno al otro
nuestros dedos adormecidos de calor
en el grisáceo atardecer de texas

y caíamos jadeando
apóstoles desnudos de
un dios de la necesidad y el sudor

dibujaba sombras huecas de calor
sobre la oscura y seca tierra
en el delgado refugio de hojas

ella limpiaba la tierra negra
de mi piel y yo frotaba
su olor en mi cara

pero no era suficiente
no podía ser suficiente
y traíamos de nuevo agosto a nosotros

ambos llorando de risa
mientras el sol caía
y las estrellas llegaban




incendiario

siempre hay un espacio
no importa cuán pequeño
por el cual el amor puede penetrar

no importa cuán pequeño
el corazón
donde esté

como el agua que se escurre
por un lavaplatos que se filtra
hichando las tablas del piso

minando la baldosa
hasta que las vigas del piso
se comban

y cuando lo descubres
sólo después significa
una reparación mayor

pero para ese entonces
las termitas de la madera húmeda
se han colado

y los inspectores sin duda
van a encontrar
una cosa semejante

y nunca te
devolverán el dinero
por eso

y las reparaciones
son tan caras
y vienen sin garantía

de que no sucederá
de nuevo
y lo único que puedes hacer

es quemarlo todo
con la esperanza
del seguro

y cuando vegan
a escarbar
los escombros
y pregunten qué sucedió
miente




sólo trueno

no tiene
sentido
cómo el amor puede moler
el corazón

aunque la intención vale
para algo
no es fatal

en sí misma
tú no morirás hasta
que el coche golpee

contra la barrera del puente
la mente hace trucos
pero la ilusión es

esencialmente benigna
no te ahogarás
hasta que el agua

haya subido
no eres devorado
por la silenciosa

mirada del león
el trueno no puede
escindir el árbol

la sangre es tangible
y no importa
la distancia

la caída
no te matará
hasta que hayas
pisado en
el vacío




esa cosa de enamorarse

no estoy buscando
el amor de nadie
no estoy buscando

nada
mucho menos
enamorarme

enamorarse
siempre implica
esperar alguna larga

lista de cosas
nadie quiere
todo ese esperar

tanto
pero te amo
de todos modos

esto no es
cosa de enamorarse
esto no es

una cosa mala
una calle bien
señalizada

como de una vía
a la cual te
metes conduciendo

y si tienes suficiente suerte
te llevará de nuevo
a casa




cosas que puedes hacer cuando estés muerto

pon monedas fantasmas
en los parquímetros
pasados de hora

métete dentro de Al Gore
y enséñale a
bailar

visita a tus ex
y juega a ser poltergeist
a la hora de la cama

siéntate en las simas de las montañas
y en el fondo
de los océanos

conviértete en genio
y concede deseos
a los buenos

persigue a los políticos
y escupe en
sus martinis

salva a los pequelos
de los pervertidos sexuales
y de los taxis apurados

susurra en los oídos
de los evangelizadores de tv
acerca de la maldad del dinero

bebe jugo de ciruelas fantasma
y ciérnete
sobre la casa blanca

siéntate con los viejos
y escucha
sus historias

vive con los gorilas
los gorriones
los elefantes

muéstrale a sadan hussein
el verdadero significado
de locura

sé el fantasma de la
navidad pasada
presente y futura

ahuyenta a los monstruos
que están debajo de las camas
de los niños

despierta a todos los dictadores
muy temprano
todas las mañanas

cubre a los amantes
con aquel pequeño y privado
silencio

si la muerte fuera
así tan divertida quién
querría seguir viviendo




para las mujeres

a la luz de la retrospectiva
están a contraluz como si estuvieran frente a una ventana
en la falibilidad del encantamiento

la batonista de la secundaria que se reía
cuando yo la topaba con la parte deslizante de mi trombón
ojos azules resplandecientes a medio tiempo

la bailarina que bailó una vez en el bolshoi
que apoyó su pie en mi hombro en el umbral de una puerta
y dijo "eres alto, eso es bueno"

la perfecta y esmirriada diosa del rock
me desgasté las huellas digitales
en el muro de su indiferencia

la modelo de Los Ángeles que se cortó sus largos cabellos negros
porque su marido los amaba
más que a ella misma

la diminuta peliroja tejana que me llevó
al baño de mujeres para dibujar líneas mientras
hacía cantar al agua

la pequeña greta garbo pueblerina
que dijo que yo besaba como un actor principal
y me llevó a los rieles del tren

la sanguínea poetisa, su motocicleta
todos sus cromos muy pulidos cuero negro
y ojos de sanpaku

las risueñas chicas de la hermandad del medio oeste
que me despertaron con súbito asombro
la carne en un sandwich de muchacha

la abogada japonesa-húngara
el dormitorio con paneles de libros
sus ojos una intriga propietaria

la heroína del radioteatro de un solo programa
baleada con prisa y mutable
que quería estar en una película, no en una cinta magnética

la contadora de balances impecables
y las horas pasadas examinando tatuajes
en las raíces de su pelo

la rubia acaramelada que hablaba farsi
y cubría la cama de agua
con aceite de cocinar y flores

la cantinera y su corvette rojo
su bronceado intenso como un verano brasileño
su secreto del helado de durazno

la mujer keniana alta de ojos tan oscuros
que caí en ellos por millas mientras acariciaba
su cabeza perfectamente rapada

la rubia de new england cuyos senos
asesinaron para siempre mis expectativas
su pelo de alicia en el país de las maravillas

la esposa del granjero de nebraska
que me enseñó donde la hierba era más verde
y donde se guardan las uvas de la ira

la alpinista de mil voces
cantadas para mí con música
tan suave como muslos enmantequillados

la de Atlanta que quería ser funambulista 
con mil cicatrices bronceada que buscaba
una muerte más apacible

la bullente taxista de chicago
dentro de su grasienta gorra de béisbol
todo ese pelo rojo

la princesa celta de cabellos oscuros
hombros blancos delgados como la esperanza
ojos azul lluvia

la prometida que no encontré
que dio vuelta a la esquina justo antes que yo
de ella nada sé




bebés muertos disecados

se venden como muñecas.
no podemos mantenerlos en los estantes
dijo un dueño de juguetería

la mayoría de nosotros odia
la idea de vender
niños muertos disecados

pero si nosotros no los traemos
la competencia lo hará.
no podemos darnos el lujo de perder clientes.

¿quién es la víctima aquí?
preguntó un fabricante de juguetes.
los bebés ya están muertos.

importamos los cadáveres
de india
bosnia y biafra,

son huérfanos,
o lo fueron,
sin parientes

¿para qué arrojarlos a un hoyo
cuando pueden dar alegría
a otro niño? preguntó

la piel es lavada
con una solución especial
mata-gérmenes

una etiqueta dice no exponer
a la lluvia o al calor excesivo o
a la luz directa del sol.

un niño no puede conseguir algo
más realista
que un bebé realmente muerto

dijo otro fabricante de juguetes.
aunque los ojos son
réplicas de vidrio.




Ha estado asoleado aquí, para ser marzo

En las semanas tras la muerte de mi hermano
se me ocurrían preguntas
que quería hacerle.

No la pregunta obvia, no
"¿Por qué mierda ... por qué ahora?" pensaba
que sabía la respuesta de eso.

Y quería patearle el trasero
como nunca lo hiciera cuando éramos niños,
él no tenía derecho, pero

las preguntas eran más simples:
"¿Cuándo es el festival de bluegrass de Telluride?"
"¿Todavía echas de menos a tus chicos?"

"Es éste uno de tus cassettes, o mío?"
"¿Crees que el techo de la leñera
durará todo el invierno?"

Y más, ni siquiera preguntas:
"Vi un camión y pensé que te gustaría"
"Podríamos jugar un poco a la pelota."

"Deberíamos telefonear a mamá."
"Conozco a una mujer que deberías conocer,
vamos a beber una cerveza."

Y yo sé que no lo veré otra vez,
pero aún vienen a mí estos pensamientos, aunque
no tan a menudo como solían hacerlo.

Pienso en él y pienso en ti,
Tan lejos de mi alcance ahora,
Y no hay problema

excepto por las preguntas, las cosas
que te diría, los pequeños ofrecimientos
que haría, si pudiera.

Encontré un restaurante japonés fantástico.
Te gustarían algunos de estos poemas.
Desearía que dejaras de fumar.

Los narcisos están en flor por todas partes.
Tuve una idea extraña para un cuento.
Soñé contigo de nuevo.

En el sueño mi hermano estaba allí,
y mi papá, podía oler su Old Spice.
Ustedes dos estaban fumando Camels

y hablando, él estaba tonteando contigo
tal como lo habría hecho, tú
reías, tu pelo cepillaba

mi mejilla, sentados
muy juntos alrededor de una mesita.
Mi hermano sonreía.

La cabaña en Colorado, esa diminuta
cocina, mi madre pasando la aspiradora,
perros pequeños ladrando.

El gato me despertó con su ronrroneo.
Fue bueno verlos a todos de nuevo.
Ahora es casi la mañana.




mi mano desde el espacio

susurro en la pista de carreras
mensajes en botellas
gritos al viento

letras pequeñas bajo una luz débil
escritura en el cielo encima de las nubes
sobres sin estampillas

enchufe sin tomacorriente
iceberg barco de placer
páginas sin imprimir

chistes sin remate
fuegos artificiales de día
coche sin caballo

verano en la antártica
pájaro bajo el agua
dientes sin labios

forma sin función
confidencia difícil
noche sin ojos

adiós sin irse
un techo sobre nada
sangre de ninguna herida




bajo la misma luna

doc desliza otro whiskey a través de la barra
y yo me lo empino
estacionado aquí en mi taburete como
una carroza fúnebre entre coches deportivos
a una semana de otro año perdido
suturando mi corazón con hilos
de soledad
mientras que medio continente lejos
la fiesta de la agencia de publicidad ruge
y tú te subes a la copiadora
enrollas aquellos pequeños panties en tu dedo
con una risa semejante al hielo tintineando en los vasos
y alguien pulsa el botón
para imprimir mi tarjeta de cumpleaños




si tienes un ratón en una jaula

si tienes un ratón en una jaula
el ratón perderá el impulso de morderte.
Tomará suavemente la comida de tu mano, antes
de huir corriendo con ella, de nuevo a su rincón.
Se subirá a las perchas
como un pájaro en la noche.
Correrá hacia la puerta de la jaula en la oscuridad
y te observará pasar, con esperanza.
Presionará su cara contra las barras,
y contra el piso cuando lo acaricies, cuando
lo frotes suavemente con un dedo.
Se instalará sobre tu hombro y correrá alrededor
dentro de tu abrigo, y tratará de
no orinar sobre ti.

Si tienes un ratón en una jaula y dejas
tu mejor sweater de lana cerca,
el ratón lo arrastrará dentro, lo empujará a través
de la estrecha abertura entre las barras
con una fuerza que parece sobrenatural,
y lo arruinará,
juntará los trozos formando un enorme nido de ratón
y dormirá en él, felizmente amortajado en
la cercanía tuya.

Si tienes un ratón en una jaula, no hay garantía
de que el ratón terminará amándote, pero
las perspectivas son buenas. Así como es posible que el ratón
sea auténtico en su afecto;
sea constante y devuelva el buen trato
con bondad. Y si el ratón escapa,
hay una alta probabilidad de que vuelva
de debajo de los aleros, parloteando,
volviendo la cabeza a un lado,
mostrando un ojo de ratón, sin pestañear,
suplicando, la libertad no es tan grande,
llévame de regreso a casa.




Cómo se fabrican los borradores

En la fábrica los obreros
arrojan compuestos químicos en barriles,
le agregan una pizca de pensamiento
negativo, problemático
en algunos círculos.

El producto se enrolla en
largos cilindros, luego se corta
en tamaños formales de borradores,
lo hacen hombres con sombreros de copas altas
y que sólo hablan entre sí.

En la sección de arte, se forman
grandes pasteles de borradores, luego
se cortan en rectángulos con
discos que giran con un
sonido a vacaciones.

Otras formas de borradores se hacen
en cuartos sin ventanas.
Recientemente se determinó que era
engañoso hacer un borrador
con forma de corazón.

Los borradores abandonan la fábrica
en pequeños camiones, y llegan
a las tiendas antes del amanecer,
empaquetados en promesas coloridas
que pocos pueden cumplir.

(Traducción © 2001Oscar E. Aguilera F.)





Michael McNeilley was Founding Director of the National Student News Service; worked as a reporter and correspondent in Washington, DC; and has published hundreds of poems and stories in magazines such as New York Quarterly, New Delta Review, Poet, Chicago Review, Oyster Boy Review, Cross-Connect, Sonoma Mandala, Hyphen, Minotaur, Slipstream, Cafe Review, Pink Cadillac, Chiron Review, Poetry Motel, Plazm, DAM, Lilliput Review, Boulliabaisse, Writers' Forum, Green Fuse, Rockford Review, Mississippi Review, God's Bar Unplugged, Impetus, Tight, xib, Penny Dreadful, Exquisite Corpse, Atom Mind and elsewhere, including websites worldwide. He was co-editor of Zero City, with JJ Webb, in the '90s. 

McNeilley wrote these poems in an old house in Olympia, WA, with a large cherrytree stump in the backyard where the spirit of his dead brother sits on clear nights, the ghost of a baby possum on his shoulder, and paints moonlight on clouds high across the Sound.



under the same full moon

doc slides another scotch across the bar
and I pull it to me
parked here on my stool like
a hearse among sports cars
a week away from another year wasted
suturing up my heart with threads
of loneliness
while half a continent away
the advertising agency party outside rages
as you climb up on the copier
twirl those tiny panties on your finger
laughter like ice in glasses tinkling
and someone pushes the button
to print my birthday card


if you keep a rat in a cage

If you keep a rat in a cage
the rat will lose the impulse to bite you.
Will take food from your hand gently, before
running away with it, back into the corner.
Will climb above on the perches
like a bird in the night.
Will race to the cage door in the dark
and watch you pass, hoping.
Will press its face against the bars,
against the floor as you pet it, as you
stroke it kindly with one finger.
Will perch on your shoulder, and run around
inside your coat, and try not to
piss on you.

If you keep a rat in a cage, and you leave
your best wool sweater there too close by,
the rat will drag it in, pull it through 
the narrow opening between the bars
with a strength that seems supernatural, 
and tear the crap out of it,
pull the shreds together in a huge rat's nest 
and sleep in it, happily shrouded in 
closeness to you.
If you keep a rat in a cage, there is no guarantee
the rat will come to love you, but 
chances are good. As is the likelihood the rat
will be authentic in its affection; 
will be constant and return good treatment 
in kind. And if the rat escapes, 
the chance is strong it will return
from beneath the eaves, chattering,
turning its head to one side,
showing one red rat eye, unblinking,
entreating, freedom is not so much,
take me back in.

from: Animal Poems
© 1995-1996
Upcoming in New York Quarterly, 1997.



How erasers are made

In the factory the workers
dump chemicals into vats,
adding a quality of denial
thought problematical
in some circles.
The product is rolled into
long cylinders, then broken
into formal eraser-lengths
by men who wear tall hats
and speak only to one another.
In the arts section, large
eraser pies are formed, then
cut into rectangles by
disks that spin with a
sound like vacation.

Other eraser shapes are made
in rooms without windows.
It was recently ruled deceptive
to make an eraser in the
shape of a heart.
Erasers leave the factory
in small trucks, and enter
the stores before dawn,
packaged in colorful promises
few of them can keep.

Published in: Olympia Review
© 1994, Olympia, WA.


Like trains into tunnels

Yeah I saw the whole thing,
that knife slid into him
like he was loose dirt.
Naw I dunno, just a knife.
I dunno, long enough I guess.
They was having
some kinda bitch about somethin
over there by the pinball machine.
He called her a damn whore, I
remember that real clear,
and she yeah she
stuck him good, like he was a
balloon...you shoulda seen
his face pop, like one second
he was in it and the next
he was gone.
Seemed like he deserved it though:
like he'd been top dog for so long
she didn't have no way out but to cut him;
and he was so tough and
shitty grinning, and then
gaffed like a fish,
and I ain't surprised he's dead.
Knife slid right easy
through that silk shirt,
right between the ribs so perfect,
the old tongue into the slot,
and he was just so much
meat and she was gone.
I dunno she was...
well kinda average lookin...
about so tall, brown hair, that's all.
I never seen them before.
Hey, honest, but
he sure bought it fast,
it coulda been worse for him;
she knew what she was doin,
you can tell.
Yeah I saw the whole thing. Like he was
loose dirt and been turned over.
No I didn't see her face;
I'da liked that but
I was watchin his at least.
You know even when you covered him up
he still looked surprised.

Published in: Slipstream #14
© 1994, Niagara Falls, NY.




dip in the pool

man
all these fempoets
hate sex
he said
you must not have met
some of the ones
I know
I told him
well 
some of them
don't hate it exactly
but none of them
are any
good at it
so give up
I told him
find a nice
cowgirl
or something
no way
he said
I have to remain
available to the
poetry
gene pool
natural insemination
services
available
widely published
genes
hell
he said
social duty
fulfilled is worth
any price
you dip
I told him
those babies would
follow you through
every incarnation
fuck up your karma
among the choir
invisible
yeah
he said
and their 
mommas too
just think
down the line
the artistic complexity
of it all
trailing clouds
of babies
lesbian mommas
and poetry
into a red karmic
sunset
but just as things
were getting really
interesting
one more Jameson's
and he was
out
cold

© 1995 by
Michael McNeilley
Published in Penny Dreadful Review, Nashville, TN, 1997.




Graphic © 1998 by Michael McNeilley.

pull of   
the abyss

I walk out to the mailbox and though 
there is no letter from you again, there is 
a free trip to Japan, 
and a box of chocolate-covered haiku, 
and I eat the haiku though they are 
strictly off my diet, 
and I forward the free trip to Japan, 
which is not addressed to me anyway, 
to its rightful recipient.
I walk out to the mailbox and find 
the path particularly long, unusually steep, 
rutted and rocky but dry at least, 
and the mailbox hands me a letter - 
the letter is from an ex-wife - 
she is gloating about her recent sexual experiences 
with a prior ex-husband - 
and I take the letter back to the house with me, 
up a particularly steep and rocky path home, 
and repackage it with a cover letter 
to the editor of Handjob, 
and glide back down the hill to the mailbox 
which accepts this gift in the spirit given, 
swallows it like cough syrup, 
with a tiny burp.

I walk out to the mailbox and am moved 
by the mailbox's inner beauty - 
I open the mouth of the mailbox, 
pull out its long aluminum tongue 
and it regurgitates to me a t-shirt catalog 
from the fat guy clothing store, 
but the fat guy clothing store catalog t-shirts 
shrink after a few washings 
so that fat guys can't wear them anymore, 
and I put the catalog back in the mouth of the mailbox 
like a wafer to its tongue 
and close the jaw and pull up the 
red flag.

I walk out to the mailbox alert to dodge 
the drug-crazed grannies of death, 
who drive Plymouth minivans up and down my street 
tranqued out on multiple prescriptions 
of Medicaid serotonin reuptake inhibitors, 
valium and alprazolam, health store valerian 
and reds from the bingo palace, 
cursing me through their rolled-up windows, 
waving bony fingers I try to ignore - 
and find the mailbox full of birthday cards.

I walk out to the mailbox just as 
the sun comes out, blazing like death, 
and Ed McMahon appears from behind a bush 
waving a big sign FREE! - FREE! - FREE! 
a check the size of a billboard rises 
behind him and he yells to me, 
"this check could have your name on it, if...." 
and I run back to the house muttering 
"I'm sorry I cannot afford to accept 
any more gifts at present."

I walk out to the mailbox 
and instead of your letter I find 
a small white envelope from the IRS 
and I know it is not a check 
and I feel like a '78 Firebird with one 
plug wire off, straining up a mountain road, 
sputtering and missing, the hot smell of 
burning oil, radiator hissing, wheel drawn by 
the pull of the abyss.

I walk out to the mailbox and the mailbox contains 
an inflatable wheelchair, 
and I pull it out and blow 
into one tire and blow into the 
other tire and blow up the frame, the seat, 
the back, the little wheels in front 
until I am too tired too tired to stand 
and I sit down but the wheelchair grabs me, 
pulls out huge rolls of duct tape, 
tapes me down and I am 
glad you are not here to see me, 
wheelchair-bound.

I roll out to the mailbox and find a card 
from the government granting me health, 
and a bill from the government for 
"health and other services," 
but the bill is more than I can pay 
and I push my wheelchair into the envelope, 
seal it with a kiss, and send it off, 
postage due, and still I feel better.

I walk out to the mailbox and find 
a woman is leaning against it, 
holding a bottle of Jameson's - 
she wears a tiny black dress like a message 
from inside some smaller bottle, 
her red hair the color of sailors' delight, 
and I ask "how may I help you," and she says 
"do you have any grey poupon?" 
And I say no, no I only have regular American mustard, 
the yellow kind, taxicab yellow mustard like 
for corndogs, and she says, "that'll do, then," 
and the evening begins without error.

I walk out to the mailbox and 
I walk out to the mailbox and 
I walk out to the mailbox and turn and 
cannot see my way home, the mailbox glistens 
like an iceberg in the chill winter morning air, 
foghorns in the far and bitter distance, 
and I stand on the slanting deck of my life 
as the band strikes up one last tune 
and deck chairs slide past me into the 
cold Atlantic, whispering 
your name.

Published in: 
So It Goes #16 
© 1995, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA. 
Suburbanterrain #2 
© 1997, Camden Town, London, England.



a clean-shaven man  

I was doing club fights in Fort Worth  
in a joint called the Leprechaun  
4-rounders mostly  
for $50 and meals and drink chips  
and a room when I needed one  
I won more than I lost  
stayed down when I needed to  
moved from light-heavy to heavyweight  
because the food wasn't bad  
spent most of my days in the weight room  
those were good months 
the best night  
and the one guy I still remember  
big and ugly with a wiry beard  
the kind that comes up almost to the eyeballs  
named Blutarski or something  
they called him Bluto  
and he snarled and played the part  
it seemed to come natural to him  
to piss people off  
the crowd hated him it was a lot like  
professional wrestling  
but our crowd was more sophisticated  
and needed real blood 

it was an 8-rounder and  
Bluto dogged me from the introductions  
talking his line of shit  
glaring at me and spitting  
I had a tequila hangover and a fight  
with some dancer the night before  
I forget her name now  
but Christ she had a mouth  
so I'd been called enough names already  
and one glob of spit landed on my shoe  
and Bluto looked at me like he'd  
scored a knockout and called me  
a little chickenshit and I decided  
to stand him up for a while 

 I was light for a heavy  
he must've had me by 40 pounds  
but he walked through his rounds like  
my grandma and didn't know shit about boxing  
I think he was a bar bouncer  
maybe used to play football  
used to outweighing and outmuscling  
but I'd had 87 amateur fights  
and learned from my mistakes  
and you could tell most of his fights  
had been with some poor drunk 

I let him chase me around for a while  
muttering and cursing and trying  
to give me the finger with his glove on  
trying to tie me up and thumb me in the eye  
hitting on the break going low  
the usual no-talent bullshit  
and I got on my horse and rode  
and in the 4th he spit out his mouthpiece  
so he could cuss me better  
but they made him put it back in 

I waited till he got sloppy  
then after one break feinted left  
he bought the fake and I jumped right  
and landed a wide hook to his ear  
rang his bell and the look in his eyes changed  
just like I knew it would  
he started protecting his face after that  
and I worked his body like a heavy bag  
bent over and pounding  
skipping back when I could feel him  
tense to come after me and  
the heart drained out of him  
like blood from a hung deer 

I kept gutpunching him until I  
I bruised the hell out of the ribs on his  
left side probably cracked one  
and he bent his left arm down and held it in  
which was what I'd wanted all along  
and I switched to southpaw  
and started jabbing him with my right  
hooking him with the left  
he'd never seen that before  
didn't know what to do about it  
swatted at me like a flyswarm wincing  
and grew a mouse under his eye  
and by the time his eye contact went out  
and he started watching the ref  
and the cursing and spitting stopped  
it was way too late for him  
I'd hated him that long  
I couldn't let him down 

one of the cornermen hated him too  
he saw what I was doing  
and buffed my gloves with sandpaper  
he'd hid in a towel  
I hooked old Bluto to the ribs just often enough  
to keep his left down  
and threw that nasty right jab  
straight on with a clockwise twist at the end  
that pulls the skin to ribbons  
and the crowd loved it  
the ref's white shirt turned pink  
and Bluto looked like a steak with a beard  
I stayed away from his eyebrows  
blood in the eyes and they'll stop it 

he hit me one good one in the balls  
but that's what cups are for  
the crowd booed and threw shit at him  
and he didn't try it again  
I knocked his mouthpiece back out  
and this time nobody handed it to him  
he went down in the 8th but his manager  
was disgusted and wouldn't throw the towel in  
and he waited out the count on his knees  
and I walked up to him bent down  
spit my mouthpiece on him and said  
"I'm strong to the finich"  
they should've stopped it on cuts  
but that almost never happened cuts  
were the point 

they gave me extra chips for a good win  
and I sat in the lounge with a rare steak  
cleaned up and hair greased back  
tired but my whole body one big smile  
and this one dancer from the club  
a blonde with the lungs of a pearldiver  
kept looking at the bandaid on my chin  
cut yourself shaving?  
she asked I laughed  
you shoulda seen the other guy  
and she said  
I like a clean shaven man  
and sat with me and I used some chips  
on gin martinis  
not something I'd drink myself 

I went to the head  
and worked the old penny jimmy  
on the rubber machine  
rattled the handle back and forth until  
the little boxes sprayed everywhere  
I filled my pockets left behind a couple  
that fell in the urinal  
next time I came in they were gone  
I got a laugh out of that 

she ran the little plastic wrapped boxes  
through her hands like diamonds  
smiled up at me like any princess  
and we tore into them  
blew them up and sailed them around the room  
till the whole joint was laughing  
I said I'm Mike what's your name  
she said her name was Olive  
and we laughed some more  
you've filled out some I said  
she said I'm pumped up 

they threw us out at closing  
and I felt my pockets and not  
thinking too fast said shit  
we blew up all the rubbers  
I never had much subtlety  
and she laughed and reached in her bra  
and pulled out 2 little packages and said  
I gotta couple 

her room was a lot nicer than mine  
gold walls with green curtains  
flocked wallpaper and a decent stereo  
and she put on Scott Joplin records  
which are just as good as Bolero  
just as good as blues  
better than Mozart  
for the occasion 

I woke early  
feeling better than I'd expected  
hey you lowered my blood pressure  
I told her  
like you lowered Bluto's she said  
and we started the day  
laughing some more  
your name isn't really Olive is it?  
I asked her and she answered  
it was last night  
and we got back in the bed  
under the forest canopy  
of Texas morning light  
blasting through green curtains  
and laughed and laughed  
some more

© 1995 by Michael McNeilley 
To be published in 1998 by Atom Mind 
From the chapbook Punch Lines, © 1998, AAR Press, Seattle, WA. 



before the sky begins to grey

pull down stars and pour them in a bag
put the moon away in careful wrapping
push trees aside to clear a space 
turn back the wind for now

roll up the carpet of voices
brush away stones of distraction
fall back into my arms
just close your eyes and breathe
it makes no difference if we find
what we think we are looking for
so long as we do not forego
what there is to find
the space between breathing out
and breathing in is our assent
the sky burns quiet into morning
and timing is everything

© 1995 by Michael McNeilley
Graphic © Janet Bernichon


visiting hour

the rain paints a glow
around each arc light
high above the yard
like haloed harvest moons
and water drips and sparkles
on the chain links.
the moms are not
on average bad-looking -
one in tight knit pants
another with flowing red hair.
they leave one at a time.
they do not speak.

then a mom and a dad
come out together
gesturing against
the glaring dark
their mutual laughter
incongruous
but their faces harden
as they divide toward 
separate cars.
and the door buzzes out
another mom who turns the corner
and I see the common feature -
a stiff set to the jaw
eyes somehow unfocused
and a walk too quick
not brisk but more as if
afraid they might begin
to run.
one or two attempt a proud
look of self confidence
but their eyes betray -
shadows surround them
from the many lights -
they walk in pools of shadows.
and you turn the corner
past the red sign that reads -
Warning! Juvenile Detention -
framed by lights and barbed wire
you are momentarily
unfamiliar.
your face in that same set
like some sort of stroke victim -
your eyes pools of sorrow
and I spill this sad cup
of coffee that was all
I thought to bring you.
you stand there in
the shadow of the car -
out of the lights nothing 
in your hands and we wait
to look each other
in the eye
and watch instead
the rainy blacktop
and the one short shadow
you cast now -
the size of a 
small boy.
and glancing back together
we must look away again -
look up to see
the moon has built
a fence
against the stars.

from: Grift
© 1995, God's Bar Press, Stewart Manor, NY
Published in Cross-Connect, University of Pennsylvania, 1995.






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