Vignette for Spring

April shakes winter’s hollow limbs beyond the screen.
Poplar branches clatter and brittle in pieces
to lie shattered and sapless on the lane.

Shun the narcissus; its yellow coronas trumpet
the lie of resurrection. A lover you will never meet
passes by, his hair struck silver in the mounting sun.

His gaze points toward heaven. The red of his lips
goes forever unkissed. A mandolin laughs
from a window somewhere, a vibrating string
snaps to startle the ear.

©JP Reese 2010
First Published in Corium Magazine, December, 2010


There is little risk in painting yourself invisible.
Stripped of old habits, there is talent in capturing
the image of no one.

Another day waits
to be endured, balanced loosely
like a brush held by unremarkable fingers.

Ignore the colors that tempt from the palate.
They eventually assume the deadly brown
of footprints struck in the muck of rain-pelted clay.

Do not count on mirrors, they offer no reflection.
Danger rests in believing the honest blue of the sky.
It will break your heart to presume to see.

©JP Reese 2010
First Published in Corium Magazine, December, 2010

Oh, Hell

First you die in August or some other month
or someone kills you in Detroit; the Galapagos.
your driveway; your dreams, or you drown. But
you don’t rack up points for how it happens.
Or when. Or why. Even if you suffered.
No points. No one cares. No donut.

Then you see this woman. Funky red horns
look phalically familiar—Some kind of tail.
She waves a flowered bow tie.
A searchlight extends from her forehead.
A can of spray paint clutched between her thighs,
she points a jeweled fingernail at the wall.
You stroll, read tags from the Koran, Tora! Tora! Tora!
Mein Kampf, Lassie, The Gnostic Gospels and
Tender Buttons in Day-Glo orange and pink.
There is a tunnel. A sign reads,
“Gemillut Chassadim, Do Not Go This Way,”
so you don’t.

A bald Hindu lawyer wearing Pampers
imprinted with wireless spectacles
spreads his arms to block a smoked glass door
behind which you glimpse a party going on.
He smiles. His mouth swallows his head.
You eye the submarines, want to crawl inside,
become one with shredded lettuce, mayo, Swiss cheese.
No nukes here, no triage, no wounded to nurse, or shoot.
You lick your finger, taste day-old codfish.

A stroll to the gift shop bends each minute
like a Dali watch as you wait to get this trip straight
with the ticket machine. There are pens
with red laser lights, Betty Crocker Devil’s Food
cake mix, pickled jalapenos, golden nipple rings
and Ball jars filled with Ass-Kickin’ Chili.
Bob Marley stands too close to you,
a red-eared slider perches like a yarmulke on his head.
He speaks through lips dangling a massive spliff,
“Do not lose your head, you are not really here.”

Spike Lee, caped like Zorro, struts over the threshold,
his left arm draped around Lina Wertmuller.
Lina feeds a dog-eared copy of Swept Away
By An Unusual Destiny in the Blue Sea of August
into his mouth. She tugs Spike’s mustache
because Giancarlo Gianini is not here to make her laugh.
She has strung blue eyes and rabbit’s feet
from a chain around her neck

Spike hands you these things—
A metal pail with sides that rainbow
like trout flanks under water, overflowing
with stone crabs from Joe’s and spiked hands,
a black leather Laker’s cap,
and a rather curt note —from God.
The postscript scrawled across the bottom
in number two pencil reads,
“Must have missed your connection, dude.
Have a nice stay.”

©JP Reese 2011
First published at Precious Metals

New Friends

John Doew (Writer) – x

clear chat history

Me 4:02am
Can’t sleep either? ; )

John 4:03am
Hi. How are you?

Me 4:03
Fine. What are you doing up so late? or is it early? ; ) You must be writing. I friended Amy Tan yesterday. I love being friends with writers. It’s so inspiring.

Me 4:05
—You still there?

John 4:06
Sorry. I was writing—an early piece of my memoirs. I have to get it all down while I have time or I’ll forget. I like to multi-task.

Me 4:06
Your memors?

Me 4:06
I mean “cool”

Me 4:07
..and “memoirs,” of course. Sorry it’s early. : )

John 4:08
How’s your daughter doing? Was it Stacey? At least she’s sleeping, I trust. LOL

Me 4:09
Yes—Stacey can sleep through a hurricane. She’s fine. When I was twelve, I slept like the dead too ; )

Me 4:10
What are you “getting down” at this hour?

John 4:10
Glad to hear she’s fine. Actually, I have to capture the image of a little girl I once knew on paper before I move on to the next chapter.

Me 4:11
Little girl?

John 4:11
Yes. Adjectives are sometimes difficult for me
I’m trying to think of a word for a strange shade of blue
—Can you think of any adjectives for bluish?

Me 4:11
Cerulean? (sp? ; ) Sky? Navy? Bruise?

John 4:11
Buised blue. Sounds right.

John 4:11

Me 4:11
This giurl is in your memoirs?

John 4:11
Right. I have to remember how her skin felt. I can’t recall if it was damp or dry, and I can’t capture the color of her face in words. I knew her a while ago, so it’s hard to capture the first moment perfectly.

Me 4:15
The first moment of what? : )

Me 4:18
—you still there?

John 4:18
Too bad you’re in Akron. Isn’t it Firestone Park? If we lived closer, we could get together when I have these writer’s blocks at four am and you can’t sleep. It’s always nice to meet “friends” in person. Maybe we could go to Starbucks. LOL.

Me 4:19
John? Are you writting a short story?

Me 4:19
writing ; ) The first moment of what?

John 4:19
Is your daughter in middle-school? They’re so sweet at that age, but it must be hard raising her when you have to work full time and you’re alone. Does she spend a lot of time at your house by herself?

Me 4:20
How do you know I’m raising her alone?

John 4:21
I always like to scroll back through a new friend’s old posts to get a feel for them and their lives. People post such interesting things about themselves on Facebook. Sometimes I can get ideas for stories from them. I noticed your post a few months back about your ex and how he doesn’t pay support or come to visit. So sad. I get to Akron occasionally. Maybe we can have dinner. Celebrate that birthday you’ve been dreading : ) You can bring Stacey. I love kids an…


John 4:24
You there?

John 4:27
Oh, well. I suppose you’ve finally popped off to sleep or maybe that Boston Terrier of yours is howling in the backyard again. Anyway, thanks for the “friending.” Enjoy your Saturday gardening, and I hope we’ll be able to meet in person soon. Sweet dreams…

©JP Reese 2010

First published in the September, 2010 issue of Eclectic Flash

A Letter From Your Sisters

Dear Sylvia and Anne:
We are stuck in your confessional.
We can’t get out. The marriage
of outhouse noise with barnyard pig-grunts
stuffs our ears with ugliness.
You sculpted your pain onto each page,
gaining speed and direction
like the terminal thrusts of a rejected lover.
You knew time was short, the long night
creeping inside your heads. Yet you sought
no creaking door, no key, no light
to seep through cracks and direct your retreat
from the edge. The air crackles,
alive with electro-shock. We turn
and we turn our feet, retrace each step
believed to have led us here
where everything known vanishes.
We smell carbon monoxide and cooking gas
as a bloody sun slips slowly
into a mulberry sea.

© JP Reese
Second Place Winner, IBPC 2000

Postmodern Peanut Butter Sandwich

Expose him, the first thief
who culled the strange fruit,
plundered heartwood
from another man’s tree.
Blue hues, strained through blank,
brittle pages of Southern Baptist bibles
poured over an ivory palate
to pack the cotton panties
of pubescent girls—with a bullet.

Cunning Iago with pompador’d fin,
a hillbilly hipster humping heartbreak
in roadhouse finery. Nothing intrinsic
ever flowed to the North,
save a white boy whose mouth dripped
of sweat-leather sex steeped
in Tupelo breast milk and honey.

Memphis’ man. Androgy’s scam.
Colonel Tom’s Cadillac King.
The slick highway man
polished That’s All Right Mama,
rubbed her clean,
and drove her to Levittown, steamroll’d
over Hoboken, sang gospel ‘til dawn,

whitewashed Vegas
with feather brushes plucked
from a black man’s swansong.
Blind Willie’s voice lies intestate,
while his tunes transcend solid gold.

©JP Reese

First published 2001, The Pinch