Advice From The Bed Of A Friend


poems by

John Stupp

ISBN: 978-1-59948-528-7, 82 pages, cover price: $14

Release date: May 2015


Stupp_Px_2015_BkStoreJohn Stupp is the author of the Main Street Rag chapbook The Blue Pacific. His poetry has appeared in The Seattle Review, Chelsea, The Pittsburgh Quarterly, 5 AM, The Pennsylvania Review, Prism International and other regional magazines. He has lived and worked in various states as a jazz musician, university instructor, taxi driver, radio news writer, waiter, auto factory laborer and paralegal. He now lives near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with his wife Bette and his dog Buster. When not writing John can be found fishing in South Carolina.

First Cold Night of Autumn

In the mountains
trees practice for winter,
dropping their leaves.
Birds, like thin farmhands
sweep down on rutted back roads,
begging for food.
I’m driving north to Montana
in a ’68 Buick
with a heater that doesn’t work,
past fields that slip away in the mist,
crusted over with the heapage of summer.
Soon the sun will burn
frost smoke clear as ice.
Snow will come as white cloth
bandaging hills with silence.
Trees will be smooth again.

Tonight villages
huddle along the road for warmth.
Their half-open gates
rusted cold until next year,
cry out in the night wind
then they give up and sleep.
Only smoke from a cog-railroad
makes petals in the air over the Rockies,
a flower garden to open somewhere,
after a deepening Christmas.

At the YMCA

At the YMCA
children ripen
on hardwood floors
tramped like summer grass,
where basketballs sleep.
At noon, men
over thirty, and before death,
rattle in the gymnasium,
their pain the only thing
that’s real.
So who could know
one day,
God’s special children
might dance under the shower,
deaf, dumb, strangers to the earth.
Crowding around
their feet make noises on the slippery floor,
the backs of their minds race
across the tile toward daybreak,
the faucet stream pounds on the scalp of dreams.
Small imperfect boys
smile up in the water,
at the tall men
washing themselves with light.

On Main Street

On Main Street
in the evening,
winos and hopheads
lie down to die,
their wings
fluttering along the ground.
I’ve watched them,
full of old poetry,
gamble to know
the empty meaning of the West.

In front of the Cactus Lounge,
wind brandishes shadows
that split bone,
cause rain to fall
from worn jukeboxes.
Inside, a mechanic
from the bowels of Simplot,
falling with love,
dreams of trees
and a red raccoon.
Then he dances
hip-deep in the water.

At midnight
in Idaho,
all activity ceases,
save the sound beneath the Snake and Salmon,
cries beating the air like a flood
of cicadas.
Death again.

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