Beat Poems


devil flames awakened me

dancing on my bedroom window

in the rented red brick ranch house

where we lived

parallel to Routes 11 and 15

parallel to railroad tracks polished silver

parallel to the wide Susquehanna River

where Sonny and I fished for pregnant carp

and redneck catfish

we hammered with a nail

through the head

to a wooden board

to skin with needle-nose plyers


by the time I got to the trailer

in bare feet and pajama bottoms

to stare at

the inferno

red and orange fire

incinerating the man inside

to a blackened barbecued crisp

nothing I could do

at 14

but watch the trailer tomb burn

in billowing smoke plumes

near river water    

unable to save him

in the trailer where he fried

nothing I could do

but learn

life and death lessons

that teach


how a man I couldn’t see

a man I didn’t know

could disappear


just go up in smoke.