mark s kuhar

the galloping road that leads out of ohio

what color is the galloping road that leads out of ohio?
red, the color of screaming alarm? blue, of descending sadness?
green, the color of lush growth? brown, of fecund decay?
does the road that leads out of ohio glow orange
like the third eye of a flame, of dying autumn oaks, melting foundry metal?

ohio is not the end of the world, they say
but in winter you might see it from there if you look long & hard enough
lean over its quaking ledge, peer below, vanish southward like swarms of moths
looking for the brightest of porch lights
the porch light is on tonight & crickets click,
mosquitos seek blood sustenance, rabbits cautiously peer, raccoons stalk slowly in shadows, up the road in plowed fields green spikes appear
under creepy moonlight, bony tree branches
kick with skeleton legs, one by one living room lights
& tv screens fade to black & by default this entire town becomes mine

ohio you have a strange cadence, the beat
of rain on truck stop trailers, the thump of friday night football marching bands
the repetitions of factory machines in labor
robust backhoe crawlers trenching under bleached heat
the stirring of massive pots in penitentiary kitchens,
one kiss follows another in the dark of purring automobiles

ohio tell me what you have to offer me
your rolling maple hills? brick public squares?
dusty hardware store smiles? lost cities? lemonade afternoons?
snaking river basins? tall silos?
a great gray blotch of lake water with gravel beaches
& sad, seasoned people? your song of hope? the blank wonder in your eyes?

ohio your geography is not enough to hold me
you move slow, in a tranquil coma
i seek big thoughts, not a small welcome
i need temptation, tangible evidence
i want to hold the heat of bronze love
feel the sting of a scorpion moment in which
i strip away part of myself to find myself
i'll never do that in your hollow hand
& i can't convince you at all why this is true

ohio i need bright neon day-glo rainbow colors,
not your mauve & faded blue, wheat & ivory white
one day i will glimmer, glitter like
your own personal galaxy of tears,
all for you, something i could never offer you
lost beneath your dim woolen skies


Jimmy the saint gets a new toaster

i'm over at
jimmy the saint's
house & he drags
me into the kitchen,
sez, ya gotta see
my new toaster oven
man, it's beautiful,
pulls out a shining
chome counter-top
job that glistens in the
ceiling lights, it makes
the greatest grilled
cheese, he sez, &
when i do my wheat
toast with cinnamon
& butter in the morning
it's heaven, i just look
over at him & think,
this guy's really gotta
get a girlfriend,
then i correct myself,
at least you get excited
about something, i
say, crumbs falling
on the counter like
tiny smiling ants


if i had a crown like a king

if i had a crown like a king
i'd flip it over, bowl-like &
fill it with corn flakes & milk,
maybe a chopped up banana
have a great breakfast,
then wash it out with dish
washing liquid, fill it with
bird seed & take it out
back to feed the cardinals,
collect pine cones & bring
them inside to spray paint
& glitter with the kids, pour
water in it & let the dog
drink from it, if i had to
run up to the grocery
store & it was cold, i'd dry
it out, put it on my naked
head to keep the snow off
& wear it in the produce
section as i picked out
organic apples & carrots,
if i had a crown like a king

lights in the rearview mirror

i peek in the rearview mirror
& there is a police car following
me, i look at my speedometer
& damn if i'm not just past
the 35 mph limit, i slow down
just a bit, alternate glances
between the mirror & the
road ahead, i make a right turn,
the cop makes a right turn,
following me closely, i'm
wondering what this bastard
has in mind, trying to make me
sweat? got up on the wrong
side of the bed? needs a damn
jelly donut? i turn again & he
turns with me, i'm rolling slow
trying to get him off my back
i turn again & he's still with
me, buzzcutmotherfucker
head tilted just following
wherever i go, i turn into
a 7-11 & pull into a parking
place, he hesitates, then
rolls on up the road without
me, i go inside, my heart
an anxiety rhythm, grab
a six pack, i'm going to
drink & drive, just to
do something really wrong
next town over can't come
fast enough & the sunset
is mean like morning to me

answer to the riddles of the universe

i'm rewriting the genetic code
in my spare time, a massive
undertaking covered with
sugar & empty green bean cans,
this eternal wisdom i've
been given manifests itself
in mysterious ways, i speak
the language of cold french
fries, see hidden meaning in
the way a string is tied around
the stair rail, am able to sub-
consciously feel the way a
soap bubble pops as it rises
slowly from the lips of a two-
year-old toward the mad harangue
of blue heaven, i've said it
before & i'll say say it again, if
you turn to page 32 in any book
you will find the answer to
the riddles of the universe, me
i'm a leg man, i love the way
your calf muscles flex as you
walk along the sidewalk as
perfect as pure whipped cream

free in the highstoned cosmos

the cosmos is stoned
swirling mercurial matter
colors that vault over
planets & comets
awash in a buzz
of universal
i am free in the
highstoned cosmos
floating like
melting over the
peaks & valleys
follow markk
into this ocean
of spiritsmoke
& you & i
we shall dance
hand in hand
with godenergy zoom

dirge of the empty closet

on the second floor, the closet,
i open the door, turn on the
light, no shirts, just empty
hangars where they once hung,
my hawaiian don ho special,
gone, my 12 bowling shirts,
oh where is the red one,
schwanski's junk yard on
the back, i'm missing all of my
black short sleeve t-shirts
my ratty old blue psychowear
long sleeve crew neck, the
wooly llbean special i got
at gunpoint during that holdup,
yes, i opened the door & all
my shirts are gone, i still own
a few pair of pants, oh i don't
like to wear those much, anymore

tropical woodwin voice vibrations (the grooved immaculate)

i vibrate from the inside
a wavering, the same way
a truck drives over a bridge
& dumps its contents, the
certain grooved immaculate
something you feel on the nights
when no one is home the roof
covers nothing, the faraway
yield of trespass hunches, to
live these words speaking. . .

the infidel, the cowboy,
cat burglar, counterfeit
mephisto, the triad in
black ape wings, against
versus, the enemy, the
staggering compost target
that opens up to you in
a citadel of bells, each
echo a rhyme
these words speaking. . .

nostalgia is a bad memory,
thoughts a backfired plan,
a smile melonfaced omen,
stomach churning opens
the fairy lingering in
a bruised epsom salts
of western vedettas, the
horse that runs across the
foothills bucks, whinneys
these words speaking. . .

the grief of yer resistance
is the pain of remeniscance
the nude ballast you carry
in the fog of yer pockets
like ice cubes, lugnuts,
the marshmellows of yellow
fortune, my face turns yer
direction, if you would move
the chess piece once across the
board the rook is a fink with
a gun these words speaking. . .

last night i heard yer revving
instances, the hotwired panel of
yer perfume, the odor of silk
scented fabric that covers yer
back, window screens in tiny
lace, latched weave like a
crochet grammar, we apply
to the math of this modality
the faith of your convictions
like hot liquor that possesses
our mutual seduction, these
gilded rhythms strain beneath
the weight of thin tomorrows,
hot & etherized, moving,
alive, these words speaking

lazarus rides the phoenix back to cleveland in blue vapor trails

lazarus come forth -
phoenix, arise!

bust out of yr
rusty tomb,
shed yr white cloth
scattered molecules
congealed once
more into
a glorious &
panoramic whole

lazarus with eyes
blinking, looks left,
looks right, a minefield
of missed opportunities,
fire in the city, the
farms plowed under,
advertising billboards
on every obscene
corner, the rags of
of yr riches in dirt
enamored of dust

lazarus resurrected
man in twilight, beat
a stone liberation
lazarus on streets
of asphalt & bone,
bathed in an ooze of
neon, an incense of
cut glass & glory

phoenix rising,
lifting into gray
clouds that explode
into sprinkles of
orangeish sun,
egg yolk thick
ostrich moons
wings spread
in a feather
feast of wind
that parts & bends
an acquiesence,
a surrender to
yr tremulous altitudes

this is the time
when lazarus
& the phoenix
meet, for the
mingling of
mythology &
high spirit, the
breach of all
the revolutions
& epogees you
create in the
name of sheer

lazarus alift
upon the wide
girth of the
of the phoenix

brothers in arms
sisters of soul
a speeding androgyny
of mutual energetics

lazarus calls upon
you to make yr
move, a flight
path of beauty
& all perfect

lazarus rides
the phoenix to
new york, lazarus
rides the phoenix to
dallas, lazarus rides
the phoenix to chicago
lazarus rides the
phoenix to los angeles
lazarus rides the phoenix
to miami lazarus
rides the phoenix to
atlanta lazarus rides the
phoenix back to cleveland
in blue vapor trails

my angle of yaw
perfect in giving
this arioso a life
of its own, oh
bo tree yr wisdom
flings on demand

byzantine chantmaker of the towering ages

suspended over midamerica
in vast cloudcover airstorms
above long furrows of dirt
sprinkled with the cream of ages
it occurs to me that what i touch
is mere frozen vibration, the lost
byproduct of a dream congealed

& i am a dreamer
& this is the dreaming
& that is a dream
& dreaming can't manifest
without the dreamer
without this dream

a harrowing thunder of hours
the hot things that become me,
the visions that will transpire,
an ogre of restlessness
crowns a dire anxiety,

a breathing that comes
in great heaving huffs
this ocean of breath, the possession
of apt breath the acres of breathing
possible crosscurrents jacked up
like a cracked axle, greased breath,
inflation breath, explode breath

across snowjangled forest floors
a three-legged dog ambles
the snap of frozen twigs
the thick rustle of fallen
leaves crusted with ice
the territory of the lost bird
this map of conciousness
this yellow fog of time

my thoughts predate me
my memories fall into place
my paths grow arms that
point multiple directions
like a thousand-armed shiva

in winter the grass is green
beneath white cotton cloth
snow remnants that arise through
the surface in a fertile growth
over these things i pass like
a byzantine chantmaker of the
towering ages, walking streets
where the walking empowers
the streets, the triangle halo
of my ancient tonal connection
the oasis of my orbit around you

& you walking upon the water
where the walking empowers
the water, your message is a
swarm of love, your tactics
a gift of the somersault cosmos

three trees sprouting from the
earth like pitchfork tines,
either turn the hay in harvest
fields, or plunge it in deep

from where you're standing
look out into rays of radioactivity
through transcendental oceans,
crevices, tall mood arrowheads
righteous reactions, revelations,
the unison of inspired revolutions,

this turning that turns for me & me only
the enfant terrible of my true regard

mikey, the stick-up at the convenient store

mikey, the stick-up at the convenient store
was not your doing, there are things you
can't foresee & motions which can't be helped,
they walked in separately, picked up candy bars,
potatoe chips, cans of chef boy-r-dee spaghetti-o's
looked at iced tea & soda in the refrigerator,
you barely even noticed, looking at a porn mag
held on yer lap underneath the counter, then
one guy barred the door the other apprached
you, stuck a 9mm in yer face & demanded all
the cash, you obliged completely, handed over
everything you had, even told them, follow me,
i'll show you where you can get more, gave them
the bank envelope from the desk in the back,
the two guys fled into the night, grabbing some
beef jerky for the road, you did the right thing,
mikey, you finished reading the porn mag before
you even thought of calling the cops.

this place i dream of going

this place i dream of going is nowhere,
a cave of my own monastic existence
the multi-hued oracles that rain down
full blessings & gestures upon the
ghosts & animals that disappear into
the pale fog of resistance. this place
i dream of going possesses the magnitude
of all things, encapsulates all that which
can be seen & that which is invisible
into something like a clear liquid pill,
this place i dream of going is one of
white ravens which encircle articulate
smiles, orange doves which dive into
calm oceans without thinking, the black
ointment of hovering suns sticking
to thick skin on diamond-emerald
beaches, this place i dream of going
is the place i'm leaving, my cartouche
left behind unhinged by the thoughts
that cannot escape me, the tracks i
leave in the frozen snow will disappear
with the coming of the fugitive spring

I watch you like a traffic accident

you can chop down
compassionate forests,
sleepwalk at midnight,
crash yr car into the
lonely vacuum of lost
rowhouses, emit a signal
like the distant beeping
of radio towers, stare
for long hours at sunsets
that hang nervously over
tretcherous horizons,
forge red money &
mottled coins in the
basement of yr zinc
twlilight, connect wires
that stutter ignition to
life in dank parking
lots, complain about
the nice weather, open
all the doors & windows
to let light & air inside
the dwellings of yr
questionable logic,
oh baby i watch you
like a traffic accident,
not turning away when
i know i should, slowing
down, backing up cars
for miles & miles


like the droning ring of faraway church bells

old hattie bends over, tends her vegetables,
tilling brown loam, specks of lime & manure,
inside the house the phone rings & rings
crows sit in anticipation on dead branches
old hattie wipes her forehead on her forearm
straw sun hat fraying on a wrinkled head
in the distance the growl of a lawn mower,
the unearthly hum of far freeway traffic,
the phone rings & rings, no one answers it.
mail wrapped in rubberbands sits in the box,
a blurry curtain of heat rises from roof shingles.
it will be a good year for tomatoes, lettuce
onions & radishes, corn & sunflowers.
old hattie looks up, sees a black car slowly turn,
burps smoke as it huffs into the driveway.
inside the phone rings like the droning ring
of faraway church bells & everyone stands up


white dog in a cemetary at dawn

i see a white dog move
with lucid grace between the
marble headstones, stops
to sniff at a weed-covered slab,
frozen, listens to something
between the rows that stand
in stark & mute silence
then sprints off toward the north
paws all akimbo & fur flying
i see the dog disappear
into a grove of oak trees
roots buried a thousand feet deep
leaves shivering in the cold air
the sun in searing curvature
on the fault line of immortal earth


junkyard memory of spit-shine polished steel

we sat in the ancient corner of the junkyard
& old man roosh was none the wiser,
sweating in his tin-roofed shed, swilling gin
or rummaging through piles of car batteries,
alternators, head lights, dinged hub caps
for a fifty-cent part, some beat mechanic waiting
by the front gate for him to return from that
great rusted ocean of destroyed cars & engines,
that post-war gasoline scrap metal refuge,
it was a junkyard, pure & simple, a trash heap
but '54 chevy bodies & 55-gallon drums
elicit a wicked allure, wrecked & wasted,
left for dead, forgotten as if in a pauper's grave,
old man roosh, hard of hearing, his red cap
bobbing in limping rhythm down haggard rows,
never noticed our huddled muffled laughter,
we sat behind thick two-tone car doors
lined up like a fence, telling each other
fantastic stories, preposterous dramas
kissing in the summer heat like sillouette idiots,
each car seeming to light up as if brand new,
a junkyard memory of spit-shine polished steel
& days when drunks & lovers crashed in front seats,
rt. 66 all the way to the coast, big daddy,
& the only thing chaining a kid to town
was tick tick tick, restless & anxious
the infernal wasted passage of singing time


laughing in the ruins of chippewa lake park

there is a place along the rusted chain-link fence,
a section that has been cut clean, & while
it looks impenetrable, we lift it from the bottom
& yank it through the weeds just far enough,
slip underneath, in secret, at sinking dusk,
with beer & a couple of joints, & just like that
we're inside the ruins of chippewa lake park

wooden support scaffolds of the old roller coaster
still cross-hatch the sky, paint peeling,
like a reconstruction of dinosaur bones,
& the dance hall still stands, windows broken,
floorboards creaking, the stage blank, empty
echoed sounds of benny goodman, tommy dorsey,
1940s orchestra fox trot music, cheek-to-cheek dances,
once blaring to war-torn hearts in hormone sweat

the old fun house door opens to a cob-webbed cavern
cracked asphalt pavement, dilapidated signs
point the way to docks, hotel, games, midway lights
busted dark long ago, canceled, putt-putt course
overgrown with the hunger of crab grass & dandelions
out on the lake, once there were water ski shows,
a steamboat, all watched by picnickers on soft lawns,

now a lonely fishing boat bobs in place, solitary
silhouette casts lines into the cold water
looking for a good bass, a catfish, nothing
you & i pass a joint back & forth
crouch next to the old pavilion,
roof falling in, weedy, vacant & in silence
we cough up childhood memories about times
when nothing mattered but the tinny music,
crackling loudspeaker static, clowny games
& for some reason you start to laugh,

& i laugh & we can't stop the laughter
we stumble back toward the arched entrance
where the downhill path leads to the desolate
parking lot once filled with ramblers, chevy impalas,
ford fairlanes, & we stop in dusky twilight
still laughing, laughing in the ruins of chippewa lake park
a laugh for crashing its desperate old soul

i own the world at four o'clock in the morning

quarter moon drops down
into a faded yellow smile slice
the night is calm as acoustic guitar music
threadbare notes fingerpicked sweetly
on the shoulders of the wet wind
on the water's edge i can see
the heads of turtles poke up
through the ripples, mouths moving
songs like soundless terrapin anthems
no one knows what goes on down here
about the simple magic
beside this brooding sullen lake
safe in locked houses, on couches
or in quiet beds sleeping soundly
i own the world at four o'clock
in the morning & i'm
desperate not to share it with
anyone else, except, maybe you


a solitary confinement of clandestine perceptions

when little spiders bark & black ants bellow
wailing songs of the sun-drenched morning,
i bark & bellow with them, my kindred spirits.
i wake among moving human masses, watch
the determined waltz of self-satisfaction,
the way a man will eat his young to achieve.
the absence of cultivation, a destruction.
on the leaves of oak trees outside my window
caterpillars wave with sticky pods, clutching,
& a chipmunk dances from ivy bed to hole.
i'm right there waving & dancing, focused
on the need of the moment, a recluse of sorts
in the hallowed interior grace of this mere moment.
there are days when i wake, & enter forced participation
certain that i am completely alone. the only human
feeling the seeds of this, locked in a solitary confinement
of clandestine perceptions, & when a worm shimmies
beneath a flat stone & a bee punches a flower,
i shimmy & punch, clear my eyes again, pretend


fourth of july, tubing down the willamette

we're somewhere half-way along that rippled stretch
of the winding willamette river, draped over huge inflated
truck tire innertubes, three of us, on a mad fourth of july,
when my franz kafka t-shirt vanishes. washed away,
sunk to murky depths, what am i doing with a t-shirt
in the water anyway? don't know. trailing the remnants of a
12-pack of henry weinhard behind me in a mesh bag, i finish
my beer & tear open another. i lament. i loved that shirt.
amy takes aim at me, wet ringlets of hair & white face
frozen in bemused anticipation, about to pounce softly.
your problem, you know, is you're afraid to open up to the world.
stoned bleary eyes stare at me, her small hiccup laugh.
i ain't afraida nothin', i shoot back, that isn't afraida me first.
amy's friend rizzo yaps loud: when we get to the nude beach
i'm strippin' fast & goin' in hard! he laughs with a whoop,
amy & i exchange looks, heads thrown back hard on black rubber,
the sun bounces off my dome in zig-zag yellow richochets.
caravans of tubers bob & float around us, lazy hemp heads
whirl the same direction at the same spacy non-speed,
& when we get to the giant rock formation, behind it
the famous nude beach, sure enough, rizzo strips naked
& vanishes behind the rocks, pink fleshy shoulders & legs,
(& occasionaly more) visible from the shore. trust me, not much
to see back there, amy says, hands me a joint, coughs once,
happy independence day, i say, smiling, fireworks in hand