R. W. Haynes – Five Poems

R. W. Haynes, Professor of English at Texas A&M International University, teaches early British literature and Shakespeare. His poetry collections Laredo Light (Cyberwit) and Let the Whales Escape (Finishing Line Press) appeared in 2019.

Another collection titled Heidegger Looks at the Moon came out in November 2021 from Finishing Line, and the same press will issue The Deadly Shadow of the Wall in November 2022.

Promising Editor Chokes on Latte

She had it all going her way. The sky
Fell upon her as she gave a verse a smirk
Because she thought it quaint for rhyme to work
In an age when the aged are better off to die.
She clutched at her iPhone, an open pack of snacks
Exploded everywhere, her thrift-store vest
Bespattered with darkness as if to suggest
A mortal wound from the fiercest of hacks,
And an unearthly shriek froze her friends in place.
The sky, Miss Editor, was heavy, but metaphor–
Not even that of the line that shook her–
Never killed anyone, and she rescued her face.
How near we came to literary disaster
When she smirked so as one line passed her.

Stack of Sonnets Explodes in Harmonious Self-Justification

We sonnets broadcast through a cracker brain
Resist the scrambled spontaneity
Effused forever through crack-brained society,
Yodeling of dissolution, casual pain,
So we play in a cycle of cynical joy
Gifted by loving and considerate Muses,
Laughing at the mess that discord refuses
To claim as its camouflaged decoy,
Gasping with badly concealed delight
While nature’s mechanisms chortle and roll,
Applauded politely by the universe’s soul,
And the tap-dancing sisters party all night,
Pouring happy buckets of sweetly-sloshing wine,
Blessing the pulpwood, the rank turpentine.

The Formal-Verse Anarchist in the Hat, Dark Glasses, and False Mustache

Well, ladies and gentlemen, Lord Byron’s good wit
Saved him from madness, and, as you recall,
Shelley noted tyranny always will fall,
Eventually, with the desert smothering it.
Keats, though, with bibliomantic rapture,
Fantasized wildly of staring out to sea
With a trail of blood behind him, blood and misery,
With no royal prisoners left him to capture.
Young guys write like that, or once they did,
Though now they twitter, or chatter, like crows,
Happy as hedgehogs where least resistance grows—
Think about emotion? Oh, Tantalus forbid!
I’ve spoken too much. Let me sneak away
And contemplate no more sedition today.

On Driving Slowly to the Atlantic to Confront My Brother’s Memory

“Waitin’ for a phone call,
At the wrong end of a broom…”
                 –John Prine, “Crazy As a Loon”

The airplane would be parked the next morning
At the airport in Jacksonville, its engines sucking air
And raring to fly the hell out of there
Incinerating sea air into vast speed.

Yeah, you and I cruised over to Jekyll
In the little yellow MG you bought
When you got back with all you brought
From Vietnam, scars, a permanent sunburn.

We drank an armful of sweet, cheap wine,
Bought in a small-town Seven-Eleven,
The decorated tank commander’s river to heaven,
And you recited, with mad decoration
All the kings of England, and their adventures.

The tiny car, replete with reefer smoke,
Chortled through the flatwoods, me insane
With laughter, but you wouldn’t shut up,
And I couldn’t breathe, those crazy lies,
Delivered with a kind of demented conviction—
O, those crowned clowns, dynasties of stooges,
Fucking up right and left, I couldn’t stop laughing,
And still I cannot, just thinking of you.

Quality Control Is a Form of Ethics

Don’t kick the best musician out of the band,
Even if he just barely stays out of jail.
The Muses are his lawyers, and they never fail
To fire up his heart and steady up his hand.
Y’all ain’t exactly a hot gaggle of saints,
With halos glowing around your scruffy heads
Inspiring the nuns in their devoted beds,
The kind of guys a mystic painter paints.
Mothers beware of characters like you,
And rightly so, so don’t jump to conclusions
About a less than perfect but inspired
Musician, even if you all are tired
Of all his lapses, errors and confusions.
Let his blessed gift of music justify
Your patience: play on, and let the music fly.



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