Fall 2009, Volume 7

Poetry by Jerry Ratch

Not Even

That’s not just a
trinket on her finger,
that’s a rock, a fortress,
a castle. No one
can scale those walls
except Joe Sixpack
slumped beside her
at the airport
They’re not a match
I give it
5 years, max
Not even

Joe wearing shades,
knocked out
by all the sex
and snoring
with his muscles
bulging out of his tee-shirt

Mrs. Hockeymom-to-be,
skinny as a stick,
concentrating hard
on her Glamour
and People magazines
with the worry lines
already creasing
her forehead

and little Billy,
not born yet,
still inside her,
hasn’t even lost
his first soccer

Ode to Poetry Slams

It is a dark and stormy night, naturally
We’re trying to get some sleep
at a Travelodge in Eureka
when I get up at 3 a.m. to write
“Hard motel pillow receives snoring from neighboring room”

O Thesaurus, we need another word
Maybe it should be: captures, or transmits
How about acquires?
Wait, I’ve got it—channels!
That’s it—channels!
Hard motel pillow channels snoring from neighboring room!

I almost said my hard motel pillow
channels snoring from neighboring county

Another county yet?
It’s possible, if the county line runs
directly down the wall between our rooms
but let’s at least try to use some logic here

Okay, we’re really somewhere in France
during the 1920’s and registered as Andre Breton or other
maybe with a wiry moustache
and we’re used to drinking a lot
and our pals are getting high
and there’s drugs and absinthe

And suddenly a fellow named Mon. Logic
flies spread-eagle out a tall window
while a bicyclist is passing by underneath
and suddenly a wailing baby named Mon. Surreal
is born on a lane not dark with trees

And it’s not dark and stormy anymore
It is bright with a surprising reality
or super reality. It’s way too bright
to see ordinary reality, and anyway
I’ve completely forgotten what we were here for—
ah yes, to sleep, to sleep, perchance to dream


To get there we had to fly up on a United Airlines crop duster
with two cocktails and a basket of desiccated crickets for snacks

Instead of landing they pushed us off the wingtips
strapped to parachutes, but it wasn’t so bad
since we were going REAL SLOW, as if in a dream
over pastures filled with cows, giant thinning redwoods
and dense crops of weed with armed guards around them

After touching down we dusted ourselves off
and rented a 1959 Plymouth from an outfit named
Rent-a-Wreck, because no one would pick up hitch-hikers anymore
Things just weren’t the same
We might have been stuck in a time warp
somewhere between the Summer of Love
and the Winter of Our Discontent

When we got to town, I wrote this song at Bev’s Café
after a group of motorcyclists came in and
ordered everything on the menu containing pork:

            I’m a porker through and through
            I eat bacon, pork rinds too
            I eat pork chops, ham and ribs
            I ride Harleys, I tell fibs
            I’m a porker, yes it’s true
            I’m a porker through and through

I was trying to be one of them
Kenny Rogers was in town playing a concert
and the bikers came from miles around to hear him

Apparently they follow him all over the country
It makes a real spectacle everywhere they go
cutting a large swath through all the pig pastures

If you happen to be pink, I’d recommend
not getting in their way. It could get ugly. Butt ugly


BIO: Jerry Ratch has published 12 books of poetry and the novel: Wild Dreams of Reality. Poems published in: Antioch Review, Apple Valley Review, Avec, Beatitude, Brick and Mortar Review, Carolina Quarterly, COE Review, Contact II, Ironwood, Louisville Review, Milvia Street Journal, Negative Capability, Public-Republic.net. Seems, Slant, among others. Website: www.jerryratch.com