Monthly Archives: January 2015

Richmond Explodes

I shouldn’t have known
the things I did before
when mother wasn’t looking
and father doing his chores.
Chores, chores, work away
Mr. station wagon man –
stacking limbs and eyeballs
and feet and hands –
stuff them in – if you can –
“Not discreet, not discreet!”
cried the paper man – who
didn’t know his own toes
were on fire – smoking –
smoking – dying on his own
time…  Fading away from
a day – just a day – any
day when feet and hands
and golf balls fall from the sky…
“Not discreet to leave them in the street!”
as the paperman hacked his own words away,
his soul chasing after…
Station wagon blue, station wagon blue,
what to do? what to do?
with arms and legs from gunpowder kegs?
To the morgue, station wagon man,
We’ll sort them out later.
Later, later, I touched Tammy
Newton’s boob in old station wagon blue.
It was still attached.  She
said she liked it.  She didn’t know
her grandmother’s arm had been there
before mine.  But father did.
I shouldn’t have known
the things I did before.

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© 2015 John Allen Richter
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********* Gladly offered to the fine poets at dversepoets.com

Poet’s Notes about The Poem

At 1: 47 p.m., early afternoon on a cool sunny day, beautiful Saturday, April 6th,1968, four linear blocks of the downtown area of my hometown, Richmond, Indiana, exploded violently. I was 9 years old. There were hundreds of people downtown at the time. My father and godfather were headed downtown also in dad’s 1965 White Ford Country Squire station wagon with blue interior. But they were still six or seven blocks away when the explosion occurred. Dad said he felt his car slide sideways about 10 feet by the blast. Dad drove to the melee just as the fire trucks were arriving. They commandeered both he and his station wagon to carry the wounded to the hospital. Most of the four block main street was a complete crater, caused by an underground gas pipe exploding. A secondary explosion occurred at Martin Arms, a gun and sports store that kept several barrels of gunpowder in their basement. Forty one people were killed. Most of the wounded were ambulatory, I think, so dad’s car became a repository for body parts to be later identified at the morgue.

That’s the same station wagon we seven kids would ride in during our biweekly trips to grandparents in Indianapolis. There was a girl in this story but her name was not ‘Tammy.’ I changed it to protect her innocence. And I don’t remember if the ‘boob’ incident was before or after the explosion, but think probably before. I was only seven at that time if I remember correctly. She was a close friend of sister Sue and often ‘slept over’ at our home. One day as she walked past my bedroom she saw me sleeping in only my tighty-whities – which is pretty much how I still sleep today. But she teased me about it incessantly and I just hated that! It seemed so embarrassing. I didn’t want a girl seeing me in my underwear! So one time she came with us on our trip to Indianapolis. After a long visit she and Sue declared that they would sleep in the back of the station wagon on the way home – which is where we little ones were stationed. So here was my chance! After the four others in the back had all fallen asleep – in the dark night listening to the hum of the tires on the pavement – I moved toward ‘Tammy’ and slid my hand and arm very slowly up her shirt. I thought that if I could squeeze her breast and wake her up then she would be embarrassed and never tease me again. Unfortunately after i moved my arm and hand over her soft, smooth, warm skin and tummy, and cupped her breast in my hand, something came over me and suddenly I decided not to go through with it. I didn’t understand it at the time, of course, i was only seven, but I knew enough that I would never want to embarrass, or hurt anyone who made me feel like I just felt that dark night in the back of that wagon. Weeks later she teased me again and I just blurted it out: ‘I squeezed your boob when we went to Indianapolis! ‘ She didn’t look shocked at all. In fact she put her hand on my shoulder and said ‘I know. That was nice.’ She never teased me again. Women. After all these years i still don’t understand them. And I don’t think she lost any relatives in the explosion. She remains just one of the many women I have come to love during my trek through this life. If you ever read this, ‘Tammy, ‘ wherever you are now, I thought it was nice too. Thank you for visiting.


Now I Lay Me Down

Ebenezer saw his own grave –
placid yellow hues against
the pointing finger of faceless
hood.  Stretched stone of soft marble
that would run smooth after
centuries storm, anonymous grave
melting into the abyss of earth,
alone, nothingness, forever.
Fools be gone, and what butcher’s
prized goose is valued more than
serenity, chains and all – only
to sink us deeper into bliss.
World be gone.  Tiny Tim better off.
The chains are what hold us here.

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© 2015 John Allen Richter
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Nothingness

It comes and goes and we pretend –
we pretend to want it – to need it –
as though nothing else matters –
or could fill our lives more….
Mother nature fills our hearts with helium –
and so we walk on air as though –
as though we oursleves matter.
But we don’t.  Our lives are minisculeant
little nothings pretending a lie.
Pretending we matter – or to find –
oursleves better than another?
Or pretending that anything,
anywhere – something –
any creature could ever love us back!
Silly, love does not exist!
There is only “Oh, my – what happiness
being in love”  but then –
“You are not what I ordered.”
“Can I get a refund?” How to remove
a monster from your life – by the sincerely
Mr. Hyde – the doctor’s not in just now.
Would you care to read a magaizine and wait?
No thank you.  I’m late for my taping of
Dr. Oz – who knows my dreams and secretly
follows my life to fix everything there is.
Except death.  Death prevails – it is tangible –
an excerpted reality of what love would do –
if love could do – in its inexplicable vacuum.
I will not allow love to suck my brains out.
Not when I can more easily offer them to be
trampled, stampled, and stapled shut into
a schism of love’s madness.  I don’t need the
man behind the curtain – or the woman – faking
and flailing herself – moaning of love when
only Toto knows of such.  Only she needs the
wizard’s prized heart – which only
mimics the boldness of her hatred.
And the Tinman will laugh and
shit out her precious little dog.
Until then –
she knows that love is only pain.
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© 2015 John Allen Richter
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My White Pages

Here my tiny being lays within the whiteness of
this page.  I tried using my fork to tiddle-wink
the words onto it – to tattoo them like a tiny
tear drop on a felon’s face.  Failure, again,
my face cries and the whiteness glows on it –
ghostly face white with nothing to say.  Words
tiddle-winked completely over – or – failed
to tiddle at all.  Or should it be winked?
Should I know – with no words to show – at all?
My blank face and blank mind – so much less
than those others, who speak, and write – and never
leave white glowing trails from empty words
behind them.  My glowing trails are blank spaces.
“Answer me, boy, answer me!”  I don’t and I can’t
and I won’t!  The words are gone – and I can’t
squeeze them out of a turnip.  Perhaps if I
could boggle the words across the page and –
some might melt into it, saturating it through,
leaking into pages beneath.  There’s always
pages beneath, pages hiding and waiting to
prove me blank, just waiting there, waiting
to strike when my aloneness is multiplying
numbers, like Yahtzee scores, always counting
words that aren’t ever there – not to me, but
it’s only a game, they  say, they say – But
I say it is only a long, desperate, awkward
pause that shakes my soul beyond these bones –
and they say “Spit it out boy!  Are you just
dumb? or Stupid”  —  haha – laughter laughter.
I’ll take my words, my turnip and felon tear and
climb down the hole – my away place – and hide.
Some day my page will flower like a turnip patch.
And my glowing spaces will be them – trailing
behind in dirty glowing spaces.  And the spotted
baby deer will fill his tum with my
colorful memories……  my some day page.

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© 2015 John Allen Richter
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Where Did You Go

What happened in the coldness
of that room? Could I remember
ice skating?  or was that
a painting on the wall?
Do I still have my skates,
rusty blades made me fall – down
in snow tornadoes- slow –
through the sea of puffy coats –
and knit caps with balls on them.
Rosy cheeks going past – saying
something – or other.  Something –
certainly something I think –
come and play, play – but falling.
A room with a view –
happy skaters going ’round.
But only on the wall.  Madness –
happiness – something –
certainly something –
Something – made me die
in the room with the wall
and the painting said
when you were coming –
and I waited – waited
but they skated and skated.
And so I forgot.
I forgot that I love you.
The painting knows I do.
But it’s gone.
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© 2015 John Allen Richter
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Ode to Poe’s Love

Within a moment, can solemn worry –
from a care-free life loving lore,
foresee the grieving wretch of me,
with the great loss of dear Elinore.

If madness pervades my thought,
that should she bejewel my soul –
then let this madness be brought –
accepting it over ten-fold.

As never a beauty should rise –
above my solemn sun crest.
within the mist of her eyes –
finds my soul’s lone happiness.

Elinore, my ardent love be true,
and I shall voice it to the clouds…
less your lips now cold and blue
should come forth from buried ground.

Dear, allow this waft of roses,
brought to thee by the dozen –
sooth thee through those heav’nly dozes –
My dearest, most sweetest cousin….

And ever need you may call my name,
through the lonely whippoorwill,
or if you insist, all the same –
a black raven above my sill.
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© 2015 John Allen Richter
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King and Countrymen

’twas morning, some time ago –
I think – nor might remember then,
a cool wind did wrestle my somber blackness.
Hazen, my eyes found the sun –
whether morning peeking –
… or days end peaking –
I know not.
My mind does come and go –
Whirlwinds of moments,
here and there –
inbetween the black despair…
my stunned mind drifts away –
to some place, some where…
God-sent sleep – or loss of blood –

Should certain be – that hours pass –
before my mind comes again.
For once the smoke of battle field strong –
and the next it goes away –
as do the cries of other men flung –
downed by battle’s way.

So here, dear King and countrymen,
do here my body lay –
With hopes of glory reigning then –
above my simple grave.
E’er should we sing, or dance again –
to celebrate this day –
Do not call me patriot friend –
for a life so lost away.
As all shall find in the end,
A price too high to pay –
for any soul lost in war –
to mere King and countrymen.

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© 2015 John Allen Richter
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