Roethke Series
1. Roethke
3. Neptune Theater
4. Post-Roethke
5. Blue Moon Tavern
6. Stoned

The Gymnast
Little Fugue
Blue Moon Tavern
The Courier
Dwayne Jerome

Mount Rainier Notebook

Roethke Series

1. Roethke

“O the beauty
of usage!”
—Sylvia Plath
Poem for a Birthday

Let me float in this pool.
The ladies won’t mind.
My heart a stopped geranium.

The water in my lungs.
I’m blooming upside-down.
My breath a still hydrangea.

Cemetery stones console me.
Beneath Saginaw grasses.
I hibernate down here.

Dead poets have no eyes.
The cemetery is full of those.
Who think they are birds.

I’m a root, stone, dream.
I used to teach poetry.
It’s still all I think about.

2. The Blue Moon Tavern

“This is a dark house”
—Sylvia Plath,
Poem for A Birthday

It’s a dark tavern.
Not big, by the freeway.
I drink in a private corner.
Thinking of something else.

So many U-District bars.
Full of young eely delvings.
Oozing the wiggling glue.
Roethke would love it.

He sleeps in a pool.
On Bainbridge Island.
Three perfect mint juleps.
Now a Zen garden.

Elizabeth Bishop.
She replaced Roethke.
Lived awhile here.
Last Exit on Brooklyn.

3. Neptune Theater

“Once I was ordinary”
—Sylvia Plath,
Poem for A Birthday

It was 1969.
Nixon was president.
Viet Nam raged on.
Things were gloomy.

After Cambodia.
They closed it down.
The Freeway clogged.
No traffic moved.

On the brick wall.
The Blue Moon Tavern.
Spray-painted: America
Gets What It Deserves.

That Xmas night.
Watching Romero.
Night of the Living Dead.
At the Neptune.

4. Post-Roethke

“Now coldness comes”
—Sylvia Plath,
Poem for A Birthday

Now 40 years later.
Nixon is dead.
Viet Nam is over.
The Neptune still here.

Roethke is dead.
Ted Hughes is dead.
Overhead the monsoon.
Rain of forgetfulness.

Blue Moon still here.
But Last Exit gone.
Hippie U-district gone.
But war is still here.

The living undead.
Nixon-clones smile.
They learn from us.
Correct their mistakes.

5. Last Exit on Brooklyn

“The wax image
of myself”
—Sylvia Plath,
Poem for A Birthday

If you live long enough.
And don’t burn your
Candle at both ends.
You might survive.

Funny how time works.
A thicket of shadows.
A dartboard for love.
All those lost lovers.

If you survive them.
Along with Nixon.
And the war in Nam.
The devil loses.

But the burners.
They’re always hot.
Ring after ring.
Turning up the heat.

6. Stoned

“I lie on a great anvil”
—Sylvia Plath,
Poem for A Birthday

This is the city.
Where I got stoned.
Beneath a scudding sky.
Just call me road-kill.

This is the city.
Mother-lode of pestles.
It grinds you up.
And spits you out.

This is the city.
A quarry of silences.
Stoic, taciturn, loaded.
Happy as a slug.

Thru a stone eye.
The daylight is dim.
Seattle is sameness.
Full of spare parts.

The Queen of Hearts.
Offed my head long ago.
Dead men have no eyes.
Love an elusive loser.



“It happens.
Will it go on?”
—Sylvia Plath

The air’s full of fish-hooks—
Lots of questions & answers.
I don’t feel very Ariel-esque
The Archives are unraveling.

I remember too much—
The Zen garden on Bainbridge.
The Friday nights at Blue Moon
Getting ditched by my lover-boy.

Now he’s in LA—
Running off with a rich divorcee.
She dies & no he’s wealthy.
Been down there ever since.

Without any of him left—
Not a toe, not a finger, a kiss.
Just some dirty, winding sheets
And some hangover blues.

It seems like just yesterday—
Even tho its ancient history
In this noir city without tears
Beneath the crummy sky.

The Gymnast

“I hardly knew him”
—Sylvia Plath,
Poem for A Birthday

He’s a gymnast.
King of the rings.
Prince of high-bar.
Trampoline royalty.
My lucky animal.

I follow him.
Up here to Seattle.
His Boeing dad.
UW sophomore.
Sunny armpits.

A dunce-cap kid.
Monkey-brain boy.
Blowing me kisses.
Breathing hard.
I get to know him.

Cross-eyed, spaz.
Charley-horse, jerkoff.
Sky always falling.
Caught in his pubes.
Slug-tracks on my lips.

My kept-boy lover.
Worthy of an Emmy.
Me Duchess of Nothing
Comets & mollusks.
I hardly know him.

Little Fugue

“Lopping the sausages!”
—Sylvia Plath, Little Fugue

Seattle’s black clouds oozing—
Overhead like scudding snot.
Which I try to ignore but
After awhile I get depressed.

I like sunny skies—
Not film noir featurelessness.
Moody weather all the time
Makes me feel blue inside.

My gymnast lover—
I can’t stop feeling him up.
Even tho he’s helplessly hetero
All his anxious girlfriends.

I can hear young chicks—
In his voice when he loses it.
High-pitched like Maria Lopez
Or needy-greedy Isabella.

It really turns me on—
At least at first but then things.
Get very femme fatale for me
Hanging around all the time.

Like in The Waste Land—
The girlfriends who come & go.
Speaking of my meaty Michelangelo
Built so nicely a brick shithouse.

All the horrible complications—
My bulging eyeballs at the keyhole.
Fingering the tumult of runny Trojans
Full of his runny Grosse Fugue.

Deafness is another curse—
I can’t stuff my ears with enough
Wax like Odysseus to avoid going
Crazy like Sirens do to my crew.

My red badge of courage—
It isn’t pink, it isn’t pretty.
It’s blood red like a big thick
Delicatessen veiny sausage!!!

I should’ve known beforehand—
It wouldn’t possibly ever work out.
The sinister noir clouds overhead
Like vacuous dirty sheets.

I remember him eyes-closed—
Tangy as tangerines & groaning.
Letting me make him lame
Limping with his voodoo hickie.

I survive thwarted love—
As best I can living with him.
I get lots of babypaste tho
I even feel pregnant…

Blue Moon Tavern

“The wax image
of myself”
—Sylvia Plath,
Poem for A Birthday

If you live long enough—
And don’t burn your
Candle at both ends
You might survive.

Funny how time works—
A thicket of shadows
A dartboard for love
All those lost lovers.

Can I survive them—
Along with Nixon
And the war in Nam
And the war now?

The back-burners—
They’re always hot
Ring after ring
Turning up the heat.


What a thrill—
Pealing him back
Like a nice Onion.

Skinning it back—
Like a nice scalp
Savage Apache desire.

Squeezing him like—
A bottle of champagne
Ready to fizz.

A secret door—
Nice & cheesy with
A greasy hinge.

A hum-job—
For my cute
Homunculus man.

A last shot—
For my young
Cute Kamikaze kid.

How he limps—
Dirty boy with
A thuggish grin.

Lady Lazarus

“Dying is an art”
—Sylvia Plath,
Lady Lazarus

I’ve done it again—
Each night ten inches
I manage to get him off.

I pull the phone—
Outta the wall so that
None of them can call.

His distended face—
Like a hanged man
Banging the headboards.

Who needs a napkin—
To clean up the mess
To dab my dainty lips?

His bedroom eyes—
Cross-eyed for me
Going totally spaz.

Soon, soon his flesh—
Will be part of me
Deep inside me.

He’s like a cat—
With nine lives to
Lose each weekend.

This is my fate—
Being white trash
In a trailer court.

He’s my Hercules—
I’m Baclanova
Queen of Trapeze.

I peal him back—
The big strip tease
His lovely foreskin.

Others may object—
But I only crave
His cheesy smegma.

The second time—
He squeals like a pig
Porky Pig sticky pearls.

He loses it nice—
Dying so very well
Squirting his brains out.

I do him to feel it—
It feels realer then real
Real to the last drop.

It’s easy enough—
To make him theatrical
His babypaste baritone.

Comeuppance cums—
In broad daylight
His brute face weak.

It’s a miracle—
Each time he shoots
The back of my head off.

There’s a big charge—
Blue veins & voltage
Lots of male electricity.

He’s my socket—
I plug him in
His flesh & boner.

I kiss his ass—
I kiss his pouty lips
I eat him some more.

The Courier

The slime of a snail—
The mucous of a mollusk
The snotty track of a slug.

It’s better than a gold card—
Better than American Express
It’s genuine, I accept it.

It’s the royal seal of Icarus—
The blue wedding band of light
The key to the swanky penthouse.

It’s all to itself way at the top—
Like snow & ice on the high tips
The Alps stretching up to heaven.

It’s a sudden disturbance—
Smattering, shocking, sinful
News from a rude young courier.


“That loves me, pumps”
—Sylvia Plath, Paralytic

I can still taste him—
My Tri-Cities trick
Thick as my wrist.

A draft-dodger—
Refused Viet Nam
Spent a year in jail.

Wife divorced him—
Left for Hawaii with
His 2 young daughters.

Such a hustler—
Back in the Seventies
He needed some love.

Sleeping in bed—
My mouth full of pearls
I did him again.

Eyes, nose, ears—
A Greek korus smile
Just like Kritios.

Statue of an ephebe—
Archaic athlete in marble
My Pasco boyfriend.


“A palace of velvet”
—Sylvia Plath, Gigolo

Gigolo godzilla—
He tricks rather nicely
For a cul-de-sac kid.

Stuck in Zillah—
Down by the Columbia
His lizardly smile.

His father owns—
Vineyards in the hills
Kyle’s his youngest son.

Spoiled, lazy—
I gulp down jellyfish
His aphrodisiac squid.

Bored as sin—
I give him some time
Staying in town awhile.

Rings thru his nose—
Ears, tits & cock
He’s so primitive!!!

A gigolo palace—
A house of mirrors
A hush in his pickup.

The Godzilla Church—
Has a Lizard in front
I’ve got one on wheels.

Dwayne Jerome

“After whose stroke
the wood rings”
—Sylvia Plath, Words

Up in the woods—
There in Seward Park
Echoes travel far.

Thru cedars, firs—
Lake Washington below
A mirror, Alpine lake.

Ditched by his girlfriend—
I see her running away
Down the path past me.

There he is standing—
Morose on the hill
Smoking a cigarette.

If sap could cry—
They’d be like tears
I feel sorry for him.

Words are useless—
I solve his problem
Up against a tree.


“Color floods to
the spot, dull purple”
—Sylvia Plath, Contusion

He bruises so easy—
The color of bruised fruit
A purple hickie tells all.

I see him in the shower—
At the local YMCA gym
Guileless young animal.

His queer roommate—
Gives me the evil eye
I thought I was invisible.

The kid’s so proud—
Like a peacock in a zoo
His lover over-protective.

I really can’t blame her—
Fat, ugly fag who stares
His vampire lips tremble.

The kid so vulnerable—
The garish purple blemish
His uncut young manhood.


“Stiffens and odors bleed”
—Sylvia Plath, Edge

He’s not perfect—
Not accomplished yet
Illusion of Greek necessity.

No folds flow down—
From his nonexistent toga
He’s bare-assed instead.

He’s got big feet—
Pimples on his forehead
Incomplete coiled inside.

He’s got a lot of it—
That unfinished look
But nothing to cry over.

He stiffens, odors bleed—
He blushes in the garden
Next to the clematis.

He’s sprained his neck—
Maybe it’s his funny bone
Or is it his charley-horse?

Eddie limps a lot—
He’s at the edge of things
The chaises-lounge knows.


“The doom mark”
—Sylvia Plath, Contusion

The pit in my stomach—
It growls & sucks obsessively
Makes me crawl up the wall.

I’m all washed up—
No more deep sea pearls
Words so dry & riderless.

The blood jet is poetry—
But it’s petered out for me
Mere dribbles my cup of tea.

I yearn for fluidity—
But my days of oozing are over
My bilge pump is drained dry.

What then is the remedy—
Praying at Chartres Cathedral?
Crawling on my hands & knees?

I’ve already tried that—
I’ve been doing it for years
Wanna see my knee-cap calluses?

I jest, of course—
It’s just fake pantomime show
To make Joe sorry for me…


“Morning has
been blackening”
—Sylvia Plath
Sheep in Fog

The Seattle hills—
Steeped in foggy whiteness.
The people & staircases
No longer disappointing.

The busses cleave fog—
Leaving a trail of exhaust
From far away one can see
The blue-brown trails above.

Streetcars moving thru—
This morning darkness but
Now the ferry’s down below
How they come & go.

Here I am left alone—
Beneath viaduct stillness
Where he once met me
Welcoming me home.

Forty years later—
Past Pound, Olson, Spicer
Elliot Bay is still there
And I’m still here too.

Mount Rainer Notebook

Snail Tracks

“Snail, snail, glister me forward,
Bird, soft-sigh me home,
Worm, be with me.
This is my hard time.”
—Theodore Roethke,
"The Lost Son," ll. 8-11

So nonchalant—
So, well, “so what?”
That’s what it was like to him.
Yawn, then to sleep, next to me.

No big deal to him—
More like breathing, eating
Ho-hum, with a guy so what?
But I couldn’t sleep afterwards.

To him it was nothing—
It wasn’t even like taking a…
Just something he did for me
When & if he had to.

After his first wife—
Living alone by himself
In-between his usual girlfriends
“I need a woman,” he said.

I didn’t tell him—
I didn’t have to because
He knew what I wanted
I wanted, I needed a man.

Slug Dream

“The salt said, look by the sea,
Your tears are not enough praise,
You will find no comfort here,
In the kingdom of bang and blab.”
—Theodore Roethke,
“The Lost Son,” ll. 32 – 35

Once here at home—
After he parked his BMW
In the back by the lake
Up from the cabana.

I could hear it—
For blocks away it was
So loud that motorcyle
That butch bike.

And then he’d be—
There at the door with
His helmet off and his
Pants next, then bed.

That’s the way—
It was bang & no blab
When he needed it and
Knew where to get it.

Later lying next to him—
I fell asleep & had a
Slug track wetdream
He was that strong.

Mother Nature

“Who stunned the dirt into noise?
Ask the mole, he knows.
I feel the slime of a wet nest.
Beware Mother Mildew.
Nibble again, fish nerves.”
—Theodore Roethke,
"The Lost Son," ll. 66-70

I’ve seen pictures—
Embryonic transformations
The way a foetus changes
From fish to lizard to man.

Knowing I’ve got it—
Deep inside me his seed
His foetus moving fishlike
He’s my sullen lizard man.

That’s what I was dreaming—
When my nocturnal emission
Startled me wide-awake
He was changing inside me.

I know it sounds kinky—
I wasn’t a teenage punk
Not anymore with pimples
And wetdreams every night.

It was Mother Nature—
Letting me know I was queer
It was my body next to him
Letting me know the story.

Light Within Light

“The mind moved, not alone,
Through the clear air, in the silence.
Was it light?
Was it light within?
Was it light within light?
Stillness becoming alive,
Yet still?”
—Theodore Roethke,
“The Lost Son,” ll. 161 – 167

I told him about it—
He looked at me & laughed.
“You’re as queer as a fuckin’
Three-dollar bill, aren’t you?”

He was like that—
Not taking it seriously
Not with a guy anyway
Maybe with a chick tho.

He didn’t wanna know—
What the dream was like
Or what was going on when
I lost it in bed next to him.

He got on his bike—
And was gone like that
That’s how things worked
Slam, bam—so what?

I remember the dream—
I was floating in the air
I was turning into a reptile
A Pterodactyl with wings.

Coming Again

“A lively understandable spirit
Once entertained you.
It will come again.
Be still. Wait.”
—Theodore Roethke,
“The Lost Son," ll. 168-172

The next night—
The same thing happened
I woke up in the middle of
The night thinking about him.

Except this time—
I was a Snake in the jungle
Bomba the Jungle Boy was
Simply aghast, ashamed.

It was hiding there—
Underneath his leopard
Skin loincloth—without
Anything else to do.

It was embarrassing—
I had to control at all.
It was simply spontaneous
Out of his jungle blue eyes.

I woke up in bed—
What an unearthly mess
Had something got broken
Inside my brain or guts?

Slug Bait

“I saw the separateness of all things!
My heart lifted up with the great grasses;
The weeds believed me, and the nesting birds.”
—Theodore Roethke,
"A Field of Light," ll. 45-47

My cat believed me—
He was hiding under the bed.
The neighbors believed me—
There was something unsaid.

I heard it go “Sprong!”—
Surely I was having a stroke.
The next night the same thing.
It was like a psychic charlie horse.

The next time the bike—
Loud & rumbling in the back.
I didn’t tell him about my thing.
I wanted to know for sure.

He stayed overnight—
We made love as usual.
And sure enough my wetdream
Came back just like before.

Except this time—
It even woke loverboy up.
Seeing me go spaz turned him on
So, he let me have it again.

The Uneasy Man

“The wind sharpened itself on a rock;
A voice sang:
Pleasure on ground
Has no sound,
Easily maddens
The uneasy man.”
—Theodore Roethke,
"The Shape of the Fire," ll. 40 – 45

Naturally or unnaturally—
It maddened me each night—
Waking up creaming about him
Tasting him in my troubled sleep.

My profane lips—
Smeared with the misbegotten
Progeny of his young manhood
All those sons & daughters.

His reaction was shrug—
“Lucky you’re not a woman.
You would’ve been pregnant
By now, not what I need.”

He was so seminal—
And so very goodlooking.
He still had muscles just like
When he was a college gymnast.

Sleeping on his side—
My hands up over his back.
Then down over his pecs and
Back up his washboard abs.

“Mother of quartz, your words
writhe into my ear. Renew the light,
lewd whisper.”
—Theodore Roethke,
"The Shape of the Fire," ll. 54 – 55

When we made love—
He went thru all the changes.
Snake, lizard, snail, slug & then
Finally a goodlooking young stud.

But when I dreamed—
It was the other way around.
It was de-evolution back to the
Primal push & groan of it all.

Or maybe it was me—
Waking up quick with a jerk
Hearing myself moaning that
Way deep in my sleep?

I could hear him—
Writhing inside my head
Down my throat and deep
Into my stomach each night.

It wasn’t anything new—
I’d always felt that way about
Him since the first time I saw him
Nude doing it in the shower.

Living with Roots

“I lived with deep roots once:
Have I forgotten their ways —
The gradual embrace
Of lichen around stones?”
—Theodore Roethke,
"Plaint," ll. 13-16

I lived with roots—
Got to know them well.
From the late Sixties thru
The Seventies on & off.

He was a Northwest guy—
Born over in the Eastside
Across the Lake Washington
By Kirkland & Bellevue.

So that his roots—
Ran deep in Seattle and
The Pacific Northwest
I could taste them.

It was awful tasting—
Tangy & slimy like a slug.
It was very pretty, my dear,
I couldn’t get enough.

His lips were thin & cruel—
But once I got him going
Then there was no stopping
His excruciating whimper.

“My flesh is breathing slower than a wall.
Love alters all. Unblood my instinct, love.”
—Theodore Roethke,
"The Renewal," ll. 7-10

His second wife—
Was a wealthy divorcee who
Lived on Capitol Hill, played the
Piano, had long wrap-around legs.

She was bored—
Not very happy, needed to be
Entertained and they got along
Quite nicely without me.

They moved to LA—
With the sea, sunshine and
Different lifestyle and they got
By quite nicely without me.

By then you’d think—
My nerfariously rude wetdreams
Would’ve ceased their nocturanal
Vivacious visitations nightly?

And it’s true—
They had petered-out over
Time and pretty soon I hardly
Remembered their noisome angst.

Listening into Silence

”And she is what I would.
In this light air,
Lost opposites bend down —
Sing of that nothing of which all is made,
Or listen into silence, like a god.”
—Theodore Roethke,
"The Swan," ll. 15-20

I didn’t dream much—
At least I didn’t remember them.
Even tho I saw him every once
In awhile now & then on holidays.

Once he drove me—
Up to Mt. Rainier in a sleek
Rented Pontiac all the way up to
Paradise & Jackson Visitor Center.

It was like starting—
All over again with his attitude
As if he’d never had sex before
With me & acted so peculiar.

It was a turn-on for me—
Like he was a virgin lover again
The look on his face was pure
Hetero hesitation & why bother?

Weaving our way—
Up the mountain, past streams,
Switchbacks, too looming cedars
And firs leaning down over us.

Strange Piece of Flesh

“I've become a strange piece of flesh,
Nervous and cold, bird-furtive, whiskery,
With a cheek soft as a hound's ear.
What's left is light as a seed;
I need an old crone's knowing.”
—Theodore Roethke,
"Meditations of an Old Woman: First Meditation," ll. 15-21

It was August up there—
Mostly young sweaty dirty hikers
With their backpacks and sore
Muscles, their stinky boots.

The ski season at Paradise—
Wouldn’t be for awhile and so
It was nice contemplating Rainier
For the perch high on the cliff.

Dilly-dallied in the gift shop—
Had lunch up there a mile above
Sea-level, played the tourismo
Game, chatted about the past.

We took a side-road—
Back down where the skiiers
Would’ve parked their cars,
RV’s & family station-wagons.

He pulled over to the side—
Turned off the engine, he’d
Been thinking about me and
I’d been thinking about him.

“I'm martyr to a motion not my own;
What's freedom for? To know eternity.
(I measure time by how a body sways.)”
—Theodore Roethke,
"I Knew a Woman," ll. 22-28

He unbuckled his seatbelt—
Let the seat go back then
Closed his eyes, saying that
It had been a long time.

It was like yesterday, today—
And tommorow all wrapped-up
Into one, the sun was slanting
Down behind Mt. Rainier.

It was so quiet up there—
So different than the city
Far down below with all
The commotion & traffic,
The hurry to get somewhere.

It took forever & a day—
Or maybe it lasted hardly
Any time at all, I lost any
Sense of time & all that.

Drivng back tasting him—
Down thru the dark woods
And shadowy highway home
Knowing a dream waited for me.

“The edge cannot eat the center.
The grape listens.
The path tells little to the serpent.
An eye comes out of the wave.
The journey from flesh is longest.
—Theodore Roethke,
"The Shape of the Fire," ll. 56-63

Ariel seems to dovetail—
Like a young Icaras down, down
Down into this notebook, notes
On nothing particularly at all.

It’s snowing outside—
Rather the the usual raining
Now in November when the
Monsoon rain comes down.

Time for a warm fire—
Sitting around sipping tea
Not thinking about anything
Other than how seasons change.

A rolltop desk—
With these pages of whatever
Scribbled & typed in the middle
Of the cold night (2010).

The snowy quietness—
Like Mt. Rainier that weekend
Last year by the Visitor’s Center
Up there by Paradise Resort.

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