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Two Poems                                                          Chuck Kinder


The Pearl (Janis Joplin’s Secret Handsome Sailor Man)  

        for Old Mike


Pearl was known to put

Everything into her performances

Her stamping feet

Her screaming ropes of radio hair

Her full-tilt titties, her thunder

Storm of giant pain

After a giant one-night stand in Frisco, Pearl

Woke up beside a handsome sailor-man entertaining

A butt-length ponytail, perfect for Pearl to grab

As she sank. His name was

Mike Newhart, and he was a sailorman with no boat, being AWOL from war

And this Mike fellow blew a mean horn in a hillbilly band

And Mike was attuned to the tides of Pearl’s boiling blood

Her icy sweats, and her traffic of tears

For that one giant night of love at least, purely by celestial

Navigation, Mike guided Pearl and her personal Titanic

Through becalmed seas with no mountains of ice

To dodge in the dark



See the Pearl pull out of port

That last giant night of love

See the floating electric city

Of lovely lights glittering on the surface of the


Hear the horn of the handsome sailor-man at midnight

Hear the drumbeats at dawn,

Hear the cries of the circling sea-birds

Mike, as a land-locked sailor-man for the rest of his own natural life, carried

That giant night of love with Pearl in his big heart

Until it stopped beating in a Pittsburgh, PA, VA hospital some forty years hence

But not before guiding the Pearl under a mostly imagined giant night sky of only faintly

Recalled constellations to a safe port

In a poem






Hidden Treasure


How could that boy have any kind of life without you?

Baptist girl, blowjob girl, snake charmer girl

No other diamond save you has ever been discovered in the coal seams

Of West Virginia, is what you winked and blinked at that boy

In the blue neon of beer joints

Your eyes scary and dark

Drunk with jukebox lights from that joint across the river

Those were torches carried in your condemned eyes

Your caves are cruel, and burn with yesterday

Every bone in you burns for somebody else, every feather

You told that boy you were born deep in a mine, and abandoned there

Imprint of an ancient angel, so even in blue neon

You can blink at that boy with eyes a billion years old

West Virginia is the state of isolated girls

Girls far up the hollows. Air full of ashes and smoke, hills thick with snakes

Girls who would die for love

The hole behind your own life is your daddy’s mine

Doorways full of darkness, caves of forgotten children

How many babies are buried in your seams, their names lost?

You are too secret to cry anymore

Among the dead of West Virginia, underground

The old mystery hole knows no time, no true memory

Since your daddy’s dead, crushed flat as a pancake by the petrified trunk of a tree

Your girlhood flickers behind your eyes

In this old mystery hole, your daddy’s mine, where dust

Of old-timey oceans hangs heavy as ghosts

They used to send in canaries to try the air

Try your little wings, honey, you joke to yourself. Take a deep breath

Above ground, clouds like fat ghosts float before the blue moon

A night long enough for many blue moons, memory eating at you,

You look up at the blue moon from this bent porch

Its scary old grin. This world looks different from up there

All this cold blue. To live on the moon would be lonely, small

Time to Earth’s big time, no beer joints of blue neon. Tonight

You feel the moon pull and don’t know what to make of it. You feel

Yourself spinning, dizzy on the porch, giving, you guess, into gravity

Yes, you will tell that poor son-of-a-bitch,

That boy you love who prays one man’s trash might be

Another man’s treasure



Chuck Kinder is an aging hillbilly-hippie poet-type who is currently sinking into his ever deepening dotage like a Gulf sunset as seen through an empty martini glass in Key Largo, Florida, where he is in awe of pelicans (who put him in mind of drunken pirates) and palms, the only trees he knows with balls and wings, whose feathers rustle in the warm Florida Bay breezes like secrets whispered by green-eyed long-gone hippie princess beauties or fading memories of childhood tin-roof rains. In his youth Kinder wandered West out of the hills of Appalachia on the lam from lawdogs for running moonshine with his outlaw uncles, and then there were the armed robberies. He hoped to crash the Golden Gates of San Francisco into the Age of Aquarius to become a famous Flower Child, an enterprise at which he failed utterly, being a hard-core hillbilly boy raised redneck mostly on road-kill and rage.