american business card

the pitchless hum
of an idling greyhound
combines with the suffocating
fumes of diesel fuel
to soak the night air
with noisy poison

a skinny panhandler,
wearing a kid's
spiderman tee-shirt,
sits crumpled, like lost luggage,
just outside the brownsville
bus depot

hard times & places
across his face
like engravings
on a tombstone

two hollow eyes,
like piss-holes
in the snow,
stare blankly
at the casual caravan

of human traffic
as it flows along
with its totally
assured sense
of destination

there's a wrinkled
square of cardboard
at his side --
a kind of faded-brown,

american business card
with the fractured
"out of work,"
scrawled across the front

one look at this guy
& you know he's
done for - & knows it --

& yet, his accusing eyes glare at me,
as if i could somehow save him

what's going on here

can't someone help this man

right now,
before this humiliation
goes on any longer

somebody has to make things right

is there no one
who can put an end
to this hopeless unraveling --

the pitchless hum
of an idling greyhound...

Copyright © 2004 D.B. COX. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

BackPage 68

Another troubled night falls.
The triple-canopy darkness
closes around me, like a body bag
being zipped slowly shut.

In the titanic darkness,
the jungle breathes, like a living thing,
& I sense the ghostly company
of things that roam late.

From the corner of my eye,
I catch glimpses of shifting shadows
that freeze in place whenever
I turn my head to stare.

Five months in-country, & still uneasy
with the weight of the rifle in my hands.
Still looking back toward old rules
that no longer hold, & old order
that has spilled over into chaos.

A strange storm, just before sundown,
seemed to bring some ancient evil
from the highlands. How long can my
angels shield me from the fangs
of this forever-hungry beast?

A trickle of sweat, finds a trail
down the center of my back.
My dexedrine-charged heart slams,
like a ten pound hammer, against my chest.

How much more mad input,
before this heart is stopped
for good?

How many more
blinding-white days,
& bullet-torn nights
until I reach
the cold understanding

that the best part of me
already lies twisted & rotting
in the dense, tangled green.

Copyright © 2004 D.B. COX. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

"I'm a Vietnam veteran. I gave America my all, and the leaders of this government threw me and others away to rot in their VA hospitals," --Ron Kovic

the ward

sometimes at night,
after the last light
has been doused,
& the holy meds
have rendered me

temporarily oblivious
to the pain,
& putrid
of the ward,

i can feel
the void
that stretches
out from my body
in every direction --

360 degrees
of seclusion,
as dead
as a disconnected

& sometimes,
i reach blindly into
that coal-black

my fingers
will brush
i can hold onto.

a wayward angel,
who might
allow a little
unaccustomed mercy,

& lift me
these broken places;
back to the days
& faces,

i hadn't even known
i'd loved.

Copyright © 2004 D.B. COX. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


--- On October 12, 2002, Heshu Yones, a sixteen-year old Iraqi Kurd who was planning to run away from her family home in London had her throat cut by her father, because he believed she was dating a non-muslim and had become too westernized --- from Harper's Magazine

and when he had slaughtered
his wayward, western daughter,
the one he could not comprehend,
him crazy -- out of control,
like some blind and willful beast.

when his anger was spent,
and the silent room began
to whisper its accusations.

what then?

did he scream out her name?

did he bend to touch
her perfect face, and gaze
into staring, black eyes?

did his blood-stained fingers
trace the long, dark
waterfall of her hair
to where it flowed
into that cruel, red river
just below her throat?

did he now, in utter despair
of his own fatal vision,
turn the blade on himself
and write a fitting end to this
pathetic, one-act play?


did he coldly
lay the knife
on the killing floor,
place a call,
and wait ______

Copyright © 2004 D.B. COX. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Short Bio: Blues musician/poet/Ex-Marine Sergeant originally from South Carolina, currently resides in Watertown Massachusetts. Uses a Les Paul Standard, tuned to 'Open E' chord for slide guitar, and prefers a glass slide to a metal one. Has played on the same bill with John Lee Hooker, Etta James, "Gatemouth Brown," James Cotton, and Delbert McClinton.