A Clerk to a Beggar


Why beg? hereÕs ten dollars

Ôinto an envelope–tomorrow.Õ

        I sit at that desk

        helping with the phone.

Why lie? donÕt beg in this hall;

        if you bring it as you say

        IÕll see it.

IÕve got change for the meter.

Gas? whoÕs to prove

itÕs not for wine? Twelve stories up.





Song: Capital Punishment


hear it hear it

have they brought electric music

spine and bone spine and bone

in a chair

to look for wit when brains are thrown


hear ye hear ye

in the gallows being hung

are three strong men three strong souls

straight and tall

one of them has awful boils


all this reading hurts my eyes

the sun is yellowing

this authorÕs




hear her hear he

all the friends are friends to someone

someone cold someone blue

in a star

it dies but we see it new


all this reading hurts my eyes

the sun is yellowing

this authorÕs




the electric bill

is high-strung itÕs high-strung

dancing down a banister with

Cupid and his arrow of revenge.





It Is the Moment before You Replace the Books, Not on the Shelves...


With my nose pressed on the window

I hear him slam his workshop door.

I hear so many things, I cannot see

a thing in the tunnel above which

the ships pass. I could never believe,

when I was young, how the tunnel was made,

or carried, as I heard once, around me.


Once I went with my father in the light

to a place where clothes are dropped for the needy.

I never memorized the freeways sufficiently

so my travels are hard on my memory.

After that, the light vanishes, or is rare.

I can only conjure living many places

in a fleeing sense of forever.


Shall I walk back and forth to the window

and hear the slams of strangersÕ strengths?

There, in the oval tunnel, darkness

gives me no hint how it got around me.

How it got around me, how it got around me,

in the night, in the moment before I sleep,

how it got around me, around me.





Evening in a Break Shack


TheyÕre discussing a famous restaurant

in a fish-town by the gulf

where you used to wear what you wanted;

now you have to dress up.


One of them went there one day

with his motorcycle, his girl, too.

Both of them were casual

and had to leave the room.


An evening in a break shack,

an overtime dialogue;

ÒYouÕre so far away

and IÕm starting to age.Ó





Blues Tune


I like to see the stars before I sleep

because it assures me the sky is deep

on nights like tonight the sky is white

it seems so shallow, not really night

the pines stand tall, the branches hang out

all going nowhere, not wading out

after a while I see some purple streaks

like bruises of rouge on someoneÕs cheeks

soon the mask will crack and warp

IÕll hear the clock drown out dreamÕs harp


© David Francis