Hailing from humid ,sunny southern Florida, John's interest in the strange, melancholy, and macabre began when he chanced upon a copy of Bram Stoker's Dracula at the local library at age 12. More books would soon follow starting with Edgar Allen Poe's works and the bizarre, dark realism of Kafka. It was H.P. Lovecraft that most gained Mr. Balfour's attention, however, upon leaving him quite unsettled after reading "The Call of Cthulhu". Later, he realized it was because of the bleak implications for humanity present in Lovecraft's work and the impressively oppressive mood he was able to create. John seeks to emulate the philosophy of cosmic horror in his own writing by creating characters whose horror comes just as much from the mundane world, as the metaphysical one. buy his work
Martin Gerber was a small man, always dressed in a white shirt, grey pants, and a rather ugly green tie with pictures of golf clubs covering it that his wife had gotten him. He did not like golf, or any sport for that matter, but it had been a birthday present, and he had little care for fashion, so he wore it exclusively in appreciation as much as apathy. Large black-framed glasses were the only thing that stood out on him, though they were not really large so much as they only seemed so on his face. His accounting job and routine schedule to and from it completed the picture of an uneventful life.
Now, small, unassuming men need not have small, unassuming minds. And an observer might believe Martin to have a fantastic intellect, or imagination despite his appearance. They might believe such a thing as they stared at Martin drinking a cup of tea on the bench in front of the bookstore where he spent his lunch hour, his line of vision fixing on nothing in particular for very long, inevitably ending up somewhat north of his dull brown shoes, and they would be completely wrong. There were no great gears turning under his thinning hair and no big ideas bursting out of his tightly-shut mouth. He had little to say on any subject outside his work, of which he was not that interested in discussing, and did not feel inferior because of this. Everything was as it should be in his eyes. One had to be economic not just in action but in thought, and if anything he said could be classed as a real opinion, it was that people wasted life on pointless thought. In this way, he largely ignored everything superfluous to his little corner of the world.
His most effective way of accomplishing this was a decision to never consider anything outside his home and office too closely, which, on this particular Tuesday, he went against. It was a normal day in all respects; he had finished with his numbers and was on his way to the bookstore, stopping first at the cafe next to it for his tea. What made him stop and examine the bench was the sign placed on it stating that it was wet with varnish. Wet. With. Varnish. For some reason he could not process the meaning of those words and stared at the bench uncomprehendingly, realizing after a minute that he had never actually looked at the bench he sat on every day, thinking of it as a thing with a name. It was just something hard he sat on. Now he could not stop looking.
Not only could he not comprehend the words, but the bench was something utterly alien as well. What was it? Tentatively, he reached out and gripped the backrest, then pulled away from its cool, sticky surface, wiping his hand absently on his white shirt, leaving a crimson stain. Martin did not notice the manager of the bookstore looking at him from the door, nor the woman behind him trying to decide if she should attempt to get by him or not. He did not notice anything but the bench with his handprint on it, and could not stop wondering why it existed. The only thing clear in the quickly forming fog invading his mind was that he would not be getting back to work.
John Meza writes poems -- and builds bridges. Most Sundays he helps feed the homeless people in Artesian Park in Corpus Christi. He believes in tacos, not bombs. A powerful speaker, he often reads his work at open mics and other events.
I once wrote a poem
On a pillar
Beneath a bridge
In Bishop, Texas
By dipping my finger
In mud repeatedly
As a pen
It was about a star
On my tongue
Throat of comets
And how I danced
To save my soul
Erased it a week later
At the time
The poem and I
By One Deep
Copyright John Meza
John Meza adds, "This is a true story about a poem I wrote on a pillar beneath a bridge, with mud as ink. It happened in November of 2016 in Bishop Texas when I was building bridges there, on hwy 77. I never wrote the poem down, other than on the pillar that day, but remember it was an amazing feeling when I wrote it, knowing it would be washed away.
copyright John Meza
I asked her why
She was coloring
There was a
Picture of Jesus
I told her
The burnt sienna
No one ever uses
The burnt sienna
I walked across
Of colonial blood
From a land
With an American
Coup d etat
To a forgotten God
When I arrived
At the border
I pressed myself
Against the wall
Trying to knock it down
With the beating
Of my heart
By One Deep
copyright John Meza
John Meza writes poetry and builds bridges. Photo by John Meza. MORE POETRY BY JOHN MEZA
A city beating
In the dark
Bleeding on each other
A city of stone and sea
Wake the dawn
From a 200 foot tower
I speak to you
With textured words
Are beneath your feet
Jon Gregory worked for The Fort Worth Star-Telegram for 18 years. His poems, short stories and essays have been published in The American Dissident, The Dallas Review, Contexas, The DFW Poetry Review, the Austin International Poetry Festival's annual anthology, in Map of Austin Poetry e-zine, and elsewhere. He has a B.A. from Texas Lutheran University, where he won two short-story prizes from the English department and was associate editor of the literary magazine; and an M.A. from Corpus Christi State University (now Texas A&M-CC).
They're sending up a press release
On the Minister of Pleasure --
The boxing days of Nebraska
Are over on this island.
We are adrift with no compass,
The world in sweet reverse gear,
And logic a luxury we can ill afford.
I would sing of the death of reason
As if it ever really lived,
But I can't make sense of the melody.
As my cool, efficient car
Cut a metal swath
Through a brisk night
Of early spring,
I saw a muscled mastiff,
A strong, joyful machine,
Dart across the road
And narrowly out of peril.
Suddenly I saw his mate,
A virtual clone,
Eyes dazed and gleaming
With the pleasure of the chase.
I dared not stop
To see the living
Complete the race alone.
I'd slept most of the day away
And suddenly found myself atop
My roof, inspecting a metal screen
Held onto the chimney top by three bricks.
The business wasn't interesting.
But a rapidly changing tree
In a neighbor's yard was
Turning red, setting off the yellow
Of our backyard trees.
And I suddenly felt like it
Was worth it to have lived this long.
Standing atop my house like a king.
John Swinburn called Corpus Christi home from the time he was five years old until he graduated from Richard King High School in 1972. Corpus Christ was where he developed a framework for understanding the world. He earned his Bachelor of Art’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin, and eventually formed an association management company with his wife. Since his retirement, Swinburn has used his time to write, relax, and restructure his world view and perspective on life, a work in progress. He and Janine live in the Ouachitas in central Arkansas. Swinburn posts regularly on his blog at www.johnswinburn.com. “It’s not for the faint of heart,” he says of his blog. “One day I may use it as a journal, the next as a repository for my fiction or poetry, and the next an outlet for an odd mixture of left-leaning and libertarian political rants.”
Early that morning, at daybreak, a shallow, nearly opaque layer of water-hugging mist flowed in through the quiet marina. Faith watched it roll in, a slow-motion wave of dense wax sliding in from the open water. It was an odd fog bank, low and creamy, just a few feet above the surface. The masts and decks of boats in the marina were visible, but everything below deck remained hidden. That impenetrable layer of light grey concealed the boardwalk, too, leaving only an orderly cluster of boats rising from a dull, fictile grey cloud.
No one would be foolish enough to venture out in that fog, Faith reasoned, so she thought she could safely assume hers would be the only boat on the open water. She could see the lights of only one other boat. She slogged through the knee-high cloud along the wooden planks between the slips, blind to the boardwalk, so she judged her position by staying equidistant from the boats on either side, safely away from the dock’s edge.
On a clear day, the loud chatter of seagulls would have broken the stillness of the early morning air. Small flocks of pelicans would have glided a few feet above the surface of the water in search of breakfast. The air would have been heavy with the scent of salt water and seaweed. But on this foggy morning, the birds were waiting for better visibility. Silence enshrouded the boats and the marina and beyond, where open water slept beneath a heavy veil. The sweet aromas of salt and fish filled Faith’s nostrils, though the fog muted those scents of the sea.
Until she had moved to the island a decade earlier, Faith had never set foot on a sailboat. In ten years’ time, though, she had become an accomplished sailor, learning much of what she knew by watching other people sail, reading, and watching YouTube videos. Repetition of the sailor’s art, too, contributed to her skills and built her into a strong and powerful mariner. Open water represented liberty to Faith, freedom from the stifling regimens she associated with life back on the U.S. mainland, the boredom she had so loathed that she had abandoned it, at age forty-six, for the island life.
Her boat’s slip was at the far end of the marina, the very last one on the northwest side.
As she climbed aboard Norteña, her 28-foot Catalina, she heard a voice. “Miss! Miss! You goin’ out now? Too much fog, Miss! Better wait.”
She couldn’t see him, but she recognized the voice as Lucius Labade, the de facto manager of the marina who possessed neither the official title nor salary that would normally accompany the role.
“Hi, Lucius! Nobody else is going to be out in this fog. I’ll be careful!”
“Oh, Miss, you never know ‘bout that water. Better safe, Miss. Better safe. I think you wait until fog lifts, okay?” His voice was closer now, but she still couldn’t see him.
“I appreciate your concern, Lucius, I really do. But I’ll be fine. Don’t you worry.”
Suddenly, the little man appeared in front of her, his face directly in front of and level with her breasts.
“Miss, please listen; wait just awhile, okay?”
His hot breath, which she felt through the mesh fabric of her bikini top, startled her. He was just inches away, close enough that he had to raise his eyes and tilt his head to see her face.
“Lucius, you know I’m not going to wait, don’t you? I promise, I’ll be fine.”
“Oh, Miss, I know you one hard-headed woman. I wish you listen to Lucius this time. This fog not like normal. This too thick.”
“You’re a sweet old man, Lucius. I love you for worrying about me! I’m going to be just fine. I’ll see you in a few hours.”
Lucius, at sixty-four, was not much older than Faith. Sixty-four years of salt water and sun had stolen the youth from his skin, replacing it with ragged ancient leather and black dots, lesions of unknown but apparently benign origin.
Faith stood in stark contrast to the island native. Her toned body commanded hungry stares from men. Their undisguised lust was the only truly unpleasant aspect of island life. Though rarely did any of them continue making overtures once rebuffed, they did not hide their lechery. That open display reminded Faith of her ex-husband’s unrestrained carnal desire—for her in the early years of their marriage and for anyone else younger and firmer in its waning years.
Lucius acknowledged defeat. “Okay, Miss, but promise be careful. And when you back you tell me, okay?”
“Yes, Lucius, I’ll let you know when I get back. I’ve got my radio with me, too, so if I need help, you’ll hear me calling.”
Faith untied Norteña, coaxed the diesel motor to life, and maneuvered her out of the slip toward open water. Until she could catch a breath of wind, the diesel would be the Catalina’s only power.
Lucius stood, his eyes fixed on her boat, as Norteña slid almost silently away from the marina, the diesel barely growling as it thrust the boat forward. He continued watching until the vessel became a speck in the distance. As he turned his gaze away from the disappearing boat, Lucius noticed another craft slowly move out from the far end of the marina, the only other slip with a light. He squinted to see which boat it was, but it was too far away. He walked in the direction of the slip from which the boat had come. Finally, he determined that the light belonged to the empty slip for Abrázame, a boat owned by a relative newcomer to the island, Drake Pool.
Lucius had overheard Pool making a pass at Faith. Pool, who was in his sixties, thought of himself as a lady’s man. During the two months he had been on the island, he had been involved in several unfortunate incidents in which his “dates” had abruptly left his company after, according to their reports, Drake had groped them. Faith had been one of the women Pool attempted to seduce. Lucius remembered what happened.
“I have no interest in, nor patience for, men like you,” she had said to Pool after he suggested, during a party at the island mayor’s home, that they retire to an empty bedroom. Unwilling to accept her response at face value, Pool continued his pursuit.
“Listen, honey, you know and I know there’s a shortage of men like me on this island and you already know I find you attractive. Do us both a favor and dispense with the obligatory objections because, you know, I don’t take no for an answer.”
Faith’s eyes flashed and a brilliant red fireball ignited her cheeks. “Your conceit is astonishing, especially in light of the fact that neither your intellect nor your looks are doing you any favors. I am absolutely delighted there are no other men like you on this island, because we islanders loathe dealing with trash! Now, you will take no for an answer, Mr. Pool, and if I must give you that answer again, you will regret moving to this island! Do I make myself clear?”
Pool smirked. “Oh, yes ma’am. I know exactly what you’re saying. Enjoy the rest of the parry, uh, I mean party.”
Lucius hadn’t heard the entire exchange, but he had been at the party and heard enough of the words and the way they were exchanged to know of Faith’s displeasure with Pool. Lucius hadn’t liked Pool from the moment he met the man. Pool had always been mean to Lucius, talking down to him, belittling him. Lucius glanced back at the slip where Faith’s boat had been, then turned again toward Pool’s empty slip.
“Best see about this,” he muttered, his brow furrowing. He looked toward the slip that held his own boat. At first, his movements were measured and slow, but as he continued along the boardwalk, he picked up speed. By the time he reached the section of the docks where his boat was moored, his pace was as close to a run as his old body could do.
“Dammit, this not good, I just know is not good!” he said aloud. He unwound the ropes from the cleats on the port and starboard sides of his boat, both stern and bow, then pushed away from the dock with a long pole. His little boat, half the size of Faith’s, drifted a few feet into the pea soup fog; he started his electric trolling motor and steered the craft around the protective jetty and into open water, following the disrupted fog bank like a river.
Twenty minutes later, Lucius began to see signs that the fog was lifting, or perhaps simply melting into the surf. The morning sun was high enough to burn off the top of the bank. A light breeze, the sun’s gift every morning when air began to warm, blew away the remnants of the fog is short order.
Though he welcomed the breeze, Lucius wasn’t happy that the disrupted fog, which had left a bread-crumb trail to follow Pool, evaporated. The only way to follow him would be by sight. He pulled a pair of binoculars from a tray beneath the wheel and scanned the horizon in front of him. Initially, he could see nothing but sky and water, but after another scan he saw something that looked the size of a gnat, a mile or two in front of him. He steadied the binoculars against a wooden brace and looked intently at the gnat.
“Both of ‘em; they both way in front of me.”
Lucius hoisted a single sail and set out in the direction of the gnats on the horizon as fast as the sluggish breeze would take him. Though he knew it probably wouldn’t help, he kept the trolling motor going full blast, as well.
He was surprised that he caught up to the two boats as quickly as he did; in less than forty-five minutes, he was within shouting distance of both vessels, neither of which was under sail. As he neared the two boats, he saw Pool drop anchor. From Norteña, Faith, whose boat was already at anchor, also watched Pool.
When Lucius was just a few hundred feet from the two boats, Pool turned toward him and scowled at his approach.
“Hey, Lucie, what are you doing out here?”
Faith turned in Lucius’ direction, a quizzical look on her face.
“I came to make sure everybody okay; fog bank really bad and could come back. You go back in now, yes?”
“Lucius, don’t you worry about us, we’ll be fine. Mr. Pool seems to want to spend a little time out on the open water with me.” Faith’s smile suggested to Lucius that she was, indeed, fine.
Pool glared at Lucius. “Yeah, Lucie, you don’t need to worry. Go on back to the island. We’ll be fine. We just need a little privacy out here, you know?”
Lucius looked at Pool’s smirk, then at Faith. “You sure? Miss, better if you go back now, okay?”
Pool’s face turned red. “Listen, goddamn it! Get the hell out of here, Lucie! Got it? We want some privacy!”
Lucius looked at Faith again, a deep wrinkle in his brow and his head cocked in disbelief.
“Miss? You sure?”
“Lucius, you’re a sweetheart, but I’ll be fine! I really appreciate you coming all this way, but I’m just fine. I just want a little time with Mr. Pool, away from the prying eyes of the islanders, okay? And, please, let’s keep this between us, all right? No need to start the gossip mill.”
Pool sneered at Lucius. “Go on, Lucie! You heard the lady!”
Lucius started to open his mouth, but clinched his jaw, instead, and began to maneuver his boat away from the two at anchor. As he departed, he shouted back to Faith: “Miss, you tell me when you back, okay?”
“I will, sweetheart! Don’t worry.”
Lucius looked back again. When he saw Faith in the water, swimming toward Pool’s boat, he grimaced. Tears filled his eyes and rolled down his cheeks.
Three hours later, when he saw Norteña come around the jetty, Lucius hurried toward Faith’s boat slip. He waited as she approached the dock, waving at her as she coaxed the boat into the slip.
“I so glad you back, Miss!” he shouted. “I was afraid for you out there with Mr. Pool. You okay?”
“Of course, I’m fine, Lucius. You’re so precious to have worried.”
“I don’t see Mr. Pool boat; he on his way back?”
“Lucius, I asked you if we could keep this to ourselves, right? Can we keep it to ourselves that you saw Pool out there?”
“Yes, Miss, sure. But where is he?”
“You never know what to expect out on open water, especially when you can’t see what’s right in front of you. Lucius, I learned my lesson. I won’t do that again.” She paused and said, “He won’t either.”
Lucius was confused for a moment, but then he began to understand, and the edges of his mouth turned up. She nodded, almost imperceptibly and returned the smile.
“Thank you, Lucius, for looking after me. I’m sorry I sent you away, but I needed to deal with Pool.”
“You my good friend, Miss. Always look after you.”
“And I truly appreciate that, Lucius. Yes, you are my good friend.”
“Mr. Pool not gonna bother you no more.”
“No, Lucius, I don’t think he will,” Faith said, and wrapped her right arm around his shoulders with a squeeze.
copyright John Swinburn
Read more great writing in Corpus Christi Writers 2018: An Anthology
Most mornings John Morris heads to the beach with his camera. His writing is every bit as extraordinary as his photos. After reading his writing, take a few minutes to look at his stunning photography.
Castaway - I'm called to the beach seemingly every day...there are exceptions...duty calls...other priorities...stuff happens...but most every morning I can be found on the beach greeting the new day. Some mornings the outcomes seem obvious, splendid colors, light winds, towering clouds, reflections on mirror-like waters...and then there are those mornings where it would seem that there is nothing...but really there is always something...if one only looks...a castaway waiting to be found. Is that not just like our own lives, even on the darkest day, there is color...some small hint that it will be OK if we keep moving...our heart and eyes working in concert...knowing that it is out there...just awaiting our discovery.
Coppertone - Got up this morning with a little bit of lightening in the towering clouds slowly drifting offshore, and thunderstorms to the west...seemed to be a beach day...didn't need the pier as a backdrop with the perfect clouds setting the stage. This was a fun morning to simply watch it unfold, almost no wind, calm surf, and no one on the beach. As I pivoted looking up and down the beach there was so much to see...lots of choices...but when this view started to come together the "coppertone" reflection was too good to ignore...and only one way to get it...wade out and greet the morning.
Life gives us choices...we are put where we need to be...but we still need to decide...do we overthink things to the point where the opportunity is lost...or do we just wade in and do it?
Silent Saturday “Stormy Blues” – A busy day ahead, and a look back at yesterday…one shot up the beach capturing “Coppertones” while 10 minutes earlier the show in the earlier light looking down the beach is the stormy blue of the approaching storms. It is easy to only see things one way…a view that we find comfortable…one that captures our own narrow world view…but maybe if we broaden our perspective there is so much more to see…to seek to understand.
Coastal Colors – One of those special mornings that almost didn’t happen. Usually from my deck in the wee hours of the morning the subtle hints of coastal color emerge…either giving me encouragement to get out…or like this morning, with very little showing I was thinking it was going to be a bust. As I busied myself on other early morning chores, by chance I glimpsed out, and things had changed…so off to the beach I went. When I first arrived, my attention was drawn to the play of light along the shoreline, and the small waves kissing the shoreline…if I could only get it all to come together…those little elements…that make a shot. As the sun peeked over the distant pier, the shoreline and the beach break waves were painted in gold, and then it happened…high above a few pink cotton candy clouds drifted into the shot…completing coastal colors!
Today was one of exceeded expectations, maybe one of those special nudges…when we listen with our heart…we see things we might have missed…had we only looked with our eyes.
Towering Above – As the morning transitioned from the black of night, to the blue hour of dawn, the horizon began to brighten…offering a glimpse of what might come…if only. It seemed that the pier was going to be the spot as I watched a towering cloud, occasionally lit from within by flashes of lightening; though for the shot I had in mind, the cloud had slid too far inland, so a quick adjustment put me at the south jetty, with the cloud towering high above St. Joe Island, casting bands of gold reflecting across the channel highlighting a sportfisher heading towards the horizon in calm seas and light winds…a promise of a new day.
An Early Start – my morning began even earlier than normal…first to the airport to drop my better half off for a trip west, and then heading home…not enough time to make it back to the island…though a stop along the causeway at Billing’s Marina seemed to offer promise. With the wind absent, a mirrored surface to the water, and a skiff sliding silently towards the dock…no doubt a beautiful day was dawning…well worth the early start. I’m lucky, I am naturally an early riser…always waking before first light…greeting the day as it goes from black to blue to golden…those precious few minutes of the best light the day has to offer. I’ll trade the sleep for what these best moments of the morning have to offer us that are up to enjoy it!
Silent Sunday “Rising Above It” – We are back into a pattern of weather that doesn’t always result in easy shots, one with perfect clouds illuminated high above, glorious sunrays and all the rest…but the opportunity is there…if one greets the morning as we all should…one full of the promise of a new day. With not much in the way of early color, it seemed that the pier might be the best option, the lines and contrasts adding interest…if the sun made it through the haze and brought with it some gold. As I went through the morning shots, I was looking for that one “something”…something obvious, or something maybe hidden…just waiting for discovery. That nugget is there…do you see it?
Moonrise – Yesterday evening began to show a little promise, and as always, I have to decide where to go…decisions decisions…subtle clues can be seen in the sky, as the sun goes lower…I aim for the pier…where there was a towering cloud that would light up offshore of the pier. No doubt if it happened it would make for a beautiful shot…but alas the winds high above conspired to push the cloud out of the picture that I imagined. But as the sun was setting, the moon was also rising into the soft blues above a sun painted horizon…marking the end of the day. Often in life our choices are more difficult than deciding where to enjoy a sunset…but sometimes we spend so much time thinking instead of just “doing” that we miss the golden opportunity that was there for the taking…if we just took it.
Silent "Leave only Footprints" - This morning I was drawn south, the farther you go the less evidence of people...you actually don't have to go far...a beach that feels somewhat wild still exists...a beach with sea oats, a naturally contoured beach and dunes, where most of the footprints are those of the nocturnal animals that scurry about the dunes...the hunters and the hunted...leaving only footprints as evidence of their passage. Can we maybe just try a bit harder to avoid leaving our mark wherever we go...tread lightly...be a little more "aware" of our passage and its effect as we cross paths.
Juan Manuel Pérez, a Mexican-American poet of indigenous descent and the past Poet Laureate for Corpus Christi, Texas (2019-2020), is the author of numerous books. He is a ten-year Navy Corpsman/Combat Marine Medic with experience in the 1991 Persian Gulf War with the 2nd Marines and the 1992 Hurricane Andrew Relief Marine Air Group Task Force. This two-time Teacher of the Year, along with his wife, Malia (a three-time Teacher of the Year), is a co-founder of The House of the Fighting Chupacabras Press. Currently, Juan worships his Creator, teaches public high school history, writes poetry, and chases chupacabras in the Texas Coastal Bend Area.
John 16:33 NLT
"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me.
Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.
But take heart, because I have overcome the world."
City of some of my very first
dreams and memories
City of my sibling’s birth
and plenty of other relatives
City of most of my parents’ habits,
haunts, and shopping activities
Oh, how I grew to learn
your impact on my family
City of my small-time hangouts
and cruising down Getty and Main
City of the Purple Sage Dance Hall
and pretty, Saturday night chances
City of my athletic exhibition
and my college prep life
Oh, how I thrived within you,
Oh, beautiful city of the green trees
City of some first poetic endeavors
and part of my early writings
City of my initial
and accidental teaching career
City of many friends and relatives
and now my grandson’s place of birth
Oh, how I celebrated within you
in blissful happiness
Now, a city of victimized darkness
and too many innocent dead
Oh, how I weep for you in deep desperation and inconsolable sorrow
Corpus Christi, Texas 2013
O’ pace yourself thy lover, pace yourself
for with my name they have consecrated
tall buildings and beautiful, baseball fields
even pretty shrines where I’m created
O’ pace yourself thy lover, pace yourself
for only I can satisfy hunger
for only I can take you to places
where your empty belly will not monger
O’ pace yourself thy lover, pace yourself
with a Patty Melt, Chocolate Shake, and Fries
or a Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit
with Onion Rings and box of Apple Pie
O’ pace yourself thy lover, pace yourself
for there is much more of me to enjoy
Outside Alice High School Facing The Cemetery,
January 11, 2018
fully past the fall
in the winter of it all
Alice winds whistle
winds by this and that
playing tag among the graves
winds yet not as cold
resets the season once more
dead, the leaves that fall
dry ground willingly receives
daring nature’s call
small the steps to take
smile so that it may last long
sing along with winds
by the cool, hard steps
made by man, not by nature
reminds me to enjoy life
wind touching my face
At Texas A&M Kingsville
February 15, 2019
out in the open
birds singing in the bright sun
winter in Kingsville
smooth breeze parts the nice silence
what winter is like
this far south of my Texas
short sleeves and short shorts
classes must run on spring-time
while cold in New York
“bees don’t speak English!”
said to the guy fighting with one
hunger speaks louder
stretched-thin yoga pants
is this the right place for you?
…what was I saying?
truly it is all inside
God is Good! God is Great! God is Awesome!
Ladies, Gentlemen, Public School Teachers,
Wise Professors, Students of Poetry,
PHD Carrying Wal Mart Leaders,
Great Citizens of Nueces County,
All of you present here this very night
A man once said, “Come to Corpus Christi.
I will put you and your words on display
Among those I know here in this city.”
So eventually I came to this coast
Tonight, I am tasked to introduce him
I say of him, as Kirk would say of Spock,
“Of all the souls I've encountered on my
travels, his was the most...human.” Indeed
“But good words; that’s where ideas begin. …
Maybe you should listen to them,” I did
A greater poet among great poets
Grand enabler of versification
Facilitator of bards yet to be
The soul of Shakespeare in this century
Grand things and much more can be thought of him
But he will play it off as nothing said
For in this façade of a common man
Rages the poet against his machines
Like Scotty working poetic engines
Expecting finesse in understanding
All the right words in all the right phases
Going where poems have never gone before
That is this man, my friend, and my brother
Kindred poet of a different mother
I do love him, but this is no love poem
These are verses of honor, gratitude
Celebration of this prize of passage
For the best and first among us all here
Despite my rants of ethnic brown issues
Obvious tortilla alliterations
Chupacabras and pesky wall builders
Our bond has become stronger through the years
Yet we are the same despite differences
Like our love for great women and monkeys
For Mexican food, football, and cold beer
For soda pop, polkas, and poetry
With reason, I say these words to you now
In some fear that you might never hear them
One day we will be only memory
To this end, the poet is duly cursed
Yet our words left behind will outweigh us
Fulfilling needs of many who read us
Don’t bother to grieve, it is logical,
Like flowers: here today, gone tomorrow
Yet crafted words remain printed in books
Choose the right ones to say and take the rest
For now we revel in celebration
As we partake in this, a great honor
This city’s very first Poet Laureate
What a wonderful thing it is to witness
And with that I close as I remind you:
I have been and always shall be your friend.
John Kemmerly grew up in South Louisiana, worked in restaurants, sold real estate, and owned a secondhand bookstore in Galveston, Texas. He has published in Psychology Today magazine, Modern Dog magazine, and others. Currently, he lives near Rockport, Texas.
Various accounts of Ernest Hemingway’s visit to Port Aransas still linger on the Island. Some are credible, some not. We know that he showed up here July 20th, 1957, with his friend Arnold Samuelson. Arnold was a young aspiring writer who had hitchhiked and ridden boxcars to Hemingway’s home in Key West, Florida, to, as he later wrote, “Learn from the best damn writer there ever was.” The two men hit it off, and after a few months of fishing in Key West, they took the boat to Port A.
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Who is Johnny Jebsen, and why does he keep emailing me?
My memorable remnants are few. Not so much for my lack of mental capacity but for the small and focused nature of my background.
As a 4 month old child I was left at the door step of a Monastery; hence, parent-less, without a history I was -- though I had never known it -- turned over to Monastery of the Order of Sanctus Sicario, or what is the Holy Assassins of the Holy Catholic Church.
That no history exists, that nothing has been recorded precludes not that it ever doubtfully existed, but that we were so well hidden.
Here now is my story.
Every day before covid I drove to work in the long line of bumper to bumper traffic with other suburbanites of lesser neighborhoods making their way to work. Real Floridians love Jesus and kitsch but don't eat quiche. Real men love their guns, always sure to stroke it clean and keep it oiled. They imagine themselves "going in" and shooting "foreign invaders," too.
"Where is the sense of things?" I often asked my radio, but the radio never offered solution. It only talked.
There are few things that make sense in the world, and one of them is just being with the ones you love.
If you want to understand Florida, you have to first accept that anyone who lives in Florida is not from Florida. You're either old and running for a tax shelter or you're running away from something you didn't like. We're all castaways here.
We're all pirates of some sort. Canadians and New York Jews abound -- a contact zone of cultures, Pittsburgh and New Jersey settlements. Lots of trailer parks fly Canadian flags.
Yeah. All pirates here! Here in Florida, they call me Papillon.
copyright Johnny Jebsen