Louis McKee



My friend, to prove a point, serves Black Bush,

top of the line Irish, to anyone who calls.

To be polite, of course, I have a taste.


If truth be known, I taught her all she knows;

a picture’s worth a thousand words, but a drink

the right one can strip them all away.


"You can't take it with you," she laughs, "unless

you keep your assets liquid," and so I do,

taking beauty, pleasure and the warmth of my visit


with me, although by the time I get home

whiskey is merely another memory, like a woman

you can only recall watching walk away.          





I left a door ajar in Tennessee.

Bonnie, it was, blond and sweet, but

lost, too, you could see it in her eyes.

We only had the one afternoon.


She wasn't thrilled about having to live

in Knoxville, but said she figured she would

be there all her life.  She's the only one

I've ever known who said figured. 


I can still hear the kudzu in her voice.

I wasn't particularly sold on Knoxville myself,

but I was young then, and a bus would be

leaving soon.  It seems ironic now: I left


Bonnie in Tennessee, simple, pretty,

and full of wild, and I like to think of her,

her sweet syrupy tongue rolling curious

words, having dominion over that hard moment


beauty, like nothing else in Tennessee.





It's been a while,

and I never thought

I'd be the one

who got caught up


in the web of suburb

silk, green lawns

and mini-malls 

with drive-thru windows


for if not everything

at least with enough

to keep me off

the train and out


of the city, but the city

was there always

a thought away

behind closed eyes


in dreams but what

do I do now

on the platform waiting

the train coming


but when I can't

be sure not anymore

and the young and perfect

girls are somehow


not right anymore

and for a moment

I worry that the city

isn’t there where


the tracks go

and I'm set on going

myself after all

it's been a while.

Louis McKee has poems recently in APR,  Free Lunch, Paterson Poetry Review,

5 A.M., Chiron Review, Poet Lore, and  Nerve Cowboy, among others.  River Architecture, a selected poems, was published in 1999, and a collection of his newer work, Near Occasions of Sin, appeared in 2006.  More recently, Adastra Press has published Marginalia, a volume of his translations from Old Irish monastic poems. Still Life, a chapbook of poems, has just been issued from FootHills, and Jamming, is a prize winner and forthcoming from TLOLP.



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