Turning the tables

when they came looking
for jim i said he wasn't
there. he was. they knew
it & i knew it. they were
after him for ripping off
a dealer & there was 5
of them.

look, leon said, i like you
but we're coming in whether
you like it or not. some other
guy i didn't know chimed in,
yeah, we can do this the
easy way or the hard way.

i stood there on my front
stoop wishing i hadn't answered
the doorbell. i sighed & said,
who are you? to the guy with
the over-used easy / hard line.
this is jake, leon said. jake

cracked his neck & glared
at me. it was hot out & i was
tired. we stood there. if they
were gonna fuck with me,
they would have already
done it. come on guys,

i said, just forget it & go
home or something. me &
my old lady were just sitting
down to dinner. we're coming in,
jake said and made for the door-
way. i stepped back & leaned

in the opening. he stopped. a
fly was buzzing around my head
& we all looked at it. it looped
around my head & landed on
my shoulder for a second, then
looped around some more. the

whole world was fucking with me,
sending 5 guys & a fly emmisary.
it needed to stop. i yawned &
grabbed the fly out of mid-air &
threw it at jake. it bounced off
his forehead. hey! he said. the

fly landed on the ground, collected
itself & then flew around jake's
head. he tried to grab it but couldn't.
some of the other guys tried to
grab it. many nights i had spent
watching kung fu on tv. i breathed

in through my nose and out my
mouth while watching them try
for the fly then said, look, i'm
going inside now.

Dead man's curve

is what some named
the place where the yellow
breaches creek went around
a curve. some called it
the cliffs because there
were rock cliffs that
rose 20 feet above the

i think it got the name
dead man's curve from
the fact that many broke
their necks doing stupid
dives from the trees above
the creek & the cliffs. i

looked up into the trees
& thought, no, that's too
far, you could climb 30 feet
up the one tree & jump but
that was like a 50 foot drop
into a creek that was maybe
15 feet deep where it went
around the curve.

the story goes that, one guy
dove from up there, head-first
& got his head stuck in the
sediment at the bottom & never
came up. the only person i ever
took there was mike hoke.

we were both living in different
rooming houses at the time, both
poor, starving, scraping for dope
money & between bands. it was
hot in the city, too hot in the
summer in the city.

we spent the afternoon diving
off the cliffs, swimming &
laughing. we forgot we didn't
have money for dope or food.
some other people came by
& joined in. we swam the fuk
around, dove & swam around
some more.

then we went back to the
heat of the city. there was
a war. somebody put a gun to
my face & i slammed the door.
the cops came pouring in &
blew the guy's gun out of his
hand. mike fell hard for a girl
who went on to be a whore
in pittsburg. he suffered.

i shacked up with the girl
who lived upstairs. somebody
gave me a gun & i put it
under our pillow. i never had
to use it but had to show it
a few times. nobody knew
what would happen, that 13

years later, mike would get
murdered on calder st & dave,
who was the biggest junkie in
the house would find god at
his last stint in dauphin co
prison 3 years later & go on
to be a rehab counselor.
that mike & i would
go through many different
musicians & bands & have
our records played at college
radio stations across the usa.
that 26 years later, i'd write
some poems about it but
would never go back to dead
man's curve, ever.

Mike Boyle lives and works in Harrisburg, PA.
There's been street life, bar life and factory life
in several cities.There's been songs with several bands,
poems, stories, home recordings as bohobait and several
novel messes.

His latest chapbook is Laundromat Suite (Rank Stranger Press)

2005 Underground Voices