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Bill Haas

 

 

Two Kings

 

Bill Haas

 

 

Two Kings Bill Haas ã2000 William C. Haas except Torture, Compensation ã1998 William C. Haas A Very Long Trip ã1997 William C. Haas Nicknames For Our Dog Rufus ã1995 William C. Haas  Rain Wine, The Last Train North ã1993 William C. Haas Lynne Mitchell ã1991 William C. Haas

 

 

 

Introduction

 

I’m a year away from my hometown now. We got a little snow today, which cheered us up, and although it will most likely be gone by this time tomorrow, it was nice, a nice gesture. My wife had bemoaned the fact that Chicago was getting snow, what turned out to be a foot of it, and I told her I’d see what I could do. I didn’t put in a formal request when I talked to God later. I thanked Her for my life, for our life, and told Her how perfect everything is, which it is, and not even mentioning what it cost to fix the car. God knows. God knows where the payments are coming from too, and as long as God knows, I don’t have to.

God and I were playing cards one night. Nothing was wild and I had four aces and I still lost. I had no idea of the actual stakes of the game, and what I would have lost had I won. I win that hand and I don’t get to hang around with Sammy and Jacob and Nicknames For Our Dog Rufus doesn’t get written. Who knew? God knew. It was important to me back then that I should know too. A lot of things were important then that don’t mean dick now. Punctuation comes to mind. 

I love you all, and it’s about time. I won’t say I love you all equally, but the night of my life is young. I would very much like to mention a few people who directly impacted the fabulous wealth I enjoy today.

My Mom. Ken Carl. Keith Cooper. Lori McClain. Matthias Minde. Kerry Peace. Jay Sukow. Jeff Tamraz.  Bill Wokersin.

Miss you, Magoo, you big potato.

 

Did I mention I love you all?



Not the Real Dedication

 

To Women -

            You babes are great! Hey-ee-ee-yee!

 

 

 

Oh, like that’s not funny.

 

 

 



Dedication

 

Lynne Mitchell

 

Let me tell you something

You may already know

Nobody goes toe to toe like you

Nobody like you

Everybody knows now

 

My natural talent lies

In being able to recognize

The diamond in the rough

Covered with whatever substance

However hard it tries to hide

Even in little or no light

Let’s try it like that sometime

Let’s talk about it over a dance

 



Contents

 

Two Kings                                                     

A True Joke                                                  

Cooper                                                          

Two Lovers                                                   

Worth the Wait                                              

The Maiden and Muscatine Joe                 

Instigation                                                      

Until Now, That Is                                          

Acclimation                                                   

Rain Wine                                                     

A Very Long Trip                                          

Enthusiasm                                                   

The Game                                                     

Press On                                                       

Up To Date                                                   

 Soon and Very Soon                                  

Compensation                                              

Nice                                                               

Nicknames For Our Dog Rufus                  

A Man                                                            

Big Christmas                                              

Mary                                                               

The Muse                                                      

Translation                                                    

Torture                                                           

Rehabilitation                                               

Now You Smile                                             

Crackers                                                       

Expiration                                                      

Beholding the Rose                                     

 



Two Kings

 

Sammy boy sleeps

He sleeps on the left

The left side of the bed

The great big king-sized bed

He is all of a king

Three years old and one month

Daddy gives his mornings

Up begrudgingly

Stumping for one dumb

Lumbering company

All the while missing

The comfortable company

Of his wonderful sons

And the king-sized bed.

 

Jacob boy sleeps

He sleeps on the right

The right side of the bed

The great big king-sized bed

He is also a king

Seven months and one week

Daddy gives his mornings

Up reluctantly

All the while wishing

His dear slumbering sons

The sweetest of dreams

Just as sweet as are they

As the morning comes on

With the night’s consent


A True Joke

 

There’s freezing rain and snow where I just left

So frigidly but jocularly so

Associates have accused me of theft

Of stealing the sun and leaving them snow

 

Their joke is truer than they might have guessed

This may seem like I’m kidding, but I’m not

For when I took my sons and moved out west

A lot of people didn’t feel so hot

 

The warmth in which we find ourselves right now

Does not compare, however, with the heat

Which our dear friends upon us do bestow

No star with that combustion can compete

 

Were we to be together once again

Comfort could be had despite freezing rain


Cooper

 

I think that Cooper was his name

His first name Keith, or maybe Pete

I think I see him on the street

From time to time, or at the game

I spot his face among the throng

And just that fast, it disappears

Gone like however many years

It’s been, Gone like whatever song

Was sung off the top of his head

Was sung but never written down

Finished its drink and then left town

Better than written and not read

 

Somewhere thousands of miles away

I wonder if I’m ever seen

Someplace that I have never been

Or having been, for some reason

Chose not to stay

And now am gone


Two Lovers

 

The love he once thought would ever remain

Unvisited, unopen’d, and unfulfilled

Is now consulted time and time again

By not one, but two lovers highly skilled

 

Both aim first to please before being pleased

And neither minds the other’s presence there

All opportunities to serve are seized

All pressing duties, they agree to share

 

The welfare of the heart they both admire

Is first and uppermost of their concerns

They are one, really, like a forest fire

One entity which so diversely burns

 

Though grateful is the heart which they two bless

Both see their acts as utter selfishness


Worth the Wait

 

I was in cheerful mood, at the time, rare

Though I suffer one daily as of late

I felt that something good was in the air

And anything worthwhile is worth the wait

 

So I did, though I did not wait alone

My smile and I were soon joined by a song

Which snuck into my head from parts unknown

And we were three, but not for very long

 

An aroma of a nearby flower

Found us and around us lingered a while

And there we were for perhaps half an hour

Myself, in concert with a song and smile

 

The good thing I had thought was on its way

Must have existed before me and thus

Waited around patiently on that day

For me to realize I am an “us”


The Maiden and Muscatine Joe

 

O how to begin with the tremendous din

Of this story so loud in my ears,

Yet I must concentrate, for this tale cannot wait

‘Til the echo as last disappears.

Not all of the killin’ was wrought by the villain,

Not all the good by heroes done,

And I’m shy to begin to say where I fit in.

I will tell you a bit later on.

 

“Dreams, brother Bill – dreams that come in the quiet.”

Nothing like that happens in real life.

It can be directly traced to your diet.

Maybe you should have a talk with my wife.”

 

First off there was this loot and a young girl so cute

That to see her moved one to take pause,

And all this did so bother her well-meaning father

That he broke a couple of laws.

First he locked her away vowing there she would stay

Until he could come up with a plan

That would truly assure that whoever wed her

Was a worthy acceptable man.

 

“Fantasy, Bill – from long far away days.

In these modern times, this cannot be so.

Talk to my wife and let’s see what she says.

Being a woman, you’d think she would know.”

 

As for the money, he carried it out back and buried it.

He did not believe in banks.

“I hope you see that it is for your benefit

That I do this,” he said. She said, “Thanks.”

Then he brought his daughter bottles of distilled water

And a case of imported beer

And assorted canned goods. She said, “Hey, who needs dudes?

I think I’m going to like it in here.”

 

“You must be feverish, Bill, my poor friend.

Something has bitten you and you are sick.

Fear not, I’ll stay with you until the end.

Just let me call my wife. I’ll make it quick.”

 

 


From out of Muscatine came a man pretty mean,

That is, mean, but quite pretty to boot.

And he said, “I long so for a woman with dough,

But she must be decidedly cute.”
So he went for a stroll for to comfort his soul,

And he thought better when he would walk.

“Out in the bright sunshine, I will search for a sign.

If I listen, perhaps one will talk.”

 

“Listen, somebody just knocked at your door.

I’ll get it, Bill. Just relax in your chair.

This is fascinating. Tell me some more.

Shhh! Come in. He’s sitting right over there.”

 

“I could just about cry,” he said with a sigh.

“O great cosmos, pray grant me my wish.”

And a flash caught his eye as he looked to the sky.

The sun shone on a satellite dish.

On the far balcony, his eyes happened to see

A young girl just as cute as a bug.

He called up, ”Maiden fair, may I join you up there?”

“Sure. Why not?” she replied with a shrug.

 

“Let him finish this improbable tale,

And handle him gently. He is my friend.

It’s sad to see a man’s sensibility fail.

I think he’s made that wide turn ‘round the bend.”

 

“I was passing by chance when I saw your strange dance.

Where did you learn to shake it like that?”

She said, “That was no dance. I was killing these ants.

They want the food I leave for the cat.”
“I am drawn to you, girl, like a nut to a squirrel,

Just like barbecue sauce to a slab.

I will do what you say. Please allow me to stay.”

She said, “Come here and give me a grab.”

 

“I guess you fellows must see this a lot.

It must be fairly common in your line.

We will take him to a nice peaceful spot.

After therapy, I’m sure he will be fine.”


Now her father came back with donuts in a sack

And the door, from the inside, was locked.

“This is a mystery, and confusing,” said he,

So he put down his bag and he knocked.

The man from Muscatine with one leg in his jeans,

Said, “Hi. Sorry, I must look like hell.

Your daughter’s not up yet. Hey, what did you get?

All right. Are those donuts I smell?”

 

“I don’t know how much longer we should wait.

He could rave on like this for hours more.

He’s in a highly agitated state.

What are you looking at me like that for?”

 

So Muscatine Joe and the girl with the dough

Who’s so cute, she moves him to take pause

Fell in love on that day and together they stay

And her father no longer breaks laws.

They moved out of her space to a nice little place

Across the street from where we are at.

On the days they leave for a few days at the shore,

They ask me to look in on their cat.

 

“He’s done retelling his hallucination.

Grab him before he does somebody harm.

A victim of his own imagination.

Hey! Get your hands off me! Let go of my arm!”


Rehabilitation

 

My travel-weary heart is now asleep

In a little room locked from the inside

I sent it there in an attempt to keep

It still while it recovers from the ride

 

Not long ago, I packed those belongings

I couldn’t sell or bring myself to leave

And headed out in search of other things

My heart conspicuously on my sleeve

 

I will not label as good or as bad

The things I’ve found since the time I arrived

Nor to my prior lifestyle will I add

Sensations not felt while the style was lived

 

These acts my former self appreciates

And my sleeping heart rehabilitates


Instigation

 

The pressure to perform that I now feel

Is self-imposed, which is as it should be

My physical discomfort is quite real

But not enough to do damage to me

 

I instigate an itch and then I scratch

I start a fire and then I put it out

Enthusiasm can be hard to catch

And motivation hard to bring about

 

But with a picture of you in my mind

Along with a list of the goals we share

It never takes me very long to find

The impetus to lift me from my chair

 

It’s our desires I strive to satisfy

And not the world at large to gratify


Until Now, That Is

 

I have never written a poem about you

Dozens for you, maybe even a hundred

I may have depicted you accurately

But I really don’t have an idea

Of your actual temperament

So those were inadvertent

 

Let me take confession

Though I’ve felt no burden

Bearing this information

I’ve borne you in mind

And had you speak of matters

In a manner you would never adopt

Adopt a stance that you never would take

Take a position in which you have no interest

For my amusement

 

It is nothing for me, your visage to envision

It is simplicity for me to revisit your image

To move your lips or still them

To suit a given fictitious purpose

And on another occasion, the opposite cause service

With equal insistence

But if I have ever written a poem about you

It was a coincidence


Acclimation

 

The acclimation process moves along

Albeit not as quickly as I’d hoped

But with this disappointment I have coped

Primarily, your image keeps me strong

 

You are with me every place I go

I’m lucky that you don’t charge by the mile

Each time that I refer to you, I smile

No small accomplishment, I’ll have you know

 

I wonder what I represent to you

When on occasion, you pull the short straw

Am I a model from which you can draw

Or an example of what not to do?

 

I trust I’m to you what you are to me

Although likely to a lesser degree


Rain Wine

 

He speaks, and yet another leaky vessel sets its sail.

“In a couple of years, if you want to come here,

You will use the monorail.

And the hat on my head

Will be made of Italian bread

For, in good time,

Science will manage a way, I say,

To make the sky rain wine.

You don’t appreciate just where

In history you stand.”

“On the tail end, if these contraptions

Come about as planned,” I deadpanned.

 

I had just been with my Baby Doll

For a quarter of an hour,

Our umbrellas up-side down

As we kissed in the autumn shower.

And we will not see summer again

For… eight months and… twenty-eight days.

Every year, as the leaves turn,

I relearn my historic place.


A Very Long Trip

 

That I’ll never forget you I have to regard

As a blessing, although recollection is hard

I will never feel your face against mine again

A singular and a particular pain

The absence of that sensation

 

That it’s highly unlikely that you will recall

Any of our moments together at all

I can see as a benefit, genuinely

An already very long trip, memory

Would only serve to lengthen


Enthusiasm

 

How can one be anything but enthused

Living in such a stimulating place?

How is it possible to become used

To the excitement of the human race?

 

Can anyone justify being bored

With life one massive fascinating thing?

A king once threw himself upon his sword

Thinking no worlds remained for conquering

 

Of blood so royal, but of sight so short

Do we this error fully realize?

Many don’t recognize life as a sport

The world is weary seen through tired eyes

 

I’m accused of this occasionally

But such is not the case. I’m just low-key


The Game

 

He sees the game as magical

He sees it as mysterious

He’s been told to be practical

He’s been told to get serious

He sees the field as sacred ground

The course by holy angels mapped

Some think he has become unwound

Or else he is too tightly wrapped

 

All those who see no mystery

Or magic in this exercise

And view the whole activity

Through cold and not fanciful eyes

To them, for whom the game is just

A job for which they collect pay

He looks upon, not in disgust

But with pity and some dismay

 

I think of myself as somewhere

Floating between these two extremes

I have felt magic in the air

But money finances my dreams

And as to whether angels keep

The grounds with holy hoe and rake

That does require a larger leap

Than I can bring myself to take


Press On

 

Though weak from meager food and lack of sleep

Together we can manage to press on

Our dinner will be fine, our slumber deep

When we return again to Washington

 

Lean against me and I’ll lean against you

We may sway in the breeze, but we won’t fall

We’ll do whatever things we need to do

One by one until we have done them all

 

The urge to stop is on occasion strong

It rises to the surface like a cork

But as we’ve known that demon for so long

Its’ efforts to distract us do not work

 

As for me, I can’t call it work I’ve done

It would only be so were I alone


Up To Date

 

Poems should be forever up to date

And with minimal asterisks involved

Meaning should not be open to debate

Like some archaic riddle to be solved

 

I do not believe this across the board

That is to say, in each and ev’ry case

But ends of odes should oft’ hold the reward

Of what it was about in the first place

 

Of course I don’t know what in future days

Any reader from this effort will glean

For though one tries to mean just what one says

How often is that tasks’ completion seen?

 

I’ll settle for the near vicinity

And not fret o’er pinpoint accuracy


Soon and Very Soon

 

I was sure

I was sure that the first day of Spring

I was done and done

With this open-air dungeon

Then Easter

I knew I’d be gone, gone, gone

I endured the delay

Because the symbolism was delicious

And worth the wait

Okay, okay

Memorial Day

I had that old feeling

But I hoped anyway

I did so against hope

And in doing so, paid

I paid yet again

With God as my witness

With my hand on my heart

I was certain, certain

The Fourth of July

I was out of here, finally

Finally, the best of goodbyes

July fifth, I felt left behind

Another might have disposed

Of his calendar by that time

But I didn’t

I’d pretend to ignore it on occasion

For no one’s benefit but mine

(I’m the only one who knew that I was doing it)

I saw the back of Labor Day

Three weeks ago

And Autumn is through unpacking

And the rains will come soon, I am told

Before Halloween, I am told

And when Halloween’s here

I’ll go from door to door

Dressed just as I am now

Saying, “Trick or treat, folks.

I’m a ghost.

I’m a god damned ghost.”


Mary

 

Mary had a little llama

And the llama called her Momma

Mary tolerated this bit

She was not crazy about it

 

Mary had a little emu

And the emu called her Meemu

Though Mary liked this even less

Her feelings, she did not confess

 

Poor Mary kept so much inside

This is why, years before she died

She developed a nervous tick

And snapped like a celery stick


Nicknames For Our Dog Rufus

 

 

Blue Fuzz

Crew Cut

Cute Stuff

Flu Shots

Fruit Cup

Glue Gun

Grape Nuts

Group Rates

Moon Shot

Proof Sheets

Q Tips

Roughness

Ruthless

Too Much


Compensation

 

I lived in fear for years of this time,

In fear of this time for years.

I dreaded the loss of my musical ear,

Of my artistic eye,

Of my beautiful hair.

I thought I would slow down to a crawl,

And the thought of it made me scared.

Well, some of it happened, as it will gradually

Happen to us all.

And I began to relax,

And, as luck would have it,

Progressively, less I cared.

Progressively, I cared less.

As I begin to deteriorate,

Which apparently is the case,

I’ll just take it as nature’s way of compensating

For my inordinately pretty face.


Nice

 

It’s nice to be nice, all right

But sometimes I’m left with no choice

But to go against Santa Claus’s advice

And lower my brow and raise my voice

There’s no sensation like trying to be gracious

And having it not be appreciated

They take my good nature and boil it

And throw it right back in my face

And I hate that

It’s tough to be tough, all right

And I have to act that way too often

But to go up against these guys night after night

Who’ll rough you up until you soften

And roll you until you are round

And then bounce you

Pisses me off


A Man

 

Once there was a man who knew what he was talking about

Knew his onions

Knew beans

That man lived a good long time ago

Lived a good long time

And died a long time ago

And he was right every minute

Of that good long time

Yet –

Should I echo his sentiments

Here and now

In reference

To the descendants

Of the crowd of which he spoke

And to the same town

(Or the town that covers the same ground

Though building upon building

And man after man

And woman after woman

Have been put up and torn down

Since his dawn

Since his song)

I would be wrong


Big Christmas

 

You have been gone over four years now

I find this amazing

The next thing I know, it will be fourteen

I was really feeling isolated

Until it was explained to me

By my son Jacob

 

“You seem to have this image of the soul of your friend

Hurtling through space at ever-increasing speed and distance

This is not the case

Consider this

You could be hit on the head and develop amnesia

Or contract Alzheimer’s and forget your ideas

But listen

You are never lost

You are never in danger

Regardless of whether or not you remember

The friend whom you love loves you and is waiting

Soon we will all be on the same level together

Never again to experience the sense of separation”

 

“Now hear this

For you, I will use Christmas

Somebody else might use a birth date

Anniversary, or when they get paid

One calendar page after this eagerly anticipated holy day

Though only twenty four hours later

You feel far away

The notion of a reunion is pale consolation

It seems too far in the future to embrace

It seems to have gone to another place

But there is no other place

There is one world only

Know this

Big Christmas is coming

Big Pay Day

You’re not getting farther away

You’re getting closer”


The Muse

 

It takes so much out of me to write when I am inspired

I can barely stand the heat and brightness of the fire

And once the muse is done with me, I’m beyond being tired

I’m like an empty bottle drained of all of my desire

 

I’m overtaken often at times most inopportune

And directed to write of things I do not care about

It increases depending on the status of the moon

And I feel only slightly safer when the tide is out

 

This devil has its way with me regardless of my mood

And when it is okay with me, it feels pretty darned good

Many’s the night I’ve waited up for it to pop my hood

But when it shows up unannounced, it’s nothing short of rude

 

The muse behaves, it has been said, like a merchant marine

That expects me to give regardless of how long it’s been

Unsure of how, I have considered not coming across

Except for fear of its permanent loss


Translation

 

What could I say to you if you

Were from some place other than here

And did not have the point of view

That we and all the natives do?

How could I make my meaning clear?

 

I’m not talking of Budapest

Where our tongue is less widely used.

I’m speaking of the Great Nor’west

Where I, an uninvited guest,

Confuse and am confused.

 

With you, I can communicate

With nothing but a grunt or glance,

But since I chose to relocate,

I need somebody to translate

The subtlety of my nuance.


Torture

 

A girl on the train in her early teens

Was being tortured by the scenery.

The more she complained,

The prettier everything seemed to me.

The silt from the glacier

Made the water in the river a beautiful green,

And her facial features displayed pain.

The absence of rain turned the grass to gold.

The yellow and orange were a joy to behold,

To me,

But the young one’s discomfort could not be contained.

This brought me some pleasure, strangely.


Now You Smile

 

Now you smile.

My false step

Almost sent

Both of us

To the deck.

After all

My attempts

To present

Amusement

Had been met

With a set

Resistance,

Who’d have guessed

You’d react

Just like that

To slapstick,

Albeit

By a freak

Accident.”

Then you laughed,

“Now you smile.”


Crackers

 

I stand at the counter

And stare at the menu.

I memorized it a long time ago.

It gives me information,

Not inspiration.

It tells me what I could eat,

Not what I should eat.

“What’s good today, Charlie?”

I ask Marty.

“The soup across the street.

Bring me back a bowl.

Don’t tell him it’s for me.

And don’t forget the crackers.”

“How could I?

They’ve struggled so hard for so long.”


Expiration

 

In the corner of the room upstairs

Not the bedroom, but the other one

In a canvas bag behind the chairs

Are my novels forever undone

 

Two shoeboxes on the closet shelf

Right next to my juggling clubs hold

All your letters I promised myself

I would not read until I was old

 

And sound recordings made in my youth

Way back in nineteen seventy two

I recognize when I face the truth

Conclusively prove I had no clue

 

Box these up with me when I expire

And then set the whole damned thing on fire


Beholding the Rose

 

Every song that I write

Every poem I compose

Every word of my prose

All belong to my sons

How will they be received?

Will they be received at all?

If it’s “Thanks, but no thanks”

Have I suffered a loss?

It just might turn out

I’ve been composing compost

In which case, can I find comfort

In beholding a rose?


About Bill Haas

 

 

 

           

 

Not only is Bill a stud, but he writes his own bio copy. He likes creamed collard greens, something he just thought about because he had them tonight and he enjoyed them. He’s a little slow on the uptake, so he’s just getting around to a lot of things everybody else seems to take for granted. Hiring a publicist is, according to hearsay, earmarked as one of the next things. Talk is cheap, but it’s right here in print, an indication of a commitment refreshing in these here parts here. He is in his fabulous forties and between ten and fifteen pounds overweight. He would be five foot six inches tall if he ever stood up straight and he has a bald spot. He may not be the best songwriter in America, but there is nobody better, and he really believes that. It’s about time for a haircut. For me, not you. No, you look fine. Good.

 

 

 


Index of First Lines

 

A girl on the train in her early teens                                                                   

Blue Fuzz                                                                                                          

Every song that I write                                                                                      

He sees the game as magical                                                                          

He speaks, and yet another leaky vessel sets its sail                                       

How can one be anything but enthused                                                           

I have never written a poem about you                                                             

I lived in fear for years of this time                                                                   

I stand at the counter                                                                                       

I think that Cooper was his name                                                                     

I was in cheerful mood, at the time, rare                                                          

I was sure                                                                                                         

In the corner of the room upstairs                                                                     

It takes so much out of me to write when I am inspired                                    

It’s nice to be nice, all right                                                                               

Let me tell you something

Mary had a little llama                                                                                        

My travel-weary heart is now asleep                                                                  

Now you smile                                                                                                  

O how to begin with the tremendous din                                                             

Once there was a man who knew what he was talking about                           

Poems should be forever up to date                                                                 

Sammy boy sleeps                                                                                              

That I’ll never forget you I have to regard                                                         

The acclimation process moves along                                                               

The love he once thought would ever remain                                                     

The pressure to perform that I now feel                                                            

There’s freezing rain and snow where I just left                                                 

Though weak from meager food and lack of sleep                                           

What could I say to you if you                                                                           

You have been gone over four years now                                                        

 

  

 

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