My Work My Love

From Dane's Desk

Thought I might start a new page where I can share some of my own work with the community at large. These are a combination of excerpts and complete pieces. Some of them are done as exercises to sharpen my own skills and craft and some of them are parts of completed works already out to publishers or works that are on their way to completion.
Mostly they are here to share with you and perhaps get your comments and feedback. I thought, as most of what I have published in the past was poetry, that I would start here in that medium. As I said, some of what I will put here is in the realm of expanding my own art and skill and with that in mind I have, first, two Haiku followed by two Nonets. Enjoy!

Lilly dotted pool
Pines growing up, growing down
From a common root

The Geese

Foggy morning chill
Goose calls passing overhead
On unseen gray wings


The Buddhist Atheist walks homeward
Sandals tapping sutras on heels
Dust touched by all touching not
To touch all again once
Before settling there
On thin bent toes
Bending steps


Ink wash dots arrayed against heaven
Linear gray monotone score
Circumstantial arrangement
Upon a light blue page
Above the traffic
And life's passage
Perch and coo
These are the opening couple of pages to a work I've just sent out this past weekend. The title I put to it was " No Humans Involved ". No, it's not sci/fi but a gritty bit of slice of life with more than a hint of satire and irony. If the whole thing sees the light of day I'll be sure to let you know where. Until then, enjoy and, as always, I welcome comment and critique or just a note to say hi.
Dane F. Baylis
“Barkeep! Yo, Lester!”

Lester looked up from his newspaper and sighed. Picking up a towel he started towards the end of the bar, pausing along the way to clear away empties and refill other patron’s drinks.
            “Innkeeper,” the voice insisted, followed by the slap of a hand on the bar’s mahogany.
             “Keep your shirt on Benny,” Lester chided. “You ain’t the only one here.”
            “Well I was almost the only one here three hours ago and you weren’t no faster then,” the skinny figure at the end of the bar quipped.
            “Yeah, well you keep busting my chops and it could get awful thirsty down that end.” Benny lifted his hands in mock submission, his head bobbed a bit uncertainly. Without the solid wood of the bar to steady him he tipped into his neighbor, causing him to slosh beer down his chin.
            Looking down at the spreading wet stain on the shapeless front of his grimy tee shirt all the offended party could do was mumble, “Hey! What the hey, Benny!”
            Leaning against the bar for support Benny looked at the damage, then slurred, “Ya gotta be more careful there Rog. Jeez, yer makin’ a mess a yourself.”
            By now Lester had reached their end of the bar and, after clearing away empty beer bottles and shot glasses, mopped at the rings of condensation they left behind. The sun had been down for over an hour but the day’s humid warmth hadn’t relinquished its grip and it made him wish for the hundredth time that Tommy O would install air conditioning. Without looking up he asked, “What’ll it be?”
              Benny pushed a pile of loose change towards him, “Another round around, por favor, Senor?”
             “Two beers, two shots. No expense spared,” Lester’s voice carried a sarcastic edge as he reached for the bar brand whiskey. Seeing that Roger was trying to mop his shirt with a damp cocktail napkin Lester handed him a dry bar rag. “Miss your mouth there, Sport?”
             “Naw. That clumsy bastard,”Roger jerked a thumb towards Benny, “run into me and then doesn’t even offer a‘scuse me or by your leave or nothing.”
             A hoarse female voice mumbled from Roger’s left side, “That clumsy bastard.”
             Lester turned his attention to Mary Lynch who, if it was possible, was wearing an even grubbier and baggier tee shirt than her companion, and admonished her, “That’s a bit harsh, there, Mary. Let’s try to keep one foot out of the gutter. Okay?”
             “Yeah, sure thing, Lester,”she slurred, showing the bartender the extended middle finger of her left hand.
              Lester’s eyebrows shot up and he pointed a menacing finger at Mary but Roger reached around her and pushed her hand below the edge of the bar. “She don’t mean nothing by that, Les. Do me a favor and get a taste for my honey here, okay?”
             Lester didn’t take his eyes of the woman as he replied, “One more round. If she starts getting nasty or mouthing off though, I’ll eighty-six both of you.”
             Still holding Mary’s hand out of sight, Roger replied, “It‘s okay. I got it handled, Sport.”
             Benny nudged Roger, “Keep an eye on the piggy bank.” He handed over a
rolled up potato chip bag. “I gotta hit the whizzer.”
             Lester came back with the beers. “That’s a buck and a half each for the brews and two each for the booze. Ten fifty total.”
             Roger counted out eight singles and a couple of quarters from the pile on the bar. Pushing this towards the barman he paused as if considering the significance of the transaction. Then, unrolling the top of the potato chip bag, he reached in and pulled out two more singles, shaking off some loose crumbs before adding them to the pile.
             “There you are, Chief. Cash on the nail.” Carefully, he rolled the top of the bag closed and set his elbow on top of it.
             “You know, Rog, a wallet might be a little more sanitary,” the barman suggested as he took the cash, giving the bills an extra shake for good measure. He had a look like he wanted to say something else but changed his mind.
             Mary poked at the bag, “So how come you got your dough in the bag?”
             “So nobody knows where we got it.”
             “Where you got it? It’s right there. Everybody can see where you got it.”
             “Naw. Benny says if we keep it in the bag nobody knows where we got it.”
             “What’a ya saying? Right there’s where you got it.”
              “Jeez, you can be so thick when you got a snoot full. Not where we got it here. Where we got it from.”
              Mary mulled this over for a moment, “Right. Whatever. I think maybe you’re a bit tipsy?”
              Benny’s voice came from behind them, “Listen to the pot calling the kettle black.”

Idle Ink

                                                     I think about the things long done,
                                                     So many others just begun.
                                                     Blazing triumphs and tragedies,
                                                     So gently fade from memory.
                                                     Or simply lay in idle ink,
                                                     No bond nor joint nor delicate link.
                                                     To carry them along in time,
                                                     Or else recall they once were mine.

It's All Terminal
That's the one thing
No one gets out
Coming in
Screaming and shaking
And breeding and breeding and
Wondering what it was
You felt
Small things
A job with perks
New car
Every couple of years
Someone who calls
Or visits
Or says you can
Still be friends
At least on the holidays.
Going out
To an anonymous
Among other
Forgotten stones.
Your manicured spot
In the country.

Autumn Reaches Down

Brittle breeze
Slides from winter’s
Across the valley
Down canyons
Death’s cold glove
This invisible
River over a river
Sycamores and Cottonwoods
Into shivering gold
Cascading a thousand
Seer brown
Scatter leaf canoes
That drown
Without touching
Angel City’s
Forever summer beach.


Swimming across the sky
Wood duck hen leads her brood
Wake dividing clouds.

Santa Anna Thanksgiving
Cold wind
From the west
Sending the news
Snow should be
Sneaking down the street
Where it's just
A border
Around sand
Santa Anna arid
Thanksgiving lies.

Carpenteria Afternoon
Left coast
Dissolving gray
Swallowing islands
Tumble roll
Invisibly washing
Beach and jogger
Red umbrella.

The muse is
A whore
Giving herself
To everyone
With a pen
Lies about
Inspiration delivered
Like the sincerity of
Horseshit on roses.
Fame is
A prostitute
Who will only stay
The minutes
Are paid for
Raisin dry remains
Of my testicles
All that's left
In the strong
Sunlight praises.
I have been
A coward
Before both
In my garden
Sipping coffee
Tending tomatoes
If I would
Ever get it
Up again
For either.
I have been
That eunuch.

Toast on the Side

Ham and eggs
Black coffee
Toast on the side
Looking back
From the last day
This year
To the next
Of existence
Another three o'clock
With her butt
Tucked where
I would sorely
Miss it
Is all this
And more
Far less
That has kept me
From sliding away
To where
Meals are served in trashcans
Love is a handout
The only words left
Please and why
And I'm already
The second is the answer
To the spinning
Of galaxies
Too familiar
No boundaried
I stagger into
Relieving myself
Against a wall
The immense feel
Of simple
Physical satisfaction
Is perhaps
As encompassing as
Ham and eggs
Black coffee
Toast on the side.

What Does This Mean?
It means
Tear it out
Tear it up
Or hide it
Between the mattress
And the box spring
With all the hidden pictures
Of other desires
You can't possess
Tack it to your wall
Poor man's crucifixion
Then accept reality
There are no resurrections
Better yet
Just take it outside
And burn it
Let it go back
To the hot beginning
Before your feelings
Cooled enough
For formulations of
The unanswerable
I can only tell you
What this meant
You own it now
So tell me
What does this mean?


I opened the door knowing in advance this wouldn’t be an easy evening. It never is when they show up wanting to talk about poetry. What’s to talk about? Better to spend time buried in the sad state of pugilism or the gutlessness of alt rock or drowning in the takeover of all government functions by both ends of the lunatic fringe. That kind of discourse can keep me awake and enervated for days, filling pages with honest ideas devoid of solutions. Talking about poetry only gives status to bastard solutions devoid of honest ideas.

What was I supposed to do? I’d posted my real address, instead of my P.O. Box, on some forum and he’d seen it. Once, sometimes twice a week, a letter from him turned up in the mail. They were always steeped in fawning praise and real bullshit about my visionary insight. Crap! I’m first to admit to being delusional at best and barely lucid only occasionally.

Sometimes he reinforces his case with emails. All of this intrudes on time when my own ideas want me. Unfortunately, I try to answer everything he sends whether it’s digital – Which really irks me as lazy – Or involves physically laying pen to paper which impresses me because I assume I’m the last troglodyte still long handing his thoughts. Not that it matters!

His letters showed up with grinding regularity and he openly wondered if I’d look at his work? Right away I was trying to weasel my way out of this thing I’d made no commitment to in the first place. That’s how it starts…They want you to take time away from your own work. Then they want your honest opinion, which is a bald-faced lie. The minute I get honest about some overly wordy bit of adolescent angst he’ll want to nail my testicles to a blog page, any opinion or suggestion being evidence of my jealous failure and over the hill bile stifling his ascendancy.

Like I give a malignant rat’s ass whether I’ve lost it or not? The world may be right and I veered off two decades back…Or it just could be the glorious inverse, and I’d taken eighteen years to measure the content of my own heart and soul. This is no small matter. It’s comparable to Augustine or Van Gogh crawling around in the gutter looking for answers and being content with hints. I have prevailed over myself and I don’t expect anyone to appreciate what a messy damn thing that is.

But here he is, a sheaf of papers under one arm and a six pack under the other, as if that will even begin to grease the slide into hell he’s attempting. Thank god I’ve kept the day job! Wandering into the kitchen with the aspiring poet in tow, I break out a bottle of top shelf rye and a couple of glasses. He doesn’t have the somewhat seedy demeanor of a professional drinker. With a bit of luck and some clever avoidance I might be able to divert anything to do with the merits, or lack of, in those pages and get him on to something really creative…Like lying about women. Anyway, I know how the plot develops. I end up sleeping on the couch while he snores up a hangover in my bed.



Dane F. Baylis
"This one's over the freakin' line!"
"Your ass is over the line!"
"So's your mother's."
"Hey! Don't be sayin' shit about someones mother!"

 The rules were written
In sunshine blasted strips
Between the blocks
Of deep tenement shadows
In the side streets
Off the busy avenues
In clean white t-shirts
Stretched over hairless chests
In the sound of life
In the neighborhood.

 "Hey, Diane! Those yours or d'they come with the sweater?"
"Screw you, Ricky!"
"I can only hope."
"Play the game, scumbag!"

Tight blue jeans
Filter tips
And a six pack of Bud'
Under the bushes
The sweet taste of
Impending manhood
Girls in knots
With slender tan legs
Dancing short skirts
Their smiles swirling
Noon sun on windshields.

"Hey, Angie! Dance at the K of C on Friday?"
"Can't do it, Sean."
"Your ol' man still pissed?"
"He's gonna kick your ass!"
"Yeah, yeah, yeah."

In spray paint
On school yard pavement
In the hot sun
On rooftop tar
In the sweat of young bodies
In secret places.

In promises
And lies
And hidden tears
And dreams of getting
Out of here.

"John T. Devlin!"
"In a minute, Ma!"
"Right now, Young Man!"
"Throw the ball ya lame-o!"

 All of it
Written in the sting
The palm buzzing vibration
Of a stick ball bat
Your heart racing
Chasing that half-ball
In a clean
Hard driven arch
Out over the freakin' line
Because your dreams
Of sports cars
And houses on the North Shore
Are out there
Beyond the second manhole cover
In the home run zone
And are alive in the brag
That hides the knowing
The not knowing
If it was you

Or just the way it was written
In the rules
In the sunshine blasted strips
Between the blocks
Of deep tenement shadows
In the side streets
Off the busy avenues.


Dane F. Baylis

Standing in the back
Of the Cambridge Street Laundorama
Yesterday's "Boston Globe"
Draped from the waistband
Of my underwear
My modesty
Guarded by the world's tragedy
Reflected in the porcelain and chrome
Of this coin operated confessional
Where a city
Washes away its stain
And everything I own
Tumbles over itself
As wrinkled and damp
As the fat old woman
Who is holding my clothes
Hostage for a back rent ransom
Because I cannot get drunk enough
To do like the fey young men
Who live upstairs
And work off their debts
In her creaking bed
Then rush to the communal bathroom
To wash away the memory of that tariff.

We're really not so different
I guess
Washing our agony
In sacraments of Clorox
And poetry
And writing
A fat old woman's phone number
On a laundromat wall.

Dane F. Baylis

Cute sayings annoy me
"He who dies with the most toys wins?"
Has any one given consideration to
"He who dies with the most toys is still dead?"
Is he
More comfortably dead?
Feeding a higher class of worms dead?
Bones bleached whiter dead?

Better dead than
A Skid Row wino
Lying beneath weeds
In a nameless potter's field dead?

Perhaps you're just survived by
Other "Most Toys" boys,
Sweating how long
They'll have
To enjoy the most toys
Left behind?

UNTITLED 2/19/13

Dane F. Baylis

    I’ll be honest
This isn’t about you
Even if you’re reading it
In your darkened room
Just you.

The fame thing?
It’s over rated
Strangers standing there
Speaking candied falsities
A second before you
Become the focus.

It’s harder to be a counterfeiter
Or cop
Or drunken neurosurgeon
Poets are just
Petty thieves
Flashing down like crows
Stealing shiny baubles.

The best ideas
Are just lying there
In the newspaper
On the table
Available as inebriated barflies
Willing to give it up
For a pack of smokes
Or a shot and a beer.

When morning comes around
You will lie in bed
Smelling the pillows
Then make up lies
Of passionate desolation
That you will imprison
In bottom drawer dungeons.

You will stand at the podium
Clasp your breast and sob
“All of my best moments
Are as degenerate
As Easter
Amongst the Spanish flagellants
Raking off flesh
With spiked chain flails
In my deepest heart
I cry for clarity
And long to lick their wounds.”




Dane F. Baylis
The sad dads sit
Thin gray shadows
On Sunday playground benches.
Watching weekend children
From swing
To slide
To sandbox.
Cyclone laughter
Spinning around
A carousel empire
Weaving sunlight make believe
Into sparrow chatter voices.
Fading to memories
Across empty rooms
Of sad dad lives
The shape
Of a familiar
Turns a stranger's face.
You wonder
Where intimacy goes
When the playground
Is closed.



No comments:

Post a Comment