Friday, September 30, 2011


Standing in line at a local food bank, I was surprised by the range of emotions which washed over, and through me; and at some fundamental level the sense of failure choked the breath in my throat and made it all but impossible to breathe. I looked into the soaped over glass storefront and I could see my reflection. My face was white, eyes shining and bright with barely held emotion. This was a face I had never witnessed before. I felt a stranger in a strange land.

“First time isn't it?” A gravelly smoky voice spoke to my right ear.

I turned and looked down and into the wizened dried apple face of a woman with bright beautiful blue eyes.

“Is it that obvious?” I asked.

She reached out with a hand soft and silky, as only the very old posses and said, “Yes dear it is obvious. But not ruinously so. Everyone here has gone through what you are going through right now. You are not amongst strangers, nor are you alone.”

The emotions I had been holding in check burst through my feeble attempts and I could feel hot runnels of water running down my cheeks. The woman reached into a handbag large enough to carry a small child in and pulled out tissues. She handed them to me with a concerned look in her eye and a silent nod of affirmation.

Once I had regained my composure, she again dug through her purse and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. “Smoke?” she offered.

We stood there and silently smoked. The reassurance a cigarette gives is something those who have never smoked will never know.

At some point my dried apple faced woman touched me on the arm and said, “Hunger is a foe, we can only hope to fight to an armistice. We never ever defeat it.”

I don’t know what I was expecting but philosophy in a food line was not it.

“Not all of us are ill educated, government-assisted louts looking for a free hand out. I myself taught school for 35 years. But one does, what one must, when the Devil calls the tune.” She said as her bright eyes took on a hard gimlet cast.

I admit several hours later, as I was driving home with a trunk filled with groceries, I began to cry again. I cried when I unloaded, and diligently placed the food into my empty pantry. But I did not cry when my daughter came home from school that afternoon and I had food to place on her plate

The End

DS Baker

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Dust bunnies are sleeping
Safely under the refrigerator
I write

Fighting urges of pretension
Meter rhyme
Or classical reference

Tasking myself to steal
Moments from
My day

By writing
In Mason jars
Amber beads strung on
Kite string thoughts

Questing for lines
Of images strong

The sun was Orange
Not like an Orange

Salt spray hung in the air
Not saline diamonds hanging

Striving to
Contending with
Constantly battling
Myself against complicated impulses

Keep it simple
Using my erasure
Cut and cut
Pare it down

Poetry is flow

Hoping to not box
Oneself in to corners or

Balancing it all
Knife edge up

That’s the trick
Slow lingering note fading away
To silence

Should I?

Alert my readers the end
Is nigh with
Maestro Salieri’s cue to

These are my dilemmas
When dust bunnies
Sleep safely
Underneath my

You may clap now…


DS Baker

"Mocking Bird"

(c) Steve Ting
I went outside
To have a secret cigarette
Watching summer shower
Pass by

A Mockingbird
On my garden grape arbor
Flashing his


He ducked his head
Amongst shiny

Rushing in wet circles
Rubbing one wing
Then another


He flew to fence post
Where he preened
Flight feathers

Then he was gone
Like tobacco


DS Baker

Saturday, September 24, 2011

"The Tower"

Six foot frame
with little girl voice

She is a tower
of rage

Silently screaming  protest
against her pain

A woman not destined
for a size six world

Does anyone see the real person...

Pagan symbols painted in
Alabaster skin

Strength of character
tattoo pigment deep

Dresden porcelain doll
Ms Melissa with lips in lovers bow

Beneath mortuary make up
china glaze spider webbed

Customers view not the Tower shattering...

Autonomic response
to yet another shopper

Almost-dead doll eyes
plead for recognition

Perfunctory greeting
silent tears

Does anyone stop to wonder
Why must a full grown woman
talk like a
Why would she
willingly cover her body in
Why doesn't anyone stop to ask
Are you OK?
Or has her private pain
abated enough so
her public
cutting of
her arm
has stopped?

But this is a Walmart tale...

No time to stop
ask about
show concern
customers backed up
four deep

The Tower turns and says,

Holding herself erect
with the tensile strength
of a soap


DS Baker

Friday, September 16, 2011

STORY-"Who Are You?"

     I woke up with no memory of who I was. Amnesia as I am finding out is not, like what one views in a movie. There is no references, no bumps along the road of memory to lead a person to a series of connected thoughts, which might-in turn lead to a destination known as self.

     I was amazed at the fact I could walk and talk. I could even tie my shoes and eat a hamburger without instructions or guidance. But try to operate a machine, say for instance a car? Cold flop sweat would break out on my forehead, and within a few minutes my whole body was greasy.

     The little girl who comes up to me and asks for hugs, is my daughter. At least that is what the photographic evidence and the woman who came and got me at the hospital tell me. She kinda, sort of, looks like me. But there is more of the woman about her than there is of me.

     I know on some intellectual level this is my family. I have albums full of pictures, with what appears to be my face smiling back at me. All the clothes in the closet, the woman gives me to wear, fit. The little girl and the woman constantly ask me if, I remember this birthday or the night we went to see the Electric Light Parade at Disneyland. I try and tell them something but, there is nothing for me to grasp. My life started again, from scratch at 12:45 PM on Tuesday September 9th 2011. Anything before that has fled into some dark corner and refuses to come out.

     From the woman’s back porch I can see the rural hospital, where I was airlifted from. I sit outside in the evening hours and look in that direction. Once in a while I see a helicopter take off, headed for the big city on the other side of the mountain. I always say a silent prayer, that their load of misery is treatable.

     The man who once lived in this house like books about war and of history. He even has a suit of armour sitting in a corner. The little girl tells me I was a knight and I would fight other knights in friendly combat.

     She said to me, “I used to tell all my friends, my daddy is a knight.” She cried when she finished and I took her in my arms and made soft noises in the back of my throat.

     So most days will find me walking the little girl to her elementary school, which is just a couple of blocks away. I come home and I make a cheese sandwich and then I lay down on the couch until noon, when it is time to go get the little girl from school. The woman I live with, has an alarm she has set to go off, so I have plenty of time to get there.

      The little girl is in kindergarten and she tells me about the kids she has as friends. The type of snack she ate and how she pretends to go to sleep at nap time.

     I asked her, “What do you do when everyone is asleep?”

     She replied, “I think about who I want to be.”

     “Well, who do you want to be?” I asked her.

     “Today Daddy, I thought about being an Astronaut.”

     “Really? That’s pretty cool.” I replied.

     Now as we come home from her school, our conversations always roll around to who we want to be. It's great fun. Yesterday we talked about being an underwater fish person. I can’t remember what they are called. But they study fish and crabs. That’s important to her, I can’t leave out the crabs.

      For five days, out of the week, that is my routine. I wake up, the woman gets up and dresses the little girl and then leaves to go to work. I walk the little girl to school and eat my sandwich. The pain pills the doctors have me on, make it hard for me to read the books, the man who once lived here had. I try, but after a while my head hurts too much.

     I think if I could change something about myself… It would probably be to have something to hold on to. It would be nice to be able to remember the little girls name. Or maybe to just remember when the woman and I got married. I am tired of seeing sticky notes under photographs or on objects… 

     I see the little girl's pictures hanging on the refrigerator, showing a child’s perspective of a hospital bed. I know beyond a doubt they think I was in that bed, but I wasn’t. I just got out of that bed. A different me was there. I know they love me. I also know that the man who was once flown on a helicopter to a far, far away place, loved them a great deal.

The End

DS Baker

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

STORY-"Blue Diamond Hike"

Why did I agree to this?

Because your getting fat and more importantly you know it.


And, ya lazy bastard this gives you an opportunity to correct that state of being.

What state? Me being fat? Or me being a lazy bastard?


Christ on a pogo stick! Why didn’t you take me to Red Rock? I don’t mind getting off the couch per see, but I was hoping for some bouldering, whilst looking at one of those sexy female tour guides out of Blue Diamond; instead you drag me out to Blue Diamond the mountain itself.

You know all I am hearing from behind me is sniveling.

You said it yourself, I am a fat lazy bastard.

Yes we have established those facts. What I failed to ascertain was in your dotage you have also become a sniveling dirt-bag as well.

Your majesty, you would be sniveling too, if your best friend woke you up at o’dark thirty in the morning, dragged you out of bed, then made you carry enough rope to tie down King Kong, and then  made you go on some up-hill Bataan death march.

Sorry I can’t hear you. It is all pops and whistles. I can’t hear past the wheezing coming from your smokers corrupted lungs.


No! That would be asshole. I knew my father, unlike you…

The trail grew ever steeper. So steep in fact, conversation came to an abrupt ending, as both men needed to concentrate in order to keep from falling. For long periods of time, the only noises that could be heard were the sounds of blue granite pebbles dislodged from the trail, as they tumbled down the steep slopes of the mountain; with a counter point of gasps, and grunts coming from the two men. Eventually their efforts found them a 1000ft higher on the trail, and at wide spot where old growth Ponderosa Pines had once been hit by a large object, snapping them off several feet from above the trail.

OK! This is it.

<Gasping> This is where butthead?

That’s Mr. Butthead to you, my good fellow. We are currently 300 ft. above where Carole Lombard died. Her Vega twin engine smacked into that knob behind us, bounced down through several trees, hit the two Ponderosa pines in front of us and plunged head first down the ravine on the other side of those trees. Most of the cabin managed to wedge itself into a vertical crack, while the wings peeled off and along with the engines burned their way down to gully below.

Damn and Blast! I would not have wanted to have been Clark Gable.

No neither would I. He requested every dangerous combat mission he could, after this.

What do you mean?

Clark was a bombardier-air crew in the Army Air Corp. during WWII.

The two men set about tying their ropes off to secure anchorage points, getting into their climbing harness’ and putting on their safety helmets.

So why did you bring me here again?

‘Cause you needed to get off the couch and I thought with your love of history, you might just like to see a bit of the stuff right in front of your face.


Besides I thought that if, I got lucky, I might be able to score a bit of the airplane for myself.

You’re a ghoul.

Yes! Yes I am. But I am a ghoul with an interesting collection of historical items.

A northern wind swept the mountainside, gently rocking the two men as they descended the cliff face. From a distance they looked like two overly large spiders in search of prey.

The End.

DS Baker

Thursday, September 8, 2011

STORY-"Omaha 2:15 AM"

What was his last words again? The Express Agent asked.

The old Rail Bull stared at the younger man. His eyes going flat, reliving that moment; scrubbing his face with a meaty paw heavy with fine black hairs, as if to rid himself of what he had witnessed.

He said, Kiss my ass! The whole world can kiss my ass!

That’s a hell of a statement.

Yeah it is. What is weird about it, he was smiling when he stepped in front of that freight.

That’s a hell of a thing.

Yeah! A hell of a thing.

The Yard Dog Phil, says it’s going to take a whole day to scrub him out of the motor.


Hell of a thing.

The End.

DS Baker

STORY-"Wheat Field"

The small boy awoke to the sound of distant light. A square mile of wheat stubble burning. Throwing back an abyss of stars, while grotesque shapes undulated in a paroxysm of organic life.

The boy walked out to the porch where his parents sat in the dark watching.

“Alpha and Omega.” His father said softly, with a face suffused in an orange glow.

His mother’s virginal housecoat had become a linen canvas, alive with color. Standing in mute silence, the boy watched small animals back lit from the fire, flee to deeper shadows.

The Sun eventually rose; muddy and ash streaked. As if a curtain slowly drawn, revealing an agrarian tableau, blackened earth dotted with tiny graves of those animals who couldn’t escape the conflagration.

In the corner of the field, a tractor plowed those tiny sarcophagus’ into and below the ash layer, where green shoots awaited their offerings.

The boy dressed now, walked across the field. His feet leaving a pilgrims dusty trail behind. His mind groped for concepts, while his father’s voice echoed in his ears.

It was in this burnt space at the terminus of two Texas county roads he realized, a Wheatfield could become sacred. He drank deeply from his new realizations, while a Red Tailed Hawk watched him from above.

The End

DS Baker

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

STORY-"Traveller Not A Tourist Be"

I have left the west. The land that saw my birth; casino dreams which once were shiny with potential have faded as fast as mirages do on Route-66. Myself and my family crossed over the Mississippi looking for subtaintial connections to histories and community.

We came back to the same Atlantic shoreline who witnessed the birthing of my lineage, and that of my wife's history. Completing a circle of familial experience three hundred and ninety years in the making. Exchanging desert mirages for ancestral beginings.

 In my heart I have the recorded history of spirits, Brujos, Shape Changers, dead relatives. The chambers of my heart are so full with these experiences, cell phones and computers cannot find refuge there.

It is with those traditions and experiences I view my new home. By allowing myself to cross through fragile portals to timescapes and events I am allowed special visions. It is my ability to travel which sends spirits who need me to witness their stories, and crucial moments of their lives which beg, no demand that they be recorded by the living.

In the early morning hours along rail road tracks of steel I often walk. I try to be alone with my thoughts in that narrow azimuth of time before a continent groans, shouldering a rising sun into the sky. At the ruler straight perimeter of a machine world, where new age Ley-lines of iron meet organic swamp; Ghosts old in age greet me.

If you pause to catch your breath, as I often do, you will sometimes hear rhythmic sounds. At first you might think that it is the Basso-Profundo beat of a yard locomotive making up a train. But if you listen closely, while facing the Congaree swamp, you will hear Ghana and Malawi drums beating softly, echoing across water and Cypress stumps.

Along a curve where a slough cuts under a train trestle, heading for a deep water channel, British Regulars and Confederate Pickets take congress with one another. Once upon a time I wore a uniform and knew the pace of an infantryman in my feet. They recognize me as belonging to that particular fraternity and let me pass un-molested.

At another location where the swamp meets an open expanse of water, when the sun had not risen, or the moon yet set. I saw a flat bottom barge filled with Cotton, Corn and Slaves. Her crew were long polling it into a fog bank. Individual lanterns aboard faded into the mist as lighting bugs do on a warm June evening. They hailed me as they passed, sliding away to some predestined landing.

My latest journey into the Congaree, I stumbled upon a mixed group of Indians and escaped Slaves. Their anger and outrage of a shared white man experience flared like gas-fire atop a refinery tower. All faded back into deeper shadows save one. Standing there, ancient with native knowledge he spoke to me.

“I see you traveler.” He said.

I stood very still and replied, “I see you as well.”

He examined me behind a mask of ocher clay and obsidian eyes.

“You carry songs of many dead, from many lands in your chest,” his gravelly voice sliding into the silence between us.

“You are still new to this place. When you have grown awhile and your roots have taken a firmer grasp, I will sing to you songs of Turtle and Fox.”

I just nodded my head and eased my way out of the glow of his fire. I left him there standing alone. I walked along the rails heading for home and a warm cup of coffee. His words and those images of earlier encounters resonated under my breast bone; there they have found kindred spirits I have carried with me since I was a small child.

If you want to locate me, I am not hard to find. I am the traveler walking with the dead, listening to their stories, along a rail road which cuts through the Congaree Swamp.

The End

DS Baker

"Byron Rd-Columbia, SC"

(Road to Home)

Outside my door frame
Summer’s gaily colored
Party clothes lay freshening
Upon countless Spring

Neighbors call to each other
As they pass by

Dogs indifferent to human affairs
Touch noses through
Diamond patterned

Friends talk of gardening

The importance
Of green lawns
Free from impudent weeds
Holding significant social

All manner of flying creatures
Pursue and are pursued
In frantic haste
Before passing moments
Of beauty

Youth of the year
Wasted not before experience
As seasons never
Flower alike

Each perfect

Poetry of suburban gardens
Framed by lawnmowers huffing
Seeking perfection in right angles

Miss the beauty of haikus
Of unshorn

House Martins take
Grass clippings insulating
Fresh homes for fresh babies

Warbling to each mornings

Dogwoods and Crepe Myrtle
Tenderly brush leaves
As old
Married couples do

Touching with nothing to prove
In each other’s

Spring has birthed
Summer’s robust self
Among brick homes of
Shade tree respectability

Along Byron Road
It seems appropriate
A poet should
Live on this
green swathed


DS Baker

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

STORY-"John 3:16 Prine V2"

It stood at my kitchen sink, with hot soapy water up past my wrists. Staring out the window in front of me. I felt like I was 110 years old. Two grown kids and 27 years of marriage, my hands looked like something a field hand would have. I am an old woman. Named after my mother; with her eyes staring back at me from the window pane.

My man is carpenter. He’s just another child that’s grown old. Constantly banging on some piece of metal or wood, he built us this home. But Lord only knows that was another lifetime. We seemed to have lost our way, ‘cause once upon a time, if dreams were lighting and thunder-desire this place would have burned down a long time ago.

We have had our good times. Known some bad days when it was almost too hard to go. God I wish I had an Angel flying from Montgomery. Because this believing in living, just for living, is more than I can go. I need me something, something I can hold on to.

I want a poster I can stare into. I want a poster of an old fashion rodeo. Give me an Angel I can hold onto. Take me back to when it wasn’t just so damn long ago. When I was young woman, just leaving my mother, I had me a cowboy. Weren’t much to look at, but he was free and on the go. But that was a long time gone and no matter how I try, those years go flowing past like a broke down damn.

I met my old man, when he wasn’t so old or me so tired. We raised us a family, away from the world and warm from the cold. I love him and I think he likes me. But doing nothing but living for living is killing me.

I need me an Angel flying from Montgomery, I want a poster of an old fashion rodeo. Just give me something I can hold onto, ‘cause this living to live is a hard way to go.

I don’t know how long I stood there staring out the window. When I pulled my hands free from the gray water, they were stone cold. I wiped my hands dry and began putting up the plates, when my man walked through the door.

Holding out a bouquet of Dandelions he said, “Here is something I thought might brighten your day.”

I took them from him and I hugged him from the other side of my heart. He smelled of sawdust, sweat and of himself. I think I surprised him when we made love on the floor.

He held me and talked to me, wiping the moisture from my face, “You’ve been the reason I keep holding on for. You’re the Angel who came to live down here with me. Thank you for our family and thank you for loving me.”

I am an old woman. Named after my mother, my old man is another child that’s grown old. We have other peoples eyes and our own worn out hands. We don’t need an Angel flying from Montgomery. We got each other to hold onto and that’s not such a bad way to go…


DS Baker