Three Poems by Bobby Steve Baker

Thunderstorm #10

One summer day at the lake when I had just turned
thirteen, that day at the lake when the horizon
vanished through the wet electric air, sky to lake
monotone slate. Three beach girls I had been watching—
bronze and blond and long, took their high chinned
majestic stare turned it out to sea to face the storm.
With streaming hair with awe but not with fear this much
was clear to me they were in full belief they would
take the elements for a ride. At the first crack of angry
jagged electrons bolting to the sea, with the first clap
of Krakatoa sound, too loud to call it sound, the attitude
of fearlessness was sucked visibly out of their bodies
and they were stuffed back full with that bewildered
child style of fear, the kind that says run hide scream.
They turned toward my outlook in the dunes. They ran
and hid and screamed into my alcove ahead of the black
massive maniacal wall of moving sound. I was bewildered
shoulder to shoulder and leg to leg with these majestic
deities now morphed into adolescent quivering flesh.
They did not act like there was anything unusual about
pressing their bodies against mine. I’m not not sure they
knew I was there. They were hor de combat and nothing else.
It was too much for me. I ran through the pounding rain
the stinging sand to the swells of the water’s edge. I raised
my arms so I was the shape of a Y, face to the roar of the storm.
I could almost hear the wide-eyed girls say to one other—
My God look at that incredible boy.

The One Who Lives…

for Terry

binds scattered twigs of tenderness with twine.
Made kindling now the oak of branching trust.
A beggar’s burden on a bending spine.

hears angered prayers and toothless curses grind
as soon as spoken into threshing dust,
blown back on sticks of sorrow bound with twine.

holds hateful sacred ash enshrined
in a fisted heart marked black with unkind cuts.
A bloody burden on a beggar’s spine.

reverberates a circuit that has climbed
from back to limb to brain. Never enough
of wrapping sticks of tenderness with twine.

with crippled fingers, scratches against time.
shoulders a hand but can’t reverse the clock.
A beggar’s burden on a bending spine.

Memory will not work sand into the shine
of pearl; cherished spawns atrocity of loss.
So wraps those sticks of tenderness with twine.
So bears a beggar’s burden on his spine.

Wastin’ Time

I turned sixteen in a small town
in Eastern Kentucky
it took me about two years

my double-dip hormonal rush
produced a startling physical metamorphosis
but apparently was slow to cross the blood-brain barrier

resulting in bewildered Saturday nights cruising Downtown Somerset
with Fast Eddy and the Alter Boy

I remember everything about the first time
I heard Dock o’ the Bay
the Alter Boy (who stole the Sacramental wine for cruising)
had just hooted at a girl

when he settled back into riding shotgun
in my rusted out lemon yellow ‘59 Chevrolet Impala
he raised his Styrofoam cup and said
he that knows not love knows not God and downed the wine

just after that hysterically funny sacrilege
Otis Redding came over the air waves and we all quit laughing

sittin’ in the mornin’ sun
I’ll be sittin’ when the evening come

so mournful so sexy and the crazy race
to fill that hole in my soul was on

sittin’ here restin’ my bones
and this loneliness won’t leave me alone

and man it wouldn’t leave me alone
a waft of patchouli
could send my heart rate out the ruthless roof
of cleavage

I believe Otis single handedly
flicked the switch of testosterone catalyzed neural circuitry
and my limbic system growled like a ram-injected muscle car
but that ain’t all

I can’t do what ten people tell me to do
so I guess I’ll remain the same

like cruising Main Street (nowhere town)
pretending my way through school (nowhere bound)
hating my job serving burgers (nowhere clown)
destination Nowhere East Kentucky Coal Town

I’m just sittin’ on the dock o’ the bay
wastin’ time

he never mentions women specifically
that’s what made it so perfect
because the ache─ the hole in the soul─
whatever it is
it wasn’t just about women

looks like nothin’s gonna change
so I guess I’ll remain the same

but inside the words the voice
sounded to me like something else

everything is gonna change

headshot-rsb-smBobby Steve Baker lives in Lexington Kentucky with his wife, several male offspring who come and go. He has published recently in, The Tule Review, Town Creek Poetry, Kentucky Review, Cold Mountain Review, Prick of the Spindle, Picaroon, and Into the Void. His latest book of poetry and art is This Crazy Urge to Live by Linnet’s Wings Press.