Thursday, November 29, 2012

Kenyon Heights


Here’s where I live—
The Kenyon Heights
Retirement Home in
Emporia, Kansas

It’s on a hill—
West of town where
The College of Emporia
Used to be ensconced

They’ve restored and—
Remodeled the stately
Administration Building
Just for us retirees

I was born in Newman’s—
Across the street from C of E
There on Twelfth Avenue West
In the hospital there

Roberta’s grandfather—
Doctor F. A. Eckdall
Delivered yours truly
Into this wicked world

Now I live there—
Across the street at
Kenyon Heights not
Far from Maplewood

I live in a nice cheap—
Single bedroom apartment
My lovely next door neighbor
Miss Anita B. Rice

She looks at me—
When we meet in the
Hallway, remarking:
“I’m simply APPALLED!”

Walter and Jenny

Walter and Jenny

Growing up in the country—
West of Emporia like Connie
Leonhart & Bobbie Ann Kyle
Out there on old Hwy 50

I could still feel the Depression—
A motel lot next door with an
Old lady there since the Thirties
The way things used to be

Funny how history changes—
So many of the farms and
Prairie communities gone now
Ghost towns & decaying ruins

Corporation-run farming—
Satellites beaming down to
Spaceship John Deere robots
On where to spray & harvest

Even downtown Emporia—
Turning into a ghost town too
Boarded-up businesses and
Flint Hills Mall north of town

Some things are saved tho—
The Granada Theater, EHS,
Lowther and Kenyon Heights
Restoration and renewal

All the ruins in Europe—
When William Allen White
Was over there did he think
It would ever happen here?

It’s lucky I had grandparents—
To connect me with the past
To give me a feel for what’s
Slipping through my fingers

Call me stupidly nostalgic—
But I just simply can’t help it
Jenny the G. A .R. Queen Bee
Her father a Union colonel

Pounding on the old piano—
Playing “John Brown’s Body”
Down in the basement there
In Senator Plumb’s Mansion

All the little old ladies—
Having their church socials
Me behind the curtains stuffing
Myself with lemon-meringue pies

Boyhood Bildungsroman


Once upon a time—
Back when I was a kid
Growing up west of town
On Old Highway 50

Long before new Hwy 50—
And Interstate 335 the old
Thirties Depression highway
Past my mother’s home

My grandfather was a—
County commissioner who
Didn’t last very long since
He didn’t take bribes

Bridge and road contracts—
Could be very lucrative for
Town officials on the take
But Walter Larken wasn’t

I’d wake up way out—
There on my grandparent’s
Place listening to the lonely
Doodlebug late at night

The Santa Fe tracks—
Shiny in the moonlight
Down south of us calling
To me late in the night

Boyhood RFD memories—
Smell of cattle shit east
Whiffing from the nearby
Anderson feed lots

Emporia a cattle-town—
Tall grass prairie running
All the way to Strong City
Lonely Z Bar Ranch nights

It was during the war—
My pilot father in Europe
My mother living on base
Me with my grandparents

Now they’re all gone—
The Santa Fe train station
No longer there, just the
Steel rails east & westward

Lone Rider of the Santa Fe

Lone Rider of the Santa Fe

“I write cheap novelettes”
—Graham Greene, The Third Man

Funny how things work out—
Perhaps parody would be a
Better word to use I suppose

I owe my life to a cattle town—
There by the Santa Fe tracks
Back where I was born

Years later now here I am—
I owe my life to a young calf’s
Valve there inside my heart

A computed tomography—
(CT) scan was imaging me
The murmur on the screen

The surgeon said to me:
“And this is what we call a
Kansas sky, my friend”

My heart was all stormy—
Tornadoes swirled in the sky
Dark vortexes of turbulence

I didn’t tell him that I was—
A Kansas kid from down there
In the stormy Fly Over State

My left ventral had blown—
Its gasket and my whole system
Was going down the tube

Open-heart surgery fast—
The little calf’s valve is still
Beating away inside me

Each beat a reminder that—
I was born in Kansas and that
Kansas saved my life as well

I’m just a Lone Rider now—
Lone Rider of the Santa Fe with
My own Z Bar Ranch inside me

It’s just a cheap novelette—
A pulp fiction Cowboy Western
My life a parody in slow motion

Weak heroes & sympathetic villains—
Dominate what used to be my story
But now it all seems so mock-heroic

All those cool matinee movies—
There in the Granada Theater during
The hot Kansas summer afternoons

Reminding me of Alida Valli as—
Anna in Graham Greene’s film noir
“The Third Man” (1949)

My whole concept of "hero"—
Once a part of the male domain
So patriarchal and phallocentric

But now it fails to comply with—
Stereotypical Old Western pulp
Fiction storylines anymore

The real Lone Rider of Santa Fe—
Beating slowly away in my chest
Why did Kansas save me?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Leopard Man



The Leopard Man
The Cemetery Scene
Kiss of The Panther Woman
Expert Witness
Magic Realism

The Leopard Man

Killer Mexican film noir —
The perfect ode de cologne
The sweet scent of death

Scary Val Lewton —
Creepy Jacques Tourneur
RKO Femme fatales of film!!!

Clicking Castanets —
Cemeteries late at night
Death in the Dead of Night

Dark Forties Suspense —
Endless Sinister Suspicions
Who’s gonna get it next?    

The Cemetery Scene

The best scene —
In the whole scary movie
Some queens think

The jilted young lover —
Stood up by her boyfriend
Stuck with all the dead stiffs

Locked in the cemetery —
Darkness creeping into the
Deepening deadly denouement

Gaunt Graveyard Statues —
Leering down at the poor thing
Waiting for the stealthy Killer

Kiss of The Panther Woman

Stalked by the fiendish —
Black Panther of Death
No girl is safe, honey

But not everything —
Tiptoeing on cat’s feet is
A little innocent Kitty-cat

Defenseless cuties —
Are tres Vulnerable as
Killers prowl the night

Half the Thrill —
Being a Killer at night
Your Stalking noir footsteps

Expert Witness

What makes a Witness —
Expert while testifying
At a Murder Trial?

The erudite, all-knowing —
Dr. Galbraith played by James
Bell in The Leopard Man?

How calm cerebral —
The pipe-smoking professor
Of the local Museum?

The least one you’d —
Suspect as a Killer yet so
Knowingly cold-bloodied

Magic Realism

Just ask Miss Marquez —
That primal noir image:
Blood flowing under the door

The Unseen Murder —
The scream behind the bolted
Locked door, then the Blood

The thud of the thug —
The young daughter sliced
And diced so horribly bloody

The Unseen Murder —
Hidden from Us Viewers
There on the Other Side

Monday, November 19, 2012

I Walked With A Zombie



I Walked with a Zombie
Zombie Badboyz
Darby Jones
Drums in the Night

I Walked With A Zombie 

I lived with a whole town 
Of Living Dead Kansas Zombies
It was worse than LA Zombieville

Night of the Living Dead —
Just a tacky, trashy reminder
Of the Living Dead in Kansas

Especially the tall handsome —
Naked Zombie Boyz there in
The cane fields at night

Hoodoo Voodoo drums —
The heartbeat of the Living Dead
Beating them off in the moonlight

Zombie Badboyz

Jacques Tourneur’s —
Queen Bee Horror classic
Still so chillingly Sexy

Poor Sandra Dee sucked —
Into Cumly Carib Film Noir
Just like Innocent me

Hoodoo Voodoo in Kansas —
Pretty much the same thing
Ever sucked a zombie off?

Darby Jones

Hear those beating, throbbing —
Voodoo drums tonight, honey?
I know I once did, my dear. . .

The Moon high overhead —
The twisting tall Canefield path
The crossroads guarding secrets

Voodoo ceremonies late at night —
But first I had to pass the test
Going down on Darby Jones

So tall, hung and handsome —
The whites of his upturned eyes
Placating his Living Dead Penis

Drums In The Night

Voodoo drums beating —
African gods dancing haughtily
In both Haiti & Kansas too!!!

Up there in the balcony —
In the Granada’s “Nigger Heaven”
Doing the hot zombies, honey

My knees stuck to the —
Sticky Pepsi Cola floor
Getting reamed inside-out

I was nothing but —
A no-good little Emporia
Slut of the Voodoo Night!!!

Sunday, November 18, 2012




Ding Dong Blues
The Bird Bridge
Murder Ordained
Praise the Lord
Dead Ringer
Trashy Hollywood

Ding Dong Blues

A sure sign —
Of the changing times
When Hostess Twinkies
Gets outta town!!!

Time moves on —
Even though I got the
Ding Dong Blues
But what can you do?

Bankruptcies and —
Liquidations across
This fair land of
American opportunity?

Will Emporia end up —
Like dead decaying
Modern day Detroit
Ghost Town USA?

The Bird Bridge

Down from up there —
The Sunken Gardens on
Twelfth Avenue where cute
College boys smooch

Past The Granada Theater —
Down along Commercial
All the way to Sixth Avenue
Running East and West

All the way down —
Past the Santa Fe and
Burlington Tracks
Steel rails in the night

Down to Sodom’s Grove —
Cottonwood River Bridge
Follow the country road
Down to The Bird Bridge

Murder Ordained

A new updated version —
A made-for-TV gothic
Neo-noir flick shocking the
Small town Emporians

What could be worse —
For The Religious Right
Than a Lutheran minister
Killing his lovely Wife?

Bashing her head in —
Throwing her off some
Rickety old country bridge
Down into The River?

Praise the Lord

Smashing her head in —
Her bloody fingers clutching
The old bridge railing before
Falling down into The Drink?

Let us Praise the Lord!!! —
Sing Hymns to Matrimony!!!
The worst Kansas Killers are

An Adulterous Adam —
In a Kansas Garden of Eve
Killing his own Wife with a
Cheap Bottle of Jacques Bonet

Dead Ringer

Lorna Anderson returns home —
After serving time in the Big House
For murdering her poor husband
Religious Emporia simply shocked!!!

In this new louche Hollywood —
Made-for-TV remake of the tragic
Original murder there in lovely
God-fearing Bible Belt Emporia

“What a fucking dump!” —
Exclaims Bette Davis exhumed
From the grave especially to play
Killer Lorna Anderson again

Trashy Hollywood

Joan Crawford plays —
Poor cripple Reverend Bird
Stuck in a wheelchair up
There in the lonely Attic

In this Cabaret version —
Of “Dead Ringer” in Drag
The Granada gets to do
Grande Dame Guignol!!!

A Kansas Burlesque —
That says it all and more
A Lutheran Minister in drag
Lorna as Dyke Transvestite!!!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Murder Ordained



Hush, Hush Sweet Lorna

Gothic Groanings

Hollywood Hauntings

The Granada Theater Knows

Lorna Tells All

The Emporia Gazette

Midwestern Noir Muse

Deconstructing the Fly-Over State

Escaping Emporia

Returning Home



Hush, Hush Sweet Lorna 

As Sandy Bird fell 
Downward off the Rocky Ford
Bridge into the murky waters
Of the dark Cottonwood River

Falling down in slow motion —
Down from the old cables and
Gothic girders silhouetted by
The cruel Kansas starlight

Leaving bloody handprints —
Clutching the stark railings
Staining the whole Granada
Grande Dame Guignol Movie

Gothic Groanings

There in the putrid pews 
In the shadowy sanctimonious
Aisles of the Baptist Church
Where murder was ordained

Blessed by the congregation —
Preached by the gaunt gothic
Minister who turned Emporia
Into a TV murder mystery

Like “Dead Ringer” (1964) —
“Strait–Jacket” (1964) and
“Lady in a Cage” (1964)
The list going on & on

“Die! Die! My Darling!” —
“I Saw What You Did!” (1965 )
“Queen of Blood” (1966) and
“Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?”

Hollywood Hauntings

Not to mention others —
“Frightmare” (1974) and
“A Knife for the Ladies”
Plus “Blood and Lace”

“The Killing Kind” (1973) —
“Cry of the Banshee” and
“That Cold Day in the Park”
Plus “Night Warning”

As well as “In Cold Blood” —
“Queen of Blood” (1966)
“Berserk,” and yes
 “Hush, Hush Sweet Lorna!”

Gimme some Grande Dame —
Guignol Cinema and I’ll give
You an American goth flick
Worthy of wasted Emporia!

The Granada Theater Knows

“Come in, Madame Capote! —
Suave smooth Soothsayer and
Famed Kansas Clairvoyante of
“In Cold Blood” Psychic Powers!

The Granada Theater is packed —
All the way to the crowded Balcony
With Halloween Trick or Treat
Emporians eager for Cheap Thrills!

All the town’s staid churches —
Are boycotting the Cinema Séance
Delving into the Dirty Secrets
From whence Bird Bridge flowed

“Oh, Authoress of Cold Blood! —
Oh, Great Emporia Enchantress!
Give us the Holcomb Down-low
On louche Lorna’s Love Life!!!

Lorna Tells All

"Commune with us, tonight 
Sweet Sister of Sin and Sorrow
Confess your Skanky Secrets
Bring on the Dark Shadows!”

“Speak American Goth Spirit! —
Read our Red State Beads!
Tell us all the Wretched Secrets!
About the Rats in the Cellar!”

“Aghast and totally Disgusting —
Tell us about The Bad Seed!
From whence flows all our tacky
Fly Over State Fuck Up’s!!!

“Tell us a Goth Ghost Story —
Befitting our Midwestern Noir
Skeletons in the Dark Closet!
What goes Bump in the Night!!!”

The Emporia Gazette

Soon the Emporia Gazette —
Began gossiping like the tacky
Scandal-Rag National Enquirer
Telling the most horrible Tales

Small town idyllic Emporia —
Once used to sleepy streets
And elm-shaded neighborhoods
Safely hidden from prying eyes

Suddenly turning into a louche—
Lorna Anderson Murder Mystery
TV Show that would’ve simply
Shocked poor William Allen White!

“Hush! Hush! Sweet Lorna!” —
The Gazette Headlines Hissed
“What Ever Happened to Poor
Sandy Bird?” Emporia asked

Midwestern Noir Muse

I have this Midwest noir 
Muse whispering inside my
Midnight movies dreams
Haunting me late at night

I simply can’t help it —
I blame Raymond Chandler
And Mickey Spillane as well
Plus campy noir Miss Capote

But most of all I suppose —
That old Yoknapathawpa queen
Miss Faulkner deserves most
Of the shameless noir blame

Deep South Delta Dixie —
Decadence rotten to the core
Mildewing just like my tacky
Midwestern noir existence!!!

Deconstructing the Fly-Over State

Funny how things work out 
In ways you’d never expect things
To work their way through the
Nefarious detours & divagations

I’m more open to it now it seems—
Once I got used to being down on
My knees in the gutter looking up
At the heavenly stars above

Pretending to be hoity-toity about—
Being way up there above it all
Looking down at the Fly Over State
From a lofty jet plane high above

Suddenly I was born again it seems—
Plopped down like a runny juicy tacky
Cow patty from the haughty sky above
All the way down to Midwestern noir

Escaping Emporia

Thomas Wolfe seems somewhat—
Misguided to me when he says in his
“Look Homeward Angel” that we can’t
Ever return back Homeward again?

It’s just the opposite for me—
I tend to think that we can
Never actually leave our dumpy
Homes ever at all, my dears!

We’re stuck with it forever—
It’s embedded deep in our
Dizzy devolving head like being
Helplessly born Middle Class slobs

What makes us run away?—
We run from ourselves madly
Helter skelter but unfortunately
There’s simply No Escape at all

Returning Home

Nostalgia for me ends up—
Being nothing more than a touchy
Migraine headache that simply
Doesn’t want to go away

I’ve got the Granada Theater—
The Strand and the 50-S Drive In
Playing movies for me all the time
Up there inside my balcony head

Old film palaces haunt me—
Decaying decrepit abandoned
Haunts like all those gone movie
Theaters in dying dead Detroit

My only consolation being—
The Bijou Matinees still playing
On summer Saturday afternoons
There inside my Valentino heart

Friday, November 16, 2012

Mayor of Mudville

Mayor of Mudville

“Bobbi is three days older than dirt.”
— Former Gazette Lifestyles Editor
and reporter Lea Markowitz Ringler

The pinched, worried look—
Of a small town Kansas mayor
Seems to pretty much say it all

Mayor Bobbi Mlynar and I—
Both graduated from EHS
Way back in 1962

Lovely little Emporia-
Former Athens of the Midwest
Pretty much a ghost town now

Returning to its roots—
An agricultural retirement
Town full of aging Wrinklies

Mayor Mlynar’s career—
Stints with The Gazette and
The local Funeral Home

Now the esteemed Mayor—
Of a much larger Burial
Bye Bye Sunflower State

Fly Over State

“Beware of the man
who urges an action
in which he bears
no responsibility”
—William Allen White

Elected to the Emporia—
City Commission and the
Mayor of Mudville USA

Madame Mlynar lacks—
Any hidden influences
Over City business

Serving selflessly—
She garnishes no
Financial benefits

She gives stirring—
Welcoming speeches &
Kisses Rodeo Cowboys

She recently appeared—
Quite cheerfully at the
Hostess Twinkie Strike!!!