The Stafieri

my blue painting

that came to me

so long ago

I don’t know the giftee


or the story

how this came to them

this blur in blue

of a side on

woman looking


& that

so many people

see nothing

no figure

just blue

need better

the arrogance man

flares from you

leaves a trail of smoke

& I thought obvs

he was smoking

something himself


a kind of green

with a hint of blue

& you? I asked

I got nothin’ he says

all slow sullen

I got nuthin’

not like you

you got it going on

you radiate charm

like life bounces off’f you

oh man

I go

where to start?

I say soft slow wistfuld

I think you need better drugs


needed a guy

drive the truck

be around for the nurses

late night needle exchange

dark parts downtown

swapping out

needles swabs syringes

sterile water cotton balls

no questions

on the one for one

tho’ you suspect the man

is getting guns for his buying crew

help the supply line along

& I was fine

finding spots away from the blue

places for the queue to be

got to hand out the condoms

a thin plastic dam or two

paper for rehabs

phone lines places to go to

& I had to leave

my time had come

the night the voice called

hey there Ben is that you?

& we hugged like old friends

the man who’d slung shit

back in the day to my girl

the one I’d left

when she couldn’t make a day

get through without a haze

see me standing clear

in the sun

wanting to pull her through


cigarette smoke

curling in the air

blue against grey

white walls

she wanted to draw me

as I sat thinking

tho’ I was wondering

how any of this

just might work out

until she threw the pencil

pad paper down


fuck it I’m done

take me for a drink


it would be a year

before the sketch came back

it was me

but not a me

I wanted to see

cold aloof alone

but by then

she too

had moved on

the wind

would come in through the window

up until late October

then I’d slam it shut

until winter was overcome

spring little leaves of green

those rooms I painted

one long weekend with you

overtired you ran away into the night

while I cleaned up the mess

waited for your return

we had a little money then

you working in an office

while I taught the little I knew

the future was open

the past was all in a song

& I tried to be the man

coming home to you

& what I did not get

is how little of you was there

the rest being withheld from view

while I felt I was giving

your soul was turning blue

keeping all breath within

until the night I touched your cold

knew it was time to close the window

& the worse of all that was

you felt you were the one

knew what was happening

had control of our river song

Chevy nova blue

on the edge of 29 palms

the pizza burger place painted red

in the cracked side view

three kids climbing the seats

can we have pizza momma?

& I saw in her rearview

the vision she held within

long hair straw hat

porch sitting jug nearby

something in the cigarette

watching the sun fall behind the rocks

life is sweet horrors of high school gone

& all the world is this tonight

he came home tired but lovin’

the cabin needing a new roof

rebuilding more blocks

the world rolling out ahead

& then you saw me looking

the shades went on

three kids climbing the seats

can we have pizza momma?

became the picture

we got to see

turn blue

the air turns cooler

& I think of you

as my hands turn blue

wondering if you too

are standing somewhere

nose lifted catching the air

damp of rusty leaves underfoot

would you care now to take a look

notice the seasons change

to catch see in your face more age

I’d prefer to think of you as then

you to mind me as a younger man

& the rain lifts goes away

my nostalgia rises no time to play

such is my sweet autumn seasons

drifting thoughts forever pleasing

& you are gone forever on the wind

I never lived in Newfield

& now when the going is good

I slip back in time

take a walk around the block

nobody I knew from then

is ever out walking alone

maybe they moved on too

maybe they died took the river out

leaving nothing behind but blue

& what could we say to each other

that wouldn’t open those wounds

came from being here

not ever calling this a home

could put right those wrongs

from people doing the things

they thought were fine & best

from knowing no better

& if there’s one thing I learned

travelling the river out of town

these are the people

will take all forgiveness

both hands at the same time

to race out & do it all over again