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John Durler


Port Richey, FL, US

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John Durler

I felt the slip of time, a curve that bellied out
as a woman with child slowly, yet surely ballooned
until my world was on a different axis than the earth I knew.

The sun was still red, but more demanding
of the pale yellow sky to give it more presence among blue clouds.
And the moon, most assertive
as if made of green cheese as grandma told us all
when we were young enough to believe.

Its sharp green light pushed to the horizon
leaving the atmosphere as a purple pinto
I saw at a wild west merry-go-round once at carnival.

The surreal beauty was dizzying, like a high from a poem
or a bartender's mug of red wine
or her auburn hair held back
emerald earrings swaying, matching smoldering eyes
as she slips into bed.

If I tilted my head it was all so different
looking more like before the slip.
I could live like that, head tilted, but my neck ached, although
bending over, looking between my outspread legs
it all looked dismal and bleak.

Righting myself, the brilliance
was almost blinding, so I tilted my head
and slipped back home.

I shut the door leaving it slightly ajar and waited
hoping she didn't have the same perspective
deciding to stare at the tilted world's
taunting beauty, perhaps become blind
not thinking to tilt her head
and never be able to find her way home again

or worse, never wanting to.

bartender poet


John Durler

I see America drinking the fabulous cocktails I make.
Americans getting stinky on something I stir or shake.
The sex on the beach, The schnapps made from peach,
The velvet hammer, The alabama slammer.
I make things with juice and froth,
The pink squirrel, The 3-toed sloth.
I make drinks so sweat and snazzy,
The iced tea, The kamakazi,
The orgasm, The death spasm,
The Singapore sling, The dingaling.
America you've just been devoted to every flavor I got,
But if you want to got loaded,
Why don't you just order a shot?



John Durler

The five month old puppy looks up to me as Master.
I look down at him as Dog.
I see in his eyes he wants to be Master.
He dirtied and wet the floor early morning.
I press his nose near the mess
firmly say "Bad Dog. Baaad dog."

I leash and tie him outside.
He barks abandoned angry barks.

I avoid him, think of the neighbors we don't like
I picture them gritting their teeth.
I smile at that until he wheedles me
with long mournful songs of heartbreaking tones.
I think of porpoises, whales, mermaids,
and relent. Pharo has softened his heart.

I go out and hold him in my arms
bring him back inside the house.
He is Pomeranian, with an ancestral heritage of sled dogs.
He runs around the house finds the tennis ball he found
brings it to me, drops it at my feet.
I reach down and wrap my finger around it.
He rips it from my fingers, runs into the kitchen
holds it in his mouth, and stares at me.

I clean up his mess, play ball with him.
He tries to hog the ball. I grab it and fake a throw,
put it behind my back, and wait.
He is frantic in his frenzy to find the ball.
I throw it near him. He clutches it between his paws
looks up at me and barks, to let me know he knows what I did.
I wonder who will be master and who will be dog.



John Durler

A dollar for your winter coat. I have no more to pay?
I asked a man wearing one, another under his arm.
It's promised to a holy man who burned his wooden leg
to warm his sick friend, who died anyway.
Now he uses him since rigor mortis set in, as a crutch.

A man with one leg, a dead man crooked under his arm
hopped out of the alley, chicken soup frozen on his beard.
Another meal when it melts, he said, reaching for the coat.
I said: I have no wooden leg to halt the cold.
Mine is freezing bone. I need a coat to live.
Share it with me, and I shall be your friend.
I had many coats, a blight of moths ate them all.

He said, I had a bed of seven, stolen one by one as I slept.
Share my coat. We shall talk, friend I never met
and see if we can be kin of a kind.

We, wrapped in the coat in step, hopped back to the alley.
With chattering teeth I talked of my life past.
He in turn told his, propping his friend in a frozen part of his alley.

He said I could have saved the world, but it didn't want saving.
I replied: God keeps saving for himself.
He warms me, coats me in cloth. I said.
The world is a testing field, he sighed,
where weapons of learning and ignorance clash.
I said. A mind is the greatest weapon I know. Mine is chipped--covered with rust.
Humanity is an image of itself, it cannot see.
If it did it would die in its own denial. He said.
That was too profound for me. What is your name? I asked.
Solomon. Yours? John. I answered.
I was a cantor, he replied. If you heard me sing, my voice would touch you.

I was a priest in a primitive garden. I said. My altar, smooth stones, congregation,
sparrows and chipmunks. Will you sing? I asked.
Someday. He said. It was enough, he believed in someday,
I folded my arms and slept.



John Durler

April morning breaks with freezing snow
howls across my fertile sleeping gardens
curls around the seeds, splits them open
and in her paradoxical way she brings them death
as she binds in ice a hundred thousand tiny open coffins
drives birds to hide deep inside the thickets.
and I am dumb to find a reason for her womanís name.



John Durler

I caught the drift of heaven once at dusk.
it must have slipped its lines and drifted over
the Babylon Cut on the Great South Bay.

As the huge ball of fire dropped into the sea
dusky glows hugged the horizon
and a great dark night descended

Stars assembled to form constellations
not yet twinkling, as an orange yellow moon
started to form west of the sun
east of the Fire Island Lighthouse

Out of thinning fog, It rose slowly.
Moonlight stretched out in all directions
as black night and strengthening stars
gave way to allow each part of the evening to develop
as a film develops, gradually sharpening,
as the firmament started to shimmer, like plankton
in the wake of the Fire Island ferry heading for shore.

The moon ascended slowly in graceful movement,
in concert with the universe, observing its place in it
between Heaven and Earth

Pulling out of our stratosphere,
it changed slowly into a silver pendant
as if hung on heavenís neck

The stars and moon hung out there like a bunch of friends
not wanting to go anywhere but where they were

I was not alone, knees clasped
sitting on a dune, a blanket around me

Strangers walked, stood, sat on hoods, lay on blankets
In dunes, on boardwalks, all looking upward
captivated with the phenomenon

The night was a prayer, a gift to me
I wrapped it up and put it in my pocket
with my glasses and pen
the most important things I carry



John Durler

I would walk a crooked mile
just to see your crooked smile
one more time

I would sing a slanted song
just to hear your crooked fingers
tap along
I would raise a crooked flag
on your crooked walk
in your crooked parade

and hang a crooked star
in a crooked sky
for your wave goodbye

And most of as I see you walk away
I will follow you someday
Straight to where you are
and hold your crooked body
in my arms.



John Durler

What words can express
the tenderness
quickening breath
flooding of emotions

Should I say, "You mean so much
words canít express it"

Language fails me

I extol your character
prettiness, grace, charm
stance, strength--your courage
seeming helpless in fear
or confusion, then the quick flash
of an impish grin in discovery of itís
dissolution, overcome by your strength

I am in awe.

I can say you are strong, stately,
we are, of the same
mind, thoughts, desires

I complement you until sleep closes your eyes.

It is not enough
because words can express what I feel

I hope someday, to find the words and tell the world
Then we'd all know the language of love