Tag Archives: free verse

The Fruit Market

by Wayne F. Burke

I got sent to work
at the Fruit Market
on the Chelsea-Everett line
where I sat in a shack
and checked-in trucks
entering and leaving.

I wore a sky blue cop uniform.

One day before work
I stopped in the hotel-bar
across the street from the market
for a quick one
and realized,
after I entered
that everyone in the joint had suddenly
become quiet
and I drank my beer quickly
and left.

During the shift a truck driver
and his wife
came up to the shack window
and he told me they were from
and that they had gone into the hotel-bar
across the street
looking for a room to rent.

An old guy wearing a soiled fedora
and a self-effacing woman
cut from out a Grant Wood picture.

“I didn’t think they let things like that
go on in Boston,” he said.

“Things like what?”

He nodded to the hotel-bar.
“That place is a whorehouse!”

I lost that job soon
while putting up the American flag
on the pole behind the shack

I unthinkingly let the flag touch the ground
and the boss man—
a red faced prick who looked like he had not
shit in a month
fired me.


The Stripper

by Wayne F. Burke

I worked security

and sat at a desk

in the lobby

of a hotel

in Kenmore Square

and had people

sign in & out.

A black girl who

worked in the Combat Zone

and who looked like Hayley Mills

the actress

came in early A.M.

and would lean over

the desk to sign in

and I would look down

her dress

and she thought it funny

but I did not

and one morning she

asked me to let her into

her room because she

had lost her key

and we rode up in an elevator

lit by her broad smile

and I opened her door

and said “there you go”

and she gave me an angry

look as she went inside

and I was troubled afterward

until I realized what the look

meant and what I had missed

but there was no going back

and I had to endure

her bitter redress

in the mornings,

but I never did

stop looking.


by Wayne F. Burke

In Cambridge, Massachusetts, outside

The Mug & Muffin restaurant

a guy wearing a pork pie hat was

singing “Sixteen Tons”

for spare change

as another guy

over by the newspaper kiosk

poured gasoline from a can

over his head

then asked passersby for a match

and some jackass gave him one

and some waitress screamed

and the guy with gasoline was


and as I moved ahead

against a tide of liberals


as if for life

a girl

with terror-dazed eyes

ran into my chest,

and the guy,

pinned to the ground,


“I want my rights!”

as if

lighting himself on fire

in public

was one.


by James Mc Elroy


Head injuries
The mind,
Part I,

And this is it:
The satiable
Suck – instamatic
Spasm – that finds
Itself buried
Deep inside
Each abused caress
While emphasizing,
Left and right, some
Unfirm/unquit sag,

Or, if preferred,
A cul de sac of
Facial desire
We like to call
Human squirm.


Part II ( in A
Head injuries
The mind,

Gets a lead
On some cuts
From ‘Let it Bleed.’

Next up,
Some Bad English
At or near boiling
And then Pound
Pound –

And this for
All you
Stud muffins –

A slice of
From somewhere
In “the house.”

That’s right,
Let’s do some
Sweet and sweaty
From way
Outside the hood
With one more
Standing brick in
The wall.


Head injuries
The mind,
Part III,

A disquisition
On blah:

The overheard of
Critics who talk
About talking about

A poet who might,
When the time is right,
Get down to writing

The ex-lives
And swollen faces
Of all our four-letter

Words; words which do
Their level best
To describe

The mysticism of eyes
Closed, the mystery
Of eyes open, or

The rhythmic sound
Of a 9 inch voice when
The “I’s” have it.


Head injuries
The mind,
Part IV:

In an endless with
Stones that seem
To grow, grow even
Smaller, in an unknown

The hard men – such
As they are –
Come into their own
Like mongrels who circle
Around before
Turning into a pack;

Proclaiming, as well
They might, the imminent
Appearance of blue, full-grown,
Nuns who cannot walk
On water.