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Clifton King

The New Shirt...

she bought me
lies on the table, still folded
and pinned. Palm trees
and a small island parade
across a black background.

The perfect gift for a man
who refuses to wear golf shirts
or one of those boring button down
bargains you find at JCPenny.

I remove the pins, the plastic
strip and the collar becomes
compliant, though not as soft
as her mouth on my neck.

The sleeves, folded across
the chest, reminded me
of the last time I held her
prisoner in my arms.

[...] Read more

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Finding Chicago

I wanted to write poetry like Carl Sandburg.
I wanted to write about big cities and small towns,
about open prairies and rivers in the sky.
I wanted to write about the people:
plumbers, politicians, poets,
but I’d never been east of Tucson.
So I quit my dead end job,
closed out my savings account, all 600 dollars,
and went to Chicago in search of a poem.

Chicago—City of the Big Shoulders, wrote Sandburg.
But I couldn’t find it.
I found Chicago falling down around an old black man
leaning on his battered bass case, the way you lean
on a friend when you’re in need. And Thomas Jefferson
Brown was a man in need, shoulders sagging under
the weight of six decades of back alley blues bars
and his thirst for blended whiskey.

Chicago—Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler,

[...] Read more

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