Western Voices: Duane Vorhees

After a half century of being away, Duane Vorhees returned to his hometown, Farmersville, Ohio, last year. He writes when moved to do so and maintains a daily creative arts ezine at duanespoetree.blogspot.com. His recent collection, "Love's Autobiography," was published last summer by Hawakal Press.


Della Street’s behind me,
need a new address.
Lois Lane? Is it Etta Place?

No service road can be an I-.


“Multiply. Be fruitful.” And God gave man a tool. But Eve, she conceived and brought forth the slide rule. Before ever we knew what old Galle saw, we arranged us our love life by Bode’s own law. It really did pain us to get past Uranus and let Neptune discover us our flaw.

A sexy realtor from Nice quoted me her terms for a piece. When I found out her price I told her, “Au regretment, no dice.” (I wasn’t looking to buy, just lease.) I met a pedantic old whore from Bombay who quibbled over being labeled that way. She said, “While it’s true I get paid by the screw, I work in Mumbai not Bombay.” Dish washer from Amarillo had pubes the texture of Brillo. Though she made quite a scene, she got the plates really clean and gave the waiter a thrill. Oh! Smilingly Sue said, over minces, “The feeling of packing ten inches must be like squeezing your feet into a pair of cute shoes that don’t fit—so tight that it pinches!” Said I, “Oh, size tens! Rather a bore if compared to my wee four.” Sue smiled (no pleasure in it, till she learned I’m measuring it “from the tip” I told her “to the floor”). A prison scholar was subtly candid as his fellows he Homerically branded; one boomerang con he dubbed Rosy-Fingered Don ‘cause he was caught so often red-handed. A persistent narcissist from Tacoma would diddle himself into comas. Though warned he’d go blind, he had it in mind to stop when he got to glaucoma. One disgruntled lover of Venus rubbed down to a nubbin his penis. The goddess said, “Friend! We’ve come to the end of the source of the friction between us.”


One season for clubs,
for spades,
diamonds, hearts:
one suit for every season,
one card for every week in the year.
Each suit has a baker’s dozen.

Stud poker is what we’re dealt these cards for:
Clubs for the living, spades for the dead.
Diamonds for the rich ones, hearts for the poor.

“Hurry up and deal,” we all said, “and save the talk for later!”

Sailors and gamblers all die between decks,
one suit for every season.
The sailor yearns his day of shipwreck;
the gambler plays for the losing.
We’re dealt such a salty game of poker.

Here’s the salt for the baker’s bread
and salt for the wet grave of the sailor.
“Just pass the salt,” is what they said, “and hold our meal till after.”

Lawyers salt their brief times away at court,
one suit for every season.
Laws just clubs
and spades—
they steal the divorced diamonds, bury hearts with reason.

The dealer shuffles,
and his hands go blur
and he passes the blacks and reds
and fills our hands with clubs,
spades, diamonds, hearts….
“Oh, just deal me wild cards,” he said,
“and leave justice for others.
One season for clubs, for spades, diamonds, hearts,
one suit for every season, one card for every week in the year:
each suit has a baker’s dozen.
Stud poker is what we’re dealt these cards for.”

“Spades to the living.
Hearts to the dead.
Diamonds from the rich ones.
Clubs on the poor.
Just deal those cards!” I said,
I said, “We’ll give fine speeches later.”

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