Duane Vorhees (Western Voices 2020)

Exclusive: Western Voices, 2020: Edited by Scott Thomas Outlar
Bio: Duane Vorhees moves back and forth between Farmersville, Ohio, and Kon Kaen, Thailand, after living in South Korea for many years. Hog Press published THE MANY LOVES OF DUANE VORHEES in 2019 and plans to put out GIFT: GOD RUNS THROUGH ALL THESE ROOMS in 2020.


and then,
blue-blade sky nicks cloud balloon—
Utopia’s face undams,
the electric noisebands jam.
Every horizon quilled by harpoons.  

Reinforcement waves charge down
to advance their comrades’ ground.
Then fickle DJ changes the tune;
Rainbow’s regiment routs Rain’s.  

Beach explodes like a sun mine.
Paradise by sails again festooned.
And the night aloud with stars as sparklers alight in tar.


The steeples in Seoul:
Needles in the sky, sewing up all the stars.  

They’re red
They’re red
from the stanch of old Korean faiths.  

Red! Red!
clotted up after lost Korea’s face.  

As red
as the stars
on all those tanks
sent south
to patch over those scarlet steeples.  

The new needles
hammer forged;
thread, sickle sliced


In the beginning, you are a distant turquoise triangle incongruous against sand.

All around, some one has taken a straight edge across the sea then folded up the sky to box in us homo saps.

Sentry trawlers crawl their stations along the cloudwall perimeter.

Closer in, thoughtless speedboats laugh across the waves, diesel waterbugs.

Skiers trudge behind, trying to play catch-up.

Birds pepper the sky.

And here and there bobbin heads pop up, as jellyfish nudists sprawl motionless tanning themselves along the surf.

A long-ago engineer built his clam dam to further contain this ocean, but now it is more breach than construct, debris among the former fish.

Mini Vesuvii dot the shoreline, cold openings to another, yet hidden, world.

Your neon triangle slowly sprouts bucket-crafted sandcastle appendages, as your shape begins delineation.

All along the beach, a patchwork of erratic crowd heaves. Can there really be a fractal that describes the geometry of herky-jerky humankind?

Tuxedoed canine trio scratches in harmony, sniffs for an 8 count, resumes its rhythmic bowing to metronome waves that gently assault bathers white, bathers red, bathers brown. Colors evolve like chameleons.

Children, even those with beards, sport in the mer. Mothers coddle eager sea urchins, while youths (and used-to-be youths too) ogle maidens who gleam and undulate in sunsparkle.

The clockwork dogs resume their symphony.

And then, of a sudden, your nippled battlements fully confront. I espy your sandy tourney field, your flying buttresses, your emblazoned portcullis smile. And marvel at the royal keep impossibly curtained behind that turquoise tapestry.

But my feet continue dutifully on their rounds: today they must lay down their permanent sign track, announcing to all posterity my once-existence. Ye seekers after truth and/or beauty.

Here indeed is the ever-changing unchanged, infinity in miniscule, eternal now, pastless while ancient, futuring into forever. This everybeach.

All cosmologies compress and store in islands of indelible sand. All philosophy unravels on this strand, expands beyond knowing. And is humbled proudly in the doing.

I finally achieve beach end and turn to survey my day’s work: my oxymandias footprints already ruins.

And yet, the entire cosmos kaleidoscopes behind me out from your turquoise neon triangle, like the promiscuous eye of God

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