Wednesday, March 30, 2011


The lone Bos primigenius on the hill at night,

do you suppose she ever wonders
in her laconic, bovine way
what the stars could possibly be?

Does the Tyto alba contemplate
the moon’s topography from his
hay loft perch or what mysteries might
lay on its darker side?

The Nephilia clavata centered in his jeweled web,

does he receive strange frequencies
(or just old radio transmissions)
on its taut wires and filaments?

What about the sleepless philosopher/poet
taking his thoughts out for a late-night
walk around the neighborhood?

Does the universe leave cryptic
fortune cookie clues and candid
little polaroids of the Bigger Picture
laying around for him to find
and piece together later?

Or is this semi-educated fool merely
adrift on a sea of his own imagining
in the leaky row-boat of his skull

and nothing but a kerosene lamp,
a stone jug of his uncle's corn liquor
and an old typewriter on which
he may compose

such (otherwise) ridiculous
and impertinent


-Jason Ryberg, 2010

Tuesday, March 22, 2011



It was a very bad day

It was a very good day
A bad day on Main Street
A good day on Wall Street
A bad day for education
A good day for ignorance
A bad day for lovers
A good day for haters
A bad day for peace
A good day for the merchants of war
A bad day for working families
A good day for corporations
A bad day for justice
A good day for black mail, green mail,
and the scarlet letter industry
A bad day for the first amendment
A good day for the second
A bad day for pursuit of happiness
A good day for the private prison industry
A bad day for the heads
A good day for the juicers
A bad day for the masses yearning to be free
A good day for the oppressors
A bad day for tolerance
A good day for bigotry
A bad day for mercy
A good day for torture
A bad day for public TV
A good day for FOX News
A good day for mama grizzlies
A bad day for cougars
The people have spoken


Yeah, I believe in angels.

I saw two of them down near the river
at shift change last Thursday
They’d stepped back between the buildings
To keep the cold rain off their wings
I guess
They were talking and
I heard one say
“Sally’s back on the crack
I saw her light the pipe last night
Down at Third and Central.”
Then the other one said
“Yeah, tell me about it
I’ve been looking over Bobby’s shoulder
for the last three days
while he studied his reflection
in the razor blades.
Last night it was all I could do to stop him.”
Then they nodded,
gave each other a low five
and headed off in opposite directions.
After they left I stood a while
looking down across the tracks
at a long train of box cars sliding past.
All along the side there were messages
written in that impossible Angelic scrip they use
to communicate with angels in different towns.
After it moved on out of sight
I looked over at the alley wall.
There were more messages written there
in that same strange language.
Everybody says they’re just gang signs,
but there ain’t no gangsta
can tell you what they mean.


Sunday, March 20, 2011


A million fish wash up dead
in a California harbor.

10, 000 cows keel over in Vietnam.

Thousands of Starlings, Turtle Doves
and Red Wing Blackbirds drop from the sky
in Italy, Sweden, South Dakota.

But elsewheres (and despite it all),
we’ve still managed to put in
another long (and more than respectable) night
of consorting with spirits and keeping
the Universal Kundalini humming
at that slightly heightened pitch (of radians
per reciprocal seconds) which
has been rumored to induce
an "informed euphoria" of sorts.

And now the early morning streets
(here in mid-town KC/MO, 5:47 on a
Monday morning) are strangely
Frisco/Portland-foggy and deserted
like one of those old-school/bad dream/
“where-did-everybody-go” sci/fi movies
from our paranoid, cold-war era past.

Or so it would seem
if not for the all-night diner with its
purple neon “OPEN” sign in the window
and the street light on the corner;

a peach-tinted glow hovering above us
like a stationary UFO whose (only mildly
bemused) occupants are, no-doubt, wondering
if these three zombified monkey-boys
and their fucked up little planet
are even worth the effort.

And from somewhere
deep inside the fog,

a strangely musical


-Jason Ryberg, 2011

Thursday, March 17, 2011



Strap them kids in
Give 'em a little bit of vodka in a cherry coke
We're going to Oklahoma to the family reunion for the first time in years
It's up at uncle Slayton's cause he's getting on in years
You know he no longer travels but he's still pretty spry
He's not much on talking and he's just too mean to die
And they'll be comin' down from Kansas
and from west Arkansas
It'll be one great big old party like you never saw
Uncle Slayton's got his Texan pride
Back in the thickets with his Asian bride
He's got a Airstream trailer and a Holstein cow
He still makes whiskey 'cause he still knows how
He plats that Choctaw bingo every Friday night
You know he had to leave Texas but he won't say why
He owns a quarter section up by Lake Eufala
Caught a great big ol' blue cat on a driftin' jug line
Sells his hardwood timber to the shipping mill
Cooks that crystal meth because the shine don't sell
He cooks that crystal meth because the shine don't sell
You know he likes his money he don't mind the smel
lMy cousin Roscoe Slayton's oldest boy from his second marriage up in Illinois
He was raised in East St. Louis by his momma's people
Where they do things different
Thought he'd just come on down
He was going to Dallas Texas in a semi truck called from that big McDonald's
You know the one they built up on that great big ol' bridge
Across the Will Rogers Turnpike
Took the Big Cabin exit stopped and bought a couple of cartons of cigarettes
At that Indian Smoke Shop with the big neon smoke rings
In the Cherokee Nation hit Muskogee late that night
Somebody ran a stoplight at the Shawnee Bypass
Roscoe tried to miss 'em but he didn't quiteBob and Mae come up from little town
Way down by lake Texoma where he coaches football
They were two A champions now for two years running
But he says they won't be this year no they won't be this year
And he stopped off in Tushka at that "Pop's Knife and Gun" place
Bought a SKS rifle and a couple a full cases of that steel core ammo
With the berdan primers from some East bloc nation that no longer needs 'em
And a Desert Eagle that's one great big ol' pistol
I mean .50 caliber made by badass Hebrews
And some surplus tracers for that old BAR of Slayton's
Soon as it gets dark we're gonna have us a time
We're gonna have us a timeRuth Ann and Lynn come down from Baxter Springs
That's one hell raisin' town way up in Southeastern Kansas
Got a biker bar next to the lingerie store
That's got them Rolling Stones lips up there in bright pink neon
And they're right down town where everyone can see 'em
And they burn all night you know they burn all night you know they burn all night
Ruth Ann and Lynn they wear them cut off britches and those skinny little halters
And they're second cousins to me
Man I don't care I want to get between 'em
With a great big ol' hard on like a old bois d' arc fence post
You could hang a pipe rail gait from
Do some twisted sisters 'til the cows come home
And we'd be havin' us a time
Uncle Slayton's got his Texan pride
Back in the thickets with his Asian bride
He's cut that corner pasture into acre lots`
He sells 'em owner financed
Strictly to them that's got no kind of credit 'Cause he knows they're slackers
When they miss that payment
Then he takes it back
He plays that Choctaw Bingo every Friday night
Drinks that Johnny Walker at that Club 69
We're gonna strap them kids in give 'em a little bit o' Benadryl
And a cherry coke we're goin' to Oklahoma Gonna have us a time

-James McMurtry

Monday, March 14, 2011



Recipe of the Month

* 1 lb., more or less, of fresh words. [Find a wide spring assortment of the universal language of love, the most beautiful blossoms and blooms. But let’s be realistic — thistles and thorns should be included.]
* 3/4 cup of crisp metaphor, loosely packed. [Wash and trim thoroughly. Be sure to pick out all cliches. ]
* 7 of the freshest rhymes you can find.
* 14 firm (not mushy) lines of iambic pentameter.
* 1/4 tsp. each of chopped fresh oregano and basil, tasting as real as the earth.
* 3 cups vine ripened tomatoes still warm from the garden sun. [Holding them in your hands, you won’t be able not to think of love.]
* 1/2 cup chopped rue.
* 3 tablespoons vinegar.
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 1 infinitesimal pinch of thyme. (Lovers will be suspicious if there seems to be enough thyme for them.)
* 3 drops pure heart’s blood.
* 3 drops lovers’ sweat distilled from two bodies dancing as if their lives depended on it.
* 1 splash of tears (but dont overdo.)
* Go easy on the garlic.

Arrange in a 81/2 X 11 receptacle, layering the lines as if you were putting together lasagna. [Make sure the lines are of uniform width and length. Pay attention to the borders. What a poem is not saying just beyond its edges is important, too.]
Fix rhymes artfully but firmly to the end of lines. [Surprise is what you’re after.]
Distribuite le metafore equamente (non mischiate!) Distribute metaphors evenly throughout. [Do not mix!]
Liberally decorate with the language of love. [Blend in the vinegar and sugar. Make sure it’s all a bit more sweet than sour.]
Prick a vein with the tip of Grandma’s best knife. Let 3 drops of blood spatter on the lines.
Don’t forget to go easy on the garlic. Add rue before serving, but not too much. [Love makes optimists of us all.]
Roast the poem over the raging, fragrant fires of inspiration, as long as it takes.
Baste every 20 minutes with blood, sweat and tears. [Keep looking at the clock.]
When the poem is tender yet still very, very rare, remove from oven. Sit down at a table that’s not too large, with one you care for terribly, or think you could, given the right night and light, the savor of what art can do to fire and time, all the wonders of our mortal hungers. Serve your partner. Now, share.


Thursday, March 10, 2011



Religions are poems. They concert
our daylight and dreaming mind, our
emotions, instinct, breath and native gesture

into the only whole thinking: poetry.
Nothing's said till it's dreamed out in words
and nothing's true that figures in words only.

A poem, compared with an arrayed religion,
may be like a soldier's one short marriage night
to die and live by. But that is a small religion.

Full religion is the large poem in loving repetition;
like any poem, it must be inexhaustible and complete
with turns where we ask Now why did the poet do that?

You can't pray a lie, said Huckleberry Finn;
you can't poe one either. It is the same mirror:
mobile, glancing, we call it poetry,

fixed centrally, we call it a religion,
and God is the poetry caught in any religion,
caught, not imprisoned. Caught as in a mirror

that he attracted, being in the world as poetry
is in the poem, a law against its closure.
There'll always be religion around while there is poetry

or a lack of it. Both are given, and intermittent,
as the action of those birds - crested pigeon, rosella parrot -
who fly with wings shut, then beating, and again shut.

-Les Murray