Friday, April 10th, 2009...9:52 am

todd moore | walking around in the blood

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in america should travel fast, like some getaway car, stripped down, tuned, the color of blood. Poetry in america should be as sleek as a spike heel, as deadly as a Smith and Wesson. Poetry in america should be covered with nightmare tats and Basquiat dreams. Poetry in america is a coyote howling on I-40 out along the malpais. Poetry in america is an outlaw dream. A poem in america is painted in blood.

a killer blonde

in a drop-dead dress
and Puerto Rican heels
crushed out a smoke
and flipped the bird
to some guy
who tried to
make time with her…

she wouldn’t fall for it,
and she had
no intention
of inflicting
the cruel and unusual punishment
of her smile
on him,
because he was a punk
and the pavement was wet
and the color of the moon.

there’s also this guy
in a trench coat,
standing behind a t-bird,
throwing up.

and, even though
he’s ruining
the look and feel of his coat
he’s still trying
to make like Byron,

but it’s just not working,

and he knows it,

and you know it,
and i know it.

and killer blonde’s
got the kind of legs
that stick in your head
like the 23rd psalm,

only they make more sense.

and her spike heels
and her red lips
and red dress
and sad eyes
only make you sadder
and wilder
and crazier
as she walks away
in the middle of the night,
with the moon coming up
and the radio on
and a dog
on a street somewhere
barking at someone
who’s just managed
to do something
or someone

from NEW AND SELECTED POEMS by John Yamrus


guy waiting for a Greyhound to Denver is sitting on a bench reading NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. Either the book is making him all scratchy and twitchy or this is just his general nature because he cannot sit still. He turns a page, makes a face, and then looks up to see if anyone is watching, Then he starts shaking his right foot so fast that it looks like his whole leg will come off. He slaps the book shut, puts it down beside him, sits staring at the broken tile floor, then picks the book up and starts reading again, even more ferociously than before. Finally, he is so far into it, that it almost feels as though murder is coming out of his bones. Sometimes in america the air is so thick with murder I could almost bottle it.

finley shot

the wolf
then gutted
it & shook
out to see
if he cd find
the place
where mur
der slept
but all he
found were
entrails so
he sliced
the head
off &
wrapped it
up in his

by Todd Moore


best poetry in america is pure noir along with a dash of unrelenting desolation. Because the most authentic places in america are unrelenting scenes of utter desolation. The best poetry in america starts a fire in the head and puts blood on the wall. The best poetry in america does not put you to sleep but slaps you awake. The best poetry in america is drinking a stiff shot of the bar’s best whiskey while sitting next to a good looking woman from anywhere. And, the night tastes sweet.

no bones but your bones. no flesh but your flesh. no face but your face. your body a broken piece of lightning. your words falling like rain.

from BLUES FOR BILLY THE KID by Tony Moffeit


pure poetry of america speaks in tongues. The pure poetry of america does not have a trained voice for giving poetry readings. The pure poetry of america is the sound of bourbon, blood, and fenzy. The pure poetry of america relies on the raw voice, the bone stuck in the throat voice, the knife poised at the jugular vein. The pure poetry of america conjures mayhem, the pure poetry of america calls down tornadoes, the pure poetry of america reeks of the burnt rain smell of lightning and scorched roses. The pure poetry of america is a killer elegy sung to a bonfire. The pure poetry of america is the murder ballad twang of outlaw pure outlaw.

As a boy I collected bullet shells and was obsessed with reptiles.


I listened carefully & could hear a
scorpion cast its shadow on the bare
slickrock & a flute-voiced woman
singing in the river…
from Borrowed Time In Chaco Canyon

by John Macker


scorpion in Macker’s poem begins to show off his tail and I reach across my desk for an american bowie knife possibly made by J. Reed of Fresno, California, sometime between 1856 and 1876. I have no doubt in my mind the knife was simply made for shatter and mayhem. The blade is seven and a half inches long, darkly patinated and has a carved ebony grip with a beautiful horse head shaped pommel. What really draws my attention is the copper heart set into the blade. The heart emblem is imperfectly made which makes it fascinating. Perfection, except for maybe in Mozart, is never interesting. I love the nicks and dings of things and this copper heart has small ragged edges in all its curves but I love those edges as much as I love the way violence or nightmare or damaged love bleed through all the great poems. And, when I catch the faint odor of burnt rags in the air, I know that somehow a poem is coming.


My stepfather drank
Louisiana Red Hot
straight from the bottle
& shot pop bottles
off of my head
for friends on weekends.

I still have a scar on my head
from flying glass

When my mother died
he hung himself

The sonofabitch
I loved him.



pure poetry of america is outlaw to the bone, the pure poetry of america is not an exercise in hiding the wounds but of showing them off, the pure poetry of america is a dance down the killing fields of time, the pure poetry of america is a long walk into the dark places, it takes us all home. The suicide note carved into the attic wood, the faint bloodstain on the cement cellar floor.

after the

train hit
found his
hand w/a
piece of
arm still
spun off in
the weeds
& then
rushed over
& stood
there looking
at it while
bugsy was
up on the
around in
the blood

by Todd Moore

Kenny showed me the rock he’d hit his old man in the head with. Said the old man was still breathing when he left and we walked down to the river and he said, should I throw it in and I said, his blood is still on it. And, he wiped the blood off on his shirt and said, now do you think it’s alright to throw it in. And I said, it doesn’t matter if you throw it in or not. You will always have it. It’s part of you now. And, he sat down in the weeds on the riverbank and started pounding the ground with the rock.

by Todd Moore


while we were living at the Clifton Hotel I remember my old man pointing to a patch of grass under the big cottonwood tree at the front of the hotel and saying, For god’s sake don’t ever walk there. That’s where Texas Jack Paterson blew his brains out back in the late thirties. I should know, I was on the fire department then and had to help clean up the mess. Some of his brains went out into the street and got black from the car tires. When he finished telling the story I walked through that patch of grass just to see how it would feel and my old man said, Now, you’ve got his blood on you and it will never come off. I checked my shoes just to be sure there was no blood on them. The funny thing, though. Every time I walked by that patch of grass I would always check my shoes. Even now, in some of my dreams I catch myself wearing some of Texas Jack’s blood.

You can’t be an Outlaw without wearing the blood.

Todd Moore

Todd Moore books are available here…

You will find Mark Weber, Tony Moffeit, John Yamrus, and John Macker publications as well on the same shop page.

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