Dave Shank
Dave Shank Poetry

Craggy peaks,
blue-gray streams,
spotted wasteland
scored by pendulous

Once a pup
this old dog.
a seedling
now hearth timber.
no new forks to chew on,
just a stretch
that kisses the divide.

Reflections return
with the sun
as vanishing distances
echo in a shell.
press a petal.
cut a lock.


find a way to say it.
find heaven with empty sockets.
collide with dead ends
as blankness drawn breeds
fear, dulls the wanting,
spasms the gut and brain.

wringing bloodless roots
that bear self-flagellated
lumps cowering like
prey waiting to be

Desperation, lingering
like disease,
sweeping dusty shelves
for answers that breathe
while Muses shrink from
screams of overandover.

Art, an unwary trip
to the sun.
a worth busting hammer
grinding resolve into surrender
and deliverance
from a fall.


A nettled sea that battered coasts before the flood;
an earthborn cut that courses deep with ancient blood.
a raging width that spoke before decrees were writ;
a pendulum’s wry verdict while millennia stood.

A chain of drifters that traversed begotten land;
a silent homage ordered by enigma’s wand.
anthologies of ashes on a dusty shelf;
darkened ages chiseled on a speckled hand.

Endowed by fate a lesser cast through lifetimes can
record in perpetuity a winding span.
ephemera of senses will, at once, remind
that Nature’s burden lies alone the task of man.

in the cafe

half-lit corners
shadows attend.
noir cast whispers,
secrets on the prowl.

nicotine beacons,
sinuous smoke.
silhouette's illumed
then gone.

a toutes les tables
trowels traverse.
hopes dissolve
passing into clouds.

muses bait
shrunken matter
stirring catatonia
inspired haze.

vacant eyes,
filaments ablaze.
swirling haloes
flash and fume.

cadavers swathed
in barroom bouquet.
all arrayed
in peaceful agony.

and I, alike,
among the ruins.
pen stilled. pitcher tipped-

in the cafe

Published online by The Veterans Writing Project in 0-Dark-Thirty, A Literary Journal.


Space bends.
We know that now.
And if a star dies,
it can suck down worlds.
Nice work, Science.
Scared shitless now!


I schooled with the
ducked and covered
gum-patched ceilings
wide eyed cowlicks
for an aproned


fear runs often now.
curiously intact,
a vigorous body still beats,
yet loosing it wondering.
had mine.
waited too long.
nevertheless, continuing
inward in defense of fragility.

clean sweep

in soft wet sand
an homage intaglioed.
colossus bent.
a swagger dispatched
with Olympian indifference.

solarized, shaken.
planted arse, upright fetal.
frothy flows bathed his ovals.
ebbs fizzy reminder:
receding in all directions.

unnoticed at best.
a heartbeat, a blink,
a tear, a rattle,
then dawn.

Tides relentless breathing,
every repetition a rebirth.
asking and answering,
sacrificing all that is peripheral,
all that is me.

Published by The Veterans Writing Project in 0-Dark-Thirty, A Literary Journal (Fall 2015, Vol. 4, No. 1).


Beneath a spotted yoke,
A pool framed in porcelain.
Narcissus wavering,
biliously deconstructed.
satanic ooze revives the reveling
while a fool reminisces
where he pisses.

dante encouraged

reason's domain
is the interim.
It lies between
maniac's dreams.

Published in 1947 Journal, May 22, 2015.


Out streaked glass
through arthritic fingers,
blotted memories sucked up like
black pools in the sand.

Dust pixelated
in deadened rooms
where echoes fall
before a glimpse.

How do you live a loss,
mundane and cryptic at once?

Tender hands cup my
face then fade like
warm breath
on a window pane.

While far beyond a mind's reach,
the senses lie waiting
teased by the promise
of one last touch.


I watched a leaf fall.
dipping and soaring,
aswirl in breathy breezes,
it spoke a lifetime
in that descent.


Faces clenched,
hand held, brow kissed,
trying to soothe,
their own mortalities in the balance.

I, the gloomy reminder, offer no solace.
staring, spent,
my question's been answered.

Still lacking,
the mourners take leave
to resume,
taking their place
among the scuttling.


Screen door slammin'
denizens abuzz.
Half a sandwich pedalin' to
railroad rhythms from pavement slabs
that wind toward dusty diamonds:
Of bats & gloves,
Hire's & Jay's,
balls battered elliptic
with frayed comet tails.
Popsicle lips,
"No chicken claws."
Bringin' it back.



A dawn shone
by those who
lost their grip.

No "rose red fingers,"
just rags of flesh dripping from
leafless limbs.

embracing the
facing the fall.
Immortality is for


Budapestian riled,
hunched over a scrawl
of gestating waves,
grotesque parody.

Vodka and Volga,
Grad under siege,
feverish image in
sweat drenched toilette.

Ridicule beamed,
dogged strains pounded,
relentless frailty
slogged in faint light.

Atrophic clock squeezed,
spotted leaves grew,
twixt two fulls rising,
a monument rose.

Enormous labor
rewarded with a close.
its rapturous wake
we abide within.

On Optimism

On the way from here to there,
Nothing seen
I care to share.
Same is the same,
The sum of inane.
The blind themselves leading
Need not explain.

On my way through hours and days
All is sung
In praise of malaise.
"Dull, nay duller,"
The Dullest proclaim.
"Stand ye aside and let sophistry reign!"

The world is flat and has ever been.
Being is choosing
The skin to live in.
Will always will
Always has, I surmised.
So treasure the cynic who's
never surprised.


pencil in a netted bun,
cherry lips and cracklin' gum.
check on a spindle,
change from change.
a jingle marks a portal.
toothpicks stir your muse.

River I

Most every day unseen,
the solemn stare over
relentless flows
to sunless hills across.

In shallows lie ruins of a wharf.
gulls perch the ashen spine
where cacophony demanded
a share of Oblivion's nod.

Stacks spewed darkness.
labor strained beneath its cast.
the weary-worn receded
in fortune's forsaking wake.

Humanity spared,
Heaven does not a hasty
atonement abide.
the undertow of fate offended
tugs at my resolve

across the languorous divide,
an heir mirrors me.

River II

Here again
by the river.
a member now,
another fossilized rib
bearing the decrepitude.

Waded in.
took my place among the pilings,
among the rot and the rust:
an homage to decay.

Cursed duality,
the kinship of
creation and regret.
I stood where it all started,
where it all went wrong
in the Garden.

Now I'm here.
again by the river
sinking in ruinous ambiguity
in my own Ozymandian dream.

River III

Hills dusted grey.
islands of ice with grinding
momentum flow
without sun, song,
or scent.
a ritual lament plays out:
timeless, tuneless,
the price of renewal.

River IV

Along a promenade a long wall ends
where clumps of sere grass slope
toward shoreline rocks,
a sculpted forehead
driven senseless by wakes.

Just beyond, an old wharf's remains
splay like an antediluvian carcass
with rippling reflections
that go deep.

Gulls hopscotch the grey boned colonnade
as sunlit ripples ignite
a thousand flashes
gliding ashore, spent
in foamy confusion.

Cast into a cove unseen,
sidelined by grey-green endlessness
but defiant in ruination: a
still life shunned.

Exiled from the main,
only dying furrows of froth remind.
watched indifference pass
beyond this monument,
a vexing taste of inevitability.

River's slithering crawl tires.
can't abide the stance.
all my reasons lie within
that broken survivor I seek
everyday for some grit.


you came to me in a reflection.
doe-eyes chasing starlight.
touching a heaven that lolls
beneath your fingers.

threaded with unique strands,
spared the matter maze.
wonder needed no upshot;
ever awed by shadows
on a wall.

I, beset by doubt,
chose a life parched.
a hypothetical,
innocence forsaken, condemned
to endless digging.

beauty stripped, ransacked by thought,
subversive thought, unhinging thought.
senses left senseless.
mind in straight-jacketed bliss, numb,
an alien outside the essence.

I think I see.
hear, I think.
think I smell,
taste, feel!
I think...

the mind's eye is
a cyclopean curse,
a blighted schema.
am I freed only by
a ramming stake?

stay with me, Roberta.
it's your likeness I lack.
that guileless stare reminding:
revelations need no remedy.

The Spoon

Stained by all it stirred,
it endures-
a glimpse of loss,
of a world above the apron strings.

Pot boil steam and sweat,
simmer to bubble and back,
hugging a thigh,
hip sway lullaby.

A cast of heat,
passion oaring the brew.
aromas breaching,
waterfalling my
drowsy tongue
seducing a greedy lip.

Figure eights trigger a muse,
a relic's reminder of once.
cooling its sample,
a free
hand's caress.

Stained by all it stirred.
all done for her one.
memories fade like bits in a mix.
no matter.
succor lingers reposed in a drawer.

©2024 DaveShankMusic.com       about | news | music | reviews | videos | photos | poetry | contact

Facebook   Twitter

This jazz site is part of