Read poems from Steve's award-nominated book!

Steve's style continues to be a favorite with readers and editors. His poems, while simple and accessible on the surface, often open a complex recall within the reader, through beautifully crafted images and language. Poems in the book have been described as having the impact of short, short stories. Enjoy pieces from his book which was and entrant for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and for a National Book Award.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Driving in Winter, 1960

Our car with no heat, an igloo
on wheels. Ice spores on windows sprawled
into frost ferns we could autograph with fingernails.
The loneliness of the back seat as great
as the distance between the two frigid poles.

Letters chiseled their way out of cold chests,
floated to the back seat in titanic strands
of frozen words that ripped our hulls.

Twice along the way we drifted through
warm harbors, two booths of light,
one smelling of roast  beef, the other apple pie.

My father dropped a quarter and it rolled to my feet.
I picked it up and placed it on the woman’s soft skin.
The crunch of ice beneath the tires lost its voice.

Now, when I cannot dodge the solstice of solitude,
I think of the hearth on the turnpike, 
the touch of the toll-taker’s hand.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thanks for all the messages and requests for me to post more pieces from Percy. I hate to sound selfish or greedy, but sales are still brisk and I know the nature of people. If you give them something free, they tend to get stingy with their money. So, yes, I will post more, but not quite yet. Right now I will read and perhaps shave. Maybe even travel a bit, but you can order a signed copy from this blog or one of my others.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Which Tales Are Fish Tales

Which Tales Are Fish Tales

I don’t remember nearly drowning,
my head submerged, taking in water,
unable to kick my feet loose
as I hung like a bat in the rafters,
from my father’s arms.
He dangled me over the toilet bowl until,
by some miracle,
my mother thrust her small body against him,
knocking him down and setting me free.

She did what any mother would do,
in that circumstance – save her child.
She told me this after the divorce,
when he was halfway around the world,
maybe doing the same thing to another enemy.
I hated him for it.

It would seem a five year old would remember,
or, as I aged, be afraid of water,
but she said it, my mommy, my mom,
my mother.

The same person who told me about the fish,
a huge grouper she had caught.
So large it stuffed the car trunk,
then filled the freezer on the back porch,
then the bathtub as it thawed.

The same fish
that came to life and bit the mop handle
in half as she tried to kill it again.
The same damn fish
she saddled with a chair and rode wildly
until she stabbed it enough times
with a butcher knife.

I’m sorry mom,
I just don’t remember almost dying,
or the fish almost living.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Homer's Trilogy

Homer’s Trilogy


The German soldier waited,
nerves chattering,
knife in his filthy hand
tapping a dirge on the stone wall,
and when my grandfather eased past
the corner of the building
the German lunged,
arm pounding mechanically --
rat-a-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat --
driving the blade into toughened meat.

My grandfather swung his gun around,
knocking the attacker to the ground,
then shot him in the forehead.
After stripping the dead man of papers,
Luger and dagger,
he hurried off to find a medic.

This is how I believed the scars,
shining like ten skinny maggots,
found their way to my grandfather’s
shoulder. He never told me the real story,
never gave the wounds any words,
only said he hoped I never
had to see a war.
But the little slits called to me,
begging me to place an ear near his naked back
and let their whispers burrow
into my imagination.


He would kill you
if you touched him
as he slept. Spring up
and send the Max Brand
or Zane Grey paperback,
splayed across his chest,
flapping at spine-breaking speed
into the wall--desperados
and Indians were his release
from the Luftwaffe
and Blitzkrieg. His massive
frame poised to crush
the Iron Cross shining
through the fog on every breast.

Those French nights
of sleeping with open eyes,
hair-trigger ears
and a six pack ready
to snap him into action,
turned my grandfather into a man
who had no dreams.

Stick and Frye Funeral Home
had been in business forever,
it seemed, handling the town’s
special needs with quiet care.
When I lived with my grandparents,
my grandfather, a large, crusty
WWII sergeant-turned-brick mason
would answer our phone,
“Hello, Stick and Frye Funeral Home,
you stick’em, we fry’em.” My face flushed,
turned hot enough to heat up whoever
was on the other end, leaving me praying
for the use of Mr. Stick’s fine services. It was
nearly impossible for me to be somber
at any funeral there, until I was an adult.
I just could not look at those gathered,
or the one they gathered for,
without hearing my grandfather’s voice
answering our phone, over and over.

Friday, July 1, 2011

I have received several messages from readers wanting to know when I will post more poems from the book. That is wonderful and flattering, but I always respond by letting them know that the book has ALL the poems inside, if they should care to go that route.  Some have, others prefer to wait.  I will post another piece soon, but if I post too many and too soon, then there is no reason to have a book in print. Yes, there is a method to what seems like either madness or laziness! Please check out the happenings at my other blogs, lots of great words and pics. In the meantime, I have been out and about.  If you see me, I am the man in the panama hat.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

In Living Color

In Living Color

Armed with a butcher knife
my sister, six, attacked the new
television almost as soon
as the delivery man left.
A Zenith console model
ANY DÉCOR!”  And, by God,
it wiggled in very well
with our early-garage-sale motif.
Both hands gripped the oak handle
as she swung like Babe Ruth,
little chunks of that fine oak
exploded through the air,
lost forever in the shag carpet.
She did not know why.
We tried to fill in the gashes
with some brown crayons,
spread a long doily
over the top,
watched cartoons in color,
and hoped my mother
and stepfather
would not take the same knife to her.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Talking With Triggers

Talking With Triggers

Perched in a live oak
cloaked in moss
my uncle waited
for a deer, wild boar
or turkey,
while beneath him
two men idled
out of the brush
and argued.
Neither looked up.
A shotgun blast
from one blew
the other back.
A life soaked quickly
into the crispy
forest floor.

A sheriff brought
my uncle home,
ripped gaping holes
into the family
with verbal buckshot
and left with us
a loaded shell of doubt.

Six years later,
barely 21,
my uncle’s own life
was soaked up by sand
on a riverbed
in Southeast Asia.

Two of the men
who had been
in a Georgia forest
one fall afternoon
are now reduced
to piles of  lead
and bone. The shell
of doubt still rests
in the chamber.