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.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Beaver Creek

The sounds were the same forty years ago,
but we shrugged off the babbling brook,
the gurgling crick, the rushing water;
clich├ęs that could not choke
the fluid chords.

She still has a croaking throat
of limestone boulders, which spills
low tones over a gravelly tongue.
Through lips of sand and reeds
she begins every conversation the same,
“Do you remember when…”

I sweeten my mouth with a BB-sized
teaberry—it tingles my jaw like dill—
and wait for her question to disappear
before I answer, “Yes, I do.”

Monday, November 22, 2010



The white socks were turning tan
from being horribly abused every day
and washed with a bar of soap
every night for months. I laid them
across the heating vent in the winter
and over the shower curtain rod
the rest of the time. They rarely dried
completely, made my feet and shoes
smell like mildew, and finally got
too many holes in the heels and toes.
I threw them out, panicked,
put on my shoes and walked
to Bargain City where I opened
a pack of socks, put three pairs on,
painfully crammed my feet into my shoes
and walked out. I was not proud
of my first theft, but I had no money,
no socks and no magic beans to grow any.
They lasted the rest of the school year,
then I gave them
to my brother.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Whatever Happened to Sandy Posey?

Whatever Happened to Sandy Posey?

Becoming a man in ‘67 was easy.
I had a newly grown wreath of hair.
A dream had beckoned my manhood,
stolen my virginity before sunrise.

My father was lost to the war,
claimed by the mysteries of Asian women.
My uncle was lost to the war,
filled with lead during Operation Hump.

It was the rite for the oldest to bump up.

Moving to Phoenix had brought rebirth.
It was hot and exotic. The open-air markets
bathed me in the ripeness of luscious smells.

A bass player’s thumb plucked sounds
that thrummed inside my lower half,
while a sweet voice seeped into 
the airwaves and snatched my senses.

She was all alone in a great big town
and needed a nighttime lover
to get her through the day. No price
was too great to pay. There was a man
she had yet to know, waiting in a place
she had yet to go.

I stole the records and, when the songs
were not on the radio, played each 45 rpm,
over and over, until the abused grooves
could take no more.

I wanted to be her man, the banana in her mango,
the fresh cream on her morning peaches.
Sandy teased me all summer.
She was, after all, Born A Woman and A Single Girl.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Kathleen's Car

Kathleen’s Car

If one owned a car in Blue Jay
it was just as likely to be in the back yard
as in the driveway.
It was just as likely that
one would take parts off to sell
as one would buy parts to put on.
The front seat was just as likely
to be warmed by Skeeter, the coon hound,
as Aunt Franny’s fanny being hauled around.

Kathleen’s car was in purgatory.
Twelve years of bath-free minimal care,
harsh use and hard weather,
had planted the old Chevy
firmly at an undetermined point
on the eye-sore-to-rust-bucket continuum.

It did run, with a bang
that harmonized with the music
of hunting season,
and its smoke snakes
slithered invisibly through
mornings of impenetrable fog.
The choking venom poked noses
when the fog wafted.

Once a shiny new Baby Blue
it had grown a densely-knitted,
rust-colored shawl,
and paint once as smooth
as a baby’s butt had erupted
into ugly sandpaper.

She had taken us to town,
to the market, to school,
wherever our destination might be,
but such was our shame to be seen
that we dropped a coin, a book,
a paper and leaned over to pick it up,
so nobody would see.
In fact, Kathleen hauled most of the kids
to one place or another,
but you only ever saw her driving alone.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Helen's Place

Helen's Place

My father lived on and off with a woman
for several years. They would share
drinks for months, then each would become unclear
about whether the other was good enough
or bad enough to keep.

During one of the “on again” stints,
her son sat in a chair at the kitchen table,
put a gun in his mouth,
had the will to follow through.

The knotty pine caught most of the death,
and it was my father who relieved
the wood of its burden. Scrubbing
the wall, running rags into the grooves
and channels of the panels then dipping
them into the bucket of warm
Pine-Sol solution. Each rinse and wring
tinting the milky fluid a deeper pink,
adding more bits and pieces
to slush on the bottom,
like gold flakes in a miner’s pan.

There was never an “off again”
after that. My father based
his handyman business in the house,
a man who couldn’t even glue his family together.
He died in one of its small bedrooms,
before I could tell him
that his work in the kitchen that day
was perhaps his best.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Little Dreamers

Pre-Batteries Not Included.
Pre-Each Figure Sold Separately.
Before every word, action and thought
was scrutinized with litigious intent,
there was the Sears Catalog,
Fort Apache being attacked,
in full-page, four-color fashion,
by (whisper with me) Indians.
In thirty minutes three boys,
on their bellies on the living room floor,
could win the battle, save the fort
and protect the entire West.
All this before any scribbled
a single letter on a Christmas list.
All this before they flipped the page
to G.I.  Joe.
Please enjoy reading poems from Percy, a book that was an entrant for a National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in poetry. I will post poems periodically, however, if you would like to purchase the book you may do so here, or you can check with your local library to see if they have it on the shelf.