Words & Pictures East Coast, LLC

[Home] [Bookstore] [Gallery] [Poets/Artists] [Fun Stuff] [Vital Links] [Contact]


Art Gallery

Poetry & Humor
Lots of Poetry
Featured poem
Humor/Light Verse

Professional Services
About us
Writing Services
Art Services
Web Services

Visual Artists

Local Events

Fun Stuff
Free Samples
Free Art Lesson
Experimental Stuff

Vital Links
Writing Links
Art Links
WEB Info Links

Email & Address Info

[Return to Guest Poets Page]
[Return to Guest Artists Page]

John McGinley

Note: See new art by John McGinley: "The Bity that Mining Built"
John McGinley This is not John but a painting he did
Contact John at JMcgin5585@aol.com

The sea showed me
bigger skies than Montana’s.
The Atlantic showed me
the dangerous difference
between merely rocky
mountains and mountains
on the move.

In the old copper
mining town
I knew as home,
granite peaks surrounded.
Mute witnesses to our human follies,
they waited for us
to bring down disaster
on our own greedy little heads.
But November’s
Atlantic storms,
off the coast of The Azores,
had no patience for fools.
One false tack or hesitation
brought the seas running to us,
fists and feet
flailing at bow and mast.

The mountains
of Montana
would have,
had I stayed,
made an enduring stoic of me.
The mountains
of the North Atlantic
taught me to move and keep moving.
The sea
made a sailor of me.


Bone slender
little bird girl
in sweatshirt tent
ducking in and out
of her magazine
gathering thought strings
from some photo,
then scanning
the Boise Café walls
straining to paste pieces
of flat photo world
onto these hometown walls.
she pecks and pastes
until finally,
able to make enough pieces fit,
she smiles bright-eyed and sly.
She has flown from here.


Your Kindness
(for vincent)

some days
some portraits
were better
than others

the people who sat
for you- most often
their common bond
was loneliness
not art

Armand Roulin
Madame Ginoux and that
loneliest of men, Dr Gachet

your bright colors
bold brush
brightening their looks
encouraging their smiles
yet never finding a palette
that overlays emptiness

the many self portraits
kind way
of telling
your models "As lost
as you may seem
there is one more lost than you"


More judgements
will come down
in this trial,
than the one
we twelve must make.

I am looking
across this courtroom
at the defendant,
who is looking
across this courtroom
at ten to twenty
for ten counts of attempted
Twenty years is just about
how many years
he has been around
In this lifetime of his.

And he will go down.
make no mistake,
his coming time will be hard time.
members of his gang
have been immunized to testify,
sanctified to rat him out.
No honor in that.
But they too are young,
Prison is dangerous to them.
Prison- the raging fire
below the frying pan of the barrio.
They will say
what there is to be said,
say what they are supposed to say,
so that they can stay on the streets --
purgatory wins out over hell.

I am looking
across this courtroom
at a big-shouldered,
good looking boy --
Chicano pistoleer.
He looks back
Without a glimpse of remorse
in his hard, young eyes,
no mercy, no prisoners they say to me.


His mother concurs.
She is front row,
Radiating pain and anxiety,
Wanting her boy out of here,
torn between her love and her fears --
her fears of what she knows
he will do to the wild children
of these other mothers
if he is loose on these streets.
His grandfather concurs.
Silently bent over his cane,
he half listens to the lawyers
while he searches, searches
through his long past for some other way,
some old man wisdom
that will make this dream come undone,
settle this matter of the wild boy,
settle it all with insight and honor.
His mind sifts the past but his heart concurs,
This dream is too far gone,
This dream will play itself out
Without anyone wanting to hear
From an old man.


And me, I am
A practical, middle aged
man who knows
that ten or twenty years can fly
faster than speeding bullets.
I am looking
across this courtroom,
thinking about this boy’s friends,
ten or twenty years from now,
thinking if I were one of them
I might shut my mouth, do some hard time now
instead of waking up ten or twenty years from now,
in the middle of the night,
having heard that day
that this hot-headed pistoleer
has done his time and is out.
I think what it might be like
to be one of them -- now a man
in bed with the wife,
kids sleeping down the hall --
older, settled, wondering
if the bad boy, once a brother, learned
forgiveness in hell,
if he remembers my name.
I think of that scenario that might
someday be
as I look across this courtroom
into the defendants eyes.
He is many things,
Good or bad, I think,
But he is not one who forgets.


None of this speculating
on futures is the jury’s to say.
Guilty, is what we twelve say.
The judgement is down.
The gavel comes down.
We twelve,
we faithful apostles of Justice,
we are dismissed.

The City that Mining Built by John McGinley

Copyright © 1999. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Duplication of this poetry and/or art without permission of the author/artist is forbidden under copyright law. Please ask permission if you wish to use for non-commercial purposes
  Big Cats in Snow Tuesday, March 13, 2001