Website: www.randallhorton.com


Link to Horton's publisher and book: mainstreetrag.com





Randall Horton

marvin gaye sings national anthem at the nba all-star game


Life should be so easy as a boy

on swing set, thrusting both feet forward,

pulling his face through a breeze, or


to be curled in a lover's arm in the park,

river swirls as meditation. War rages

inside this lean silk in the limelight,


oh how to articulate the madness except

through a drum machine, distant family member

to the djembe—


an electronic beat is what you hear.

Now layer that with a voice smooth

as hot silver flowing into half-dollars,


brighter than a thousand camera flashes,

and the mirrored shades gleaming

is for others to reflect themselves.


Oh the fork tongue whispering

knows the five-spots in Southeast DC,

has seen hollowed buildings on 14th Street


in a state of rigor-mortis from the 60s:

a construct of crumbling brick structures

held by aging plyboard.


A moon of narcotic drains from the nostrils,

everything bone bright—numb

as if this may be the apocalypse.


Oh they have chosen a troubled man

to signify Old Glory, which unfurls

if nothing but faithfully in the background.

rec time in hagerstown


In the yard with my faded prison jacket

shielding wind-needles of winter, the guards


rifles are merely desire extended,

desire fueled by eager index fingers


waiting for me to believe I am bulletproof

and scale the circular fence. I want to live.


I take a breath of sour air drifting downwind

from farmlands in Maryland's green hills,


grab a pinch full of Kite and twist a rollup.

Inmates run five on five, trying to remember


youthful years when they soared high

as sneakers could elevate off the blacktop.


But I know a hard foul can draw clenched fists,

—then solitary. I light the cigarette,


walk the graveled track and watch a sparrow

pull its speckled body over the hillside.

origin explained to my cellmate

(for Kelly Norman Ellis)


I come from the slow roll of top papers,

from the fifteen-joint nickel bag.


I come from moon lit street corners

that worshipped dead eagles more than God.


I come from gangster idiom,

the soft bank of dice against the curb


from dudes named Pocketknife,

Blade, Pappy, Graveyard Pimp and Wolf.


I come from inside a blue trumpet melody,

from the tornado swirl of a crack pipe.


I come from Magic City's rusted sky,

from the whiskey still of my father's father,


the bootleg house of my mother's mother

where I poured liquid healing into a shot glass.


I come from fertile down south soil,

from the wood, solid oak trees—


pines and mimosas that form an umbrella

over palisades of red mountain clay.


I come from possibility and never say die

instilled by everything southern.

night vision plain as day


Crosses threshold    pushing  

not heroin    but herself   one foot


push  pull the other one    two

a.m.    deserted    street-  


noise   stars drown    blocked

by trees     leaves in gutter


she climbed out of it    high

red boot walker   denomination


baptist   religion   ran-ran

face first   her   to the other side


of cool    if an artist could

please do     capture ash bone


the night dog barking  at the rat-

a-tat-tat goes the uzi    still


a lady she was    in her   day

these are     all the same


daddy wasn't no     glass maker

would be hard to tell   somebody


gotta be   witness the aesthetic

stay rooted  in the   cannot be


eyed   never complete  the human

a rough draft    in nameless rift.