Sunday 14 March 2021

Three Poems by J Archer Avary



there’s a tree at 13th and Harney

near the steps of the old Antiquarium

where ageing intellectuals drank black coffee 

and sold dusty used books and records

to fledgling free-thinkers

bury my heart between its roots, in a shoe box

filled with rare seven-inch singles 

by obscure punk rock bands

and all my unpaid parking tickets


dig a small hole at the cornerstone

of the Rorick Apartment building

where I lived happily amongst the roaches 

in that filthy eleventh floor studio 

until I got evicted 

take my lungs, that’s where they belong 

cover them with dirt and bury them 

with a pack of Pall Malls

the unfiltered kind


my liver must be disposed of

with great ceremony and stealth

flush it down the toilet at the CVS pharmacy

built on the site of the old 49’r Lounge

where regulars came in through the back door

spread sand on the shuffleboard table

rested elbows on wobbly high-tops 

sticky with spilt beer 

always playing the jukebox hero 


treat my legs to one last polka at Sokol Hall

feed my flesh to the tapirs at the Henry Doorly Zoo

my eyes and ears to the pigeons

congregated in the Old Market’s brick streets

crush my skull and bones into fine powder

ride the elevator to the top of the Woodman tower

release it all to the currents

but leave my memories of Omaha alone 

they are my only connection



this is how we weekend in 

weird wonderful Cabbagetown

walking in a drunkard’s wonderland

street art gallery sidewalk kaleidoscope

whimsical jewel of I-T-P Atlanta


here we go again for drinks in

wild walkable Cabbagetown

pitcher after pitcher of terrapin rye

extra-hot chicken wings on twilight patios

sensibility fades like daylight


bless this indulgent lifestyle in

wretched worrisome Cabbagetown

argumentative uninhibited we death-match

toilet hipster talk and jukebox dominance

pay our tabs and stagger home



safety glass pellets

littered the KC

cul-de-sac where I parked 

the Saab 

the driver’s window was


its cassette stereo stolen

on the eve of the

new millennium


a three hour drive

home to Omaha 

freezing in the cold wind

with no music 

to stave away boredom 

a black garbage bag

over the broken window

a most fitting end to

the 1990’s


the news predicted 

mass blackouts

an apocalyptic nightmare 


rather than fret doom

I went to a 

party at a friend’s loft 

in the Old Market 

where punkers and ferrets 

roamed the hallways

shitting (the ferrets)

and puking (the punkers)


then the morning came 

an unholy hangover

head throbbing like it was 1999

the insurance man

denied my claim

I had to pay for the window

out of pocket


maybe the doomsday cults

were right:

it felt like the end of the world

 J. ARCHER AVARY (he/him)  

J. Archer Avary is a chameleon, a product of his environment, a restless wanderer. 

In past lives he was a TV weatherman, punk rock drummer, champion lionfish hunter, ocean conservationist. At age 44, he still doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up. Maybe a poet?

He lives on a tiny island in the English Channel and is the editor of Sledgehammer Lit.

Twitter: @j_archer_avary

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