Monday 25 April 2022

Three Poems by Robert Halleck




Rex could sing all verses of Amazing Grace

to the tune of Ghost Riders In The Sky. On

Saturday nights he would stand on a bar

in Chapel Hill and perform. His talent had

no limits. The repertoire included a swinging

12 Apostles version of the Pepsi jingle—

Christianity Hits The Spot—and the wonderful

On A Hill Far Away Stood An Old Chevrolet.


At a reunion in the 80s he arrived wearing

a clerical collar. By 2015 his list of religious

publications from the Episcopal Book Store

took 30 seconds to print out. We decided

at our 50th that God isn’t particular about

who he gives talent to or what talent he gives. 



Arthur Murray's Boite de Nuit


Until our 40th reunion thoughts

of Dorothy were centred in 1957

Dubuque and our Arthur Murray

dance class. Dorothy with no tits,

black frame glasses, brown tie oxfords.

Plainness hiding a beauty that flowered

three years later like the last tulip

in an Iowa spring. The class we


all hated gave me weekly closeness

to love as impossible as the

offer of free drinks tomorrow in

a world where tomorrow never comes.

There we were

sweating in a cramped studio on

Bluff street, the box of the night

our parents delivered us to like


prisoners of dictators to

learn the basic box step, the key

to unlocking the cool foxtrot

in 4/4 time. A lesson repeated

endlessly to I'm Available,

Margie Rayburn's only hit.

Partners changed and there was

my secret love, Dorothy, followed


by her hyperventilation cured by a

paper bag kept ready by Lucille our

sexless instructor. At our reunion

Dorothy laughed as we remembered

the past. I had thought of her often

when I watched my groceries go

into a paper bag. My steps would

slow in the parking lot and in silence


I would do a box step—

think of the girl that got away.



Dinner At Danny’s


Truth be known, she did not

want it to happen,

If you feel that way don’t come home.


A shouted warning after a morning

fight over a toothbrush before he left

slamming the door behind him—an act


dulling thoughts of last night at Danny’s:

white table cloths, heavy menus, wine,

baskets of napkin swaddled bread.


At the office they found him slumped

over his coffee cup dead at 35.

They were married, then he was dead--


forever gone, no morning kiss,

no make up sex, no way to say,

I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. I love you.

Robert Halleck has written three collections of poetry: IT'S NEVER TOO LATE, OTHER PLACES OTHER TIMES and CABBAGES AND KINGS. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His recent poems have appeared in Big City Lit Magazine and New Verse News.



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