Artwork: Laura Rodriguez, painter and graphic designer 

Poems by Patrick Haas


my dad loved soul music so much
we played ray charles
at his funeral, the four tops,
gladys knight and the pips,
sam cooke, otis redding, aretha
bringing him home, calling him
into the sky or saying goodbye.
it just hits, just for him,
a soul section
in the polish funeral home.
this aging white boy from detroit,
folded up like a flag
after the spiders of agent orange
ate through him
and left their crooked webs
in his cells, all kaput now, black
crooners booming from the speakers,
white folks crying, the war over,
explosions still ambushing
fields of bodies,
streams, fish, and families.
but the soul music, not that,
that never dies, not for us,
us faithful listeners who worship
a voice that erases time, you know
what i mean: a change is gonna come,
a voice that makes your cells wake up
all at once so it feels like you’re falling
and washing the air with your face
and the sun is just a stupid suicide
falling down on his own sword
because he heard a soul singer singing
and the song was for him, so alive
it made him feel like he could die—
the sun i mean, the meat of the light,
black grief from the black records
spinning a web of soul songs
right in the middle of our lives.
meaning never arrived
like we hoped it would,
there’s just the song going off,
each note wrapping you in its silk
like a piece of light saying i put a spell on you,
take me to the river, i got you green onions,
sh-boom sh-boom, can’t get enough of your love baby


So many animals die in poems
They must be the most dangerous
fields through which animals can wander
The deer are always goners
and so are bees and sparrows
Or goldfinches sparking from the bough
Their bones seem to be the jungle
jewelry of poems,
a fibula through the septum,
ribs shaved down and strung around
the poem’s neck, bare chested as it is
smelling of smoke and blood,
its mouth flavored with light,
a new head pulled over its face.
The fangs a poem exposes,
the words sharpening their teeth
on the emotionless glances of its victims,
a porcupine or the alligator,
strange elephants, wise as they are,
snarled between commas like sad circus losers,
its eyes white
as new golf balls in mud
or eggs in the stomach of a snake
or the moon above a closed highway,
the meeting place of wandering animals
coyotes & cardinals & foxes.
Two pills on my tongue
in my closed mouth, stars
I once watched.
A fly got stuck in a spider’s glistening house,
and listened to its buzzing
as the spider wrapped it up
until the buzzing was gone
as if vibrations moving through the web
is meant to be music that feeds you


When PATRICK HAAS is not working, he reads and writes poems in San Diego, CA.