1. the last beer is sometimes the worst, when midnight vultures swoop low overhead;

    there is no place left to go.

    the week’s fight has been fought, and you reach for something useful during the lull between rounds.

    tribes of fools roll westward on the boulevard, also reaching for something:

    the shit flows steadily through the swollen sewers beneath, and the world spins in slobber and ash, while you play and poke at a madness that is uninterested in games.

    strange shadows on the walls and the overwhelming immensity of everything are the only company at this hour.

    you struggle to make sense of matters absent of sense, sucking away at the bottle, straining to hear the delicate music of moonlight, as many more lives, more or less important than yours, also hang threadbare on worn nooses through the streets

    and living rooms everywhere…

    and outside, car tires screech, a horn honks, someone yells

    and a bored moth flutters into the murky blackness.

    words and photos by jay halsey

     
  2. This day is frozen;

    mother be damned.

    Mother is mad.

    It’s cold for May—it always was.

    So choked with routines of self-abuse:

    Boredom being The Only God.

    The instant coffee was always bitter.

    A cherry of a 6 a.m. smoke, like sunrise,

    always glowing

    red brilliance of a new day,

    then not:

    it was simply sustaining on the potential of old massacres

    sitting stale in bellies

    with tired teeth.

    Mom always loved potential.

    And the ice sits

    at the bottom of the glass

    waiting to melt.

    It never had a chance.

    words and photos by jay halsey

     
  3. HUNTING NOWHERE 

    the west hills squat behind cloudbank

    and grey temptation:

    they speak of gospel by not being seen.

    two-day hangover slips like nails through wood rot

    into three-day habit.

    and yellow daisies

    lean low to the road’s edge,

    less wild as they once grew before:

    their roots spread thin anguish.

     

    what we see as truth now

    is only how the winds slap our face;

    and they will shift for eternity

    on the immortal bones

    of cracked lands.

     

    it’s the small indecencies of life

    that can drive an otherwise

    content soul to destitution or madness,

    not loss of love

    or sickness

    or death.

    a numb mist spreads itself

    like a comfortable bath.

    the sun cowers.

     

    the veins of us clog

    out here

    upon highways of picked scabs.

    and where the grass does not grow

    the weeds prosper—

    it is the right

    and only way.

    yet we kill them off,

    deemed as nuisance.

     

    the rain ruins the dust,

    and the dust is mad.

    very mad.

    photos and words by Jay Halsey

     
  4. a summer evening after work.

    the sun a cruel god moving

    its torment through slow minutes

    and then slow hours.

    the beer is cold and beautiful

    like past loves.

    it fills something.

    thinking of ages and bending

    to self-created complications from a

    neglect of the soul,

    as the uselessness of the breeze

    beneath a wise tree is evident.

    the heat wins

    and losers lose.

    I lose at cool.

    it doesn’t matter.

    because I’ve pissed into front rains

    and bargained with dim stars.

    the heart’s mighty fist has broken

    the walls of stagnation.

    and I know when our teeth

    collide

    she is close enough.

    are you afraid of the heat?


    words and photos by jay halsey

     
  5. the spiders all live in my bathroom,

    and the hush strangles the air

    like an old inmate I never wanted.

    the sun spreads itself open

    with the itch of something

    that is crucial and wide,

    but the day-in, day-out

    is grinding and continuous.

    the smoke of the fire

    sits heavy and useless.

    a soul-sick dog is pushed

    into hot morning fade and dandelion.

    ripe, hard vine blankets the empty bottles,

    and the empty bottles shrug

    as wind-beat litter piles like monuments

    and proof of a beset existence.

    a rusty bowl of water

    is hardly enough to sustain.

     

     

    there is very little left

    to kill.

    the murder of the fruit tree has been

    with hands that look like mine.

    and yours.

     

    and somewhere in these

    small, familiar deaths

    there is a magic so wondrous,

    so bright,

    so perfect,

    that it must be

    true.

    which makes it all a bit better.

    and worse.

    much worse.

    words and photos by Jay Halsey 

     
  6. it begins with a knot in the gut.

    like pregnancy,

    or the need to excrete.

    the stars in the sky are drowning beneath

    fluorescent tides as we go about our rat routines.

    we are dying in and out of a life

    mired in small, never-ending futilities

    and sundry hoaxes,

    where we latch onto tragedy

    like suckling calves at the tit.

    we champion common men

    and common women

    to terrible levels of undeserved applause.

    and once they slip from the pedestals

    we erected for them,

    and because of them,

    we shoot them down.

    we finish them off.

    we hate them for being human.

    we hate them for being

    just

    like

    us.

    and we move on to the next round of fools.

    it’s a vicious cycle

    where the affairs of our creation

    become the instruments of our destruction.

    we are dying in and out of a life

    where nothing matters

    except how well we deliver

    what we have been taught.

    even if this entails

    more murder in the streets

    more disease

    more hunger

    more dumb

    more dumber

    more money for the ones who have too much

    more of nothing

    or anything at all that will make

    a real difference.

    we dance the rat dance,

    and the mosquitoes are full of us,

    yet we are not.

    words and photos by Jay Halsey

     

     
  7. the disease spreads.

    the old theories have fallen down

    upon themselves

    like toothpicks in flame.

     

    our sorrows become profits from fear,

    when they should wield swords

    or guns

    or at least great notes of triumph,

    but there’s already enough bloviating

    and not enough action or explanation.

     

    the institutions of forged innocence

    are completely free of charge;

    dripping as dog slobber

    in the heat of August.

    the masses exhale,

    and the smoke hangs long after

    the shot.

     

    high-paid heads swell

    while the ones with heart shrink.

     

    this is the way

    and hate is the utility.

     

    more beer

    more whiskey

    more strong coffee

    more good music

    more children free of suspicion 

    more conversation and bigger porches

    and sunlight beneath the black eye

     

    less perfection

    less dull

    less clean for the sake of clean

    less me

    less you

    less shoestring lives

    carefully and strategically

    tiptoeing into a

    lukewarm emptiness

     

    this should be the way.

     

    when we kill our gods

    idols

    and governments

    the world will beat harder and faster,

    warmer

    and brighter.

    a hard fever is

    the only option.

     

    this will be the best way.

     

    so arrive when you like,

    and please,

    do not 

    wipe your feet.

     


    words and photos by Jay Halsey

     
  8. THE SOFT SUN OF TOO LATE

     

    grass grows greener on sides of bland interest

    for the same reasons people live in mansions

    and follow popular radio.

    a heart flourishes on the tough, hard earth

    where squirrels copulate among thistle and stray cat corpse.

    old things cling to other old things;

    they go nowhere.

    and I see the same cars

    driving to the same places

    from my dark porch.

     

    —the view is fine from here—

     

    you could get drunk on cheap beer

    while listening to Waylon

    or Cash

    or Motorhead,

    and shit more soul

    than the average man

    in the average department store

    or theatre

    or restaurant.

    we only believe what we want

    to believe,

    and it has been wrong for ages;

    yet it blooms as hemlock

    and poisonous mushrooms.

    the humans look like

    cardboard.

     

    as machine becomes smarter

    the crowd becomes dumber.

     

    two wilted flowers

    lean against each other

    within the cracks of a

    six lane boulevard.

    and it is beautiful.

    it is the most beautiful thing

    you will ever see.

    the soft sun of too late.

     

    —the view is fine from here—


    photos and words by Jay Halsey

     
  9.  

    it’s good to sit here as another day is drained

    then the glass

    then myself

    choked dry with contemplations and routine abuses

    waiting for something, and roused by nothing

    wondering, what’s next?

    the fat male mosquito moves

    slow and spent

    across the patio

    it’s just him and me and the drooping sun

    the air is cooling, a puddle shrinks to dark resin, and day is leaving both of us

    he knows what’s next, and after that

    it will just be me

    sitting here

    words and photos by Jay Halsey

     
  10. "I’ve seen that things find their void when they search for direction." - Federico Garcia Lorca


    photos by Jay Halsey

     
  11. Raging water, raging water
    Won’t you wash my soul in Jesus
    Won’t you take away the demons that have gathered round my bed
    Burning fire, burning fire
    All I feel as they approach me
    Oh the gates of hell have opened I am now among the dead

    We are those bottom feeders
    Full of lies and a race of cheaters
    Oh, we’re men
    We are men
    Sweet Mother, we’re men

    Black suit stocking on my headboard and I see my demon rising
    We are grinding bone upon the bone and up around my head
    It walks in my true redeemer and she stares at me so coldly
    Yeah so the gates of hell have opened I am now among the dead

    Up in heaven learned my lesson you must work to find salvation
    But old Mother Mary smiles and she looks to me and says
    You may know him, you may love him, you may want to be among him
    But I tell you I’m no virgin there’s room within my bed

     
     
  12. i woke up today. the Earth was dry windblown and brittle. cars in parking lots reduced to dust-covered, monochromatic shapes.

    glaciers did not melt.

    evaporation was the new trend.

    creeks became thirsty.

    rivers no longer flowed.

    the great basins and reservoirs formed enormous scabs:

    land bridges for emaciated minds; congregations of narrow-eyed mosquitoes lapped at delicate coffees.

    robots of convention declared absolutely, “300 days of sunshine a year!” amidst a record-breaking drought.

    all vermin thrived with no place left to drown. and everything was the same as yesterday.


    words and photos by Jay Halsey

     
  13. needle eyes in the

    strange cracks of a slow

    yellow morning.

    i’m off to destroy

    everything tasteful and sane.

    last night delivered more flashes of

    easy bombs that never happened

    and never will.

    I think of you,

    the man of men and mothers,

    resting still and quiet

    in the seams of worms and fossils

    for a month now,

    knowing so much more

    than I do

    and even more than

    you did before.

    curb litter fades 

    beneath a carbon sun,

    and the slow drip

    of the bathroom sink

    keeps time.

    the cottonwoods weep

    the creeks weep

    the stray cats weep,

    as do the crows

    and mountains,

    and finally everything

    weeps.

    I don’t. 

     

    words and photos by Jay Halsey

     
  14. off moments settle

    like feathers in the pale dusk.

    the quiet, forsaken ones whisper

    secrets of lingering discontent.

    too often taken for granted,

    these shallow pauses are more immense

    than the mightiest coyote’s thirst.

    she stops to revel

    at a shrinking rain puddle

    in a deserted west Texas parking lot.

    a loitering mosquito swells,

    and the house wins again.

    words and photos by Jay Halsey

     
  15. sitting here, meek, without expectation, or scorn. or anything.

    just sitting here, tuning into distant thunder rolling across the distant mountains, as dead leaves like callus on gauze scratch across the open blacktop. as cockroaches float down the tire-splashed gutters carrying forever.

    i am reminded of nothing, and am moved by nothing,

    but feel as though i should be.

    sitting here, and for one sharp breath, like a flash of lightning in the black root of things,

    the untiring traffic breaks just long enough to realize that malice also needs pause,

    to allow for a swift clutch at the beauty all around us,

    all of the time.

    and now i feel  much better, and,  

    much worse.

    words and photos by Jay Halsey