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The Blue Devil: poems

Book Blurb: 

Lean but brawny, reminiscent but edgy, these poems recall boyhood, fatherhood, and manhood. With tones of regret, dark humor, and poignant beauty, Henderson’s contemporary verse appeals to poets and non-poets alike.

Three Sample Poems



take one box of crayons & eliminate all but

the principal colors—not pine, sea, or olive

green—just green & collapse the z axis so

everything is flat tweezed between an ordinate

& abscissa then draw lines w/out a ruler plus

no compass curves till all things are made of fat

licorice absorb the essence of life like an egg

into a chicken no not a real one but pancake

thin from the side so put it on a felt board w/

black tacks & stare at it from three no five feet

back keep on the fix till the oil on your irises

burps & you're in the square w/ your homemade

toons & it creeps you out that one of them

is you—child crude cute & nude of all trappings

like Adam? yeah, like Adam. cool.

back into boy

mostly i remember my 60s

wallpaper—goblin goonies

driving hotrods, some connection

to cartoon characters in a Mad

magazine & by my bed my first

drum on a stand.  lollygagging

i could lie on my back & feel

only my t-shirt—put my head inside

a radio & then completely switch

to neighborhood noise.

beyond my open window

lawn mowers vvvrrrooooooming

white-tailed jets rumbling

neighbor kids screaming joy—

wires swagging to rooftops

power poles humming

crop-dust air luffing

like a queasy stomach

or like waves in the coil

of a Santa Cruz shell

& during this loafing

i replayed no history

of who i was—

could snap in & out of fantasy

as easily as i would later

click into fret

about all i had not done yet

my son, Silas, playing piano

this night i sit across

the room from him

as he coaxes keys

enamored of them. 

5 years, since i sat

like this—taking the time

to listen.

how does he know

how to choose

the notes? 

how does he know

how to blend

the pitches?

i'm the one

w/ the stories

of bars & bands

of nights & drums

that i beat

to death.


yet it is his music

that puts an arm-wing

over me.

tonight i want

to be his fan

to approach him

shyly, place my hand

on his shoulder

but i am stuck—

stuck, again,

afraid to love fully

those i fear to lose.


oh, these sounds tonight, oh

he makes them so effortlessly

lifting notes like the moon

rolls waves.  sideways ripples

that swirl & spin

& suspend wet sand—

then retreat to curl

toward another run—

wet beach, the rest,

the glistening end

of a measure— 

oh, of a measure, oh


& for me the cleansing

of so many mistakes.

he played to endure

his mother's cancer,

played thru recovery

& my cowardly drinking,

he serenaded her

when she moved away,

he played for himself

when he lived w/ me,

& on one thing, oh,

he & i agree:  this instrument

saved him

from all the bad choices

i passed along

to my only son

in silence