"the american way," "friday night in the drunk tank," and "night in his eyes"

the american way

“Eastward & westward storms are breaking—great, ugly whirlwinds of hatred and blood and cruelty.” – W.E.B. Du Bois

after another night
of stumbling done-in
down metropolis streets
too fucked-up to fly
superman lies, eyes closed
still under the influence
naked in the space
between night & day
conjuring pathetic
x-ray visions
of a spent
comic book hero
too tired
to walk through walls
or leap tall buildings
with a single bound
too strung out
to keep it all
from falling down
dead certain
that truth, justice
& the “American Way”
are no longer worth
the never-ending battle
for the sixth time tonight
the frustrated
man of steel
grabs the loaded revolver
from the bedside table
puts it to his head
& pulls the trigger



friday night in the drunk tank

floating over drunk tank hum
a voice
at the back of the holding cell
demands a phone call
warm blood
begins to move
back into my numb hands
from cuffs—too tight
tiny shards of glass
from a beer-bottle bar fight
embedded in my
blood-matted hair
crystal ringing
in my brain
like a beautiful
girl’s name
left eye swollen shut
thirteen dollars
stashed in the soles
of my old dingos
not enough for bail
another friday night
in the city jail
for trying to make something
out of the emptiness
that crawls along
this boulevard
of half-remembered things



night in his eyes

“Every day twenty military veterans take their own lives.”

more than five years
back from iraq
shadowed in the light
of a 40-watt bulb
past the point
where hope breaks
he blows out his brains
as easy as a candle & drops
like an unstrung puppet
onto the basement floor
no one
not his mother
not his father
not his friends
had noticed the night in his eyes
here is the broken body growing stiff
in the damp, soulless cold
here is the solitary light moving across the sky
from one dark space to another
here is the traveler confused by the journey
no way to get home
here is america's statistical soldier
here is the stilled heart
that could not be filled
& here we are—left to guess
about a split-second in time
only he could see
i choose to imagine a cloud of beautiful colors
rising in the darkness—
orange fading to sapphire-blue
painting the heavens an impossible hue—
a burning red point
moving over a sharp silver line
that cuts between meaningless human noise
and perfect solitude
that place of rest
he has been seeking
there—by the morning star



DB Cox

DB Cox is a Marine Corps veteran and blues musician/writer from South Carolina. His poems have been published extensively in the small press, in the US and abroad. He has published five books of poetry: Passing For Blue, Lowdown, Ordinary Sorrows, Night Watch, and Empty Frames. DB recommends the Best Friends Animal Society.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Wednesday, August 26, 2020 - 22:24