jack loscutoff
sage in bloom

Published Poems


This horse I ride is slowing down,
forgets the way to barn from town;
once could gallop, now just trots
lame and winded; needs more shots,

needs more potions, needs more pills
to treat his geriatric ills;
always grazing, chewing hay,
awake by night, a-snore by day;

long of tooth but short of sense,
tries to jump, flattens fence;
don't feel his oats, ain't worth his fodder,
can't pull his weight, can't hold his water;

no more fire in the blood,
too fat and tired even for stud.
So why not turn him into
dog food, bone meal, leather, glue?

I've thought of it, but---on the level?---
I'm too attached to the old devil.


Oh Youth, Oh Beauty, Too Soon Past
How a Good Italian Roman Catholic Girl
Achieved Retroactive Pagan Immortality
Oh youth, oh beauty, too soon past,
When young I thought you'd always last.
You did, except not in
The way I would have pictured then.

For then was when a wonder
Strode into my life, her age fourteen,
The face of Venus and the bearing of a queen.
Crowning the vault of thoughtless brain,
A light brown, soft and flowing mane.

Pulled back above a neck of cream;
Small ears, round breasts; a young man's dream.
Undressing and caressing her was sweet.
She looked, felt, smelled and tasted
Good enough to eat.

Still, all I was allowed to taste
Were just those treats above the waist.
One whole year of mere hors d'oeuvres
Left me unsatisfied.
"I want the entree and dessert!" I cried.

Vowing she'd get just one more chance,
I took her to the senior dance.
We necked in my dad's car post prom;
No more, just necked, erect, till dawn.

True to my own self-promise, then,
I never called on her again.

But underground in dead Pompeii,
Behold her siren smile today
From silent bathhouse wall and know
What mermaid hooked me long ago,

Preserved in chips of colored glass,
Who might as well have had no ass;
For art's the only way you last,
Oh youth, oh beauty, too soon past.

Grading English Composition Essays

For just a hint of thought,
for just a glint of gold,
you’ve got to muck
through reams of ruck
for just a glint of gold.

While stumbling over nons
in search of sequiturs,
you’re suddenly brought
up short by thought,
but is it this writer’s?

For one idea original,
shining bright and bold,
you’ve got to tramp
through a dismal swamp
for just a glint of gold.

-Lyrical Iowa


Slumped in the driver's seat,
I open the school bus door
onto the noisy sidewalk.
A sunlit immortal, golden
in pride of tank top and
luster of boxer shorts,
winged victory on his feet,
ambles along with the herd.
Peering into the cave
of age, he smirks, "Hi
there, Grandpa." May he
avoid the alternative
long enough to sit here.


"On 12 August 2000, the [nuclear-powered] Russian .  .  .  
submarine  Kursk sank in the Barents sea  .  .  .  
[with the loss of all hands]." Wikipedia.

Dear Mama, In dark
I pretend write to you.
Maybe you saw on TV
President on ship
saying we guard against
foes of Mother Russia.
Pulling on striped
shirt mussed hair.

But TV won't show
ship on side, dripping
sound, me shivering
on wires and pipes
above bunk, sour air
burning throat, someone
saying, "Beast we rode
has eaten us."  Love,

-Lyrical Iowa

         The Last Time

When was the last time
that I held your hand?
It hurt too much.
You couldn't stand
my touch.

When was the last time
that I kissed you,
and you kissed me too?
A day, a week, a month
or two ago?

When was the last time
that I saw your smile,
that bathed me in
a healing grace

and beautified
your haggard face?
It let me know
that in your brain,

that seat of pain,
a thought of me
could still abide.
Don't hide

or leave me
looking down
the empty road
where you have gone.

I would go too,
catch up with you.
But if I do,
will it be you

I find or just the pain?
Perhaps we'd gain
by going back
along that bumpy track

to our first day; although
"Nothing gold can stay."*
And I should take
the bitter with the sweet,

be tough; but I cannot repeat
and stand to see your pain
again. No, thanks.
One last time, one tour

in hell per lifetime
is enough.

*According to a poem by Robert Frost


      Time Tunnel

In slant midwinter sun
starlings on chimney bask in
breath of summer
stored in fossil fern forest.

Did lizard-like ancestor
escape ambush by flapping
up from leaf-littered ground
to perch on lacy green
unrolling stem?

Danger now lies in lure of
ancient heat; seeking Eden
in descent; finding instead,
in deep darkness, death.

-Lyrical Iowa.


O lotus, daughter of the Sun,
with feet in the mud
you dance on slender legs
above blue water.
Between floppy green parasols
you bend your ivory head;
bend and recover, gaze fixed on heaven.
You were a bullet of green;
you are a cup of sunlight, holding
golden stamens loved by bees;
you shall be a dry, brown seed pod,
silent trumpet of immortality,
proclaiming the triumph of life over death
so long as sunlight visits shallow water.

          ---- The Midwest Quarterly

"O Youth, O Beauty, Too Soon Past,"
a poem, awarded second prize in a contest at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, 2008.
Photo Credit David Loyd