Under The Poe Tree
An Online Chapbook
Poe Tree - Volume One
Jeff Archer Black
And Away We Go...
Time to start collecting some
pieces of poe tree.
See if I can scare up
some words from the
Hit the shit outta
Let Me Outta Here
Look at it out there.
Another hour and
a half to wait.
And to think,
I had to take a
mean shit starting
about 3 hours
Pretty Fuckin' Creepy
I get an email from a new acquaintence
at ten after six this morning.
He seemed to be making fun of me
for some reason or the other.
Beats the shit out of me what
he's talking about.
But then, I follow a link that
he included in the note.
It took me to my own website.
And, to a post on my web journal
which contained horrific misspellings,
an admission of being inspired by
this particular acquaintence and
other mindless ramblings.
It scared the living crap out
I thought my site had been hacked.
Someone got into my site and was
typing things just to fuck with me.
This was not the case.
I had not been hacked.
Come to find out that it
was indeed me typing that.
Obviously lost in a fog of
alcohol and muscle relaxers
sometime before passing
out the night before.
That's pretty fuckin' creepy.
Here I sit again in my dark corner.
All of the fluorescent light tubes
have died now, and, I like it.
Rather peaceful amidst all the
chaos that is my full-time gig.
It's darker in this corner than
usual this morning being there ain't
a speck of sunlight coming through
Another cloudy and nasty one
One of those times where I'd
rather be inside.
Come on sky,
shit or get off the pot.
Listening to Al Stewart.
An official bootleg of him
performing Class Of '58.
Did all the things on my
to do list for the night.
I'm actually satisfied
with an evenings doings.
I like that.
I go to sleep with a sense
A sense of,
I'l get to it tomorrow night.
A sense of,
oh hell, I'm worthless.
A sense of,
I hope I don't wake up.
tonight is different.
And Al singing about:
"It's a hard hard hard
lesson to learn..."
And I think, yep.
Sho nuf Al.
Nice to think I've
shaken that man's hand.
It all comes around one
way or the other.
I I I I I'm not yer
There certainly was a
point of this. Right?
But, I'm so awash of
feeling completed in this
evening that I just don't
care where I started.
Only thing that matters
is that I ended up
right here where I'd hoped
to end up.
Even though that wasn't
A Honk In The Dark Sky
I'm lucky to live in a very busy corridor
for migration flight of Canadian Geese
and Sandhill Cranes.
I'm also perpetually entertained by
seeing them flying over my home.
Most especially, at night.
I'll be out on the patio having
and I'll hear 'em coming.
An invisible wall of honk in the
Most times, they pass overhead
or not far off and the only sight
of them is by sound.
But other times,
and these are the good ones,
I actually catch sight of them.
Their silouette juxtaposed against
the starry sky in almost always a
perfect V flight pattern.
I love that.
Of all the geese,
they're the smartest.
They know that to get from
point A to point B usually goes
much quicker on off peak hours.
Yep, sitting here at home with a screwdriver
diggin' on Quadrophenia by The Who.
Side one on a shitty re-release on MCA
instead of the original Tracks label release.
I wrote elsewhere this morning about
hearing The Real Me in my car before
work and how The Ox's bass playing on
that song was completely astounding
To hear it, even on a shitty re-release,
on a good stereo setup was all that
much more mind blowing.
John Entwistle was truely one of the
best bassists in rock history.
I suddenly realize after typing that
that I misspelled his name earlier.
If you've not listened to Quadrophenia
in a long time, or maybe not at all,
go get yourself a copy, now.
Who knows, you may yourself have
split personality, four-fold.
I, myself, only have two and a half.
As I listen to this,
paying real close attention to all
the bass lines,
and the not-so-preferable vinyl
cut, I find that there's all kinds
of fine hidden mysteries on this
one. i.e., the french horns are all
And as I go to put on side two,
I see the other mystery fact...
It's not only a bad re-release,
it's made even worse by the fact
that it has CRC printed on the
Know what that means?
Columbia Record Club.
Vinyl freaks like myself avoid that
like avoiding fucking a skanky-ass
hooker without a rubber.
I breathe a sign of relief because
at my regular vinyl store Saturday
afternoon hangout last week,
I not only found an original
Tracks label copy,
it also contains the booklet
that orignially came with the
It awaits my buying.
Shit, I'm gonna shut this crappy
sounding fucker here off, right now.
I have plenty of patience to wait
til the next trip out so I can
hear what this thing is supposed
to sound like.
Granted I have an extra tenner
in my pocket.
this is more like it.
Just over 60 degrees
Barely a cloud
in the sky.
The first day of the
year where sitting
on the patio with
a cup of coffee,
a writing book,
pack of smokes,
cat at the screen-
door is possible.
Spring has sprung
and I'm flung
into a joy that's
been buried under
two feet of snow for
four long hard cold
Swimming in the
On The Hill
It'd been a long time since we'd visited the hill.
Way high up, oak savannah between,
then, nothing but lake.
The Sun was mostly out and the wind had
turned itself up a few notches, making
it difficult to read or write.
But it felt good, good for the being of the
being, for the skin and lungs and most
of all - mind.
The brim of my brown leather hat had
surfed in the wind as I held down the
pages of the book in my lap.
The resident pheasant spoke up.
A cop came and went, slowly.
The cans of beer went down smoothly.
The reconnection to what matters most
clicked as we spun around the Sun on
a Sunday afternoon.
Washing all the garbage away.
Filling the irrigation canals.
More than filling them.
Overflowing them in all
Rivers over their banks.
Low lying areas now small lakes.
Cats learn to swim real quick.
Birds just give up trying to hide
from the water and take
to the dark sky.
Wet socks via too short soles.
A hat, bargelike, creeps along
the side of the road.
Green things though smile
I can only maneuver by hand
since I sold the paddle at
the pawn shop years ago.
Duck Duck Shotgun
Heard a news story on the radio this morning.
It was about a gas station in one of the
Carolinas that messed up while changing the
gas price signs and instead of putting up
$3.35, they put up $.35.
Yes, thirty five cents a gallon.
Now, how they didn't catch this until
late afternoon beats the shit out of me.
Especially since they had unprecedented
business that day.
(I'll skip the "South" joke here)
Now, it's not so much that someone
It's also the fact that not a single
customer that day bothered to tell
anyone at the gas station that they
were selling gas for .35 a gallon.
Instead, word spread like wildfire.
People went out of their way to
get that gas for that price, surely
knowing goddamn good and well
that it was a fuckup by the gas
What does that tell you about
They're thieves by nature.
They're liars by default.
They're scavengers of half dead
They're pure shit under a cross
wrapped in a fucking flag.
Humankind most days makes me
want to puke.
And you say, come on now man,
you can't tell me you'd not go to
that station and get a tankful?
But at the same time, I sure as
shit wouldn't be the one to go
tell the gas station managers that
they're giving gasoline away for
thirty five cents a gallon either.
You wouldn't make it out of the
parking lot alive because the ratbags
stealing the gas would lynch you
Now, think about this too...
If humans in the Carolinas are
willing to take advantage of someones
mistake to such an extreme,
without the slightest twinge of
imagine what this shithole is
going to look like when peak oil
is surpassed and people start
to get real desperate.
You'd better start thinking up
a way to lock the gas cap on
your car, right now.
Because that kind of desperation is just
one more false flag event away.
That's Just Cold Shit
Where I get pay from,
from time to time,
individuals and/or companies
ask for donations for one
reason or the other.
Benefits for friends who've
died, sick children,
things like that.
Usually, the company
donates to the cause.
a couple weeks ago,
a regular customer came in
with a couple pages of well
printed pamphlets discussing
a benefit for one of his friends
who had been killed in a car
accident and wished the
company would donate
something small for him
to auction off to help out
the deceased's family.
I asked about it to the
decider of such things
later on that week.
I was told that the
person who dropped off
the pamphlets did not do
it right and he didn't ask
for anything in particular.
The answer, with no other
explanation was, "No."
The regular customer called
today asking about it.
I had to be the one to tell
him that the answer was,
Naturally, the regular got
Started making threats.
The usual: I'll never buy
your product again and
I'm going to tell everyone
I know, and I know about
150 people, that you're
company won't help out
a guy's children.
Stuff like that.
What was I to say?
Tell him the truth?
the decider is just flat
out cold fuckin' hearted?
No. Can't do that.
Told him that I had
nothing to do with the
He slammed the phone
down in my ear.
Man, that's some
All because someone
didn't type up the request
to the standards of the
If there was such a thing
That's Just Cold Shit - Part 2
I went home that night and had
the whole thing weighing on me.
The usual shit.
What I should've said on the phone,
instead of what I did.
Which was make excuses for
Over and over.
So, about 9 pm,
after a few drinks,
I remembered what I had
put in my pocket before
leaving the gig that day.
The dude's phone number.
I had a conscience to clear.
So I called.
But I left a message.
Summing it up, I told him
that I thought it was cold
shit that he was turned
down and that I had
nothing at all to do with
Also that I was made to
say shit like I did to him on
the phone and more or less
forced into becoming a
cold-hearted fucker like
I apologized and told him what
I thought he should do in order
to get the donation to go through.
Also told him to not let anyone
know that I had called him
"I really need my shitty job."
About 3:30 pm the next day,
he shows up with the proper
I took it to another decider.
Explained the situation.
And, against the odds,
the dude got him a real
fine product to raffle off in
order to help out his
He was happy.
I was happy.
And, due to my effort,
the dude won't go tell 150
of his friends that the company
doesn't give a shit about anyone.
Regardless of the fact that
in the end, it's the truth.
The Shrinking Circle
an ancient symbol
utilized by many different
cultures and mindsets.
The snake eating it's
In the name of Alchemy,
it is considered a positive
thing, as with most other
But to me,
it's something altogether
it symbolizes my own mind.
Not the brain,
but the mind.
How it works.
My immediate and conscious
thought process is the mouth
of the serpent.
Always open and chewing.
Where this process goes wrong
is in what it is consuming.
It seems to be constantly
gorging, creating it's
own nutrition by it's
without the aid of a pad
of paper or a recording
device of some sort,
immediately available to
capture every thought as
simultaneously as it's
own creation, it's all
lost unto itself.
Instead of shitting out
some of the great ideas
into golden turds,
it consumes itself and
creates a reverse
A self polluting system.
Constantly shrinking circle.
Creating it's own brick wall
in front of itself as it eats
the one it just made.
It would be nice to think
of the circle as infinite.
But, I don't think it is.
Eventually, there will be
nothing nutritional left to
Eventually, due to it's own
short circuited setup,
it's bound to simply cease
to function at all.
Like a clock which eats a
bit of it's own arms on
It's bound to wipe out
at it's own center,
out of control,
without shit to show
I tell ya,
only so much
sinking shit can
one solitary soul
Ya gotta come
up for a
time to time.
Screw the self-polluted
ocean of overboard
Sky toss me that
sixty some odd
a southern breeze
blowin' the long
Just when you
think you've used
up the last molecule
of oxygen in your
a blue sky fine comes
around and reaches
it's sweet smelling
hand down in to
pull you up and out.
Oh hell yeah.
I'm a swinger.
One day all is
the whole world
is falling down
What the shit?
I 'spose they got
some medicine for
this crap eh?
Sometimes I think,
I was born in
The real McCoy.
& forth once I'm
all wound up.
every half hour
as my bird brain
pops out between
I'm A Friend Of Bill E.
I dreamed last night that I was hangin' out with Bill Evans.
The amazing piano playing Bill Evans.
He just appeared.
He took to my small circle of friends and was quite
friendly although I was the only one who knew
exactly who he was.
I could tell he was bothered by something.
Seemed to be for the fact that he'd been gone
out of the public eye for so long.
What I cannot figure out though is if the
dream had me going back into the past,
prior to him dying in 1980,
or if he had come back alive in 2008.
I do recall him looking like he did in 1975.
Longer hair, beard, tinted large framed glasses.
And he was overall, very cool to us.
He took to one of my female friends and
the two of them would go off together.
Don't know where they went.
I do know that when they came back
each time that he was all smiles.
So Bill and I would sit at this little cafe,
early in the morning, late at night,
and we'd talk about playing piano,
touring, alcohol, heroin & cocaine.
He admitted to everything and seemed
to know that all of them would be
his demise not too far in the future.
I do know that I felt very comfortable
That probably had to do with the fact that
I'd spent so much of my time listening to his
recordings over the last ten years, it was
as if I already knew him just by the movements
of his hands.
I was surprised that he seemed to be so relaxed
and comfortable around me.
I remember taking significant time just looking
down at his hands on the table, the left one
with a never ending cigarette burning away
between fingers as he talked and talked just
loud enough for me to hear him over the
din of diners.
He told me all kinds of things I didn't know
about him, such as the fact that his father
was an alky, surely, he said, where all his
craving for chemical detatchment came from.
That his mother was a pianist and that he
started training at six years old and by
thirteen could play piano, flute and violin
He talked of one of his violin teacher's
frustration with him being he was left-handed
and the teacher had never taught a
He spoke well of Miles, Tony Bennett
and Eliot Zigmund
and that he still hadn't fully recovered mentally
from the death of Scott LaFaro.
He said he wanted to kill Frank Ottley for falling
asleep and killing himself and Scott.
Then, he took that one back.
"No, I didn't want to kill him. Kinda hard to kill
someone who's already dead, right? I just wish
I had been driving instead. I'd probably still be
playing with Scott. He was the best bassist
I've ever worked with. Just too fuckin' young
to die, man. Too fuckin' young."
Then out of the blue, he'd lay a couple of
the most raunchy, dirty jokes I'd ever
heard on me.
He'd get to laughing so hard that heads
would turn, then he'd go into a
I was afraid someone else would recognize
him and take his attention away from
our time together.
He's my friend and you
can't have 'im.
Then came a day, not too far away, it was sunrise
and Bill was in front of my female
friends apartment building, alone, with a small
fire burning in front of him in the grass.
I grabbed a handful of twigs and small branches
and took them across the street to him and
began to break them all into smaller pieces
over my knee.
He looked up at me and seemed grateful,
I asked him, "How long you been here, Bill?"
"All night I guess. You know. I can't sleep right."
He kept looking back at the apartment building
behind him and finally asked, "Have you seen her?"
"No, I haven't. It's been awhile."
Bill said, "You know I'm going to be leaving, right?"
How? I don't know. I just did.
I could tell that he was trying with all his might
to hold back any sign of emotion.
He had to play the impenetrable one.
Still, he looked up at me appearing much older
than when he'd first shown up.
And with that Jersey twist of speech he said,
"Hey, I wanna thank you for taking the time
to show me a good time here lately. I really
I just smiled.
He smiled back, looking up at me.
It's a shame the record companies always chose
the pictures for his album covers with him looking
so goddamn serious all the time.
He had a great smile.
The Perpetually Annoyed One
That'd be me.
Most especially every thought.
Hair-trigger shitty attitude.
Annoyed at the fact that
I can't just not be annoyed.
Annoyed that other drivers
don't take driving as a serious
activity which takes concentration
Annoyed because I have to spend
50 hours a week dealing with a job
that I'm constantly annoyed by.
And of course that leads right back
Even the ones I love.
And that sucks.
Perhaps if I wasn't the core,
of my own annoyance,
I'd be less annoyed by the
little things going on around
me that distract me from what
ever nonsensical thought
is taking up my monotrack
top of mind thoughtprocess.
click clickity click click
Under The Poe Tree
Under the Poe Tree sits a 40 year old
The damn thing should've grown up
according to the laws of physics.
it got about six feet high and then
kinda started to twist itself back
down into itself and has been on a
bender loop-de-loop ever since.
All the leaves white and green that
would've normally sprouted out of
it started to grow, but, ended up
turning brown and falling down to
the ground below.
The ones that did stick more or
less have themselves kinda stuck
in the nooks and crannies of the
trunk of the twisted stump.
The strongest of winds cannot
get them to shake loose in order
to possibly be picked up by the
big trees for further broadcasting.
Luckily, there's one bird, who for
some reason has found a home in
the twisted stump's bends.
That alone makes the stump
happy enough so it doesn't just
wrap itself tightly around it's
base and choke itself out of
Of course, the bird has three
wings, so apparently, they
fit well together.
Overall, the stump isn't
completely unhappy in it's
current state of twistedness.
It does love what sunlight gets
through the wide leaves of the
Poe Tree above it.
It does appreciate the friendly
squirrels that come long distances
occasionally to hang out.
And the rain.
And the neighborhood cat that
seems to enjoy the challenge of
scaling it's far less than normal
Sometimes the twisted stump
wishes that the Poe Tree would just
die and go away.
But, ultimately, it knows that it only
exists because it is a parasite,
sucking it's life out of the big
proud Poe Tree above it.
A big northern wind comes.
The wind makes it's way through
the looping, twisting, mesmerizing
shapes of the stump and comes
out on the other end, sounding
just like the fart of one of those
chimp-like creatures that swings
from Poe Tree to Poe Tree up the lot.
The Brown Temp
As usual, around ten til three in the afternoon,
I take a ten minute smoke break.
Nine out of ten times, this happens at the
same time that the U.P.S. driver
comes to pick up the last run of the day.
It's usually the same guy.
Tall, thin, young appearance but for
the gray at his temples.
He always seems to be listening to
either talk radio,
probably because those big brown
trucks only have an AM radio.
Or, he listens to sports.
Today was different.
I walk out the front door, headed
for my car to listen to my own radio,
and as I approached that huge brown
truck, I heard something I could
not figure out at first.
It was music.
Not only music,
it was Guns N Roses.
With your bitch slap rappin'
and your cocaine's gone
you get nuh-thin done. . .
It was emanating from a HUGE
jam box that was bungee corded
to the base of the drivers seat facing
the open passenger side door.
I never did see the driver.
Could it be the usual driver just
got a bright idea finally?
Or was it a temp that absolutely
refused to listen to the right-wing
spatterpap of Rush Limbaugh?
I'm guessing the latter.
The Grass Is Always Greener When
It Bursts Up Through Concrete*
Saw a real cool picture the other day driving to work.
On the main dual two lane state road into the city,
an orange Department Of Transportation truck was
stopped on the inside shoulder of the road in the
opposite direction I was driving.
Normally, you'll see a worker or two with shovels
filling in cracks and potholes with some sort of
Not this time.
Instead, I saw a single worker, blaze orange
vest and like-colored hard hat, bending down
toward something on the shoulder.
On my quick, closer inspection of this somewhat
unusual sight, I saw that she was kneeling down
with her cellphone in camera mode, taking a
picture of what appeared to be a huge,
Oxeye Daisy, standing proud, all alone, having
burst out of the shoulder pavement.
Too bad I was going 60 miles per hour.
And that I didn't have my own camera
to take a picture of her taking that picture.
But, sometimes, word photos have to suffice.
*Title used without permission by Andy Partridge of XTC
These poems were written directly to the web between March 28th &
July 24th, 2008 and are in the chronological order in which they were
created. This collection is the first volume of an experiment called,
Under The Poe Tree ©2008 Jeff Archer Black
Although it has been altered, the background image is from
photographer Ian Britton and is licensed from
The following are the comments that were posted during
the creation of the pieces on the original weblog:
On: A Honk In The Dark Sky
April 1, 2008 Jessica - I've always liked how your poems come to a close.
An idea wrapped up at the end that makes me want to go back to the beginning and
tie it together again.
jab - Wow, my first Poe Tree comment. Thanks! That really means a lot to
me. I lift my screwdriver (the drink) to you!
On: Finely Ripped
Jessica - I was just having that "I hope I don't wake up" sense this
afternoon. I am satisfied with the knowledge that I am not the only one.
Jeff - Snot in the least. . .
On: Dark Corner
Jessica - No kidding, the days when the boss forgot to turn on all the
lights were always my favorite. It made sitting at my desk less painful. When
the full light from the humming tubes of death were finally released, I did a
halfasspisspoor job on my work out of spite.
April 8th, 2008 Jessica - I love this, because I can actually see you
both with the Buzz chillin' at the door.
April 9th, 2008 jennyo - I slept in while Jeff woke up early and read.
Jeff had 2 books to himself and was by himself on the patio. I had went into
town to the pharmacy and gas station when he was on the patio, but I tried to
enjoy the weather too before I had to go to work. I will be off work for awhile,
so next weekend I can be with Jeff the whole time!
On: Duck Duck Shotgun
April 14th, 2008 DOOber - Before long, gas stations will have armed
guards watching for thievery. Drive offs are already a HUGE problem, even my
little metropolis, with 3 gas stations is suffering... Funny thing is, when you
look at the demographics of those stealing all the gas... It's not Podunk Paul
living in the trailer park awaiting the next tornado. Nope, it's the damned
indians! They're stealing gas to put in their hummers and monster trucks. AND,
those effers get GIANT percap checks from the casinos! Now that is fucked up!
The only fuckers in town who can legitimately afford the gas and they steal it.
jab - Sad but true. Yep.
April 19th, 2008 Jessica - One of my favorite observation poems so far.
An event wrapped in pure implication. Truth telling has never been so cost
effective. I can't say that I wouldn't fill up on the sly for any specific
ethical reason, but I can say, "No fuck, would I waste a wonderful day waiting
in a line as long as the Nile to save a few bucks on gasoline!"
May 14, 2008 jab - Me either Jess.
On: Under The Poe Tree
July 1st, 2008 Jessica - Oh, shit (the monkey kind of course). I was
floating along, thinking of the little stump, the 3 winged bird and how it
reminded me of how Jenny loves your branches. Such sweetness... and then FART.
Even better. there's just something about that word that makes me so happy.
Jessica - Oh, and can Beetle and I be the squirrels?
jab - Yeah, guess I needed a touch/breeze of comic relief from my own
weight. Um, you are the Squirrels I was refering to precisely.
Jessica - Yeah, that's right . We are awesome squirrels!!!
jab - Yes we are. Completely nuts. And well on our way to being content
On: The Grass Is Always Greener When It Bursts Up Through Concrete
July 30th, 2008 Jenny - That was a beautiful image. I love you more and
more each day. I’ll try to visit you under the Poe Tree more often—it’s a nice
place to be.