Night Dance
James J. Roberts

How will your night dance end?
In heaps of Journals?
In leaps and spirals of unknowns?
In Travels of the Mind?
In truths as sharp as shards?
Some - useless?
Some - unkind?
Some - ego's errors
Or, worse,
ego's lies?

How will your night dance end?
Will you frown one day
and drop your crystal smile
somewhere in the sheets? a comet
with such a void of space to cross
that it flakes all off
until wholly lost
on the way
to where
it's going?

How will your night dance end?
In the joy and peace of Love and Life
or in a cold amnesia of the soul
where stars and space
collide with facts and lies
and blend them into one
where Life,
like a snowflake on skin,
melts before you comprehend
the meaning of its essence;
Curse...or lesson?
    or blessing?

How will your night dance end,
my Dear and trusted Friend?
In the tender arms of meaning
or a chilly house of cards
made only out of facts?
A house that lacks the reason
for all the facts first being?
Without which, of course,
all facts are
out of season?

How will your night dance end?
How will your night dance end?


Cold Brain Stew
James J. Roberts

What sop-brained stew
and neuron soup
makes up
the leaden muck
and soggy mush
of minds
they call
"The Mind of Man"?
Who ate the soul
of humankind
to leave now
just oily rinds
that sit
on their behinds

Capering Sadly Along
James J. Roberts

There was a young man from Kildare
who claimed he had nothing to wear
so he walked in the street
clean shaven and neat
in nothing but his underwear.
This caused the old women to stare
and worry and wonder and fear
that a fine lassie fair'd
pinch his derriere
thus raising his flag in the air.
But, sadly, no lass came along
and so ends this very sad song
with his flag at half mast
and his cute little ass
capering sadly along.

James J. Roberts


Last night I ventured into a store in the mall, the one where sharp-eyed ladies lurk in the "smell-good aisle".  You know the one, the one where they snipe at passersby with perfume and cologne as they hightail it through trying to avoid getting hit.

"Sir, would you like to try 'My Sin'?" they coo just after nailing you with three shots to the neck and chest.

Don't worry, Sweetheart -- I'm all right.   As you know, I'm fairly fast on my feet, so I was only grazed. Left hand. Channel No. 5, I think, but less than a lethal dose.  Others weren't so lucky, I fear.

As you know, I've always found light weight training, soft bag workouts, and rope skipping the best preparation for forays such as these.  Some, I know, say they certain prefer aerobic regimens, but, as a man's man, I still favor the more Hemingway-esque use of dumbbells, punching bags, and tripping myself on ropes as the best prep.

Anyway, on my way back out of the store, before reaching the perfume and aftershave crossfire zone, I stopped at the make-up counter, intrigued by a very thin man in a black satin shirt who was daintily explaining the finer points of applying eye shadow.  His audience was a gorgeous, sweet young thing who needed eye shadow or makeup about as much as I needed a case of smallpox.  And, although he kept saying that her skin tone needed adjustment and matching, the ample amount of her face, neck and breasts that I could see looked wonderfully well toned, firm, and, to my untrained eye, quite happily matched.

Nevertheless, he waxed eloquent about this "tone" thing.  He was smooth.  Graceful.  Masterful!

She was innocent, wide-eyed, and transfixed as his hands performed an aerial ballet of cosmetic caresses around her face and hair as he explained what he was about to do to her.

Captivated, I watched as he lectured.

I listened.

I learned.

As I studied the idyllically beautiful face before me that was being painted with powders and foundations and emollients, I ingested the finer points of applying eye liner as well as blue, red and black eye shadow, blush for the cheek bones "to highlight them, you see?" ($45 an ounce) and a darker powder ($42 an ounce) to "hollow the cheeks, thus, you see?"

"Ummm..." she purred thoughtfully, thankfully as the makeup man danced around her, fogging her with a “prepatory mist”, then wafting aroma from a snifter at her “to help you relax, my dear.”  It seems relaxing is good for the skin.

When he concluded his deft dramabhagie*, the former beauty queen looked remarkably worse to my eye than when mister dancing hands had begun "working" on her.  *(Dramabhagie is a Hindi word meaning mindfully escalated and utterly needless histrionics created for effect, like that of professional mourners at Middle East funerals or self flagellating Christian wailers, or professional Wailing Wall worriers.)

Despite her regrettable debeautification, the formerly lovely woman beamed, ecstatic for reasons that I, with my sad lack of fashion and makeup wisdom, failed to fathom.

I pondered the alchemy of all this for a few moments as she rose to leave and then, suddenly - Eureka!

"Hey! Wait a minute," thought I. "My puss is mud-ugly , and if this chap can make a blue-eyed beauty queen with creamy white skin look like a cheap two dollar hooker in Harlem....maybe the REVERSE IS TRUE
!Maybe if he STARTS with a haggard, hacked-up old puss, it'll turn into a ravishingly handsome young one!  YES!"


This conclusion is the ultimate testament to the value of simple, yet profound logic. Logic! Yessir, logic will get one through every time. And, if in nothing else, you know how I pride myself on my logic. So...

"Do ME!" I said as soon as the once gorgeous but now never-to-be beauty queen slithered off the makeup seat...leaving it nicely warmed for mine.

Mr. Dancing Hands just turned, looked at me, and blinked one of those odd George Bush vacuous blinks, as if someone had just pulled the bathtub plug to his brain and drained it of all capacity for rational thought...or any thought whatsoever, for that matter.  After awhile he just quietly turned away from me as if he hadn't heard me.

"Do ME!" I said, this time a little louder, because he had his back to me and seemed a little dazed.

Well, dontcha know, this fellow whirls around and immediately starts to cop an attitude with me, almost like I'm not good enough for him! Well, I may be tragically unattractive, but that's no reason for him to get prissy with me. I have my rights, and I have just as much right to be beautiful as the next fellow. I deserve fair and equal treatment under the law, just like the next chap.  I know my rights!

Anyway, he just stands there open-mouthed and blinking, unmoving, a pancake (Max Factor, I think.) in one hand and a little black eyebrow brush in the other, and seems unable to move or speak.

"Now see here!" I say, "I NEED fixing up. For heaven's sake,
LOOK at me! I'm a wreck! My cheeks puff out and my cheekbones poke in! My wrinkles have freckles, my eyebrows curl, and I look like I ran face-first into the bumper of a parked car! You OWE it to me to do what you can to make me look decent. It's your moral obligation! For heaven's sake say something...DO SOMETHING!"

"Sir," he finally says, "I don't DO men!"

"I don't want you to DO me," I reply, "I just want you to fix up my eyes and, you know, maybe, a little foundation and powder for the face to even out my flesh tones (I learned the importance of "balanced flesh tones" from his lecture to his previous and a little darkening, perhaps, to establish my jaw line. Maybe a bit of rouge, and... you know, just give me "the regular"!

"Please LEAVE!" he murmured.

By now, of course, all the women in the next door smell-nice-department were leaning in to hear better and simultaneously lining up with their perfume and cologne squirters.  They stood on both sides of the aisle leading from where I sat to the exit door. It looked like one of those Indian "run the gauntlet" test of manhood affairs. They knew they only wounded me on the way in, so they were determined to finish me off on the way out.

I caught a glimpse of a "Sin" perfume bottle held by a blue-nailed little fist and shuddered. I could still smell the No.5 grazing on the back of my hand.

"It's going to be a lot worse getting out than getting in," I thought to myself, and I felt my heart begin to race. Fear is a terrible thing...

"Sir, please GO," the skinny make up man in black ordered. I looked at him, then at the terrible gauntlet, then back towards him and noticed a beauty mark on his neck.

"Leave?" I asked as I tried to get a grip on my self. "Fine for you to say! You have a beauty mark, but look at me? I've got -- nothing!"

"LEAVE!" he says.

"Leave? How can I LEAVE looking THIS?" I say, pointing to my face with a sad flourish, and then -- for effect -- sweeping my hand down the entire length of my body as if to say, "Are you BLIND, man? I'm half a step between a leper and a corpse! You can't turn me out into the streets looking like THIS! It would be criminal!"

We had arrived at an impasse. Rapprochement appeared questionable at best as he stood stiffly before me and firmly folded his delicate white arms across his chest, and huffed a sniff at me.

The gauntleteers, meanwhile, sensed the standoff and began relaxing their grips on their perfume bottle bulbs (obscene little things that they perfume bottle bulbs, that is, not the ladies).

"Sir," finally says the offended-one curtly, "You are FORCING me to call the manager!"

"But I haven't laid a hand on you!" I protest.

"Sirrrrr..." he squeaks in a high-pitched voice, flung higher still no doubt by his
revulsion at the unsightly visage of my old face before him.

"Sir," he continues. "Are you going to FORCE me to call the manager or not?"

"Well," I say, "I won't force you to it, but I'd appreciate it if you would."

At this his face starts to curl up and an overly cooked piece of
bacon sizzling in a too-hot pan. I can almost feel him thinking, "I must look away!
I must, must...look away...AWAY from this vile face before the very sight of it turns me to salt!"

But the horrific pussilanimousness of my puss glues his eyes to it, the hideous nature of it holding him in its grasp. He is helpless to pry his eyes off me, poor fellow. Suddenly I begin to feel sorry for him, realizing his eyes are as stuck to me as poop on a baby's bottom.

"All right!" he sputters, "That's IT! I'm CALLING the manager!"

He turns away to pick up the store phone as I ask, "So you really think the manager can fix my face?"

He whirls back toward me and shoots me a look of such disgust that it would melt the lead right out of a pencil. Why?  Who knows!  Go figure?


Bottom line: I've found it is always best to get to the top guy, the guy who really
knows what's what and who's who and how to get things done and do 'em right. Thank God, he'd soon be on his way, I thought.

Meanwhile, overhearing this exchange and realizing my departure was no longer imminent, the gauntlet gals began taking pot shots at various passing victims. They gunned down "newbies" with ease, particularly first-time men who were completely unprepared for their assault. They indiscriminately blew away old ladies and grandmothers too old to run, and even shot up the occasional "sweet young thing" who had not yet learned that bombardment with multiple scents creates an odor so noxious it even nauseates skunks.

Well, as you can imagine, as I sat there contemplating all this and waiting for the manager to arrive, I noted the distraction of the perfume gauntleteers.  It was a toss up whether I should wait for the manager to arrive to fix up my face with blue, red and black eye shadow...or make an all out run for the exit while the perfume snipers were busy picking off easier prey.

I shan't tell you here how it all ended (that's a story for another time, for it would embarrass you, jeopardize our friendship, and possibly land me in jail). Suffice it to say that I now have nicely balanced skin tones, a wonderfully severe jaw line, hollow cheeks and great cheekbones; not to mention, eyes set off in red, blue and black eye shadow -- the most gorgeous eyes in all the state, except, of course, for yours My Dear, which remain the most beautiful of all eyes anywhere.

All I have to do now is figure out how to get the Channel No. 5 off my hand... My Sin off my neck, the Old Spice out of my crotch (some of those women either had bad aim or are downright Abu-Grad-Prison-sadistic), My Obsession out of my ears, Yours off my jaw, and the His out of my hair.  Then I'll be fine…just fine.

Affectionately yours,


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Poet's Complaint
James J. Roberts

I now converse

in rhyming verse.

What could be worse

than such a curse?


James J. Roberts

I never met
a man
I did not like
I knew him


Three Word Critique
James J. Roberts



Critique #1
James J. Roberts


I like your poem's form

of six, six. four, four, six.

This simple rhyme

is neat, I find

but easy to predict.

Critique #2
James J. Roberts

Your words may rhyme
and they may ring
but, oh, dear boy,
they do not sing,
They simply prance
in flamboyance
across the page
then sadly sink
...wasting paper
...wasting time
...sadly yours
and worse, still, mine.

Positive Critique
James J. Roberts

It is a science
among the pious

and un-concise
to poorly write
poems so un-nice 
(and thus un-wise)
that they'd even ice
Miss Parkers' eyes.
Dorothy's, that is,
but, thankfully,
you don't do this.

(Mr. Roberts, a member of the League of American Poets, is published in numerous print and electronic publications and is a frequent radio and television guest.  His poetry also appears in the soon to be released,  "Treasury of American Poetry - III", ISBN: 0-9743429-8-X.)

The author may be reached by agents or readers at:

 Write to James J, Roberts





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