Under an anarchy of thunderheads, the blues
birds return, bathe in befouled fountains, gather
at festering feeders, peck at darkling grubs
of yesterday’s regrets, bloated raisin wrinkles
of tomorrow’s sorrows, the hollow rind of
moments present, tensed participles dangling,
sharp words of not-so-loving songs that up and leave
you flat, sling the sludge of quagmire tears
and oh I waited at the Mississippi crossroads
oh Lawd I waited
guitar in hand and no one showed up
changes his tune from Wonderful World
to Potato Head Blues, nasturtiums shrivel
cold against a trellis, beach umbrellas cry
icicles, the sun bumps into the moon
and a brawl breaks out, celestial bodies
bruised and bloodied, the vintner serves
no wine before whatever time it is
five minutes from never, ten seconds
from now, and the babies, the babies,
oh Lawd the babies
lucky, they fall from the nest and starve
luckless, they are Promethean liver fodder
for that winged carnivore King Oliver Zeus,
fresh from his Black Bottomed swan dance
with Ma Rainey, See See Rider spitting, pulling a
sweet Jesus mud miracle on Blind Lemon Jefferson
and here I am, here, over here Christ, sitting white-
caned in the temple portico, waiting for spring to fall,
for anything at all to drive away these blues,
this eternal twelve-bar nothing, the growl and slink of
empty days and empty nights, O Lead Belly, croon me
a tune and see that my grave is kept clean.
is the author of two full-length books: The Aerialist Will Not Be Performing, ekphrastic poems and short fictions after the art of Steven Schroeder (Turning Plow Press, 2020), and a poetry collection, At the Lake with Heisenberg (Spartan Press, 2018). His chapbook, Pulp, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in July 2022.
Nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2019 and multiple times for Best of the Net, his work has appeared in Chiron Review; Flint Hills Review; Heartland! Poetry of Love, Resistance & Solidarity; I-70 Review; Illya’s Honey; KYSO Flash; MacQueen’s Quinterly; Mocking Heart Review; October Hill Magazine; Red River Review; River City Poetry; Shot Glass; The Ekphrastic Review; and the Wichita Broadside Project.
A native Kansan, Dean studied music composition with Dr. Walter Mays at Wichita State University before going on the road as a bass player, conductor, and arranger; he was a professional musician for 30 years, playing with acts such as Jesse Lopez, Bo Didley, Frank Sinatra Jr., Vic Damone, Jim Stafford, Kenny Rankin, B. W. Stevenson, and the Dallas Jazz Orchestra. And he put in a stint with the house band at the Fairmont Hotel Venetian Room in Dallas. While living in Dallas, he also worked 20 years for The Dallas Morning News and made the transition from music to writing before moving back to Kansas in 2007.
Dean is a member of the Kansas Authors Club, and the event coordinator for Epistrophy: An Afternoon of Poetry and Improvised Music, held annually in Wichita, Kansas. He lives in a one-hundred-year-old stone building in Augusta, Kansas, along with a universe of books, CDs, LPs, an electric bass, and a couple dozen hats. In his spare time, he practices the time-honored art of hermitry.
Hopper and Dean: Interview and poems in River City Poetry
Metal Man, ekphrastic poem inspired by a 1955 photograph of
Dean’s paternal grandfather in the Boeing machine shop; published in
The Ekphrastic Review (28 July 2018) and nominated for Best of the Net.
Windmill, ekphrastic poem inspired by Dean’s maternal
grandfather; published in KYSO Flash (Issue 11, Spring 2019) and nominated
for the Pushcart Prize. This poem is among half-a-dozen of Dean’s ekphrastic
works published in KYSO Flash (Issues 11 and 12).
Llama, 1957, ekphrastic haibun inspired by Inge Morath’s
photograph A Llama in Times Square; published in The Ekphrastic
Review (13 January 2018).