Contact The Author: rdlbarton@gmail.com

Ron. Lavalette's work has appeared in these fine publications:



Friday, July 31, 2020

Life – A Sentence


Months To Years (Online & Print) July 2020

He’s almost an hour early
for hemo/oncology, waits
with a coffee and the other
early arrivals, watching 
the white coats come and go,
counting the turns of the lab’s
revolving door, and attempting
to calculate the likelihood
that his particular marble
will fall on either red or black,
odd or even, hoping that
when he’s finally released
it will still be Spring
and he will have
hit the jackpot once again,
can stop one more time
at the bookstore’s cafĂ©
for a second cup of coffee
and a couple of macaroons,
can bask in all the tentative 
reassurances that modern medicine
can offer to an iffy, aging scribe.


Thursday, July 30, 2020

Leaving Eden, Unmasked

The Drabble (Online) July 2020

After a couple hours bobbing in brilliant lakewater, there are grapefruit margaritas on the sundeck, or maybe a couple of cold beers out under the shadetree. Everybody’s full-throated, half-naked, sunburnt, and totally shot by three o’clock, even though happy hour is still several hours away. Everyone’s already as happy as anyone can be, thanks to their lengthy lounge, chips and dip in a darkened bar, and their spirited but friendly debate about the current sad state of affairs no one’s paying any real attention to anyway.

Eve snaps up a Tupperware filled with applesauce, steers Adam toward the back door.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Salute

Fewer Than 500 (Online) July 2020

Sal’s only job was to make sure the saltshakers were always filled. Full. His boss told him on his first day that he knew exactly how much a perfectly filled salt shaker should weigh, and if even one grain of salt was missing, his ass would be grass, and, by God, the boss would do some serious mowing.

He watched the tables and booths like a hawk, and when the customers stood up to leave, even before they could put on their coats, he’d rush on over to check and fill the salt, even if the customer had only inadvertently brushed the shaker with a careless elbow.

He kept the job for years, kept the shakers filled, kept the boss happy and the customers salted to within an inch of their lives. No one ever complained. Most people never even noticed; no one except the boss, who frequently conducted random weigh-ins but never found even a single crystal missing.

When he finally retired, decades later, his diligence was duly noted: corporate executives decreed that a memorial plaque bearing his name and photo and extolling his contribution to their success be mounted in the employee’s lounge, though (to be honest) no one ever really lounged there much.



Saturday, July 18, 2020

One Of The Flock

Verdant (Anthology)
Truth Serum Press (Vol. 5) July 2020


He never really knows which curve
will hide the flock of wild turkeys
that almost every morning
struts and pecks its way across
from field to field, either
oblivious to or ignorant of traffic,
intent on only what can be
found and eaten, whatever it is
that turkeys, long before sunrise,
seek.
         All he really wants, driving
away from his bed, driving away 
from anything bedlike and restful,
is another day of certainty about
anything; another reassurance
that goals can be obtained; 
that, like him, the sun will rise;
that grass can indeed be greener.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Loons

Cabinet Of Heed (Online) July 2020


He works the phone all morning, calling to remind his clients to take their pills and drink lots of water, and to reassure them that the voices aren’t real. Some of them he calls and calls again, hoping that on his third or fifth or eighth attempt they’ll give in, pick up, and maybe even recognize his voice, hear and heed his advice.

By noon he’s pretty toasted from the effort, buys himself a burger and a Coke and goes down to sit in the shade beside the lake, contemplate its smooth surface like it’s a giant crystal ball, and try to divine what comes next. The only other beings he encounters are a few ragged gulls scavenging the shoreline for scraps and a pair of loons forty or fifty feet out, bobbing and diving for whatever it is loons dive for. He watches them for the longest time, thinking about how quiet it must be just below the surface. He wonders why they come back up at all.

He can hear the snarl of a revved engine on the bank far off to his left, somewhere out of sight. He can’t tell if it’s a chainsaw or a dirtbike, only that it’s small and angry sounding. It echoes across the water and comes back at him almost a full second later, only slightly smaller but just as angry. When he can’t stand it anymore, he heads on back to the office.

When he gets to his desk, the phone is ringing, but he can’t bring himself to pick it up. There’s a meeting going on in the conference room; he can hear voices through the wall.


Family History

Cabinet Of Heed (Online) March 2020

My father always told me
his father always told him
that my father’s grandfather
died just like my father’s father:
rolled over in bed, sat up,
probably sat there a minute
thinking about the weather or
whatever it was that lay ahead,
reached down for his slippers,
groaned slightly, keeled over,
face-first onto the hardwood,
gone. Both of them, gone
in the lack of a heartbeat, gone
forever, before they got old,
regardless of what “old” was,
way back then, when they died.

My father broke the pattern:
managed to hang on longer,
managed to avoid the floorboards
until his pancreas ate him alive,
slowly, letting him spend his
last few ancient days in his own
drug-comfortable bed, dreaming.

I’ve still got a few dreams coming,
I think; but these days, now that
I’ve clearly made my way to ‘old’
and ‘ancient’ seems unlikely,
I wake up, roll over in bed,
look at my slippers on the floor,
and feel like I’m flipping a coin
when I reach to pick them up.

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

When We'll Finally Quit


Rusty Truck (Online) June 2020


There will come a day
when we have to tear up all the flags
to make more bandages.

Nightly News


Rusty Truck (Online) June 2020


You can call it whatever you want, put
whatever label on it you like, but no amount
of obfuscation makes the end result
any less bitter. You can close your eyes,
vow to keep your mouth shut, turn and
turn and turn away from the truth
but, in the end, there’s really no escape:
he was only seven years old, maybe less,
and he’d been shot through the neck.

And your mother can still love you,
and your girlfriend or your wife
or your brothers and your sisters
can still love you, but some nights,
around midnight, you remember:
he was only seven, maybe less,
and that’s as old as he’d ever be. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Tits And Ass On Main Street


The Beautifullest (Anthology)
Pure Slush Books  Vol. 17
Print & e-Pub (May 2020)



Not surprisingly, I notice her naked
ass first: a beautiful ass, buttery
smooth, each cheek firm and 
round, perfect, perfectly tanned,
and cellulite free.  A Venus ass, 
when Venus was at her prime.
A lovely ass I could easily die for
or, even uninvited, marvel at  
for hours.  I know this, even 
with only the merest glance. 

Breasts to match: also tanned,
also Aphrodite perfection, each
a perfect handful, also perfectly
naked, firmly inviting a caress
or the tender ministry of lips.
I see them for only a second 
before I turn the corner, catch
only a glimpse in the mirror.

And as she recedes, I note
her perfect hips, her perfect
thighs: a pair of lover’s thighs,
not designed for running or
holding a baby on a lap; no:
thighs designed to open and
admit a lover, hold him there
until, at last, his darkness fades.

But her arms arrest me most:
She has no arms; has no arms
to wave at me as I pass, 
no mannequin lips to smile, 
nor eyes to see me go.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Voice Activated

Up The River (Issue 8)
Albany Poets (Online) May 2020

I do
whatever she says
pick up my socks
take out the trash
get the Chinese take-out
do the dishes
mow the lawn
you get the idea
It used to bug me
until
she reminded me
I love her madly

Some Things, Sometimes

Up The River (Issue 8)
Albany Poets (Online) May 2020

Some things never stop.
Some things, stopped,
never get restarted. I’m
like some of those things.
Sometimes, started, I can’t stop.
Sometimes people yell at me,
“Shut the hell up, willya?”
They don’t know me.
Sometimes I just sit there,
silent, pretending to think.
Pretending. People think I’m
thinking. I don’t think I am.
Some things just repeat
over and over and over,
continue repeating forever.
Some poems never end.


Amuse-Bouche

Up The River (Issue 8)
Albany Poets (Online) May 2020


After finally determining 
the critical difference 
between pudgy Basset hounds
and sinewy Burmese pythons,
he changed the name of his failing diner 
to Amuse-Bouche
totally revamped his menu, 
and began serving vastly different lunches 
to a more discerning clientele.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Separate Ways (A Ghazal)


North Carolina Poetry Society
Pinesong Anthology (Print) May 2020
**Honorable Mention, Joanna Catherine Scott Award
(Sonnet or Traditional form)


Separate Ways 

She likes to travel, leaves him alone for days at home;
and he, reclusive, easily a hermit, gladly stays at home.

She likes to wake to the sound of surf and a foggy sea,
imagines him waking up in the mountain greys at home.

Fog is fog, he tells her on the phone; it all burns off—
but when she leaves he finds himself in a haze at home.

He makes the bed and cooks the meals. He’s got his flutes
and drums and all the other things he plays at home.

Still, he hopes he remains Her Beloved Poet, immersed
in words and searching for the perfect phrase. At home.

Friday, May 01, 2020

May Day


50-Word Stories (Online) May 2020

He’d waited long enough.
Surrounded by new greens
under a fresh blue
he drew three deep breaths,
dove into May’s first morning.
May air fills lungs more fully than
any April rain has ever flooded
any April field. May Day’s sunshine
warms everything more deeply
than any mid-winter furnace fire.
 

Friday, April 10, 2020

Return To Sender

The Drabble (Online) April 2020


All of his incoming mail arrived in self-addressed envelopes which contained letters from his many alter-egos, none of whom he was aware existed. Most of the letters included invitations to dinner, provided updates on the status of his pickup’s tire pressure, or announced news items such as the introduction of guacamole as a new flavor at Tim & Doug’s Soft-Serve Stand.

He always marveled at the valuable timeliness and specificity of the information he received, and felt profound and genuine regret that he lacked the wherewithal to respond in any similar fashion.
After his most recent relocation, he simply vanished.


Friday, April 03, 2020

Aubade

Ephemeral Elegies (Online) April 2020

Tonight the moon is new;
only a few dim stars trapped in onyx,
granite-cold wind near midnight;
sound of the river, distant, empty,
washes across the frosted space
where new snow fell this morning.
When I saw you last,
your image receding in the window
at dawn, a faint sail on a far horizon,
the bland November sunrise reflected
on the thin glass like lake ice, I knew
I would find myself alone tonight,
humbled under the darkest sky,
wondering where you are, and
searching for the vanished moon.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Imaginary Friend

Tiny Molecules (Online) March 2020


I had an imaginary friend once but, frankly, he was a real jerk. I could barely stand him. He was never really there for me when I needed him, and he only showed up when I was buying an ice cream cone or hooking up with slutty Maria down the block. I always had to buy a second cone or a second or third condom, sometimes both, sometimes more, depending on how things were going. Going for him, I should say. The guy had some appetite.

The idiot could absolutely not remember my mother’s birthday, and he always had something pointless he needed me to do when it came around. I always regretted giving in to him. It’s like he just didn’t give a crap. Same deal with my Exes. All three of them. Look at me now.

Time to go to work,” I’d say. "Time to go fishing," he’d reply, wearing that vapid, shiftless grin. It was like he had some sort of hypnotic power. And don’t get me started on the whole money thing. On top of the lost jobs and un-repaid loans, there’s a mountain of bills he talked me into letting slip into collections, the trunkful of parking tickets, and the boingity-boingity rubber checks bouncing all over town so fast you’ve got to duck one to avoid the other.

I haven’t seen him in a while, but I know he’s out there, just waiting until I get my head above water, maybe get a new girlfriend. He’ll show up. Jerk.


Friday, March 06, 2020

Altered Itinerary

Red Wolf Journal (Online) March 2020

He drives an hour north to
Montgomery’s famous scones;
decides to limit himself to a
single scone and a coffee
because, even as he settles in,
he thinks about the bar at
Positive Pie down in Hardwick,
remembers they have Switchback
on tap, remembers how dark
and cool one end of the bar
can be; how conducive to
journal work that — somehow,
some time later — ends up published.

He drives an hour south and
drives another hour south.

Thursday, March 05, 2020

She Would Have Been Proud

50-Word Stories (Online) March 2020

I hadn’t planned on speaking
at my mother’s memorial service,
but my equally reticent siblings looked to me
when the minister issued the invitation.
I had no script nor practiced comments,
but in no time at all the entire congregation
was rolling on the aisles.
Later, everyone thanked me profusely.

The Quest

Red Wolf Journal (Online) March 2020
(Theme: Journeying)

I’ve circled this damned planet
a gazillion times already, just trying
to wake up where the sun comes up,
just trying to find that spot.
No matter how far east I travel,
I go to bed confident that, this time,
I’ve finally found my Mecca;
that the sun will rise at the foot of my bed.
No dice. Ever. Every day’s the same.
One time I saw it come up just behind
a Brooklyn high-rise. Not much later
it was the Eiffel Tower. Yeah, right.
Maybe I should change my ways;
maybe start chasing the sunset instead.
I’m older now. Maybe I should be wiser.
I’m pretty sure it sets just west of here.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Last Call

detritus (Online) March 2020


Hello she said
her voice too sweet
I’m sorry
if I woke you up
...


It’s okay
he replied
considering their recent history
I’m glad you called.


Listen
he said
and hung up the phone
softly


Monday, February 17, 2020

Name That Tune

Medical Literary Messenger (Online) February 2020

     She’s already lost most of her hair, but refuses to wear one of those scarves, or a wig, or a hat to try to hide the fact. Her only jewelry is the small plastic catheter where a watch or a bracelet ought to be, unused now for months but still available as a concession to her doctors’ pleas. 
     She pushes the wheelchair’s controller forward like any gangster on the getaway might mash down the car’s accelerator. If the chair had a “Check Engine” light, it would have burned out ages ago, ignored. 
     The chair bee-lines across the almost empty atrium, forcing a few bipedal staffers and patients to alter their courses as she zeroes in on her intended destination: the upright piano occupying the small visitors’ seating area adjacent to Oncology, on the other side of the lobby. 
     Her arrival is simultaneous with that of the thin, elderly man the hospital has hired to come in three times per week to make the rounds from keyboard to keyboard, half an hour each, to make the waiting easier, to help the people forget or remember, whichever best suits their need. 
     He looks at her and smiles; knows exactly what he has to play.

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Embers

A Story In 100 Words (Online) February 2020


He thinks he sees her again and he’s mesmerized by her perfection.
He watches her and remembers his perfect past; remembers what it was like for him all those many years ago when, returning home, he’d find the perfect woman there, smiling, standing beside the fireplace, close to the fire, waiting. He can’t always recall her name, but he remembers the fire and her smile; the perfectly soft glow, the welcoming warmth.
These are the benedictions of age, he thinks. Even when the fire burns low, there is memory and imagination; even in an empty room I am never alone.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Paper Thin

Prometheus Dreaming (Online) January 2020

He knew all there was to know
about her. She knew all she
needed to know. There was paper
on the walls between them,
but the walls themselves
did not exist.

On Friday she came by
to borrow a little hot sauce.
She knew he had plenty.
He gave it to her.
He gave it to her good.

She came again on Saturday.
The whole building heard it.


Friday, January 03, 2020

Write What You Know

50-Word Stories (online) January 2020


Write what you know, they say
so he writes the first draft
of the fog and gravel of Route 16
all the way to work at sunrise.
Before the sun goes down
he’s revised the revised revision
until all he really thinks he knows
is what he says he’s written.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

No Passport Required

Eleventh Transmission
45 Poems of Protest (Online) December 2019


It won’t happen until
we burn all the flags

erase concepts like

foreigner and enemy

tear down the walls
ignore the borders

and accept that we’re all
in the same small blue boat

a tiny fragile planet
sailing through the void.

It won’t happen until
we look at each other

and say “
Welcome home
instead of “
Papers, please.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Truth Be Told

One Sentence Poems (Online) November 2019

If the Secret Police come knocking
late at night, armed with terror bombs,
their visors reflecting moonlight
into the dim interior of my room,
I will freely surrender, eagerly confess
that just before they arrived
I sent out a song
on the clandestine airwaves;
that the coded lyrics, deciphered
on distant, receptive shores,
will lay all beings bare of arms,
bereft of all supposed defenses.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Two Small Threes by Five

HALIBUT (Online) November 2019



he can’t help himself
—the moon is fully windowed—
syllables, calling

This is how it is for him.  It’s pathetic, and even he knows it’s pathetic.  He wakes up; it’s only just after three so he makes himself go back to sleep, but he’s fully awake by 4:20 and he’s got it stuck in his head: something about two small poems, three lines each, maybe formal haiku, maybe some weird Americanized Kerouacian version, he doesn’t really know, only knows he can’t help thinking Two Small Threes By Five over and over again until finally he gets up to write them.
He thinks about where to start with the writing, and he thinks there’s a harvest moon shining in the window, but at first he doesn’t know this for a fact.  He stops thinking about the writing long enough to Google the phrase harvest moon, which, being a good contemporary poet, he has vowed never to use in his writing, but it’s just so very much there, flooding through the window, shining on his desktop, shining on his keyboard, washing across his office floor, sure enough: a harvest moon, shining on.
After the first three hard-won lines, he hits the auto-set for Shankar and the Sandhya Raga fills the room like moonlight.  He’s out of incense.  He’s afraid he’s out of ideas.  He walks to the kitchen, turns on a light, changes his mind and turns it off again. He makes the coffee by moonlight, steel strings still ringing in the next room, where he has left his head, thinking in threes and contemplating the Raga Of The Harvest Moon while the moon, still, still shines on the keyboard.
This is how it is for him in the morning, every morning, early, and even sometimes all morning long: long before even the first cup of coffee, the first thought repeating, repeated in the moonlight, repeated at the keyboard, repeated at the keyboard in the moonlight. This is how he is.

absolute perfect moon
coffee moon keyboard moon raga moon
haiku moon, release me

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Life Of A Poet (Interview)


Poets United (Online) October 2019


"Today we are zooming cross-country to Vermont, to chat with Ron. Lavalette, who blogs at  Scrambled, Not Fried, and Eggs Over Tokyo. I detect a theme here...  Let's dive in!..."


Tuesday, September 24, 2019

What Basho Knows

Plum Tree Tavern (Online) September 2019


fog is good
but god’s a frog
loves the sun
—leaps—

Friday, September 20, 2019

Not The Warmest Greeting

50-Word Stories (Online) September 2019

 
He was quite sure they’d met before. Her smile, though noncommittal, seemed at least familiar, and somewhat welcoming.
 
It faded, though, as he approached her and sat down beside her on the subway.
 
He knew that he’d mistaken her as soon as she pressed the trigger on the Mace canister.
 

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Love Conquers All

Red Wolf Journal (Online) September 2019
(Anthologized)  March 2020

“I bought you some
poison blueberries,”

she said. “You can
have them with your
corn flakes in the morning.”

She had always been
everything he’d ever wanted
so all he heard was:
“I bought you some
blueberries for breakfast.”

He ate them the next day
with toast and orange
marmalade and tea.
He went to work and smiled
at customers and colleagues,
sat quietly at his desk
until half-past five, signed out
and, still smiling, headed home
to his Sweetie Pie.