Archive for the Shawn Pavey Category

Four Poems by Shawn Pavey

Posted in Shawn Pavey with tags on June 13, 2022 by Scot


Another Poem About Mass Killings

I’ve got a bad feeling that a book of poems ain’t enough– The Old 97s

This poem will be as forgotten as most poems.
This poem will not stop all those guns.

This poem could rage and scream at the shine of a bullet and the rust of blood.
Here in this poem we could clutch to this hollow ache in our chests
All those children. Shoppers. Church/mosque/synagogue/temple goers.
Music lovers. College students. Teachers. Clock punchers.

This poem is sadness. Exhaustion. A hung head.
This poem is Kevlar backpack shields. A hardened classroom.
Locked doors. Active shooter drills. Playing dead.



Surprise Ending

This story begins and ends with a monkey.
Sometimes, it’s not even me.




When he looks for god he’s not sure what he’ll find but it probably doesn’t need capital letters. No, when he looks, he’s standing on a high peak looking down on valleys, lakes, and streams reflecting sky and drinking light. But that’s not god, that’s nature. That all works because physics works and chemistry works and biology works and geology… well, geology just kind of sits there. When it moves, that’s trouble. But it’s not god. He goes to quiet places – cathedrals, temples, mosques – but there’s no god there. Architecture, sound bouncing off stone and wood and glass, odors of incense, candle wax, dust, and bodies – that’s all there. He keeps looking, but not always. Nobody has that kind of time.


Another Poem About Trees and Love: For Naomi

Bright leaves of aspens in autumn
Chime together in wind a brittle glass music

Kiss the one you love in a golden grove
Remember that kissing is more precious than everything







Two Poems by Shawn Pavey

Posted in Shawn Pavey, Uncategorized on August 12, 2020 by Scot

Mo(u)rning Ghazal
Heavy rains for the better part of twenty four hours.
The river rises, water overflowing its borders.

Thunder fills everyone standing with dread, but lightning
cracks the air, opens us to all the sky’s murderous powers.

Beside a propane tank behind my studio, at the edge
of an overgrown gravel drive, sway black-eyed Susans and lacy wildflowers.

Strong black coffee punctuates overcast mornings.
Cigarettes are good, too, but I don’t smoke those anymore.

Last week, chatted with an old and dear friend who’s writing a book
on “The History of Reading” that I want to devour.

He told me it’s cancer. He told me the executor of his will
will send me his lifetime’s book collection of analysis and verse.

I do not want my friend to die and neither do I want to end.
I am exhausted from saying goodbye, yet here we are.

Ghazal of Regret
Memories of childhood seem to come in various hues of green: Lawn in late
spring, undersides of leaves in shade of that old maple near an opened gate.

Which face do we wear now to the world, under masks, under pandemic,
under virus, under orders, under undermined orders, under fear, under greatness?

Modern times, such modern times these are. All of us instantly connected
by phones in our pockets, by watches, by tablets so devoutly followed and liked, never sated.

Uneasy to predict, tomorrow. Disease of information lacking wisdom and context.
We lock windows. Lock cars. Lock doors and cell phones and minds and gates.

To be new again. To be open, again. To be fair and just and kind and receptive.
To be children. To be smiling. To be singing. To be play and playing. Free. Too late.

Two poems by Shawn Pavey

Posted in Shawn Pavey with tags on November 15, 2019 by Scot

The Day After Armistice Day

9° Fahrenheit in Kansas City
and the ground is covered in a half inch
of ice and snow.

We haven’t had time even
to get the leaves up this year.
Christ, the trees are still turning.

Thanksgiving is more than half a month away
and air in Europe blows quietly for now
as that great first world war ended 101 years ago.

We’re still cleaning up the mess.
Still raking the leaves blown about the world
for more than a century, the winds

still howling through barrels of guns.



Basic Economy

Aisle seat offers nothing
but the illusion
of leg room.

Middle seat, well,
as Sartre tells us,
Hell is other people

to the left and to the right
and me in the middle all
broad shoulders and big ass.

Give me the window.
Let me look at the earth
as we leave it,

climbing and rattling and shaking.
Bouncing over cities and valleys,
let me see we are moving.

Let me see progress
as we ascend through clouds
and emerge to jet above them,

travelling a straight line
from waypoint to waypoint.
Let me see the sun or stars above:

sun I can’t afford,
stars I don’t deserve.

Hollow Point by Shawn Pavey

Posted in Shawn Pavey with tags on May 2, 2017 by Scot

Because bullets don’t kill well enough
manufacturers hollow them
to blossom in penetrated flesh
even though last night
10 police officers and two civilians
were shot in Dallas
where five officers died
and the day before, two black men
were shot to death by police officers
on video live-streamed to everyone
even though 100 people in Orlando
were shot while dancing last month
and poor little Tamir Rice
and Trayvon Martin
and Michael Brown
and all the names and all the names
and all the names this poem could be filled with
from Sandy Hook San Bernardino Charleston
Littleton Columbine Ft. Hood
names of innocents
and names of police officers
whose places at dinner tables across America
are empty and empty rooms of soldiers
killed so far from home
and empty beds in Pakistan Afghanistan Syria Iraq
all these names a hollow poem
its endless reams of pages on pages
written in blood that never dries
and is never enough to fill
all the hollow points
hollowing bleeding bodies
these hallowed bodies of the dead


A version of the attached poem first appeared last year in Prompts: A Spontaneous Anthology by West 39 Press.

Poem Starting With a Line From Phil Miller by Shawn Pavey

Posted in Shawn Pavey with tags on April 17, 2017 by Scot


And the Adam’s apple, the vocal chords and tongue,
the crackling voice graveled by whiskey, cigarettes,
and time cannot sing the songs, written so long
ago, now. That stage in the back of the bar? Empty.
That band so distant and estranged for so long.
Guitars lie in their cases, gather dust on stands.
The record, somewhere, buried deep in a box,
its vinyl molding and warped, is filled with dreams
that lie etched in grooves. Place it on a turntable
and listen as a needle fizzes in a rotary
swooshswooshswoosh and a lost voice barely whispers,
“So young so young so young.”

Joel Explains Why My LeSabre Isn’t Ready by Shawn Pavey

Posted in Shawn Pavey with tags on March 11, 2017 by Scot

Oh, hey Shawn.
I ain’t really had a chance
to tear into ‘er yet.
See, my machinist
done lopped e’s thumb off
and he’s a day behind.

God Is On His Way by Shawn Pavey

Posted in Shawn Pavey with tags on January 7, 2017 by Scot

Just got a text from the Almighty.
He’s running a little behind.
He was on his way to your subdivision
to bless you in your five-room,
three-bath abundance because
you are so much in need of divine grace.

Anyway, the heavenly El Camino picked up
a bolt off the road in the sidewall
of the driver’s side rear Firestone
because of all that highway
construction on Interstate 35
and, wouldn’t you know it, his spare was flat, too.

He called triple A and is just waiting for the tow truck.
Oh, he said to tell you that you’ll be fine
but you should have figured that out by now
with your health insurance and 401k balance.

He also mentioned he can’t stay long. Something about Aleppo.

Survival Tips for the Pending Apocalypse by Shawn Pavey

Posted in Shawn Pavey with tags on November 11, 2016 by Scot








Know this: you can survive
on a diet of red beans and rice indefinitely.
Just stock the basement with cases of Texas
Pete Hot Sauce. Plant cabbage and carrots now
for cole slaw because you can’t descend
into full-blown goddamned savagery just yet.
Let some of that garden go to seed and store it all
in a cool, dry space for next year. Load up the larder
with as much white vinegar, vegetable oil,
and black peppercorns as it can hold
because you just can’t trust mayonnaise.
You can crack a peppercorn with a hammer
if the peppermill gives out. Oh.
Stock up on hammers.

Acquire a rooster and some hens
for the back yard and fence that fucker off
high and tight. Don’t be cheap with
the razor wire, which can be found at any
black site CIA prison or bad neighborhood
title loan shop for next to nothing. Chicken
is good, man, even when the rest of the world ain’t.

Lay in as much cracked corn animal feed
as you can find because chickens got to eat, too,
but save some for yourself.
In a pinch, you can boil and eat that, too.

Stock up on ten penny nails and hundred-dollar bourbon:
nails to fix the shit you know will break
and bourbon to fix the shit you can’t.

Get used to drinking hundred-dollar bourbon.



Shawn Pavey has delivered newspapers, mowed lawns, bagged groceries, cut meat, laid sewer pipe, bussed tables, washed dishes, roofed houses, crunched numbers, rented cars, worked in hotels, worn an apron at Kinko’s, and been paid to write everything from résumés to music reviews. Currently, he earns a living as a Technical Recruiter in Mission, KS where he lives with his fiancée and three worthless but adorable cats. He is the author of Talking to Shadows (2008, Main Street Rag Press) and Nobody Steals the Towels From a Motel 6 (2015, Spartan Press), Co-founder and former Associate Editor of The Main Street Rag Literary Journal, and a former board member and officer of The Writers Place, a Kansas City-based literary non-profit. His poems, essays, and journalism appear in a variety of national and regional publications. He’s hosted poetry readings in bars, coffee shops, haunted houses, bookstores, libraries, front porches, seedy motel rooms, and abandoned warehouses. A graduate of the University of North Carolina’s Undergraduate Honors Creative Writing Program, he likes his Tom Waits loud, his bourbon single barrel, and his basketball Carolina Blue.