Archive for the Timothy Tarkelly Category

Three Poems by Timothy Tarkelly

Posted in Timothy Tarkelly with tags on May 25, 2021 by Scot



For John Dorsey

They say a thick skin
can get you through anything.
Harsh winters, harsh words.

But resilience deflects
more good times than bad.
Hercules never had a lazy Sunday.

No smell of fresh biscuits,
honeyed crust. No slick armor
of grease all the way down to his knuckles.

Keep mine thin.
Fried golden.
A healthy mixture of dark and white beneath.



For Dan Wright

Dan is sick of people
hiding behind almost.

Their intentions weighing up
to a certified, though long winded, zero.

Me? I’m tired of “used to”
and the promises to start up again.

“I used to play in a band.”
“I used to eat better.”

As if any splinter of my old selves
would have any fucking clue

what we’re supposed to do next.
It’s not like we’d listen to them anyway.





“I am growing up, no more poems
about cigarettes and wine.”
I pour a glass of wine. I need
at least two before my throat
wises up, remembers that the
acrid taste of a menthol
is almost certainly followed
by a humming joy, flashbacks to its youth.
I light a cigarette and remember
what Tony Hoagland told me.

It takes me too long to realize
he’s never told me anything.
Maybe, it’s how we read,
the way we tie cords to the strains of beauty
so we can find our way home.
Makes us feel as if we’ve made a friend
every time we visit the local bookstore.

It all unravels. I go down the list:
the poets I haven’t crossed paths with,
the fathers we suddenly don’t have in common,
the tundrous nights they didn’t get me through.
It was just me, a blanket,
an unrequited call for help. Caring is a choice
sometimes and I guess I have to decide.
I start coughing, blaming the cold
hanging onto the end of October
for the sharp cough, the subtle smear of tears
across my eyes, like two sallow
reflecting pools in a courtyard
no one has ever visited.

I flick my cigarette into the grass
and regret my lack of foresight.
I regret my impulsive leaps into the night,
the way my knees feel when I fall,
my lack of interesting things to write about.

JESSE JAMES WAS A COWARD by Timothy Tarkelly

Posted in Timothy Tarkelly with tags on September 23, 2020 by Scot


Jesse James was a coward,
a half-assed trigger pulled from a Kansas City paper,
where rich folks long since cornered
the market on low rent heroes and
a sore loser complex
as deep as the Missouri, as wide as Missouri
as miserable as the grey-coated, blood stained
losers who came back to sharecrop their way
through life, drink their Kentucky hang-ups,
leave the local swill for the federals.
He carved Dixie on his lips and bit every time
he heard someone whistle the Star-Spangled Banner.
Train robbing, shooting bankers just for looking like
America. A place he lived, cursed for welcoming him back home,
whose ground he filled with shallow graves and
a shallow definition of liberty. One of those
feeble-minded outlaws
who never could realize they’re not special.
They too must give thanks for what they have
rather than burn us for what they don’t.


Timothy Tarkelly’s work has appeared in The Daily Drunk, As It Ought To Be Magazine, Back Patio Press, and many other magazines, journals, etc. He has two poetry collections published by Spartan Press: Luckhound (2020) and Gently in Manner, Strongly in Deed: Poems on Eisenhower (2019). When he’s not writing, he teaches in Southeast Kansas.

Home by Timothy Tarkelly

Posted in Timothy Tarkelly with tags on May 13, 2019 by Scot



We couldn’t help but jump, the speakers rattling something shitty against the noise of the dirt road, but we knew this song like we knew our families, like we knew each other, the only four people in the world with good taste in music, who understand what a refuge you can find circling your hometown, like we knew these roads, worn grains in the cracked Midwestern wood, soft to the touch, but look like a splintered mess. We couldn’t help but jump, thrashing our bodies to the bassline, la-la-la-ing along, la-la-la-ing like we knew what it was to be older, to be us in ten years, to be us still together, ‘cause surely that’s the way that works.