Ray Strickland RRFTB

Graveyard language lessons

You might find my eyes and lips too close to things they shouldn't be
like this mic, your personal space, the other end of your telephone,
your underwear drawer and the white pages trying to find you.

I know exactly what we're going to do once I find you.

We will run as fast as we can past the strip malls selling trinkets and speed dating cafes.

You'll wonder as I pull you through crowded streets past the buildings we know nothing about.

I'll rush you through cemetery gates and we will kneel just inside and pray.

We will explain to the spirits, ghosts or whatever that we mean them no harm and that we just want
to be surrounded by that good good white light.

Not a shade less. Not a shade more.

I will sit you down in a secluded spot and teach you the Spanish I know.

I will tell you that everyone in this yard once had dreams,
ambitions and hopes just as you do now.

You will roll your eyes and I will smile.

Then we can plan our get away if you grow bored.

I will take you Taco-Bell, order some food for us
and ask you if you'd like to go back for awhile.


Raymond Mitchell Strickland Jr.

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Jasmine tea and automatic locks

Floral jasmine tea with mango draws to a close.

The bus stops are empty and the drivers are tired and working doubles.

The angels play beer pong without keeping score
and the empty bottles collect under IKEA futons.

The ground is hardening and the plants weaken figuring what's the use.

Spoons on stoves stir what's left in the pantry.

A homeless man hears car doors lock as he makes his way along
the crosswalk of an intersection.

Therapists are catching glimpses of young girls crotches reclining on sofas.

Cats perch in windows watching their prey, damning the screens.

Two lovers discuss discretely fucking in an otherwise empty laundromat.

The money they save by not drying their clothes will be spent to board a bus.

The driver tired and working a double.


Raymond Strickland Jr.
2:15 pm

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The Milwaukee microcosm

The friendly Mid-West my ass.

Dear God, can I please see another ten speed with
multicolored wheels, cards of some past hipster ride shoved in the spokes?
or maybe a sidewalk passer by with-in earshot so I can say,"Hello"
only to have them look at me with their
cold,frigid asshole eyes as if I were speaking
in Rubik's cube.

Dear God, just one more commercial
of some dim witted line-backer
selling leather sectionals or
auto insurance...please?

I need the total package.

I need a friendly place where taking a shower,
combing your hair,
wearing deodorant earns you the title of "douche-bag".

Where unkempt beards and pencil thin mustaches
are coffee soaked sexy beacons of
intelligence and a sure fire way to get laid
by that tight lipped, mealy mouthed girl
that just LOVES the burlesque movement
and wearing thin wire rimmed glasses
albeit 20/20 vision as she reads
Love and War for the 7th time
but only in plain view
of other like minded cocksuckers.

They leave together and fuck for hours on
Eco-friendly mattresses made of
unicorn farts,
dream catchers,
Indian feathers,
mustache clippings,
American Spirit cigarette butts
all held together with Co-exist stickers
lubing each other up with
soy milk
lightly steamed...
no foam.

Ray Strickland jr.

Author's Notes/Comments: 

Fuck Milwaukee.

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Red clay roads

To sit across the table from an empty chair.

You can play with the salt shaker until your order is taken.

Your plate of ice cold being alone is more than you can afford.

Your ankles will itch under the table.

You silently map your way to the exit and wait for the opportunity to knock.

The cafe patrons all around you
talking quietly about things you can't decipher.

They make plans with each other and smile
and grab crotches under the table, unzipping,
licking, whispering secrets divine,
taking measurements, explaining dreams,
plucking the feathers of flight,
ordering moons over my hammy.

You unwrap the silverware and twirl the fork, knife and spoon
like tiny pieces of paper with the numbers of old lovers written on
them that you refuse to throw away...just because.

You drift back in time.

To a muggy night in Alabama lying on an age old mattress
stuffed with chicken feathers, duck feathers, soaking
up the sweat that pours while crickets just
outside communicate the heat,
red clay roads stay open, moist and ready,
the stars above the trees pointing out the darkness,
the pond out back is filled with sleeping catfish and quiet reeds,
and a worn down bar of soap, homemade with pig lard and lye
collects moonlight in the

kitchen window as you sleep.


Raymond Mitchell Strickland Jr.
10:01 pm

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I asked for this.

The unfortunate sunsets and hollow sunrises.

The smell of your clothes and the silence there after.

I fold my hands to pray to bring an end.

Nothing works.

I still see your face.

Those little soft hairs on your neck

that were golden and beautiful

and it cements everything.


Raymond Mitchell Strickland Jr.

Author's Notes/Comments: 

For Cathy Solis

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Bus Stop

My reasoning just passed by on the 18.

I swear I saw it behind the salted windows
tucked away in one of the backseats of
the roaring beast.

I, in turn brushed my teeth
with guilt and will continue to
do so until the day I die.


Raymond Mitchell Strickland Jr.

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It was another hot and muggy night in East Texas.
One of those nights where the pines would sweat
and the cops wouldn't even bother.

We each took 2 and half hits of purple micro-dot acid.

We wanted to make sure we got our fill
as it was a rarity to find such quality shit in our neck of the woods.

Somehow we found our way to an abandoned apartment building.
You know how it goes.
We were young,on fire and hot under the collar.
We tore the boards off one of the windows and there we found paradise.
It was dank,moldy and had this wonderful golden hue
that was cast in from the street lights nestled in the overgrown courtyard.

We layed down on the pungent carpets matted with dirt, rat shit,
mold and years upon years of domestic disputes.

Eyes closed, we held hands side by side as dreams flooded our being,
sweat beads ran electric over fevered shells, all the fucking angst we'd collected
throughout our young lives came to a boil only

to steam up and disappear with a fervency neither one of us had expected.

In my minds eye I was transfixed on the most beautiful color I had ever seen.
It was in the form of the sun.
It was red and yellow at the exact same time.
There was no difference between the two...much like us.

I squeezed your hand unable to muster the words.

I could feel the sweat of our palms blending, pulsing , swimming through our pores
inward,outward and just then, at that very moment
you broke the silence by whispering, "Rello."


Ray Strickland jr.

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Horse and buggy

Last night I saw a stallion pulling a

buggy through Downtown.

It had various bags lapped over it’s frame.

Some for feed and some for shit.

The horse had blinders on to prevent

it from getting startled.

I imagined that the horse dreamed of grassy hills,

fresh water streams and thorn bushes

strewn with berries and snake foam luxuries.

The young couple in the buggy

held tightly to their camera straps

and roses wrapped in plastic.


Ray Strickland

July 17, 2011

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1701 N. Arlington Pl.

In a bar.

12 hour day at work.

Lost my car keys last night and
had to call a locksmith to make a
new set.

$95 later my friend called me to
tell me that he'd found my keys
in his front seat.

This happened and will continue
to do so with a fervency the likes
of which you couldn't imagine.

I'm at a table now unwinding
with a beer, trying to regain my will, my smile.

I spot a table directly across
from me with a slightly chubby
girl dressed to the nines.

She's surrounded by a pack of wolves
drenched in AXE body spray and
Ed Hardy t-shirts.

The wolves take turns arm wrestling
the young girl...and of course
she wins but nothing could be
further from the truth.


Ray Strickland

June 23,2011

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