Stalled Ink
for Lois 1942–2020


At the grocery store Lois searches
in her wallet, her pockets, her planner,
her purse, her phone…
The girl at the register
eats Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.
Her fingertips are stained bright red.

What Lois searches for
bleeds through the paper and the paper
has faded away.


From 8,000 feet up
in the basket of a hot air balloon
this town could be OK.

Beside the propane’s roar
the dementia ward could be
just another rectangle fume
of white elastomeric roof
dotted with swamp coolers.

From the middle of the troposphere
this town may be even better.

If I concentrate, my left foot can feel
like a water moccasin on my right.
The phone rings and the nurse says,
Lois punched a man in the face.
They’d been laughing.

It’s cold in hot air balloons
so much closer to the sun.


Suzanne writes a novel inside her head about her mom, Lois. It’s called Sister
Amadeo. There’s being born in Pittsburgh, 1942. There’s leaving the convent with
an acoustic guitar. There’s her and Tom’s babies scrabbling on the floor. There’s a
divorce. There’s a bungalow on the South Side of Chicago with sandwich fixings
in the fridge: Lebanon bologna, Limburger cheese, horseradish, stone ground
mustard, butter lettuce, bread and butter pickles, pumpernickel rye. There’s a jar
of fire roasted red peppers glowing on the counter. The dining room is soaked
with soft light and poetry. Marge Piercy open on the table. With a pen from
Chesterfield Federal, Lois underlines a line. She makes notes in the margin for a
dissertation she couldn’t finish. I tell Suzanne to start the brain damage part like
this: That year the yellowing of the trees came on like an aneurysm. Suggesting line edits
for a novel in your wife’s head is dangerous. Is it empathy or something worse?
There’s the live-in lesbian lover. There’s the pop-up trailer in Saugatuck and the
clatter of Yahtzee dice on the laminate table. There’s the sway of Merit cigarette
smoke out the mesh window. There’s the year she moved to New Mexico, and the
year we gave everything but her clothes to a family who lost their home in a fire.
There’s the Memory Care Unit, and there’s the lime-sherbet-Sierra-Mist punch of
the Christmas party. Suzanne says, easy for you, I can’t write those things until she’s


There’s walkers studded with gutted
tennis balls. There’s women half sleeping
in a row of recliners. One clutches a wolf.
One sucks her thumb and cradles a baby doll.
There’s John Denver on a SANYO stereo
with detachable speakers: Take me home,
country roads. There’s an efficiency kitchen
though lunch rolls in. There’s coffee, aerosol
freshener and pee. It’s nobody’s fault.
There’s Lois meeting her granddaughter
every few minutes for the first time.
There’s a nurse telling us, Lois needs
new shoes. There’s us looking for the size
in each one. There’s no use, she’s rubbed it
from the tongue.


Lois kisses you goodbye
on the forehead and on the neck.
This the only skin showing
between the shower cap
and disposable goggles
that keep fogging up
and the robe that ties
and folds around you.
Lois whispers, mother
and dad and a few others,
but you can’t hear
because the shower cap
over your ears
and your 45 years
over your ears
and you race to the bathroom
and scrub her kisses
from your forehead
and just above your collarbone
with antibacterial soap
until your skin rips from the cracks
and 45 years pour out
as you walk past the nurses
and in the hospital’s
parking garage you disrobe
and burn your clothes.


Suzanne says to her sister, mom died
at 8:30.

A train punches
through a moving blanket
of fog. Richton Park, the last stop
south of Chicago
along the main branch
of the Metra Electric Line.
See all the people
shifting from one
stupid foot
to the other.

The optic nerve of a hummingbird
on a spool with common thread.
It smells like wire burning.
It hisses like a Ziploc bag
of vinegar and baking soda
taped to the showerhead.
It sticks to my fingers
like tapioca pudding.

The Memory Care Unit
puts her stuff in 2 boxes
with a lamp on top.
All her stuff
in 2 large U-Haul boxes
with a lamp on top.

How many boxes
would you be?
How many lamps on top?
They call Suzanne, say,
ready for pick up.


Suzanne burns Lois’ papers.

Phone numbers. Dates. Addresses.
Fax cover sheets to the neurologist.
Polystyrene windows. Blue flames.

Suzanne says goodbye to Lois’ papers.

I tell her, create more area
crumple but not too tight.
Suzanne rips and crumples.
Fire pages flex and glow
like bellies of ruby necked turkeys
leaping sometimes the pit completely.
Ember toes dissolve in cut weeds.

Is there overdraft protection in heaven?
Staples of unused checkbooks
pop at the moon.

Parts of this poem were originally published in The American Journal of Poetry and in Staley’s 2nd full length collection The Pieces You Have Left.


POET STALEY “MC FLASHCARD” drops a new VIDEO : BLUE BLOOD BLUE EYE (Remix) LIVE FROM the 10 X 25 Conference in Las Cruces, NM


Minty Moses kept em hid
don’t wanna know what grandpa did
in my yard my confederate cannon
i take on what south abandon
bout them chains, bout them whips
bout that black blood whites forget
history’s a broken record
what we remember so selective
turning point became convex
North and South the same duplex
Year before the mayflower
came the old white power

I don’t need another
confederate brother
I don’t need another
bull conner brother
I don’t need another
david duke mother
I don’t need another
blue wall my brother

I don’t need another
Fancy frat brother
I don’t need another
Turncoat southerner
I don’t need another
Don’t tread on me brother
Tread on me brother
tread on me brother

some dermis in the game
got a skirmish in your brain
study your mind soon as you rise
why do you need an alibi
are you that ofay from last night
smashin glass wearin sheets of white
show your face birth a nation
freeze frame my generation

blue blue blood blue blue eye
never too late to compromise
blue blue blood blue eye
yell yell yell sick ‘em
then play the victim
blue blue blood blue blue eye

I don’t need another
don’t tread on me brother
I don’t need another
bull conner brother
I don’t need another
david duke mother
I don’t need another
blue wall my brother
I don’t need another
Fancy frat brother
I don’t need another
Turncoat southerner
I don’t need another
Don’t tread on me brother
tread on me brother
tread on me brother

i aint sayin i’m scott free
some times i’m like
stayin in the moment, what?!
would you help me choose
the most patriotic hate group
And by honesty I mean you’re way ahead of me
good looking the other way
how our country was made



Monsoon Man emerges from the scum of that big puddle
on North Main,
the one other there by Wells Fargo
across the street from KFC
it’s his favorite low spot.

Monsoon Man, he concentrates
on last year’s clouds.
He was around before time, back when time
was shameless
and shaped like amaranth.

Monsoon Man, he rises unnoticed,
webbed knees, shoulders
misty saffron-yellow flix weed.
A purple funk in his eyes
blinking like an ailing light bulb.
A mountain chasm of fog
pumping from the cracks between his mossy teeth.

Monsoon Man sometimes makes mistakes socializing,
just like you,
but his body is inside out
and covers the whole basin.

Monsoon Man says the aquifers are stacked,
he says they’re dominoes of water and light.
By his calculations the ganglion is 2,552 feet beneath
where Farney turns into Woffard.

Monsoon Man teaches Morse code to every stone
but you see the stones don’t reinforce it in their homes so…

Monsoon Man is the patron saint of puddles
after their gone.

It’s raining, he’s the drops splattering,
water balloons of testosterone, dust and soot.
His blood is galaxies of drizzle,
curtains of granite murk,
flurries of aggressive dew.
His is a private eye
in a cage of august rainbow.

Monsoon Man feeds the street cats and the tree birds
and the street cats kill the tree birds just for fun
and Monsoon Man is haboobing in Arizona
or catching some Zzzz’s on the Brazos.

Monsoon Man’s hands have rainwater on their breath.

Monsoon Man’s eyes are green like mine.

I like it when water tongues out from a crack in the rock face,
I like it when the desert sun is rough with it.
Monsoon Man doesn’t look at it that way.

Monsoon Man doesn’t tell water where to go.
Monsoon Man doesn’t get all mushy.

Puncture vines were brought here accidentally from Africa;
Monsoon Man received a memo.

The grasses explode–mosquitoes follow suit.
The rainiest August in decades, the lethal needle,
the basin has forgotten the yellow crinkle.

It’s raining on Mount Fuji; no one is haikuing.
Fog wrapping in the downy castaway of a dove’s feather
infiltrates a flower like white mold.

I reach my hand into the cloud.
I reach my hand hoping to find the stem.
My fingers found the lightning hot stem.

Monsoon Man uses a stick in the dirt
so the message can flow.


author’s note: this poem was commissioned by KTAL’s The Buzzman : Voice of the Rio Grande during Monsoon Season, 2022 in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Fortunately paper money was too soggy to be exchanged so we made due with doubloons.


POET STALEY’S Top 20 Alternatives to Sun-Dried Tomatoes

1 astigmatism based insult dried tomatoes

2 Moonraker reboot with a Native American tender age Bond instead of Roger Moore dried tomatoes

3 silent treatment dried tomatoes

4 dry ice dried tomatoes

5 split pea spit dried tomatoes

6 11% ethanol dried tomatoes

7 sex lies and videotape dried tomatoes

8 Chihuahuan inhalations dried tomatoes

9 old New Hampshire white man music teacher holding his breath
dried tomatoes

10 doppelgänger with a zip tie necktie dried tomatoes

11 Howard Zinn versus Kit Carson dried tomatoes

12 apocryphal pre-apocalyptic college board dried tomatoes

13 “Waiting Around to Die” by Townes Van Zandt dried tomatoes

14 poutine dream tomatillo seeds on a Sunday spread with your
cousin on a platter dried tomatoes

15 Trumpers reciting love poems by gay Black tall women
dried tomatoes

16 hair dried tomatoes

17 fluoride in disguise dried tomatoes

18 shattered glass of a Walmart frame dried tomatoes

19 prime number imposter syndrome dried tomatoes

20 red dwarf cottage cheese star thistle lycopene dried tomatoes

authors note: drying tomatoes with “sun” is cliche, base and possibly abusive. Tomato farmers and grocers nationwide should be ashamed of themselves. Are outrageous slotting fees or an epic small mindedness to blame?! What about the tomatoes dried by seven of Saturn’s 83 moons? Don’t they deserve a shot?


El Paso poet & publisher BOBBY BYRD passed away on July 11, 2022. He was a friend, mentor and hero to me, the TATER. In this week’s MONSOON DOWN THE RADIO we hear jazz and 4 poems by Bobby; also in this episode 2 poems by Palestinian poet Mohammed El-Kurd. These are the jazz artists we hear in order: US Air Force Academy Falconaires, Chuck Mangione, Jimi Tenor, Ron Carter, Houston Person, Bob Flourence, Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Terry Gibbs Dream Band, Ron Carter, Cedar Walton, Jack DeJohnette, Bob Brookmeyer, Dennis Coffey, Sara Serpa, Matthew Sheens, Jazz Q Praha, Egba

This is the last sequence of Summer Session 2022.

here ya go: MONSOON DOWN THE RADIO for BOBBY BYRD -2 hours of jazz and poetry


Reverence for the women in the poet’s life, stealth bombers, a juvenile cougar strangled on the trail and plenty of blank space on well-organized pages come together in The Pieces You have Left,  Staley’s second full-length collection. Echoes of recent giants from Mary Oliver to bell hooks, musical quotations from Lucinda Williams to Miles Davis, support a collection distinguished by winningly colloquial titles: “I’d Like to Teach the (Tone Deaf) World to Sing,” and “The Solid Beams and Poles That Support Society Are Cottage Cheese, Mostly”. Staley hits that sweet spot of subtle, real vulnerability to keep you engaged in surprising ways. He often writes to honor the dead, among them a mother-in-law who, in the late 1960s, left the convent with an acoustic guitar on her back and decades later: “moved to New Mexico and gave everything but her clothes to a family who lost their home in a fire.”

This collection was a Finalist in the 2021 Hillary Gravendyk Prize poetry book competition sponsored by Inlandia Institute of California, and was featured in the Harlem Book Fair 2021.

“Staley writes from personal experience but elliptically, jumping and omitting details to make the individual parts more suggestive. Each poem comes across as a collage of pieces though the pieces all relate to the whole.” -Joseph Somoza

The Pieces You Have Left. Those are some good poems. The poem for Suzanne is exquisite ‘promise and surprise’! YAHOO” – Bobby Byrd

Buy a signed copy directly from the author for $18.00 + Free Shipping: btn_buynow_SM

or purchase your paperback or Kindle copy today at AMAZON

Published in 2021 by Beatlick Press : Oaxaca, Mexico.

Cover Art by Meg G. Freyermuth


After Ahmaud Arbery 3.23.20

His arrival here
cut one background
from another.

Five hands sprung 
from each of his wrists. 

I wipe the ashes
off the armoire. 
I light a new stick of incense
Morning Star Mellow Pine.

He sits on my sofa
The muscle spasm in his leg
ribbons the room.
From the corner of my eye
his sweatshirt
slung over a chair back.

His Oral-B toothbrush


Black and White Thinking 6.17.21

At the end of a long day Civil Warrin’, 
Robert E Lee and Stonewall Jackson 
sat together in a plush loveseat
and soaked their feet in the same tub of Epsom Salts. 
And they murmured, they murmured to each other 
and puttied in 
and sanded off 
and painted over 
the great flaw they shared, 
that hardy, ubiquitous facade they shared
with every slave holding heart. 

My therapist told me, 
Black and White thinking
is the first of ten
cognitive distortions.

Growing up privileged and white 
in Montgomery meant 
there were no Blacks
outside and beyond
my service partition; the solution 
to a Confederate calculation--
witness the cleaning gesture 
of a brush 
that’s filled with paint.

In this stanza a Black person
doesn’t ring me up at Books-A-Million,
doesn’t fry my chicken at the frat house,
doesn’t ladle my gravy into a mountain lake
of mashed potatoes at Memorial Presbyterian Church, 
doesn’t dip my cone at Dairy Queen on Atlanta Highway,
doesn’t drain my oil at Jiffy Lube in Bay 3 in Mountain Brook.

Phyllis Wheatley—America’s first
Black poet—was enslaved
by the Wheatley family.
They said she was seven
because of her teeth.
Which one 
pried her open
to count the empty spaces?


How do you find a diamond ring in the lake?
Hit bottom.
Start in the middle.
Spiral out.


find tim on Insta

Hear Tim reading these poems @ 1:04:44


The 2nd full-length poetry collection, The Pieces You Have Left, by Tim Staley is coming soon!

Space travel, masculinity, war, sterilization, death of friends and family, Gila Wilderness shade, Covid-19, white flight in the Deep South and fatherhood are some of the starting points.

These poems were mostly composed between 2016 and 2021.

Tim Staley is a poet based in Las Cruces, New Mexico. He was born in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1975. He founded Grandma Moses Press in 1992 and continues to serve as editor. He is faculty at Organ Mountain High School.

This collection will be published by Beatlick Press : Oaxaca, Mexico

Beatlick Press was founded in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 2011.

Cover artwork: “Queen Magdalena” by Meg G Freyermuth © October 2017