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JR's Poetry

All contents Copyright 1963 to 2016 by JR Compton. All Rights Reserved.
No reproduction in any medium without specific written permission from J R Compton


My poetry's an inconstant companion. Years go by, then there's a spate. 2004 was amazing. Then it ebbed for years.

This page is arranged chronologically from the University of Dallas where I graduated in 1966 through Viet Nam, my underground newspaper and other days and years and decades and centuries..

Click this and subsequent Yellow Diamonds to navigate quickly to my favorite poems — the ones that elicited applause at my spare few public readings.

The latest poem is on the bottom of this page.





One Last

One last
then bed
for sleep has
chased ‘way
thoughts pen
could say

January 14, 1963
The first poem I ever kept




Someone spilled lavender
on a sky —
and mixed in gray.
Then disatisfied,
he washed it away —
leaving only the true.
Finally, with a misty tide
of nebulous and stray
wisps of bleached night,
He obscurred even the blue
and doused the light.

January 4, 1965


If love

If love be close
then I’m trapped.
If love be pain
I’ll be strapped
and beaten
and beaten again.

May 24, 1965


Dale's 21

Hey what, Birthday Boy!
How’s it feel, to be more?
Not much change,
You say, has come?
Well, I’ll promise you
Birthday Boy, one —
and twenty, and then some
when you are twenty-and-one.

Sept 26 65
For my brother




Pink, Peruvian, Sunset City

We live in
a pink, Peruvian, sunset city
when the sun
after a thunderstorm
or other blacksky rain
breaks fast
into the last moments of day.
The golden slant stays
only a moment or two
then dissapears into night
after enough light has spilled
to drench our pink,
Peruvian sunset city.

May 3, 1966
From UD, Dallas looked like a...



For My Cousin Brian, on His Death


Round it.
Round he tried it
but downed.
Found drowned in it
he breathed once.
Drowned in the breathe
he once sailed.


Fast too,
tho not too fast.
Still not fasting,
no glutton he.
Breakfast for him
life was,
and a full day’s lunch.
Always well lunched, he was
in it —
in a then-fast nonfast
break-fest, broken
only recently.


Missed now
he didn’t before
miss much.
He saw and
more than most.
Most don’t ever see.
Most missed things
he brothe
daily till now.


Stop gabbering, Cody
remember how he told
you that?)
Remember him.
How he hailed in, and brothe
the sailing-in air.
Remember too
to remember
the dismembered joys
and please stop gabbering, Cody,
please stop gabbering.


June 9 66
Brian died when his car slid on frozen road near Cody,
Wyoming coming back from college for Christmas.
A few years later, his little brother did the same thing
near the same place.



Red is a verb

Green, bleeding
Turn brown
in the morning.
down in the vast mound
of mourning
death’s blood flows
sowing tears.
And years
again grow forests
who bleed.

July 1966




People who don’t have any answers
are the real people.
Those who watch the sea
and say nothing
but just watch
and vaguely hear the
waves crashing the shore,
idly thinking of sun glitter
and water and waves —
unconsciously touching their hands
slightly together.

May 13, 1968



Yellow Diamond

I feel the oozing perfumes
of crushed humanity,
losing their way
among your rivers.




Nam Lizards
Yellow Diamond

I’ve seen your withering lizard
body slithering into the sands
of Southeast Asia.
I’ve seen it on the beaches
tonguing fury
at the flies
who lie in your wounds
and watch.

October 1968





Jennifer Sunshine Blue Eyes smiles
and holds her far-back secrets closed.

back in Dallas to start my
underground newspaper career





Tattered and torn
windows worn
with watching out of.
Curtains of glass
are the shattered past
mosaic in her quiet.
The sky, sea, and sands
is all.

(She stands
quite alone.
Sand hair, sky eyes
once were there.)

But the sea looked through
and saw her crying.

for Joanie, after the divorce



The Stoney Poem

He knew the end was coming
but he didn’t raise his hands
He saw the sun was setting
on the edges of his land.

But all he said was
Sorry friend, I’ve got this
one-man band of gypsies
in my head
and they’re all a leavin’ me.”
He said, “Old friend,
They’re all a leavin’ me.”

Hey Mr. Lonely,
Mr. Underground Press himself

For Stoney Burns, firebrand editor
of Dallas NOTES before I was, after he left Notes.
He said he took acid (LSD) three times but only came back twice.
The last two lines were added by William "Gabby" Gaberino.




She smiles
little girl smiles
and glows
redcheek joy.
Bursting inside
she’s an indoor/outdoor fountain
splashing flashes
of sadhappyblues again.

January 27, 1972
Joyce M




last resort

We resort to poetry
when nothing else
seems to work.





Mr. Nomatterwhat

Mr. Nomatterwhat
Came today
And made me promise.




Rusty Blue Truck

How I envy their togetherness
their fights and spats and even
their rusty blue truck that often
grinds low into nothing when they
try to start it.

August 72




Tin Soldiers

Like pop bottles
on the fence
and tin soldiers,
I’ve killed them off
by turn.
I’m slow to touch,
to hold, or love,
but quick to spurn.

September 15, 1972




Brown Ghosts

I hold my hands back
from reaching out
and touching.
I’m keeping myself
to myself
while my eyes wander
like brown ghosts






Yellow Diamond


She flees from me
who, with sudden eyes
feeds my touch
with such wide surprise
of joy
and fear

Dec 2 73
For Cheri


Yellow Diamond


God will love you more
In New Orleans as a whore
Than if you stay
And pray
Your life and love away.

But if you decide
To run, not hide
Out under the Badlands’ good sun,
Please let me know
Where you go.
And the address of your store.


February 21, 1974
My answer when Cheri told me in a letter,
"As for me, JR, I can't decide if
I'd rather be a holy hermit
in the South Dakota Badlands
or a New Orleans whore."




1) any unbroken
part of the
of a circle
or other curved line;

2) a luminous bridge
formed in a gap
between two
conductors or terminals
when they are

3) the part of a circle
representing the
apparent course
of a heavenly

Epiphany 1988



Cut-up Currency

Ms. Tre,
As you can see,
I’ve brought you
A gift not too
Valueless. (Worth
A little, worth a lot —
Like friends, it
Depends on what
You make of them.)

May 20, 1988
for Tre
gift of slashed
paper money from
the mint



Why a party

Because it is spring…
Because my house is clean…
Because I feel good…
Because my caterer can make it that day…
Because I feel if not exactly at one with the Universe, at least down to at three or two with it…
Because I generally do have a party about this time…
Because it is not my birthday…
Because the weather ought to be just about right…
Because I would really like to have a bunch of my friends gathered around me right around now…
Because it is still spring…
Because I am happy, and it is okay…
Because I feel a party coming on…
Because I have been making a buncha new friends here lately, and it would be nice to get them all together in one big mix…
Because it has not felt quite this good in too long a time…
Because if I do not do it now I will have to wait until it is my birthday, and that is way the hell next fall…
Because I want to…
Because it is just about time…
And just because…

April 1989
text of an invitation



My god's not scary

My god’s not scary, doesn’t hang out
in churches or live in heaven.
He’s neither he nor she, never had
any kids, and doesn’t hold grudges.

She doesn’t keep a list of who’s
been naughty or nice, has never
been on anybody’s side,
and doesn’t grant exclusives.

I call it “The Universe.” It’s out there.
I can see, hear, feel, smell, taste,
intuit, as well as experience it in
ways I don’t need words for.
It is as endless as knowledge,
as old as time, as big as space.

Coincidences occur. They have
purpose but are unplanned. Like
dreams, they imply what we infer.
Rational wisdom is important.
Intuitive action essential.

Friends are those whose inconsistencies
we can overlook. Enemies are people
whose contradictions we will not tolerate.

Change is scary. Fear hurts.
I am here to know, love and serve my
fellow beings and to be happy with them
on earth. Because that’s all we got.

People who enjoy what they do are richer
than those who make more money.
If it’s fun, let’s do it.
If it’s not, let’s stop.

Magic happens. If you believe in it,
it works. Intention determines morality.
Love is possible, but it needs work.

These are my truths. No one else need
own them. They are obvious to me,
and I don’t see why they’re not
to you, too. But it’s okay.

Thanks for being my friend.

Epiphany 90





Listen. Far away. A familiar sound
behind the children playing.

Now, we know it as train.
It is tramping the noise in
rushing leaves and ice cream trucks
and dogs barking.

Bright houses echo it.

Motion sees the rolling boxes fast
flashing through the neighborhood.
Past children in the park,
past quiet in the trees,
flashing lights, clanging bells.

Closer now,
giant loud, heavy rhythm
banging clanging clacking
wheels on track
close, fast, never clear.

A sudden
it is gone.

April 1992





Shit-eating dog,
if your soul was on fire
I wouldn’t piss on your
rotting corpse.

June 7, 1990
About a jackass I put on the Allen Street Gallery
Board of Directors, who later voted me off
the Board for warning of nepotism,
within a year, Allen Street was dead of it.






Felling Thoughts

Felling thoughts steep
into the dank, deep
crosslight near sleep.

From that silence,
thoughts creep
uninvited — dark
mind words like
lost souls wander
from limbo heat
to dungeon keep —
wrapped in ancient
bloodless heap.

June 28, 1990
More Allen Street thoughts



Yellow Diamond


I don't have a life. I have a TV. Movies keep me glowing in the dark of empty dreams and let me laugh or cry when those need to flow. Logical and serene, unlike life, I can always guess how it ends.




Ceramic Crush

A noisy room of talk and art
all murmur and roar of conversation.
When a sudden silence struck
in the light, hollow, wreck of a
round, empty, ceramic crush
imploding the crowded noise —
sucking the sound right out
of thought. For one long, immense
moment, no one of us present
could conceive any but the crashing
silence. Caught in a sweeping hope
of continuity, fragile transparent
breakables filled our minds —
bottle, punchbowl — anything
but art. Freed by hope, someone
broke from the stillness to discover
what we all wanted to forget.
Then, in a resounding choral rejoinder,
the room resumed its din.

June 25 1992
at the old D-Art building



Rag Rug

The fabric of my life
is a rag rug all woven
of throwaway moments and
nothing seems to match.

Who or what am I or
who will I be is still
an unanswered question
that begs forgiveness.

The tattered field is worn,
the edges frayed, and
the colors run awry
in a curious state of grace.

June 27, 1992


It just fell

It just fell
like so many words
flung in patterns
preset, bridging gaps,
rhyming reason,
following thought
to ballistic conclusion.

Through logic's quirk
impended motion chased
voiced unthought words
wagging involuntary, led
into a sudden gale of
laughing echo while
I wonder what I said.




I Am Owned

I am owned poemagraphic

August 11, 1992


Malicious Mischief:

Five guys in white, baggy overalls
streaming across a northpark expanse
of steaming asphalt lined with
candy colored cars and trucks.

Nobody's eyes or face is seen,
anonymous white wrapped shoes
quick quiet track the lot,
shade green goggles dart and search —
fast wrinkly white blots sliding
past a stream of shining metal machine.

Trailing jouncing vidcam,
then sound man,
rushing from land barge, aging rust
hulk white van to big dark, tint glass
rollbar chrome pickup funny truck.
Each, in turn turned, bumped, shook,
pushed the intensity
of maybe seven seconds
then on to the next.

In the wake, a dead-waking drone scream
hum bleet black harmonic distortion
bright parking lot full of screaming
car alarms gone beserk.

November 12, 1993



Floor Song

I have often dreamt
a trio of delicate dancers
dressed in dark,
foot-free floating
clumsy bump walking
over old, bare wood
floors of art museum
and selected gallery.

Pausing at an image,
one or another lithe
creature tests
underfoot creak groan
squeaking expanse,
matching visual movement
parallel the art.

Unbound by courtesy
or common sense,
another joins the
motion in a
rhythm band
quiet cacophany.

in another part
of the art-
lined room,
the third
grind-bumps in
the gentle moaning
of the groaning wood

November 12, 1993
These two were originally meant to
be screenplays for video productions


_ _ _


Try as I might
my clock ticks the night
and sleeps till day is
half gone.




The time between lovers
lengthens like the amber slant
of late Texas sun
shining a single shadow
on stone.

April 21, 1994




Tiny white
propellers —
five flat
rounded blades
swasticka like
to the hollow
green fuse.
molten tapered
leaves dwarf
the spray while
dense narcotic
cool heat
floods my nose.
I cannot
that thick
heavy waft
seconds after
I put it

May 11, 1994




After chanting
more than forty
minutes we
meditate —
max four
thoughts riccochet
through my mind
and gone —
I am never
so clear

May 11, 1994
Chanting with Tre and others




autumn explosive

Today from my office window
at work on the end of October
in the late bright amber I see a
marvelous parade of gilt edged
multicolored trees aft a white brick
wall and gray, red and white-striped
parking lot. Their explosive autumn
branches are rocking in a random
compression of competing breezes
mixing greens and red, brown waving
ochre against a powdery blue sky
puffed with pinkish clouds soft lined
in pre-storm gray rolling in a speedup
rooftop shooting gallery of lilting yellow
light and not a person
in sight.

October 31, 1994
at Gorpucko


For Libby

Libby poem clock

Those moments
are fireworks or
eating watermelon
with our bare hands,
swinging in swings,
sliding slides or
jungling gyms.

Child joys, wiggling words,
and then
gotta drive home.

July 4, 1996
For my niece, Olivia,
who lets me call her Libby.



If Only

If only I start
with the words
"my heart,"
you know this poem
is about affection —

But it is my soul
and so much more than that —

The whole of my being that
upon further inspection
proves my connection
with you.

February 9, 1997 




Glass flowers
don't crisp,
brown in the wind,
or die.

They shatter.

September 13, 1999
at our departure, I
gave her a glass rose.




She splashes beauty
like a song
when she smiles.
Silent eyes flash the
whiles she sings
my heart in
stills a tune of
conjoin souls.

November 13, 1999



On Editing Poetry

When I was an art critic
I had trouble with paintings'
plastic view of everything
and anything in that unyielding frame.

But I couldn't touch or walk
or wrap my mind around it,
hold it in my head and taste
its textures, color and mass.

Like words in too many poems
and other glib stories, the meaning
was clear enough, but the
joy of construction, the leap
of faith wild angles and third
or time dimensions flatly
contradicted conventional continuoms
of space and narrative onomatopoea.

Cumulating images jar the landscape
of memory, but the piles of paint —
of rolling rhymed phrases
don't sum to an experiencial
moment of rhyming reason

The detritus of broken
bodies of hue and crying letters
belie the cunning craft
of subtle structure.

Clay pots
conquer inward, implode,
their shiny shards more
impressive than their containing.

February 12, 2000




Yellow Diamond

Pencil Cactus Valentine


I'd give you time,
if you thought it would take,
and I'll give you love,
and hope it will make.

But, for now, on this quiet
winter Valentine, I give you
gentle sprigs of budded
things, like we are, intertwined.

With fine, and tapping roots
to sup the mud a fountain
blessed, the soil I grew
in bequest to you,
and an ancient, dirty
Mexican pot my mother got.

Fear not, there are no
sharp tines to prick your skin,
no tangly vines to hold you in.
No schemes to root, no blight.

Just a couple of slight, leafless
entities that need so little heed,
your smile, a lot of light,
and water once in a while.

February 14, 2000
on parting with Dr. Kathy



Logical Extension of Language — Projectile Poeting

Yellow Diamond

Like a good country & western song,
You can sing along
Never having heard the words

The mother tongue
Once it's sung
For a thousand years or more
Begins to finish its own

Something about leaning
Into the scheming
of language, seeming
to make sense,
Makes, instead,

After all, a cliché
is just another way
to say something we all
already know.

And what language is for,
is, more, or less,
a door.

After Hearing Charles Bernstien at the MAC
March 11, 2000


First Kiss

The moment around
it was lovely, though.
Your smile, hair, us,
aglow. Four fingers of
my right hand touching
your hip. Almost let
you go. Then, reaching
again, slightly, just so,
drawing us in, paired
to our center. Shared,
shocked, momentary
flow. Slow to see
our questioned eyes be
slowly smiling faces
quickly smiling back
in our tendering, stared,
mild astonishment.
Wild discovery we each
willed give way to
a kiss, stiff-lipped like
a friend, fending gentle
softness when, seconds
apart, no parts touch,
nothing to say.
Our selves again
lost and found in
that same moment,

March 28, 2000
for Chris



The Fall

Only in retrospect
can I recall
the inevitability
of the fall.

Falling, there
was always hope
I'd glide up
some long down
slope and ride
the gentle thermal
drafts that slide
soft beneath
my wings to
sling my
shaken craft
aloft again.

March 29, 2000



for Haley

Every little honey
Needs a little money
from time to time.

December 21, 2001
a Christmas card containing
cash for my niece, Haley



To a Friend

My Friend Richard jrc photo

I miss the welcome wagging of an exploding
blond tail, and wonder will he, this time, bark.

His big, round, brown and knowing eyes
watch me, waiting. When he's close,
I test his patience, petting where I know
he does not let mere mortals go —
but a friend, well maybe for a while,
if I don't smile too loud when I do.

From forty feet away, Richard knows
the whoosh of an icebox pulled, even
with a TV blare. Sharing food from the fridge
in the middle of the night — he'll pause
his sleepy sentry of the lady fair.

And be there by the time I figure out what to eat.
I watch his hungry eyes tilt and forehad furrow,
wondering which of the goodies I will share
with my big, brown and furry bear.

Ah, but the best of Richard's bless
is walking through the night around the school.
Him shitting somewhere in the shadows, then
always zigging and zagging, with me dragging
along. We have long conversations out
there in that cool — or hot — wafting air.

January 2004
a dog I learned to love



Butterfly Fingers

Rachel talks through
long, flute-taught
butterfly fingers
waving delicate
in the breeze,
signing paragraphs
with easy grace,
punctuating her joy
with lithe, blonde

March 15, 2004
for Tre's daughter Rachel




when i first got your poem
i put it on a page
without reading it.

i knew
it was good
deep down
where one knows
these things.

i didn't read it aloud
until today
a few moments ago.

i was amazed
it rhymed.
it went a place
too many poems
never arrive

i read poems
often and know
within seconds
it's no good

too this
sucky that
innane, stupid, unwise

other times
i just take them in
and let them
swirl around
in here

read them later
when it's past

October 21 2004
It's just so comforting to know
there's someone out there who is
way crazier than I am



A Matrix
of Moments

like hands
pressing gentle
together that
never did.

An astrologer who
either didn’t get me
or I her

told a day
a month
last summer,
when I
was thinking
about you,

would be
when I knew
my next lady

Roo said avoid
Metal Tigers,
born in 1950
when you
and Kathy
and Karen and

my brother
who has abstracted
from cities,
but lately
back into
life, was.

He said,
“They will
eat you alive."

I feared,
then forgot,
in the warm tide
of knowing you
too little.

Near flashing
ice cube time
I reached
your hair,
pulled a nit,
dropped it on
your empited

Surprised me, too —
one of few
with you.

A crowded
room I hoped,
in another
would think
you were
with me.

I remember
your hair
shining soft,
flowing noble
when you swirled
and swept it back,
gentle and swift,
like unlike
caught in a
matrix of them

I’d wanted
to touch, did.
Drew back

I wanted time to
know who we are
and whether —
When you
did not respond,

or didn’t
get my letter.

Metal cuts wood.
Tigers devour monkeys,
unless we out-
clever those
fierce beasts.

A matrix of moments
gathering like a storm
over the lake,
darking the sky
long enough
to let go,

soak the city
with sentiments


First time I wrote this
a fuse blew
mid the first stanza.

This time
I got to the end
my Mac
closed the
but saved
the words.

December 16, 2004
for a friend



A Trip Is

A trip is moments
that happen
or are beautiful.

Hurried like Jeopardy
the second time through,
and I still can't remember
all the answers
in the form of questions.

Repartee with family,
talking during a new movie,
so we understand
what the guy's going through,
and not dripping
chocolate on the couch.

Planning tomorrow by
setting the alarm for early.

Eating pistachios, and
I still have a few without
cracks opened up yet
saved for tomorrow
from two days ago.

Photographed the sun
setting this evening
so busy I didn't even
notice a hummingbird
sucking the hummer tube
four feet away.

Did you get that?
No and yes, and we are
getting closer by going
farther away.

July 21 2010
on Ravenswood



We share
a failure
to communicate
that holds us
through a couple of days
then disipates in the
winds and clouds and then
we're talking again
a couple days later
like nothing ever
happened, and
nothing did.

It's just us being
so independent
we cant' stay




Soft mint stripes,
vanilla almost anything
dark chocolate
or dragon eggs
plumcots, chai,
Roastarama and,
green tea,
water no ice
share a margarita.

Sweetpea rolling over
with her legs and claws
and everything out
into the abyss.
old music, new
music in between
with a beat we can
still dance to




Last Supper
After Dinner Mints
syncopated music
we can hum
whistle drum
bump along with
in the car with
the radio on
through a
wooded street
we've never
been before
or since




a jangled phone call
ended abruptly
everybody pissed
a couple days
later what was
that all about




everywhere I point
my camera
there you are
as if all I
or my camera
can think about
is you



40 emails a day
when neither
of us can pick
up a telephone



no sugar in my blood
dead near drunk
and leaning on a fence
along the spillway
and you driving up
to the sidewalk
with candy



Bcc:ing emails
from idiots
just so
you know
what's going on
even if I
haven't a clue



turning the radio down
and changing the station
before I turn the Slider
off, so when
you get in
you can stilll
hear yourself think.



First thing in the morning
every day this week
of your birthday I am
straining my brain
for words to express how
I feel about you or always
have. And what there is
about you and about me
and about us
that keeps it going.


September 10  2011
of and for Anna



up early,

before light
walked out to my car
hearing the whisper
of soft wet on
my roof and yard,
stood in the warm cold
looking up and
feeling snow.


January 16 2013
for Anna



The last thing
my old shrink told me
was to listen to what she said.

But she won't talk to me, and
when I talk, she won't listen,
although for awhile there,
we shouted a lot.

So what we have here,
as Paul Newman's jailer did not say in that movie,
is a failure to


August 18 2014

Nuts & Bolts - Photograph Copyright 2016 JRCompton.com/birds   All Rights Reserved.  


11th Anniversary

Polished stainless steel from Elliot's.
Male bolt, left to right through a nut,
a split-lock washer and locking
into the female cap.

Looks like two nuts in the middle
with a washer holding them
solid together — independently apart 
in each other's arms.

Heft in the hand, a solid
three ounces of steel,
four pieces of stainless,
only the end-cap polished.

The nut and cap
might align hexagrams,
but I like the edges
30 degrees off parallel .

February 2, 2016
on Anna's and my
11th (steel)
and still woeking
on the poem





i saw coat

dint see no 'brella


I know I go on and on bout mine, but it's only way I know to tell you

who I am, and you

talkings only way I know to figure out

who you are.

(At UD, the two best lessons I learned

bout love was that it was me telling you who I am

and you telling me who you are

in a lotta different

and often odd sorts of ways;

That it only ever has a chance to continue

when we talk with each other

most of the time;

And the best definition of this silly putty that's love

is that it is always mutual well-wishing.

I wish you well

and I wish you would please share with me

about who you are and what you do

day to day by day by day.

(I promise words in edgewise and flat out

fifty percent of the time.

So i get to know who you are

under that brella

and you know way too much

bout me

under my new hat.


July 31 2016


July 31 2016




And poetry

is writing,


having written.

July 31 2016




I wish you trusted me to be my crazy self, and I wish I trusted you to be your crazy self, and I wish we’d drop all our disguises, and just be our crazy selves alone together 


November 2, 2017