Searching for Poe

(To Jared)

I’m not sure what was more important to me today,
Finding Poe or haunting haunted indie bookshops,
But to The Haunted Bookshop is where my search for Poe took me,
As I flaneured my mid-morning away through this literary mecca of mid-western existence,
Existentialism, Surrealism, Situationism,
Isms of Isms, rolling schisms of schizoidality rolled through my synapses,
Taking pause from the morning readings, writings and discussions,
Having exhausted all possibilities of finding my perfecto Poe anthology of poetry and prose in other bookshops,
And having exhausted the friendly helping elves of shelves in those shoppes,
I thought it’d be perfectly apropos to find Poe here,
Having already decided I’d buy some Poe before walking through the red doors of this place which welcomed me beseeching: “Curiouser and Curiouser”,
I mean, how could this flaneuring boulevardier of psychogeographic phantasmagoria resist?
I walked out of that shoppe with a so perfect, so well used and so well read version of Poe that I wasn’t searching for,
And I can’t wait to return to my humble
Accommodations to drift away to dreamland with this old green, weathered, hardcover pocket-size version of Poe in my hands.

Handcrafted poetry by John M. Hines, July, 2016

I wrote this poem during a weekend in Iowa City at University of Iowa’s Summer Writers Workshop. Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed!

Feed Up the Poor

We gave four pieces of Savannah’s finest pizza

To a hungry, homeless man tonight

For which people wait in line

Vinnie, Vinnie Van Go Go’s-

What a gourmand’s name delight!

Then we

Watched the hungry, homeless man shuffle away from East Bay Street

Just minutes later

After abandoning the pizza into the road

And tossing it with such nonchalance,

A drunken discus hurling,

Looking at us with a twinge of embarrassment (maybe?)

I asked him was it good?

A mumbled answer oh yeah, yeah,

Well God bless you and good night.


Pizza having tasted so good to us

Washing it down with a cold local brew IPA

After half a day of driving up 95

Slowly warming up to each other’s company

In the more relaxed cadences not afforded in everyday home life

And the drive, the drive of always getting there.


Symbolisms, stories, streets to be explored

Bull Street down to Forsyth Park tomorrow

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

And Flannery O’Connor’s childhood home

Sauntering square to square,

Sharing ideas for new tattoos

He, an endless circle undivided around his bicep

Poetry divided

Father and son joined over literary devices

Me, a chimera’s bold lion head arching over my shoulder

Its snake tail down the middle of my lower back

Inspired by a Baudelaire prose poem-

We all have our own.


The  hungry, homeless man gave us so much more than

We gave him tonight-

More than we could have imagined,

For we laughed and laughed with the biggest belly laughs we had shared

In a long, long while

For several hours posthaste,

Him tossing that half eaten beloved pizza into East Bay Street for the pigeons

To enjoy upon awakening next morn

Us going back later to snap a picture of its lonesome, under appreciated remains

Lying forlornly in the street with an improper buriel.


O’, how had we sold the hungry, homeless man so hard

On that half-eaten NY style pizza,

Hand tossed and hand carried to its final resting place-

Sausage, Ham, Onions, Mushrooms and Peppers,

(It’s not too spicy hot is it? Oh, no, no)

On a delicious true as truly genuine NY-style crust,

Having carried it with us to LIVE MUSIC at Molly McPherson’s Scottish Pub

Down Congress Street to Bull

To East Bay looking for someone in need with whom to share its glorious deliciousness.


All he asked for was a sandwich.

Handcrafted poetry by John M. Hines, July, 2016

Just days after this episode with our youngest son, I rather coincidentally read Baudelaire’s prose poem “Beat Up the Poor” in Paris Spleen.  I’ll be a long time chewing on that one as well as our shared experience in Savannah and our reactions to it.  The title for this poem is thus derived.  Hope you enjoyed.  Thank you for reading.



Faithful Proof

Faithful to the writing

Faithful to the purpose

Of being

Proof of faithfulness


Higher ground

Found higher ground

A higher place in Iowa City

Didn’t find Flannery O’Connor

Discovered Frank O’Hara

Such a hearty lunch

Digging deep, falling into Baudelaire

Northwest winds blowing

Refreshing dryer air

Tripping over chasers of the Pokémon-

Oooh I found a gym!

Across Prairie City Lights

And the Old Capitol Building rotunda

Reversing the spiral staircase

A budding metaphor for the spiraling

Writer’s life

Faithful to THE END


I’ll be back to wander

The Street Dubuque again.

Handcrafted poetry by John M. Hines, July 2016

I wrote this on my iPhone in of all places, my local gym, between sets of high intensity interval training.  The breathlessness of such training and the caffeinated endorphin rush often spark creativity.  I was reflecting on the weekend previous in a meteoric rise of good feeling and gratitude.  The previous weekend having been spent in Iowa City at a University of Iowa Summer Writing Festival, “Drift and Dream: The Writer as Urban Walker” with Kathleen Rooney.  I shall continue to drift, dream, walk and write.  Thank you for reading and sharing with others. Peace!

How Hibernia Left Her Mark

Met a ruddy cheeked white-haired, white-coated gentleman

with a favourite professor’s physiognomy who sang for us,

First in English, then in Gaelic,

Accompanied by guitar,

Having stumbled upon Sweny’s chemist

During Bloomsday week: “Oh, there IT is!”


Two painters outside whitening the doors

For two days hence, not sure if we should interrupt

And I think this is where Hibernia began to leave her mark,

That seductress of seduction seducing a solicitous soul

Left me knowing I’d be coming back

Or maybe I was returning to a place I’d left long ago.


Taking the manner in which she started shaping my soul back home with me,

Where is home now? Where is home?

Mysteriously having started her shaping in the pages read before this visit:

Dubliners, Portrait of the Artist and Ulysses,

Molloy, Malone Dies,



Soul finding more of itself

In the halls of Dublin Writers Museum

18 Parnell Square

Yeats, Stoker, Beckett beckoning sweetly,

Quick roll through Joyce Center

Rejoicing all the way down Eccles Street:

“I’m here, we’re here, splendiferous!”


On top of Martello Tower outside Dalkey,

Beach of Sandycove, Forty Foot pool,

Gentlemens Bathing Place,

Train from Dublin and walking there,

And off to Dan Laoghaire,

Literature coming to life with naked feet dipped in

Joyce’s “snotgreen” Irish Sea, Bay of Dublin


Lingering smells of body odour a century old

Trapped in the walls of the makeshift bedroom where

Joyce and friends once slept, James appropriately named

Guiding us on this tour

6 nights in Martello, One moment in time for us

Black panther lurking seductively by the fireplace

Like the Irish spirits in the air.


Back on the cobblestone streets of Dublin

Guinness porter soaked into our taste buds forever

360-degree view, Wicklow mountain water

Wandering for miles with Protestant-like work-ethic purposefulness

Soul knowing, listening to whispers of Soul whispering through the greyness,

“Mind the GPS on your iPhone”


O’ let me swim eternally in the energy of these streets

The smell of manure, of horse shit,

Sprinkled at flowers roots,

Of drunkard’s piss in alley ways,

St. Stephen’s Green in the heart of Dublin City,

Joyce’s bust front and center in the dribbling rain,

Thank you Sir Arthur Guinness, 1st Baron Ardilaun!

It’s raining, Onward Christian soldier.


The bust of James Joyce

Part of the purpose being getting lost

In streams of consciousness, okay to wander and saunter

Permission granted,

And in lostfulness somewhere around some quay on the Liffey

Finding a little bit of self again

Streams of life rushing in.


As we conversed with the chemist I was mournfully awakened

From an old dream,

To how little we know of our own heritage

Some of those stories that would’ve been shared by a father

Around a dinner table over desserts,

Just desserts:


We came here barefoot with some cows and horses,

Planted orange trees, watched them grow

Orange blossoms’ scents wafting over a freshly dug grave

Hands worked the soil of soul,

Chasing away the frozenness of life destroying winter

Squeeze the life out of the juice, Squeeze the juice out of life.


Soul stuck at times, not moving, like that

Frozen orange waiting to fall off the branch and die

Growing green-grey moldy in

Decomposition surrounded by flies

Orange and green his favourite colours

How sure the chemist was: “You are Irish! There’s a Hynes in Joyce.”


Returning to Orlando

6 hour, 30-minute flight to Philly

City of Brotherly love,

Catch a connection,

Pushing back a salty tear duct filling sea at times,


Smelling the salt of the Irish Sea, Bay of Dublin,

Firmly fixed in memory,

Hearing someone whispering:

“Hibernia’s in your soul now.”

Handcrafted poetry by John M. Hines, June/July 2016

I wrote this on my iPhone on the way back from a first trip to Dublin with our oldest son.  Immediately upon awakening over the last week those whispers have met me each morning.  It’s one of the longest “poems” I’ve written and is largely unedited, but I had to obey those whispers and post it to this blog.  I hope you enjoyed!  Thank you for reading.


Ghost Sounds

Spending the day slowly reading Baudelaire
Sauntering over each turn of phrase
Soul agape at each choice of word
A literary splenectomy
No need for anesthesia
Having awakened earlier in the utter darkness
Of a North Carolinian misty mountain predawn
Mind looped in the phantasmagoric smokiness of wild dream-filled sleep
Feeling not a bit lonesome in my bed of solitude
Hearing metallic sounds of symbols inexplicably sounding in the blackness of my shortened slumber
Was it the sweet nectar contained in the Lazy Hiker growler we had so thirstily consumed
Or the little red barn’s ghosts relishing in welcoming me back for another visit?

Handcrafted poetry by John M. Hines, July 2016

I wrote this on the first day of a serious slowdown of pace after visiting Dublin, IR, NYC, Seattle, Iowa City and Savannah, GA in the span of a month, unsure of whether or not I’d become comfortably immured in the cadence of the walls of our little red barn mountain retreat.


Unstuck in O’Hare

The flow
Of people
The flow
Of people

Like migrating flocks of geese
Making the best of current conditions to
Get to more temperate climes
Streaming through terminals
The structure of systems so designed to
Move us

I’m moved by this today
Unstuck on layover in O’Hare

So I jumped purposelessly yet mindfully into this flow of people
Moving through the terminals
Sauntering, Flowing, Drifting
Asking myself what Baudelaire would do,
Stopping for a moment where I could find a more generous stream of cooler air

Caffeine, allergy meds, Multi-Vitamins and a fizzing lil’ Airborne tab
My drugs of choice so far today
My neurons soaking up all the feel good
dopamine feel goods streaming through my synapses as I jump into

The flow
Of people
The flow
Of people

Text received from United with update
More delay applied to delay,
Andalat, Andalat,
Me decidedly unmoved in this moment
Consciously confident in my approach to leaning on a poll by Gate 1 of Terminal B
Looking quite the casual flaneur

Ahhhh….Starbucks Coldbrew quickly doin’ its work
As if I needed it
So energized by
The flow
Of People
The flow
Of people

The flow
More like a river
Than the traffic at home on I-4
City Beautiful
Or no
Stop and Go
Stop and Go
Beep Beep, move outta the way, ASSHOLE, desculpeme, merci,
Parle vous, Jeez ma’m, Come onnnn, con permiso, habla espanol
So sweet to move with them
With no gate to get to
Anytime soon.

The flow, yeah, it’s
Like traffic
Speeding up then slowing down
Stop and Go
People exiting aircraft
Racing to connecting flights

The metallic hummmm of people movers manned by empty faces
Wheelchairs, baby carriages, carry-ons on wheels,
Pilots and flight attendants uniformly pressed and dressed shiny shoes adorned
Children staying tight with fathers & mothers
All garbed up in neon yellow
Sandal wearing Monks in habits carrying leather briefcases
Men and women in battle dress fatigues orders in hand off to their next assignments, pray it’s not more war

The smells of pizza, caramel corn, espresso, hand sanitizer, diesel fumes,
Unchanged diapers, unshowered travelers
All mashed up as one.
So glad I have this chance to be
Unstuck in O’Hare this day

In this most beautiful and lovely
Of people.

Handcrafted poetry by John M. Hines, 7/11/2016

I wrote this yesterday on the way back home from the University of Iowa Summer Writing Festival. Hoping you enjoyed it and that you find yourself “unstuck” and in the “flow of people” some day soon.

In Chelsea

Cornucopic feasts for the senses

Brain on fire

High Line High of Holies

Hammering Sounds of Industrial


Amidst nature’s whispers.


Neurons releasing

Odes of joyous


Singing anthems of praise

To the gods for this lovely day

In Chelsea.

Handcrafted poems by John M. Hines, June, 2016

I wrote this poem last week while slowly walking the High Line in New York City’s Chelsea area. I was taken aback by the art around me created by both humankind and nature in a setting of industrialization. While my wife captured the surrounding stimulations on her camera, I slipped into the shade in joyous contemplation to try to put the emotions of the place into words.