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"LOSING MY RELIGION", "Berry Boulevard Blues", "Camp Lejeune Redux", "MEMPHIS" & "Desire" by Robert M. Zoschke


why, of course, Michael Stipe said it

so much more eloquently better

putting his blood sweat tears

fears hope dreams jizz

into the song of it

me, I lost mine in the cold stark

musty Lutheran Church basement

during those Catechism lectures

Germanic Stormtrooper dissertations

from the weird old farting choir lady

solely and sorely a teenage condition

that had thirteen-year-old

budding iconoclast yours truly

turning my Catechism book cover

into a Bic pen stew of lost religion graffiti

I can still see that book

I still know it was Jesus, Mary,

Joseph and a couple of disciples

on the gun metal grey cover

a future pen and ink master I was not

but my effort to turn the cover figures

into the ribald members of the 

rock group KISS still pleases me

Saint Michael



right on…

Oh, Life,

it’s bigger  

Berry Boulevard Blues

on top of me in the afterglow

her left palm on my forehead

right index finger on my pulse

the midnight breeze of her voice

I never get tired of how I make

your heart race and your temperature rise 

in the reckoning of bluegrass dawn

an honest woman in crystalline daylight

away from the sparkling darkness of night

where her lush emerald pupils would widen

and no matter what the mixer happened to be

she would smack her lips and say Maker’s Mark

feather boa slung over a Motel 6 chair

transistor AM radio crackling

Patsy Cline singing Crazy

her arm around my waist in my Hikes Point basement

right index finger through a belt loop in my blue jeans

her eyes fixing on the Blues Brothers lithograph

long green menthol Nat Sherman smoldering

short explanation for hiding out in Indiana

you don’t understand, I was having a nervous breakdown

smacking her lips and saying it was dry champagne

not parting her lips through a dry long-goodbye kiss

you don’t understand, I can’t move up to Wisconsin with you  

damn near twenty years and not a peep out of her

the hazel hollow of her eyes in the meth mugshot

gone baby gone on the wrong side of the river

Camp Lejeune Redux

Even if you or a family member

never came in contact

with the water at Camp Lejeune

If you or a family member

were ever married to a Poet

you may be entitled to compensation


The Reagan Years had just ended

but the whole shooting works

still shut down on Sundays

not a drop of liquor for sale

unless you did not fear

following the sweetheart

street urchin motioning you

onward into the back alley

where the sweetheart was

proven absolutely right

boot for sale

in old Schlitz Malt Liquor bottles

drinking that back alley boot

up high overlooking the water

underneath the park sign etched

In Memory of the Old South

catching a boot-kick buzz

a Yankee Kid feeling a shiver

knowing not knowing

what drove those heartfelt blues musicians

all the way north to Chicago

decades later the New Millennium

but it was still the Same Old

uniquely trustworthy place

where you could open up the

Yellow Pages with absolutely no fear

of The Memphis Law screwing you

of The Memphis Belle scamming you

just sweet-kick booty for sale

chocolate thunder groove

the afterglow spent going down

to that park with that sign

smoking a joint from The Belle’s stash

kissing like lovers in that

goddamn beautiful river town  


he wanted

a partner

in crime

and all other

matters of

the heart

Robert M. Zoschke was raised in and around Chicago, where he was a winner of the Chicago Sun-Times essay contest on Best Neighborhood Bars.  He co-edited and contributed writing to the anthology Reflections Upon the 50th Anniversary of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.  His 2008 book of fiction and nonfiction—Door County Blues—was recognized as a Number One Bestseller in Door County, Wisconsin, where he lives and writes.  His 2010 book of poetry and photographs—Made in America—was named a Top Three Book of The Year by England’s Purple Patch Poetry Magazine, which also named him a Top Three Overseas Poet.  Since 2013 he has been the editor of the literary arts annuals CLUTCH and THE LOWDOWN.  His 2021 biography of T. Kilgore Splake—The Road to Splake—was nominated for the State of Michigan’s Notable Book Award.  His crime novel—OLD SCHOOL, Volume One of the Chi Town Trilogy—was published in 2022.        

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