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    Room 70 • Poetry Hotel 

Five Poems / Denton Foist



(notes from the Balloon Lady case)


-Born Fanny Mae Disch,

  no children.


-Clients lovers neighbors concur,

“shape shifter, inventive, well liked.”


-Who let the air out

  with a steak knife in the tub?


-Casket: closed.

-File: open.


-Questioned, Birthday Boy

  insists “she landed on my lap.”


-Recontact former spouse

  (Balloon Man).

           *   *   *


To this long sad stuffy nose,

red herring stinks.



(1967, New Orleans)




He follows her around like a dog,

and why not, she has that effect

on him. He even fetches!

They’re well matched, in their way,

a fixture on the cobblestone of Soho;

the money his, command voice hers,

is how their friends explain it.

He has a dog, his own,

a Pekinese on medication

with a therapist with puppets

who makes house calls.

It’s a racket but rackets

keep the economy humming.

They draw the line at a leash.

He owns the gallery she exhibits at

and has taken a bath like a man:

he truly believes in her work.



(1996, NYC)



(for my grandnephew, Denton Underwood)


Jimmy and Jack

Wanted a snack

And went to get some candy


Jill was sweet

Enough to eat

And pale and undemanding


She ran the store

From 10 to 4

They showed up at five after


She made them spin

With her smooth skin

The trees sang with her laughter


The boys were green

And strong and clean

With big dreams and no skill


Jimmy and Jack

Retraced their tracks

Their craving unfulfilled



(2003/2012, Beirut/Cincinnati)




In the crisp fluorescent dusk

the bus pulls out of Bakersfield,

leaving the yellow seashell,

the inevitable arches,

a turquoise flickering arrow

and so much more behind.

A Nissan sign beams down

upon its shining charges,

greenblack hedges line the murk,

traffic lights play referee

to the rising tide of reflux

gassed up to the rim

and good to go.


The wheels on the bus go round and round


Fields of whatnot. Bursts of nothing.

Four- and 18-wheelers eat our dust.

Night falls in a fingersnap,

painting all the windows black.

The kid with wheat-blond hair

who just signed up

says they asked if he could kill.


The wheels on the bus. . .


I close my eyes to look inside.

Kill who? By Riverside,

his head was nowhere to be seen.

I’d never been so happy

to see a Coke machine.


The wheels. . .



(2019, Bakersfield)




My “buddy” is smaller than he used to be.

Especially when not engorged.


Certain drugs cause peripheral vasoconstriction.

The penis is considered a peripheral part of the body.


Am I imagining things?

I asked my wife and she said, “Maybe.”


Cigarette smoking can also cause this.

And there’s always Raynaud’s syndrome.


She hadn’t looked at it for donkey’s years

The guys say it goes with the territory.


Consult your physician.

Don’t accept a quick brush-off.


Has my 76-year-old trombone

led its final big parade?


...blood...through...narrowed vessels...

...and insist...


Hello? Do you read me? Hello?

I have abandonment issues. Say something...



(2020, Tulare)


About the Author

Denton Foist is the author of several botanical textbooks, all out of print, and the holder of the world record for logrolling. His early writings predate

the Beats. Thanks to the good offices of his niece, Gretchen Underwood, the vast archives of his unpublished poetry are finally making their way

into print. Collected Poems: Part One was issued by Dark Heart Press (Portland, Maine) in 2014. A second installment is due out in 2022, on the

Landfill & Sons (German Spring, Kentucky).imprint.


Denton Foist - bw.jpg
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