Clint Frakes

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currently lives in Sedona, AZ. He has recently received the James Vaughan Award for Poetry and the Peggy Ferris Memorial Award for Poetry. He received his doctorate with emphasis in Creative Writing from the University of Hawaii in 2006. He is currently working on his second full book of poetry, entitled Citizen Poems. His recent work can be found Bamboo Ridge, Hawaii Pacific Review and Tinfish.


Flintstones In Hell


The stoneroller Flintstone-mobile descends through treacherous Chinese corridors as I watch from a plush, red theater chair. Wilma & Betty are in the back, Fred driving as always, Barney at his side—all with hands on laps, blinking, unaware they are plummeting deeper into a raging inferno. Cartoon-skinned, black-eyed & oblivious, they roll into Hell Café, feuding: Wilma jealous of Betty, Betty lusting Fred, Fred wrathful at Barney—who is witless in his plain brown skins. They ape a bleak Cocteauian drama, unaware of their mortal sins, ignorance & aggression--trapped in Jurassic karma. I watch, no longer at a theater, but with them in the stone café, pretending to read the Bhagavad Gita. And Betty! I’m digging her, the only one to notice me, as I’m a semi-etheric being in their reality. She is the chance of salvation for the lot of them. A generic bartender with criss-cross stitching at his neck, a few strands of hair, blinking black eyes & blue tunic observes them from the end of a long, limey corridor: the accountant of akashic slate ledgers. Am I their angel brought here to minister their sad delivery to Hell?  I order a muffin, brooding at my dolomite table, knowing I’m already too involved with Betty, though she’s only an inken image, her spirit fastened & multiplied in my imagination from countless pajama cereal box Saturdays. Fred, forever orange-clad & angry shouts at the root of my cortex. Barney, the suffering doofus stumbling at the quarry, confounded by the slightest complexity of cause & effect—who had the nerve to beget him, even on a sketch pad?  Wilma: forsaken & jealous, German-like in her ironed white apron. I am clueless how to angel them & quote randomly from the sacred text: poorly translated maxims from a blue chariot-riding Krishna:


“I tell you all the soul is uncleaveable, unburnable;

nor can it be wetted or dried; eternal, all-pervading

& immovable is he from everlasting time."


A reptilian cockatiel squawks the final hour from the cold wall. They are fit to be consumed in their own impossible religion, returned to the bardo ink well & source-pond of all image, absolved of every fraud and pretense in the paleo buddha-fields of child memory.






Desire #4


What is Thanksgiving to a born-again-Lakota-Celt from Detroit

alone in Polynesia?

An excuse to hit the titty bar--

& gratitude is elusive as Maverick does the splits in a pink felt hat;

Chastity works her lollipop,

dropping her Catholic skirt;

then comes Eclipse, hugging a beach ball

painted like the globe.

Her booty shorts say Total.


What are the chances a Pine Ridge

girl would glide on stage 2400 miles from Turtle Island?

The zealous MC introduces her with incongruent hype:

                  “Come and see Wi!”


Wi means woman.


      A dream catcher burned to her sacrum with the four sacred colors:

red north of lowest lumbar

white disappearing south at the cleft of coccyx

yellow & black along the impossible axis 

                             of pelvic east/west

its promise of the Seventh Generation.

She’s surprised for the first time all week when I

greet her in her grandparents’ tongue—

“Toniktuka hwo?”

She stumbles slightly at her spinning pole

garter drawn almost inelegantly for a bill.

“Lakota?” she asks, bending toward me.

Her tongue has a silver bolt through it.

She spills buckets of hair across my face

cooler than midnight water &

from under this tent I remember

     sage prairie, buffalo and wasna

            wild turnip & wojapi,

black chokecherries.


I tuck an Andrew Jackson in the

ankle strap of her shiny stiletto:

     the biggest Indian killer of all time,

his face long and freakish in the glint

of rhinestones & strobelight.

But we should sing in sage beds under cottonwood

& morning star, skinny-dip in the shallow

     limey creeks at Grass Mountain

                   lollop in the Paha Sapa--

                              its primrose elk trails

                  on citrine-belted hillsides,

    eating raspberries & rosehips,

   passing secrets mouth to mouth,

                        belly to belly.


But her belly has a bolt through it too:

Custer just a tumbleweed in a wintercount there;

Crazy Horse himself a faint, curious melody;

                calendars of Jehovah wan & forgotten

amid the roar of the Wind Cave,

      the song of all our beginning.


No, the lolloping won’t happen;

            but I am her favorite at the bar,

getting twice the shine as the suits

                  from whom she plucks bills perfunctorily

             & eases back my way in some esoteric reward

                  for a few words brought across the ocean from her native plain

   where I carried the Living Tree with ninety warriors

                  to the Sun Dance grounds,

laid red earth

            on the half moon altar

          believing there was a center to everything.






Looking for the Magnificent Mirror

     for Morgan Blair


“Yes, yes, after all, birth is a failure”


--Neruda from “The Western Nephew”



Each step on earth is a foible & the author of the rules

      stalks the golf course with pinched brow,

      aligns the green to his wedge & cigar by day,

sings of love & battle to his Smith & Wesson at night.

His children neglect their teeth & hide his keys.

The smell of this slow horror is wet gravel

      & the table is set;

the room trembles with hunger under

       toothy ancestor portraits.

You can’t separate the colors & you can’t will them away;

       the golfer gnashes at his dinner like a snapping turtle--

inborn kabuki gestures straight from the blood.



The tax collector visits the old neighborhood in his safety mask,

      dodges the pans & flames,

                        jabs canary forms at the tenants.

“Wolfey” in 1-A offers a glass of scotch,

       says he was an intern on the Tonight Show.

“Pop’s not buyin’,” the taxman says, kicking something off his boot.


A tremendous secret trots through his mind all day;

      the money is fantastic & he’s almost paid for the plastic surgery.

He harbors radical Elvis theories,

got one published about a cave full of mammoth bones.

There’s still a little meat on them &

their marrow cures erectile dysfunction,

      tastes like licorice.



Common houseplants are traumatized when their owner even

      thinks about suicide, fearing  they too will become mulch.

We all desire the fruits of calm.

I knew a guy who stopped eating, bathing, talking.

I could still ask a question that would make him stumble in the pool hall.

It’s all coming to light like a giraffe in a lockeroom.




The most telling sign is that I found her number

      in my good silk shirt from last month.

Who says a grudge won’t pay off?

I’d give anything to have waffles with her again,

share a small room for a few days.

Though the bird’s gait indicates otherwise,

      we must at least agree it is not hopeless.







Desire #37


She stirred her latte at the condiment counter

like a panther eroticizing the horizon.

Architectural schools sprang from the cut of her hips &

that dress fit her like a razor:

bayonet shoes, sapphire toe ring

& buttery gold all over.

I dropped The Bacchae & lunged for the raw sugar

by her wrist, leaned in to speak, but

the glint from her ear deflected my best line.

She knew she was the axis of the planet

headed for town, said

“Nice satchel”

& left with all the oxygen in the room.

Saturday night, 10 p.m.--

I returned to the ancient drama on my lap,

wanting to sculpt a church out of the Ko‘olaus,

spar with the rain,

betroth myself to Pleiades.

Or chase her down to Waikiki

with exotic liquor & dripping lilies.







After Sitting Among the Candles



There lives a hidden syllabic man trapped in wicked points

of time, unaided by his braver thoughts.  For most of his life

everything went his way as if the world’s chemistry danced

to the timbre of his wine glass. A shameless corpse-eater, loathed

even among evening’s gentle trees,  he foraged the catacombs of

Cappuccini for stray medallions as his prescription demanded.


His time at sea was hard, sleeping cross-eyed each lusty night

nose-to-nose with the black clown he refused to be.

“I am a bone-picker of the most elegant legacies,” he would argue.

Ah, but it all starts and ends with a woman, the island would retort.

So he’d start out again without anesthesia at his favorite

Thai place, slender & concise at the bar.


Old rivalries pulled him over the speed bumps

of his conscience. He couldn’t stand it, tripped

the gaunt waitress with his thick, hairy leg just for the thrill.

Plates and hair scattered across the salad bar.

“I know it was evil,” he told the reporter, “but it felt so right.”

On the flight home he studied the pink feet of an infant.




His dad couldn’t walk far with the bad leg. They drove up

the Colorado Plateau in a fancy Jeepster one May,

pulled over for an enormous red agave in full bloom:

If ever there were a savage flower.

It was getting a little hot to marvel at much.

He’s since inhabited the language with vengeful nativity.


Only the chirp of the gecko delights him, its orange flag

of neck protruding with quick push-ups.

He pairs up a pile of black socks in the dark.

Thought is the thief of all glory, a handsome Icelandic poet had said.

That’s why he coddles the dead, forces himself to groom

& briskly fakes it through each uncertain door.






Desire #28

   a Valentine, 2004, Honolulu


Dear Sonya, It’s 1:51 a.m. & I’m drunk,

rebuking the ruse of St.Valentine,

glued to yellowing books on a balmy night

like a cruise on the Danube,

bristling calm on an opulent shore.

It isn’t easy to meet Orion’s gaze:

his bullets & arrows

sheening over my tininess.

Then a final sip of whiskey on the koa stump,

thinking of old chums I thought would never forsake me.

I turn pages of Arthur Sze & find a lottery ticket

my long-gone wife played in ’92.

Wabi-sabi floods the evening & I hope

she probed the Arizona Republic  

for numbers the next day, expected

a miracle one autumn,

even if our egg was fried.


No patience for entropy these days,

nor joy in the curve of the moon--

on this, Edgar Poe’s birthday!

Nouns gang up on me at Foodland

among the walking dead (now 3 a.m.) --

the machinery of lips & Whitmanic glances

studying varieties of relish.


I think of your Betty Page bangs & how you made

cigarettes taste like chocolate the night

I slid into second base on the abandoned diamond

by Anna Banana’s, sure I’d never do this again.

One must be sick before one is brave

& the palms bow softly & for good reason.