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J.T. Whitehead Poems

J.T. Whitehead has Bachelors’ degrees from Wabash College in English & Philosophy. He received a Master’s degree in Philosophy from Purdue, where he studied Existentialism, political philosophy (code for Marx), and Eastern Philosophy. He earned a law degree from Indiana University, Bloomington.  He spent time between, during, and after schools on a grounds crew, as a pub cook, a delivery man, a book shop clerk, and a liquor store clerk, inspiring four years as a labor lawyer on the workers’ side. Whitehead now practices law by day and poetry by night and lives in Indianapolis with his two sons, Daniel and Joseph.

Whitehead has lived in Indiana most of his life: Indianapolis (Broad Ripple), Lebanon, Carmel, Crawfordsville, Indianapolis (Broad Ripple), West Lafayette, Indianapolis (Broad Ripple), Lebanon, Indianapolis (Castleton), Bloomington, & Indianapolis (Eagle Creek).  He has also traveled and seen The Hague, Amsterdam, Lucerne, Paris, Vienna, Munich, Prague, Oxford, Amsterdam, Nuevo Laredo, Hong Kong, Beijing, Xi An, Paris, and Vancouver.

Whitehead was Editor in Chief of So It Goes: The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, briefly, for just five issues: Numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6.   Under his editorship the journal published work by Robert Bly, A.D. Winans, Aram Saroyan, Marge Piercy, Margaret Randall, Gerald Locklin, Elana Bell, Julie Kane, Robert West, Alison Baker, Mark Wisniewski, Clayton Eshleman, David Shumate, Manny Martinez, Ralph Steadman, James Norcliffe, James Alexander Thom, Tim O’Brien, and Dan Wakefield, among others.  The journal re-printed, with gracious permission, work by Nelson Algren, Etheridge Knight, Anselm Hollo, William Burroughs, Don Baker, Fielding Dawson, Hunter S. Thompson and Hayden Carruth, among others. The journal under his editorship also published translations of works by Gabriel Garcia Lorca, Emile Verhaeren, Blaise Cendrars, and Orhan Veli.

Whitehead is a one-time Pushcart Prize-nominated short story author (2011), a six-time Pushcart Prize-nominated poet (2014, 2015, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018), and was the winner of the Margaret Randall Poetry Prize in 2015.  Whitehead has published over 200 poems and prose works in over 100 literary journals and small press publications, including The Lilliput Review, Outsider, Zombie Logic Review, Slipstream, Left Curve (Jack Hirschman, editor), The Broadkill Review, The Iconoclast, & Gargoyle.  His first full-length collection of poetry, The Table of the Elements, was nominated for the National Book Award in 2015.


the outlaw’s Ghost should not haunt us

Some folks keep an interesting budget.
Like bankers, to take it’s to manage it.
They take up a gun,
& their debts are un-done.
Who the hell are the banks to begrudge it?


One meal at a time

I once knew a boozer named Cox.
His breakfast was Gin on the rocks.
He said lushly one dinner
while slamming paint thinner
It’s better than bagels & lox.


Labor Day – Jack = Death

Given the latest of lay-offs last Tuesday,
Jack – most impressed by the power of pay –
pressed his .38 special
up close to his temple
& took his last un-paid holiday.


a change in management

The old man’s beatings left her awfully sore.
Thin Ginny decided to even the score –
Dinner’s what’s due him –
Rat poison slew him –
not cooking again is worth serving no more.


eating the bi-weekly budget

3 bills of my pay went for dentures.
The wife gave 3 more to the preachers.
That buys us the best
of digestion most blessed.
The dentist’s bill should take care of the rest.


a poem of substance

The foreman from ‘round Albuquerque
got shit-faced drinking Wild Turkey
& shit-canned the Native
who handled the steel lathe
for tripping – off clock – on peyote.


it always takes one to know one

Each night some one searches our wallets,
our handbags, our purses, our pockets . . .
Our owners don’t trust us,
think thieves are amongst us . . .
They oughtta go probe their own asses . . .


the drug warriors gotta eat, too

I rack it up big at the grocery . . .
flour & sugar, mayo & honey . . .
beer, beef, condiments,
take my dollars & sense.
Good God Man I love my drug money.


embalming & self-preservation

I really don’t care for the wealthy.
They never much struck me as healthy –
living by money,
dying by money,
wrapped in their green, like a mummy.


health care blues

The son has an illness that I don’t know.
His daddy left them just 10 days ago.
The kid’s turning blue,
so what can you do
when his doctor quit us10 days ago, too?


The State needs a warrant.  Boss doesn’t

The boss said “your trunk,” said to “pop it”
& I said “no key . . . new car . . . fuck it”
& drove off.  Fine.
Find something mine.
That’s criminal . . . prove it . . . then suck it.


that would be one smelly strike

I plunge, dump, wipe, scrub, disinfect, paint.
I think I’m needed . . . the firm thinks I ain’t.
Clients smell shit,
& should they forget,
will wallow in shit: I’m important.


rules for the so-called liberal landlord

The landlord says 200 down.
The landlord says no cats with a frown.

This post first appeared on Zombie Logic Review: Poetry For Outsiders And Outl, please read the originial post: here

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J.T. Whitehead Poems


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