love’s closed door

well she's gone alright
two weeks gone + now
initial euphoria of
	it's about time + thank god that's over
slowly gives way to
	really alone again + what now + why.

it's not a vacation
she's not coming back
I know it but
	don't understand it
mourning is still just a concept to me
so I pitch + toss instead of sleeping
catch a cold instead of weeping.

alone in the house we used to live in
	our room empty
	her room empty
my room exactly as it was
a time warp where she's still outside my door.

hyperactive spirit cats
haunt the echo hallway
	biting my hands + fingers in the night
	clawing at love's closed door
sleep is impossible at best + goddammit
I wanna know
	why was it so easy 
	for her to give up on me.

(PDF version)

romance death rattle

wild animal lies injured in the street
saturday night cars zoom past
	barely missing
breath comes in halting irregular painful spasms
struggle to live.

man stops
pokes the animal with a hammer handle + says
	it's dead it just don't know it yet
he's right
I can't save it
the best I can do tonight is watch it die.

sadness comes
	like a wave of bricks
	like a meteor shower
	like a razor blade blizzard.

sadness comes
	like a rib cage drill press
	like a sledgehammer shotgun
	like a breastbone ripsaw.

   work isn't	the answer
    food isn't	the answer
      sex isn't	the answer
money isn't	the answer
     she isn't	the answer.

even the answer
	isn't the answer
		on a night like this
what was the question anyway?

she doesn't appreciate me    I don't appreciate her
	I'm not enough    she's not enough    
		we're not enough
can't anybody tell me
	how to get one of these things to work?

we were wild once but now
	the ruts are too deep
we went to sleep together + woke up
	in separate beds in separate rooms in separate lives
how could I let this happen to me again?

if I leave now	I'm a quitter
If I don't leave	I'm a coward
if I leave now	I'm a coward
if I don't leave	I'm a liar.

I really need some sleep.

I thought we could leapfrog over our loneliness + sorrow
I tried to cut corners + now
	here I am
backed into one again.

all those conflicts we avoided
all those scary arguments we never had
all those times my soul said wait 
	+ my heart said now please now.

these are the things that pin me down + sit on my chest
	like a playground bully
		squeezing + stifling my affection for her
	until breath comes
in halting irregular painful spasms.

it's dead it just don't know it yet
	he's right
	I can't save this one either
the best I can do tonight is watch it die.

(PDF version)


I want to hold her close
	feel her legs around me
I want to give her everything I've got
	exhaust myself into her
	sink into her skin
and sleep on her like a lazy shepherd
napping with his flock on a hillside
in the sweet summer sun.

(PDF version)

Poem of the Issue – Austin Chronicle 05/11/12

"knock me out" by Rick Belden

My poem “knock me out” is the featured “Poem of the Issue” in this week’s edition of The Austin Chronicle.

This one was written in the fall of 1990 just before Iron Man Family Outing was published. It was one of the last few poems I completed before the long poetry drought that began in 1991 and finally ended in August 2008. This poem, along with many others, was tucked away and forgotten, then rediscovered in October 2010 during my exploration of a box in the closet that became the Iron Man Family Outtakes project.

Once again, as in the case of my last poem featured in The Austin Chronicle, I find it amazing that I’m seeing something I wrote 22 years ago in print for the first time. It provides an interesting glimpse into who I was at that time, and in all honesty, makes me a bit sad because I can see the almost heroic optimism I still had about romance and relationships at that point in my life.

I don’t have that brave (maybe foolish) confidence in love anymore. Haven’t had it for a long, long time. After all the rejections, infidelities, and failed relationships, and all the sexless, loveless years that have followed, I hardly ever think about romantic endeavors now. When I do, I typically tend to view such activities as belonging on the “fools rush in where angels fear to tread” end of the spectrum. And that’s on a good day.

Reading this little communiqué I wrote to myself 22 years ago has made me realize how much I miss feeling the way I did and being the guy I was when I wrote it. It also makes me wonder if I’ll ever feel that way and be that guy (older and hopefully a bit wiser) again.

Poem of the Issue – Austin Chronicle 07/08/11

"reverie" by Rick Belden

My poem “reverie” is the featured “Poem of the Issue” in this week’s edition of The Austin Chronicle. This one is just about a month old, although I actually started it in January 2010. Started it, got stuck, forgot about it, and then picked it back up and finished it about 18 months later. Very unusual for me to do that. Usually, if I don’t wrap ‘em up within a day or two, the moment passes and that’s the end of it.

too many women or not enough

I’m always looking for her. Always. I seem them everywhere, but not her. Did she already pass through my life and I missed her somehow? From a purely statistical standpoint, I know that if I counted up all the relationships, love affairs, dates, crushes, friendships, random encounters, near misses, and failed attempts, those numbers alone would lead me to the conclusion that I should have found her by now.

The numbers, oh the numbers. Much of the time now I feel like there isn’t room for even one more woman in my head, much less my heart. Where do I put them all? Every woman I’ve ever wanted, touched, felt, loved is still with me, even the ones I think I’ve forgotten. I add to the list every time I’m in the grocery store …

“I want her and her and her …”

But I don’t really want “her and her and her …” I never did.
I want the only one I’ve ever wanted.
I want her.


A week or so ago, during one of my drawing sessions, I found myself drawing one page after another of old girlfriends. Some of them anyway. It would’ve taken a lot more time than I had that morning to draw a page for all of them.

I suppose it would actually be more accurate to characterize the subject of this drawing as a near-girlfriend than as a girlfriend. That “girlfriend or not” line was more than a little fuzzy more than a few times with more than a few women. In this particular case, the fuse was lit and all engines were firing but the rocket never left the launch pad. The mission was aborted (not by me) before takeoff due to extra-relational complications (not mine).

Every time I hear the old Cars tune “Drive” (which was big at the time as well as apropos to the situation) I think of her. Kinda wish I didn’t. Not a great outcome for me. Most of ‘em weren’t. The next one was a helluva lot worse.

love is the drug

Once again, there were several other things I was planning to post first, but this one has been nagging me for days and is speaking the loudest right now. Lots of color and motion in play here. I get a little lost trying to follow the different colored lines around.

That old Roxy Music song was playing in my head as I was completing it, hence the title.