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rd armstrong | eyes like mingus

Painting by Rigsby Smith

Eyes Like Mingus

(For Steve Fowler)

Eyes like flint
like flecks of coal
like shiny bits of starless sky
trapped in the ruins of a slag heap

Eyes like molten steel
sullen and angry
piercing — a bullet finding its mark
like a jaguar
passionate and alive
yet hating the trap
pacing behind the bars
bars like a skeleton
trapped inside the mind

Eyes like Mingus
like notes caught in the net
like the grid of notation
like Mingus
in shamanic Mexico
trapped in a chair
no strength to grip
no fingers to coax notes with
no feet to stand up and count with
no time — no signature

Eyes like concrete — shattering
like glass — splintering
like the wrecking ball’s slap
like voltage — unregulated
like a passion laid bare
to the gallery’s scrutiny
like the madman’s frothing nightmare
like the inexplicable accuracy of random fate
like a shot to the belly
like Coltrane’s “Favorite Things”
like your fingers — stilled

Eyes like an empty glass
staring bug-eyed into space
upturned and dispassionate
like a dream — lost in the stars

Eyes like Mingus
silent but never

rdarmstrong.jpgRD Armstong aka Raindog Photo: Jim Coke

The Lummox Press began in 1994 as a self-publishing tool for RD Armstrong. It allowed RD to publish two collections of his poems (Love is Dancing Just Out of Reach & Unkissed by the Angels). Very soon after, towards the end of 1995, he started the Lummox Journal. In 1998, the Lummox Press published its first anthology: DUFUS! It wasn’t quite as successful as one could have hoped for, but the learning curve kept RD honest. The book was a dismal flop, but it taught RD about quality control. DUFUS later became a poetry EZINE (2002).

Then, in 1999, He started the Little Red Book series or LRB. LRB format was simple: a book that could fit easily into one’s pocket or purse, and would give the reader the opportunity to read a selection of poems from known, as well as, unknown poets. 48 titles later, and poets still clamor to be a part of this series. 2004 saw the publication of LAST CALL: The Legacy of Charles Bukowski. The Lummox empire continues to spread. Besides publishing, RD also is fairly active in the poetry scene, giving readings in both Nor/SoCal and has an active reading calendar where he promotes, not only his own work (his latest book, RoadKill, is already in its second printing), but the work of the many poets he has published, as well. The Lummox page is here… read an interview made by RD Armstrong and J.A.Deane here…


  1. Pris

    Good poem. Good site. Good links. Wha else can one ask for??


  2. Todd Moore

    Both Raindog and Lummox have had a significant impact on poetry in America. Because of its wide ranging scope and its interviews with both important and emerging writers and poets, Lummox became the magazine to read from its inception at the end of the 90s to the day that it actually came to an end. It was the voice of an era. Todd

  3. Rigsby Smith

    Hey, really nice that you used my painting. All the best, Rigs.

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