Ambush Poetry: Conduct Unbecoming


Sunday before last, I wondered off and on during the day if a new poem would come to me for the Key West Poetry Guild’s first Sunday meeting in the upstairs room of Blue Heaven Restaurant in Bahama Village?

As the day passed, nothing seemed to come, and around 5 p.m. I pedaled my bicycle to Jack Flats on Duval Street to watch the end of that week’s professional golf tournament, which was played at Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial County Club in Ohio. En route to Jack Flats, “conduct unbecoming” came to me, and I felt that might be the poem’s theme, if not also its title. I had my writing notebook with me, just in case.

After I was settled at the bar before the big screen with the golf tournament coming to an as yet unknown somewhat surprise ending, with two Asian pros tying and having to go extra holes to determine the winner, I pulled out the notebook and wrote, “Conduct unbecoming”, and then the poem came fast, as I watched the tournament during brief pauses in the writing.

By the time I left Jack Flats, it was close enough to time to head to Blue Heaven, so I went on over there, and in the courtyard bumped into local poet Sheri Lohr at the outside bar.



Sheri, who smiled and greeted me, and said to the people she was with that I am her favorite madman. I laughed, said, thank you, what a high complement! Then, I went on upstairs to where the readings are held.

Inside was Alex Symington,

Alex Symington

Alex Symington

Alex who wanted to talk about Naja and Arnaud Girard’s good work,





Naja and Arnaud and his concern for their safety. I said they have done a terrific job and are indeed at risk, I told them that several months ago.

When my time to recite came, I said the poem came to me at Jack Flats about an hour before the poetry reading began, and when I got to Blue Heaven, Sheri Lohr said I was her favorite madman, and then Alex Symington said something which caused me to dedicate the poem to Naja and Arnaud Girard, who publish the blue newspaper in Key West – that seemed to shift the energy in the room, and I began reading.

Conduct unbecoming,

a way of life in Key West –

Just take Fantasy Fest,

people letting all hang out

on Duval Street, what

back home in Key West, Iowa

they’d never do,

nor just a few blocks away

in their own far west of weird front yards!

Unbecoming seems contagious down here –

a city commissioner challenges the mayor

to step outside,

settle it like man to man;

the mayor says,

put up or shut up,

file to run against me,

or get over it –

the city commissioner weenies,

as the mayor goes by the book.

CBS treated his beautiful city one-sided,

dang liberal TV journalists,

but for them, the world

never would have found out

about his police killing

suspected homeless man Charles Eimers

in paradise

last Thanksgiving Day.

Dang that blue Key West the Newspaper

for catching his police red-handed

making up stories about

how Charles Eimers actually killed himself,

then he intimidated witnesses,

wrote up false incident reports,

shot a cellphone video of what

he really didn’t do,

smuggled it from the grave

to the blue paper.

Not to mention, he sent

his body to a mortuary

to be cremated, as in adios evidence,

instead of to the Medical Examiner

for an autopsy,

then were all the tissue samples

the hospital took from his body,

which Eimers got tossed before

the Medical Examiner even knew

a body was headed his way.

What a pickle, the Medical Examiner

finally quit, got a teaching job

somewhere safe on the mainland,

as Eimers stalled the state investigation …

from the grave.

It’s all that dang Eimers’ fault,

he has no respect for going

by the book,

he told the first cop

he came down here to do God’s work –

hell, plain as day,

pretending to be homeless,

he worked for the Devil!

Another great chapter for

The Bubba Conch Justice Book!

A million ways to die,

in Key West.

A lot of really good poetry got read that night, the poets came up with lots of ways to die, in Key West, and elsewhere, not all entirely in the mortuary sense. Next month, I’m the featured poet. Sheri Lohr’s favorite madman.

Maybe she threw more petrol on the flames, when she said before the readings began that she likes “ambush poetry” – poets just walk up to people and recite poetry. My view of ambush poetry is a bit different – maybe the KWPD ambush of Charles Eimers is in point.

If this cartoon by Arnaud of what happened to Charles Eimers on South Beach ain’t ambush poetry, then what is it?



Sloan and balloons

Sloan Bashinsky

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