BIO: Charles P. Ries lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His narrative poems, short stories, interviews, and poetry reviews have appeared in over two hundred print and electronic publications. He has received four Pushcart Prize nominations for his writing. He is the author of The Fathers We Find, a novel based on memory, and six books of poetry. Most recently he was awarded the Wisconsin Regional Writers Association “Jade Ring” Award for humorous poetry. He is the former poetry editor for Word Riot and a former member of the board at the Woodland Pattern Book Center. Charles is Co-Chairman of the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission. He will have a new book of poetry published in 2011: Girl Friend & Other Mysteries of Love, that will be published by Alternating Current Press, Leah Angstman, Editor. He is a founding member of the Lake Shore Surf Club, the oldest fresh water surfing club on the Great Lakes. Most recently he was interviewed by Jane Crown for Blog Radio (go to and click on Archived Shows at the bottom of the page. You may find additional samples of his work at

I'd Rather Be Mexican, 2005; free download:
The Last Time, Moon Printing and Publications 2005 - $3.00
Odd, Four-Step Publications, (second printing) 2004 - $6.00
The Fathers We Find: The Making of a Pleasant Humble Boy, (Prose) Bad Monk Press 2004 - $13.00
Monje Malo Speaks English, Four-Step Publications, (third printing) 2003 - $6.00
Bad Monk: Neither Here Nor There, Lockout Press/Four-Step Publications, 2001 - $6.00
girl friend cover   i'd rather be mexican cover   the last time cover   odd cover
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He tried to fill the hole—find
the center of what fell out of him
fifteen minutes before midnight
on the day he was born.

It was his benign tumor. A sickness
that wouldn’t kill him. At night,
before sleep entered his room,
before twilight clouds brushed
his eyes closed, he’d reach
inside and wonder why he was
made this way. A mutation with an
unnatural lightness of being.

His condition went undetected except
when the wind blew through him,
causing his shirt to billow like a sail,
and a high-pitched whistle to emit from
within him. A sound only a dog’s ears
could detect.

To himself, he was invisible:
tissue-paper thin, weightless and
lacking substance. Most days he
felt he wasn’t even standing on
earth. But he wanted to.

He theorized that a heart must hold the
universe and weigh ten thousand
pounds. It is a heart that keeps
feet on the floor.

Nothing mattered to this untethered,
floating pilgrim but finding a cure
for his gaping hole. A yearning he
did not acknowledge until the day
he became firmly rooted in her.

—Charles P. Ries


Elaine took me to her German psychic;
as expected, she saw everything.

Our bad days and our glories.
The history of the times and species;
       we have been together
             for generations.

Realizing how long I have been with Elaine
made me feel tired—I didn't realize we'd been
working things out for over 400 years.
That's a long time to accommodate a sentient being,
I don't care what form I was in; me as:
    Her cat
    Her dog
    Her sister
    Her butler
    Her mother
    Her hair stylist
Gerta saw it all against her inner astral cineplex.
Guild at Barnes & Noble in Rockford, Illinois

I didn't know I was once a charming pistol-packing pescalero
a handsome Mexican bandit who charmed Elaine
    (in an earlier, even more succulent form)
             to indulge my desires.

Irresistible under a vast pecan tree.
           My sombrero tossed casually to the side
The Milky Way strung over our heads.
I pick the flower she willingly offers me.
We melt into the warm night— two sentient beings
as happy as two sentient beings could ever be

She, the sheriff's daughter
         virgin, sixteen, flawless
             filled with secret flames

Me, hanging from a pecan tree
          limp, twitching, forlorn
             looking a bit bewildered

           My sombrero tossed hurriedly to the side

Too many lives to hold in one small boat.
Yet on we sail, east to paradise
    fighting our way toward enlightenment,
          the only exit strategy
              for two weary souls.

—Charles P. Ries