Joe first appeared during the 2008 election, in a poem called "Joe the Poet" that punned on "Joe the Plumber." It was published in Rootdrinker #17 (Albany, NY), Big Powwow issue, Fall 2009, edited by Alan Casline and Steven Lewandowski. But Joe wouldn't go away, and I soon realized he was no joke. It was either Alan or Steve (or both) who recommended keeping the "joeys" to a fixed size, and I settled on ten lines, under 100 words, a formula I've usually, though not always, followed.
Friends started sending me their own Joe poems, some of them starring Jo, Joleen, or JoJo. So I decided to create Mo' Joe: The Joe the Poet Anthology. Friends in Albuquerque, NM, Pamela Hirst and Deb Coy, offered to publish the anthology through their Beatlick Press, which they did in 2014.
Then something strange happened. Pamela told me she believed Joe was channeling her late husband, Beatlick Joe Speer. Some of the poems in the collection were actually written in honor of Joe Speer, whom I had never met. I said "Sure, Pamela." Then she showed me a photograph of Joe Speer, wearing the very hat Joe the Poet wore on the original cover, and standing almost in the same spot the original cover featured, John Ford's Point Overlook in Monument Valley. Suddenly, I wasn't so sure.
I continued to write a few Joe poems each year, and friends sent their own. But after awhile I grew tired with folks confusing me with Joe. Make no mistake, Joe and I have very different temperaments, and extremely different lifestyles. And, of course, I'm confined by space and time in a way quite foreign to Joe. It got so bad I penned the following:
Joe the Poet Votes
Joe’s one of those aliens who manages to vote
the kind talk radio's always complaining about
Joe’s real home is the Dog Star Sirius
but his birth certificate says USA, and it’s legit
’cause he was born at New Buffalo commune,
Arroyo Hondo, NM, 1971
When Joe votes, it’s absentee, even when he’s in the booth
Joe votes for the downtrodden and the earth we all trod
Joe wasn’t reborn yesterday
so he’s suspicious of political messiahs
(having known a few real ones)
If Joe comes to your door holding a clipboard, be sure to
ask him for a poem
Joe Rides Again
is an 80 page hand-stitched paperbook with spine - $16.00