Monday, April 30, 2007

Another Empty Dream

A man was building something in the dream hanging just inside his pillow. It was there he could work uninhibited. The design was simple; the parts were many. Or the design was complex and the parts were incomplete. Whatever it was, it had to be finished before he awoke. Outside, the world’s oldest cloud lost another piece of itself to the air.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Projectionist

Our projectionist dozes when we doze. The film is slapping against the frame. There’s magnified dust on the white screen. When we wake up, he wakes up and scrambles to change the reel. It’s early summer, and the first thunderstorm is creeping over the little towns. There are red tulips against a fence, and a bee upside down on the cement. Perhaps we’ll mow the lawn in an infinity of decreasing circles, or perhaps not. The projectionist wipes his brow and settles in.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Column

I was a column under a dark bridge into fog. I’m told the other side holds an island of madness. When white moths form a question mark in the air, when wasps make a woman’s purse, when marbles spell I love you in the snow, a lone man with a leather satchel begins to cross. He’s a year on the approach, a year on each girder, and an old man when he enters the fog. Meanwhile, I’m urinating into a fish’s mouth. I have no classical order, and my insides are the same as what’s exposed to the weather, which never changes. My pylons have many spikes in their palms, but the swaying of the bridge puts them to sleep before they make anything of it. All the while the fog imprisoned the madness on the other side. Barges blew their horns; we assumed the crazies thought it was the hunting horn of a warden in the sky.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Model Home

An entire life of walking has created two parallel lines. Do they extend infinitely into the future, or do they abruptly end? I walked right into my friend’s dangerous loner model home. “The examined life is not worth living,” was his philosophy, although his mother shot herself on the stoop of the funeral home. He still tucked in his black sheets every morning, chatted with her about the neighbors. I was watching the endless weather channel wondering if we are blue-screened into this life and all we do is point at blank walls pretending we’re really somewhere else? If things were always just out of reach, what were we reaching for? My friend’s house with its black curtains ruffling in the wind. The exact same house being built up and down the street.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Painter

There is a still life on my table.
Apples, pears, and a clock.
I've come to regard it

As the only fixed thing in the world.
I am its guardian and protector.
Hands have reached for this

Or that, and I have brought them back.
In the absence of me
It would not remain the same.

Although, yes, I must confess
The fruit turned brown
and the clock slowed to a stop.

So I must become my own
Still life by posing myself as The Thinker,
Back arched, head in hand,

On top of those very objects
I once protected. It is difficult
To regard oneself as unchanging

When one is not moving.
But the imagination is infinite
In its tortures.

Also one cannot prevent
Disturbances, even dust fall, when one
Is trying not to achoo.

Devotion

We have these miniature houses.
Sometimes at night
I arrange them on the glass table.
A single bulb is lit overhead
And I am alone.

In one house, a woman stares.
In the other, no lights are on.
I walk my hand between them
On two fingers with black nails.
It enters a third house,

An invisible house,
And winds up a spiral staircase.
On the roof, it jumps.
The woman screams,
The dark house lights up.

It falls and falls, but stops
Half-an-inch from the glass.
Then I take down that little town,
And put myself to bed
In an otherwise empty room.

The Captain

Well, I was captain of a great ship. I was wearing the uniform anyway. The problem was nobody would recognize my authority. I would command the great wheel to turn, but the water was still. I would command the deck mopped, but a storm came and lashed waves over the railings. My false wig was blown over, my captain’s suit too. There I was, naked, my ass pinched with crabs, which was a conspiracy because the waves look like claws.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Without Comment

The wind in the trees is trying to tell me something in code. I spent all day with a pad of paper trying to decipher it. A storm’s coming, and the sky is getting prematurely dark. The tree’s message becomes even more urgent, like a stutterer whispering sweet talk to his new bride in the hull of a ghost ship. There’s lightning scattering across the sky. The empty arms of a sailor’s costume lift in the wind.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Pond

A man sitting alone by a pond covered in green algae. Another man comes up, stands for a minute, and asks what he’s doing there. The bullfrogs are chirping, the clouds are low, and there’s a family plot in a stand of trees. Before anything is said, the second man sits down to stare at the pond. By the end of the day, men are perched all around. In the distance, the highway’s jammed. Somewhere a radio announcer refuses to recite the weather, and a little boy who was sent to his room turns over in bed.

A Little Bit of Eden

We had a daughter who was becoming a woman. So we decided to plant vegetables on her head. One bright Saturday morning my wife and I readied the tiller and shovels. We put in rows of corn, peas, lettuce, and carrots. All while our daughter slept soundly! We stood back at morning’s end, sweaty but proud. She came downstairs sleepy-eyed and ate breakfast. She washed her bowl and stared out at the trees, which where getting their first green of the season. She scratched her head. I looked at my wife, who stared back proudly. The scarecrow in the yard was waving in the wind. Hello, he was saying to the crows picking through our trash.

Magic Carpet

I took a nap on our Indian rug and when I woke up the pattern was pressed in my skin. It was like the world’s most exotic tattoo covering my entire backside. Everywhere I went people tried to walk all over me. A woman tried to park a couch on my back, a cat leapt at me to sharpen her claws on my ass. I became very depressed and mostly moped around, except when my wife would haul me outside and beat me with a broomstick to get my dust out.

Ancient Cuisine

We’re at a Chinese restaurant, except there are no tables or chairs. We’re led to an empty room and asked to take a seat. It’s impossible, so we refuse. On our way to somewhere else, we pass by the windows. Inside, an old Chinese couple sneak food from the desert dummy, and a waiter drops an armload of fortune cookies onto the ceiling. When he sees us, he puts a finger to his lips and brushes the white moths from his shoulders.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Cave Man

I was a cave explorer, and I was lost. It was in the most beautiful of all caves, but also the darkest. The bundle of string snaking around every corner was evidence many had been here before and that they hadn’t made it back. One could gouge one’s eyes out on a formation, one could then wander the caves blind for eternity. Imagine that. A blind man in a dark cave with only blind animals to keep him company. When I emerged, my family handed me a birthday cake. The candles were lit. They were waiting for something.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Youth and Such

They say that time begins to speed up as we age. That a day of youth is a week of maturity. I am of the generation that has no idea how old they are. We were not born in a time of war. There were birth certificates, yes, but they were never completed. My father wrote most of my name, got about three pounds of my weight, and then his hand trailed off the page. I asked him about it, but he didn’t remember being my father. He screamed, “I have no son!” He hadn’t slept in weeks; his hair was full of leaves; he was nearly delirious. He kept yelling, “The day has finally come; any minute now I’ll meet my maker.” I said, “There is no maker.” “Son?” he replied, his eyes wet with what could have been tears. “How long has it been?” “Years,” I said, “years.” But I had seen him the other day.

Life's Great Mystery

There was that one tin can in everyone’s basement. Label-less, rusting, no one thought about opening it and most didn’t even remember it was there. If they happened upon it, they wondered what was in it? Worms? Something foul and dark, not of this world? When they rattled it, there was no sound. There were no leaks either. Ah, well, they said. It’s too far to get a can opener, and besides, the sun is going down…

Saturday, April 21, 2007

An Elephant Never Regrets

There was an elemental confusion
Setting in upon the population.
A cat was stalking a chicken mascot
Crouching low along the Astroturf.
I was surfing the medical supply van
Dragging an inflatable raft by its rope.
There was nothing to strive for
That didn’t eventually topple down:
What I mean here is that I was used
Not going very far – and everyone
Was the same way. We could all
Get together at some caboose bar
And joke about it – but it was still
Serious enough to make nights
Spin madly like a child spinning
Something very quickly with a pull tab.
I said to my elephant,
You seem the kind of animal
To take notice. He trumpeted in a way
That caused me to doubt everything,
And I began to wonder if he has been leading
Me on this entire time, and I ran
Through all of my memories
To try to evaluate them, although
I couldn’t remember much past
Being born. I concluded that an elephant
Is not a proper companion, so I set
About alienating him with snippy
Little skips, which he couldn’t mimic.
And I called him a puissant pissant
With a pocket trumpet squelch and
Recommended the book Trumpet Secrets
So that he keep his damn mouth shut
All the time. He began to buzz off,
And that was that, and this is this.
There were so many solids in suspension
That we couldn’t get a decent table
To save ourselves from drowning,
Which we were. No matter, said
The waiter, who set our drinks on
Our thrashing limbs, and there was
Too much salt in the water or something
Because nothing seemed to taste right.
The population, which had all taken
A number before us, was reeling
In reciprocal grooming habits:
More impressive than hair being washed
In the lobby was the debate
Over the ceiling tiles, which half the restaurant
Claimed was actually flooring stuck
Up there by mistake. Of course,
The rest of us, standing on the ceiling,
Called everyone ludicrous and went on
Tapping our feet to express our impatience,
Sending little stars that children drew
Falling on the heads of the nonbelievers.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Morale Booster Shot

A CEO at a big company rode to work
On a donkey. At meetings with his employees,
He said, see, I’m just like you. Just then
Someone comes running in and yells:
Sir, the alarm’s going off on your donkey.
The CEO puts on a sombrero with little
Tasseled angels dangling around the brim,
And rushes all of his employees outside.
It was difficult to see through the cloud
Of dust, but bandits in black had made off
With his donkey. Quick, he shouts,
Someone loan me yours. But to his surprise,
Everyone’s donkey had a flat tire that day
And they had instead driven their automobiles.
The news of this made the CEO shake
His head and pine for the fields of fresh
Kentucky bluegrass of his fondest youth
Where a budding CEO could graze infinitely,
Or so it seemed, nosing the fence like a donkey.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Where Marbles Go

More and more marbles are being lost.
They roll from the ears of an old man
And down the drain in the basement.
That’s where the old man’s cot is kept,
Because he does not speak our tongue.
Our language is marbles. He can hear
Us, but chooses not to communicate.
Except, of course, when he catches
One of the marbles. He is so old and frail,
Yet his little manifestoes welt the skin
Like the lashes a switch can inflect.
Look at him there, sleepy-eyed and losing
His marbles as we sing him a lullaby.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Nice Poem to Write Home About

I have a map for navigation around my cubicle.
When a tank is hauled by on the drink cart, I know
It’s time to quit. My nights are spent wandering
The vast storm sewers with children abandoned
By their caretakers. I too have been forsaken,
I too am homeless. A black ice cream truck playing
Flight of the Valkyries goes creeping by.
We peek from manholes for a whiff of exhaust.
Then when day cracks like a robin’s egg,
It’s back to calculations. I’m wearing clothes
I lifted from an immigrant’s line. Outside
My window, the trees are tentatively
Budding; the opposite side of a stop sign is mildly
Reflective; a dandelion clock keeps bearing down.
But I make my calculations: I can feel the world opening
Its mouth to scold me. I’m balancing on a tightrope
Of razor wire in the bathroom stall; I’m washing my hands as if
Going to a birth. In the wilds beyond the parking lot
Animals are brooding – I like to know where they stand.
They stand in the long shadows going through
Their routines, which aren’t in the least bit funny.
Another ice cream truck: this time it’s Mary
Had a Little Lamb. My pay stub comes. It says,
“You don’t deserve an entire limb.” Maybe I’ll
Hobble back to my sewer if I can throw away my crutches.
Somewhere someone puts an ice cream cone
On a pet mouse’s head and calls it a dunce hat.
Somewhere a family of motor mouths gets drive-though.
Oh, to hear my name announced on the intercom.
To get flattened like a pancake and used as a mattress.
No wonder everyone’s sheets get stained with blood.
Still, calculations keep landing in my in-box.
I must keep making them until everything adds up at the end.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Poem to Point Fingers

In the middle of our garden a tomato had grown
So big we decided to put a top hat on it
And call it Mr. Tomato. Mr. Tomato,
Would you like some tea? we would ask,
And one of us would do his voice: Yes, please.
Almost immediately he began to demand a wife.
A real peach, he said. All we had was a cow,
So we led her over to Mr. Tomato and tied
Her to his vine. The next morning we discovered
That the cow had eaten him, and was wearing his top hat.
Now I need a husband, she demanded, although
In truth it was one of us in a cow-like voice.
The only suitable mate was my brother,
Who we led over and tied to the cow’s bell.
The next morning we discovered my brother
Had eaten the cow and was wearing her top hat.
Now I need a wife, he pleaded, although he
Wasn’t old enough to talk. We rummaged
Through the barn, which contained so many things.
A jar of canned tomatoes would do, so we tied
My brother around its neck, and immediately
They began to mate. The next morning we awoke
From some dream or other to find that a city
Had sprouted all around us. We could not find
Our brother – perhaps he was an old man who
Had just driven off to some black tie affair?
Anyway, we were tied to our beds,
And if premonitions were to be trusted,
We’d better stay that way.

What the Billboard Says

The billboard is a mirror. It is meant to reflect god,
But all it gets is the clouds. Oh look, there’s a cloud
That is a black boot. All of the people scream and scurry
As it drifts over the city. Now it’s stamping and grinding,
It’s absolutely furious for reasons unknown,
And there is a great clap of sound that sets off car alarms.
Is it the boot of god? everyone’s wondering as they run.
Those who were under the sole, when it lifts and moves
On, have not been crushed. They are only wet with tears.
And behold, the billboard is reflecting the empty sky!

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Progress of Man

A man was getting into his car – he was very late,
And the car was new and absolutely reflective.
He lowered himself into the driver’s seat, fussed with
The seatbelt, placed his briefcase on the passenger seat,
And looked up to find he was in the backseat.
Strange, he thought,
And carefully got out, so as not the scuff anything,
Tilted things back into their proper positions,
And began to lower himself into the driver’s seat.

He was extremely late, and his automobile was new,
And thus would be pleasure to swiftly navigate.
He fussed with the seatbelt, placed his briefcase to the side,
And looked up to find he was again in the backseat.
There was the driver’s headrest – he could not see
The windshield. How bazaar, he thought.
Carefully, like a tourist at a domino toppling convention,
He got out. Things were not looking so new now.
But still he was very, very late, and the car was waiting

To be driven. Grasping the wheel, he lowered himself
Into the driver’s seat, fussed with his seatbelt,
Placed his briefcase on the passenger seat,
And looked up to find he was sitting in the backseat.
What the hell’s going on? he yelled as he got out.
He stood on the pavement and scratched his head.
Everything seemed in order, although the car
Was rusting – he’d deal with that later.
He wondered if this was some kind of prank.

He was beyond late now – there wasn’t
A word for what he was. He crossed himself
As he began to lower into the driver’s seat, fussed
With the seatbelt, placed his briefcase on the passenger seat,
And looked up. He was in the backseat. He was furious.
He leapt out, threw himself into the driver’s seat, snapped
The seatbelt, tossed his briefcase against the window,
Shattering it, spraying documents everywhere,
And then refused to look up at what he knew was there…

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A Man Bites his Own Tail

I am a man who eats women.
I like them boiled, I like them baked.
I like them dead on my plate.

I notice there is no supper.
There is no steam, there is no scent.
My damned mistress, my maid,

Why have you not stuffed yourself?
I cannot place you in the broiler,
I cannot baste your breasts with butter.

Besides, the oven isn’t heating up.
The measuring cup has no bottom.
The onions fall on the floor.

They roll around the prep table leg,
But I can’t stop salivating
Long enough to chop them.

After I rub you with oil I watch
The sky with its false earthenware lid.
Ah, the trees look like wooden spoons

Grasped by a green giant’s hand.
You say you might be pregnant again.
This calls for a dusting of flour!

The Killer Lurking in the Square

The killer was a manifestation viewed from a mile up –
The pooling around the particular petal,

And the city a frost-burned pasque flower,
A silver locket with fine filigree and flagellum,

And the pores of pale skin just in its shadow.
He has his hands around her neck now,

He has his designs and Georgia on his mind,
Sweet murderer, with a pure interest

In ending life processes before they end
Themselves, which is called a natural death.

Perfect object, idea of a rectangle or parallel
Parasols strolling down a post-apocalyptic

Dance hall in the delicate rain scented with cement.
Couple in pastel love, beware the killer,

He wears white gloves, he chugs, as he is fat
Off the mystery we pretend is around the corner.

We Dedicate a Monument

If not for the sake of Alistair, to who shall
We dedicate this diving bell?

He comes with his aniline dropper,
His bronze baby shoes,

And we have been corrugated in the square
So long we’ve grown as one,

And, yes, hair can syncopate into
The band’s brassy tune hanging in the air.

Alistair! We’ve left your felt cap
At the height of your head, please

Slide under our arms. We’re lowering
Your bell into the water,

You must steal under its corner
When we confuse the sea for the sky

And blow your famous bubbles
That burst like wishes on the surface.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Cliffs of Blackrock

Each shaft of rock is a needle in the arm
Of a Chinese doll, and it’s begging
For a little bullion to ward off

The incredible saga of the crow and shadow
That duel despairingly –
Soft kicks like folds of snow

Tossed against a mannequin’s navel,
A little smart punch
Like a sudden memory of a childhood

Toy, it’s starting to sprinkle
Gray water like the water shimmered
On new cement in a cemetery walkway.

It would be impossible to rise from the earth
With such a lid in place,
And the cliffs go on breathlessly.

Pining for the Fjords

The pining for the fjords is done in discrete
Heal hiccups on the walk to the gift shop
Of memory’s white onion –

Alas, the most misunderstood faction
Of tears is the trail they leave
As they pool upon the beltway

And penetrate into the soul, which is illusive.
They are being mimicked by birds,
And one can hear the angel’s wings

Popping under the pressure of the sea.
The fjords narrow in that brilliant reflection
Like the pupil of a drugged wombat,

And we must pine after them as we shimmy
Toward the ultimate compression
Of a picture book’s uncorrected proof.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Suburbs Described

I wore a death-proof coat, but it had to be taken off to air
An hour a day. It always rained in those days, and the coat
Was not waterproof – nor did it stop the cold,
Which could run its blade down the bumps of your spine,
In a manner of speaking. Naturally, the heat was made
Much worse in the coat. Life was miserable all over.
It’s sleeves always knocking glasses of port
Onto the carpet; lovemaking was numb and distant.
But for that hour, around sunset (although one was free
To choose the time), the coat had to be removed
And placed on a special rack, next to the books ideally,
And the wearer, who I’m sure was me, Descartes!,
Could prance about in the glorious risk of life,
Scoop flowers, tell a wife you loved her, or stand in the street
Watching the weathervane spin surreptitiously,
Exposed to death, sure, but also free from the coat.

Sunday in the Park

The children have found a corpse in the sky.
Do we hug them to our torsos, cover their eyes,
And pretend it’s not there? Or do we admit, yes,
This happens to us all, and it’s not uncommon
For playing children to stumble upon?
There will be questions which we can anticipate.
They’ll want to know about ropes and devices
Of deception, which we must deny exist
Even if we suspect something. If not ropes, they’ll
Persist, then magic? Well, not specifically, no,
We must reply, although we all shoot glances.
There is nothing on the horizon just now,
And perhaps the children will return to
Kite flying, when one of us, just then,
Begins her assent. It’s always so jerky,
Like lifting a large trunk onto a cargo ship,
And several others have suspiciously disappeared,
And more have dressed in all black.
But up she goes, eyes crossed out,
Limbs in broken poses, fluids leaking on the roses.
All we can say is see, children, see. It’s not so bad.

Seeing Clearly

Dressed in my body, I go to the wall of fog
To see the fashion show of presentations:
A convict’s tin cup held briefly before me,
But there’s nothing inside; an empty book
Floats from the fog only to subside;
A black bird flapping is shot by an invisible
Rifle that reloads somewhere in the fog.
The bird inverts like a banana; inside it,
More fog. The grass is gray; the sky is gray.
The fog may stand for anything you wish, but
You may not stand in the fog.
I undress and turn away and exchange clothes
With the next man, who inexplicably
And out of his sound mind
Has come to the wall of fog to gaze for a spell.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Philosophical Clockmaker

I was a clockmaker who hated clocks.
I never did a lick of work,
Yet my business was thriving.
Oh, how I’d cringe when some little prick
Would bring in his dying grandfather:
That ivory dial with those vein-like cracks,
Those dark twitching murderous hands.
There is nothing I despise more.
The young fool might say something like:
Please save my clock; I’ve had it forever.
I’m sorry; I don’t fix clocks, I’d say.
But the sign says repair, he’d plead.
Yes, but if you knew what I do about them…
Let them die, is what I say –
You’re young; why let it torment you?
Then through pity I’d reluctantly
Take a look at the dying old bastard:
Its veneer was cracking, its glass was cataracted.
I’m sorry this has to happen, I whisper,
And gently place my hand on its crown.
You were probably Stalin’s right-hand man;
How many innocents have you driven to death?
Still, I pity you, as one pity’s a cow at a steakhouse.
And I say this very quiet, like in a lover’s ear,
I’m going to enjoy watching you die.
I tell the kid, who’s forty if he’s fourteen,
That it’s best he leave the clock with me.
I can do only what I can do, nothing more.
My shop is packed with clocks; there’s only room
On the ceiling for another, so I begin hoisting
The lousy criminal up there with a noose.
That’s all there is to it. I stare at the empty street.
Study my brass tools, of which I don’t know
The names. And of course the ticking,
The infernal ticking, so loud that I can think
Of nothing but their impeding demise.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Strong Father, Dunce Son

I’m sorry son but we can’t go to the Ganges;
Not tonight, not anytime soon. I’m standing
Here in my pith helmet and khakis, but we cannot,
I say, no matter what form your begging takes,
Find our seats and watch the props
Catch: it’s impossible; I know it could not be.

You cannot relieve yourself in Mary’s purse.
For our purposes, we should consider
That handbag closed for good, although I
Understand the temptation. I’ve squatted
Over it a few times in my day.
She leaves it so casually open and she’s never
In the room. But no, no!

Bad news: son, you cannot grow anymore.
It is imperative that you obey me.
Space, as they say, is limited, and I
Your father have already filed claim
To what was there – you cannot bubble
Over into a neighbor’s (what are you, pie?)
One must know what height to aspire to
And try one’s best to make due.

I’ve made a will, and I’m dying.
You must not follow any of my wishes.
This is as important as a morning pill:
I’ve scrambled everything. I think I’m going
Back to where I was before birth –
My judgment’s soft and pitted like foam.
A man is a waffle in life and the iron is hot.
I was always a dead man, and I sentenced you too.
Please, son, I beg you, ignore everything…

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Robot Rape

I wore an aluminum mask;
She wore two tin funnels on her chest.
We called each other names
Like “beast” and “lover”.

When I banged on her breast,
There was no sound.
When she slipped a finger under
My mask, the light was gone.

She wondered aloud
But there was no answer.
The rape was not the rape
We imagined before.

She wanted to scream for help
In an empty corridor.
For the echo of that scream
To find its way outside.

I wanted to unmask myself
Only to find another mask.
At the end, a pile of masks
On the floor to cuddle on.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Dark Recipe

Ennui with particular flavor of nightingale.
O, the black plume from the chimney drifts
Like a note from a wine bottle in an open window.
I’ve read too many books – or perhaps not enough.

From this book of spells, I was making a love potion
For the world, but the wind lost my page for good.
I guess, o sorcerer, I just keep adding the heavenly
Ingredients until it thickens bewitchingly.

Store it in a blue bottle with a dark stopper?
Or perhaps give it to the homeless shelter –
They can soak it up in hunks of stale bread.
I’ve noticed no change in the world’s demeanor,

Even in the spring flowers which bloom sparingly.
I’ll leave some on this park bench
And even the birds won’t touch it.
I’ll slip it into this stoup and hope the holy

Will activate it. But the world and I remain
At odds. Night birds with their black beaks
Beat at my windows. I’ve a lamp on,
So I can see nothing of the outside.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Dumplings of Dry Air, Savanna, Georgia

I was certainly going on safari.
I was moving my pith helmet to the lower hook
When a ground swell of epic dysentery
Swept through the crew, who were just then
Whittling the oars. We were thrilled; we could almost hear
The lions yawning and the jackals composing themselves.
We were up on a wave – the pirogue scuttled some
But not nearly enough to consider it at sea.
We went nowhere.
The crew’s morale was flattened; the water in barrels
Below deck lashed out against the bungs.
I could hear the ropes leathering.
My muzzle was mutilated, and I was cribbing
The hull again to recreate a landscape
Of my childhood in splinters and negative space:
I was being beaten by my brother; my mother lecturing
Me on the subject of hydrolysis until I refused baths –
I spent my time on a pile fearing the rainy season.
But I was a new man now. I was going on safari.
Regardless, I moved my pith helmet to the upper hook;
Like the famous jackal, I needed to compose myself.
I took off my trousers and neatly addressed them:
Men, said I, we’ve got to be vigilant
And tussle the tepid metaphor which is the sea,
Its depths as stony as men’s souls
With all those demons and cuttlefish lurking
Between bands of decomposing sea hair,
Which their mothers’ demand washed and combed.
I surveyed the crew for signs of mutiny.
Just then Karl rung the eight bells
Indicating that it was time to luncheon.
We threw anchor, and readied the ropes.
The city intersection was busy: the autos backed up
Like a wake behind us. But we had set a course
For a waffle house, and we were aiming to board her.
Sir, Karl said tugging my pink life preserver,
What should be done about your pith helmet?
I was beaming with pride as I placed it on the lower hook,
To Karl’s surprise and approval. He unzipped his costume
And it was my mother: she smiled and walked the plank.
Men, said I, order flaxseed, for we sail for the Dark Continent
When dawn’s red face peeks from behind its masquerade.
Unfortunately, they only had dumplings, which steamed
Like a ghost’s wound when a fork was applied.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Love Poultice

Ennui with particular flavor of nightingale. O, the black plumes from the chimneys drift like a note from a wine bottle in an open window. The wind has taken the recipe card and now the rain is spotting the ink. I guess, love, it’s dueling banjos until our blood thins enough to reverse its flow, and time’s rooster tail settles its plume of mist upon the valley where our little nest laid an egg.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Do-Da, Do-Da

In those days I slept with my head in a birdcage. It was in the middle of an abandoned pet store. There was always some cat or viper trying to pick my brain, but I had hung myself far enough above the bloodstained floor to feel safe. I was a friend of the carpet beetle who made the controversial statement that they were more populous than god. As for the jazz-playing mongrels howling in the windows, their pawing didn’t bother me so much as the fleas, who immediately moved into my fright wig. I had to reach out and pull the rope even higher, which screwed up the canary’s view of the setting sun. My legs, of course, just grew longer, and a parrot sang me the blues. Ah, those were the days of discovery. Now I stand lashed in the playground where children swing from my crotch. I still have the bird shit halo, which I wear on walks.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

The Spiritual Transformation Rag

It was the age of becoming, and I could feel
The blossoming of my insides with each breath.
The city’s flood gates had been closed by pranksters,
And we were all pressing against them in agony,
Wishing that the water would wash through
Our basements to clean our clothes so we didn’t have to.
But what was I becoming? you may ask.
To this there is no easy answer, although I drew
Straws with a stranger all night for the right
To obfuscate my response – all straws were equal,
Dammit! The field of creeping Bermuda grass
Is as close-cropped as an illuminated manuscript’s spine,
And I’m wearing a shirt that says, “I’m with Stupid!”
I’m alone, except for my company of solider ants,
Which have marched away with all my greenbacks.
I was becoming something; I could feel the change.
Perhaps I’ll stand on my hands and walk on god’s face?
It was no use – god was viewing a different stereoscope
At that moment, one where sailors ride an oil tank
Into the center of the street and begin to sell refreshments
To the pilgrim passengers of tour busses, who all agree
That sludge is much better in costal towns.
My feet are dangling from the white cliffs of Dover.
The sea is the color of the sky. I’ve become a poor sandpiper,
As I cannot blow a steady note through any plot of sand.
I’m becoming one with the illuminated mind.
I must have a nightlight or boogiemen tap dance
On my solitude until it’s trapped under my bed,
And I must become my own father and reassure myself
That there’s nothing there while also refusing to look.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

At the Cleaners

I was a suit on a drycleaner’s rack. A gray faucet drips at the end of the line. All night my closest friends and I advance toward the hissing machine. I with the loose red dye, with innumerable dark buttons, and a black ink stain in the pocket above the heart. My naked owner with his chewed stub is cowering in the waiting room. The store lights have been turned off, and the closed sign flipped. Outside it slowly becomes morning and a line of naked men forms at the door. The first ones through are a priest, a minister, and a rabbi. They’re demanding their clothes, but unfortunately for them I’ve died them all pink.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

City on the Brink, the Year 2001

It was just a little big town, the kind subject to flowery description in letters home. A peddler with his fake watches waving hello, a commissioner whistling on his lunch hour with his sweetheart. I was from someplace else, and I went there to bury my face in a tire. There were remnants of the fragrance of blossoms the tire had traveled through – I saw straight into the future with its many white steps. But then dark clouds bullied out the sun, and the bricks began to shiver. The watch man packed up his parasol and the commissioner stood and stared at the sky. Still, I clung to my tire sniffing its many scents. I was taken to the heart of some greasy borough; I was elevated on a suspension bridge over the whitecaps of a channel. All the while I was composing my own letter home. I spoke only of a green jar at a fishmonger’s filled with fish eyes, how they looked on but never blinked. I thought that was all the people at home needed to know – there is an eye that sees in the middle of a disaster. Never mind anything else.

If Then Else

N equals the vacancy of the world, the tomorrows in the sting being slowly eliminated. Print the explanation in black type on a black screen. It is dark in your cubicle – the whole world is dark. If you’re looking for something dead, then go to the alley and poke its eyes. There is a single amber streetlamp there. Else, stay under your covers and shiver until the end line.

Monday, April 2, 2007

The World’s Premier Barbershop

I can only encourage the young, for whom there is no hope. I put a penny in a barrel everyday my whole life – now I give it to the kid getting his first haircut. I used to believe I was a barber; do the young believe that’s a real red horse they sit on? Do they think a handheld mirror lets one see behind his head? My how heavenly blue the jar of Barbercide. It was only a matter of time before I drank a little, and now I lay here waiting for death. Here is my savings, dear children. Go, play while you can; drop it from a skyscraper into the busy street below. The god of barbers will be along with his many hands to sweep everything that’s lost down your shirt.

The Time Capsule

I’ve been given a choice. Either I go in the time capsule, or I work the night shift on the pain killer assembly line. They’re waiting to seal me in, with a crew to patch the wall and put up the plaque. Or they’re waiting to drag me off, to pack up my snack cart. There is a necktie in the capsule, an earnings report, a pasque flower with brown petals. Then there is the long stairwell to the basement with its stalactites, its sales slogans, its alluring mist. I have nothing in my life; I have walked these corridors selling snacks for so long I’ve stepped from my memory like a robe. So I choose the capsule. One of the crew, who I just noticed is in a gorilla suit, readies his giant wooden mallet. It has to be a headache that lasts a lifetime, mind you. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Strange Interlude

I see figures, strange figures.
The puddle of mud
In front of the dollhouse window
Was its own self-portrait.

A miniature family of art critics
On little electric scooters
Slams through it,
Sending a drop of mud

Into the daughter’s dainty teacup.
She takes a sip and sighs.
I saw all this through the front fa├žade.
At 1/10th scale,

The sky was blue,
Blue jays were screaming.
A little mud settled on a doll’s lips.
Or was it blue clay?

Ever since I’ve met you,
I’ve swept you off my feet.
I’ve used a toy broom.
The one children also paint with.

Paradise A-Go-Go

The woods are silent
Except for the flipping
Of a musical score
In the gray wind.

Conductor-what’s-
His-name
Taps his twig on the podium
To ready his cast.

The choir invisible
With eunuch voices,
Can you hear them warming
Up with their infinite

Scales? Now the dark
Curtain of winter lifts.
The conductor taps again
And a crescendo of wildflowers

Bursts from the floor,
The color of stained glass
In a child’s drawing
With happy poisonous mushrooms.