Saturday, July 04, 2015

Final Exam

The fractious verbs, the adverbs soppily
Lagging behind, explaining as they weep—
What good are they to those like you and me,
Schooled by an inkhorn buried by the sea,
A preposition long since put to sleep?

Announcing that you are a proper noun,
A little rusty from a lack of use,
The adjectival nature of the town
Laying its nosy hands on Cinder’s gown,
An oxymoron cooking its own goose,

You are the part of speech making a speech
Superfluous, a body proving rest
Is myth and metaphor: the teachers teach,
And back behind the church, the preachers preach.
The final sentence is the final test.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

What Was In My Pockets Last Night When I Undressed

My keys, a pocketknife, the Pietà,
A handkerchief, a poopkit, and a friend
Of Héloïse, who said that Abelard
Was boring, but intense—no mix for men.
And 32¢.  Too little to apprise
A grateful nation of my whereabouts,
A paltriness made for a piggybank;
But I was out of pigs, apparently,
And when I dropped my pants, nobody cared
Enough to hang them up, preserve the crease
For sales meetings, in case there was a need
For Pietàs or handkerchiefs or knives.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Raising Expectations

Given some rope, they've torn the statues down

To piss on legendary heads, the groins
Bedecked in amaryllis and ablaze.
(Who would have guessed that amaryllis burns,
And colorfully?) The shoppers fill their carts
With freebies. (Who'd have guessed they wanted phones
Far more than sandwiches?) The songs they sing
Are short on lyric wordplay, long on scat.
We made no plans to emigrate, but have
Our havens in the hinterlands, where treats
Are plastic shoes on Sundays, where delight
Is puddings made of pigs and doughty men
Pray to the forest just because it's there.
(Who knew that gods had green cards or that wolves
Wanted our wives for bon-bons in the smoke?)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Midnight Train

A lantern on a lanyard on the last
Train out of town to Anywhere at All,
Which happens to be east of Little Jugs,
Gives more illumination than you’d think.
A carrot and a stick and several shoes
Piled on the platform where the caboose becomes
Thin air; and you, you weren’t expecting that.
The elegance of emptiness does not
Include a carrot or a pair of heels,
But Anywhere at All will be amused.
A milliner’s, a pool hall, and a new
Patisserie, in case the gentry come.
A Church of Holy Holiness, a cow
Walking the streets, and then, of course, a bank.
Life can be fruitful, Anywhere at All
Instructs its children, who are dreaming of
A better world, offered in Somewhere Else,
To those catching the midnight train, which leaves
Tomorrow afternoon at 6:15.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Ballad for Willie

My name is William Butler Yeats.

When young, I spoke to faeries
and sang of ponds and leprechauns
and lips red-ripe as cherries.

Now my glass is cold and cracked,
my verse a fine steel wire.
The faeries all have been served with writs
and flung out in the mire,

shot down at the Post Office door,
blown up by the IRA:
a city man in a country house,
I'll make myself a play;

taut for my Maud and statesmanlike,
I perne me in a gyre.
I'll bear it all for drama's sake
and set this house on fire.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Traditional

It’s late.  The birds have tucked away
Their worms.  The spiders fold their silk.
Monuments tell stone dogs to stay.
The galaxy pours out its milk.
And you, you lie there just as still
As prayer.  On the other hand,
No ring.  The stars, though falling, will
Not change our course, nor ever land;
But day will break, and, broken, leave
Us petrified.  And first the lark
And then the sparrows will receive
A vacant and a timeless park.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Travelling Exhibition

appeared in The Shit Creek Review


Room by room they packed up the museum.
They filled the armored suits with porcelain,
The urns with lesser urns. They wrapped the busts
In bubble paper, squeezing now and then
Mini-explosions, just for fun, like Queen
Victoria's little wars. The paintings posed
A problem. Smaller ones in plastic sacks,
That would just do; but 19th-century
Gigantists--lacking room enough and twine,
Necessity made them inverts, hauled them out,
Hoping for fair and fine. It took a while.
The Judgement of Solomon, a red and gold
Simeon Smythe, took 12 old men to tote,
Curators with post-docs and 3 rosettes
Amongst them. When they propped the painting back
Against the mini-van to rest, it glowed.
A minion in the right foreground held out
A scimitar, prepared to bisect babes
On the command. One of the old men said,
Where is a minion where you really need one?
They left a head of Nero on the roof.
It sneered and skittered as they took the turn.