Thursday, January 18, 2018

Among School Children

I was invited here to speak
About the labyrinth of art,
The darkest places right in here
(I tapped my fist upon my heart),
The places where the adverbs seek
The mortises which disappear.

I haven’t got a thing to say.
(They didn’t look a bit surprised.)
All I can do is write and read
And keep my heartbreak supervised.
That lights, but can’t provide, a way
To where the joists and tendons bleed.

Monks are men as incomplete
As soldiers, chaste of blood or soul.
How long must half a world compete
With half a world? How long the toll
Of promise must deception meet?
We are dying to be whole.

Questions? (But they were all asleep,
Each head upon a floppy stem.)
Someone? You in the back, perhaps.
(But I was not disturbing them.)
I was that public man who’d keep
Impinging on their private naps,

Dreams of the Dairy Queen, the Slut
Of Winter Park or Hollywood.
Dreams of the Motorcycle Man,
With 6-pack abs, and far too good
For others. Every eye had shut.
I say, The heart’s an empty can,

Drained of a dram and pissed upon.
(Somebody heard one word I said
And tittered.) I’ll be going soon.
When all of you are good and dead,
Be grateful for a Denver dawn,
And praise the stars which ring the moon.

Later the secretary sent
A thank-you note they each had signed
(Though printed with the class PC).
Ensconced in my establishment,
I was embarked on sonnetry,
And books brought other books to mind,

And other books. I had not told
The class about the unblent yolk
Or dancing trees. I had not said
That art was not like growing old,
And no one ever got the joke,
And I too late, and likely dead.

Fair play it was, and just as well.
Brave lads who never shed a tear
And girls repining for a glance,
They speak in tongues I cannot hear
The lessons they were made to tell.
I write when I have half a chance.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

A Poem Unrequited

The mice knew first, the crickets and the small
Wrens, who muted their music in respect.
The Bigguns had no reason to expect
A coming, first or second, so they all
Went to the circus, laundry, or the mall,
To buy some smoke detectors could detect.
And then they bought a family to detect.
The beetles sang, We shan't shut up till Fall.

Somewhere the news was posted.  In a paper
Of general circulation, someone read:
Death shall have no dominion, being dead;
But he was only someone, not a shaper
Of big opinion.  Big opinion heard
Interruption and said, Shut up that bird.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

A Poem for the Girls Writing All Those Poems

So you picture yourself
in a cream satin t-shirt
writing a poem about
you writing a poem about
your cream satin t-shirt,

how when he breaks in
on you writing a poem about
writing a poem about
your cream satin t-shirt,

he’ll be so excited
about you so excited
about writing a poem
about him so excited,
he’ll shred the damn t-shirt,

sweep you and your poem
right off your futon.
And someone will publish
your poem because it is
true as a t-shirt,

besides which, the paper
is cream, like the t-shirt.
And, smooth as it is,
the poem you’re writing
about writing a poem,

who needs the boy?
Or if he shows up,
while you’re still in your t-shirt,
all cream and all satin,
who needs the poem?

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Regime Change

Grandmothers throw themselves into the street, 
Caterwauling, burning their ancient caches 
Of diaries and grosgrain lingerie. 
No more to hope for, now that loss has come, 
Unpacked in the great room, fixed itself a snack, 
And cut the landline. Tell the tailor no: 
Alteration belongs to yesterday. 

The authorized watchers do not want to watch. 
Where younger pain explodes, this just hangs on, 
Nor all that long. The actuarials 
Identify themselves and confiscate 
Running shoes of the stationary kind, 
The keening widows and the flattened fraus 
Not vigorous enough for knitted sleeves. 

The grandmothers grow smaller, they retreat, 
Much larger women on their wedding days. 
Their children now have dewlaps. Here come vans 
As big as percherons. The women grip 
Their sorrow and will not be dragged away. 
By morning they will be a little field 
Of husk and hull, a compost now assoiled.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Boxing Day

I wrote this down in perfect confidence
And cannot read a word of it. It was
Etruscan, maybe, or the speech of mimes
Running against the wind, their lips sewn shut.
It was the scent of peaches when the trees
Have been uprooted, pulped, and turned to tales
Describing a girl converted to a peach.
Apollo took her home. Artemis ate her.
I made this up in perfect confidence,
While walking the dog. I don’t recall a word.
Something about a peach, miming the fate
Of man in late September, while the rain
Didn’t feel like the fall of man, but might
Come to that, with some mulching in between.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Tales From Sycorax's Wood

Once split, twice shy, the tree
Will not disclose the plight
Of those condemned to be
Embedded out of sight.

They never speak of her.
Whatever once occurred
To make a prisoner,
No one will say a word.

Only the bark is warm,
In places bark is not,
And when lush Carpo’s storm
Shakes the wood, the lot

Of trees exempts such places,
No motion and no sound,
No sense of human faces,
Except the wetted ground.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Tarnish Town

The potentates are marching from St. Paul, 
Wearing the hats they stole from desert kings, 
More of them stuffed inside a tiny car 
Than Billy has Spaghetti-Os. The nurse 
Flaunts her prosthetic sword, says Opioids, 
And all fall down. In wheezing lungs, shaved heads, 
And intubated families they fail 
Of faith. The potentates ride in, clean up 
The tarnished town, a sink of billyclubs 
And graft, and scrub the spangled bedroom doors-- 
They manage with panache and housemaid’s knees. 
The little children smile and pack their bags 
And hide under the porch until the bus, 
The friendly yellow bus with plastic seats, 
Opens its doors and swears it is today.