Saturday, April 20, 2019

Desert Island Discs

With nothing to eat but Kettle Crisps and Spam,
Salt on a salted sea, open always,
I floated along on the wreckage of a Spar,
Partly hydrogenated, like the waves.

What is this shore on which I’m beached? What are
These alte cocker spaniels doing here,
Beyond both bath and bed? I know the sound.
It’s 50s rock n roll up in the trees.
Chestnut is what I think, but I’m not sure.

I hope it lasts. And me. The saints preserve
Berry and Little Richard. Little I
Know of nesting among the spanielled crowd.
Never too late, doo-wop doo-wop, I pray.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Mr. Bones & Attendant Flights

I was thinking Bones, probably thinking
Like Henry. Happens sometimes. And I'm sure
A stewardess is falling, falling, now
A flight attendant, now a slight depression.
They talk back in patois. They have their ways.
They're violent and clinically unsound
And deader than a deaf door jamb. They're closed.
I think of them, though, waiting in the dark,
Collectedly insentient. Such bones
We use for soup, grow strong & tall 12 ways.

When I became a man, I took such bones,
Plucked free of noodles, cast them in the street,
And read my riddles, almost knew the truth,
Although a blue Imperial, false spare
& painted whitewalls, ran them down like dirt.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Dead Grandpa Shops at Wal-Mart at 4 a.m.

Nail clippers, maybe, no more aftershave.
No shiny trainers, sextet of latte cups.
A groundcloth sounds quite nice, and wind-up toys
To fill the void with clackety-clacks and beeps;
But who to wind them up? The waitress said--
Next plot but one--Here, let me freshen that.
Disarming, but without real consequence.
Clean underwear, in case of accident,
Would please The Inner Mom, but accidents
Happen to others now, and he has leaked
And spilled his substance on Aisle 17.
His sepsis seeps away, and all his toys.

Friday, April 05, 2019

Spread Sheets

The cash alone was not enough.
It made the flagstone terrace slick
And all the shutters red and bright;
But consciences are black at night, 
And cash does not afford a light
When even sheets and spreads are rough.
The dead are still, and eke the quick.

Gelt not so much. The dead forgot,
The live forsworn: but in the dark,
Where they go on, but you would not,
You can't buy room. There is a lot
Of that in Zion Perfect Park,
Home to the absent. They were all
Live on the margins. Came the call.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Archival Studies

The cherubs in the margins smile and wink,
All rosy incunabula; the winds
Blow puffy cheeked from four directions, there
To warn you off the edge, whence you could slip
Into oblivion, no name, no scribe.

One of the i-dots seems a smiley face.
Nature is natural and carries on,
Despite instruction. “Conjunx” is misspelled
And might mean anything, though nothing good.
The ink is mixed with blood. By DNA

We know he was related to a Name
Still snippety by Domesday Book. Some fee
Installed him here. It wasn’t all the smarts
He evidenced: one comment we translate,

Over the page the scent of sanctity
Still hovers. Must be subject-matter, all
Those humble dragons, saintly beasts with scales
Who found no virgin wanting. It is not
The ideal cursive hand. Those drips. That smudge.

Survival comes in packages too strange
To be secure. So say the sheep who died
For the appointment faintly on the verge.
A lunch, perhaps, or matins. By strong light
We can discern that something lies beneath.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Cherry, Blossoms

Focus, they say, and Bof'us, someone laughs;

But crocus is what they mean, and inching through
A yard like iron, just before the daffs,
They make a spring. The spring remembers you

Under the cherry, blossoms in your hair
And dress too small to make a handkerchief.
It's you, and you are never ever there.
Some jocund flowers beggar all belief.

Let summer burn them down. Let the sweet grass
Give itself up to desiccate and dirt.
All memories decay, and cherries pass.

Bof'us, they say, and laugh until they hurt.
The ice is melting, all that broken glass
A spring in motion and the past inert.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

When Lions Come

This appeared in Orbis.

When lions come to the door to drag you out
into the street, they won’t want elegy
or meditations on the Elder Breughel.
It’s commonsense and die with them: plain speech
is what they have time for. They’re not chimpanzees.

In camps, if you make it there, interrogation
occurs in prose, in real time, not in feet.
Elephants can do prosody; lions think
elephants have gone soft, wasting their gifts
on rumination, wallowing, and tusks.

Under the klieg lights lions want the truth.
They won’t even tell you, Soon you can go home.
Maybe they eye a haunch and hum a little.
Confess the truth and change for death: that’s all
the deal they offer, all they need to know--

lions don’t hope. They are. No note is sent
advising your next of kin you have been laid
with wildebeests and zebras in the pit
where herbivores accrue, praying, say lions,
they could be lions next. Not bloody likely.