Monday, December 22, 2014

I Am A Poem By Armand Crumple

I Am A Poem By Armand Crumple
Is the name of a poem
by Armand Crumple.
I’m Armand Crumple.

Although I have a poet’s heart,
I am not a work of art.
You read my words. I come apart.
I, Crumple.

It’s easy to confuse the two.
I, Armand, do the things I do,
and some of them I write to you,
like this one.

And where I start and where I end,
though I pretend that I pretend,
I know I mean. Since light can bend
or crumple,

the things I mean, I mean to know,
and you can touch the parts I show—
bleak and barren, bare and blue;
exhibiting itself for you,
I am a poem
by Armand Crumple.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Little Elijah Dance

This appeared in Chimaera.

Little Elijah cannot find his pants.
Do you suppose this will forestall the dance
Great joy requires? Not the slightest chance.

He drags his feet through mud. He shakes his head.
He beats his little fists until they’ve bled
Upon the yard he slowly colors red.

The sparrows flee. The boxer pup retreats.
The crows applaud, guffawing from their seats,
As though instructed by his infant feats.

His mother is embarrassed and his pa
Humiliated by the breach of law.
Such misplaced gametes might occlude his craw,

Were he not drunk and god-fearing. This child,
The funk of bees and puddles make a wild
Embouchure: and he blows as though defiled

By thoughts of nap or spinach. But he’s not.
Little Elijah does not feel so hot,
And soon the crows pick up what he forgot.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Exterminator 20:2

The rodents in the wainscoting
Are singing: Praise to God on high,
By which they mean--I've no idea.
The cat, perhaps, the Man of Pie

And Edam. Or a giant mouse
Who takes no shit and never begs,
His tail contorted by a trap
And dying from his broken legs.

A little song, a little dance,
A little seltzer in the pants:
Not for the pious mice who keep
An eye on life and death. The chance

To be a better mouse is not
High on To-Do. They settle for
An Oysterette, some sour rye.
Their god and appetite are more

Than any mouse can bear. They go
Gently, and they do not return.
Some life, some death, some little guys
For owls to eat. They never learn.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Petronius Arbiter

A blackboard in his living room, a black
Thesaurus on a little, dirty rug,
And he asleep, a Laz-Y-Boy reclined,
Declined, perhaps, as so so many more--
Busts and the battered stragglers of the 10th
Battalion in the wood above Saint-Just,
Horns and the heads who used to wear them out,
Nuns and rabbinic doctors with a plague
Of middlesex intelligence: declined.
Baseball season upon him, though, he stirs,
Changes the channel, sits up straight, and prays
That umpires will be pure, dispassionate,
And equal to the call, the sons of men
Watched by their daughters, much less than they were.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

The Sparrows' Fall

from These Denver Odes

At this week's yard sale
sparrows swap husks and hulls,
dry, but not amusing,
and they soon move on.

Next door's seed is new,
the last word in millet.
They beat each other up,
first doing no harm.

They will return. Ice
will dam their best bedrooms;
the cold will not comfort
their minuscule down:

and I'll fill their bath
regularly with hot
water, regularly
frozen in seconds.

A hard little life,
sparrows'. Precarious
hearts, what can they recall?
Listen how they sing.

Dumb little bastards.
Dry seed, cold empty beds,
taut untutored lifelines.
Listen to them sing.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Kindergarten In Hell

That's the mess. When the brass bell rings,
You find a seat. There's prayers and things,
And then you eat. It tastes like crap.
And then there's prayers. And then you nap.
And then comes story time. You hear
Isaac and Ishmael. The mere
Mention of Lucifer gets you spanked.
You do some chores, for which you're thanked
In homilies--Elisha's bears,
Perhaps. Confession. And then prayers.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

U Before I

To you a letter. How about q,
Always followed by u, as I
Follow the mark for hay and Hensa?

Too oblique, I know. I know it
Follows, no p to o, but where
We all align, in tidied rows,
Where there are diphthongs we can share,

On monuments a line or less.
O, I say, O. But no one gapes.
They keep, instead, their final shapes.

12 lines. Or several hundred more.
And never again what came before.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Where Autumn Succeeds

Alder by day, by night the sort of wood
Rubs up against the awning in your sleep,
Good for nothing, except to take up space
Otherwise occupied by fungal gnomes
And fey minutiae sharing golden worms,
It has its dignity. Comets announce
A change of almanacs, a column more
For bloggers who keep track. While children sleep,
Meteors fall on empty fields, supplant
The local germs and breed a race of clear
Benign progenitors of etiquette.
This drops a couple leaves and calls it quits.

The genealogy of accidents
Is difficult: we trace a tangled tree
Back past a pleasant baron, out for larks,
Who never gave a by-blow any name,
And what do we know, who only wedlock know?
The leaf exchanges its petiole for dirt
And is what fed its fruit, itself its self.
Meanwhile, the awning, all percussionist,
Sends a princess her pizzicato dreams
Of ponies, pirates, chaste droits du seigneur,
Exploding firebirds, and the unborn.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

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.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Goön Folk

Their pilgrimage began before the light,
Before the squabbles of the little birds
Pilgrims forswore. And they were going where?
To where the road concluded. Since this was
Their latter days, that just might mean the sea,
The culmination, surely, of strange strands,
Pounding a plainsong once, twice, dot, dot, dot.
They’d rather it would end against a wall
Invisible to those of little faith,
Studded with jasper, joined without a joint,
And crowned with fire or with Dagon’s roc
In chains, something spectacular, without
Curios at the exit, something none
Knew substantives sufficient for. They brought
A change of shirt, a charger for the phone,
And water double-filtered to remove
Impurities. They sang car tunes without
The words, not all the words. They thought they’d left
The word behind, the first rest stop enclosed
By plastic fence. The map said, You Aren’t There.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Casual Labor

Later they claimed they hadn't known the truth.
It might have been a train, a didgeridoo,
A kid bleating across a bottleneck,
And not a woman trying to break free.
Gods are capricious. When he let her go,
He hollered Boo! and farmers in their fields
Puckered up tight and drew their flocks in close.
The woman cried herself into a daze,
Humming and shaking, giving prescient birth
In 24 hours to a superstar
Who grew to his full self in a couple weeks,
Released the hounds, throttled a blatant beast,
Then took to the road, a casual laborer,
Beating up bachelors, just for fun, at night.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Our Little Furry Monsters

Well, yes, there could be little furry monsters
In local garbage cans. They might be trying
Cumbersome alphabets with broken twigs.
They could be adding 1 plus none plus none.
Primary colors, cunning speech defects,
And shaggy. You would think that they would stink--
Eggshells and tea leaves, vacuum cleaner bags
Filled with hair, dust, grit, gravel, ash, and pebbles.
Leaves, butts, dead flowers, Kleenex wads, and shredded
Stuff. Stuff is the word, the bland adhesive
Which binds us bone to bone, passionate motes,
A minyan for a landfill. Where was I?
Ah, yes, the monster with its glass of milk
And cookie, with endearing mustache crumbs,
Though where the mustache ends and cheek begins
Is mere surmise. He has no bottom half.
Bones, hair, teeth, dolls, eyeglasses, wedding rings.
You wonder that there are so many monsters.
"Mingle," their mothers told them. "Go on, blend."
Monsters among us. Who'd have ever guessed.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

They Flee from Me

And the small birds flee. Me, I lurch
Down the brick path, as though the fence
Were a destination, low church
Of last resort. Sing in past tense,
I warn the high birds on high branches.
They can feel light. I can feel dense
Bricks and palings, boundary chances
To stand firm. And the small birds sing
Inexplicably. See, they search
For song, they say, in everything.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Move along, please. No vampires here.

I hope "The Strain" is a massive failure, no matter how well done it is. I have no animus towards anyone involved, but I'd like to see the whole vampiric enterprise die for at least a generation. Obviously it plucks some sympathetic chord and endlessly fascinates millions; but between the Twilight utes and those walking dead chaps, I'm quite drained. Why are vampires so popular? Why now? It can't all be a metaphor for hedge fund managers.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

What, This City Park?

Potpourri printed this one.

Here is God’s plenty

I watch the garden mythologically,
predator swans beneath the victim trees
whose limbs still twist, the Zoo a generation
of sweat transforming semen. It may be
the tail of the tapir holds statistical
significance, as flexible as a god.

Look at the fountain, all carved heads and mouths
smiling in blindness, O-O’d in stone terror,
or blank, as though anomie were their defense.
The flowers soil themselves with seed: they once
cried to be changed, and now they are, they are.
The coral snake remembers better days

when he swam double-breasted in a rain
of terror. There are peacocks in my path.
Two antelopes who can’t elope because
Jove pinned them in begetting to the sand
until they begged in heat for hooves, they made
story. A bullfinch twitters. From my first

fable up to the present, who has been
transformed by hormones, given plumes, and sent
to brood odd young in armor? Who’s been paid
for charm in stars? Who started school but came
back home a tale of fantasy in feet
some free verse mortal thought too cute to count?

Friday, July 04, 2014

The Desuetude of Mr James

Wry Mr James commits enormities
Of style with style. This late in life he knows
Embonpoint is a structural device,
The close that makes the man--his buttons need
Jumbo's dexterity to finish off.
He calls his flowers flowers: that's enough
For floribundant similarity;
But caution comes in shades, like purple light
Climbing a red-brick garden wall at dusk;
And he sees every tint, Adamic man
Mounting a stair which knows no period,
Only a pause, a lamp lit at each landing.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Not Far Behind

Spring on the horizon, the nightbird says.
I’m here, you know, not going anywhere.
It’s in the offing, spring is. Blackwing says,
We’re here for the duration. Longtemps is
Our middle name.
Now bring the car around.
We’ll soon fill it with primroses and peepers.
We feed when you’re asleep, the jetblack says,
And never seem to get enough to eat.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Well, I never

Something called says of RHE poems, "The website doesn't contain questionable content. It can be used by kids and is safe for work." I gather that "safe for work" doesn't mean "won't cause industrial accidents," but something more like, "You won't get fired just for clicking on it." I don't know how it would be "used by kids," but I am quite sure that it does contain questionable content, else what's a poem for?

Friday, May 09, 2014

It Takes a Villeinage

This appeared in Plainsongs.

In high dudgeon, as horsehair crests exude
Manliness and confidence and ye olde
Tyme-iness, the warriors each produce speeches,
Spontaneous and metrical and crammed
With tropes, the bridge across Antiquity
To Meriwether Lewis Junior High.
It doesn't span it, quite. Into the cleft
Fall sleeping children, doomed to curse and rail
Like Thersites and feofor-princes. Better
To be a live shoe salesman in the Loop
Than eloquent in school libraries, pent
On clammy shelves in dusty inglenooks
Where Edie strips and Bobby Millstone waits.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

A Theory of Composition

Poems who sing emerge
To unexpected light.
Like morning, they are caught
By those expecting night,
With shreds of dream attached
And dripping from the sea,
Their private parts worn bare,

Saturday, May 03, 2014

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.

Saturday, April 26, 2014


The spirits circled high above the house
And dropped surprising words like fennel seed.
Never before, he thought, and could not write
Fast enough to keep up. There slipped away
An observation on the rites of men
With women and a pun on Little John,
And still the spirits strewed the house with verbs
He did not know he knew, until, at last,
He called it finished, although it couldn’t be;
And then the tutelary angels left
For Calgary, by typo drawn away.
Not one agreed to read a word he wrote.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


A sort of summer cabaret
Performed by girls in little more
Than skin, just like the dress they wore
When they dropped in. A small hooray
From men with lawnmowers and shears,
Indrawn disdain from proximate wives,
Both lots of whom resume their lives,
Unaugmented by wishful tears.

Not girls in skin, not now, this late.
Good girls go by. Old ladies pass
This way at noon. They touch the grass
With shadow. They are gnarled of gait;
And yet without their clothes, within,
Concealed consent, they carry skin.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The School of Real Estate

My alma mater was crowing yesterday about its "School of Real Estate & Construction Management." (No, really.) For some reason that made me think of Cardinal Newman, who wrote in The Idea of a University, "There is a knowledge which is desirable, though nothing come of it, as being of itself a treasure, and a sufficient remuneration of years of labor" and "Liberal Education makes not the Christian, not the Catholic, but the gentleman. It is well to be a gentlemen, it is well to have a cultivated intellect, a delicate taste, a candid, equitable, dispassionate mind, a noble and courteous bearing in the conduct of life." Is it fair of me to wonder whether the School of Real Estate will produce such graduates?

Just 3 Hours

Just 3 hours till our barbecue,
the sun defers to the hot coals,
the clouds muster in force, degrees fall
like dry leaves in Vallombrosa.
Phone. "Are you cancelling?" Why, no. Phone.
"Are you cancelling?" No. No. Phone.
Yes, maybe I am cancelling. Phone.
Do what you want. The brew's cold now,
and a first skunked neighbor staggers by.
"Death rides a paper cock," he says,
"and he demands a beer, your firstborn beer."
On the shade the crows glide, watching.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Point of the Entire Universe

This appeared in Fox Cry.

The most important thing is, get a job,
my uncle said. But since my aunt was talking,
only I heard, and I was not about
to get a anything. I was still reading
whatever could be found on any subject,
hermit of bathrooms, anchorite of closets,
convinced that authors knew, and printers printed,
the point of the entire universe.
My uncle was still talking. He extinguished
his Dutch Master smack in his mashed potatoes,
which proved, since that was never done in books,
the important thing was not to get a job.

Friday, January 17, 2014

To Robert, at the Vernal Equinox

Here is a tale. Despite what we were told,
There are a number. This is one. It’s not
The one about the holy fool who saved
Others, if they had golden hair and spoke
Like cello music in a sitting-room.
Nor is it How the Great King Came to Grief
By Trusting to His Strength, though I have heard
That is a tale for little men to tell.
This is the one about true love, made hard
By hands of flint and counselors of pain,
By those who preached renunciation, those
Who’d nothing to renounce, the tallymen.
He loved from here. She heard from there. They sent
Their messages by email or by dove
Or friendly friar: messages mistook,
And blood ensued, and loneliness, and smug
Denunciations from fat senators.
This is that tale. We all know it by heart,
Which tells you why we tell it every day.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Odysseus Leaves the 7-11

Odysseus stopped, turned to the monitor
The clerk was watching. “Odysseus,” she cried,
The black Calypso, as she wrapped her legs
Around the Italian claiming he was he.
“Damn all these pronouns!” said the wily hero.
“Say what?” the clerk enquired, with what passed
For courtesy amongst a swordless breed.

His shipmates looked to have been coifed by nymphs,
Or Ganymede, maybe. A talking pig appeared.
“Some pig,” said Circe. “All you guys are swine,”
The wired clerk said. Odysseus believed
The gods who sent him here did not make change,
Except for sport. He thought Penelope
Entitled to a break from his attentions.
“Some pig,” she told him, just the other day.

Some rosy-fingered Dawn was fingering
The donuts filled with wine-dark jelly, hoping
He’d speak to her. She was prepared to boil
His clothes and give him shelter. No man looked
Past her like that; crafty Odysseus,
Accustomed to being No-man, took his change,
His Lotto ticket, and his Diet Fresca,
And thrust into the night, seeking a storm.