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, March 22, 2014

That Old Black Magic

Ants, they may whisper, but they’re hoping for
Something preposterous, something more the size
Of Cincinnati, something which can catch
A mortgage in mid-air and snap its neck.
They may say shadows, even in the dark,
But what they mean are little men with knives,
Carving their names in the venetian blinds,
Altering light. Dressed up they may exude
The confidence of snipers, but they wear
An amulet of frog hair on each wrist,
Boasting that they walked miles to cure DTs.
Under the bed the suitcase is packed, the tag
Tied with a chain cased in a plastic sleeve,
Directing it To Whom It May Concern.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Anything Goes

Some of the souvenirs began to squirm
As hibernating gods shook off their sleep.
Their naps had been profound, their dreams so vague,
They didn't know where parts of them had gone;
But shelves in Indonesia and Brazil
Let down their severed heads; and in Duluth
And Lower Slaughter little shiny coins
Twirled. It was more than mildly disconcerting.

Poseidon had a charley-horse and Dis,
Occluded vision. Iris saw her dress
Change colors, as the label, Roy G. Biv,
Turned inside out and backwards. Down below,
A village suffered instant disrepute
When all the hausfraus ran away with birds.
In Rome the statues changed their legal names,
And some converted. Venus wept real tears,

The tiny tears of dolldom, small and briny.
Green, like the eyes which they obscured, they fell,
But raised no fruit. It was her elder name
Which founded Paris, where the horses reared,
And no one knew what anything meant or cost.
The souvenirs dissolved, and mighty Zeus
Stroked his oiled beard, but did not wake. The heads
Of headless torsos speechified from dust.

Friday, March 14, 2014

On the Lam

Less, as he travelled down the broken map
To where the creases made the names a mess,
Than he remembered, still some fun, the dogs
A decorative nuisance, shifty signs
Ambiguous in all respect save mileage,
And roadside stands with contraband for sale.
He bought a stolen hat made in the Bronx
By emigrants and wore it for the wolves
Who counted campers, praying for the lame.

Where he would go from here, his dapper car,
Less suitable in every state, would say.
He hoped for string bikinis and the tang
Of salted sand. Tonight he'd settle for
A hero high on rye and pay-per-view,
A six pack of a beer nobody drinks,
Still in its plastic semiotic sling,
And wind that made the cheap storm windows creak.