Saturday, November 28, 2015

Talking Pictures

His spurs would jingle when he brushed his teeth

Or dusted. When he bent down to remove
Clean silver from the dishwasher, his hat
Would hit the floor, 10 gallons all at once.

He drilled the Jack of Spades clean through the eye
At 20 paces. Right handed. He left
A slew of weepy dance-hall girls behind,
Their garters disarranged, their fishnets full.

The rustlers swung from greasy cottonwoods
Or, planted upside down in alkali,
Displayed their soleless boots to noon. Though cured,
They went unclaimed, black villains, black and blue.

The Chirikawa called him Brother Love,
Notorious as they were for irony
And tropes of understatement and reserve.
He hailed them from a distance, clad in white

With crimson trim. The dry-goods store in Fort
Pauperis did his dry cleaning for free.
(He'd saved them from the Crippled Kings last fall
At 2:30 on Main St., dentist time.)

Sunday a.m.s he offered himself brunch--
Chicken satay and crepes and papadoms.
He rubbed his boots with neats'-foot oil and planned
Retirement along the Jemez Springs,

Where no one asked for favors, no one died,
Except in winter, firewater brought
Dreams of the schoolmarm larnin' little boys
How Cicero betrayed himself for fear

And sent out letters wetted by a slave.
(Additional Effects, he called them.) Spring
Fell late on Jemez, cutthroats coming home,
Packed to the gills with stories of the snow.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Under Groby Great-Tree

This appeared in Iambs & Trochees.




This is the anodyne. It dogs
The hand that bit you. Reigning frogs
fall upwards, then, and abdicate.
This is the awkward watch, the late
piecemeal of time your father handed
off, before the day demanded
help, before the poison took.
Listen. Babbles. On Groby Brook
the paper boats all have departed:
sodden, sank, too heavy hearted
to arrive. The guests have begun
to wander off, and one by one
they seek release in solitude,
but not in love, nor meat, nor crude
imaginings of quick relief.
There is no pain beyond belief.
In Groby House, on unmade beds,
the servants set down weary heads,
and slowly the predicted dark
begins to cover Groby Park.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Boy in the Iron PJs

Older by seconds, thus the King of France,

A wig so big the star can’t constellate.
(He thus decreed and fears nor scorn nor sneer.)
A lettre there, a duc by title here,
Leave to wear lilies on his velvet pants:
A little one, whose priors are his fate.

Pent in a donjon, eating mexicorn
From a melmac plate, his eyes like metal dust,
His prayers bouncing off the crumbly mortar,
He waits for the interminable porter
To celebrate the day when he was born
And let him dawn the elder, only just.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Othello: Crib Sheet

When they say Moor, they mean a lad
Of color.  Black like pitch or coal,
though multi-colored in his soul.
Polka dots.  Paisley.  Tartan plaid.

His wife is white.  As pale as whey.
She has a hanky bleached with salt.
The dark chap has a Tragic Fault.
(He likes to fight.)  (She likes to play

at wifery.)  His sword is keen.
His adjutant is keener still.
At peace, there's beaucoup time to kill,
and we all know what that can mean:

the blackamoor is dead as dirt.
The pale-faced squaw is stiff as stone.
The villain rules the room alone
and will not speak and will be hurt,

which he minds not.  Oh, what a waste.
The colors of our rainbow run
red everywhere, black as the sun
behind the moon, perversely placed.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

The Age of Heroes

Unrolled, the ball of twine will reach from here

To Sunday next, maybe a little past,
As strong as faith, and supple. Place such string
In hands like yours, you could subvert a world
Of passageways. The monster has to smell
Both us and exit. That’s a lot to ask
Of demi-men and semi-livestock, see?
Somewhere along the way it will sense grass
Or wind on open water, then forget
Its murderous intentions. Clover makes
It sleepy; birdsong, and it drops its guard.
You, with a chunk of rope, a .44,
And proper shoes, could be back home for tea.

And then what? When the monster has been foiled,
The maiden slaked and handed back to dad
To foist her by-blow on a little prince,
The whitecaps braved, the Welcome Home endured,
All speeches, leis, and fatty bullock thighs,
We’ll frame your twine and hang it where Aunt Vi,
The Tutor, and your nubile cousin Daph
Can hardly miss it. What then? There are new
Monsters, of course, but, really, they’re not much
But bags of bone and teeth: blood is a bore,
Philately in person, so to speak.