Monday, August 31, 2015

The Last of the Elephant Jokes

This appeared in Freefall.


for Dan

I packed the family trunk--and, no, it’s not
Elephantine, it’s mine. Beneath the lid
I hid my tattered grey epistlery,
So I would not forget. (All right, it is.)
A ruff of many colors for the pit,
In case I met my masters, and the hat
They gave me for becoming Little Man.
I’m bigger now. I packed a razor, tunes,
A toy piano, and my ivory bowl.
(It sings when stroked.) I can go anywhere.
By early light I sway, but what I want
Is the imagined graveyard of my kind--
In Tuscaloosa or the floral Keys,
In Agincourt or Lower Slaughter, last
Pacific places, where no one will look.
I am almost extinct, but I have room.
You’ll know me by my footprints in the Jell-O.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

What We'll Always Have

Ah, zut, she said, we'll always have

Paris, where we were poor but brave.
And poor, I said. And sick of head.
You are not Gertrude Stein, she said.

Mais non. Agreed. The leaves were green
That spring. Horse chestnuts fell like rain.
I was not well. I know, she said,
I tried, and you were mostly dead.

Those were the goddamn days of yore,
I wrote. And yet you would not share,
She said. Too bad that we were bred
Gold to the bone, now flayed, now fled.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Worms & I

They do not come to see me in this hole,

My buds and bloods. Perhaps they share the shame
And largesse of disaster. Who would bruit
His kin's confinement in an earthy cone,
Tapered for retribution? All the worms
Are laughing, mind you: they don't see the sense
Of wider welkins; blue just makes them blush.
My Uncle Thad threw rubbish on my head,
The Daily Mirror wrapped around a bun.
Perhaps he meant to plump me. Kindness comes
In kits, to be assembled as you like it.
Aunt Alice led him off, her voice the twin
Of heavy rain on mud. There is no bed,
No sleep, no sanitation, whereat worms
Stand up and cheer for everyone but birds.
I pray for commutation, they for dirt.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Before the Prologue

They rode on palfreys or on mules. He said,

It’s April. When it’s April …showers. None
Impelled, he let them fall asleep, to prompt
Them further, with a look at cherry trees
And battlements and rivers full of geese.
Remember March? he asked. It was so dry–
So how dry was it?
 asked a tubby priest,
Greatly indulged. Not quite the point. He thought
About the robin on a hawthorn branch,
Its breast as red as Christes blood, now dried
And efficacious only by a hymn.
He had no hymns, the diplomat, but stories
Flowed out by art arterial and blessed.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Crossing at night the Straits of El Kabong,

I saw the Pillars of Persephone,
Half the year there and half in Florida,
A moving destination, once two girls
Of 17, turned to obsidian by
A randy god who had eternity
To kill. His name is lost. His victims here
Said, No, and migrate now from sea to sea.
I saw a stormy petrel detour round
The pillars. I saw fish leap between waves.
I drew no closer, though the ship was swift,
The winds complaisant. As the moon declined,
I took her home, towards picture books and bread.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Plus Jell-O with Tiny Marshmallows

Better unnamed: the carnival of dark

Imaginary emperies, the rose
Unpurchased for the girl unasked, the night
You drove poor Dixie to the Greyhound lot
At 19th Street and Larimer, her ghost
A fraction of the spirits she possessed.

Nothing articulate can be recalled.
Faces go fuzzy when you concentrate.
Better to go down in a haze beneath
The Magic 8-Ball’s promises, behind,
Year after year, and only gaining ground,
Mortgages and the Mastercard, as room

Service arrives. It’s better you don’t know
The name of the town, whose Really Super 8
Desk clerk said The Golden Corral was good,
70 kinds of salad, so you can’t say
How your Unfinished Symphony will resolve,
Even if everyone else already guessed.