Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Book of Simple

The Book of Simple instructs you how to make

Your gut behave. It tells a tale of long
And distant. How, without it, can you steep
Teabags of Life? Would you like her to be bleached
And buxom, do you need to make her love
The man you were, unlikely as that seems?
You've got to go there. Really. You go there.

Of course it isn't cheap, not having been
Online auditioned or a paperback
At Harold's Half-Price Inwits. There's a crone
In Crawford with a stack in her Tuff Shed,
Guarded by gargoyles and a papillon,
But drop-ins she doesn't like are mostly dead
And numerous. When Lifetime tried to shoot
A movie version there, the black was white.
I bought one at her jumble sale last May.
It changed me round. Now I can call to mind
The minor dramatists I never read,
And then some. And the foxes stop to stare.
They catch some scent, a brief response to pain.

It can't be memorized. It must be read
Each time as though from scratch. The crone once made
A golem in a golden-thread sombrero
Who danced at her command. The April rains
Reduced him to a plaster statuette.
Made in Crawford, it says there on the sole.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


"Storyville" first appeared in Staple.

Just once? Upon a hundred million times
he woke and learned to speak and knocked her up
and watched her die and ran away and hid.

Each branch of this bears twigs, and each twig flowers.
The children live. The wife runs off. She finds
a man who loves her less and turns her out
to bus the tables of a mining town.

He makes a million - somethings. Dollars. Pails.
He trades the cow for beans. He plants the beans
and learns he loved her more than provender.
But it's too late. She's dead. Or wiping tables.
Or on her way to Jacksonville, where God
has called her to be Sister Angeline.

In one small blossom he is deaf and dumb
and sees his town in black and white reversed.
He finds her anyway. They stay. They live
ever after, just off SueƱo Street.

Friday, July 15, 2016

A Short Course in Theology

An old poem. It appeared in The Ball State University Forum.

Nobody ever said that God was nice,
only that God was God. Picture Apollo,
that's Phoebus Apollo, flaying Marsyas
for the considerable crime of piping
as well, he'd said, as any god. How heinous.
What hubris. Whistling all the while, Apollo
peeled epidermal curlicues off of
the living sinner in his dextrous hands.
Now wonder what your friends' child did, that he
died slowly of a brain tumor at six,
first going blind, then losing all his hair.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

An Ad for Astra

To what are we fastened, luv,

As if you didn't know?
A woolly mastodon of pain
With braces on, for show.

A dancing clam, a rhyming slug,
A logarithmic cow.
Oh, set your sights on shiny stars
By night, by God. But how?

I think not, luv. The rain it rains
On aching necks and backs.
And what will come will come. For now
You'd better not relax.