Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Lying in State

Once the day began, the full
English breakfast well disposed,
all was well, and all was well.
The doors and minds and blinds were closed.

The coaches glided by, a ghost
brushed and curried at every pane.
The pigs, two years before their mast,
policed the park; down Primrose Lane

a masked man with a bag marked Swag
scampered and capered, free at last.
There seemed a lout for every lag;
at each semi-detached a cast

of Nelson or dear Albert stood.
We shouted as the trees went by,
depeopling a laburnum wood.
The dwindling hedgerows filled the eye.

Now for a cuppa holy grail
and biscuit. Down the wet cement
parades of plastic bags, how frail
the castle and the elephant,

seeking lodgement against the cold
whose day is coming. Hear the late
cobblestones crack. Come sing the old
songs: our ladies lie in wait.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Virgil & the Bees

appeared in Angelic Dynamo


we have rather chosen to fill our hives with honey and wax;
thus furnishing mankind with two of the noblest things, which
are sweetness and light.
--Swift

A flat gray stone absolved of dung and schmutz,
Warmed by the sun and near, not in, a grove,
Proximate to a meadow, not to sheep,
Unthinking sweaters on the hoof, at hand
Running water for sound effect: then sit,
And you will find the bees. Theirs is a mind
Unfit for your accommodating self.
Like physicists, they are absorbed by thoughts
Too pure and rarefied for you. They work,
The autumn ever coming, honey from
The dandelion and excrete a light
So fine it makes divine commedias
A piece of cake, a holiday of dusk.
He listens: you can see him move his lips,
No buzz, no hum. Hexameters like glass,
The shape of cells, coincidentally--
They were invented to store wisdom, wax,
And pollen effluents. Thus you have flowers,
He thinks, stung by the notion Dido walks
Amidst gray flowers she can never touch.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Elder Than Springtime

He was the elder. So he had been told.
He felt it, too. So much to take on faith,
But this, not this. He grizzled as he stared
Into the mirror recollecting zilch
Of what made him the elder. And of age,
A twist of this, a week of that, whole years
He called to mind in no detail, except
The colors of the calendars and shapes
There for memorializing the months, like May
Bedecked with buds and always breasts, but none
With heft or veins. A birthday cake of shrubs
And columbines like candles, and the wind
Which did not quite extinguish them, but made
Counting unlikely. In the dark he saw
The eyes of March, a fall of fallen leaves,
But no one younger, elder though he was.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Epithalamion

Zeus the Thunderer sent his golden rain,
Which fell at the wrong address, like orange juice.
Not having been invited, Nereids
Did not attend. Nor wood-nymphs. Neither fauns.

The guests arrived by Greyhound, on the Beagle,
Borne by two wolves named Love & Happiness;
And Dionysus brought a box of wine.
Hephaestus hit the cake with hammer blows,

Which scarcely cracked the frosting. Siva sent
Regrets, cerise bacilli, and a drum.
And Dionysus took his singlet off.
The bride wore orange blossoms and a snood,

Which Ceres blessed with lucky charms, her vows
The death of childhood and a Liebestod,
The groom brought all his horses and a halter,
And even Fafnir, stag but looking, wept,

Especially since the wedding cake was hollow,
Busy with carpenter ants and worker bees,
Suspended in lemon custard. And the fall
Began. The groom would end dragged by his heels,

The bride pent in a harem, Ceres’ child
Stuck, still in Hell, and Dionysus’ date
The sport of kings. Zeus sent a nice clean rain,
And all was gone, except for the photographs.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

What Do the Old Men Say?

What do they mean, who say
The world has gone awry?
The trees leave every day.
I saw them in July,
As green as the heart of man.
I see men stiffly clad,
Colored in gray and tan,
Calling our summer bad
For insufficient shade,
Damning our leaves as small,
Making their wrath a blade,
Hurrying us to fall.
If only our lives were sad,
If we saw that we had
Outlasted our summer stay,
They'd happily love us all
And tidy us away.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Taken at the Flood

This appeared in Angelic Dynamo.


Later the yard boys dyed the new growth green.
Nobody knew it wasn't grass but ants,
And who were they going to tell? They didn't speak
To other hills, impossibly soigné.
The trees were propped back up, the roots tied down,
The stream was re-recorded and the wind
Instructed not to blow its obligations.
New men arrived. They never guessed a thing.
If told that they had been replacement parts,
They'd have discovered fossils and designed
Evangelists to praise the status quo.
It wasn't said that apples used to taste
Preposterously sweet, that knuckleballs
Danced polkas on their way up to the plate,
Or that the dogs would talk about the day's
Prodigious hunt. The brand-new women wore
The chic fall fashions, still a little damp.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Spoils of Colby

He says he has the Eagle of the Ninth
For sale. He says he bought it secondhand
At Wagonwheel Collectibles in Colby.
It doesn’t come with provenance, he says:
He can’t afford to DNA the stains,
Though you can, if you want, on your own dime.
They found it in a yard sale up in Vail,
Where folks have follies, know about the used,
And might speak Latin. That’s the bit that sells,
He tells me. I said, empire is dead.
It’s only lost, he says. Eagles can last
Longer than vandals wearing furry suits
Who pocket pillage. They can transfer wealth,
But not create it. I bought used CDs.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Manon

Dear Abbé:

We are pent up in our loft,
Too stippled to sing, too poor to buy new clothes,
Ladies and gentlemen, too sick to beg.
We tell each other stories. I'll be quiet,
She'll be at peace, and when the fairy says,
A plugged sou for your thoughts, then mum's the word.
Orchids could never change our little love.
Once she is dead, I'll be a notary
And practice barratry; when I am dead,
She'll move to customer service for the mob.
Someday, God willing, there will be crème brûlée,
Amoxicillin, and some warmer clothes.
Till then they hum, who do not know the words.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Chains They Forged in Life

The poems no one heard of populate

This verbosphere, invisible and bleak,
Dottering incoherently in dry
And crumby cupboards, turning old bedsheets gray
On sleepovers, making little girls pale,
Afraid that they have accidentally bled.
Elegiac and embarrassed, full of tropes
Disparaged by Seleucian kings, most tell
Stories of unrequited jealousy
Engraved on stone with sponges, vetted by
The underappreciated and the fat
Recipients of Golden Books and schmaltz.
A few are goodbye letters, never signed.
A few are tax returns, unaudited.
Some lisp. Some swoon. Some have these wild ideas
About the immanence of outer space.
They drool. They belch. Complain. Complain. Complain.
They like a mirror, write they backwards verse.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

When Nighthood Was in Flotsam

The staff has snapped; the flag has been misplaced.
The Coconino County Bar & Grill
Breaks both its windows, locks the doors, and posts,
Send me a kiss by wire.  Bourbon flows
Through the arroyos.  Canteens burst with beer.
The news does not report.  Tequila leaks
Upstream.  The fish are dying for a drink.
No, sir, my realism is not an art,
Says Jenny Wren, the brickbat in my pie,
The neon in her undies, my patootie.
She shines from both sides now.  The Bar & Grill
Has set cane chairs out on the promenade
And pointed them with seashell, which it sells
By the seashore, if only it were there.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Burying the Survivors

They buried the survivors in a hole
Just big enough for almost all. Waste not,
The adage of the moment, after years
Of blood extravaganza, seemed all right.
The one left over got a monument,
A roundabout about him, and a sign
Pointing the way to Points of View and All.
Homies broke down there every day, from age
And penury and flats, with rubber bands
Holding their hearts together and their clothes.
Lucky the Caravan sold cups of joe,
Premeditated burgers, cannabis,
And shortbread local mommas wept upon.
Somebody blew him up one summer night.
He fell back to the ground in bits of spud.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Milk of Amnesia

It covered up my recollections, some
Oobleckian, obliterating ooze
Memories couldn't penetrate. It took
Her name, their numbers, all the horses' men,
The time and dates and instruments of debt;
And where it came from, plumbers wouldn't say
And politicians promised not to learn.
Unkempt, unkept, I cried, ringing my bell,
Making my way down North & South, well past
The point where anyone I knew had lived.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Nighthood in the Neighborhood

The chickens came back, the beetles and the bears,
The pigs and the pronghorns, ready for the spring
That hopes eternal life is just a fad,
That fruit must be explained by leaves,  and buds
Will never fill their ponds in dustbowl days.
Some of the chickens felt bedraggled wings
Would not make them an asset; but the wolf,
Famous for fairness, said that wings were meant
For wagon trains and truck stops.  They all bunked
By Union River, watched the sky, and said
How pleasant it was that stars came out at night.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Desk-Waller

When I awoke, you weren’t so great,

Not hell on toast, not fixed as fate,
Less than high sentence, more than fair,
Too cute to cry, too young to care.
You weren’t all that. I saw that some,
Of little fame, were twice as dumb,
Stuck out as far, and rode as fast,
And had no skills, and had no past,
And were both free and kind. They came
Before I called; they knew my name
And were available right now.
I didn’t want them anyhow.
The heart is hard, concealed and stark,
And whores in alleys after dark.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Future of Extinct Birds

Extinct, the birds are full of woe,
Serried like bowling pins. How could
The nevermore be sad, dodo
A shadow in a shadowed wood?

Why do you say that I am real,
But we are not? You have my word,
I am as dumbstruck as you feel,
Singing the song an absent bird,

Succeeded, sang. If what we say
Endures beyond the tumbled trees,
We still would ride, like birds, away
Upon an undocumented breeze.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Jeopardy!

Millard Fillmore

Fame is fleeting. A bubble. A male duck.
What is that green head, shining in the sun,
doing here on this inland parking lot,
carrying on like some deaf alto, crying
as mournfully as Thomas Wolfe in flight
and waddling to boot? Oh, ghost, come back,
be lost again. What is obscurity?

Babe Ruth

The summer you remembered me you ate
candy bars like—like candy, sure. Oh, Henry.
We lay on that bed in that apartment maybe
714 times. When you
came up long on your period, you left
to take a walk. I am not waiting now.
I think that you aren't coming back. Who walked
and struck out more than any other player?

The Venus de Milo

It was a dark and stormy night. We fell
back along the line. We walked. Some wept.
Jesus wept. The tracers lit up the dark.
I thought of you. I thought. I didn’t know
the name of the man on either side or if
they thought of beauty when they wet themselves.
Oak Park, Illinois is extremely distant.
And clean, too. What is A Farewell to Arms?

The Daily Double/The Dead Sea

You can’t sink if you try. You have your own
specific gravity. Padlock and chain
will float like plastic tub toys, but, the smell
will certainly remind you, you are here,
awake and fettered, not because you are
rectitude personified and beloved.
What will occur on Resurrection Day?

Browning

An alary formation, sounds of which
barely achieve us groundlings. Straight due north,
the last person who saw you said you were
headed. He told me, leaning on his rake,
trying to tidy up the harm he’d done
the grass, which only wanted to grow longer.
Point of view is everything. The absent
decline to state theirs. Have them, though. What is
a good idea before you cook your goose?

Final Jeopardy/Julius Caesar

Eppie can be affectionate. Or not.
Tone of voice makes its contribution. Mal
grand, petit; but mal afflicts us all,
the seizure of the mind. The child is old
enough to have its own child now, if child
was there when you reached there and built Dun Roamin’.
The noblest roaming of them all, but we
who drew our cloaks over our heads and died
forever in one morning needed no
umpire to announce if we’d been fair
or brutish. Who, to poets’ betterment,
died at the hands of friends and made a name
synonymous with dynasty? Et tu?

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Not Dissimilar to a Speeding Bullet

At high speed, celerity like forked swifts,
Fast tracked, and scarcely time for banks and breath,
The world does business, busier than you,
Though you can’t find your hat, your heart, your socks
Gone walkabout; and all the bees are bright,
Even as summer hollers like a kid.
Be not afraid.  There’s nothing you can do.
The shadows swarm with life lived off the books,
And you all in the red.  These are attacks,
Happily falling like a falling star.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

The Weekend Gardener

You mock the flowers I can raise:
A grown man should find better ways
To sow his seed and harvest praise.

Mutual funds look good, and hiking,
Plumbing repairs, and mountain biking--
Hobbies manly and much more striking.

Adam gardened. Cain, who killed.
Onan bore seed, although it spilled.
John Ball revolted. First he tilled.

Let me manure. I fork. I spread.
Like harlotry, in white and red,
I raise commotion from a bed

For private pleasure, amply paid.
In shadow, color: sun and shade
Where Cain worked hard and Abel played.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Ottoman Empire

I occupy this couch and think about
Decline this fall. For nearly 30 years
It ruled the room, and now its springs have passed
From mountains into gorges, great depressions.
Where are the wales of yesterday? I bought
A book, and all the change clattered away.
I changed a child, and look what that has done.
The subject people wanted to engage
Was war. Well, sometimes love. And never death.
Not on a couch, which framed all matters thus:
When we subside, how can we rise again?

Friday, March 24, 2017

And Then They Died

Ordered to make a narrative,
First you must say “First” and then
“And then.” It is by “then” and “when”
And “at the last” that stories live.

No princess unless “once there was,”
No prince unless “There came a day,”
No end until “They rode away,”
Whatever the red dragon does

Or sorcerer yellowed by spite.
Time takes them in and calls their dance.
Chronology bestirs romance,
Prompts it, promotes it, calls it a night.

Lovers insist the stream stands still,
Leaves never fall, the lion smiles.
Their collars droop, their Golden Isles
Occlude. They lie unchanged until

They can’t. And then. There is no next.
Overleaf, nothing, no pretend.
First there was then. And then, The End,
And then the tale is trapped in text.