Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Where has all the prose gone?

 I used to post the occasional prose commentary here.  I don't seem to be doing that any more, perhaps because FB and Twitter have usurped that function.  After all, though I am chockful of poesie, I am only occasionally prosaic.  If you miss it, I can refer you to the appropriate venues.  Or you could read Macaulay's History of England instead.

Riding the Interstate

At night, half in a daze, I drive this plain,
And here the highway lunges through the town
Where you lie sleeping in your husband's bed.
Love and anathema rest on your head.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Word Problems


Let's say you had 2 monkeys and a fox,
7 bananas, and an ATV,
Or maybe a rowboat, and a ski chalet.
How many trips before you fall asleep,
Dreaming of Mr Dinkum’s science test
And the atomic weight of Super String?
Give up? One monkey’s grey, the other locked
In Booneville, where he learned the iron rule.
The fox clears out the tikihut and leaves
Scat on the rec room floor in thorns and thetas.
Then you remembered Mr D was dead,
Shot by his wife in 1983
For messing around in Chem Club Lab. The fox
Is wily, and you never stood a chance.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Lonesome Dove

The Lord of Hosts, less likely than he was,
Has trouble transubstantiating. Age
Diminishes the organs, ties a knot
Where ichor should run freely. There is smoke,
As much as censers will allow, but lungs
Plead less than full capacity. He wants
To walk with Abraham through burnished fields
And play at 4-square in a grove of figs.

When he told Zeus, Get out of town by dark,
This cosmos isn’t big enough for both
Us top dogs, when the 3:10 came on time
And brought the new girls in from Port Royal,
He wore his star with flair, the streets kept clean,
The inns full up, the livery swept free
Of dead wood, and the drinks were on the house
Each holiday. What if Apollo now

Came back with Clantons, Saracens, and Popes?
Boot Hill is full enough. Each rock has served
The faithful for a pillow. Though he knows
The sleep number of every broken back,
He must draw faster if he is to keep
Trying the souls as numberless as stars.
His feet hurt, and his beard is patchier.
He’ll make more girls tonight, perhaps at Belle’s.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Googling Myself


I am perhaps the 27th most
Famous Richard Epstein and only the 3rd
Best-known poet with that salubrious
Nom de poesie.  How disheartening, I
Clear on their cantos, they born with a goose
As close at hand as pablum, porpentines
And crows prêt-à-porter.  And some splice genes,
Those better RHEs, the clones with Sir
And MBE and Friend of Man, the rich
And many-Googled.  Some are just mistakes:
Confounded with RHEtoric syllables,
They pass for Baudelaire and silver swans
And anadiplosis—anadiplosis for
The bogus Epsteins, hidden in the stacks
Of South Dakota junior colleges.

Somebody found me yesterday who meant
Me and no other me: he wanted my
Personal appearance at his most grave
Conclusion.  I was one of 49
CCd, but I was all the RHE.
This John Smith will be carried to his last
By 6 John Smiths, strong men on either side,
And none a pasta critic for The Mail
But he: he gets a plot all to himself.
The squirrels will celebrate: see, they will say,
We never needed any special name.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Moon We've Got

We have none.  What you want, what you are seeking

In books and from that cave inside the pit,
We don’t have that.  What you have not pursued
Over the river and through the woods, we stock,
And we can locate what you’d rather not.
We do not stock elixirs, though.  Heart’s-ease
Is unavailable this time of year.
The talking mirror set, with comic brush,
We just ran out, whenever you came in.
Riches that do not callous the heart, those beans
That everybody wants?  Nobody has.
A second chance?  A second second chance?
You could ask for the moon.  The moon we’ve got.
It comes in sizes—young and growing old.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Lid & Latch

Inside the damp, torn box a bit of fluff--

Bright hair by Donne. Might be a web. Or lint.
We won't find out today. All lost, grave stuff
Waits for last things. This box, though, packs a hint
Of all the rest: we lie against the grain.
We take up too much time and too much rain

For bone to carry breath. His new, clean shape
Will grieve the man who lived for gasp and catch,
Who free of taint, not bent to bare his nape,
Will climb back in, pull down both lid and latch,
And while his thoughts last, think of sweat. In pain
He saw the light and left it. Bring the rain.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

In Adam's Autumn

Where we first sinned was probably upstairs
And not for long; but now the color changes,
The detriment of summer. I shall miss
All of the sounds that naturally make
Our natures sweet. And bitter were the days
Succeeding, red and orange, perhaps, but not
How we had planned our progeny. We went
Our solitary way, best by ourselves.

We’d hoped for Nod or Canaan, but we found
Naked trees and a furred rapacity
Of gathering and storing, and a scent
Like Nuits d’Hiver was everywhere at once.
What did we have? What did we have to lose?
Those were our final steppes. We took them all.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Girl in the Red Honda

Knights fell a lot. And there they lay,
Lumps on the grass or in the mud,
Their armor like a suit of clay,
Rescuing maidens, giving blood.
The dragons chuckled, and the maidens
Planted cherries in their gardens.

Cherries ripe, but very wrong
For knights encased. Whenas they ride,
They sing, but every note of song
Is lost to echoes deep inside.
The ladies listen, if they can
Desist from planting pits for man.

We leave our dragons in their caves.
We watch the maidens drive away.
The knight are cool, but agile thieves
Thrive in the distance. Dawns the day,
And knights are bold and old and gone,
Cherries ripe in the subtle dawn.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Quiet Flows the Don

They hid the old professors in the sub-
Scriptorium, in carrels made of wood
And chickenwire, gave them wi-fi, let
Them roam the stacks, as long as they were late.
They were, they always were. Was found: puns bent
To fit into the pretty bursar's door.
The bursar's gown was torn and gluey, stained;
Her person was a vacancy in time
And apprehension. Dr Rathbone wrote,
The Oxford comma marks the gentleman.
We cannot find a one about her person.
Condemned, he was, for pronomial pride,
Then built a stand behind Collected Works,
Blue and maroon, with peeling paper labels,
Accessible to none and dead to all.

Monday, September 04, 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.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Late Romances

Have you no toys about your person

Fit to pass the end of life,
Making the darkness tolerable--
Little colored lights and chimes
And woofs and Squeaks A Toot. The zing
Companionable? Maybe a tale,
So often told it coughs at times
And smoothes all blankets. Cup-o-soup
And grown-up nursery rhymes, which start
With Ickle Bob and Happy Sven.
These are the late romances, last
After the marriage comedies,
The tragedies of pith and pride,
Chronicled kings and ginger maids.
Bears turn to brothers, sweep the skulls
Into the pit, the old oak breathes,
Remembering when he was schooled
In naughty songbirds. Stuffed plush toys
With little lights inside their tums,
Though powered up by batteries,
Send harbor signals through the night.

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Dowager Biddy

The dowager biddy of our neighborhood
Uncovers evil everywhere: she mews
To voices lost in the wainscoting; she teems
With fled and ancient cats; she says the pith
Of the neighbors next door is spoiled, like fallen serfs
Exhausted by disaster. Debutantes
Are not what once they were: it’s in their eyes
And their tiaras. She sleeps in her car,
Parked out in front, to trick the foes and fiends
Who offer their casseroles in covered bowls
Shaped like the skulls of mayors she has known,
Domos and seneschals, now making light
Of all their troubles, there at Fairlawn, done with
The scene at Holy Family. She was there.


Saturday, August 19, 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.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Books of the Dead

for Stuart James

Jesus, Stuart, look
What we have come to, thick
And tired, brought to book,
Brought to ground, and sick
With authors. I had read
Every single one—
Recited them in bed
And taught them to my son.
Now they look away.
It’s just as they had said,
They never meant to stay.
Jesus, they’re all dead.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Beaux Bois, e.g.

The trains still run through small, eccentric towns,
Mostly at night, the children, brave in their beds,
Dreaming of sleeping somewhere else, so young
They think that Indiana is escape—
Trains still pass by the silos that are not
Mere symbols of desire, and they pass
What used to be a station, but is now
A home for unwed orphans, and they pass
Fireflies making fun of locomotives.
And nobody jumps the train. If it slows down,
That’s so the engineer can take a leak
On Illinois, grateful for the attention.
The children who wake up—well, more or less—
Will check if they are now emancipate.
They’re not; but tracks still run both ways at once.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Lullaby In Slumberland City

While birdies slept and earthworms snored
And owlets stooped to swoopy flights,
You the Teen Queen Max restored,
With endless make-up, endless nights.

Our tygers pad the jasmined path
And cherries fall from green green trees
And all our dead lay down their wrath
As I awake through slow degrees

In shadowed rooms to unfilled beds.
The clock, the clock. Across the lawn,
In fact, the sparrows shield their heads
Till, chime by chime, they rouse to dawn.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Cardiac Arrest

When we were young, when we were less,
When you were poised and I a mess,
We were as we are now, apart,
Unequal portions of a heart
Broken for decoration, cute
As flowers trimmed above the root.
And one of us flourished. One did not.
But which was which, and which forgot,
I do not say. You do not know.
The flowers dried, the roots still grow.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

In a Teapot

Still, in senescence, playing demi-monde,
he finds at last that even sex grows callous.
Besides, the tiny movements of his phallus
lately have made him reach for digitalis.
Prospero breaks his wand.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Inside of Moab, It's Too Dark to Read

Outside of Moab, they’re replacing Time
With sidewalks.  Rolling either way, they pass
Monuments, which will never now occur,
First heart attack which ended with a kiss.

In Kingman they are stocking all the bars
With Mexican beer and sandalwood, in Page
Nothing but churches and the refugees
From Old California missions and next spring,
The spring after that, and pools in desert towns.
Nothing sets like a sidewalk laid in Time,

Fossilized bugs and palm prints.  Over in Brush,
The Mayor declared that Time was just a myth,
An immigrant’s invention.  He pronounced
Chicken-fried steak the plat du jour; he drank
A Nehi Orange, and Time just washed away,
Like fiddlers on a flood plain in the rain.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Hic Jacet

Like a commercial, death by quantity,
For that most dismal catalogue of names;
And we are pikers, grieving by low primes
And little stones on picayune display.
How dare we? asks the Russian winter. How
Now, this memorial mound of mismatched socks?

Have you not heard of Blutenwald? they ask,
Who populate the textbooks. No, by God,
I haven’t, but I blush, ashamed of 1,
3, a handful of minimum loss--
A butcher, a baker, an artisan of light
In watts too small for speakers on the Platz.

No one in history bears names like these,
Compiled like dogs and cats. They have no dates,
Vice-consular assistants; no pink rose
Tells aphids how they’re called, in Latin yet.
It snows on them in aggregate. It rains
On mockingbirds, on shrews and shrubs. On mine.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Wait Till Your Cow Comes Home

The winter cows are coming home
To roost. From fields of cinnabar
They file a-lowing. Near and far
They look the same and sound the same
And know their antecedents are

Preposterous. In barns tucked tight
They chaffer over wisps of hay:
O have you heard the news today?
LaToonya will be coming late
To tea, and why, no one would say.

They cannot hide and are not heard.
In dreams of petitpois they rouse
The King of Cows to build a house
Where he is warm and they are ward,
Where cats surround the shrinking mouse.

Friday, July 07, 2017

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.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Devolvus Still

Devolvus, underground, preserves,

By lying still, his fraying nerves.
Yet in the sun, his brother walks
Above, and steels himself with talks
And chatter, as if they were kids
And wonted. And no mom forbids
One’s shoes inside or singing loud
Or hamming it up to please the crowd
Of featured hangers-on. If he
Should wish to lie there quietly,
Devolvus doesn’t say or swear,
Since he has time to spill and share,
By wit, by verve, by joie-de-not.
What was that punchline? All forgot.

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.