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.