Monday, May 29, 2023

Final Exam


The fractious verbs, the adverbs soppily
Lagging behind, explaining as they weep—
What good are they to those like you and me,
Schooled by an inkhorn buried by the sea,
A preposition long since put to sleep?

Announcing that you are a proper noun,
A little rusty from a lack of use,
The adjectival nature of the town
Laying its nosy hands on Cinder’s gown,
An oxymoron cooking its own goose,

You are the part of speech making a speech
Superfluous, a body proving rest
Is myth and metaphor: the teachers teach,
And back behind the church, the preachers preach.
The final sentence is the final test.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Among School Children


I was invited here to speak
About the labyrinth of art,
The darkest places right in here
(I tapped my fist upon my heart),
The places where the adverbs seek
The mortises which disappear.

I haven’t got a thing to say.
(They didn’t look a bit surprised.)
All I can do is write and read
And keep my heartbreak supervised.
That lights, but can’t provide, a way
To where the joists and tendons bleed.

Monks are men as incomplete
As soldiers, chaste of blood or soul.
How long must half a world compete
With half a world? How long the toll
Of promise must deception meet?
We are dying to be whole.

Questions? (But they were all asleep,
Each head upon a floppy stem.)
Someone? You in the back, perhaps.
(But I was not disturbing them.)
I was that public man who’d keep
Impinging on their private naps,

Dreams of the Dairy Queen, the Slut
Of Winter Park or Hollywood.
Dreams of the Motorcycle Man,
With 6-pack abs, and far too good
For others. Every eye had shut.
I say, The heart’s an empty can,

Drained of a dram and pissed upon.
(Somebody heard one word I said
And tittered.) I’ll be going soon.
When all of you are good and dead,
Be grateful for a Denver dawn,
And praise the stars which ring the moon.

Later the secretary sent
A thank-you note they each had signed
(Though printed with the class PC).
Ensconced in my establishment,
I was embarked on sonnetry,
And books brought other books to mind,

And other books. I had not told
The class about the unblent yolk
Or dancing trees. I had not said
That art was not like growing old,
And no one ever got the joke,
And I too late, and likely dead.

Fair play it was, and just as well.
Brave lads who never shed a tear
And girls repining for a glance,
They speak in tongues I cannot hear
The lessons they were made to tell.
I write when I have half a chance.

Friday, May 19, 2023

Two Door Bye-Byes


Not one hey-nonny-nonny no,

No episode of Dynasty,

Nor timbery wood substitute

Will make you shine or make you see.

Down the plug-'ole straight you go,

Too late for sharp, too late for 'cute.

Too late to make a mystery

Of why the boy-&-rustic show

Is still in syndication, while

Your up-to-datest magic style

Won't even make the groundlings smile.

It isn't fair. Hey-nonny-no.

Our wisdom does not make us grow,

Bang the tambour, thump the lute.

Sunday, May 14, 2023

The G. & G. R. R.

The local railway ran on time, but who

Saw what they chucked into the boiler? Palm

and coconut and feral cow—the balm

that Gilead & Goshen found to choo

us on. Mahogany the shining track,

mysterious the effervescent rail:

they served. At least I never saw them fail,

though Clementine and son did not come back.

Some long-pig entrée, maybe. Maybe not.

Maybe she is the Queen of Some Grass Lodge.

Perhaps she was the pudding, giant stodge

the product of a caramelized pot.

Anyway, when the whistle sounds, the birds

rise like a raucous rainbow, and the rain

stampedes the unseen multitude. The train

cuts through them all, invisible in herds,

and we arrive to stinger and relief.

Much is made of our fortitude and skill.

The audience about us, never still,

closer yet, professing disbelief.

Tuesday, May 09, 2023



    This appeared in The Deronda Review.

Don't be an ass, the donkey said.

What with Balaam dead, and all,

No one will hear you if you call.

How will you know if you are dead?

I'm used to being, said the stone.

It's all I know, and, yes, it's hard.

I only have this self regard

To let me know I am alone.

So each one spoke, which may seem odd,

Had any been there but the tree,

Which said, O I move beautifully,

Regarded as I am, by God.

Thursday, May 04, 2023

Love. With Textual Apparatus.


When I was young, as yet the apple of
Nobody’s eye but Grandma’s, I awaited
The fabled coming of My Own True Love.
I am no apple now; and I am mated
With me and with the man I have created
[Cf. ll. 1-1.5, above].
Unlikely to be wed and wend together
[Var.: to be wed in such wet weather],
I lead the life which fits—one hand, one glove.
[N.B., as source, The World Well Lost for Love.]

Thursday, April 27, 2023

The Pisan Pantos


The rain distorts my make-up, blue
The color of my hair and eyes.
(My nose is red, my heart is green.)
A scenist has prepared the skies
Ingeniously. I’ve come into
My own here--Look! A human bean,

A roly-poly in a cage,
The Widow Twanky on her walk,
Wishing the weeds would grow so high,
I could ascend my private stalk
And put all heathen in a rage.
This dragonfly my private eye:

He boos and hisses, laughs and cheers
As I perform the buck-and-wing,
Magic to find the state a spine,
Alchemy in chansons I sing.
I hope the ingenue appears
To change my homemade ink to wine,

To animate imagined books,
A smell of candy from the crowd.
This fence is higher than my art.
The roly-poly laughs so loud,
Guards come a-runnng, Demos looks,
And here is where my poems start.