Saturday, September 28, 2019

Exterminator 20:2

The rodents in the wainscoting
Are singing: Praise to God on high,
By which they mean--I've no idea.
The cat, perhaps, the Man of Pie

And Edam. Or a giant mouse
Who takes no shit and never begs,
His tail contorted by a trap
And dying from his broken legs.

A little song, a little dance,
A little seltzer in the pants:
Not for the pious mice who keep
An eye on life and death. The chance

To be a better mouse is not
High on To-Do. They settle for
An Oysterette, some sour rye.
Their god and appetite are more

Than any mouse can bear. They go
Gently, and they do not return.
Some life, some death, some little guys
For owls to eat. They never learn.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Foundation Myth

Leastwise, they said, they had a proper book,

With “thou” and “withal.” Under a fruity tree
They read and didn’t understand a thing.
She had her hair--her tresses, she was told;
He had the muscles God might give a goose,
Were He so minded. They thought they looked swell.
It rained, but not so they knew wet from warm.

One day the sun went elsewhere, and the leaves
Showed them no comfort. One day she was sick,
Of nothing, really, and then she was gone.
He blamed the varmints, critters in the dark
Who laughed at her and told repulsive jokes.
He said he would remember who she was
And what they did, but what they did was made

A part of where he left, and who she was
He told so many times that he forgot.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The Worms & I

They do not come to see me in this hole,

My buds and bloods. Perhaps they share the shame
And largesse of disaster. Who would bruit
His kin's confinement in an earthy cone,
Tapered for retribution? All the worms
Are laughing, mind you: they don't see the sense
Of wider welkins; blue just makes them blush.
My Uncle Thad threw rubbish on my head,
The Daily Mirror wrapped around a bun.
Perhaps he meant to plump me. Kindness comes
In kits, to be assembled as you like it.
Aunt Alice led him off, her voice the twin
Of heavy rain on mud. There is no bed,
No sleep, no sanitation, whereat worms
Stand up and cheer for everyone but birds.
I pray for commutation, they for dirt.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Casual Labor

Later they claimed they hadn't known the truth.
It might have been a train, a didgeridoo,
A kid bleating across a bottleneck,
And not a woman trying to break free.
Gods are capricious. When he let her go,
He hollered Boo! and farmers in their fields
Puckered up tight and drew their flocks in close.
The woman cried herself into a daze,
Humming and shaking, giving prescient birth
In 24 hours to a superstar
Who grew to his full self in a couple weeks,
Released the hounds, throttled a blatant beast,
Then took to the road, a casual laborer,
Beating up bachelors, just for fun, at night.

Monday, September 02, 2019

Talking Pictures

His spurs would jingle when he brushed his teeth

Or dusted. When he bent down to remove
Clean silver from the dishwasher, his hat
Would hit the floor, 10 gallons all at once.

He drilled the Jack of Spades clean through the eye
At 20 paces. Right handed. He left
A slew of weepy dance-hall girls behind,
Their garters disarranged, their fishnets full.

The rustlers swung from greasy cottonwoods
Or, planted upside down in alkali,
Displayed their soleless boots to noon. Though cured,
They went unclaimed, black villains, black and blue.

The Chirikawa called him Brother Love,
Notorious as they were for irony
And tropes of understatement and reserve.
He hailed them from a distance, clad in white

With crimson trim. The dry-goods store in Fort
Pauperis did his dry cleaning for free.
(He'd saved them from the Crippled Kings last fall
At 2:30 on Main St., dentist time.)

Sunday a.m.s he offered himself brunch--
Chicken satay and crepes and papadoms.
He rubbed his boots with neats'-foot oil and planned
Retirement along the Jemez Springs,

Where no one asked for favors, no one died,
Except in winter, firewater brought
Dreams of the schoolmarm larnin' little boys
How Cicero betrayed himself for fear

And sent out letters wetted by a slave.
(Additional Effects, he called them.) Spring
Fell late on Jemez, cutthroats coming home,
Packed to the gills with stories of the snow.