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.

Monday, April 24, 2023

Homer Was Not


    Long, long ago, while humankind was still emerging from the Dark Ages, this appeared in the Denver Quarterly.

Homer was not Homer,

but a Homer whom

we, by mis-misnomer,

call a name the other's.

Histories assume

economy of mothers.

Fungible poets sink

into LaBrean bogs.

Editors may think

editees alive;

cockroaches and frogs

generically survive.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

City of Dreams


        This, before some revisions, appeared in Staple.

More crystal chandeliers in New York City

than in the whole of Ecuador. I'm sure

that everything you ever saw for sale

they have here, and delivered too. The night

terrifies the inhabitants, all from elsewhere.

Thus it is told by Ahmed, who was once

a jazz man, but moved on from that. I saw

him giving Plastiklips to little kids,

asking them if they thought he should keep kosher.

Everything is different in the city,

he says: if you can think it, it has happened

and will again, though not when you are watching.

Thus there are Mayan gods in his apartment,

a defrocked priest named Twee from 502

with a baptismal font on layaway,

and Ahmed. He has been a breathetarian;

he snorts at all the riff-raff in the street.

Caste and kind are important in the city.

Love is on sale, returned if satisfactory.

Ahmed says not to stick to your own kind:

love across lines is all about distinctions.

There's more cash here than in all of Peru,

he learned, having once rented for a week

a girl newly arrived from Lima. She

did anything, without much wanting to,

and asked his help in managing to stay.

No help, but there are plenty others left,

all of whom can buy something, so can dream

of waking beautiful beyond their wounds,

thinking about, but never going, home.

Friday, April 14, 2023

Up & Down the Backbone of Our Land


    This appeared in Chimaera.  

A little town believes it is immune

From simony and tsores; lesser folks,

The big’uns from the City, pay to fret—

They’re born to fret, conformed to fret; the shapes

Of worry make the fortune of their faces.

A little town does not believe that woe

Is overnighted by the sun: the bill

Of lading comes due elsewhere. Yes, they know

About the sparks and how they fly, but still—

A little town? Our lucky life, they say.

Their daughters, up to Megaplex, keep pails

Bedside to catch the tears, while sparking boys

Think murder is an artform, and their spite

Colors the closet red. The roads escape,

Then disappear into an empty plain.

And yet the cornflakes keep on selling out,

The hotdog buns replenished. Say, the Post-

Gazoo is covering the Aphid Fest.

You’d think, the kind of life a small town leads,

Pies in each pocket, cakes in every bed,

You’d think the roads ran both ways, but they don’t.

Saturday, April 08, 2023

No, Really, I'm Not


This woman in her vinyl raincoat runs
Up to me—it’s not raining—and she asks,
Are you The One? (I hear the capitals,
The edge of majuscules, the sharpened height
Of serifs as they play about her eyes,
Wide to let all the light in that there is.)
I’m not. I thought I was once, but I’m not.
She coughs. No one should make mistakes like that,
She tells me, and she takes two backwards steps:
You might have missed your chance to save. The truck
Repaving Colorado beeps reverse,
And I shall never know what I have lost.
Her raincoat’s black, of course. I know she keeps
Asafoetida bags about her flat,
Merde du Diable; I know she cannot sleep
Because she has misplaced The One, the leaf
Marked with a grosgrain ribbon and a spoon.

Monday, April 03, 2023

Intro Hydraulics

 This appeared in the Deronda Review.

The pattern of the rain on glass

Is law bound, but I've never known

That law, and when the drops surpass

All reason in the shape and speed,

Only a textbook could have shown

An explanation or a need.

This is a horsie, that me mum.

There is Aunt Sophie, warped with pain.

I see three rodents, deaf and dumb

And blind. If God would play this game,

There would be floods on plains in Spain.

There would be dead without a name;

But God knows what God knows. He may

Have planned the shape of little drips,

Which drops abscond and which seek stay

Of execution. I don't know.

Stream after stream, the water slips

Where wracks of able seamen go.

I've heard it said that when the horn

Is played in court, the waters will

Reveal lost bones, and men reborn

Will dance upon their former veins.

Deep waters run till then and still,

The windows clean, those shining panes.