ANALOGUE SMOQUE - Mike Silverton
Underdogs have a multilateral appeal. Example: falling off a roof, one looks
about for an underdog.
Anyway, there you go. Woof! Oof! The alert cat observes the bright yellow
sun reflecting in your hazel eyes. Denis, a passerby, follows the descent
with his gray and chrome Hasselblad, fussing with the focus knob. He is looking
forward to snapping you collapsing in a heap of discouragement at the very
into strange waters, where one remarks the gala flora. Too bad we can't translate
this body of water to
A Satrap's Immolation
A satrap bursts into a deserted satraperie at sundown. Dust and cobwebs everywhere.
The clouds on the western horizon are as red as in the Cappadocian lullaby,
'Satraps at Sundown, in Cocoa-Brown Mufti.' He climbs, does the satrap, into
the myrrh-&-mesquite-burning stove, the trademark of which, quaintly lovely
in florid cast-iron, I used to read, along with the operating instructions,
as a makeshift entertainment, a prelude, if you please, to a satrap's immolation.
Mother's Nervous Condition
Now I can't spare the time. So I guess those were the days. On account of
the pale, unshaven felons sprawled about the house, mother thinks of herself
as a failure. She has not touched her pastels in years. I gather them up carefully,
taking care not to bruise the tender tips, and put them in a corner where
they resemble a festive hill. Not long ago I discovered mother rummaging a
hundred yards ahead of herself doing future harm, or so it seemed to me, her
anxious boy. In view of the situation's somewhat metaphysical complexion,
one wonders: What defines her search? An anxious boy's solicitude: has she
a reliable north light for ducking around in? One of her possible ladies-in-waiting
- that's the future for you, bristling with possibilities - returns my clothing
in styles as yet unimagined. Consequently, I've the wardrobe for a life considerably
more speculative than the one I'm leading.
What to Do with Loose Buttons
Keep them in a clear glass jar. You never know.
What to Do with Loose Morals
Since my marriage, I have managed to squeeze lovely young women with whom
I am unacquainted. Like other newlyweds, we have a working periscope. In general,
I behave disgracefully. Owing to the periscope's narrow field of vision, I
lose sight of the big picture. I fail to note in the mountain range out there
on the hazy horizon, the inflatable kind you order from a catalog, a pouch
in a valley ideal for rearing children. Quite perfect, really. When your feet
stipple the terrain like that, I cannot tell where we are. I'm too proud to
ask people walking briskly heaven knows where, 'Can you direct us away from
this place?' A man yells to honor womankind. Well, maybe to honor heterosexuality.
It's difficult to tell where he stands on the ladder of abstraction. I can
see that some of his teeth are in his mind.
Dances with Wolves
Now as we trot, stippling terrain, one of mother's future ladies-in-waiting
introduces us to a tribe of Indians I thought was extinct, the Ugh-Excised
Underdogs. I refrain from saying 'How!' and smirking yet am uncertain that
I behave like the sophisticate I aim at becoming. Our guide suggests introducing
me to a woman busily stippling grass in front of the Ughless Craft Shoppe.
Later I learn that Fandango One Foot in Front of the Other, a single-minded
brave, has run to the house (without showing signs or hand-signals of fatigue)
where dad is broiling a hostage. He has no respect, does dad, for a hostage's
equivalency in coin of the realm. Appetite first! Always the brutish, me-first
appetite! That and poverty and anguish. I've lost all respect. Some people
look like their parents, even behave like them, coming and going, standing
still. Not me! I make art out of myself - away, I mean, where I'm out there
mentally, like Mozart, whose art never reflects anguish or poverty, or even
sounds especially Austrian. Mozart's all right, but maybe I shouldn't have
mentioned him. I have never found a piece of Mozart's music to fly to pieces
to. Still looking. For something along the lines of 'I Want a Girl Just Like
the Girl Who Married Dear Old Salieri.' Not since Hannibal's Hannibalina has
so charming a woman conjured up a lakeside clique of clamorous he-men kicking
holes in white-capped Alps. Why we find the beauty of the delicate gesture
a pendant for violence is a question for another time.
The Sandman's Parable
The Sandman tells the children, To bedbugs, you're clients.
Floridita the Pearl
I once had a duck, Just Ducky. Just Ducky laid a pearl, Floridita (so named
on account of its peninsular contours). I presented Floridita to the Czarina
- outright, a gift! I caused joy in the Winter Palace. Tears of gratitude
rendered snow slush. All in all, an interesting detour in a belletrist's Quest.
Speaking of which, life is like that. You look at a piece of rotted rubber.
You never think to say, This is a piece of grief-eaten rubber. Why is that?
Does anyone know? Probably not. The key to happiness elusive remains as a
tiny green bug in a big, leafy tree. The man with the wrong head on thins
his reputation among thoughtful people by presuming the remedy to lie in a
toupee. The key to happiness elusive remains as a wee bay leaf at the bottom
of the bay.
The Truth about Former Mistresses
One of these ladies inveigles her little daughter with insomniacal anxieties.
She is humorless on the carpeted floor, this edgy, sleep-deprived child, down
there on the Axminster in the middle of the night, where, to be fair, she's
no more trouble than seated in a highchair at two in the afternoon, awaiting
developments. The germ of wretchedness we trace to mirage. When I put in an
appearance, one of these ladies, which is to say, one of these former mistresses,
revives her spirits with unchaste recollections. Her arches restore to their
former nimbleness like agile clowns so gaily done up, ho ho ha ha, the audience
sitting there, grinning like cretins on a supervised outing.
One of these ladies, one of these former mistresses, fraternizes with Helmut's
seated zanies. (Shouldn't that be sororatizes?) I am particularly aware of
her meretricious, boarding-house gestures. She is learning palmistry but seems
not to know when or where to stop or, vulgar tart, perhaps doesn't care to.
I mean, to be absolutely sure of these things, one needs to distance himself
from the event. As you can see, I'm right here.
Life Is Horrible
One's terror mounts, but elsewhere. One has the feeling he's haunted by an
inefficient spirit. I remember how as kids we would starve every time father
refused to pay the extravagant monthly bills. Mother would knock him to the
floor, run up and down the length of him, slam the trapdoor on his head, tapdance
on his neck until his temper cooled. Sometimes he passed out for days on end.
Against all evidence, mother believed he was sleeping it off.
Surely a Tree
Surely a tree can pine for another, that's how life is, stuffed grape leaves
abiding in contentment alongside kin e'en after five sleepless nights during
which one wonders serially about Druids in druidical robes, their craggy,
wilted faces covered with a curiously mossy down offensive to modern sensibilities.
Larry Lives in a Giant's Pocket
He's hiding out from the revenuers, neglecting to have paid his Lucille duty
- Lucille, his hot, juicy housekeeper and her string of suspiciously humid
plantains, looking for all the world like grünwurst. She is what we call
an absentee plantainer. It's actually Helmut who explains this out of the
side of his mouth, much as a jogger stretches his tendons, in the sitting
room where starched guests are watching father (who's regained consciousness)
sitting astride his blue-ribbon gelding. A haze rises over father's militarily
erect person which lapses into sleep and falls off the mount. I shall never
tire of boring holes in the underside of father's sojourn bedding and blowing
the eiderdown down to the Ponder Pond where it settles on the shapely leaves.
Not to spoil the bedding, you understand. Nor, need I add, to discomfit father.
He's so out of it, I could substitute spikes.
The Office Paddle
I love to arrange the passing scene with my paddle here from my little office.
They, the parts I arrange, are just there, like another language. I guess
I could call it parsing the view. Just parsing through. Off-scene passersby
are as useless to my project as the lily pads I'm unlikely to see. I take
their presence on faith.
I'm still inquiring into my raison d'être. The raw materials are all
in place. For example, I have these sockets which recruit an otherwise impassive
face into service as an eyeball depot. Self esteem returns on the instant
like a mirror image which, if you think about it, looks authentic but is utterly
uninformed. Formed but uninformed. I like that.
'Neath one's brow, twin tenants bloodshot. The lease wi'me expires.
Mason's Press Conference
Mason speaks: 'You may have noticed my neck. I tell people my penis also
takes a size 17 collar. I have little else to make myself intriguing.' Mason
is sitting behind a waterfall looking ectoplasmic. Because of his big mouth,
he doesn't need to raise his voice. He is delighted with this illusion of
weeping. The area's folklore profits from Mason's press conference.
Mason cries, 'An exit! See how congested with youth! The future going the
wrong way! A situation demanding remedy!'
The children are so enchanted by Mason's press conference they stuff him
into a papier-mâché canary modeled on the Trojan Hobbyhorse.
'How pleasant here inside this just large enough faux canary,' Mason decides.
'As you can see through the peephole, I assume the decubitous position awaiting
further calls to action.'
To the 2nd Person
The important thing is, I come first. I'm the 1st person, even here at the
bottom of Column A, where I feel like letting off a little air for decoration
and really not caring what anyone thinks.
The Violence Impulse
For I am yet tempted to punch you, underdog. I do not do it (I stifle the
violence impulse) as I am otherwise occupied studying your stagger as you
make for the horizon under the agricultural combine you absentmindedly put
on your head when you reached for your Boss Tweed cap.
The Right Sort of People
'Umm,' hums an underdog, 'these morsel-like chapters have a strange, outlandish
flavor I find to my taste.' This is obviously an underdog with a sophisticated
palate. We like high-class underdogs as a matter of principle, a Babinski
reflex, even with their top-tier problems stitched up inside their well-groomed
carcasses like that last grand flourish of a surgical procedure, even with
their problems caroming about their sophisticated heads, careering, ricocheting
(pronounced rick-o-shay-ing) whence they exit as music best ignored. Oodles
of life but no Salieri.
Mason's Existence in and about the Papier-Mâché Canary
How quickly one settles into routine. Gladly even. Rancorlessly. Mason carries
his lunchpail to the papier-mâché canary. Did you know Mason
was an air ace? If you are not an air ace, pay attention. I am cramming you
full of good information right out of the pilot's seat. I am providing you
with the motivation to continue reading about Mason and heaven knows what
else! Why do I stay the course? What drives me, as it were, along the right
sort of track?
Mason's Duality in the Sunlit Corridor
'If you go west - I'll - I'll punch you in your westward-ho-ing head! I'm
not kidding!' Mason juts his chin. The sop hits wetly, bounces, flutters,
drops on the spot there in its tripe, and stops. The hole the men are digging
holds little interest, nor are the men in the least engaging, but I did find
some cartilage. It's the sop's. He (she? it?) won't remark its absence till
he (she? it?) arrives at his (her? its?) destination in the West. A dinner
guest, one of the work crew chosen on the basis of odor, asks Mason a question.
'Never mind that,' Mason responds. 'Eat, smelly man! Think only of ingestion!'
Mason emerges from the dinner party for underdogs wearing a large brassiere
and talking calculus. He is designing his own lighter-than-aircraft and growing
components on his chest. Faugh! His aero-bust breaks out into hundreds of
little stumps, many with their own tiny feet, and very cheeky for their size.
Mason's Record-Breaking Coupling
A whole day! The sports writers hail Mason. But Mason has misgivings. He's
just received word of a secret veal squeal. It's so difficult to keep up,
especially in bed, breaking world records, driving fuckees to distraction.
People who earlier dealt in pork-snort futures now speak in veal-squeal decibels.
Everything that sucks or has been rubbed off (e.g., former dots with little
mouths) stands apart as fungibles.
Indifference to Underdogs
In the patois of the diocese where underdogs worship, I whup an underdog's
praying head, er, ah, upside. While I'm not sure that's quite the way they
put it, I've no desire for patois fluency. I do not much fuss over underdog
expressiveness, tho I'm certain that prayer and substandard English offer
certain rewards. I'm what they call a skeptical Fred. Here, for example, one
might observe entirely reasonably, pointing at heaven, is an ambiguous enterprise
zone requiring a blotter. 'If I ever said such a thing, my animals would leave
in a huff,' a shepherd observes. He used to be a shy boy, this shepherd, an
underdog with a shepherd's crook and syrinx, and the kind of outer garment
one sees in dopey Christmas cards. He used to ride past our house in a sack
in the back of a pickup truck. 'I am riding by wildly,' we'd hear him shout
but never really knew where the good news was coming from.
The Diva's Suicide
'Pass the phial. Ah Dio, I perish,' the diva usually utters moments before
the end. Visitors exclaim, 'What a terrible view!'
It's quite useless to picture your feet as lovely. Rather let us applaud
this unlovely set of - what shall we call them? ah, yes! - body utensils as
transports for you, female underdog, to me, a sexually aroused Übermensch
of condescending bent. Is that agreeable with you? You over there to me over
here in a spirit of celebration, as one might applaud the tubes that carry
the juices that bring people together in the first place?
Tick and Tock, a Mystery
Atomic clock fine-tunes an apposite capacity for every star in the whole
friggin' firmament! Size places, everything!
1) Which planet travels in the dark?
2) Which planet knocks like an unshelled nut against the Galactic
3) Which planet assumes the position? Just kidding. Actually, which
planet assumes the position of a talisman absent a terrestrial
network of pulleys, wax, water, or sand clocks especially?
With Fingers Deployed
With fingers deployed on the a, s, d, f, j, k, l, and semi-colon keys, thumbs
poised to strike, I sit back and wait. Elsewhere in the world they're dropping
leaflets on a peculiarly stubborn embattled population. The wind whips the
leaflets about, they pile up in drifts, I wait.
Anyway, that's all over now. The leaflets never reached my attention. There's
a ceiling in the way, and I think it would be arrogant to remove it in order
to see what comes next. For example, in
1000 billion aspirin for the Lower Yellow Peril. From the air. They thought
it was snow, the first they'd ever seen. Started spreading salt before they
caught on. So that makes 1000 billion lightly salted aspirin strewn about
South-East Asia. I'm glad, finally, to have written something about the war.
Now maybe people will quit labeling me an art-for-art's-sake fop. It helps
not to bathe.
Astroblight, A Whitman Memorial
You there, steeped in national pride, in pinched propriety, fearing God and
foreigners, what do you know of youth, of thoughtless exuberance? A naïf
expresses astonishment. So that's when everyone's supposed to fly to pieces
trying to figure out what the little shit means? Bogus! A total waste of time!
says to you, 'I think I just had a seizure,' and you all put your heads together
to see whether you can read into the statement a deeper meaning, hints, omens,
something, anything! Tell me what schools of thought you attend. I shall avoid
them. No school of thought's going to explain how my hair wound up on the
back of the chair in a room I don't recognize, nor myself in the mirror. Or
how I got into these silly paisley pajamas. Or what that cookie means. In
an effort to regain composure, I think back to that enchanting moment when
a motor vessel slips its moorings, the band striking up a pretty launching
ditty I've heard before but cannot name in a picturesque but impractical shipyard
nestled in a landlocked fjord.
Tolstoi said, 'Spray the gentry with sweat and manure, sprinkle the serfs
with rosewater. Then let's talk about attitude.'
A former fetus goes to the store & buys a TV which promptly blows his
big toe off. So much for those of us who think we have radiance by the shorthairs.
I thought it was the courthouse clock going out of order, but it was only
you clomping into my composure through a loophole in my need for solitude.
Bouncing along on my ass isn't what you promised, sire. Thank you anyway
for allowing me to pause to observe this specimen hanging off the eaves like
an icicle, his concave visage looking for all the world like a soup bowl with
features. He, I shouldn't wonder, could ask for nothing better than to be
bouncing along on his ass anywhere, to the Heart, Liver & Geek Bank even.
The Ceremonial Gold Spike
Remember the ceremonial gold spike at Promontory Point where the railroad
tracks meet? It isn't there now, is it? Can you tell me where it went? I mean,
shouldn't we be wondering about the spectators? They all went home, these
pillars of the community, these sober, God-fearing folk, got out of their
baggy worsted suits and promptly disremembered that lovely yellow nubbin,
dismissed it from their law-abiding minds? It didn't occur to one or two of
these citizens to slip back after dark and swap the gold spike for an iron
replacement brushed with gold leaf or cheesy gold paint you can buy in any
hardware store, or boost it outright, sticking a pebble in the hole so's maybe
no one would notice? I'm making too much of this? Okay, fine, so where's the
The Dragoon-&-Hussar Report
Excellency, the dragoons are dragging their butts and the hussars, they're
not looking too brilliant either. That's about it.
Daybreak as a Lovely Girl's Part
I like to think of dawn as the nipple of a melon-perfect breast at which
wage-earners gaze through chinks in their various chores, failing to grasp,
well, the universality of the thing. I like to think that Dominatrix Day sends
along Splatt & Kerplunke to establish a meaningful air.
Remembering Li Po
Li Po, I love you, you fantasy-spouting, mist-dipt tosspot out there in the
Chinese hills, how many years has it been? But Po - may I call you Po? - you
have to admit, there's something to be said for Ophelia. No, really, I'm serious.
Think about it. She got where she got, which is flaming famous, with less
wear and tear. All right, she committed suicide. But you're dead too.
I am pleased in prose to have created an aid to identity.
1, 2, 3
The three bears, one pair pince-nez, a cloud & the fishes. 1, 2, 3 (4).
Slender, Tapered Turds
In one's pursuit of droll perversions, one looks to his heart and sees a
shifty-eyed devil from whom one would hesitate to buy a pair of shoes - hair-line
moustache, weak chin, greasy pompadour, knee-deep in anemia. In one's pursuit
of droll perversions, one finds a gold-tone cigarette case filled with slender,
tapered turds. The inscription reads, ONE IS ONESELF THE FRUIT OF DESIRE.
AS TO DETAILS, DON'T HOLD YOUR BREATH.
Plate of Ziti
Plate of ziti, we salute you, amici! You too, farinaceous outsider on the
check tablecloth, hero zito, so to speak. Are you a very devil of a fellow
We loft into heaven and fall back to earth, our cheroots strewn about like
gnat Zeppelins. Opportunity ebbs and flows like the tides.
Des Sports, Perhaps
O youthful crowd in Des Sports, home of astonishing athletic achievements,
hear your social director! 'You,' says he, 'puzzle me.' Perhaps we have been
stuffing the wrong cavities. Perhaps as we sit here listening to foreign threats,
attending to philately on missives incoming, we dream of crocus untrod by
Female Bearing Gift
A lovely young woman hands me one end of the Atlantic Cable. 'Miss,' I declare,
'this could be the subject of a terribly interesting genre painting which,
had I judged the chore a touch less toilsome, I'd certainly like to do,' and
drop my end. The class folds up its easels and goes. The cable withdraws into
the surf. The lovely young woman leaves by the door, to judge from demeanor,
beset by ennui. A few drops of water and paint smudge remain.
A Few Drops of Water and a Paint Smudge
Can I interest you in a dash of raggedy vortex here in my fertile crescent,
where plans for projects carom like wort spores in a wind-swept silo? I observe
a vision of oneself buried (underdog at last!) beneath a terra cotta hillock
of spent & splintered emery boards, one swift-extruding fingernail having
gained the upper hand.
Say it fast and eschatology, the metaphysics of the Four Last Things - Death,
Judgment, Heaven, Hell - sounds like scatology, an interest, in the main literary,
in excreta. Shine, sun, the day I move on. Drift, clouds, like smoke from
salutes, mellifluous traffic, a brighter outlook, the courthouse steps choked
with exotics, jeweled nostrils, honey-dipt nipples, Pert & Alert. One
enters this life toothless and, overcoming a disability, finishes up as soundly
as the next fellow.
An Arboretum I Guess You'd Call It
An arboretum I guess you'd call it, listless, shrugging shrubs, groveling
ground cover, desultory pansies, and the big True Blue, the one really improbable
ornamental sequoia anywhere near which, none kens wherefore, Highlanders'
dirks from chased scabbards fly and swift disappear. They arise, these mysterious
dirks, and at the sequoia's trunk - k'junk! - untimely strike or cruise down
long lines of innocent blossoms, decapitating the lot, hothouse blossoms in
bunches in pails, a whistle petunia on a string round a neck, wilting slowly
on an authoritative chest, authoritative only because the whistle's there,
but it's not really a whistle, as I've tried to explain. Further and closer
to the point, just now an especially long and keen-edged dirk decapitated
the putative authority. These petunia whistles are quite useless, moreover,
when the phone's on the fritz or you yourself are by longings beset.
A crowd gathers in the solarium and watches father watching Bertie sitting
astride a favorite gelding. Out of the past rise Chinese mists. Someone in
the crowd initiates a community sing, beginning with a hit from decades ago,
'O How I Cherish Arranging Flowers from My Window with my old Frat-House Paddle,
Hey Ho,' moving right along to the old marching song, 'Owing to Our Glorious
Fatherland's Clement Climate, the Flowers Are Always There, with a Standard
of Deportment to Which All Aspire, Ho Hey, Yessir!'
Zoom, fast as anything, I leak through a slot in the gloom! I try, in passing,
sticking my finger in an angel's eye. I am such an iconoclast! Zoom! All that
remains is the long-decaying reverberation of my having sung, to orchestral
accompaniment, 'The Iconoclast Vanishes' in a palatially vacant space. (Let
me try to clear that up. The iconoclast vanished all right, but not necessarily
in a palatially vacant space - we've no way of knowing one way or t'other
- and I am still here, forlorn trouvère, singing of the vanishing iconoclast
in a palatially vacant space. One takes a number, sits and waits. No one's
sure where he, the iconoclast, went, or why I am here in this palatially vacant
space to tell the story in song, to orchestral accompaniment. I can only guess
that the music's slow-fading tail warrants notice owing to the palatially
vacant space in which I sang only recently of the vanishing iconoclast and
remain, a lonely, corporeal presence anticipating applause, which, should
it occur - as the place is empty, save for myself and my melancholy band,
I have my doubts - will also prove remarkably resonant.)
Evil basilisks, crumhorns, squires, venomous reptiles, unmotivated detours,
evils too tedious to think about now. One lives for one's work, even when
there's nothing to say. Has the flutters. Lebensraum.
The Bulk in the Shadows
The bulk in the shadows is, I say, nothing. So then, why am I not writing
prose about expectations? I intend to, but later. I'm distracted by the stagger
of my free spirit's corporeality as it make for the horizon under the weight
of fresh disappointments.
One finds me, arms out, palms upward, piled high with shadowy expectations.
One is, after all, a belletrist. They have the properties of seeds, these
shadowy expectations, and so I sow them in rich, loamy soil, rise up off my
knees and reset the scarecrow, Imminent Ike.
'But I am too young to die!' 'Not an impediment. How about we call it Probing
Post-Vitality, or we stuff you in a barrel, a Hermetic Possibility rolling
Consider the merits of robot gnats to guide decedents to their rewards. Consider
the utility of survivor gyroscopy, just over the rise, taking us elsewhere,
The Spirit of This Really Dreadful Place
Let us to the water's edge and away together bob e'er so slowly, lest we
offend the spirit of this really dreadful place. Let us, outbound, in circles
float and treasure t'other till amorous congress join us anon. And then let
us wonder, Who whispers kindnesses as by the harbor master we drift, the three-mile
limit, and houseboats where, from lemming pelts, occupants fashion their spawn's
footwear, sharing their hopes with us en route?
Snow's gentle veil fails to conceal an absentee who, like us, a major force
for difference stands, a so much better bitter pill. Assimilation gives way
to caprice. I o'er the countertop leap t'where th'optimists queue.
Granite Crunch Verse
This acknowledges receipt of your Granite Crunch Verse absent formal application.
I speak of a verbal mass (though not necessarily of significant density) wherein
contents of an aesthetic rather than transactional or (to return to art's
margins) nihilistic deportment remain available to speculation, dismissal,
revision, etc., as an exercise of flexible Fate.
Personalized Hillbilly Hat
In your personalized hillbilly hat with corncob pipe and turkey feather,
you will fit right in to lawn parties attended by people who, owing to stupidity,
low birth or insanity, look to you as a fresh font of merriment. C'mon now,
don't sulk, we were all poor once. Nothing to be ashamed of. Wear your personalized
hillbilly hat with an easy conscience, eat barbecued ribs and walk around
in a spiral which will take you sooner or later to a boomtown where the music
of celebration will go through you like a dose of salts.
Then we shall embrace a daintier you and say, 'How young, how charming,'
as the decorative boomtown herons drop like flies. This remains ne'ertheless
a remarkable picture. One goes to the Berber for a hair cult as boats in drydock
don't splash about (to the contrary!), and now, but only now, the golden underdogs,
their bellies awash in bronze-brown moles (invariably, as an identifying feature),
tear themselves from the bosoms of their families to operate abroad, and briefly,
Back at Fort McHenry
On the shore, dimly lighted, my tongue, Author of Liberty. How one's tongue
is cold and wet, glistening like a bayonet for poking holes in homeland threats!
Head the sea for England! Wash the wicked place away! Young citizens, attend!
Shake out every pail of sand and with your energetic tongues lick back the
tide! I, meanwhile, am obliged to retreat, disheveled by these militant thoughts.
I am pale. My tongue lies limp on the sand, a smallish pink meatloaf, underdone,
undone. I shall return in my melon-stufft djellaba and Daffy Duck spats, and
then perhaps you'll show me where your joys are, Peace and Recreation! When
I was younger, in better shape, I could hold my breath till my tongue turned
black. Good morrow, tongue. Who dat?
Yes, I like rooftops but, given the opportunity, I'd fly higher to see where
balloons go. Weeks on end you'd hear me bellowing, sounding at that great
distance like a regretful incompetent. The shades of night are falling fast
as through an alpine village passed a youth who bore, 'midst snow and ice,
a banner with the strange device, Excelsior!
A hot, balmy day on a faraway pond. A bright summer sun smiles upon the dancing
wavelets, coins beyond count, the milieu skulking about, numismatistical pervert!
Water molester! An underdog seeks to learn the breast stroke from passerby
magi. I will teach! No, me! Yes, him! they call out to the underdog. One especially
loquacious magus imparts a snippet of Realpolitik: 'Though the monarch be
a fool, 'tis sillier still to yank his train.' Giving the gesture little thought,
the underdog tugs a stout hempen line. The monarch, wouldn't you know it,
is attached to one end. Splash! Several passerby fish are startled to see
a jeweled coronet tumbling mudward, facets aflash. Do you like the way these
words sound? Never mind all that! Toss 'em to the ground in a heap! In a mud
puddle, e'en! This too is a turn of events!
Them I Embrace, You I Don't
Them I embrace, how young, how charming, the herons are dropping, I am old,
This, despite everything, is an authentic imagining in which I, an underdog
with aspirations above my station, am made to look enigmatic. There is no
apparent sense of strain, neither is there expense. The houseboats are splashing
about festively the far side of the three-mile limit and the golden partners
are out in the field, doing - splash! sparkle! bang! kersplat! - their fireworks
number. Back at the hair cult, from knoll to terrace, from terrace to knoll,
I am the underdog up in the air, performing figures eight and Immelmanns.
I brush by your knees, but only just. I am trying with gestures to show you
life under the stars as it should be.
This Side of Propriety
Imagine dreaming you're playing polo with a khan's femur! As to the ball,
I've no suggestions this side of propriety. On propriety's margins choices
abound. Questionable taste e'er opens portals, but to what sorts of neighborhood,
what ghastly expanses o'wilderness? In having suggested imagining dreaming
playing polo with a khan's femur, I feel I've already gone too far in the
I am pleased to welcome you from a distant corner of one's personal universe
where, as a careless youth, I lost my head, a confirmation gift from Aunt
Agnes, the Taoist. Travel has painted your features with cunning. Doubtless
you are pleased to return to where you can order vermin with cream, e'en out
of season. Stew fuck, what am I saying?! Nothing, apparently. The pony cart
lies on your breast. I contemplate the stately oaks lining the long, sun-dappled
drive, we do the tripe-soup krakowiak. Or, dressed as a cloud, I lie on your
breast wishing you were a lovely girl. Yes, that's me, briefly the cartless
overdog, a cloud now taxing your sternum's resilience.
Ah, but you are a lovely girl! Such is the will to Übermenschkeit!
Come along, dearest, it's a general mobilization and we are in the way. Our
orders read, Unable to join you, stop, have some fleas, stop, lice to follow,
rats also, stop, please stop. The incense rises in a thick lilac haze. We
gaze at our ensembles in the lagoon's mirror calm, I in mail tails and shrapnel-absorbent
dicky, you in your chic, anti-aircraft sheath. I hear someone ordering up
a thunder gland. I've overcome my embarrassment. What is a thunder gland?
The Indians of Peru
The Indians of Peru have engaged in a fabulous human chain from their tallest
Andean peak to me, a distant object of desire, humble, demure, fresh out of
suggestions. In quite another direction, I urge you, whoever you are - an
underdog passerby, like as not - to get yourself telescoped, take up less
space. For me, an entirely self-absorbed Übermensch, your stale, high-maintenance
envelope is of no value. Ditch it.
Of tools I've seen in action, the best is Alps t'Pebbles Basht, a no-nonsense
Whomseat the vernal slurp, ribbands to't, Fluff'rnüss! Aye! King Gustaf
outebbs Noonies, keen kine, Prinzessin Gustaffal! Serenity! Never!
They Are Too Awful
They are too awful, tossing whate'er they on hands lay into the bloodwort.
Indeed, to be sure, they are awful offal, disdain collecting i'this zone and
that'n, passing, unthinking, through a parish in which the hosannas reach
Underdogs, you me delight and comfort also. See there a piston, another life-lesson
for contemplative absorption. There go the itinerant physicians treating curbside
oddities. Or consolidating what of the wilderness remains. Or, who is this
back from the dead, radiating termination? Better late than never.
I Come as a Friend
I come as a friend, but O, these wars! These dreary, droopy diatribes! Not
to neglect the monster's disgusting hairiness, each hair thick as an earthenware
jug handle! It's all subjective. The disgusting, hairy monster, upon arising,
despairing of shaving, looks in a mirror and thinks, How brilliantly beam
my eyes from a face busily radiating character, with its chunky hair breaking
in puke-umber waves o'er a zit-riddl'd brow. The ram that rammed me to where
I in contentment at my reflection gaze on a hillside grazes likewise serene,
the baa-baa clouds rolling by, whispering vaporous endearments to their vanity's
mirror, the sky. In remarking these terrestrial and meteorological developments,
my eyes bob up and down in their sockets like toy boats in little bathtubs.
Ha ha, eyeball-boats, you thought this, finally, your snug harbor! April fool!
Narration cannot encompass the memories saturating household effects. In
domestic discards portents crouch, evicted spirits abiding in nudity (alternately
nullity) till a suitable cocoon presents itself. Every step I take, another
familiar aroma. Everywhere I look, something to see I've already seen. If
I toast you excessively, Possibility, do I care that alcoholic beverages are
subject to local, state, and federal regulations, never mind taxes and the
odd expression of disapproval? Does it strike you as enigmatic that we should
see tracks everywhere but no creatures to which to connect them?
My Summer Adventure
Where gather like jewels those dewdroplets cradled in your deference to my
sec self-esteem? Suppose a gnat settles on a magical raindroplet into which
it is promptly absorbed. What then? These delicate raindroplets, these perfect,
tear-shaped ladies-in-waiting we cajole into hopping about with bright eyes,
absent words, nothing.
The Giant Mango in the Confessional
Mature speedily so that you will no longer discover amusement in driving
a panel van got up as a prune over a cliff, seatbelt unfastened, airbag disabled.
Or hauling a giant mango into the confessional, nonplussing the priest. Or
delivering a drawing of a garlic weevil to the obese patron who ordered in
addition to his main course garlic mashed potatoes and who, because it is
dusk and he is myopic, and even for those who test 20/10 the visibility's
poor, becomes alarmed and falls off the cruise ship, passersby hollering,
Oversize man over the side!
Spiritualist, my love is like a snippet of feather from the duster with which
I tidy up snagged on a hinge of the Chinese screen covered with impressions
of mist-enshrouded mountains. The trick in these old Chinese landscapes is
to locate the scholar with the ample sleeves. Sometimes they're so well integrated
into the scenery, these scholars, you never find them. So that's why you turned
your attention to me? You're wasting your time, forget it, go home. You are
not in the least like my love and consequently you do not interest me. Ah,
my love, my lissome meritocrat, up to speed always, intensely occidental.
I think of her whenever I hear something, an event, a mishap, on the clamorous
side. We linger at mishap. She reminds me a little of the sound a hydro-electric
turbine shaft makes when it drops off a flatbed into a ravine. It happens
here all the time. The price we pay for progress.
Pay for the Ride or Leave in a Trance
These rifts in God knows what, this ankle-length prose, 'Everything in Its
Labeled Place, a Place for Everything, Labeled,' if we are not careful, if
we are not careful, if we are not careful (in ceremonies of a magical nature,
threes wield a gravity beyond their tidy trypticity), as I say (this time
once only), if we are not careful, the anise-husband will come! Be alert to
strange clouds, they're the overture. Out of kindness, civility, you give
a thirsty passerby a drink of cold water. He smiles. Your troubles are only
beginning. For he is the anise-husband! It
is Nature's grand design, an opalescent puff of air, but worst of all, the
anise-husband! First the blue bubbles, then the fever, then the cramps, and
we, the true heirs, out the door! Not yet, mama, not yet! But it's already
too late! Already too late! The anise-husband!
Ants in your pants, tomorrow the Serbs. The lipstick message on the mirror,
none of this matters. Tomorrow, the Serbs.
Where Specialization Gets You
Off to the front, bang, the end. On the dashboard, a five-inch Madonna, adhesive-footed,
torso immobile, serene visage nodding approbation. Unlike the bulldog at the
rear window, the kind with a head that articulates, the Madonna, a statuette
of superior standing, also with a head that articulates, has for Her stage
the oncoming vista, the windshield's arch Her proscenium, awarding all who
face Her direction uncritical acceptance. Were there to be one of those spectacular
highway pile-ups that occur in dense fog and blizzards, one might well expect
to see the Madonna nodding, but not perhaps for long. Is She taking in the
event and, finding little to approve, withdrawing into detachment, or is this
but another temporal instance of motive energy spent? Faith will govern which
of these possibilities passersby embrace.
Everywhere you look, sand, gravel, rocks, foothills, cordilleras. I mention
it now as a sort of sorting-out, a preparation to a contemplation of ascendancy.
As always, I am grateful for your attention. If you happen to be a lovely
young woman passerby, I look forward to an arrangement which, for all I care,
can leap from tentativity to obscene hyperkinesis.
The Indifference of Passersby
Having settled it that I am extraordinary, I glance from my window to the
street where, incredibly, nobody's staring up agog.
Has Mystery a Future?
Psyche gazes on the sleeping Cupid in golden candlelight. Just as she thinks
she sees a pair of wings, Cupid awakens.
I notified the chasm inspector about a chasm I happened upon on my way home
from my place of employment. He was so pleased he rewarded me with a box of
yodel spume and a ride on the Sunset Machine.
I deplore your absence from my rectilinear pillow, yourself flavored, as
it were, with persiflage and clues, especially when you form a section of
the wall from which you project, Caryatid.
Touring the Outback
Have a care. An aboriginal will remove the radiator figurine from under your
nose for no reason other than un jeu de main in bright things filched, will
pummel your vintage Pontiac with a rhinestone-stufft wallaby hide, will extract
you therefrom, will plug a conduit with your stunned-into-submission person,
will abide nearby with that peculiarly aboriginal forbearance until his tribe
returns from its Stone-Age chores, assembles and prepares to toss gravel at
your head. The womenfolk will sit about you in a tribal circle and make derisive
digestive noises as the gravel bounces off your head.
A Critical Turn in the Action
to be painted, varnished & continued
Fat Clouds Make Imperfect Friends
Fat clouds follow you everywhere, into the grocery, crush the potato chips,
into the tub, follow your cap into your sleeve where you stuff it so you won't
lose it when you hang your coat on a hook in the luncheonette, follow you
into bed, you open the fridge, there they are.
Incense Rolls and Rises
Incense rolls and rises in a thick lilac haze in the dim, reflected light
of the starched dickies of passersby. I write, you squeeze. Soon the train
hauls us off to the front, bang, the end, and after the end, a painted plaster
image of the unfortunate woman upon whom a clutch of celibate zealots pinned
the strange notion of virgin birth, no fuss, no muss, so sorry, get lost,
you go to sleep to try to forget it, your great, horizon-to-horizon face dabbed
with terrain. I toss you back and forth across these thoughts, as a fox trots
out a ditty on a marimba tuned to a higher standard, to utterances shining
from on high, muttering into its shipping crate, Anywhere but here!
Gentlemen, My Governors
Gentlemen, my governors (ladies also), you are godawful, than Mordred more
devious, King Arthur's nephew, who, in airmail bedeckt, poof, vanished! Consider,
gentlemen, my awful governors (ladies also), the lost wax figure's longuers,
a poignant transition moreso by miles than your self-serving persons to tombs
too long vacant.
He's Sick Again
He's sick again, Eddy, the odorless (actually, noseless) stencher who befriends
fiends, indeed, feeds them goodies, or do I lie? 'No,' confides Eddy, 'it's
the absolute truth,' casting a glance into the nest of a 'Thousand Extinguished
Lights' wherein a wretched girl moons for coins and calls out in mock delight,
'Isn't this wonderful?'
This hapless young woman mooning for coins in the nest of a 'Thousand Extinguished
Lights' shows me her fractures, how her shins pop out like celery. I fear
it's all over between us, even before anything gets going. First, however,
I'd like to make her a gift of a crate of restorative drippings, The Amontillado,
along with a trowel, er, towel for her tears. A brief idyll concludes in order
to move on to
Homesickness, a Terrible Thing
The little homesick man smiles as the expensive mammal, removes his very
first hat, runs around in a circle. A burly fellow at home in the world shoots
gray-green mucus out one ear, smugly smirking, not caring he's disgusting.
An iron door creaks, revealing a niche passersby enter, eyes bloodshot, dark
bags below, and emerge moments later shiny bright but blind, alas.
A chap gets dressed and loses himself.
Among the Ughless Underdogs
Stick to the topic. Farms grow things, in the ocean they fish, finish up,
all fished out, in Underdog. I'm lost, I'm blind, what inky darkness I'm (not)
seeing! And so 'tis fixed in belletristic amber, our lips like liver slivers
defining what lies south o'th'nose as mules across th'Ughless land grant trot
to secession's polling places to th'accompaniment of a curiously restrained
Move Over, Spheres
Late upon a moonless night, humming the Music of Astral Asymmetry, a man
runs up the Planetarium steps, collides with the doorknob, dies, is buried,
wafts out of the crypt and soon after vanishes. Disciples arrive, form a quorum,
launch a dispute: do we wear them around our necks or implant these little
doorknobs in our navels as symbols of egress, and should we to the latter
agree, egress to what? Or should that be, What?
Stay Here in Bed
Stay here in bed, love, don't go, you'll step in dogdookie and fall into
a hole where layabouts loiter, poised to belabor whoe'er drops in with their
Höhner chromatic harmonicas! Stay here in bed, love, soup I'll bring
and kisses hot, I'll treat you like a marchioness.
How Do You Pronounce Sioban?
Your stab at blithe spontaneity cuts into brutality as you bang on my cranium
with your aggression-grade attention-getter, Sioban. Koonk! Garçon,
two glasses more of Squirt Mysterieuse, s.v.p.
Business Is a Game
Homo faber frames his works in grievous rents in Mother Earth whereas, lower,
the mole lives rent-free, though a bore(r). A Gentile consumer purchases jujubes
with non-denominational coins. Business, he muses, like barf and dearth, is
a game in which untowardness reigns. Well, says he, it's my move and
an unctious fellow grins at a wall. My mistress croons a tune I cannot name
and walks about in circles just eccentric enough to leave me forever slowly.
The unctious fellow doffs his kepi.
The Retiree's Song
I live, cries he, pudenda to flush, though lately it's a banner day if, by
vespers, I squeeze off a sneeze. Subsisting on memories: Such was her wit
she convinced her vagina your reporter's Helmut a tongue depressor is, and
the cunning thing said, 'Ah.' Entirely voluntarily! As a matter of simple,
clockwork expediency, Hope en pointe: Dead, I shall have become monumental.
Memento-taking lovers will reduce me to a nubbin. The aging divebomber flies
now so listlessly, birds on the very aircraft alight, 'midst th'untidiness
pecking at nothing.
A Wildlife Murder
Cottontail legions slip beneath the slime and adventuresome boys on legs
move about, why, it's a wonder! An old woodland hand can figure out a wildlife
murder on his toenails. He works hard there in the wilderness, yet, improvident
by nature, naught squirrels away for a rainy day. He figures on his toenails
so: spent, soggy embers to little yellow slates, my calculator wanders like
a worm trailing through itself quite by chance, fern, moss, wort, grass, sand,
gravel, rocks, muck, etc., etc.
Passerby on a Bench
Once again, so attend with care, is that you declining to massage the half-dozen
faces designated National Anonymities? That's all right then, passerby on
a bench, sorry to rock the cityscape your sensorium takes in. The pavement
is showcasing several of your teeth. This isn't a park, really, it's what
happens when a seemingly endless stream of civic-minded passersby of modest
means deposit their teaspoonsful of humus on one's urban imaginings.
The Day It Makes No Bubbles
The day it makes no bubbles, sky.
My chums at Gobi Goober, hi.
Life bumps along in mythic bits,
Neptune's triceps, Ashtar's clit,
Gentle zephyrs, once elsewhere,
On their way to over there ...
On a Railway Platform
A man and woman embrace, gaze nose to nose. The woman, licking a stamp commemorating
airborne oddities, applies it to his philtrum, the sculpted flesh ditch septum
connecting t'upper lip's dip, and kisses him farewell. Now the man is flying
along, a happy Hitler lookalike with that wee postal poster there under his
nose, but not, alas, forever. It flutters away, the postage does, and thus
we remark feet bouncing along railway ties. Later that night in dim starlight,
we find on the tracks our victim of hope, of insufficient presage expired.
Marking the Return of the Bonin Islands to Literature's Governance
Humility withdraws among the spars and stars seeking to lose itself. I row
out here to present my end of the calculations with 20 Colt Piecemakers ill
stasht about my person. I am nothing but lumps, yet have I plied these oars
as though unencumbered. Bonin! Bonin! In me you discover the ideal protagonist!
Look, he comes ashore posing as sculpture consisting in convincing measure
of 20 Colt Piecemakers! 'Yes sir, I am pleased, very, very pleased. There
is only one thing.' 'And that is?' 'Everything, sir.'
The Words as Described, Landmines Also
The words are convincing but the open mouth's ersatz. Wait, he offers, I'll
shut it, but he, he steps on dicey - honk! - terrain.
'How can I ever forget you, bleeding in your flannels?' 'I'm not bleeding
now,' she yawns, and her tongue falls out. 'Yunh!'
Bonins were new to their islands, doing battle with piebald lizards, this
lovely, untongued layabed would fight or lie in ambush at night, just like
a man - nay, better than a man! When the moment came to charge, no lizard
could withstand her! She slew them to crimson mists with a sweeping disciplinary
glance. Lizards fled when they saw her charging or indeed when they thought
she might have it in mind to charge. During a fragile truce, without a word,
she revealed beneath her gown an elaborately detailed breastplate. On one
quadrant, forged to resemble a giant amusement shovel, we see an etched hand
pointing out to an etched sea. You understand of course that all this momentous,
tide-turning slaughter happened where, as we speak, the most worrisome thing
in sight is the pirate galleon my eight-year-old builds with pale sand right
here on the historic Bonin shoreline.
A Summer Adventure
I polish the haunted chair till it moans. Suppose a vermin loses incentive.
Just suppose. There is, as we snort, a beautiful queen (princess, really)
off at a distance. Weeping. Her delicate ladies-in-waiting cajole and plead,
sing, tell jokes, hop about with bright flashing eyes, flouncing tits, getting
nowhere. A queen weeping is, as Event, a Simultaneity 'midst simultaneities,
an occupation of Time, much like a painting hanging in space. When we cannot
see it, we fail to grasp its purport much less confirm a means of support.
The Leakproof Seal, or Mouth-to-Mouth System for Turning Heads
Heap the victim's nose on your chest. Start rocking. Allow the face to drift.
One fine morning the seltzer man delivers two cases. An Artist consumed by
hand-to-hand commerce - an Artist who ignores Life's Little Moments - is doomed.
Übermenschen occupy the top shelf. They do not throw guests' coats on
the bed. For Übermenschen, conventions are instantaneous, to hell with
precedents. (If one has to ask, one isn't sufficiently steeped in Übermenschkeit.)
Everything else goes to charity. And you, tardy underdog, you missed the boat,
so you while away your days with that peculiarly hangdog, quayside look, as
though somewhere about your person a clue to the question, Is there Life after
Departure? Worth living, that is. And behind you, the old cottage. And behind
the old cottage, you again, underdog, listening to the aspens sighing, 'What's
in it for posterity?'
What's in It for Opera?
Emotion in opera is paramount. We are interested not so much in what our
hero, heroine or villain may do as in how he or she feels before, during and
after the action. In 'Il Trovatore,' when Manrico learns that Azucena has
been captured - remember, he supposes her to be his mother - his thoughts
turn to rescue, but rather than dashing off as one would in life, he steps
stage front and sings of his mad desire for vengeance:
Away to autumn's bunting, mulchy, sodden Fate!
The maternal Azucena a landslide endures of incoming louts
as scene 'pon scene from view fleets away
and seven static clams remain. The bulge to th'audience
so predictably apparent is the topic of an aria I later plan
to deliver. But now I am enrapt by Azucena's stagger
as in louts draped she for the skyline departs.
You are standing on my corolla, Violetta. A love duet follows, 'Tell me of
my mother.' It shows as plain as music may that Don Dubito's affection is
genuine and that she in turn, the mystery guest, has given him her heart,
exclusive of aorta, etcetera. Gypsy smugglers descend from the mountains,
dancing, feasting on rabbits and olives, drinking muddy wine, breaking into
a dashing gypsy song, 'Fencing Little Sister's Goods.'
Footsteps! And whilst I wonder, Be it she, my visage encounters an amusing
cream pie. The gypsies are thunderstruck. What a funny indignity! Interest
shifts to four recent gypsy arrivals dragging female acquisitions. Then follows
the first of the beautiful quartets for which this act is especially famous,
'This is your dwelling now,' followed at once by 'Whudda dump!'
Whilst milling in the marketplace, The agèd conqueror Liszt and his
aide de camp Adolph remark a wizened fryer. As Liszt has in mind a large oven
roaster, he sings about success 'slowly on going in circles e'er closing.
'Goosesteps I see marked in fire!' Excellent news!
requires musical fantasy to descry in an hourglass a full-figured female standing
on her head. One prefers to simmer, dismissing wintry memories. One scours
the libretto for Apollonian eloquence, counteragent to these trouser-housed
Dionysiacs. For opera's large requirements, sunrise is a gold tooth ascendant.
Gold dust powders dimples, embellishes the very fog! The night I fled the
satyriasis clinic I tripped over the chaise on which lay a diva in sequins
festooning her groin. This is, in opera, why we fall in love.
The lump is nothing. Kapok! Kerchoo!
I arrive in my fantasies to puds that taste like lobster Cantonese. They
part from my person, these lovely women do, as if from their livers by teaspoons
That's where I slip up, filling leakproof bags with teaspoonsful of liver-scoop.
'Midst libidinous mayhem, the trees embody poise, the rocks, indifference.
I am abloom in sea-level diction. Meanwhile,
Off to the Left
trees feigning interest, roots inert. I propose to explore this deistic imagery,
stopping - who knows? - at lupine Love.
I once was of the equestrian stratum. My mandate and I, we wore the dusty
orange, saunt'ring-about-in-irregular-ovals jodhpurs. Toward what unknowable
end? Who is so handy in the fog to retrofit the droplets? And that's when
you ask, So who names the flowers? Who gives a flying fuck! This is poetry,
not some goddam seed catalog! Better we take the Symbolist's Way, e.g., Swift
flows the Night wi'Lessons dew-&-moonbeam-kissed! One sees one's role
as ahorticultural. One celebrates meat, forebears wi'loins by Longing engorged!
The noise mom and dad made dropping dead on the piano when I told them I'm
adopted, that's music too. Sea-level orderliness stands silhouetted against
one's foggy homeland, where they wear homespun snoods and call each other
At Home Awaiting Callers
From a satisfactory station in life, awash in vitality, a passerby plunges
onto Helmut's spiked helmet, thence to ghostliness. Helmut's appeal to a speech
therapist: 'I require your athistanth in pronounthing a rethent acquaintanth
dead.' The ghost, poor soul, throws noiseless fits. Bonded to its phantom
feet, the skull goes bobbing down the street, luncheon still between its teeth.
Bride of Jesus
At a snail's-pace calamity, all in due time stinks. Faugh, what's the rush?
I recoil into your sanctuary, Destiny. It's all for Art, this anxious Thirst.
If you must spit in my face, try missing.
Spitting in the Hand that Feeds You
Like the rocks you imagine in bird-like flight, this too gets you nowhere.
Enthusiasts come and go, outlanders o'th'vale wi'th'wee, trembling tree. From
the orchestra pit rises the tragic motive of vengeance, jealousy and death,
booming forth in terrible significance.
Spitting in the Hand that Feeds Me Too
Back where stoodst th'Citadel drear, gardens dark water'd by Tears.
I cannot go on.
Wrong! Ich bin der Geist der stets verneint! Helmut ogles ampoules by starlight!
We needs must flee the faery wood, jaw set, visor down! Push-pins! Cork!
The French Dip
What vistas lie ahead, tra la, the red sun over my Mystery Shoulder! I am
galloping alongside a French dip. A strange, extraneous sound intrudes. Riches
mayhap, rattling about an old coffee tin! Not bloody likely! snickers the
horse. I know you're there, horse, I can hear you. Besides, I can see you
under my crotch. The words echo through the dark forest. The wee woodland
The residents of French Dip, Louisiana line up mornings face to face, rain
or shine, pick up their opposites, on odd-number days, the line to the west,
on even, the east. Passerby gulls, plodding south, these playthings of the
fickle wind, see none of this. 'Tis the Delta beyond for which they long,
to cushion exhaustion, supine, arms open.
Expressions of Sympathy
A hasty expression of sympathy to the dirk decapitating you on its assignment's
conclusion is simply wrong-headed. O fortunate who rise up off topsoil and
fly, how I envy you! Nobody I know e'en levitates. We lack a genetic predisposition.
But I do have these mental paddles to row with toward Conclusion. What is
one to make, en route, of life's little sight-gags? Over there, for example,
a tableau carved in diseased Dutch elm depicting an Irish wolfhound urinating
on Wulf, a personage of Teutonic extraction, in a dogwood's dappled shade.
Ugh! I like to imagine the music to these edge-dwelling moments as the shrill
of the referee's whistle at a cosmic free-for-all. Thus do phantom palaces
surprises make of minds. A surprise well crafted fabled Atlantis approximates,
by pint per scoop gained or, as dry measure, the parable of Patience thinking
about outwitting Enormity. Like sutures sealing a mistress's charms, this
too leads to productive bemusement.
One marks descent from apogee with a poor imitation of bugled retreat through
pursed lips squeaked. You I invite to my tree so felled with birds' nests
at somnambulists aimed.
What, Exactly, Are We Looking for Here in the Nest?
Don't ever call me Pierre! My true name cowers in the dark, slowly going
sour, give or take an hour. One, fabled Atlantis sinks, two, it's gone, three,
get over it. We see these things more clearly in daylight: After the pseudonymous
Pierre bloodies the nose of his identical twin, the true blue Pierre, he stomps
melons plump with seed. And so from snits flies usefulness. Thuggery thus
their overture - who can say what drives one to action? - the passersby gather
strange flora and fauna. A curious soup!
The Knot in the Neck
The knot in the neck in daydreams I kiss, in
bed, on a chair, toes enclosed, hat under hair. Living
shellfish t'th'nines are dressed in homespun
rock, toes in sand sunk, topknot, hat.
Recant your devotion to my apex-aimed person, and, yes, I will whimper just
like a human. I arrive, I depart, and why is that, O? Like your hat, I play
a dual role: I cap imagination (restraint) and signal removal (to excess,
Right Here off My Desk
Damn damn dammit damn! They've gone and filched the surrender leaflets right
here off my freaking desk! Had I not already decided against writing about
Clausewitz, this wrongdoing might well have filled the bill. Yet I continue
to think of Clausewitz when I sit here at my desk distracted by the memory
of my filched surrender leaflets. I conduct the flow of nostalgia with a boxcar
axle I found whilst flourishing literal roses under figurative noses.
Gazing upward, a foolish environmentalist asks a big, leafy tree, Well, what
next? Where to now? Come again? A big, leafy tree drops a bough on a foolish
environmentalist's head. Well, what next? the concussed dunce asks in his
big, leafy cap. Waste not, want not: camouflage!
Ach! Hot damn! Wehe mir! They are dropping fresh surrender leaflets right
here on my treehouse desk! It's all over for me, struggling with Poetry, which,
held up to Life, is but colored lard on a week-old scone! After the disaster,
the surviving passersby simmer ill-smelling herbs and slimy, crawly things.
A curiously fucked up soup! The candle gutters, dies. Pierre hears someone
- something - shlup-shlupping out there in the dark. One eats the fucked up
soup, falls gravely ill and is rescued from oblivion by a fucked-up-soup patrol
in FUSR trained (fucked-up-soup resuscitation).
Returned to hardihood, one wants to know about the Then. After all, it is
our road. We slink about the countryside dreaming of the population we'd like
to sire with these lovely, olive-complected indigenes. We hug the coast like
periwinkles. A five-story H with dish antennae affixed to the verticals serves
as our guide. Since ninety percent of the landscape is stark, it is difficult
to ignore the odd creamy spots. There in a dogwood's shadow, an unappetizing
mound. Faute de mieux, we turn our gaze to dawn dissolving the snowmen. One
had thought them sentries posted about th'impermanent frost. The chicken I
ordered arrives as an egg. Too early
Like a wheel of fragrant cheese, I order the miles with noticeability. Follow
that sunset, nose! No, no, imbecile, that one! The nation's flag flutters
from a flagstaff. A clockface on a tower peeps through thick-massed foliage;
below on the lawn, memorial cannonballs stacked like waxed goudas. A snake-like
train curves distantly and pauses, feeling out the terrain. A steamboat rounds
a far-off bend and pauses, taking in the view. O'erlooking the lawn with its
stacked cannonballs, an equestrian bronze, Blue-Ribbon Stallion Assisting
Pillar of the Community to His Manifest Destiny, which might do as the heart
of a billboard-large canvas were it not for the haste these cheek-by-jowl
The Mandibles in Question
Excellency, the mandibles in question are chewing up hectares of quaint countryside.
Projectiles a-whistling fly, criss-crossing the lovely geography. If you are
quick, glints you'll detect where they intersect with sunbeams bright, for
silver is the shot vis-à-vis lycanthropy and a victorious army's ostentations.
Why are we such a warlike species, I ask myself as I part my balm from its
makeshift stopper, a remarkably small pacifist who, like fabled Atlantis,
suffers from apocrypha. Poetry inquires into these pearly, daylit moments,
along with shadowy motives, dings, dents and cracks, but urban sewage grids?
Please say no. Alas, yes, urban sewage grids. Ars longa.
Excuse me, miss, a wee flake of rogue shit inquires, if I study how to do
things right, do you think we might be friends?
They fly, my friend, these bits of rogue shit. Who'd have thought it? It
may be that you are correct. A lull in the discourse. Both men wait on one
foot each. A third party blasts the quaint countryside in which the diminutive
bottle stopper and his rather larger friend are standing on one foot each
to itsy-bitsy pieces, marking an end to land reforms, but - always! toujours!
- another beginning.
They Are Young, Itsy-Bitsy and at Peace
They are young, etc., they eat off placemats. They take care of their teeth.
The sky is blue and so am I.
Spewing coleslaw, bridgework, mayhap the tongue, the face goes slack, eyes
dim, teeth yellow, wobble, crumble: the melancholic reads the obits. (As he
does not fold the journal, from the side opposite, save for fingers, he is
invisible. Not transparent; rather, concealed.)
Rocking the Dwelling
Is't a lover's pulse rocking the dwelling, metronome to crumbling walls,
or passerby footsteps, stride-tic synchronous? A pulse, Sir Isaac, beleaguers
the house, the very stains desert the sheets! Talk about La Juif errant!
I used to own a five-story-high, cast-iron (exclusive of ornamentation) get-well
greeting card that made me sick to look at. It also made me sick to see Satan
en route from In Transition to Angel Fallen, sockets spewing eyeballs like
marbles, ergo, all-seeing. He's in the forest now, is Satan, painting birches
with little black stripes. A contemplative fellow in the main, he screeches
now and again.
Jersey? Where? The people under the bed are noisy. It is midnight. I bite
off my hat.
The Formal Stemware
Above the formal stemware's tinkle, one hears the sputter of passerby wraiths.
Little wraith, wert someone's chère grand-mère e'er? But no,
you are slapped out of sight by an asteroidal wraith, in life, a perky, hairy,
insouciant wench. One studies this traffic where multitudes smirk, eager tails
wagging, sniffing buttocks fleetingly; where wraiths, disconcerted, off edges
drop according to some cosmic directive. The poet, he hears them bitching
en route. This acuity isn't for everyone.
The Wedding Party
One discovers the bridegroom glans-deep in pickles. Camouflage. He plucks
at your sleeve. You must never force your way into a woman life, says he.
You may find your way in; out, I think not. Place the beloved's nose on your
chest. Start frolicking. Alternate with the Leakproof Seal, a mouth-to-mouth
mutation of carnivorous sea mammal turning heads off. As an expression of
duration fled, Crunch, munch, you're dead! is harsh.
The bride is for me a shelter skin-clad, delectable yes, but haughty. What
part, precisely, was it I played? A disposable foghorn? A knot in the string
about a box enclosing inedibles? The door through which, on Bastille Day,
to pitch snowballs from the freezer at passersby en route to fiendish vivisectionists?
Love precedes a mulch contemplation, mirrors precedents, curdles galaxies.
Call me Fred, I don't mind, but mention in passing, confused underdog, how
heart-minted sighs tenant a chest, absent surgery, swelling with parts too
large for swallowing.
Hello, Babushka Bean!
Hello, Babushka Bean!
Love invites palpation, with and without formalities, precedes a mulching,
curdles phlegm. A horticultural slut palpates peniswort. Two steps away, worrywort
frets. Bone-chilling screams disrupt the milieu, the formal garden surges
and churns - a mighty horde of blossoms from tranquility departs!
A blossom there is Aleuts call smudge, for th'ice it smudges all too soon,
O, too soon. Blossoms veldts blanket like squadrons of fragrant red-ass baboons.
Elsewhere yearns a bloom at flophouse window grimy, O, for a limply flowery
noodle i'th'trash below. A small surgical spadelet aids in removing these
randomly antipodal, bright-hued thoughts, blossoms harvested - dig, dig, hoop
la! - from a brain as tidy as a rock garden
Your encouragement, Stella Maris, true wert and remains. I make no answer
t'objections ahead, begriming horizons. Ample panting. So are you. She rows
me away, trailing oar-inflicted wounds. Stow your perturbation, landlubber
reader, water soon heals. I restore my seaman's pantaloons o'er helpful Helmut,
mere minutes ago a bowsprit's part playing. A golden ray, darling, from a
seam in the gloaming on our salt-water loving O flattering would be! We are
not gods, true, yet neither are we these lust-propelled lemurs, each shining
its electric eye on th'object o'desire's groin, disquieting Bonin passersby.
The sea lion sighs, O sea, what's the use? Wild poets have their scrotums
and wombs, as the gendered case may be. Dozens set out to French kiss ideas.
The horizon choked with spots becomes, always becomes, always, ewig. Yes,
no question, this really and truly amazing is, but the next thought's steamboat's
just 'round the bend, and we are not adequate.
Everywhere You Look
Everywhere you look, boulders. Everywhere else you look, lentils. The contrast
boggles the mind.
Shirley Isn't Ready, or The Inattentive Sand Dollar: Nature on a Budget
Instead of a sweeping, Russified agony, we detect a lady (Shirley) standing
by the roadside, thumb up, thumb down, thinking she has everything, though
she has nothing, is everybody's plaything and bananas in the bargain. Poof!
Now she is the Sad-Eye-of-Love-Outbound-But-Where? with an equivocal H adorning
her head up there in the treehouse-teahouse. Very well, perhaps she is a perishable
transient, but the Office of Love imperishable dwells at its permanent, pubic
Definition by lineament: Shirley isn't ready.
And how exactly, when you heard, did you display your regret for time gone
by, squandered, fled. Here. Not now. Here. Not now. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
An echo's echo's echo, a thrice removed nephew's
You recall tastes, vibrations, the gala bell-bottoms you wore, the focus
knob you fussed with, waiting for Shirley to get ready. Now you are - well,
different. The wandering Jewish grocer's dead. His little boy turned gray
before he, too, passed away. The heart you carved in the old pin oak a cardio-vascular
system became, or rather its representation in bark. You wrote the story,
finally, about how Shirley fell asleep in Helmut's House of Sarcophagi, two
steps down from Mason's Canary. You pondered what you heard, and then you