From newspaper, custom, and pillows
a swan built a nest for detecting air currents
and memory gusts that blossom 3-D into a tail:
cream cheese stained with strawberries.
Mother pecked cheeks to feed.
Hawthorn wrote the way with pond water
and shade, but the ennui in privilege
parented the sensitivity to the blotting
in daily rituals and to steeples gathering
upon a carriage leaving town.
Countryside folded into the brainstem.
Steeped in tears the down neck
on Marcel gives way to out-stretched
wings and each feather detailed
permitting the rider to linger above
the petite concerns that peopled Combry.
Just Outside The Pied Cow
Thus talked Zarathustra in the city he loved, which is surnamed “The Pied Cow.”
Most camels don’t survive to children.
Beasts of burden pace the desert
of dragon scales as house cats. The weight
of family alone makes rising from the doomed
a crushing heave for the bulk. “You shall,
you shall” flares from the bellies
of teachers and police until manes
and backbones spread as backyard mulch.
Spitting at a front lawn refreshes the first
insult. The reptile plants its neighborhood
claim for humps of youth sunning themselves
for a load. Fierce devotion to chimeras
and to the play of a knight on a dune
calls to Ovid’s bedtime readers before
they are buried or eaten. World heeders
“truth is that which makes a people certain, clear, and strong.” Martin Heidegger
Thrown into wild life, the clearing
defines authenticity from city.
Where else could the human
condition be? Meadows rubbing elbows
worked together enough in sunlit patches
wholly owned. As soon as pastures
linked arms, bad faith polluted
with rumor, reputation, and coercion.
Angst all around responsibility fled
into inter-state expressways for delusion
and paved complaint into compliant.
Asphalt, concrete, steel, and glass
relieved guilt with distraction.
(Facebook tapped into folk
and mirrors when alienation
invaded with cyberspace.) Time
and place squeezed lives into mobs
ripe for marketers. Harvested green
from limbs, most gifts and dreams
fertilized futility for propheteering,
a science able to rationalize
anything and believe nothing.
Their togas off, Marx and Freud wrestled
round two (?) for a hundred years. This time
nurture nearly pinned nature until the dirty
tricks we all know too well were executed.
Generosity would have walked away the victor
of rich and poor had private property and its
modest crown of silence not been so wiry.
With the bourgeoisie drawing on the mean
every day, family values, for its strength
and endurance, maneuvered muscle at the price
of the freedom of women. The middle class
won, but Plato got up smiling and brushed
himself off for another day. Aristotle went
into retail, and though the rest remains
history, the tectonic learners may yet find
their way out of the cortex of their cave.
Turning the pages of books into streets
and corridors, the starving Theseus winds
to where the bureaucratic Minotaur
awaits each reader. Lost in a bad dream’s
penitentiary, a beetle-shelled scapegoat
recognizes his wandering a solitary confinement’s
mad scheme and leads the protagonist’s call
for human responsibility. Estranged
from the guards and prisoners, the accused
artist on both sides of the ink hungers
for a balanced family, a woman’s touch
on any scale. Instead, the engaged lover
of life gives it up for a freedom just
beyond suffering father’s suffocation.
Love and Death in Granada
The crowd that flowed over London Bridge
rattled castanets in the Granada Streets:
By day as civil servants
and by night an arm pledged
to the Civil Guard that butchered fruit trees.
The Catholic Church buried the innocence.
Gacela and casida hung from limbs.
Ants took up positions within poems,
docile but capable without a word.
The walking dead resisted every breath
but horded oxygen from reading rooms
in the normal world.
The bitter root rejected imagination
and filled the bullfighting stadium
where friends feigned danger.
Wrapping typing paper around
a boot showcased the night with spurs
that invaded gypsy city and the moon.
Most bones cannot somnambulant alone
when stopping the river
from singing about an apple.
Lips part and then the jaw drops,
and the guitar suffers the swords,
while constellations, pistols.
The refrain: Each line after frowns.
Owning the Terrier
Shell shocked, each Europe
picked through the rubble remains
for the genuine. Cities ducked
at thunder and nations drank
to forget. The island tail
that once wagged a mighty big dog
began to shake, and the canine
started to suffer dissociative
identity disorder. The implosion
called homecoming doubled
as victory. The Agamemnon family
troubles landed men in living-hell
onto bayoneted fences
or into the panoptic cells.
Clarissa wandered rocks for flowers.
For lack of Guinea,
brilliant women regret
or sally with five big sons.
Psychosis may have held
melancholy prose poems
hostage for new language
that only XX could articulate.
The time had come to regard
less the canon than to form English
before a tongue became a yawp.
“Come On Down”
“In short, they denied that we had ever been that hag-ridden populace a part of which was daily fed into a furnace and went up in oily flames, while the rest, in shackled impotence, waited their turn.” Albert Camus
In the stands at the Coliseum the emperor
ignores thumbs and from his perch squishes
victims as though each were a bug. The fans
like to think that the food for lions has been
retired a decade, but saber teeth are also
sharpened on the bones of children
and middle-aged women. The sand at
the bottom of the arena’s pit plucks random
audience members or swallows whole sections
of seated citizens. Distracting themselves
from each loss, family and friends commiserate
or peer through fingers at the carnage.
The crowd gathers at the concession stand
bottleneck where the customer of inevitability
pays with a life to feed the complacent face
of change. Every body enjoys an ice-cold cheer.
Round the Block Toward Camus
The stone and hill wait for a reply
or to mark a death. The higher
ground never understands the granite
pushed into a place: The peak pinches,
and the boulder bowls over
so that a businessman chases a crag.
Again the weight matters
in the valley where the crust ore slab
test mettle, and the bone wears
before the slag that seems to snowball
upward. If effort achieved.
If purpose had bedrock or reef
where the engineer jerry-rigs
a hurtling geology that owns
mind and body. Relief eases
at the pivoting foot, the short poem
defying the gods before quarry
and renewed query. At bottom,
rocking with a diamond in mind
and anthracite at hand and shoulder,
the rebel without pause smiles
while the clock budges.
From the mountains of wheat
to unmined coasts of milk and money
thoughts are empty of wailing bellies.
The air is grimy with snacks and booze
on the fat that belches townhouse and ranch
and movement cripples a creeping hand
while rocketing chains and expensive pain.
Among cropless bowls and wilting bodies
wall-to-wall living rooms a moment away are dragged
but not a kernel is shaken from wallpaper eyelids
left with magazine pinups selling soap.
In the churches of cones, gingerbread, and beans
the dieting and lonely gathering mid-week
cover their mouths with bored hands
and cups of decaf coffee.
The home movie of the fenced-in putting
green surrounding a house of sticks puts
a nation to sleep, so that if anyone wakes
he is without the bacon to buy back his life.
Franklin’s promise of original self-crafted
homo sapiens was buried among pages
of fiction to be disinterred by desperate
shovelers. Mass produced husbands
and wives spray lacquer on each
of the conveyer belt’s children and lose
them on continental shelves. The people
of ceramic molds fear the feeling of
their bodies in their hands in order to keep
a thought of their own from adding or subtracting.
Too few lumps of clay from the land of the free
find their way to a hand of the brave.
Brush with Exposure
The path to trust troubles footing,
lashes eyes with jetted tendrils.
Each step in the manual for the ability
to be vulnerable includes no directions.
Flagstones, one-legged pink flamingoes,
or the Virgin in an upended bath tub
camouflages shame from curb
to front door, behind which secrets fester.
Judges stand at every window
with megaphones and sit idling
in police cruisers pointing fingers.
Balance and the willingness to share
any berth along the way doesn’t clear
thicket but provides shoulders
and similar stories. For instance, race
and sexuality may slow the engendering
blame game to a joke. Keys to assurance lock
nothing but open to revise, revise, revise.
Now, the Fashion Celebrity
Collecting reports from senses,
the spinning wheel looms.
The fibers tangling into thread
include the unconscious records
as well as might be.
Without a spindle each faculty
roams alone, even at home.
Quicker than ticker-tape
and no thicker than silk,
the present slips into something
more comfortable, and the spider
backs into a corner once again.
Yet, a spool will pause to put
the evidence in order, even if
the participant must live in the past
with the paparazzi.
Clothed with an intricate monogram,
each audience member remains on stage
until the craftsmanship unravels.
While a second hand
makes a round and firsthand
heads for the hills, experience
rewrites a history.
Neither Rhyme nor Season
The untimely artistic energy gushes
from wells drilled with great regret
miles below the tourist industries.
Souvenir shops and motels
occupy the tuned in hearts
thumping to mouth-watering iambs
on pop stations. The refineries
for raw talent stockpile ambition
and sublimation for cities and suburbs
that tour universities and Hallmark
for factory prints. Every means
has been tried and every expense
continues in an attempt
to stem at its human source the accident
spewing with paint, ink, noise, even stone
at a studio here and writing desk there.
The unrecognizable products
from dispersant sheen teens
and tar-balled gunk punks
carry regret boons and exotic sorrow
as the thrill babies thrill using thumbs
and temp-jobs to paper over
the oops career destined to hang
on a bank vault walls in 50 years.
The plumes from the slick poetry pipe
stop as natural gas in each exhales,
but not without the disaster welling up
in someone else deep beneath
the marketing hustle bustle
punching holes in fin and flesh.
Postmodern Martial Arts
With what we don’t have flaunted all around.
Gnats taunting garbage. False sincerity
igniting rats. Gucci, Gucci goo. Malaise
stuck on the heel of a shoe fills nostrils.
Gross domestic happiness
waves its mortgage to waive fear
for mayonnaise. The flow charts.
Feet look sewer. Acquisitions and enjoyments
rev their motives while waiting for the third
generation cowboy. “Come down off a cloud
named Silver.” US cash total 300,000 =
the 150 million meek. What’s wrong
with the unimaginative tells the street people
how lucky the dead are not. Earth
my word my witness. Deregulated violence
drones it Tasers: gawking testicles,
not Moloch moms spoiling dinner,
children, and their own lives. Get hip
and walk a mile. The beat survives
on bread alone. Too late to wake up man.
The buses for one leave their curves.
The dear in headlights pushes hope
with its eye out all made up.
Fright or Flight
Citizens of secret cities polish floors
beneath their beds with the crisp fronts
of shirts. Skies of springs and foam
held up by posts and frames never rain
and no god sags in the clouds drawing
the wrath of outdoor threats. The snow
of interiors piles high in shoes. Bootstraps
are put to rest. The safety first students
graduated from under desks and frequent
fliers shifted their compartments from
between their knees. Chased by a sense
of fear, mop heads show up for work
and crawl after pay checks. Backbones
of dust cloths never stood against evil’s
thin air in an epoch of blue capes
and telephone booths on every corner;
two sets of neighboring eyes have
never confronted each other at
the attitude of between five and six feet.
When delivering democracy
from 10,000 feet, purveyors know
all parties below tip and receive a slice
straight from the oven
without a chance to scatter.
But then, before hell rang the doorbell,
the men mixing tomato sauce
in the kitchens on foundations
had addresses to populations
and orders also: The pot
had been simmering
to a boil a long time.
Pizzazz thrown in the air
sits flat with extra cheese
or the works on top in a box.
When the box flies open,
the smell is unmistakable:
Nothing sells like the sell in the morning.
On paper, the meal with map and driver
could feed the world and may,
even considering home-made concoctions
ready to spice up the messengers.
The average citizen dipping
a finger in the tomatoes and oregano
casts a vote and everybody else knows.
The dough spreads around
when everyone thinks
about a pie peace.
Burnt remnants fade from memory.
The Wait for Lame Excuses
The lopsided war
between the tribal
and infantilized peoples
continues until the men
with spears, spare time,
and misogyny wound themselves.
The lollipop populations
hand out diapers
to hunters in slings.
The happy ending
that thumb suckers demand
comes in various flavors,
but it arrives.
gather here and there in the hills
to lob disasters
when schoolyards fill
so that lessons lapse unlearned.
Hopscotch and jackstones
pass the time for fabled hares
with car keys waiting
for accidental injury.
When Brute Billy comes
looking for first aid,
the conflict subsides
and Nancy Nurse Coerce cuts
a deal so that the nap mats
absorb another playmate
with a life expectancy.