What you owe your body

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What you owe your body
Is more than you
can provide

It will eventually
wander away from you,

end up
standing to one side
like a party’s incidental guest
unsure whether she is speaking to the host

still mad
about
the abstract betrayal
as you
played keep-away, or pounced again
and again
on your best friend’s
long
shadow
on the platform
waiting for your train
late that afternoon

and you said nothing

again and again

One day there you’ll be
lost with longing for
that playful noncommittal love
you had back
when your body
fit you like a glove
late that afternoon
waiting

 

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I viewed a knight errant; he was

It's a labyrinth by Joris Louwes - 7090758467_a3045477dc_z

I viewed a knight errant; he was
dressed in humble garb; he
knelt gingerly upon the sidewalk
avoiding cracks and mumbling
as if in contemplation;
a mantle of plastic wrap
he clenched about his shoulders
like a favor, a sturdy buckler
of greasy cardboard
pinned between his elbow and
ribcage (on the left wide
where he keeps his heart);
his shoes sprung but serviceable;
his equipage stowed in ample pockets.

From the bent of his spine
and his questing gaze
I guessed he was seeking
a suitable weapon
and a world worthy of his service.

 

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The Lives of the Poets

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Ogden Nash
As a poet was brash
His lines rushed out in a lengthy and seemingly unstoppable torrent
And his rhymes were abhorrent.

Ezra Pound
Wrote verse difficult and profound
The fact that even he couldn’t figure it out
Should suffice to remove any doubt.

Edward Lear
Was rather queer.
But of course, the word had a different meaning back then
So instead, one should simply say that he preferred men.

Edmund Clerihew Bentley
Died discontently
Aware that decent rhymes for Clerihew
Are, alas, very few.

Edna St. Vincent Millay
Was heard on occasion to say
That only the author of Euclid’s Elements
Had ever seen Beauty without habiliments.

 

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I heard of a girl who told

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I heard of a girl who told that she was haunted by her father
even when he was still alive
she was a Lesbian and lived in Berlin
back when you’d still capitalize Lesbian
like there was a homeland you’d visit some day
she’d let you know her father had more than one quirk

That man’s name goes in a drawer, was a thing he’d say

I heard she told that her father was unforgiving
unforgiving like God, that kind of unforgiving
I heard she was the kind who stayed careful always
not to allow love to overcome
respect for distance
and recognized that after all people, they are dangerous
even if they never act, even if they smile
and that you’ll never know everything wrong with the world

That man’s name goes in a drawer, her father would say

not to beat around the bush
I heard after her father pulled the trigger
they opened the drawer, sure enough it was full of names
I heard that was always the end of her story
but I believe it must have left her to wonder
what else that her father had said was going to come true

That man’s name goes in a drawer, that’s what he used to say

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You were a work of fiction

don't let life pass you by aka do as i say and not as i do - 32326765120_4792093069_z

you were a work of fiction
you were a solo cloud
baiting the Lord
with your sourest word
sure that His sword
was as light as a feather

you were clever and light
you had spent time underground
wasting your breath
in singing, your health
in fucking, your death
in not caring to go on forever

you were still somebody’s baby
you were a commonplace book
you rode the rails
you might have gone through hell
in the end you sat down on a tumbledown wall
we sat there together

you were as sure as a bird
you kept your friends to themselves
you had that place near Paris
you had a brother who called us
your cousin bent God’s ear
but we brought you a plastic tiara

* * *

you were a fiction
light as a feather
you were a sword
baiting the Lord
let’s sit here forever
singing your health

 

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Honest Al got a yard full of cars

Honest Al's - Google Streetview

Honest Al got a yard full of cars
always tells the truth
about them anyway he wouldn’t
bother to lie about a thing like that
if Honest Al wasn’t being
honest he’d probably just tell you
anyway This one’s a piece of crap
you want it?

got a junkyard and a junkyard
dog an alley and alleycats
got sufficient military firepower
for this neighborhood because
you know you never know
Honest is one thing but
no rule you gotta be stupid too
got a lot of other shit

to deal with too like banks
and trucks and insurance
and taxes and traffic
and rising sea levels and
bad air and this raised
brown spot on my arm
it’s been there
a while it’s probably nothing

anyway

Honest Al’s going to the beach
to lie in the sun for a while
forget his problems watch kids play
and read some fucking poetry

 

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Nobody ever went to jail

Robinson_Jeffers_Hawk_Tower,_Tor_House,_Carmel,_CA_2008_Photo_by_Celeste_Davison

faith is a coherent structure
of lies, but the insistent
endless inhuman beauty
of things is incoherent truth

and nobody ever went to jail
for making well-wrought urns
but not by these
shall we come to glory

mumbled the old man squatting
in his handlaid tower
looking out over the sea-churn
high up and foreseeing everything

including its inevitability

.

then standing stretching
walked away from what should
have been the tied-off
end of it all

descended the stairs
stepped over the doorjamb
walked into town
to buy groceries and gin

the traditional unwilling challenger
impassioned, nearly all-powerful
but drunk with it
hardly a friend to humanity

ruining everything like always

.

always doing that one more thing

 

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When you’d died

Clutter - Jonas Ahrentorp - 753826914_9fa84941c4_z

When you’d died
and they’d taken you away
and burnt you next day
all we were left with
was your whole life

packed in between the walls
nothing thrown away
nothing recycled
everything jumbled
interconnected
inextricable

a path through it
doors that opened or shut
boxes drawers cupboards
dressers trunks folders
presses shelves
garages attics

I’d think I knew you

revolvers
cast-iron pans
bank statements
photos in cigar boxes
notebook lists of anecdotes
from the presidents’ lives

then find another thing

jar full of beard trimmings
secret mailorder magazines
bag of your own teeth

ticked list with the dates
of every half- or quarter-cigarette
you’d smoked recently
which were smoked with Larry

boxes of paperbags
medals bills
diagnoses
draft wills

that letter that ashtray
that hint of a romance
or was it nothing at all

in the end
all that was possible
was to just invent you
and say I’d known
that man

 

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The Museum Elephants

Elephant in Rotunda of Smithsonian Natural History Museum

Within the murmurous expanse
Beneath the bas-relief-ringed dome
The taxidermied elephants
Reign over their eternal home:

With tiles for the grass-giving earth;
For sun-burnt destinations, walls.
Eight times a week, the monkey mirth
Of school groups echoes through the halls

While in and out the galleries
Architectonically discrete
The docents’ high-toned rhapsodies
Contend with sounds of scuffling feet.

And once a month someone comes in
Brushes the dust from wrinkled skin
Sweeps cobwebs from the painted skies
And polishes the glittering eyes.

 

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