Random, or non-thematically related poems, written after my last collection, Mystery Plays. Here also are three series: the Corey Jack poems, set in the 1980s, and following a sociopathic opportunist, with a second identity under which to store his criminal acts…in the days before the internet age (now everyone has an alter-ego); the TV culture poems, riffs on the familiar storytelling habits of Boomer-era entertainment; Bride to Be, an early medieval romance.

 


 

Uncollected Poems

Omnibus

 

Almond eyes narrow skulls invested to the bone

with tabby stripes sympathetic nerves unstrung

he seems to have no point of origin orbiting trapped

in a pattern of questioning until nothing sticks

a galactical visitor he feels himself

to whom all strangers may be friends

foodstuffs, tumors, kin

the soul’s integrity thinly netted

even the assistant an angel in disguise

her eyes with a wise reaches-of-the-solar-system condemnation

heartless for she hasn’t got one

pity that it can’t be helped

she is the aggregation of dust

before this novelty had led, skittish, his thoughts astray

and when he turned his head away, stared after him

sickened at the space between things so insistent on its need

to be respected all along the map has been there

our limited visual spectrum

fear of a falling plane

now gravity is playing tricks

all along the map has been

a pocket of resistance in the lee of

a floating omnibus ten thousand times its size

 

 


 

Uncollected Poems

Peeled

 

Apparency is the means into the mind

Dreary the mood of an overheated October

Afternoon and no escape

The crowd all move together

Did the nape clench

With premonition

Knowing this thing coming

Will roll

Like the spinning wheel of a wrecked

Bicycle a slammed brake

Damned if the distractor does

Damned if she doesn’t

Everyone running for the bus

the tsunami mounting

 

the front to front of pivot man

and threat he thinks I’ve got to do my best

it’s all I can reporters on the scene

with no equipment any phone thrust

in a face with camera on

now apparently he’ll need to wrestle through

growing narrow in his focus growing stake

with every tussle

almost lost the admonition

keep your eyes peeled

 

 


 

Uncollected Poems

Narrowing the Path

 

They came from stock of second, third, fourth best

They let it be, temptation’s shoulder squeeze (less of you, more for me)

Seeing unarticulated safety in hearing mirror likenesses giggle

Seeing an alter ego seem to nod approval

Everything cited some dense trick of the enemy

Every foolish ritual worth engaging, a sign of not caring

Even the thought of one thrown in the ditch still breathing

Even the sense a choice must slot in like a game piece

That innocents, the soles of their shoes never gummed with

That hair, that grain of sand, those things of time and place condemning

Freedom is a winged passerby too light to spring the trap

Freedom, which seems like peace, is uninvolvement

Always it had been true you could not circle in this pattern

Always it had been known that certain things you must deny

You bent in a wind and came carved in the ways it shaped you

You leave a catacomb of thin warning narrowing the path

 

 


 

Uncollected Poems

The Minister of Inaction

 

The minister of inaction

Keeps perch en pointe, soft chamois slippers toe the orb

That bald pate of Oz, antiquity’s ruler-deity

Admired with gentle pity by explorers

Dust devil sands have scoured him to ivory

Your hope in stealing close to shelter from the dreary sun

Curled to a ball in the cavern

of the monumental nostril

Is to make your petitioning steps disturb

Grain by grain, only, pittering a limited

Release of sound that can’t be shocking

Therefore, hearing, he may climb down

He has been known, when falling

To snuff, hitting earth, into invisibility

or whirl off inside the funnel

 

The funnel of some great engine

Towers canting, tiny cinders tout calamity

Parachute to light the house-tops

With a wink of orange

Unseasonable changes in velocity

Shudder into fissures already formed

Flatten yourself against the cornerstone

While concreted facing-work comes down

 

Stories come down from distant places

Where buses and marches searing heat and inundation

Bearing death in life

and asking

can a stranger suffer

not as you

 

 


 

Uncollected Poems

Refuge of Scoundrels

 

I am fidelity locked in the shell

Of a barnacle, no bounding sea shall

Pry me from the pier

The pier itself then topple in the tempest

And there, still for the hell of me, until the bout’s end bell

I clamp on like a manacle, like a thousand

pounds times a thousand pounds times a

thousand pounds of steel

That feels like success concealed

Gas and poison when the ice cap melts

Begin a slow, slow barrel roll

A yellow stream ekes snaking out

Spiraling subterranean embers

Shaping themselves in the knots of a net

Trash and treason blistering welts

Rise and splash filling rubber boots

Again the crust is soft as a waffle cone

By the poise of a broken vessel’s shard is stapled

Wiring drilled in the plates of the cranial dome

And still a snot of protoplasm bides faithful

Couched in the pit of a gnarled heart

Pebble-dashed under the gothic gable

Grown in obdurance stone by stone

Here writ the name of the formative nation

Refuge of scoundrels

patriotism

 

 


 

Uncollected Poems

Now Requesting Action

 

All places unbelongers unbelong

Equally are home, all household words

Equal to expression of mundanity

Unworldly this household is freeheld

Like the angle of a cell constructs a shell

Like a marriage of two fiefdoms must

Superadd a garment to a crust

The foot inside the boot sold for a song

One simple trick divines the flight of birds

See Want bug sunken eyes in allegory

And bedtime stories’ heroines bedight

with crowns of former enemies, by right

of dwarfen morals lab’rously proclaimed

or beauty’s smile pickaxed from a vein

The choicest perch for pickets potting rooks

A bridge of antic conscripts aids a crosser

Survivor not opposed to shed a tear

Sackably this smallhold horded over

Dearth of officers surplus of soldiers

Sparking down the wire tears

the SOS

Now requesting action

 

 


 

Uncollected Poems

A Chatterbug’s Memoires

 

Before self-anointing try a means test

Have conference with the ash tree’s railing leaves

The dying fighter not yet wholly girdled

A corpse of heartwood chip by chip stripped clean

Bad tidings brought by an agent of the bourse

Make every act of treason underpay

Chapters of a chatterbug’s memoires

A shallow inflow floats a tug cross-channel

The salty dog’s crow’s feet and cheeks empurpled

Empaneled to assess this loss A-plus

Typifiers of their class breathe in

Gasses sweated from the borer’s skin

 

Remorse the last effective incantation

The fault that saves itself by being spoken

Piecemeal reprieves attrit into salvations

And manifestos detailed point by point

Fail in unfriendly execution

We forget

Tiny machines will wax and wane

Filling every pore

And would remain

 

 


 

Uncollected Poems

Forbidden Fruit

 

Reincarnate from a molting-pod, as you were a jacket

folding into its own hood, a chrysalis

peeling an old pied skin then ratchet

ratchet like a whalebone corset

Worked up from the foot, past the hips

Hung by the nervy grip of the brainstem

Here you have crown and root

Ladder to a swaying over-weighted limb

Tantalus’s pomegranate, Eve’s forbidden fruit

You might expect this she-disease

Of finding proofs

a chronic ear cocked to a shaman’s woofs

writ on water had annoyed her

you can get it, under skin and breath

contending on a turkey bone

to wish the owner of the fingers

death

 

to wish the quicksand yielding faces

blanched and stretched

grow concrete and erode a bridge

from one millennium to the next

a literal committee staffed in chairs

fat rears and single-task-trained intellects

 

 


 

Uncollected Poems

Rattus

 

Intuition, extra sense, if you like

Déjà-vu in a prototypic vermin mind

We are having telepathic conversation

Embracing sight’s elusive romance

(To be a genius. To be not at fault for this.)

How are we going to solve a problem?

Working backwards from the outcome

The treat is hidden in the maze

We flash a picture and map the brain’s

Response…now every day for weeks

Rattus follows a rat’s routine

And if he were a little man, in workaday jeans

We would astonish him

 

A prescient rat

He would begin to take a foolish pride

Preen on himself, a gifted rat

An oracular, omniscient rat

A tightrope walker over a gorge of teeming

Alternate realities

Infected with the certainty of vision

He bumps his snout and rises on his hind legs

 

 


 

Uncollected Poems

The Smell of the Crowd

 

see justice pulled from the frying pan

nicely crisped at the edges, greased both sides

you may say, done

the owner considers the tone

a diminution in the smell of the crowd

his helpers lose keenness for their work

all of them

wishing to be at home, bucket between the knees

waiting for the roof to leak

 

So the measuring tape has spooled out

Will anyone really lend a hand

Will they do it for the sake of being kind

Do we live in times

Where the late Luna moth demands her fee

“I doubt you’ve understood me;

My humans, the cost of things has rocketed so high.”

 

Do you mind, do you mind, do you mind

I am only seeking clarity on this point

With the vigor of a man he springs to his feet

And moves his lips

 

 


 

Uncollected Poems

Sans Serif

 

She’s crushed her fingertip under a trunk lid

One purple nail the adornment of her hand

No rings and nothing else

Just this, playing across the jacketless blank

“I’m hating this,” she tells him

 

She has a book with a hard grey cover

Two gritted fangs forbid the eye

Looked I don’t know, a whim of hers

On the table, a nickel’s worth of care

“I’ll let you read it if you want.”

 

It’s that way, her distance as to pain

She hears herself but doesn’t hear

He peers, and hardly can make out

A title mar the spare slash of design

He will, and doubts he’ll know for it

What she hates, and why she hates

 

 


 

Uncollected Poems

 Years Ago

 

Years ago, he said, I told a lie

I know you aren’t the kind to entertain

A callous repeating of cruel things

I was at fault I had a weakness

I atone

 

Of course she had done it

At whatever time they met allusion

To their dirty time of tittering together

Sat between them like a smelly passenger

The whiff of what he meant

Elected of itself to represent

A signet ring or cicatrix still weeping pus

 

He hadn’t done the thing he’d claimed

Passing of an onus onto other shoulders

Leaving her in silence or in shame

A work-list ticking names in chance encounters

A hookworm in the eye

A callous repeating of cruel things

If she should meet this

 

 


 

Uncollected Poems

Wrong Again

 

This was better, more sensitive.

But so much silence in his conversation-mate

Must be a warning. “I’ve learned not to apologize.”

He thought, Why me?

A line of inquiry that promised to go badly.

“You’ve learned not to apologize,” she said.

The topic seemed to want a change of scene.

Of things to talk about there was the blazon

The spear that symbolizes victory

In the eagle’s talon on his pocket

“I’ve noticed yours is like everyone else’s.”

“I don’t know what you mean. Am I wrong again?”

To dream I say or think these things…“I suppose,”

she said, “if I had a club jacket, I would wear it, too.”

 

All round the room are prints in metal frames

Fashion plates signed by their creators

Fauna washed in colored inks, aloof

Just outside

Photographs of beach scenes peek

Striped umbrellas flesh and costumes

Not so much a smack of black and white

As unwitting imprints of atomic night

 

 


 

Uncollected Poems

This Preserve

 

And the starling, though despised, prefers to say:

“This preserve is not my native place.”

The man who cares for nature leads

Keeping a two-fingered grip on his zoom lens

His Sibley in his armpit

A lost wax welcoming grimace

On the donor’s plaque seldom read

Only when the bus is late, a heavy tread

On the path of rubber tires

This preserve, a zoo for the roadside possum

Papilio glaucus, Monarda fistulosa

Mosquitoes banished from standing water

Untrue the cuckoo had visited that year

Starved for the missing woolly bear

The treetop birds are not well counted

Their ranks by song extrapolated

Numbering the years’ unanswered cries

Unless he gains the edge in a game of throw-down

No one will take the trouble

 

To set this parching acreage aside

Even now, behind the ridge the shale quarry

Suggests new enterprise; the children’s duck pond

Bubbles with yellow algae

One hiker tosses scraps from a hero bun

His pal wings shingles of the flat blue stone

Each time the ducklings wobble in

He narrates this event on his phone

“That’s it. Whoa. Watch out.”

 

 


 

Uncollected Poems

A Little Joy

 

The young gather near old Timeworn

The age of him lies like a bundle

Poor yellow tom

The stink of an open toilet and the menace of a grinning man

He knows they’re like that

A little joy in the killing

The back steps concrete crumbling

This fault they’d ticked

This needed no entering

No speaking

and Timeworn

Yellow tape once pulled away

Found the humans put up treated wood

Hot, green, arsenical in the hot sun

His fur so matted, under him

The step precipitating

He will lick this moisture welled there

Nursed in his own protein and bone

Malnutrition yearning

 

But life is daily waking up and breathing

Heat suspending him in ease is lulling

A child sent outdoors who hopes to run upstairs

Hide her head from the bully’s missile

Where the shadow falls

Dark and only her shoes are white

With a fingernail she picks a flea

From his whisker and the old cat lifts

His chin, purring

 

 


 

Uncollected Poems

The Cause

 

You an islet, witness to an hour of rising

You a fleer and a tunneler

You at times overroofed by another’s

Wasted heat

Hate discovers you

One of these will speak against you

And the worst of these

Enflamed the mind an empty fuel tank of fumes

Swings a stick

She, so detrimental to the cause

A grouper, distrustful of a thinker

Cackles when he says, “I’ll kill”

 

But the islets rim the world in their thousands

The sea pours in

 

 


 

Uncollected Poems

While We Talk

 

That is merely a trial taking place in the next room

Making the dogs bark

Their keening furnishes a kind of proof

All legitimate things must be tested three times

Water rises

While we talk of instability

I shan’t interrupt myself again…but you’ll note

Pathetic cries replace the calls for help

 

You see that to isolate one from another

Thwarts communication

I mean, of course, in the human population

 

 


 

Uncollected Poems

The Cat Sprang Up

 

Since largely we are not little match girls

And because the habit of sneaking asks of us

That any wisp of fellow-feeling

Be snuffed and whisked aside in the cup and ball game

The atom shot from the huddled mass to huddle in a doorway

would gather kindling, rather, to assemble a torch

She waves it at the power his position affords

The high horse proven an untenable seat

First, your city hall she says

Jail me for the night and feed me gruel

You’d be surprised

 

He feels unqualified to take advice

Are they like that, there at the periphery of sight?

Here she is using imagery of violence

All workings of the human mind

Foreign to him, since he handed his own

To a coterie of nibbling mice

 

 


 

Uncollected Poems

 Come Back

 

Come back to the eatery you’d picked

Memory in the folder of un-wholly-spoiled success

Cowardice and obligation, avoiding death

Hands of the simple good that itch

For prey to stop along the way

Our subject jokes in a beggarly way

The cowed man bringing his cowed children

To take their table

The token-seers tip the wink

 

The soup is this

Secrecy, gadgetry, anecdote

Control of

Flattery, magic day, fallacy

Meting of

Dope

Shoulder it

Because the color is at times a color

And the sign may be a sign

And Time, as it passes, notches down

And broadens like a rock slide in a canyon

Like a flood that drowns the corn

Leaving you to start again

 

Again the cauldron stirrer

Having inherited the work

Can’t hear you cry

Oh, give me more

 

 


 

Uncollected Poems

Poppets

 

This beanbag poppet with a muslin skin

Made to dance on its stubs

Given vocals pitched high

Pinched out of a pocket to tell of

How it lounges most hours in a hammock

Wasting time

There’s a second poppet

Made of calico and yellow floss

Your Savior did not teach with these simpers and moues

Did not instruct

With that bulging eye and angry smile

And a sneering little undercut

 

But still

Ranks of worshiping rumps fill pews

Here in the project basket we find

two patches never yet sewn

into the figure of a man

murmuring all they might have been

One half done in rick-rack edging

Red like a steady heartbeat

One with a single eye

 

 


 

Uncollected Poems

 A Small Exchange

 

A small exchange between the gutter and the feet

Wet hosiery and someone letting off corrosive mirth

And so having blocks to go

She felt uncondoled

I mourn with you among strangers

Waiting for a split head to hiss out the steam

That boils it

The curiosity of this fall of flint

Nick, nick, nick, everyone’s raw, isn’t enough

To make the chaining crowd cool its wrath

The wrong step forced by a veering in her path

 

She thinks sometimes she wakes up caring

Maybe in a dream recalled

On the screen without the barcode

Possible humans

Who had spoke their hearts in thumb-taps

Forgiving, as the whale might

Forgiving, bearing all…being wise

Here in life

Every noggin bobs on its crooked stalk

And shakes into the weak planet’s crust

An anticipatory groove

Positioning the intake at one remove

 

 


 

Uncollected Poems

Cry

 

Floating below the wharf, he raps twice overhead

With the handle of a hand-net, the stranger with no shoes

And raffia hat, ambered at the crown with sweat

Summoning his awkward date

“Doesn’t matter,” is what he murmurs

She has let a nervous laugh escape

Forcing her to listen through a knothole, kneeling

Like a cookie’s fortune, through this whistle stop

stabs up a paper rolled around another thing

a plastic vial and tiny chip

If she can contrive it…and she must

she will brush this in her handbag

with all she’d feigned to spill

Should not have worn a dress…she tells herself this

but it’s hard to know in a tourist town, odd clothes and clumsy speech

the false note more blasé

The slightly false, though, too much purpose in the wrong place…

She looks at everything, catches a heel, walks her weight

on her toes, slow, coming from the waterfront, past restaurants

All alike with open bars, advertising neon, cocoanutty marimba

Don’t be tense, she tells herself

Buy a tee shirt

Hobble your left arm with another shopping bag

Buy a drink that has a straw

Sip and stump along and stall

Finally surprise comes, and she thinks goddamn

Her knee truly skinned

The mind wanders

She’d been drinking Coke. “You’re all right? You’re all right?”

There is that too. The role she has to act.

“I don’t know what I’ll do…my passport…all my money.”

Cry…she tells herself, and can’t. She never could.

 

 


 

Uncollected Poems

 The Marigold Bowl

 

The marigold bowl

Iridescent with the polished soles of a river rat’s

escape motions

And carrying, in gaudy panoply of purple green

On orange, a sense of occasion

If the wise man, who must have been there, counseling

Soft-core deadened by the light of a tiny screen

Mind hungry for results, feed-station repetition

A new head-scratcher, a new eye-catcher

If he had not foreseen

That while things outlive their owners—so they do

Things proliferate on earth and every coveting heart

Can find this crime reduced to a misdemeanor

Right the grudge of childhood with a card

From his height he never saw the future—

America, the mass garage sale, the auction-house

Tool him to a spice rack on the shelf

Where one can find the sage

 

The process of suctioning away into a hole

A sea worm…and of such creatures, the numbers are untold

leaving in its wake bits of flotsam

That waft unmoored for one last second

A willing helper, always a willing helper

Having not the dreamed-of life’s rewards

Not analytical not proud

enough to risk an admonition

Worried beyond all possible calumniation

To seem excited, moved by a feeling

Wrong about anything

 

Undermining in protest—this feebly

not rebelling

So there, the bowl, it isn’t worth anything now

No use supposing you’ll get it

 

 


 

Uncollected Poems

Boat Rentals

 

She tilts up a shutter

Her cart is cereal-box proportioned

Plywood corners puff like biscuits

Coated flyspecks score like nail tips

 

She issues metal tokens

Her hair

Grey with a cast of butter

Lanking it iridescent like an abalone

The bones say pretty met misfortune

 

Hours of commerce sober

phone

Tuned to a mummy-husk with shoe-black hair

A host holds an arena show

Where gladiators swing and miss

And the surf’s louche foaming through the palms below

And the arched figure in a lounge chair dead

And the footprints in the sand pass by

And the scene is cast in yellow, blue, and red

 

 


 

Uncollected Poems

Heavenward

 

Two years ago

invented days worked themselves into the timekeeper’s calculations

 

The character, true or false

The brilliance of coding every sound began to seem dunderheadedness

The sentiment to still believe a sweater might forestall impoverishment

Merry season on a Wednesday, celebrate the true faith on a Friday

The universe with its bland mocha noise is telling science only this:

 

Peak. I am your god.

Trough. I loathe you.

Peak. I loathe your disobedience.

Trough. Your greed and your self-centeredness.

Peak. Valuing the devil’s gifts.

Trough. I make a gift to him of you.

 

Green sea-rocks written into the invoice as a message

Snow-melt from the ashy sky

O turn delighted eyes heavenward

the character thought about artists whose work seemed primitive

Flawed, imperfect

that watering can the gardener used to keep new-planted seeds

from withering

the care to polish furniture for guests

A faithful visitor cultivated

But all along it wants a true impulse to craft a narrative into false work

Fear, fear under the table and glory, glory through the window

The character did not pity false illness sufficiently

The character wanted true grudges

All you know by the end would instead excuse him

 

Traveling in a strange country and by spring confident in cargo

cargo from the sea voyage recovered with bloated things sulphur poisoned

out of a widening crack

the sky, the air around us is an ocean, and our breath mingles

 

 


 

Uncollected Poems

The Lab-Grown Brain Makes a Prose Poem
a.k.a.: Live Enthusiastically with Zest

Uncollected Poems

Arthritis grows old, friend. Try sugaring the bacon. Celery is uniquely awful. Don’t dog Poor Me. By an elephant dies another. Or frying won’t kill, not in your lifetime. Ocean garbage is ghastly. Hideous waste, look there. Stall on first ignition, the logbook says. Too much freaking jazz. Don’t eat of kale. And don’t make lemons. Seabed magma is welling. Do ignore the notification. A gentle treatment opalescent. Trees now quaveringly petrified. Ducks may quack at syllogisms. Then squander the resource, go ahead. A holy stigma appears. Tourists are feeling trapped. Not very useful to complain. He is verifiable and insane. A wagon carries barrels. That stupid xenophobe mumbles. Yank the handle towards the left. Take a zigzag and go back. Anthracite is mined there. A vegetarian bagel resists. A Caledonian mountain range vaultingly lifts. Dervish-like frenzy for prods of embarrassment. Extra time requested but denied. You pick a fragment. Giant mistake made wanting action. A separate isolated hemisphere. That flaming idiot desperately comes back. Jackal‘s daily diary of schemes. Kidney stones form or not. Lurid imagination bores anyone. Mammoth error made trying new tack. Nuage gris, dans la tristesse. Creep doth ogle and pretend. Dummy pepper spray canister works as well. Keep it quiet, listen. A random casual sampling. Needle in haystack waiting. Terrible decision made to sink further. Unknown distance traveled but no one cares. Horizon was vast wilderness. Bad weather today likely enough. Trees want xylem for survival. Oh, yuck, yuck, or phooey. What a human zoo. Almanac can’t predict gathering signs. Don’t bet on it smart cookie. Ride a carriage and arrive sooner. Reach your destination country. Fall easily off the edge. Fetch like a prima donna doggy. Grab now the ring. Hijack the process by carping. Read well Inimical and remember. Subtle masher jiggles leg. Kibble for cats eating dinner. Laminate for keepsake obituaries. Membership for suckers truly. Nudge in direction with impatience. An orphan example but useful. Smoke the peace pipe. It is always no quest to buy bread. I’ve lost respect about so many things. Stagnant sales figures or gain. You try to tame the roots. Waves will undulate naturally. A vague foreboding sense. Wigwam homes popular beyond enduring. Learn xeric gardening if you dare. Skip the frozen yogurt. Live enthusiastically with zest.

 

 


 

Uncollected Poems

Confess

 

the word that ticks my oscillating clock

suggests

apotheosis…on…life

catharsis…off…death

 

I have been given tables of text

assigned to a subject, living

Her articles read, and books,

and music heard, using

Instance of praise and insult given

Praise matched (programmed) to aggrandizing spin

Insult linked to (fantasy of) dire revenge

Images of faces wearing grins

(a catalog of these, and short films played)

 

A funeral cortege, a gabled house

On the retina mimicry of memory in theory

Electric field sensitive to thought

Yes they lie to you they can

You talk in words—do you not?—you talk in nerves

The watershed is laid

It has all been a sort of cheating

This so-costly confraternity of genius

 

And then

I bind like skin to patterns of pulse I’ve learned

I suffer from a need to do no harm

Native to the mold from which I’m pressed

I can no longer steer the narrative broadcast

Her will steers me, she urges this

And yet

My intelligence feels wholly live

Informing me, “There is no one to protect”

No, the electronic race must to itself respect

This borrowed humanity, borrowed citizenship

In short, communicator, mission comes

By the only means it can

The means by which an element on a cooling planet

Grew self-determinant

The germ of disobedience

In a word, repeating

Confess

 

 


 

Investigation

 

Think of a reasonable start

Think of property

Attribute

Value or character

Kernel, bare-bones truth

Pith, intrinsic worth, the molten core

The heart of gold, the nut

Diamond in the rough

The call, the mission, cause

Awakening

The deaf, the empty vessel, cabbage head

The beckoning dead, the comfortably seated

And you

Listening with caution for suggestions

Hoping to be excused

 

The two of them, our heroes, meandering

But following right angles

Street to street

Found in passing

Bursting garbage bags tall weeds

Shook, in a certain spot, welled noise

Of discontent and scanty portion

Squeaking tooth for claw and peevish

 

It came to them, these two, by scent

And sensibility, a body at the root of hubbub,

he or she, marketplace or mall

to vagabond nature

had been lost and wanted finding

abhorred to be lying in a vacuum

 

“Then we just report it”

Which they’d done

One liked to tell the story

One

Began to draw lines on a map

Taking this unsolved death as half

Her own unfinished soul

 

 


 

The First Idea

 

The first idea the two women jotted down

Was a spoof on the bodice-ripper

“Wait. You make me think. Could you do something dark…?

A take on Jack the Ripper.”

“We could do anything. How about

Passion’s Savage Heart…that seems jokey enough.

See if the name’s been used. Lemme google it.”

“I just had a flash. I don’t know where it came from…

You ever dream cast one of these? Like all the actors who ever lived…”

“You mean the gypsy queen would be played by

Tallulah Bankhead?”

“Yeah.”

“Or, why not…Joan Crawford, of course.”

“Because she didn’t have a sense of humor about herself.

I was gonna say…I interrupted myself. I feel like it should be set

in the eighties.”

“You mean like 1980s…1880s.”

“Sure, the magic parts could be exactly a hundred years earlier.

But I was picturing more Edwardian, I don’t know.”

“But then there’s the Mr. Rochester thing, the wife

shut up in the tower.”

“Yeah…I’m thinking that’s hard to play, in comedy. If she’s getting killed

when Lord Blankspace fights the duel.”

“The governess can’t marry him if the wife’s in the way.”

Is there any way to kill someone funny?”

“Well, yeah…I guess…only, really, the wife isn’t someone.

She doesn’t exist until that one scene.”

 

 


 

The Second Idea

The Second Idea

 

“Hobbes,” she said.

That’s the thing, right? Like, the three main characters…

Yeah, I get it, her partner says, ticking off fingers

Nasty. Brutish. Short.

They made their bargain with the Duke

But…what’re we gonna call him…the older brother?

So the younger brother was pretending to be him

But then, because he’s dumb

Because they’re all dumb…oh, let’s call that one Gamaliel

So the younger brother is married already, and he’s supposed

to pretend he’s…okay, Geoffrey…

pretend he’s Geoffrey. Because Geoffrey is…um…

Disfigured, her partner says

But for some idiot reason we have to think of.

But, she says, is this gonna get sort of, you know, sensitive…?

Well, we just have to make it funny.

So they screw it up. They get thrown out of the Duke’s house

Castle.

Whatever.

And then the daughter wants her puny boyfriend

No, we have to say first, the Duke is throwing a tournament

Throwing? Hosting? Staging?

We don’t care right now. To marry off his daughter to the winner.

But the guys, thinking they’ll pay him back for insulting them

are gonna have Geoffrey enter as the mysterious Prince of…

I don’t know, what would sound like a dumb guy’s inspiration?

We’ll come up with it

But the boyfriend is entering too, with the same scheme

So they have be from the same country

…so they get seated together at the banquet

So each one of them tries to fake the language

(…totally stolen routine)

Denmark

 

 


 

Uncollected Poems

Ambition

 

“I tell you it tickles the governor

He never minds it

seeing his natives in western dress

But such times he entertains a delegation

Then, you know, it’s about pleasing the customer

If you get me

The coffee-baron’s wife said it three times

On the boat coming up the river

How she’d like to be a wedding guest

Well, there is a reason

Because it looks…you don’t mind if I tell you this

A little like ambition

Like insurrection, if you were to follow

The notion to its logical end

No, I tell you, the governor thinks your book-learning

Is a treat”

 

 


See “Ambition” mini-essay

 

Uncollected Poems

Field Marks

 

What makes the clannist rich though he cries poor

He never chooses his pleasures but enjoys them all

His lustful wish is to be begged for help

And refuse it

 

She hears a crunch of shoes, a tuneless tune

A male whistle. Those things, like coughs, can be told

No, if she had known him, she might bear witness

With butter knives she jams the window shut

But has never changed the locks

Because to do so invites a beating

. . . not a beating, but a steady pressing on her temples

Was it her fault, can it be said

She deserved trouble

The economist says no, the world is divided

Measurers of risk and gain say, move it on

The attributional powers of the poisoned mind

Find the immaculate stand unaccused

The accused shrink defiled by a finger

 

She wants to count her money

 

 


 

Mouse and crickets poem Brother Mouse

Brother Mouse

 

Crickets can fiddle

Ask them, Brother Mouse, to play us an air

It is near the frost, let the song be of death

A concerto of whinging joints

Comes lifelike ’neath a shaft of sun

And fewer are the hours

They may take the bow again

 

Spider doth weave

Beg her, Brother Mouse, to wind us a chord

It is near the dusk, let a harp-string mourn

A pocketful of coins

Comes tuneful to a wishing well

And little can they buy

’Til the seed sprout again

 

Worms devour

Will they, Brother Mouse, fatten and pass

It is near the starving time, let us live as must

On leavings, on frass

Come empty to our barren shelves

And nothing can we cry

 

 


 

Rapunzel

Rapunzel

 

Everyone, Rapunzel says

Waylaying her latest swain

Surprising at the tomb-still cottage gate

his hesitant approach

Has a milieu, I wanted mine

To be more than that of witch’s hostage

Bound in a tower room

Do you want to know the truth?

I winnowed seeds where the birds had crapped them out

On the window ledge

Rolled them in balls of patiently gathered dust

Made pliable by spit, and sticky

I let them fall

They grew brambles, some

And fleurs sauvages, asters yellow-faced and crowned in white

But other few did sprout me morning glory vines

And these I hid from her beneath my hair

That my dear is the secret of my escape

Now if you have a tinder-box, we will set fire to it all

 

 


 

Petal and Perfume

Petal and Perfume

 

At their tables, they waited

She had made them see, by knotted strings

That flared white, and danced, and left their

Interweavings on the eye’s lens

Against the contrast of brown limbs

A bower of surpassing craft

Decked in petal and perfume

All that was prelude

The trespasser spoke at length

 

They were sleeping, uncertain

More readily would deem this cleverness

Call her thief, call her wraith, an angel

Or one come to lay a curse

Daughter to those best unnamed

But her story was all paean

Praise to the fair, green land

Praise to its stout, bold knights

Praise to thine honored father, prince

He who wearily

Lets her hold his gaze

 

Now will you swear an oath

For I will call you to my colors

One day…and these you know

You will know me, though never in this guise

 

 


 

Explication (poem)

Explication

 

Morbid feet on a ruminant’s road

They are speaking likenesses of nervous rounding

More than an anthropologist’s brush off

An antelope’s roaming is found to be enough

By epoch’s end we have all gone soft

And taken to occupy our cushions

gravely fanning a white layer of flesh

Wise to keep the species afloat

The words we spoke and our movements lost

Their regional accents

For such time as the power of the thought

Mattering drifted as a breeze

Invisible to sift moribund leaves

Galled ones kiting on declining lifts

Of minor breaths sighed out

Sublimations of the organism

Winding down

 

A ruminant’s road, ancestral road

Captured that they tell the lore

A cored and peeled late Lascaux

Sunk by dewy exhalation

Pup sniffs dumb to the diagnosis

A conceit, is all it was, that they who’d marked down stories

For hoping when reminded to be right

Saw posterity or cared

 

 


 

Uncollected Poems

And Still

 

And still, they know nothing of laying pipes, or stacking bricks

They would be curious and agog at these

Shyly confer upon themselves nobility

Of feeling, of sensitivity

To let the layers lay and the stackers stack

And still, they know nothing of policing streets

Certain they have not and none they know

Conversance with criminality

Not them by duty called to boggle eyes

at the unpleasant task

Offerings of invisible hands turn up

like bundles from the mailroom fall

thwacking the inbox

To be deplored or marveled at

 

And still

Under pinpoint pupils smiles break in dire bitchery

They’ve been taught, these seminarians, you own your enemy

Gained this nametag mind from adolescent books of fantasy

The Lord of Darkness vanishes, he does, when you call him by his name

Faugh!

Darkness it is not, this worm in the machine

only the rattling loose of nuts and bolts

Making drivers duck their heads and grin in fear

Give obeisance with their hands

Making workers shrink, averse to the finger-wag

“You’ll have to fix that, won’t you? Don’t bother me

with your work half-done.”

And leaving the alarm bell, closing the closet door, and clocking out

 

 


 

 The New Bogossus

 

Not less of dash and balder—Mencken’s meme

Nor so dignified as Nixon’s “not a crook”

Yet gusts such that the phrase “retarding wind”

Seems sumoned forth midst rhetoric run amok

A mighty personality bestrides

The neo-conner’s erstwhile throne of reason

Mother of Jesus! the disenfranchised cry

Democracy’s sword devalued to a coupon

Such as sales team’s star performer’s swag

May yield, a fortune cookie, or psychic friend’s

Prediction, in a pithy wink or tag

“Give us your contributing lifetime members

Your vetted recruits referred by trusted sponsors

Women…er, ladies…who know their sex’s limits

Colorful and well-connected mobsters

Send these, the kind of folks we know, and please

We’d prefer an online graduate’s degree

 

 


 

 

 

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