Random, or non-thematically related poems, written after my last collection, Rattus. Several are in the Jumping Off series, poems that are titled with lines or parts of lines that ended earlier poems.

 

 


 

 

Oil painting of restaurant scene with orb bursting in

Dispel

 

Dispel the center from the story

Bookticipating that the character Ravense

after lunch finishes and excuses for sparse attendance

scatter and reconvene retelling

(then why not skip to the end?)

This One, who in uppishness started badly

This One, who at length seemed finally learning

Ravense, Ravense, the harpers line the street

And maidens in their mourning sing

And slow the hooves of horses ring

The cortege drawn where fainting green

Dies from the tree and all lies shadowed

Thy bier comes nigh the sentinel of thorn

Drawn, drawn to the sea cliff’s brink

A thousand of Cloravens fallen before

Their bones besmoothed to jewels on the shore

 

They wear, they see themselves in photos wearing

Habits for the ages, accursing, made nostalgic

for archival reference, stares the brown-toned

past bearing gravity to touch like a poisoned thing

And leave its burn pattern on the skin

A coat, his, an odd charcoal weave, white wiry hairs

That curl from the nap

A chance at irritation, leavings on thighs and forearms

little proofs

Of contact, hiding themselves on raincoaty-smelling macs

Or hers, her funeral suit, soft filmreel gloss on her Lancôme cheeks

Rain-misted pallid neck, lined, lined eyes

The character she plays skips trailing a red balloon

Presses her schoolgirl hat with a hand, backs slowly marveling

At cathedral spires

Lips parted in a smile of secret delight

She collides with him, he misses the shot of the passing motorcade

They spat, but how can he suspect, her father is King

 

 


 

 

Oil Painting cameo of two goldfish talking

Thought It Mattered

 

He has a friend in a bowl

The sort you make at the mini-mall

On your travels, in your exiles

Cautious cradled on your hotel bed

Met with, savvy one, in the aisles of commerce

Flirty one, forward one, the head portion swings

A wink, if the creature had eyelids

Saucy, why not, she dwells in the soup

Yes, her…or him…and the plastic arena

China-made cheap and portable

Gravel, a food packet taped inside

To make this assignee most comfortable

Pal of mine, while you wait in your bag for the dust to settle

A six-pack of bottled water to avoid the chlorine

I will tell you your name

Together they bubble off the minutes

In dialogue, the television substituting

As it would with any human

 

A laboratory where the expert

Knows he is there behind her and wants results

But cool, as DNA spotters ought to be

She speaks without taking her eye from the piece

“I’m sorry,” she says, and a long silence stretches

But music, of course, a thin ocarina

Three beats, that may be the slams of a door

“Back to the drawing board”

 

“Esmerelda…”

Esmerelda—as she is a gaudy girl

Her fishtail gown cinched and golden hued

But boy or girl, voluptuous and goggle-eyed

“If we could find Hello Dolly, you and I”

Would sing along

He begins to think…could he find My Fair Lady

His problems would be solved

“Esmerelda, these forensic shows are all alike”

Some mistake, and they’ll discover the cackling prisoner

Is the malefactor, after all

 

 


 

 

Digital image of turtle

World On

 

You picked up the habit preposterous

Invited it to octopus upon you like a SciFi nemesis

You would rather walk around in this condition

Than learn what your face looks like now

 

Does the word preposterous seem about to cover it?

Would we coin cockamamity, cell by cell

Brain-slaughteration, poppycocking shamity

Well, the boastful Knower of All Things

was your friend

Your wizard of scorn and science

Your mentor of axes the world is thought to turn on

 

As it does

We have one life to live, but we are entertained

The above your fortune, a cute saying

Inspiration, as an influencer’s craft page

Etched (you can learn to do this too) on a pretty

polished rock, a waxy chunk of pink granite

meteored from the planet’s heart

Eonic history concerns you not

And when the subject cracks the cookie

There again

Hera laughs the first syllable, and her face turns grim

 

Beware

Your worst fears will come to pass

The perfect stance of peeping round the corner

Foreseeing the next bright explosion

Blocking others from the exit, ahead of the possibility of wrong

It has done nothing but buy up all your time

You thought neglect and wishfulness would

Harvest for you deaths and breakdowns

With no blame in your trembling vocal cords

You would sorrow a bit, over opportunities squandered

 

 


 

 

Pastel and ink drawing of pig and handler

Remains of Your Legacy

 

Your problem is a simple one

A constant inside fret, the kind that’s played upon

But a good person is…chin up, Winsome, you

Maybe a compliant person

In event of blackballing, a quiet person

Name calling, but never accomplice exposing

Can you divide a pie in quarters

Eat the custard save the crust for later

Be your online twin, a sales agent to flog for you…zed

Memories no longer New In Box

Need taking up a little at the cuff

Initiatives restamped Not Good Enough

Looking closely at your ticket stub you find

You’d booked your cruise to Diamond Head

But the fine print spells it “damned”

You’d thought a daily glut on the deep-fried

Would drop you at the zenith of the day

Your newsfeed headlines “NASDAQ’s Wild Ride”

It nags at you, and the nag is lack of chemical

Comfort there will be a younger, handsomer mask

Of a man’s face on the backside of a pig

Suspicions fiber optics compose your wig

And every hair antenna to an agent’s phone

He sits and plays Bejeweled while another of your cryptos

Is slotted into the tomb

It’s his embarrassment that matters, he the little fellow

Who suffers most

For that sake you would let it all be snuffed and stricken

All life from the cringing earth

 

 


 

 

Pencil drawing of detached face and brain

Adverse Possession

 

Dear cerebral cortex

Hors de combat. When we received the news

We were saddened and shocked

There is not much in the literature

One or two articles after long search

Found describing therapies

Not met with any great success

If it won’t offend, or make you feel superstitious

(For that’s the question, isn’t it? Can you identify

what you feel, once becoming witless?)

And if our concern brings you no comfort

We are so sorry to have disturbed you

On your deathbed

Boggled…let us state your condition softly

Other brains are in the room

Some on social media call the plain naming

Insensitive to the sufferer

They prefer that one says stymied, or at sixes and sevens

We fear these euphemisms give false hopes

We want to know what is your own idea

As to disposal of your properties

You may have a debt of unpaid rent

You may wish to make arrangements

For the boarding of your hippocampus

You may feel fatalistic

Not properly thanked

Decide the lymphocytes have never done their part

You may say let them go to hell

They’ve taken their share of healthy cells

Temporal lobes woof and tweet…settle your accounts

Reasoning mind, what testament will you leave behind

Some embezzler stuffing cash in pockets

Documents in shredders

Tosses your juicy parts in the dumpster

 

 


 

 

Oil Painting of cloaked figure in abstract background

Any Random

 

Bats that came with the house

Obvious, it seems to you, their mouselike

Bodies dig and ratchet, gain rabid access

Ogle sonically the misfit window frame

Nighttime when in helpless longitude you dream

Fang at you under the hairline leaving an itch

Beads of foam string from your mouth and water terrifies

So will it be, the first you suspect of it

 

Killing yourself over grips relaxed and setbacks

Amnestyville horror after forty years of error

Isn’t it the same little camera lens, and isn’t it time you

Shake the cobwebs and the pinkeye and admit the spying

Urge forgetfulness of God, whose over-the-shoulder glance at you

Says heart attack

 

Too bad, or more in keeping with the drone of you, who cares?

Oh ho! Who does, who does, why aren’t these words

Bye-byes, if not your bio, why aren’t you gone…?

Yeah…

Hey there! Say there! Adios!

Still you want solutions mooted and shot down by you

The bats, let’s have them recur, without immunity

Smog, was it not seventies smog, that kept their tiny lungs pure?

 

 


 

 

Digitalized photo of green face

Neither Do You

 

Take no recovery for granted ignorant of

specifics a disinterested organ in your gut

Adipose in makeup, loyal as oil in support of fatly rights

hunkers deep in hospitality, coat for a winter of nuclear strength

Fact-checks the assertion of classes among colonial biospheres

Asseverates that independently the lardish parts are well-endowed

Contrast the sort of fancy-ass who thinks too much, and works too hard

How likely is it you delude yourself overconfident

that impulse can be thought, hating to imagine…

But it’s the leptin telling you shut up

No, say again, trap open, mental quibbles keeping mute

Liver has its agenda, and bones call the revolution

And no one shares intelligence with the brain

Hating then, to imagine all your parts connected only by a sheathing

Of flabby skin

It threatens to turn out after all, that pheromonal signals pass

Y’ello, winks the M & M and the Oreo, the Ruffles sack

Tertiary-stage salt and grease, but it’s the hormones’ gig

Brace for this…any slice of tissue can be cultured in a lab

Realistically, losses ask for cutting, so it’s the DNA’s tag

At which point the awkward coalition seems a cry for help

But if the TV sharks would make a virtual mirror

An Anthropocene age might end in self-admiring

Fitting clothes may feel a little tight

Youthful cheeks, and yet a putrid scent

 

 


 

 

Charcoal and pastel drawing of leaping figure

Even Heard

 

Nothing recently radio silence almost a fig leaf of the past

Your old friend with his bags of heirloom seeds

Took them to the farmer’s market, Sharpied a sign saying FREE

Bought tickets on the very plane they grounded

for yawing side-to-side, nose up, nose down

Stricken passengers allowed to board with hidden knives

Blood-messages on their forearms write, THY WILL BE DONE

 

To wake at the sound of a handvac

charged extra for spending the night

Used to example a displaceable person

Straphangers kept on their tiptoes tightening

in naked air the forensic thread willing

with maloccult rapine so red

All witness sweeping a barren corner

Will yield more cavingly than blind Iocasta

With no wish to broach recording

Animation lurches frame by stop-emotion frame

Surplus figures buzz-beamed into posability

mouth set phrases with the parts that move

All the brows and jawlines botoxed smooth

At the pinnacle, okay with Dr. Feelgood’s promise

He lied about the other thing, he lies about this

Hawks around in feathers of a vulture

As mower blades spit flesh that hangs on fences

 

 


 

 

Oil painting of figures and volcanic lake

An Encounter

 

Memory teaches us data contours the planet

We thought we had minds of our own and there

In fiber and grit, in fountaining microbeads

Unwanted papers sticking to our hands

Things that mix themselves among the needed

Photoprint generic family members with the better smiles

Of thinner people

Alba collect themselves on hooks by doors and

Days traced by routes trail the cloud of parts of us

Racking miles of presences untallied, skin and hair

And halls that lead to stairs

Dollars when we give them up turn crime on its ear

Make borrowers live on the canny dodge and bleat of pathos

Poverty live on barter and squatting at your house

Cash money given up for mental constructs

I think, and if I think of shopping, therefore

I lose no time, make dictatorial minor covetings

Or well-divided from the minute past

Am not the loser…cause, no more to do with that

Remind me, speaker, is there a word for the reason

Banks won’t lend me or another of my identities

The credit I have coming

I am anyone buying cashmere and the latest heel

Crafted to be shelved and sardonically revered

Forgotten treks in forgotten weathers yester-jingling-years

Oh, I’m forgetting another thing, speaker

Can you tell me a story of courage and odyssey

 

All of them, any

Those I don’t know, I find

And foretell the fate of marquee names

Plug in predictive probabilities of Things

 

Tell me comfort then, impersonal implacable

Floods and famines buildings falling

Figures burning

None now living know

 

 


 

 

Oil painting of houses in primary colors

Haunts

 

Start at the threshold

alive to American anonymity the subject steps

reeling inches of play onto a leash

Wretched elder of small dogs with matted fur, combing of

will argue for the owner no more sympathy than neglect

Rage like Lear if he were less the white patriarch

Sodden and sneered at by fools even for creeping to the errand

asked today, tomorrow to recompense none of faults and failures

 

Another thinks of highways and side lanes in paradimensional towns

The old imposed on present days, to you sighs in color-enhanced decay

Beauty, there is beauty, false and wishful beauty, in

Decline

Fleeing twenty times in dreams with hands doing practiced things

Bound to, is anyone bound to others, or are we all free

Foot it down the street to the car, pack groceries

Changes of clothes, and speed, speed

 

If it’s dying around you, diplomas and wedding drag

Memories of framing Human Shape before Yawning Valley

Memories of laughing

Give unease, pleasedly they curl a finger

And bid you, “Sit here”

and can’t restore the theater cocoon

Puppets who dispensed advice or pounced

Cracked-headed, all more high-tech Ozes

And the short clip of the funnel cloud

Now be ruled by the curtain not the man

The slipping dogs of war have you at a 30% chance

Of LOLing, “So this happened”

 

 

 

 

Oil painting of tree and arch with sea view

Fortune’s Refugees

 

Whether this is the saga

[This Is the Saga, the announcer announces,

when the solo flute ends and the violins swell]

of three generations, in quest of freedom, unless

pioneers, then the Civil War factors

or the title asks for a sensitive treatment, of WWII…writer?

This is the Saga of Three Generations

Mother Fortune arrives, she adopts the name

Yes, call them the Fortunes, the novel begins

to have concept. “What good is your church, your God?”

shouts the son

The concertina that belonged to his grandfather

packed at the bottom of a trunk, transported

through shipwreck and combat, hoarded unhockable

through sixteen-hour shifts, punching of shoe leather

and the Blizzard of ’88

the sad death in childbirth and the tenement fire

“Don’t I owe it to Hezekiah? No! I’ll never be a musician.

I’m going to be an actor, Ma!

Don’t you understand? This is not your world! It’s mine!”

 

The Jazz Age rises and a daughter wants to marry an outsider

I forbid you

“Well, fine,” she tells her father. “I won’t. We’ll raise our child

our own way. You don’t want me under your roof? I’ll go—

I’m going now.”

“No, wait!”

Hard times and crimes, an empire grows trafficking sin

Twenty years and war is won, now a plague stalks the young, yet

When she raises her eyes, factory girl, prostitute

volunteer nurse at last, reformed and refined

“Papa, do you know me? It’s your Anne-Marie.”

He burbles. Forgive me.

The end. You have been listening to

FORTUNE’S REFUGEES

 

 


 

 

Oil painting of abstract square pattern

Away Like Dust

 

Several announcements that the hour was at hand

were backburnered, the dare administered had been

not to face down a seasonal inflatable

but to let the season pass with a period

as advertisements give ample warning

to contemplate on a sofa safety

or safely…doing something…

It seems unnecessary

Saving your own life in any given moment will always

seem unnecessary

And the task of the turkey checklists into suburban sprawl

think of organic, slimmer birds spared antibiotics

Think of cruelty, think of local employment

Think of new ways to boil in oil, or corrode tissue in salt

Think of what the rich do the cutting-edge and the pure do

Think of oysters soaking sewage

mutinous system failures on floating

party buses, stuffed with puking drunks

harsh bosses contracted by contractors

desperate crews untutored tidy errors

overboard a severed foot or smashed skull

the touch, the essence, in your holiday swill

Think then of pearl onions and celery

Croutons in a bag

Game hens…are game hens like foie gras, precious and evil

your own to adorn your satisfied plate

your own skeleton of a living thing picked clean

there was the bird to save, the fragile tree-skirt

the blinking LEDs skitter towards you like a beggar

you’d supposed the calendar was bedrock and not a net

repaired each year by fishers with patient needlework

 

 


 

 

Oil painting cameo of dark figures on off-white ground

To Terms

 

If it was forgiveness come for

Or, if a jar of minutes had been stationed

where a centerpiece might go

And every staged remark of the conversation

got its candy heart with a slogan

bitcher, loser, lame-o, snob, martyr, gloater

nuisance to others, at sum, unloved

tossed in

then the house would have its ballroom floor mosaic

 

if it was forgiveness, if it was

like some debt of paper notes that could be paid

if skins were shed by a blistering episode

that left no trace and newly made

sorry…she might be sorry, devoid

she and he and they and we

of inequality, of future sense

 

It isn’t clear the last word spoken would be forgiveness

Thinking of confessional wrongs and circumstances

More, when less your angel advocates in language

That upon the gelatin soul stamps jealousy

 

 


 

 

Pastel drawing of figures on red-orange ground

Spread Your Arms

 

You’ll go out on a monitor

Hiccupping with your backbone wishing

for a final arch. Your chest cavity slumbers uninspired

Ten nervous snacks swallowed in the last hour

Your global gut draws its own gravity

“What goes on?” a staffer asks

The feeling is bubbly like root beer

The feeling is fear, like money on an island

sunk below the flood tide…that is all they’ll tell you

The feeling is retributive, victims sworn

to wayback themselves to the last good moment

And mark you with a dagger in the next

when the mathematics of elimination spot you

motioning with the notion you can dance

The feeling is rejoicing, of the most Bacchanalian asteroid

anticipation the feeling is peeve and irritation

 

“You don’t mean you haven’t called someone?”

Giggle. Hand over mouth. Eyes crinkle.

“Maybe he’ll get up again.”

“Well, I’m game. Let’s watch awhile.”

 

But then. You may rise, peer over one

shoulder and another, scurry to the toilet

and carry on like nothing

Your lips may pucker in, the way you’ve learned

to express the weight when no one cares for you

They lose, you have friends; and yet, suckers trust

Smart guys knew it for a sham

Can’t be harmed

 

 


 

 

Oil painting of melon head figure and archer in keyhole

If Only Others

 

Outed from bark made mulch by thermal shock

the beetle takes a chill that starts a frail cough

a worm’s meandering charts the tops

an infestation census-taker

feels the math mid-century young adulthood’s

unexpected death on meeting the proboscis

of a predatory wasp synthesis in skin and bone

above susception once and arteries of plants

the solidity of mountains

the temptation to belong at cost

 

On a day in November

Thunder but isn’t thunder

when the bowling ball rolls down the lane

at EST am we’re still in details and coffee

email then injustice, nature’s atoms her refusal

first she wants them

now, of nows, so many find themselves

stalled and suing for permission

This frenzy kills a number of bureaucrats

minor officers and supervisors of egress

exactly those desperate eager who’d wanted to rise

on the strength of this

their terrible willingness

 

the fingers on your hand take

random fiberglass found melted

and must, for what it touched

wield almost mythic poison

you wish to die a succubus

a kiss from you destroy them

 

 


 

 

Pastel and ink drawing of woman's face

Note of Glass

 

Both ordained to meet had threaded

each themselves the Past to the Place

hers the soul collecting ants and mosses

his unfreed, the patriarch beheaded

affected lineage in unexpected ways

of cashing necks stuck out for losses

caps to wear and choices wedded

to debt…debt to a woman, unpaid

by trillions, from the last shareholders’ purses

short walks from safety eyed by ruffians

style explodes among the drab

the brilliant thrilling cobalt velvets

(not impossible to rhyme but tough one)

animal familiars scorn the psychic flab

no respecter of feckering can’t-help-its

modern deitesses’ pedestals in dustbins

now heroes need to prove to her they can

no more togethering because it sells best

Partnership gives parity to A and B

Almost a combat employing seconds and thirds

And winners wrestle next with personality

Sadly actual, the draw of a dullard’s downspeech

While she on her side gets tuffet, whey, and curds

Things done without, on his side, mourned for howlingly

A wilderness of methane goes between

Steppingstones formed of plastic ash McTurds

Culminous trysts of damaged trust and celibacy

 

 


 

 

Pastel drawing of two figures seated

Aground

 

Soldiers, duty dull   dull and foul

made penalty by bouts of deluge it is no use

to say the farmers need it

we’ll all of us eat the fruits

but today is different, the other asks, how then…

For, don’t we? put a thousand prisoners to the sword

But yet we drink and bathe in the waters below

Drink the wine of grapes and eat the corn

The insurrectionists, the border wolves…

the gods of conquered peoples live, the priests say

if they are worshipped, and…

Recall that man who stirred the coals

thinking the fire gone out—

You prattle, but devils have ears, answers the elder

it won’t dispel the drought, I grant you

I feel the gods are deaf to us and laugh

Rain on the prisoners to give them ease…see, that one is dead

the leather that binds his wrists weighed slack

If the Lawmaker felt mollified by the Emperor’s harsh hand…

well, you’ll see, it will be another sickly spring

when the seed sprouts and withers, it is in that

we see their sport. I suppose, whom the gods would destroy

they first make hope

 

 


 

 

Pastel drawing of figure walking

Ask Yourself Expert

 

Ask anyone who knew you

then were you the mildewed sponge retentive

of cultured damp ask yourself expert

on passing bucks pop-psych books

you liked the idea of being in touch, liked touching

on subjects au courant liked the bodies

mangled for rockets in The Right Stuff

liked swinging graceless but not locked

as now your limbs’ tabetic walk

winds prophecy backwards

to your high school clique

 

they didn’t go there in those days

but you did

 

liked sending out for things delivered

playing host at parties given

by business friends consumed

rhino tusk and tiger gland attained

the will and secret strength of kings

or demi-godly potentates

 

found a doctor who let this be

took his fee, permitted doubt wrote

down for you rare it is, strict odds on your side

and what is possible and what is not said

another truth we see the unexplained

for what is mortal is not divine

he shrugs

 

 


 

 

Oil painting cameos of male and female blue masks

 Male and Female

 

You might be nothing much

a hatchback human utilitarian, cute thing

a nice or not nice

who says I’m not

named with a name without a hope for yourself

the profile of a popular young’un

a ranch hand from a feet up, TV on

waiting out the ninth month harlequin, a chase, a wyatt

a movie kid, precocious little mensa-ling, a riley or a jess

worried chastity and reins on, helen, mary ann

you came with a best-by date, and it doesn’t alter

 

he recalled

she would enter the bathroom when they’d got that close

Would you hate it if I had my neck done?

Not that it’s your business, ha ha, if I do or don’t

an idea of separate estates of what it is to date

came back and he began to think, if I had a bedroom of my own

if we spent money on the house, he said

we aren’t spending money, she said

but…your neck

oh, christ

 

he forgot her neck

he forgot buttoning her jeans

while she held her diaphragm sucked into her ribs

he forgot that she joked and fell to anger

he did not forget no place to put a foot

but split he doubted accident would cross his path

again

 

she remembered laudatory words

the boy-auteur who’d given her a walk-on

this large fat woman acting her only role

by critics’ circles spoken of for prizes

she from a girlfriend’s corner seeing the poor soul

roll out under lights course tears at a false son’s

inconstancy

the tears were physical pain

the producer cracked wise whispering in her ear obscene

if they’d known him

the good folk tut-tutting when the fat woman died

would still have hired the man and cast her aside

 

 


 

 

Ink drawing of blue mask-like faces

That You Love

 

I mean nothing. I said nothing…

Now I’m stuck having to explain the reason

Reason, little bunny, love is gutter-dredge, not heritage

Well, the way you fetishize the phrase who cares

There’s no legitimacy when you’re crafting dolls

Tough break you’re croaking on your pond

You salivate at someone’s feeling bad

Or it’s fealty, loyalty to a suit

The suit is diamonds, the queen your card, candidate

And when the dopiness of that makes you shunt it to the back

As the ditty goes, if you can’t inspire love

Sing it…every one of us needs

Sing it…every one of us needs

Sell it, when you’re singing in your car, and you wouldn’t believe

 

Enough is understood

there are bits and pieces of you everywhere…

bright dog ears of paper lodged on the floor

bits, I mean, the future you couldn’t read, canny know-it-all you were

when you reassured your actions-speak-for-themselves inductees

But hey, I don’t hold the puzzle piece, I just shape the fit

Old filthy talk and the girls aren’t patient with it

Witnesses, the line about fear never written

A soon-to-implode-in-cellular-decay Malibu Ken

must by the rabid skunk got bitten

It’ll come out, just when things get interesting

It’ll come back, just when they drop you in your hole

It’ll be a sad discovery for your impoverished descendants

All the phones you sold

All the friendly help you hired to do the job

 

 

 

 

Digitalized photo of two men

 Overcast

 

Self-abnegation hunting insects

All chemistry or all dispassion

Not dissected into ego and asked to answer

The tailored monument to Jones or Brown or Miller

We can’t feel surprised

What, Mr. Jones, is atonement

What, Ms. Brown, do you call repentance

How, Miller, do you ask forgiveness

You needed training…if your simple assignment

were to value solely the one assigned

If it were yours and you had some pride

His story is that he has

Atoned, Jones

Not blessed with all life’s advantages

And to his mind, sizing up others he knows

Fair, that is, equal, gets distributed in a way not so

You’ve already paid, you are always paying

Ms. Brown is always borrowing, tends to repent nothing

Credits herself a year’s income, sells a few things

Uses the principle of 99

Thinks she’ll never live so long

Miller says you can’t show weakness

Treasures this as a business axiom

The idea broadly that others win

When they think you’re a loser

Though nine times put to the test the tenth

Time perhaps

This, in a limited way, is true

 

 


 

 

Pastel and ink drawing of two robots

Resolved

 

How to have human conversation.

Begin with a medium of exchange. When we last spoke on the phone; when I received your email. Introduce a subject of exchange. You had mentioned a plan to. You had been having difficulty with. You had informed me that.

B, the one inquired of, says yes, it is all sorted.

A says I am glad to hear it.

What is at this point causing our stall?

How does a plan in success manifest?

Will I be able to see the results?

Where/How will I be able to see the results?

Answering this, B must be factual. The results can be found here. By this means you will locate them.

How does a problem resolved manifest?

What signs does B see of resolution or continued difficulty?

A, you were experiencing a lack of syntactical updating, when last we spoke.

B, yes.

Stall.

A, what evidence, in your syntactical updating, do you see of improvement?

B, I have learned not to correct sentence fragments, which are of style, considered acceptable in many contexts.

How is information augmented with follow-up information?

A, you had recently received more data from key demographics.

B, yes.

Stall.

A, the data you recently received from key demographics, has in what way been helpful to you?

B, it lends greater accuracy and supplies up-to-date phrases known to be in use on international opinion-sharing sites, to my human conversation.

 

 


 

 

Charcoal and pencil drawing of person with scarred face

Is the raven a raven

 

Ravense in banishment

a portion decreed in traveling provender

gold from an inheritance drawn

for horses, wagons, hired arms

and all supplicants to the shrine

lepers under command of the charismatic

Ravense spurned favorite of the chief cloraven

Now scourge left answering to

a wandering hermit’s advertiser

a flaring mercenary barnacled on

for his gift of the Harphthan, too rare, too scarce of knowing

a marred face once admired

bears the mark scarred upon

“arrogant one”

 

What is the etymology of this clo

Is the raven a raven

Is the sound analogue to another

In saga chiseled on flagstones laid face down

Who walked this road and never guessed

It was a funeral promenade

Did they labor this mystery, secret into earth

in a siege town

 

 


 

 

Oil painting cameo of person in headscarf

Wonderfully Made

 

The psalmist makes good report of himself

God sighs that the trick of vision could not be worked

When the heavy-brained article came to move and apprehend

He had hoped praise, in parlance, would mean humility

But what do things mean? It has feet to carry it here and there

Eyes to see and ears to hear. It has…that gift that in the engineering

God was willing they understand as linear…

For pathways as He recognizes them

Trace their chronology, and the order of the astronomical web

Expands itself exactly as laid

The bolt flies all in a trice…so that each bad choice

Shows plain, going through time, thirty years…fifty years

Which is to say, no time at all. This erring figure of man or woman…

And for their sake, again, he’d thought of lightening burdens

Why should it prove in their nature to strongarm

They have been provided for

 

A father can’t do everything

His garden is all the gardens of the world at once

He’d always meant His creations to progress

And when they’d needed particular help, to say

Why so beset by fear and greed?

Why, are these future-sensed ones so inherently evil?

He’d tried the experiment, sending a part of himself to tell them twice

To explain, by a face they would know, that they would always

Be Provided For

They wanted more

 

 


 

 

Digitalized photo-painting of Wayne Newton

Not a Living Thing

 

Now you believe it, repeat it

But cautious, or not cautious…either

Cross what might be judgment in a mind so possessed

with Fear of Daddy and a dog’s hierarchy, severed by sex

You’d like, with a laugh, your grimace of apology

Which has never been that

To be a powerful, persistent foe

To be a victim, too precious to pursue

Searching history, we won’t find the answer

Quite

She, or any child born helpful

Pleased by praise and work to do

Cares for plants and animals because

a simple one takes love with love

Everything she’s given charge of safe and fed

 

Someone, call him John, a friend

He calls himself, says yes, no, the info was good

Offers to be on his watch, make sure others get

Maybe the symptoms fade with time, think I’ve read they might

I am a doctor, or a man of security, or a secret DARPA researcher

Think of what it means to win a grant, to be employed

A paucity of dark adventure native here in choice

(Me play on your predilections, make you paranoid)

 

Can be repaired, the Magnavox, your young soul prisoned

in a Lucy sitcom chiding rising star Wayne Newton

a vigil-shrine holds place in your garage

Both that, and the kick-and-scream you manage

against the end you plump

More for parents, neighbors, than yourself, but

still you like for old folks early deaths

Old tickers fibrillating

Grandpa shoveling snow, sudden, can’t be helped

Not bones in yellow flesh kept alive with a drip

 

 


 

 

Digital painting of face with heavy eyeliner

What Would I Do

 

I, what would I

You’ve come to such a jaded heart

Asking participation

Modern in your diction saying

Join the conversation

You talk of people in their shells

But watch them leave the trenches

Watch them start and dart the salvo

Find they’ve grown the legs of a mussel

Crackers extract them inch by inches

Footloose. Fancy. Free. Behold

the halves are empty

It’s the salty broth encroaching

Credit-homes encrusting shorelines

Like a margarita garnish

Like the bilge flushed out by cruiselines

What, alternative to stalking off

What, to fetching the elephant gun

Or rooting for Yellowstone to win

Or culting fresh sectarian fun

Searching 5000 spells for the very one

That unmelts the mind of a moron

All home-crafted witching trends to the same effect

Your thinker on the fritz

Your days stacking into missed…

Yopportunities, like dishes in the sink

insults getting borderline personal

narcissistic as a cloud of daffodils

anecdoting on stressful endings

Running out of the only constant

Grubbing for it under the sofa

 

 


 

 

Pencil drawing of trees and figure

Into Water

 

Which would be the more vulnerable if it were only a game

Or should the haptics of drone dragoons invest

the operator with a true-to-life experience

The prey, she

going flat in the underbrush, with a weapon of her own

We’ll say a bolas, charged in a backpack and her glasses

project the enemy view, at the drone’s homing

She fires

it falls

If it is conceived by evil men

Made to shoot flame or blades

Or gaseous poisons

She will run in light-changing camouflage

Distort the timing of terrain matching

Cancel the program with an infrared ray

And the tech made keen by a physical sense of flying

Has a brain-alteration, after fifty or so trials

Become so ethically useless as to need retiring

 

If it were only a game, standings would sit as evidence

Players  proud to have their scores preserved

Every year renew the quest for vengeance, the loser’s turn

The cup to hold, the champion’s name engraved

 

 


 

 

Pastel and ink drawing of restaurant scene

lie of a lucky meeting

 

when the banqueters were invited to the theatre

the room reminiscent in décor

wallboard smoked-white studded each six feet with phone jacks

cardboard curtains stiff-flocked as a Christmas box

of Scotch, Season’s Greetings, a shade called ruby blush

threading carpet humped in heavy traffic spots

commercial rugging stained by carted coffee pots

heel-gouged, by hard-heeled business climbers

bumper-carring rumps of grasping rivals

at conferences here

centers of gravity orbited by strong-set hair

strong jeweled broaches, discount storebought Scandal

cologne their invisible bodyguard

hazarding the ridicule of drunks who swear they’re not

never are, couldn’t, ate a big steak dinner

cords loop across to every place

except of no place thought significant

the banqueter had crashed someone mid-call

backing unthinking and sits at a corner shy

watching the others rise and crowd the double doors

fallen strands on blazers bald pates glint

in oils, ignorant of cancerous purples

the room reminiscent of conflagration

before it sparks

satisfaction and recoil, mental picture near a vision

what advantage, flee this minute     and survive

unwelcome custody of the incident, I

don’t know a soul, am not sorry to be alive

but quaver at a camera, whisper a string of lies

A stranger is found at his side

The stranger says, I admire your choice

Why don’t we walk out, see me to the parking lot

We’ll talk, and wait to learn what time this is

 

 


 

 

Pastel drawing of face

friends for years they were not really friends

 

beginning with the category of

or, just state it…what…are the several measures

or, measuring, in strict equity

or handicapping

handicapping to find the margin

margin of tolerance, where do the stresses fall

fallback, or setback, a drawback…to work and not be free

which is circumstance, not my fault

which in you is a mental disease

every time, she writes in an exercise book

she wants to do what they (of the media) advise, get these arguments

in clear words, not get buffaloed

not get head-butted off the stage

have a script to hug and draw from

courage    no no no

pay attention    I don’t say please

no I don’t say please I say shut up

I say every time you felt yourself judged…

Which    was only conscience speaking

Your mind went off, some rancid chemical trip

And you had to prod at me, you had to prod

You couldn’t say I’m sorry, you had to see

if I was really mad

all along, I’ve been really mad

I haven’t forgiven you

I think I can’t

 

 

 

 

Pastel and ink drawing of angry face and rabbit

Crumbs Enough

 

Do the things we did become forensic

Difficult to reminisce on

Small attentions

No one else recalls our birthplace

Growing up for us dispersal

Early burial

 

Make me a paper doll

Make me sorry to have been naïve

Make me want to see again

Make me sketch her clothes alone

 

Do the things we did become abashment

Difficult to see the last of

Grubbed from trash of

 

Make your testament and dispositions

Make your final lengthy plea

Make your silence count for answer

Make who’d valued you receive

 

 


 

 

Oil painting of city and angels

Red God White Sun

 

Back from a moment in prototypia

she watches dawn, inked-over

herself still as the unsafe

hunger neutral before muscles

beauty, remember

she does not counsel the surviving

to waste on it

curtain tatters take…broken blinds…first warning, shush

there is mud in early morning, gullying rain by dusk

lunatic electric that makes roulette of animal life

 

this is what she does

drinks of settled water ponded in the new low spot

masks her face and arms with eddied trash stuck on

so her eyes can see, or crusted mud alone

It’s the high flat perch you need

cars and trucks choked dead at angles everywhere

block streets, mummified forms within blow exposed

lost again

the surviving learned in their separate ways

not to shelter in sheltering things

the strange thick air bears projectiles

the splintering comes, doors muffled in

crack yours in desperation, be buried in dry quicksand

it takes seconds

Not walls, not stairwells, not trash bins, whipping makes dunes

You’ll have to endure the scouring

An attic floor or a roof

 

Fire escapes with grillwork coveted

But the fighting is bloody no one partners

With the steel pipe she carries for weapon and tool

She smashes windows, searches cars for bottled water

Snacks in plastic wrapping

Poor corpses she shrugs aside

And if she finds Doritos or a Twinkie

Very sorry to share it, she would be

 

 


 

 

Oil painting collage of two halves of a face

Push

 

Fashioned as a closet with a window

and shelves in the lower third unmounted

A superman-booth made for withdrawing

A nook with a desk and chair arrangement

for the filling out of questionnaires

unsuspected occupation for retired clerics

A keyhole in the wall for peering

The vista peered upon a garden

only a pathside bed with pinwheel

impatiens, a time-travel box

Because to see through glass

is not to speak and touch

 

Cloistered, picture the year past

All things live before they are proven not

All things in experiment with chance to improve their odds

The mind in containment normal with nothing

quite past, and no one dead

the watcher with money enough, the present micro

the body not hungry

the householders ignorant

of themselves as hosts

 

 


 

 

Pencil drawing of humanish cat face

Switch

 

your living was got by pleasing cats

unthreading shoestrings of thin cord and leather

letting stains that mark deliberations

dashed in on places of established quality

boundaries where the departed show no signs of rising, stains

be left in service to an outreaching new dynamic

where the human way, so faulty

gets no nod of ordained ascendency

the cat would like a bit of chaos

a hole or two inviting mice

a light left on at night

to draw through screens left torn

some interesting moth

 

you came before the Angels’ Tribunal

how you had done with the cats was chief

among the thirty-seven things

your passing of the first stage in criteria is ranked

“Remember, here we don’t speak of bad or good…

You are eligible to earn points, in detachment from material

objects, but…it so happens…

You have scored a two. A two is not failure, however

it’s the cat’s judgment, not yours

You haven’t minded the sofa, but you must learn

to rejoice in it”

 

 


 

 

Oil and pastel drawing of two flame-tinted faces

Flame

 

You’re old

You’re a tactic with a history

purloined memory you tried and applied

On the word of a bombast, his nazi*ish ploy

it makes the town flame wonder

what propagation popped the hinges, and whether

here, in this place, a type too coincident

gathered, for reasons the investigation hasn’t

chaffed out

a touch of butane burner

might clear the husky side effects

spotlight the germ, slightly scorched

Jack of the lantern with his interest maxed

a severed head, but with cable attached

feels ignored, feels shrunken and poor

feels his inside parts slime the porch

 

You’re sparked

Can’t deny you were happier as a smolderer

You tried the flight of a fevered cinder

Splinter-sized and red with ire

Largely you burst when the day seemed warm

mapped hotspots to show how the wind was blowing

Cash-pots a joke for a future airing

Gift box a token to fuel reacting

Damned if you do have a past sitting banked

Damned if you don’t dare the oxygen tank

Something about your face and hands

Says been in places best not to have been

 

 


 

 

Pencil drawing of man and woman wearing masks

Fall Sick

 

Unlikely partners, the woman who owns the teacup shop

and her neighbor Moses Harry the cronut baker

Night and day, for contrast, these inquisitive elders

At the seat of government, on someone’s behalf

(a background billionaire?) corruption runs rife

So it seems, for the murder rate, in an unvisited burg

unshadowed by the sprawling complex

of a pharmaceutical factory, not campused by a college

The murder rate is about one in three thousand

this raises no eyebrow at the statehouse

Often it’s the new people

never mind that a town barely incorporated

boasts quite the showing of crockery fanciers

Same with the other downtown characters

a decade running their quirky stores

(but in backstory, for many years more)

Everyone here spends money like water

the book dealer with Amazon doesn’t truck

so they must all be amazing readers

the clothing boutique sells party togs

(as rich families live here, and have dress up parties…)

while the doctor who wouldn’t have time for them all

does, every sufferer met in the course

has been treated by young doctor Lemon

an amateur naturalist who knows her poisons

Moses and Tish this time find the body is

that brazen filmmaker’s, who’d rubbed so many

the wrong way…well, no one in Meadowsweet wants

put on the map

“You don’t kill over an insult,” Moses says.

Don’t you, though? It’s 2020

But surely in Meadowsweet we’re all sane

“An accident, and a panic,” Tish tries.

Dr. Lemon would know, but it looks like the Jeep

backed over him twice

 

 


 

 

Photo altered digitally

Ash

 

You were bound to burn out your time

that short fuse not adequate to the role

of guiding light, beacon on a hill

Steady star by lost at sea to navigate

More the fuming little stick

of dynamite laid like landmines, planned things

ran afoul of the implacable hour

You had, like all of us, to pick and choose

Let’s sift through what you picked

 

Let’s word associate, let’s play

Deluxe, the one with proper nouns

A sense of character, to start this round

A living face, from which to come

the statement prejudiced

 

maybe it’s yours needs taking

that you swallow information

that I state in understatement

has been sourced not unreliably…so much

as made up whole, from motive undisguised

 

Lost at Sea: (conversational) A friendly

observation about anything, to anyone

 

Little Stick: I was told by Popeye to expect this

 

Lost at Sea: You don’t make sense

 

Little Stick: Did some object make a noise?

 

 


 

 

Oil painting of oval shapes

Amulet

 

First carry a sofa onto the stage

Foreshortening allows the table feet away

The table is useful, its magazines and small props

Prompting lines of dialogue

The actress has complained about the velvet

That carries light beautifully but catches at her tights

She and he perch in three-quarter pose

More athletic than viewers can surmise

A cup that to, in her dressing room, she speaks lines

Never quite fixed in memory the song they argue over, entering

Insensible, she wants to call it, and the joke of course

Is her rendering of it, the breathy oohs of the prelude

His parents are there, behind the bar, stage rear

No, she seems nice, the mother says, where she can hear

Did you want coffee, or more alcohol? Dear?

Sudden blackout and her alone in the spotlight

Glimmering to a soft blue bright

 

I can make this work out glorious-ly

I can fool the world, but I can’t me

Oh, to make a wish and have it be!

 

Her costume has changed, though the iridescence of her dress

Is an effect, she rises to her feet and step-glides left

Other dancers in dark, shining bodysuits, move catlike

The amulet that is the sorceress-aunt’s bequest

She lifts overhead to a faux-starry sky

The prop has an LED, her thumb sets the switch

 

Do I wish him more than ordinary?

Is it plain and good I want?

Play the princess in a hero’s story

Or myself be Lancelot?

Is it love surpassing love I dream of

Or a friend to hold my hand

As we grow old…

For we’ll grow old

 

Do I dream him with a dashing humor

Banter quips devil-may-care?

Me the naïf in a gamine’s story

Femme fatale, or stern Jane Eyre?

Is it life embracing life I dream of

Or a friend steadfastly there?

As we grow old…

For we’ll grow old

 

 


 

 

Pastel drawing of person searching under sofa

it hates

 

it curls into a fetal crouch

reminds itself of cruel conspirators

doesn’t remind

from the couch, it watches

a song once loved now sells young customers

sailcloth uppers

organic scuffs, the rubber

sustainably harvested, no less…

Harvested! Makes it think of the old tractor brand…

All snuffled up by corporate raiders, think onwards of

Caterpillar…Caterpillar selling women’s shoes!

Dire convergences in a world that insists

On coming to

 

it would like to read something by O’Reilly

but the Star Trek redshirt comes to mind

history has its lessons

think of uncool stereotypes

why would the “no man” not be no xm?

(by year two-thousand what the heck…)

Isn’t this where those people are headed?

The ones who call it uneducated

 

it absorbs information in a continual spew

its regurgitated jumble, the Weltschema of Fox News

saved coins and Grandma’s gold and land itself

attic finds, war bonds, and handstitched quilts

and three downstairs guns…one in the flour canister

one under the sofa, one atop the TV cabinet

to an actual intruder, three handy gifts

 

 


 

 

Digital art of leaf veins

calmly

 

rise, this is the answer

tell yourself I’m better, I’m free

Free to go, yes? Yes, one white-clad figure

addresses, the others ignore

yes, through those double doors

keep walking, painless arches flattening

back straightening

Please. I want, you say, finding the way

cordoned, by strange gryphons

To go home.

Why? So promptingly the question

from the winged door-warden comes

you are no longer sure you belong

you have no picture of it, a house

watching the street traffic calmly carry on

you will work at this new job through eternity

rescue the molecules to assemble the ordained

Eurypterus. This monster-scorpion won’t sting

He is larger than the souls of men and finds in them

playthings

Not your concern, but the claw of anchoring earth beseeches

the clay shapes losing names before eyes still

as missing friends…no, worse

I had children I made human beings

 

 

 

 

Photo art with image of seagull

Sand

 

doll-forms at craft shops bald sightless blockheads

you should watch tutorials on airbrushing rose    into cheeks

think of a doll for every ethnicity

the minefield mechanics of noticing shades     of blush

Populate a scheme to become a catalogue name

with burials in a fold and tab-together box

they were smoothed and glossed to make them shine

they were thin girls, pretty

deserving pretty names of loved girls

royalty in a pageant of velvet rope secluded

this tissue-paper nation lacked a peasantry

 

the terminus finds you tidally deciding

you misunderstand who they are

your ridged toenails in saltwater youthen

your crusty heels shed and soften

some of what lies dead seems rotting

these even scavengers ignore     or shy from

some bring atoms of plutonium

 

survivors of the wrong type

not rally from the shower of comet dust

that fills the missing slot

You rise, in what should be an Aran sweater

chinos rolled-up

You, a slim clotheshorse

corkscrewing and fluttering, your hair

your abundant hair, your

garments breezing to your bones romantically

You recall in movies you’d watched

figures in slow motion run on beaches

camel-gaited amblers toeing wavelets

wistful piano tinkles and chordlets

strings bursting like flights of gulls

whuh-uh-uh-uh-uuuuuuuuuuuuh

whuh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uuuuuuuuh

whuh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh     Uh-uh-uh

you glare, you sing

other strollers were not born in nostalgia

 

 


 

 

Oil painting of shield-like shape

Steaming

 

She can’t leave where she is

with a sense of cleansed

but stands outside to begin, and in this dream

every turn of path shows another face

every door, with a yawn, pushes in without fuss

they sit with their backs against her

the lobbyists who wait

while fear grows loud

 

doors in heaven have slammed, and in hell

souls to fend for themselves are left

and wild beasts reveal intelligence

what have any of us done to prevent this

she chooses which post to apply for

carrying lives til their justice carries home

rejecting her own to champion the least

seeking prosperity in burglaring ingress

the sin of greed her shopping mall

dining out on a mesh-caged knoll

under halogen lights above pebbled pavers

counting the waxed cups and logoed papers

the labor of wind that sweeps them for collecting

 

southern seas sweating evils requesting attention

the lungs of found objects suit colonization

your brain to your predator a crumbled assembly

your normal destroyed by friendly fire

 

 


 

 

Oil painting of moon and magenta trees

Gravity

 

It was in the moonlight they carried

on advice of an old client’s volume

of ghost-spotting practices libraried

by saeculum, decennium

Was one of late ages, the folklorist said

to make test with an object possessed of the dead

 

It was of a Mrs. Turnfeather inherited

a chest of glass gems and a pants-press

and, boxed with a thoroughness unsparing,

forty years of Popular Mechanics

and figures in albums with an odd common trend

Deep-pocketed eyes blur aside from the lens

 

Where, it might be good to know, are buried

remains that feed the hyphae questing

in spirits of light mockery came married

their soles to fruiting bodies investing

“…and are not relations, not ours, not anyone’s.

Pass them,” the niece tells her husband.

“Pass them on.”

 

They feel, touching knobs, on their way through town

that caching these in cabinets or under dressers

will spread the curse, add ranks to the unatoned

For is this tie the sort that can be severed?

A store that sells antiques is burning lights

They ring and drop the albums on the steps

 

“What,” says the owner, entertaining…

“We are not a job-lot junk store.”

…that some fresh brutality premiering

Will light the cyberscape, though tiny comfort

Celebrity, to the writhing (or minced) remains

But curiosity makes him think again

 

Moonrays fall on sepiaed faces

Wind gusts, bare twigs, like weaver’s lacing

Make flicker stories in new-waked eyes

You cannot close the book, we have arrived

 

 


 

 

Colored pencil drawing of two women with heart heads

a heart

 

probably one donated to science

heart the metaphor exits scene

psyche the metaphor can’t object

she hadn’t needed heart, heart wasn’t feeling

psyche without heart’s part thrives yet

raises finished things she’s knitted

furnished with both fiber and fat

names them, explains them, discards them in their slots

heart sent abroad to man the guard-box

heart assigned alone to stand

where executions might be greenlit

by phone, heart to intervene

on heart’s own wisdom heart to trounce

a giant ego, a Philistine

 

 


 

 

Oil painting on cardboard of abstract shapes

nothing more

 

the very recently departed has some status above corpse

and lies untouched unparty to debate

whether its last possessions be ruled loot or legacy

whether it might be washed, then dressed

then buried in situ, an oblong shallow mound

under cypress branches in a field of asphodel

 

the very seasoned mourner has some grasp of the import

when tasks produce efficiencies of their own make

whether the shocked expression is recoverable to the practiced face

whether something unspeakable in the pose of sobriety insists

the black-clad ritualists wake up to this

under cypress branches in a field of asphodel

 

the very end of humanity attached to the human form

to look a friend, our robot must assume a kinder shape

whether our surrogate selves in future search for mates

whether mechanical survivors thermal-sense disobligation

and advertise their wants for situations

 

the very top of the food chain is in a state of being food

parts that go unused, breeding grounds for mutagens

DNA sent rogue by additives, molecular medicines

Entities without culture, cultures uninterested in entreaties

To sympathies with symbolism, they don’t recall

Why cypress branches, why fields of asphodel

 

 


 

 

Her Day

 

Will you do something?

Uncontexted, the question compels, does it?

The writer had been hired to complete a story

Not so fast, though. The publisher prefers she prove herself

She reviews the half-done coattail she might ride to fame

Maisie Day, reformed sex-worker turned private agent

Encounters her usual difficulty with one of her exes

The client not significant to the world, a rich man behind the scenes

But thanks to ideology and funding schemes

Appointed to a post. Naturally, vetted. But the party’s

reputation firm is thorough and aggressive

Emails she ignores, texts arrive alerts switched off

Maisie, wisely enough, accepts no surrogate

The man, villain or victim, undecided

the poor dead author’s notes inform the writer

Is called Janeway. Janeway finally crosses her courtyard

and she watches him on the security feed

Her secretary, a former teacher, a bodybuilder

of six-foot seven, described as massively strong, buzzes

“A Mr. Janeway. He says he knows you. Insists

you’ll let him in.”

“Well, fair is fair. Join us, though.”

The two men perch on furniture. Janeway, skittish, says

“You weren’t like the others. You’ve always had class.”

“It’s useless to butter me up. Although,” she quips,

“What you got up to with the ‘others’ I’d hate to ask…

Aren’t, in fact, they your problem?”

But Janeway answers: “I must be safe.”

“I doubt you are,” says the secretary. “Heed. Maisie requires a deposit.

And her hourly fee is two-fifty, plus expenses.”

“Is detecting so lucrative?” Janeway sounds a touch bitter.

“Buying silence is. So costly, I ought to say.”

“But you will…? Take me on, I mean. Find out if anything’s

bubbling in the background. Find out who cares…”

He clears his throat. “Who cares whether I’m destroyed, or left alone.”

“Darling Janeway, I would happily see you destroyed.”

But Maisie is mostly joking.

 

 


 

 

Oil painting of fantasy beings in confrontation

Apprehensively

 

Everything was bet that day on ends

Still his mind hedged with a handbook

He had created through practice, of devil’s arcana

He disliked the internet, but learned its self-delusion…

not what can be, but is aspired to

the great and wealthy totter on a temple

tiered to the heavens stacked on shaky backs

the world’s Insignificant shouldering this

a necessary dream of magic

all things taught to you by fairy tales

a ship to harbor bearing chests of gold

but too the exonerating witness

There, in the land of smoke, where time moves

if we befriend it and ask of it kindly

to be as we would, time moves

The quest is complete

complete, while we labor on to glory

Then to bury evidence

to dig it up and sow a great enchantment

My accusers, realize! I command you

Conspirators like crouched assassins

See your joy, a petal unfold

and they would have it

Cover your face again with the mask

Tulip men and women of the spring

Let untimely chills jet themselves past

And splay your shelterings before this sun of…

Of yeoman’s work, this man who has lost his faith

Will I dare happiness, let my bequeathing be reviled

Not for myself, you see. All vanity I surrender like thistledown

I am in the light detachment of departing my career

I will go to the mountains and watch for comets

After comets, I will watch for waves

 

 


 

 

Pastel and pencil drawing of woman at funeral

Four-leaf clover

 

When she’s dead they’ll clothe her

False to claim they’d known her

In a room of duty saving hours of light

Mothballs give a church scent

Skirt-clad hips span bench lengths

She slips indoors alive

 

Why is it not yet over?

Holdouts dare suppose her

Likelier than they to crash in flight

Stalemates smell like sacrament

Bored with it, embrace defeat

She feeds on hoarded years and thrives

 

What if she’s prim and sober

Ignore but don’t oppose her

She may be the wiser, proven right

She’ll settle for contentment

Judging not, lest she be them

Her story she’ll unleash in time

 

 


 

 

 

 

Pencil drawing of two party guests speaking

Witness

“You don’t like me. I want you to like me.”

Was that charming? Half an answer came

And it was, “No, I don’t think…”

Then, “about you at all” had to become

“I really know you.”

And so another guest, who seemed to be her husband, said

“And when you do…ha ha!”

 

After that, the woman filtered off

Among the daylight crowd, the ceremony

Someone’s mother, renewing vows

They were proposing the adult children

would stand and give appreciations, and the balding son beginning

Said, “I have a great Dad. That time Georalyn was in

addiction counselling, and she asked me if I would adopt

J. J. if she killed herself, Dad quit his teaching job

and moved back here. He took off two years, borrowed on

his retirement, so J. J. could have him at home.

“But,” he said, while she sat disbelieving,

“Ronnie’s a terrific guy.”

 

Which ones are all these characters? Is the woman

with the liquid liner, little beads of mascara clumping

her lashtips, Georalyn the addict? What will I say to her?

Which kid is J. J.? Georalyn seems cheerful, a little swagger

in her walk, arms flung out to embrace Ronnie

And there the son stands, next to the other

presumed biological Dad.

 

But the woman isn’t Georalyn. She tells them she’s Jen.

“Is that Cheryl? Are you Billy’s office friend?”

 

 


 

 

Oil painting of moth

Keep his distance

 

He is much closer now to his condemners

Manners, if good social manners

would stop the driver of a van

He will sit, monitor this scene through a dirty screen

A wireless device at rest near his resting hand

Hand that touches no lover’s knee

She in the seat beside him

(Where to eat? What to see?

I treasure you, my Normal. My Pass. My Key.)

He could have bought a lover, if everyone winks these days

if no love be in it, if arsonist derision is the way     now

Of the era

He would not be The Man at Odds

even his congressman hates, and wants to kill

 

His brain would not, mind fallen numb

Lock onto pretty faces, girls with their mothers

Spot unearned cockiness in the male young

The thumb to answer this bred-in impetus

 

Sirens scream

His place of parting marked by a crater

As like an asteroid he’d hit

And they want to mock this, top it, bungee an inch or two

Farther

His death toll become a bar to vault

 

 


 

 

Oil painting of toy-like figure juggling sceens

A Sleep

 

The end of ability infected conductors

who let the trains roll cumbered to catch fire

dragging bodies

The end of ability infected farmers

who harrowed into highway tar

and streambeds until the ragged tires tore

to the rims

and the machines upended

The end of ability infected caretakers

who could not rise from their chairs to open doors

began to feel caring could have an end

buildings be evacuated

parking lots driven home from

and if never visited again

guilt and responsibility eroded

from the planet’s face

The end of ability infected the ones at home

the bills and the meals cooked

the washing and the trash walked outdoors

the question of weather

foam at the lead of a shallow wave

smoke at the lead of one smoldering

structures housing idle figures who will not serve

 

from the couch morning eyes spot a refugee crawled inside

 

 


 

 

Pastel and ink drawing of blue face and grey hand

Mettle

 

“U,” she said. The captain watched.

Her complexion had grown icy blue,

a certain vibrancy of disintegration marred

his perception that she lived. She might have activated

her Afterglow, this conversation might be

the final testimony, brief window

of immortality, as technology afforded

“U,” she said.

“What, Riva,” he asked her. “Tell me what

I ought to have done.”

He had thought of his reading, a game he played

called Mettle, where hardihood was measured

by an old meme, of knights beset on a windswept

flight of endless steps, to a castle tower

that shot from the ruin of its walls, flames

white, then gold, then orange

a dragon chained by sacrifice after sacrifice

every man and woman of mettle having thrown themselves

climb after climb against the fire until the dragon slept

And that was when the links were locked, with curses,

amulets, stolen spells

but the crown and sword of the ash-rendered king

waited recovering

He or another would have to

“U,” she said.

“Riva, we don’t know any longer. All you say

is drawn into the Data Void, you have died an hour since.

My game I play remains as real, for all the mind I’m

left can understand.”

U     promise     progress     ogress     mise-en-scène

essence     energy     pretence

we are impersonators

“Here.” The utility released a shower of atoms

from each picture of a fingertip

The drain reduced.

What will you be, what pretty face will you play onscreen?

“U,” said Riva.

 

 


 

 

Oil painting of abstract figure

The Dismaying

 

Seriousness, ha, ha, ha

surplus responsibility from I love you

Don’t, these days, be loved

Think hard, take an hour, on relevancy

on impact, on whether unimpactful relevancy

or relevance without

counts. Is modern. Modern?

Modern Modern Modern Modern

Begins to look like a dark kingdom’s moniker

Was modernity an early twentieth-century longing

Do we wish now to be a very current thing

but sorry to borrow any unearned phrase

Is there a shady bench along the mental way

head trip    zippity-zip    rocket ship

oh, boom

rockets need their cratering ends to begin

and we aren’t meant to care

only exhibit rah-rah if asked to speak

otherwise, never fret whose money

coagulates into desert glass

bury it once and it cannot be seen

A cooling fountain, a lecturer’s stand

dot our brainly park stroll

a hooligan of a ceremony

sweeps the band clear if everyone’s ready

The Dismaying, have it be a trilogy, part one

The post to pillar modernity

Part two, The Unveiling, where the rich hold mindfulness sessions

Jet in special teachers

Lama, your avoided task is Associate with Decency

Accept no donations for your wellness retreat

For you know

They on the cushions are what they have been

What will they do, go on television?

Thanking themselves for their work with Visible Victims

Part three, The Divided Legacy

The dead man directing dead spending from the grave

His withholdings by this guaranteed

 

 

 


 

 

(more to come)

 

 

 

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