Sunday, March 31, 2013

Bad Poems Written By Famous Poets (Issue #10)

This Is Not A Stickup By Paul Valéry
            broken handlebars and a rust-riddled cross, a few less plucks at chartreuse petals as you count footsteps by fives between sidewalk cracks,
            nobody knows the twinge of a bell anymore, no more rings, no more rustling wind through the pines,
            ophelia’s in the kiddie pool again, her nickel-plated skip-link chain necklace on,
            for the left of over, for the brittle scratch of one less of two, for the baize’s whistle of pool, hair shadows in the whale-oil lamplight, the take’s gone from sleep, halt-and-hark traffic’s bent for just us in the eiffel-tower-sparkled glow of it all, in the electric sizzle of the power lines, in tandem pedaling towards the moon,
            cracked as rain-worn shingles, even bubblegum stretched would do, in a motor’s clutch, safely round corners and daffodil stems, loomed lighter, awash comes in handy with stinging apiary whiffs, winded blind,
            hand-cranked cares, the breaks shot, woe gone downhill with a lunatic’s tears, sweetly menacing with back-of-the-head eyes, from moaning violas to lapis lazuli harmoniums tilted gingerly towards the colors of sunrise,
            a velocipede for your thoughts, a penny-farthing for your dreams, another “indeed” grown to only be groaned as the sewer grates smoke,
            coast through unpaved troubles if you can, a truncheon in the spokes of it all, a gutsy rasp tying your shoes together, an overcoat praying for winter, socks with a proclivity for argyle thoughts, a distressed undershirt that blabs sincerity to junipers and fire hydrants from a man typed to death with ink in his veins and newspaper skin who eats boilerplate and skimmed mercy for breakfast while the sky sinks low enough for him to sleep through the day on,
            and the war is far enough away, it always is far enough away,
            and the music’s ammunition has yet to run out, in the shelter of war’s shadow, here, stuck almost close and almost together, riding alone on this bicycle made for two…           
At It Again by Shel Silverstein

my thumbnail’s smashed so it’ll match my heart
in the underhanded sort of way I know so well
it’s a lost tie
a lone glove
a millionaire’s toupee blown down Easy Lane
tiny pink ribbons wave in the whisper trees
every time somebody’s buried
any gravedigger in town will tell you as much
any lopsided clothes-matcher will know

in the wept sundries of a never-taken stance stem inconstant wisteria’s patchy  growth

riptide for you
a dowser’s curse for some

listing comes to all etceteras in the end
or count past the brushed palms into breakneck slowness
if pull comes to push
in the revolving door of your moments

order rarer things from the ordinary menus of others
keep a tab on plagues of locusts
for all of your mind’s islands are being swarmed 
and the time of pummeling is near

my pushpin heart is swelled with a Diet-Rite ache
a ballooning empty mush
that dampens and hampers my mossy livelihood
until 7 days of rest a week is all that’s left

if war be without you
copy over-and-out copy
do not ladle out my snail-shell soup
just yet

there were nocent breath mints in your pocket
where armless men threaded needles with their toes

in the boiling rattlesnake water
in the have-it-all silence
in the oranges gone to Julius
this faded sapphire mood of mine
gone flat with exposure
has drooped its mildewed fronds
over the soppy
lint-sprinkled pavement
of all my first times
once again

all penchant for heliotrope has gone Sour-Skittles south for the duration of the season

my reek is chemicals in a vapid waft of hope
my name’s just a stenciled breath
my hours dip and bend
my toes creak and groan

do not heed my high-dive stalling
do not toss sunflower seeds to mice

we are humans
vulnerable and frail creatures filled with arrogance
lost stagnant in our cotton-candy muck
do not pay us much mind

game over

Umbrellas For The Soaking Wet by James Thurber  

If there were a wig to wear for a wish’s hair
you most certainly, my dear--
dazzled by blonde’s dare 
(dye, it would appear)
in the mind’s cleanest hemisphere--
have mended heaven’s bough
to only ask, “Why…How?”
or sidle earring-near.
Telling the present by past palm’s scars
what the future mars;
it’s not in the movies’ stars.
But myopic
and quick
go the hungry and slick,
while the patient are plied
with witty cocktails lied
(the current motto: charm and abide)
to no good other side
of which one is (remember)
only slightly a member;
and the past
more or less
loses all consequence
until the rain--
slaying every last bow-tied Cain--
washes away (for all’s vain)
another mediocre November.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Noir Of Defeat

COP: I can make sure that you’re paid to talk, or not talk. It can go whatever way you make it.

HUMPHREY BOGART: Alessandro Volta invented the battery.

COP: It’s a difference of fact, not opinion, in, somehow, this matter. You crafty, full-of-it, stocking-stuffer, limp-wristed, potato peeler. I’ve got more than just news for you. This is battleship-sinking time. Trust me, this is no arboretum. It’s not a showoff contest or some kind of mud flap flailing on a fly-by-night run. Ever hear of a tench catching a breath of fresh air? I’m all what’s surfacing, or about to, see? Don’t blasé me, son. I’m all for tasting notes of a higher caliber here, and I’m all for excusing all the phoniest alibis in the world-- all of them, except what’s gunning for my already testy altitudinal save-facing. Scrap it. I’m dusting for spiders in the kitchen floor’s grimiest corners. I’m over the esteem of being some yearning bumpkin with holes in his favorite sweater, a cussed-out busser with the hard candy of things weighing me down. Shit. Shit. Shit. I’d like to think I could almost have it made just so I could unmake it, you know?

HUMPHREY BOGART: The empty dish-soap bottle sounds like a monkey screaming when you squeeze it. My friends are all dealing non-calls and stay-away lights to me. It’s more broke and deserted than a closed-down shoe store beneath a burnt out lamppost. It’s not the words I can find, here.

COP: Don’t go on. Please. Start behind and fall ahead. Yes. Sense is what you make of it. No. Yes. Wait. I mean maybe.

HUMPHREY BOGART: There were bicycles then commonly referred to as Abracadabra Machines. Basil stink’s more than heavy, counterparted with leaky cylinders. We hove forward and hurt no chances for…

COP: You!

HUMPHREY BOGART: Yes. For me.    

COP: So, let’s say we’ve got this guy, I don’t know, named Vida Blue or something.


COP: I do. Got him, in the loosest frame of the sense of having anything, for one. That’s for one, that thing.


COP: And for one thing, this guy Vida, he’s a real stickler for gabbing out the wrong guy. He’s a low-baller, an extorter of the meek and harmful, and we’re not cracking anything close to the surface when he comes up with this idealistically opportune yarn about whose ass is about to be handed over to us, in a matter of the holiest reasons for keeping mum; and so we take what words he’s spilling-- it’s his time, all he’s got, you know, to give-- and wilder than hogs get rodeo-clown lucky and avoid any real major denunciations to our questing methods.


COP: Shit. That’s all you’re going to take away from this? Yes. Yes. For Cerberus’s sake. We have esoteric terminology like you’d never imagine. It’s nothing to crack eggs over. We’ll get through it two ways or another.

HUMPHREY BOGART: Singly, I do opt for better conditions, sir. There. Does that work?

COP: So they say things like, “The blinding lights are better than no lights at all. Can’t take the heat. Can’t get out of the kitchen.” That’s what they all don’t say. I hope folks like me keep not believing it.

HUMPHREY BOGART: What about me? Folks like me?

COP: It’s derisive, all these thoughts we get to get around to having, and then I stand over you, looking down on you, and hector on about what I don’t ever get around to knowing.     

HUMPHREY BOGART: What I wouldn’t give for a broom that sweeps up all the bad things that I’ve done, sweeps them away from me, out, gone, or wherever they can’t follow me wherever I go. You can talk and talk. It won’t plunge any deeper into the dingy basements of mistakes I’ve made. I’m wearing gloves from here on out. I’m sick of cold hands.

COP: Our little committee here seeks separation of selection and nature. Our tiny ways of trying are adding up to a minuscule amount of tapering off and on, and there are no sea urchins in heaven as far as I know. Luck begets worse humans than our already half-butchered lives want to contemplate. 

HUMPHREY BOGART: My music is best understood by children and animals.

COP: Really? Shit. Well, there’s a little Igor for us, I guess. Shit. That’s not even close. Shit. Did I mention…shit?

HUMPHREY BOGART: In a lollygagging run-for-cover sort of way, you might possibly utter something comprehensible while turning a spare key in your mind’s ignition. It is on or off for the rest of us, until the motoring of winnowing clicks becomes all that we can hear.

COP: The highlights of my nights our surrounded by dim spectacles of rum-drunk secretaries filing away my sentimental letters to out-of-work lawyers and retired sword swallowers.

HUMPHREY BOGART: Mystery solved. I am punching judges and taking swigs of cloud-apple brandy. Recount the ways to me of which I should be minding my resolve to not attempt an answer to any of this.

COP: Hardly a question asked, dippy.

HUMPHREY BOGART: Crap. And to think, I’m all out of answers already. Crap.     

COP: Just a Murmuration of Starlings passing an Exaltation of Larks after midnight. Shit. Let the grilling begin!

HUMPHREY BOGART: Surely you can’t expect me to concede to blab and rat out people and name names under these conditions. I need brighter lights. Actually, heat lamps would be great. They’d do the job, if you will, in these times that try whatever’s left of my chintzy soul.

COP: Left to your own devices you’ll drown in the sordid waters of your own mischief.

HUMPHREY BOGART: You leave me every choice-- to make you into a ridiculed warbling martyr of the lack and risk of voice-booming hot air that is filled with nothing except emptiness.

COP:  I do nothing of the sort. Just blabbering on to hear yourself blabber. That’s all you do.

HUMPHREY BOGART: Oh, buckets of slop. Shit. It’s like as if I cried out, “Buckets of slop for sale! Buckets of slop!” And you’re the only one not listening.

COP: One more-or-less true slip of the sleep-deprived tongue. It seems I’m currently all red meat and cranky juxtapositions, and it is rook time in the castles of malingering. The volts of vanishing are within me now.

HUMPHREY BOGART: It is better to be suited than suitable, if you dare to contradict my daring. Gross negligence on everybody’s part, I guess. 

COP: Set sail for the shore, and die within the bounds of living’s reason.

HUMPHREY BOGART: Turn off your phone. Turn off your brain. Turn down the noise you make. Turn, turn…just fucking turn. Who’s looking back now? Who?

COP: Tempers might flare, but not mine. Never mine. Of course the harrowing bit of coffee grounds that’s always spilt and sent seeding on the linoleum every morning will be coming home to roost eventually. Remember, this is Bingo! time. This is the period of traipsing footsore into crumbling parapets, the era of lapping up useless information just to toss it unused into a pyre of general malaise. Give it to me, kid. Give me all you got. It’s not nor ever will be enough for either of us.

HUMPHREY BOGART: People are just too damn normal. I want imitated flattery. I want holy Post-it notes slipped under my door at midnight. I want mothball lollipops and fringes of elementary surges in powerless twitches that screech high-wired through casket-dark days. Older, older, and older still, and I get odder by the minute. Dreams of playing air guitar on a stranger’s tennis racket, competing with apple pickers for a newspaper crown, struggling for recognition in defeat’s glory. I have become all that I am.

COP: Good. You will be compensated with chewing gum payola. Specks of bright will laud your ill-lit path. Do not check in the rearview. That’ll, it seems, have to be a promise. Got it?

HUMPHREY BOGART: Sure as soap.

COP: Okay. That tears it. I’m done pestering. My how-do-you-do nature is now being set to unresponsive. Pass or don’t pass. I could give a care, but I ain’t.

HUMPHREY BOGART: Having all of it. Predisposed to be unpopular, the kindlier pieces of me fit awkwardly with the cruelest. But I’m forcing them. Yep. The abutment is pretty damn complete, sir.

COP: I kid myself about that too.

HUMPHREY BOGART: I know. We all do.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Salman Rushdie’s Letter To God

            To Any Whom Who Might Be Concerned,  
             Bespeak me of moans truer than honest, and plead a mere beg above the fray. Shudder what riddles this corpulent bag of ex-dust with pinpricks of doubt, sure, if thy will be shameless, if thy tires be worn through and through, or if thy name seek holier climbs than these shallow open-ended chaffings of mine. Jesus, what’ll we come to next? Rubber machines? Tape-recorded prayers? Would the end of the century pool promise if thy feverish spells churned bleakness to a buttery glint of surprise, or even wonder? Laugh, sure. Go ahead. I am worth the buff of damaged marble. I am heavier than moldy molasses. I shut dark in closer habitats than these dank and dour caverns. I am made of foodstuffs and chucked change.
             I’ve had it; you’d better bet.
            Very much and soon I cram my bookend life with deceit’s pleasure and other horrid tortures of staying put. Or, dear Lord-- Oh me! Oh my!-- I am crass and so checked by thine crummiest yoke.
            PS- The girl of my dreams just went jogging by while I sat ogling the deckle-edged state of this tear-stained parchment. Grief? I’ve given up on it.
            Back and back to other forths, and so the swam of past strokes goes unnoticed, and germane to all points of surrender, I slip up faster than one might suppose. I suppose.
            Dear (I meant to put at the start) God, even with the sway of scrounging in abeyance, even in mightier squeaking-bys, even in heart-heavy and hand-light days, I am given to furor and mistaken-- or misplaced-- unlashed tongues of being lonely. Give me this? Well, grant it if thou may. All of my Jehovahs are marrying other Josephs for the umpteenth time. Be not too unduly harsh, for my sake, in the gruel, in the mucked care, in the salivating expectant doom of this 100-yard dash to salvation. See me as I both am and am not, as only you could, while I trustingly abide down deeper holes than even the saddest worms will ever know. But, you know me…so.
            All’s worse than some lighted spittle towards any better. So what’ve I so offended with some mere spilt verbiage? Not thine omnipotent omniscient hold on things, for sure. Not the beauty of a spurned bloom of belladonna lilies. Not the blessed or bleeding tributaries of bleaker holdings in thy name. No. I am off to worse things in the exiguity of time I no longer possess, but am possessed by. Trust me? Hell, what right have I got to call thee out for such inane feasts of promise? It is doting of the utmost class. It’s tripped and wired differently from all I’d cling to or be flung from the heights of.  Or, maybe I’m just as delusional as the rest of them. God knows, you know?
            Of course. Of course.
            Willing, be it as it might not be or should be, to shrill the echoing rise of grumbling from these depths, I plow holy in my native joy. And in the between of the toasting of sobriety, I un-take the planning steps of these humbling and fright-filled stages of hulking wonder and traipses of kudos-less courage. Readying my baser instinctual zeniths for an eventual plummet, I’m just browsing about in the lost nadirs of squandered inadequacy, not looking to buy or sell any wiser knowings just yet. So, whose propositions are being abolished now? A union of hybrid causes. A cloak of foreign magnanimity shoved deeper into the dingier holes in which one could possibly find the lost reportings of one’s more sad-stay-ominous climates. And then, as if pleading could ever matter, I find my worst sense in such stuff as, “If anybody’s got a prayer to spare, well, I could really use a few right now.” Nothing touches this demonic beast inside of me who kindles jealous flames for immolation. The devil’s got my tongue; I can taste him in every swallow.
            Bemoan. Bemoan. I know. It doesn’t suit me. I reek of ungrateful weeding and oil-soaked rags. The sorting of feckless jabs at made-up deities grooms the fits from these restless legs, this borrowed fashion of faith I hold to be crooked and shapely in the same sour breath of defeat-- which, of course, is distinct and uniquely my own; or perhaps does it somehow belong to thy puissance of random selection that collects souls for thee as ornamental knickknacks? Bemoan. Blah, blah. Bemoan some more. Holiest of crappy days. Dear, dear. I think I will start spraying the gardens for worms before the apples are all plucked or drop to rot. At least boredom can be counted on, arriving more consistently than threats through the mail slot. I am just verses chanted from a deserted beach at sunrise, goldbeater’s skin hammered to infinitesimal thinness, a rabid dog all out of barks, a stone, a leaf, a discarded losing lottery ticket, a worthless buried coin. Nobody is counting on me. I just know it.
            Dearest, dearest…whoever. Damn it all. Really, damn it all for now. Think of Emerson. Poor Old Ralphie Boy. I do. And because of this I can relate to thoughts such as these:
            ‘I must be myself. I cannot break myself any longer for thee, or any. If thou can love me for what I am, we shall be the happier. If thou cannot, I will still seek to deserve that thou should. It is all I can do.’    
            All I can do. That is enough, right?
            Oh, and before I forget, could I get a rain check on my passing? You see, I haven’t been late to supper in years, and my egress is still badly timed, and with all this freshly added weight sagging upon my already unpromising burden of exile…well, it’s just a giant no-go blown beyond any proportions I’d ever care to conceive of, here or in any other where. Well, my contusions of doubt proceed me, I guess. Thy name, written and never spoken, it seems is still hallowed around here, while mine whistles hollow as reeds in a dry wind. Proportions be damned. I am using disgrace’s wings to flap a bit closer to the moon.
            Please do not doubt my sincerity.
            (sentiments not included)
            Quite possibly yours and yours alone,



Thursday, March 21, 2013

Bad Poems Written By Famous Poets (Issue #9)

What Scatters To Stay by Emma Goldman

Oscar Micheaux clambered for no attention other than what he didn’t get. And there you have it, sort of.
Reality, like a baby carriage clothed in sunshine, he roared some of what he’d known.
The censors wanted it all cut, fearing riots.
Simplicity would not do. He wanted bared life shown, as ugly and magnificent as it could be.
Restless, railroaded from Dallas, S. Dakota to Metropolis, Illinois,
swindled out of his last two dollars,
over and over,
while the pen of his unlucky homesteading stayed true.
Some wounds you can lick,
but there are some that’ll lick you,
as the kisses stop in wayward telegrams.
In the end there could only be valiant tries,
cragged lifts of dampened but indomitable spirits,
and to grate grave blocks of dullness into glittery specks of hope.
To smash box offices or sell lemons to car dealers,
even in the crumble of courage left in his haunted shoulders,
to scuffle and mumble, “Left Urbana on a tired, old freight train,
to never see Champaign again, not for me or for them,
thirsty dying as hunger wanes.”
And there should be no glitzy award bearing thy name
if presented in the false bower of guilt and remorse,
and I too know what’ll do--
and of more import,
what most certainly
will not.

You Used To Know A Place Like Me by Oscar Wilde

            Not in it for the sport of it, not in it at all, in the head, in the foot, in the hard-to-say places, in the where and in the why-if-not of it.
            Not here for the there of it.
            And you blame the half-found guilt riding around busted and ashamed of saying things like names. Really not liked.
            Catchers all die the hard way. Trust is in the cake of it.
            Aren’t the holds of hemmed days set apart? Likely chambray lining for the overcast liveliness of not-so-current events.
             Ghosts don’t hold enough baggage, here, in the prairie dark, in the hollowed out hill shade, in the pour and cling of it, in the ready not-so as it never does, as any never plugs into a for or an ever.
            Flung from a flaming trail to a suckered temper’s gone, it’s advice from a plugged gap in a cracked dram of dream.
            You who see and don’t at all, you see, these days, they’ve got each other, but it is just I who don’t get to have them anymore.

The Amish Farmer’s Day Off by Wendell Barry

we Wilt the Way corn’s shucked
laughter Forks over its Berry Weather
and the air is Swelled with borrowed promise
only now
like a Motor horsing in the Rain
thoughts Dovetail and Lock as
it’s been a long time since i danced like that
Bushed and forever cutting teeth
Tallied Out
the wind that Passes for To-morrow sleeps without a job to do
and i submit to Change
the crackling of Flames and
Rosy-Hued Triangles
plow the Past Tense from my dreams
as i tug this wispy beard
while wiping clean the Empty Place above the Upper Lip
as i Crane and Gape at
smoke seen from a Window
left to Wonder
which side of the glass we’re left with
after Nature’s indifference  
Ruins and Restores anew
what was Eyeing an
in-the-first-place Scheme
deserting less than This
creeping slow at the Doorstep
of what Anybody
would Ever be scared  
to Ever

Aerobics Done Without Air by Nelson Algren

            The city fuses with your senses, runs gray in your veins, and cracks your footsteps with flat sheets of metal covering ditches dug into the streets all day by men with hardhats and orange vests. The alleys charm your wherewithal, and you plunge nose first, carrying your wits in a pink plastic bag reading Thank You in white italic letters…Lord have mercy upon me… I will lay bare my toilet-roll mush of ecstatic visions within the bounds of 2nd comings and painted windows…The age is false, so coming into contact with the truth of others, whether one’s own truth or there’s, is what the approved sort of madness might allow…Little truths are not building blocks; they are all each complete on their own...The space we keep is sweetly our own… The angles of cylinders will do it to you…The way god smiles in movies…Then there’s the hashings of suicide-cases averted by digital numbers flashing on neon signs…The architecture of tree branches…The unisons of movement…Bent clutter of roads…Be not afraid…A bench to rest on delivers the news with a butchered insight…Go plain…Go dizzy…Be untapped…Lord chance my ways…A nuzzling of toothy naivety strips raw the white from the bone…Fixed to circle…Grown to be little.       
A Tidy Mexican Divorce by Malcolm Lowry

i hadn’t even checked the weather report
and let me just say
there wasn’t a thing triumphant about it
the shirt tug with an unsure grip
the undone tie almost smiling between frowning lapels
the gladiolas ashamed of their swords
splashing umber all over the barroom floor
celebrations of holiday-less months
tipped-over shot glasses
a hole in the ceiling showing a scrap of moon
thrown-away things
what we never thought we’d have to begin with
downing doubles in the smashed shards of failed revolutions

very soon
very soon
mi amor
there will not be wilted petals in the beer
this time around

i hadn’t even checked a mirror in days
my shoes were harried with holes
and the guesses of who
were frowning into why
these casual mistakes that we all make
in borrowed suits and mistimed smiles
become the less of what we are
my ears are gone to the carnival
ship my remains to the butcher

i haven’t even swam in the ocean today

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

something topical

I wish the NRA were a real person,
a bona fide flesh-and-blood human being,
some guy named Bub or Jake or something,
with stubble and a gimp leg,
a harelip and an ugly wife,
who spit tobacco in a tin can and ate squirrel for breakfast.
I wish I could sit down with this Jake or Bub guy,
tell him about a 17-year-old from Ohio who had access to a gun,
who’d want to background check some unstable kid
who’s got “KILLER” scrawled across his t-shirt in permanent marker?
I’d buy Mr. NRA a coffee,
pour the cream in it for him,
and even add some sugar,
if it pleased him.
Then I’d tell him about this kid who took a .22-caliber pistol to school,
shambled into the crowded cafeteria and fired ten shots randomly
killing three 16-year-old kids, and paralyzing another.
I’d ask Mr. NRA,
Bub, or Jake or whatever,
as he sipped his steaming cup of java,
why this kid should have access to a gun.
Was this kid what our forefathers had in mind,
writing The Right To Keep And Bear Arms?
Was this really something worth fighting for?
And then,
as he gulped down his coffee and crossed his legs at the ankles,
gazed at sparrows and hummingbirds softly chirping and darting about in the foliage,
I’d tell him about this kid’s court date.
About how this vile pathetic excuse for a human being,
turned around to face the grieving families of his victims,
and told them, “The hand that pulls the trigger that killed your sons now masturbates to the memory,”
and then promptly cursed at and raised his middle finger toward the victims’ relatives.
I’d ask Mr. NRA--
who’d probably be sitting there spitting blood-red tobacco juice into a rusty can on the seat next to him,
the syrupy intestinal drool of it clinging to his chapped lips,
perhaps smirking at me
with that doe-eyed look of ignorance’s bliss and righteousness,
uttering some stock phrases about “freedom” and “individuality”
or some other cliché garbage--
I’d ask him if this kid’s “freedom” and “individuality”
were worth protecting,
if that’s what he’d given so much money in bribes to congressmen for--
so some lunatic killer could get his hands on a gun and kill innocent people at random.
I’d say, “Look, Bub. Nobody’s trying to take your gun away.
just this kid’s.”
We’d sit there,
drinking our coffee,
while the birds serenaded other birds in the background of our lives,
each to each,
living their lives without lawn chairs and refrigerators,
SUVs, computers, jobs, movie theaters, 
or tobacco, government, coffee, Laundromats, taxes,  
or state lines,
or money.
with song,
and therefore,
unlike us,
perhaps with a chance.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

From Bolus To Chyme

            The general malaise that was brought forth by the clocks changing gave us all tiny reasons to favor cosmetic changes to our personalities over the more subtle and endearing ones we’d been endeavoring to attempt. It was cupcake weather, at last, in the swell meandering of photo-snapped pride, and we took the brightness of evening to be a reoccurring misstep in the fortunes of broomed acquiescence to the cooed and tufted chokeholds of other springs gone. It mattered to us whether the harnesses of justice would outweigh other modes of sipping Big-Gulp bravado from those who controlled the volume level of the speakers. Tapping, along with rhinestone-studded tan-tans and pagode celebratory gestures, came back into style. Nobody knew where this sudden clash of musical forgiveness came from, or even if it came at all from anywhere; because perhaps it had always just been there, lying just below our tonal radar, like a song you sing while you brush your teeth, shave, mop the bathtub, put on pants, do the dishes or take out the trash: something that sings beyond the worst and best you’ve been through. Noticing things was becoming a bit more noticeable in the realms of our conscious efforts to notice and be noticed as much as the morning bells would allow.
            In the kinder rendering of it; in the shabby one-foot-behind-the-other regard of casual action; the polished abysmal horror of spitting sunflower seeds to any kind of rhythm or the cadenced spot-on hum of microwaves destroying the nutrient content of our song; we made secret levels that took the pulse of put-off, diesel-spouting dreams. We made hardwired networks of ability to understand and take orders and please others and dress mannequins in a coded color scheme that, we almost had time to hope, would thrust the nature of élan and slurped gumption into a powerful hold on regret and moldy ways of thinking. How were the disposals of disaster set on regurgitate so late in the game? Not a piped word of it around these plain and dreary places of night. More coldness was in store; we prepped and steeled our toes for the worst.
            A small, clean place opened up between the threaded mistakes of messy beige clouds. The hushed air was an antipode to our ransacked and harried lives. We began to believe in stillness again; in the silence of our occasions. The sky’s opening brought with it the phrase: “Sellers Beware Armed Buyers.” Some of us threw our handguns into distant fungus-lush wells that were well into their desuetude. Most of us remained choppy with reservations about watches that could also be used as poison-dart blowguns. A man with 27 fingers on his left hand and 4 on his right, and no thumbs, made up a new salute for us to use as we passed each other on the road. It was a simple yet esoteric way for us to show our support-- for what, we knew not.
            A lover of Emmental cheese and clarified butter is among us. He wears suit jackets, bowties, and dress shirts along with pajama bottoms. He rifles grape tomatoes at pigeons and senior citizens. I cannot say more for a time.
            Well, there are swindlers of mud here now too. It is absurd to be less cautious than I’ve been, but for some alluvial reason I am approaching dawn’s latest inklings of dark on bamboo stilts; and as the mornings tend to cast shimmerings of blatant and now-lost degrees of change for less washed-out pampering than they used to, I find myself hobbling more over the pocked shore, perhaps attempting to regain the sensation of the last dream I was able to remember having, years ago now, in the tumbled-over files of my head’s to-do-and-not-to-do list. You see, I had a dream that all of our trees were dogs; that unraveled spools of runny color overlapped yak-blood skies and the arid scratch of a bare ocean floor; and the scariest blimp around smiled at a sparrow in midair. I had a dream. I had a dream, you see, that we were all happy campers in rags upon the plinth of wound time’s troubles, and we sojourned with faithless harmers on sidewalk-colored plains in search of the dreams we’d lost, or thought perhaps belonged to a movie or a dirty magazine. I screamed, “Do not socle me, you bastards!” It had no effect on anything, in the dream. I had this dream, you see, and it didn’t matter to me at the time, so I left its modes and operations behind. I let it fester and mold and grow heavy with dust. I made myself a grave out of the soldered remains of what it used to mean to me, that dream, edgeless with no center. I once had this dream, and it made me crazy to have it, and now not to have it is worse by far.
            Still, there are evenings like these, still, twice or so in a while. Like when an ex-community-chest soldier with vitiligo and half a nose swung by for a post-lunch snack. He made little noise at first, but after imbibing a reasonable amount of dolphin milk he made a proclamation:
            “Me? I’m just hanging like drapes, like wallpaper, you know? In between? Well, I’ll go strutting abnormally around in a dignified scramble for some lucent destiny to come my way. Let me tell you, I double space my love letters while the TV plays Cheers reruns; I Xerox the sky for blue-toned survival skills; I gimmick the hacks into revealing their true empathy for all that’s bad, sad, or defeated. Me? I’m fast to heal and slow to show fault, in or around the most berserk abracadabra you could think of. I’m chasing breaded alligator-tongue nuggets with sea-anemone gin. I’m passing pith helmets around outside of church. Don’t go getting a feeling that you’re worse off than the shacklers of fancy mice-- who are not meaner than most, really. Sleep in your chains, boys. Go ahead. It is a wispy correlation made of splattered bug guts and microphone tops. Bless me. My ambition’s inhibition is nothing to sneeze at. I’m chilling like lettuce. I’m toasting like bread. I’m oranged with tangerined luck. I’m Shenandoahed by a filthy drop step to bellow like Paul Robeson, ‘Going home, going home.’ But I’m going anywhere but. I’m parturient with bad faith and gypsy courage; sleepless with haunting expressions of less-charming curiosity, here or there if it’s not apparently blessed in the start, you know? I go days without stubbing a toe or smashing an insect, sometimes. Sometimes? My footsteps are the only music in the world. And I always mean maybe-- to the scattering crows, to the Hot-Toddied and the Brandy-Alexandered, to the fors and the ors, the againsts and the eithers, to the paddling rest-savvy few in the world’s cupola’s catbird seat. Don’t charge me with being edacious or unremarkable in my monumental behavior. I ain’t nobody’s savior. Take it to me, from the corners of a center-less place, the shift from low to lower gets more radio stations than you’d think. Swagger forward with it all; it’s better than staggering. Some things like lost hair: once they go they don’t ever come back.”            

            So much we don’t know about the lives of others: a plethora of minutiae; an ever rolling bolus of radiating facts and specious datum; the distant murmuring of odd thoughts and decent habits and full-sail chiming of memories not yet made. We are rife with mistaken identifiers, cobbled-together jumped-to conclusions, mislabeled character traits and exploits and ruinous posterized emotion. If this carpet could sing, if this shower could play the banjo about it-- we all get to know each other by bits and pieces, spontaneously and in the constant flaw of bob-and-weave jabs at it. A lighter touch to what we don’t get to know in the shouldering of spilled shadows, grilled sentiments smoked to a wave goodbye. A man who once lost his love to the sea now stands on the shore and cackles at the seagulls, chewing sand-dollar bits and mud. There is no way to tell each other apart, except mistake by gruesome mistake.
            I rest my head on shark bones in the eddies of gullied and copper light that the afternoons bring. A man who sells postcards with pictures of other postcards on the front is buying all of my possessions. I no longer need them, and I am useless without them, too. That is my sum, my bad-natured sock in the jaw to whomever this might concern. There will be a dwindling, a etiolation of my internal resources as the ruffle and scrunch of me bays limitful on the banks of sunlight-crinkled water spots. Just promise me this, will you? Cascade my name into the ruts and cracks and chasms of this place, throw what remains into the gutter and stomp it out until it dusts the moonlight from your favorite dreams. A man in a white linen suit is throwing paralyzed crickets at emperor gum moths for sport. I don’t have time to tell you anything. Not a thing at all.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Bad Poems Written By Famous Poets (Issue #8)

Honeymoon Blues by W.H. Auden

I’ve got those fallout shelter blues, boys
I’ve got me a bad case of soup
There’s Campbell’s in my name
There’s ruin in my bowl 
Aluminum lining my soul
And I miss the peas and flies all just the same

Well, I’ve got those bomb shelter blues, boys
I’ve got the gasmask blues
There’s nothing here to breathe
But kisses and disease
I’ve got those end-of-the-world blues

You see, I’ve got the scorched-earth blues, boys
Won’t go where the grass won’t grow
I’m staying where that filtered wind doth blow
And there’s nothing that’ll make me go
I’ve got those radiation-sickness blues

But you know,
We’ll stay in bed here all day, boys
Just sit and smoke in bed all day
Beneath the concrete sky
Safe from the world’s outside
Just lie here in bed all day
Nothing’s going to change our ways
Making it on laughs for now okay
We’ll be in bed here all the nights and days

I’ve got those missile-launching blues, boys
Those USSR nuclear blues
But with my new wife here I’m safe
Smoke in bed and talk of outer space
Tell each other lies to our face
Laugh out loud in the echoes of our fate
Take apart another ration
Until are clothes come back into fashion
We’ll last until the radiation does abate

We’ve got those subterranean bunker blues
We’ve got the air-raid blues
We’ve got the Alpha, Beta, Gamma ray blues
We’ve got the Geiger counter blues
And we’re in love all the way down to our shoes
We’re in love
So in love

How about you?

Here By Samuel Johnson

Sure, sure,
patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.
And so it’s left here,
and I am too, also
wishing ewer here again, in the half-drunk
and not drunk enough light of pouring a few more,
for the remaining tug of sun that the tree’s leaves are glossy with,
here. So long,
I am not watchful enough. Darling,
I am not window broken.
I am appealing in the substance of a
I am learning less and less
all the time.
It is time,
and it is near,
and it is believable.
The pop substance of the occasion.
The hurt of peeping beyond recognition.
The yells of howdy gone now forever.
So long. So long.
It is a reasonable solution of guesses.
It is a raise that’ll ante the rest of your better half.
It’s luck gone beer-battered.
It’s curiosity’s wager.
It is a slipped tear
and a clipped smile.
It is loveably dead,
We wear vests of ivory. We cheat the steals.
A mohair pair of pants. A single drop of no-good poison.
The unapplied-for jobs.
The dessert receipts and the change never tipped.
It is graver than you’d think,
for the most. The guitar’s so far gone
out of tune that you’d have to pray for its safe return.
We have gut instincts.
We’ve got hungrier days than these. And
so it’s left here, still,
in the poorly placed word,
in the stances of magazine covers,
in the worry of deeper and farther away calls of distress,
in the hurry of the insects.
A lapse in antipathy leaves me on loan from my senses.
A word of care leaves me distraught with
openings and endings and missed disasters
rumbling through more foreign Louisianas than I’ll ever know.
In the thrust of it,
below the beeline of what’s right or wrong,
sick to death of crickets,
I am coping with indigestion’s curse, and
the mostly sideways sun is never around when I might need it most.
Being drunk at any hour,
any way or place to hide,
looking out and in,
all at once and not at all.
I am causing nobody any reasonable excesses.
I am hung with a string of iron.
Don’t forget what’s not left here.
Don’t forget what tries and what does the job.
Don’t be armed by insolent bastards of jelly-doughnut fortunes.
We are picked less and often. Really,
it is a wonder that we are even here at all.

Anonymous Alcoholics by Robert Lowell

Variation is key. Under the hood,
                                                                   in the beginning of not-knowing. The younger task
   of blessing
just-ripe-enough avocadoes. The 
                                           scrutiny of not being done in.
The dazed
            of sleeping
                            through alarms.
It is not so pleasing suddenly to be short-armed by railroaders of another dimension’s skimmed vacations.
            Your moiety is all the belongings of a past
            All discretion’s a function of rum-cured maladies.
Casket-cold air brisks through on a woodchip wind, and the bolder robots fan the murder machines with steel wings.
      Capitalize on the letters of the thing,
           check for dad’s face there; the tormented, harrowing, restless marl of it;            
find plenty less, if it suits, there,
    trying to remember
         what a ringing phone sounds like
             -- while shaving in a steamed-up mirror
                                                                                     you have these thoughts.

All Them Russian Girls by Langston Hughes

The Russian girls play pool by the cigarette machine
I’m not coding for those types of enzymes anymore
My mistakes are all of the Chicago-bound sort
My mind’s not made or up
There goes my every anything
All I wanted to ever get or never need
The Russian girls
The Russian girls
Turn on all the fans
Kick the jukebox in the nuts
Make sure not to fall or leap in love
The Russian girls
Those damn Russian girls
I’ve got no clothes that’ll ever wear what I know
Only’s the chance
And the broke of it is
That I’ll make a go of staying asleep for once
It’s mostly a song that stays stuck too
In or out of my head
Just as those Russian girls get up to leave
Or the music drowns it all out
Pinball’s sunk
Jig’s down
The carpet’s got what’s left of my drink
Let the dissidents run against office
Let the hasslers of fun vie for their own attention
You know
Even people like you and I know
Action integrated with distaste affords manglers of oppression uneven opportunity
Intercepting all nods and moans
So stop-and-go options cleave mighty to the buttocks of hope
So you wake up to being not the same person anymore
So praying is no longer an option
Had the Russian girls at sunset
Had the first of all the last dances ever
Had a glimpse’s catch in a streetlight’s eye
Had that and that’s this and this’s that too
But the Russian girls aren’t here to stay
They’re coming for your easy style
They’re leaving by the service entrance
They’re putting lipstick on the Victorian nudes
The Russian girl are calmly coolly crushingly
Washing their hands of this 


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Helium Man In Decline

            Helium Man sent us a message yesterday. It was overloaded with the words “you” and “therefore.” It wasn’t the happiest of messages. Spring came with it. That made us sad. But spring wasn’t the only thing that swept in on Helium Man’s coattails. We had aluminum-lined conversations. A boat ushered in Up-All-Nights and Can’t-Live-Withouts from a tidy swale. Names changed. People’s hair was erased and added back with pencils. Helium Man was urgent in his request. We all felt the urgency like the wind from the subway train in our hair. Backpacks were tossed into heaps. Reds colored June. Essay questions were jumbled while cross-country skiers were cross-examined. Helium Man put us out of our pleasure. Helium Man made plans.
            Nobody had juggled with Take-It-For-Granted. Rifles expired. Then a moon of Last-Thing-To-Do-Before-Leaving-The-House went on a coffee break. Trapping what was left of our courage in quail eggs made any kind of Go-Against-The-Underdog impossible. Went-Out-With-The-Trash stumbled into Good-To-See-You. Helium Man took a blade from his sock and rubbed it against the Half-Dollar dispenser, which was painted with wine-white and burgundy stripes. Answers came and went, solidly, for what seemed to us about 43 or 37 minutes.      
            Helium Man has a good left hook. He wears matching silver gloves. A certain tin-foil lambency imbues their existence. They are not boxing gloves, but have a similar fist-like dynamic. The sound his lips make when he breathes is like tiny wooden elephants being whittled out of discarded desktops. He is not too heavy, Helium Man. When he walks in his partridge-feather boots it is like desert sand is beneath him.
            At times Helium Man will show some compassion. Other times he will be serious and sad only. Right-After-Finishing-The-Crossword-Puzzle happened only sporadically, so we weren’t able to have any Leave-It-On-The-Doorsteps for a while, though Helium Man confirmed we had a few Steak-And-Eggs-Mornings leftover to use as we saw fit. There was a period there when all we did was cuss and use pronouns as verbs. It all came out the same, and Helium Man stood around hording the shadows, so we didn’t have anywhere to cool off or hide anyway.
            We knew it would be quite the occasion when Helium Man met Oxygen Woman. We were all waiting for the event to occur, as we knew it one day would. Things would be sinopia tinged. We had sussed out that much. Random deceit would be dished out cold for restless legs. An Oreo plague would leave things de-creamed and crumbled.
            Helium Man is not fussy about his dress. When people ask him about his heliotrope velvet pants he is likely to say, “Nobody knows the charade of days like this one here. Put two legs forward. Take off tasseled with grape vines. Let other people dangle like snot from bamboo. I can rumba better than you can remember.” Then he might float up a bit and do a nifty dance for a few minutes.
            Sounding like a coward, and this was a long time in the past, a whispering moron claimed to have grounded Helium Man for 43 hours in a row. Nobody believed it. We were all primed for Times-Of-Wandering-Streets-Alone-With-Nothing-To-Do-Except-Worry. There was a ball-bearing-tap kind of knocking in the town square for a few hours, but that was about it. We all knew that Helium Man was past all control.
            The brain of Helium Man is made up of tiny iridescent sacs. Thousands of them, like gems of jelly, span and flutter across the cerebellum. How do we know this? Well, there was that incident a few years ago when the slice of This-Is-Going-To-Be-Trouble swiped in a bit too close, leaving Helium Man grounded, lacerated, and feeling rather deflated. We all saw the gooey substance of his brain running Wrong-Of-Way in drips while he was gurney-strapped, though through the bandages it was a bit nebulous. We saw enough. It was ichorous. We know what we saw. It was piceous and tarry. An elasticity was apparent. Afterwards, when he was healed and hale again, Helium Man said, “Well, isn’t it quirky to be etched in stone before you’ve begun?”
            Every last hurrah became another Last-Cup-Of-Coffee-Of-The-Day, as the time approached for Oxygen Woman to plunder on in. Helium Man’s famulus was becoming concerned. There didn’t seem to be enough seriousness in Helium Man’s demeanor. A proxy of Up-To-The-Challenge was not enough. We all felt a real effort would be needed too, but we didn’t show it in our faces. Our confidence was not lacking.
            “Hypocorism is a nifty way to distance yourself from blame and guilt,” said Helium Man one day under the rusty sun. We were all ears. His wisdom was inflated. “Nothing Nuts-And-Bolts about getting your ass in gear. I breathe paint fumes for breakfast.” Something singular was wafting our way. The spatula in his hand was corroborating his witticisms. We sang in the span of Bite-Your-Tongue and Hang-Ups-From-Wrong-Numbers. Most of us ended up with an annoying form of torticollis from loafing around in Craning-To-See-What-Happens-Next. Everything seemed higgledy-piggledy, and it was in the steric layout of things in general that we found our Clipping-Of-The-First-Toe-Nail moment, without getting tetchy at all, of course. Moments like this are generally hard to come by. We take what we can get.
            There was a knoll. Substance was upon it which could prick conscience and stick it to the novations of promises to cut lawns. It was enhanced like super-sized larvae, which attenuated Helium Man’s drift, and so he, with caustic fury, faded from the horizon’s wink. We listened attentively as he hectored the idea of Oxygen Woman from afar. “Let’s not prod with numinous riddle, nor move past the coruscating bezel of our rival’s streak with a mako shark’s celerity. Take time. Be beset with purpose. Grill cheese. These are rash constructs of a loopy mind. Set aside some scrambled eggs for the terriers. Insensate times call for drastic cuts in union dues. One should not be asked to pay for one’s own demise. Screams will find generous ears to fill, while we live insulated in foggy bell jars, lost delirious in scrupulous mentation, going between, headed only towards nimble deracination. Take me out with the trash.”
            Atrophy struck at a bad time. We were boosting our mischievous side. Air thinned. Things were not limited by the bounds of the rational. Some of us could not rise up to leave. We sat with clenched fists, polishing our milled-rice grins. Last-Gas-For-Forty-Miles made the rounds. We were as unhappy as sandals without feet to wear them.  
             In the wake of Leaping-Before-Looking Oxygen Woman mad her steady clamor versus the airy plight of Helium Man. It was a gadarene scrape into No-Holds-Barred, and punches were not pulled. Sensory overload extinguished any righteousness that might have been seeping into our Half-Watched-Movie attitudes. The match was to be played in propria persona, and we were thankful for this. Nothing would stand in the way of fair sport.
            When the noesis of Too-Tired-To-Sleep was launched over contentment’s walls, we were pleased by the moans of lawns, and what ensued upon the entrance of oxygen into our tent was more than the playful banter of We’ve-Had-Enough-Of-This-Waiting-Around.
            Helium Man sought a clear view. The trance of oxygen’s curse had left him linty and blurred, but he made up for it with some magniloquent elocution.
            “Somebody loved you too once. Maybe you were playing croquet. The grass was viridian enough. Trees happened like bookworm thoughts. Bells cachinnated praise in lumpy heaps, but you were only dowsed with dreariness. Then, being the true underdog you were, you retaliated, not unlike fish without tails would, and there was an imbrication of your playful desires mapped out on the worn curtains of your emotions, each new lark somewhat superimposed over the previous one, leaking out perhaps, staining the hand that dyes. A sash was undone. People fled, and mendicants held out their hands for rewards. Wickets were torn from the russet earth, and you stood ball-in-hand awaiting the procurement of what you’d come to believe was fate’s reward. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here just yet.”
             “I am not a quisling of your thoughts. Procure an advertisement for cheap Pilsner, and I will grant that your copyright law is defunct. By the way, your helium seems low.”
            “Dropped a few pounds this summer.”
            Relationships between species of loss became perceptibly severed. Manifold theories of Hair-Still-Wet-From-The-Shower were all accepted at once. We caught wind of dropped semiotics over the hillocks of Hawthorne-effect limited qualitative mechanics, and things we saw were colored either slightly grullo or with a dab of roan. Helium man sucked in his gut.
            “Gas me up. I choose my own internment. But, in the midst of ruin, I find pleasure in short bursts of your company.”
            There was a tumbling sound. It was quite a racket. We thought of a piano falling down many flights of stairs. Oxygen Woman’s petrous shield, made of adamant and steel twist ties, was decently deflecting blows, but the force of these thrusts at her person were enough to stumble the way she was keeping upright, barely, until Helium Man pulled back for a minute’s revaluation of the current situation.
            “You are not wan.” He strutted upon fresh marble. “Let your face fall upon the mercy of my resilient nature.”
            Oxygen Woman was gasping for breath. “I…do…not care…fo….for….you at all!”
            “Ha. Your struggles are meager and in vain. I will mow you down with kindness.”
            Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle was put to the test. A few of us cawed with a wonder that was almost shock but not quite awe. Lessons in selfishness were learned by all.
            Glissandos of rage reappeared momentarily, and swallows gaped, and the adipose bulk of our disenchantment weighed heavily on the rundles of the dissatisfaction permeating the Boxers-With-Plush-backed-Waistbands atmosphere. Something smelled of Bengay.
            In sotto voce, Helium man outlined some proprieties concerning matters of the heart: “Love is something that should be trusting. It should give and never take. It makes its own rules and doesn’t need any help following them. And you must ask yourself, at some tranquil and opportune moment, is that what is that I am feeling…really?”
            Volcanic-Ash-In-The-Eye was left undefended, out in the open, for all to feel really bad for. Somehow an obsession seemed to be tugging at a compulsion’s eyelash, or it was something from Opening-A-Jar-Left-handed.
            “The power you wield over me is petty,” whispered a now rosy jowled Oxygen Woman. “I am not an object to be admired for taste alone, as if I were a fashion or the latest mode of aesthetic pleasure on some fixed docket of ephemeral lust. Let’s be honest. I’ve got a hell-of-a-lot more to offer here than just hot air.”
            “Games. Silly games.”
            Helium Man fixed his gaze over the garbage-can monuments, which stood tall and gleaming in Mutually-Agreed-To-Beforehand-Unkempt-Conditions. Don’t-Tell-A-Soul bothered us some, but we had high hopes for Abandoned-At-A-Bus-Stop. There were preachers of The-Transeince-of-Uniquie-Conditions to keep us company. The sky spun coke-can red.
            “Mozart, fried chicken, pickles, and a girl who cannot for the life of her pronounce my name correctly. Is this what I am left with? Here in the frozen tundra of my mischief, where ghouls ply their salacious trade, lies the base of our conception of what ‘us’ means. Dinner is not served.”
            Oxygen Woman snickered. “Ha! I ain’t gonna fall for that old one.”
            Woke-Up-Too-Early-And-Couldn’t-Fall-Back-Asleep held on a little tighter to the pervasive mood. But I-Hope-By-This-Time-Next-Year won out in the end.