Friday, June 30, 2006

#68: June 30, 2006

"Maybe they help us some way. I don't know.
It seems to me that if God has a plan
He must include them in it. And since Man
Is given dominion, it must be so.

"But if you've ever felt the thorny prick
Of roaches' feet across your sleeping chest--
It's creepy, how the damn things move so quick!
Still, God's wisdom cannot be second-guessed.

"They can live for a week without their heads.
Did you know that? To make things worse, they fly.
They lived before the dinosaurs were bred
And eat shit. We'll understand more by and by--

"Or maybe not. The way this world's designed,
It could be God had them, not us, in mind."

Thursday, June 29, 2006

#67: June 29, 2006

Knievel was my first two-legged dog,
Both up front. People found him sad and odd.
Denied the grace of even a tripod,
His nightly walks were slow, ass-dragging slogs.

Then Mitzi, who had both legs in the back:
We invented a harness with a wheel
And strapped it to her chest. That pup could peel
Out like a nitro dragster down the track!

But now there's Ham, whose legs (one at each end)
Present a special challenge--how to cope?
I guess I might train him to walk tightrope...
He could perform at state fairs on weekends.

Yes, Ham's predicament sure is a bad one.
Still, could be worse: suppose he only had one?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

#66: June 28, 2006

Young Charles Laveuax would babble on for hours
As a child, conversing in a nonsense tongue
With unseen playmates. His folks said, "He's young,
And not yet master of his verbal powers."

But midnights in his lonely attic room
As the years passed, morose and solitary
Charles practiced his strange vocabulary
In heated arguments with God knows whom.

Till finally, at the age of seventeen,
One night the young man wakened everyone
With awful screams--his parents rushed upstairs
To find the room in shambles, bed undone
As if a frightful fight had happened there,
And bloody bedclothes where Charles should have been.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

#65: June 27, 2006

There are days when nothing seems to turn out right;
You wake up on the wrong side of the bed,
Catch your toes on the rug, flop down a flight
Of stairs and land awkwardly on your head;

Black cats know of no other paths but yours,
And mirrors shatter at your merest touch;
Ladders loom ominously over doors
You must pass. Lucky horseshoes? Not so much.

Some days the tales told by those wise old wives
Hold no comfort. No good signs come your way,
And every hour's a trial to be survived--
Good luck is in the end of such a day.

But I, fortunate fool, can take your arm
And thank my natal stars I've such a charm.

Monday, June 26, 2006

#64: June 26, 2006

What do the salmon think, trapped in the jaws
Of angler bears? Do yet-untravelled rills
Rush past unblinking eyes as drying gills
Collapse, and unspawned young stain murderous claws?

While squirming in the bloody robin's beak,
Can those earthworms' dark dreams, unrealized,
Flash by whatever earthworms use for eyes?
Would they cry out "Alas!" if they could speak?

Why should there not be terror in the least
Of dying things? Why should deathbed regret
Be sole province of humankind? And yet,
Death's not tragic for unambitious beasts...

Fitting, perhaps, that man's the only one
Who dies pining for things he's left undone.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

#63: June 25, 2006

O glory be to God for poisoned things:
For king snakes carrying slaughter in their bite,
For spitting cobras, murderers of sight,
And scorpions with their elegant stings;

Praise the Creator of the brown recluse,
Whose potent fangs can stop a baby's breath;
The black widow, whose hourglass counts down death
In drops of blood--each creature has its use.

The man o' war, whose tentacles sting, maim,
And ruin nerves; urchins, anemones,
The many-venomed killers of the seas,
And insects far too numerous to name;

Praise this Designer of mortality;
Remember that same cruel Maker made thee.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

#62: June 24, 2006

Thea, my girl, my beautiful flower,
amazingly is two years old today--
the sparkle of whose jeweled eyes has the power
to stutter my hearbeat, and make me sway;

Her smile a slice of sweet and fruity pie
that makes me rush to nibble at her neck,
sipping at giggles like a butterfly
(I mix my metaphors, but what the heck).

Daughter, you make your dad so drunk with glee,
so helpless in his sloppy happiness;
an ancient bug on prehistoric trees
awash in sap, but happy nonetheless--

Lucky in this fate he has not deserved:
In amber beauty he may be preserved.

Friday, June 23, 2006

#61: June 23, 2006

Bill had a mistress--hell, everyone knew;
just figured it was none of our affair.
And if Linda knew too, why should we care?
She didn't, though; nor we what she would do.

They had two kids: Joseph, a lively lad,
the image of his father; then young Sue,
as pretty as a China doll--the two
of them life's dearest treasure to their dad.

When Linda found Bill out--no one knows how,
or else won't fess up--something broke inside.
She called her children in to take a bath
and drowned them both like cats. They say that now
ten years since Bill's heartbroken suicide,
only the rain makes Weeping Linda laugh.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

#60: June 22, 2006

Bad office coffee feels like engine oil,
As hot as if it just came through the block;
It tastes just like twice-turned, wildfire-burned soil,
Pissed on and strained through a sweaty gym sock.

I slurp it down and shiver as a cat
Creeps over the site of my future grave;
It hits me like a fist, makes my tongue fat
And dries up all my spit. I must be brave--

For the alternative is no caffeine
(Discounting cups of tea and Diet Coke;
Undercaffeination just makes me mean),
And that's no alternative--that's a joke.

So instead of going through life at half-speed,
I suckle at the sour black teat of need.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

#59: June 21, 2006

Memo to all employees: as you know,
this morning someone called in a bomb threat.
Obviously the building didn't blow,
and no, we haven't caught the prankster yet.

Also, in the push to evacuate
(and despite warning signs), some workers rushed
into the elevator, and the weight
has jammed it. Luckily, no one was crushed.

Finally, regarding claims for Workman's Comp,
for poison ivy cream and other goods:
Procedure is to go outside--not tromp
like Daniel Boone through the abutting woods.

Now, we don't need anyone to remind us
there's work to do; let's put this mess behind us.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

#58: June 20, 2006

"I don't have time for this!" the vampire said,
pulling her skirt up and searching for shoes.
A TV in the background ran the news
while she stomped frantically around the bed.

"Son of a bitch." Still reeling from the booze,
she tried hard to remember what she'd read
in that book--or was it a website instead?--
about the best methods for covering clues.

Later she glanced back from the bedroom door
like Lot's wife just before she turned to salt.
She guessed it was her own damn stupid fault
for feeding where she'd never fed before.

The bloodstained walls, the corpse spread in the buff.
"Like a mortal killer--or close enough."

Monday, June 19, 2006

#57: June 19, 2006

"Well, there she is: Mildred, my second wife.
You can see what I meant about her hair--
wheat-colored, yes? Just as it was in life.
I find it a comfort, having her there.

"When she died, I didn't know how to go on--
so young, so beautiful--look at that face!
A flower, cut before the bloom had gone...
In fact, that's what suggested it: the 'vase.'

"The dress? It's silk, I think. Faded a bit,
but then that's unavoidable. We've tried
other fabrics, but nothing weathers it.
It's hard on evening wear, formaldehyde.

"Still, the effect is worth it, don't you think?
Ah, Mildred dear...enough. Another drink?"

Sunday, June 18, 2006

#56: June 18, 2006

My daughter, Thea, two years old next week,
is trying out new phrases. In the yard,
balancing on retaining walls, the hard
new words crinkle her nose and fill her cheeks;

Like "Lissen too me now!" which she will say,
and then say nothing, lacking all context;
or "Do not argue me!" to her perplexed
brother when he is asking her to play.

She gets the tone right, though--the lowered brows
and stern frown (comical when writ so small),
demanding attention, brooking no guff;
I hope she won't forget, as age allows
her wisdom and restraint, the way to call
for respect when she's not given enough.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

#55: June 17, 2006

My birthday: if I've threescore years and ten,
Now fully half of them are in the book;
Time to stop fretting over how I look
(For indeed, now my hair is growing thin).

I guess I never will build up my chest
With weights the way I'd planned once long ago,
And always hoped to do--nope, let it go,
And age with dignity. It's for the best.

The secret to it is just not to fight
(No comb-overs nor tummy tucks for me);
Wave bye to youth and earthly vanity,
And so go gently into that good night.

Top of the hill now--it was quite a climb.
Ease off the brakes, relax--it's coasting time.

Friday, June 16, 2006

#54: June 16, 2006

The knucker curled around the village well,
Its orange scales taking fire from the sun;
It tasted the air with its black forked tongue
And on the stones sharpened its talons fell.

Its belly full of suckling pigs and sheep,
Fangs dripping venom to the poisoned well,
The dragon slept; meanwhile, the Old Kirk bell
Tolled souls of missing children to their sleep.

The villagers all thirsted and despaired,
For none were strong enough to slay the beast,
And knights were scarce. And so, the following day,
They emptied their houses, said their last prayers
Over their family graves, then slipped away
Before the cruel dawn bloodied the east.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

#53: June 15, 2006

Days like today could make you take up smoking;
The workplace stress can do that do a guy--
To contemplate the benefits of choking
Down a deck of Luckies between eight and five;

To chew on butts like pale dead severed fingers
And grumble 'bout the job, the boss, the wife;
To breathe fire, let the acrid odor linger,
Lengthen your breaks while shortening your life.

But such a life as this, perhaps no loss there--
No big deal to shave hours off the end;
Trade moments free of sweat beneath the boss' stare
For long dull years--a tempting trade, my friend.

Too bad they're so expensive. Plus, they smell.
I guess I'll stick to coffee then. Oh well.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

#52: June 14, 2006

Oh Country Girl, dressed in your frilled white skirt
at this year's Riverfest, in calf-high boots,
whose boyfriend wears a rebel flag and hoots
for the fat man dancing without his shirt--

Whose shoulder-length, loosely curled hair cascades
in dark brown waves around your pillared throat,
whose black lace thong shows through (I think you know't)
that cotton ruffle of much lighter shade--

I wonder, when you go home burnt and tired,
and drunk too, maybe, on four-dollar beers,
with Dwight Yoakum echoing in your ears,
and wander toward the shower, hot and wired--

As you peel yourself out of that black thong--
will you and I be humming the same song?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

#51: June 13, 2006

"You'll never get away!" the mayor cried
(the gag had slipped), "The Crimson Bombadier
will track you down wherever you may hide
and send you back to prison, never fear!"

A shiver jittered down the Cutter's spine
and his ribs rattled with an evil laugh
as he took out his Negaforce Turbine™
and sliced the shocked mayor neatly in half.

"The Bombadier is dead!" the villain hissed
(to no one in particular, it seemed),
"For even your hero could not resist
my cyanide-laced triple-fudge ice cream!"

So what's the moral? (Grandpa Richie said)
'Don't take treats from strangers.' Now go to bed.

Monday, June 12, 2006

#50: June 12, 2006

Every night before I came to bed,
when Sarah had already been asleep
for hours, I'd shut off the hall light and creep
into the nursery. Our son's nightlight shed
a honey-colored glow across the floor
and bathed the crib in shadow. Quiet, still,
I'd watch his face and padded quilt until
I caught a movement, or heard his small snore.
My legs would cramp, my forehead sweat as I
waited for my sleeping baby to breathe.
Not sure yet that this fragile happiness,
nestled like a young starling, would not fly
the moment I should lapse in watchfulness,
I stood there, staring, too afraid to leave.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

#49: June 11, 2006

Grundy fell for Petunia on a Monday:
Wooed her, but the shy girl said not a word;
Tuesday he swore he would marry her one day,
Or end his woes by falling on his sword;

Wednesday she told him of her father's curse:
The witch, the cabbage, the whole stack of bricks;
By Thursday he'd put the hag in a hearse
And broken her enchantments like dry sticks;

On Friday she picked out her bridal dress,
And sent announcements to her closest friends;
But Saturday young Grundy felt much less
Like settling down, and so our story ends:

Sunday Petunia hanged herself from grief,
And Grundy snuck off silent, like a thief.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

#48: June 10, 2006

Thick glasses; jutting teeth like nibs of corn;
The nose twists left, broken once and healed wrong;
A square, patch-bearded jaw; hair greasy, long;
Sweat-stained tee-shirt; blue jeans knee-patched and worn.

A nasal voice that sets the teeth to grind;
Laugh like a gobbling turkey--goblin-kin;
A glittering stare that pimples female skin,
Wondering what thoughts are scuttling through his mind.

The kind of guy you try hard not to see--
Invisible, or easy to look past.
Talks to himself, for he's always alone.
Because he's slow, and the world is so fast,
He fades daily toward his nonentity--
The ugly and unwanted and unknown.

Friday, June 09, 2006

#47: June 9, 2006

The setting sun was mirrored in their eyes
and its light, strewn on atmospheric dust,
chameleoned from rose to red to rust,
the way a cup of blood darkens and dries.

They sat and watched, stone-faced, astonished, still,
dangling their naked feet over the cliff.
The far waves in the bay tossed a small skiff
as the sun dipped behind enclosing hills.

Their nostrils smarting from the salty tang
of seawater, they heard the roar of waves
like some great beast, the rocks its gnashing teeth
set to devour. They stood and kissed, then sprang
into the air, hand in hand, to their graves,
beyond the reach of faith, doubt and belief.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

#46: June 8, 2006

I used to get so angry looking back
And watching through the lens of memory
My young self--quiet, chubby, dressed in black--
Wallow in self-made sloughs of misery.

I used to spit bile and choke on the wrongs
That stung me still across so many years--
A pain like ghosts of hornets, which belongs
Elsewhere, forgot--and yet remembered here.

But now, older, I come to know the truth:
The past is just a house where no one lives,
Its cobweb-clouded rooms and sagging roof
Haunted only by hearts that can't forgive.

Look back and smile, but let the past decay.
Now move toward the light, and fly away.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

#45: June 7, 2006

The sun beat down and burned the Preacher blind
In those five days he scoured the desert sands
For signs and portents; through his blistered hands
The grit slipped, leaving bloody cracks behind.

On the sixth night he came upon a grand
And solitary rock, eight feet or higher:
Orange and blood-red, like a pillar of fire
The Devil set alight and God had fanned.

The Preacher knew then that the Lord was great,
And split his sun-baked lips with songs of praise.
The light was dim. He missed the trail of ants
That smoked out of the rock till far too late.
Only God heard his screams and watched him dance;
And morning blessed his bare bones with its rays.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

#44: June 6, 2006

It was the first time I French-kissed a girl:
the wet parting of lips, tentative push
and probe; the soft-strong slide of flesh. The rush
of electricity made my toes curl
and cramp. I was surprised there was no taste
except her breath, so hot and slightly sweet,
flavored with her lip gloss. It was all heat
and pressure, arms tangled in teenage haste
to rush after pleasure. And such a shock,
to find myself suddenly not alone
in my body--sharing my mouth and tongue,
my inner space--and all sensation locked
in touch and smell, and hearing myself moan,
so happy to be clean, and loved, and young.

Monday, June 05, 2006

#43: June 5, 2006

When I get home he pounces, eyes alight,
arms wide, teeth bared in a young tiger's smile;
we roll through grass and leaves, a tumbling pile
till my fatigue and tickles end the fight.

Right now he bounds out of bed set to play--
"No time for coffee, Dad, let's go outside!"
I protest, half asleep, too tired and fried,
but that stubborn boy drags me toward the day.

One day he won't come to my room at dawn
to wake me. Soon I'll breakfast on my own.
When I get home from work, I'll trudge alone
unmolested through the leaf-littered lawn.

I don't know how I'll make it past that day.
Till then--the sun's out. C'mon, Son: let's play.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

#42: June 4, 2006

On Saturday my wife gets up at six,
mere moments after our young daughter cries,
and makes pancakes from scratch (not from a mix)
while TV keeps the children hypnotized.

On Sundays I wake up while it's still gray
and do my best to entertain the mob;
I cook waffles, serve cereal, and play
until eight-thirty or nine--that's my job.

The weekends used to mean we could sleep in
and stay up late, no worries about rest;
we would go out and drink and dance, and when
we got home, we could sleep. It was the best.

When I was teenaged I would sleep till noon;
my children's teen years cannot come too soon.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

#41: June 3, 2006

Upon a time once there was a princess
Who lived in comfort in the land of Growse;
And everything that could delight the senses
Was hers just for the asking, on the house.

She grew up without hardships, without wants,
And if one must be truthful, somewhat jaded--
For even the most fragrant flowers of France
Become noxious once that first bloom has faded.

But luckily for our highness (queen next year),
There's always new sensations coming in:
S & M, tattoos, piercings, fetish gear
Kept her from getting bored and sad again.

She's marrying her prince next month in Spain;
Her subjects send their prayers, and whips and chains.

Friday, June 02, 2006

#40: June 2, 2006

Sometimes I want to step off of the ledge
and for a dizzy instant feel the air
filling my shirt and touselling my hair
like a lover as I hover off the edge.

Sometimes I want to close my eyes and go
off into space, weightless, suddenly free,
and before giving up to gravity
exult in universal ebb and flow.

Of course it's what comes next that keeps you from it:
moments of flailing arms and kicking feet
as the earth drags you screaming to the street,
and mocks you with your own weight as you plummet--

But still, I can't help thinking of these things:
Dreaming of, at the final moment, wings.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

#39: June 1, 2006

"I'm learning to forgive," she said, and smiled,
looking almost beatific with the light
behind her. Almost saintly, dressed in white--
her halo of blonde hair, her voice so mild.

She picked an instrument up off the cart.
Sparks glinting from its polished edge beguiled
her eyes, and made her giggle like a child.
"But then, forgetting is the hardest part."

She pulled the leather straps and buckles tight,
then placed the scalpel just over his heart
and pushed until it popped. His blood defiled
her smock; yet as his screams rang from the tiled
and soundproofed walls, she knew that she was right.
"Oh yes--forgetting is the hardest part."