Saturday, March 31, 2007

#342: March 31, 2007

I'm giving all my poems to the poor.
I hope someone will put the things to use:
level a table, patch a wooden floor,
boil 'em for soup or press them down for juice;

Perhaps they'd stop a draft or silence squeaks
on staircases; or maybe when it rains
they'd catch the drips under your ceiling leaks,
where once they caught the drips from poets' brains;

Cut paper dolls or fold them into hats,
or add them to a casserole for spice;
wipe oil from dipsticks, fix bicycle flats--
whatever purpose for which they'll suffice;

I offer them for free to those that need them,
so long as no one ever tries to read them!

Friday, March 30, 2007

#341: March 30, 2007

I'd never felt the warm air on my skin
before, and all the mysteries of light
were closed to me, a world of black and white
in which I shivered, colorblind and thin;

I'd never even known what sweetness meant
before, and honey struck my senses bland
as watered milk; sugar transformed to sand
and nature's nectars all for me were spent;

Until I tasted you, and dipped my tongue
into the honey of your lips, that flowed
in golden waves over and in between
the join of mouth and mind--till your face showed
the color of the sun when it was young,
azured the sky, and turned the meadows green.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

#340: March 29, 2007

All nature is a harlequin today:
its motley-colored cloak patched green and brown
is trimmed in gold and lined in thunder gray;
it twirls and dances till the sun goes down

While birds like thrown knives cut against the breeze,
their shadows whizzing past like tiny clouds,
and stick vibrating in the trunks of trees
to awe spectators gathered now in crowds;

It juggles sunspots dazzling to the eye
and whispers verse in greenbranch-rattling rhyme,
and when the daylight bleeds out of the sky,
it tips its tri-corn hat to scoundrel Time

And exits like some poor vagabond king,
exiled, but noble and uncowed--ah, Spring!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

#339: March 28, 2007

Another world, another time and place,
a different set of circumstance and fate,
on planets in some strange quadrant of space
whose orbits odd moons circumnavigate,

Staring at skies blown orange instead of blue,
where blood-red oceans wash out emerald sands,
where animals monstrous to me and you
roam gracefully o'er undespoiled lands,

So distant, with our bodies so estranged
from all we know or ever hoped to do,
if we should meet, when everything has changed,
so that we both are alien and new--

I hope, my love, that you will stay with me,
whatever creatures we might come to be.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

#338: March 27, 2007

If it were up to me, I'd grow a beard
as splendid as a billy goat's. The hairs
would dangle long as any that appeared
on first-prize winners at tri-county fairs.

With violets and daffodils I'd braid
my bristly bounty there beneath my jaw;
with ribbons so majestically arrayed,
I'd wag my chin and thus inspire awe.

All who beheld my bushy, glorious tuft
would beg to run their fingers through its curls.
Expertly combed and styled, well-groomed and fluffed,
I could command the men and woo their girls.

I'd have the best chin-duster in the biz,
if it were up to me. Hey, wait--it is!

Monday, March 26, 2007

#337: March 26, 2007

The thing was made of donuts and green beans,
of coffee grounds and spoiled scrambled eggs;
its eyes oranges; its hair was collard greens,
and celery stalks and corn husks were its legs.

It pulled itself out of the garbage dump
and slunk along the river toward the town,
and where it touched the bank a ghastly lump
would fall and turn the tide a sickly brown.

And when it reached the square, it roared just once--
then fell, a fetid, evil-smelling hill;
and though we covered it with earth, for months
the stench of its decaying cursed us still.

But that's long past, and nothing's left now--save
the rainbow-brilliant blooms that dot its grave.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

#336: March 25, 2007

Out here on Monster Island we all grow
to fifty stories high. Our footsteps sound
like thunder, and the shock waves rend the ground
down to its molten magma core below.

Our arms are slimy, sucker-covered ropes
that crush your ships like empty jugs of milk.
We trap airplanes with radioactive silk
and respirate destructive isotopes.

We grind your coastal cities into dust
beneath our mighty feet, pull down your towers
and with our fearsome elemental powers
we punish mankind's technologic lust.

Behind the tidal wave and sonic boom
we rise and come--your creatures, and your doom.

#335: March 24, 2007

Down in my secret lair, bathed in the lights
of databanks that mark these final hours,
imagining my doomsday satellites
that ring the planet like a crown of flowers,

With squads of henchmen ready to command
who at my word will terrorize and kill,
and every government in every land
moments away from crumbling to my will,

I think of how my grandma said to me,
"Though life is long, its greatnesses are few;
and of all men, most fortunate is he
who dreamed and did just what he hoped to do."

The countdown starts, the crypto-failsafes buzz--
and I can't help but think how right she was.

#334: March 23, 2007

The Spartan council dares not take the chance
to go against the Oracle's dictates;
therefore 300 march on the Hot Gates
clad only in their leatherette Hot Pants.

King Leonidas wears his manly beard
(his only patch of Spartan body hair);
he waxes legs and abs and pecs with care,
and yet nobody seems to think that's weird.

'Oil up your spears and ope the breaches, men!
Let those fey councilmen back home debate!
Now thrust and thrust again! Now penetrate!
Up to the hilt, my Spartans, stick it in!

'Show Xerxes's horde what true manliness means!
A lesson for all future kings and queens.'

Thursday, March 22, 2007

#333: March 22, 2007

Let's not do things by halves: go all the way
or else stay home. We want no milquetoasts here.
We need men in whose blood courage holds sway,
who grin at death, and smugly smirk at fear.

Polish your swords and strap your breastplates on!
Be ready for the herald's doomsday call.
Thine enemies won't taste another dawn,
so bring it strong, or bring it not at all.

Affix the banners on your wagon frames
that tell how fiercely you intend to fight!
Tis time for kicking ass and taking names,
so lend the warrior clan thy proxy might!

We snarl at those whose hearts would council peace
from out the high thrones of our SUVs.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

#332: March 21, 2007

I've got to cheat tonight, for I am sick.
My sinuses have knocked me on my ass.
I hope I will be feeling better quick,
and moving to the front spot in the class.

My head is stuffed with mucous, you can see,
and though I blow my nose, nothing comes clean;
My friends are getting worried about me,
and don't know what this rank illness could mean.

My brain is fuzzy, thoughts are imprecise,
and all that's constant for me is my pain;
so please bring me a washrag and some ice,
and let the cool drops sprinkle me like rain.

Tomorrow let me rise up from my bed
and stuff some ibuprofen in my head.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

#331: March 20, 2007

Don't fool yourself: you're not important here.
You're not the one it's all depending on.
And if one day you were to disappear,
only a few would notice you were gone.

If cataclysms opened up the earth
and tipped you screaming downward into Hell,
the Company would keep its market worth,
and in a few days nobody could tell.

You're just a flea wrapped in this monster's fur,
and if you hopped off, nobody would care.
Another would slip in right where you were,
while, miles behind, you tumbled through the air.

Your absence would not leave the faintest scar;
consider, then, how free you really are.

Monday, March 19, 2007

#330: March 19, 2007

Let's dance together under winter skies
in frozen fields with snowflakes at our feet,
and with those blue diamonds that were your eyes
pierce through the mist where earth and water meet;

Let's saunter out upon the frozen lake
where lace-lines mark our steps across the frost,
and in that elemental give-and-take
forget the lives we lived and years we lost;

Let's hold each other close here in the snow,
though neither of us cloud the air with breath;
and let the moonlight cast its silver glow
upon the stone that marks your bed of death--

And from the crossroads let me rise and dance,
who, while I lived, so seldom had the chance.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

#329: March 18, 2007

So once upon a time there was a prince
who travelled through his kingdom in disguise.
The idea was, of course, to get a sense
of whether all his subjects thought him wise.

He went to village squares and public inns
and listened to the peasants and their speech,
hoping to learn how many were his friends
and what lessons his enemies might teach.

But folks talked only of their family woes,
the theatre, the weather, next week's joust,
of children's grades and teenage daughters' beaus,
and not what policies the king espoused.

The prince, dejected, slunk back to the castle;
it hadn't really been worth all the hassle.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

#328: March 17, 2007

My darling is an angel of the vineyard,
of barley malt and spirits all distilled.
Songs worthy of her praise have never been heard,
and won't until this Cup of Life is filled.

She brings me grapes pressed down to their quintessence,
the nectar of the fragrant, bitter hop;
all liquors taste the sweeter in her presence--
without her, champagne corks refuse to pop.

No cocktail that will ever be invented
can make me drunk as I am on her voice;
and no extract that's ever been fermented
could dethrone my intoxicant of choice.

Give me your lips, my love! Let me drink deep,
and stupefied upon your bosom sleep.

Friday, March 16, 2007

#327: March 16, 2007

I want to eat your brain. Is that so wrong?
Or so surprising, given what I am?
You'd not begrudge the wolf a leg of lamb,
and my innate hunger is just as strong;

You think it's fun to be the walking dead?
To have your flesh and limbs drop off this way?
We did not choose our state, nor you for prey--
so be a sport: give us a little head.

Civilization's grinding to a halt;
our hordes like locusts overrun the earth!
Those not yet dead already curse their birth.
The end is here--but that's none of my fault.

I'm only trying to spare you needless pain.
So stop being stubborn. Give me your braaaaaaaaaaain!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

#326: March 15, 2007

The crocodile exposes deadly teeth;
you only have to mark his bloody grin
to understand what danger lurks beneath
the muddy Nile for those who blunder in.

The rattlesnake is called a gentleman
for warning victims well before the bite.
You can avoid him--anybody can;
with care, your risk of venom will be slight.

And yet you, monster, sounded no alarm;
your eyes were kind, your smile seemed sincere.
So thinking myself safe from any harm,
I lowered my defense and wandered near.

And now you laugh to watch my face grow pale--
for you are barbed alike at tongue and tail.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

#325: March 14, 2007

They still don't know what happened to the kid,
but I remember everything: the way
the air felt hot and close on us that day,
gray-bottomed clouds all pressed down like a lid.

He turned to me just as the ground grew wet
with that first rain, his fevered eyes alight,
his fingers round my wrist, the knuckles white
and whispered of my promises and debt.

"Don't let 'em come!" he groaned. "I seen 'em, John!
All white as grubs and screechin' just like bats!
Those eyes!" He choked, and that was all he said.
Next day I went to look, but he was gone.
Blood on the porch; they said it was a cat's.
An offering. Still, though--the kid is dead.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

#324: March 13, 2007

Those people who you didn't want to be
have got you in their address books these days.
They call your wife and ask her out to tea,
invite you to their children's grade school plays.

They talk to you as though you're one of them;
whose empathy can never be in doubt;
assume you join in every stratagem,
and care about the things they care about.

You well may grind your teeth and clench your fist,
but in the end it all shakes out the same.
You know you had your chances to resist,
yet here you are, with just yourself to blame.

This is exactly what you thought you'd hate.
But now you're part of it, and it's too late.

Monday, March 12, 2007

#323: March 12, 2007

Some folks move fast enough to catch their dreams,
or dream slow, so they're easier to catch;
while others sweat and groan and dig and scratch
and make it look much harder than it seems--

Still others find themselves precisely placed:
success flows to them like rain through a pipe;
and patient ones wait till green hopes are ripe
to pluck them ere their season is erased.

But most have one chance at that questing beast,
one moment full of opportunity
that, seized, directs their fortunes to the good,
and missed portends lifelong futility,
tortured by how they would, and could, and should
have clutched the dream they touched, and then released.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

#322: March 11, 2007

See, J. C. was a fuckin' rock star, man!
He laid down all the moves, knew all the tricks.
That long dark hair, that sexy Dead-Sea tan--
no fuckin' wonder He got all the chicks.

This one girl used her hair to wash His feet!
Some fought to touch the collar of His shirt.
That crazy, man! The babes lined every street,
so blind, devoted and naive, it hurt.

Don't get me wrong--J. C. was cool to me.
But some among the others in the band
got jealous of Him. Jude especially.
If you'd been there, you'd almost understand.

Still, someone's got to play the front man, see?
And looking back--hey, better Him than me.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

#321: March 10, 2007

Somewhere across the universe one night,
a boy was sitting in his thinking chair
when something in the quality of light
dazzled his eyes, and gave him quite a scare;

For all at once he felt the vast unknown
opening in his mind, just like a door;
and suddenly the boy felt more alone
than any creature ever had before;

And having once but put aside the veil,
illusion could not fool the boy again;
he knew the cosmos empty, cold, and frail--
Himself its maker, and sole denizen.

And so he dreamed the world, and dreamed us too,
to give his lonely mind something to do.

Friday, March 09, 2007

#320: March 9, 2007

My mind is full of things I didn't do,
of fantasies that sit and gather dust
and opportunities fallen askew
like tombstones toppled on the graves of lust.

The girls I failed to kiss, who might have done;
those temptations I shunned in junior high;
the parties skipped, the unexperienced fun--
like flames they flicker once, and then they die.

O Children, don't just sit and watch your youth
fly by--no, take a lesson from my fate!
It's best to try it out now--that's the truth!
Do it! Because too soon it grows too late.

Regret the things you've done, not what you've missed,
and let the saints and simpletons resist.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

#319: March 8, 2007

When everything is years on down the line,
and nothing present seems of consequence;
when causes come unmoored from their events
and concretion divorced from its design;

When planning for the future circumvents
the now to such a grim totality,
and pyramids of possibility
sit desert-stranded, distant and immense--

When, stripped of every hopeful recompense,
the roof caves in...hey, listen--come with me.
Instead of willing planets to align
just so, let's try for once just being free.
Let's see what inverse worriment invents.
C'mon, let's go. Hold tight now. You'll be fine.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

#318: March 7, 2007

The blackguards have invaded us again!
Our winter-born defenses suffer breach--
they've compromised the bathroom and the den,
encamped near ceiling joints, just out of reach.

These Black Knights of the Kingdom of the Bugs,
behold their chitin armor and dread wings!
Their antennae snake out from under rugs--
and Sarah, bless her, just can't stand the things.

Quick, to the battlements! Roll magazines,
step out of shoes, deploy poisonous baits!
Rob colonies of coprophagous queens!
Make sound with pesticides our porous gates!

Let larvae shrivel in their stinking holes
and may no god have mercy on their souls!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

#317: March 6, 2007

The Holy Fool rolled in from Dunlee Town
with crooked teeth and feathers in his beard.
He wore a dented stovepipe like a crown,
and from his weaving path the townsfolk cleared
each obstacle, as though they were afeared
of interfering in his holy quest.
The old folks all withdrew whene'er he neared;
the children pinned red ribbons on his chest.
Ma said she hadn't liked the way he leered
at her, as if the whole world were undressed--
but Papa thought him just a harmless clown.
Then finally, at the Constable's request,
we turned our backs and, as the sun went down,
over the rise the old man disappeared.

Monday, March 05, 2007

#316: March 5, 2007

Will knew something was wrong. He saw right through
my fear-strained smile, where worry lined each cheek
like hard-pressed pencil marks. I tried to speak
calmly, but even three-years-old, he knew.

I had to bring him back. He did not play
while I cleaned out my desk, dropped photos in
a box (his birthday snaps, that carefree grin)
and tried, and failed, to find something to say.

And when he asked me why you let me go,
and saw my face grow dark, I saw my fears
reflected in his eyes--blue, bright with tears
to hear me, broken, say "Son, I don't know."

And now he's learned that friends aren't always good--
a lesson I'd unteach him, if I could.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

#315: March 4, 2007

There was a fire once on a hill in Spain
(it might as well be Spain, as countries go);
it raged through wind and snow, through sleet and rain,
and what its source was, no one seemed to know.

The flames' bright glow could be seen miles away:
a red-orange haze that simmered o'er the trees.
It burned night after night, day after day;
the smoke, like sandalwood, incensed the breeze.

The miracle inflamed more than the wood,
for people living near that magic pyre
swore its undying blazes boiled the blood,
consumed the brain and heart with God's own fire--

And should that flame die out, the world would end!
But ah--it never did go out, my friend.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

#314: March 3, 2007

She's screaming just as loud as she can scream,
throwing her toys and stomping little feet--
a siren wail, a back-teeth-grinding bleat
that roars and pours out of her like a stream.

This two-year tantrum titan, royalty
whose stubborn ire is writ down in her genes,
whose ancestry were famous for the scenes
they caused (yes, she comes by it honestly);

No binkies--she will not be pacified;
and past a certain point, not even treats
will stem the flow of noise that so defeats
our reason, uncontrolled and amplified--

O Thea, how I dread your screeching wrath,
and hope it quiets once you've had your bath.

Friday, March 02, 2007

#313: March 2, 2007

This cubicle looks like a dead-end street,
a blind alley I ran down by mistake
to hide from predators I had to shake,
their growls drowned by my breathing and heartbeat.

So now they've got me trapped; they lie in wait.
Only my dull routine holds them at bay.
The benefits and fat twice-monthly pay
keep them outside, just like an iron gate.

And so I sit here, staring at the walls
that cage my sanctuary, unafraid
and unfulfilled--all tame and bored, but paid,
pecking at keys and answering phone calls.

They're out there still, as silent as a snake,
just waiting till I finally make a break.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

#312: March 1, 2007

I know it seems impossible right now
to stand up and get out, when movement strains
'gainst this easy inertia in our veins
like thickened oil. Why try, and further, how?

This dull impossibility of change
has sunk our feet like boulders into clay
down through this present life. Late in the day,
the very thought of alteration's strange.

But listen: there's a thrumming in your breast
I'll nurture with my breathing like a flame
through our joined lips--till everything that's tame
in you is wild, flown free to lives unguessed.

Then everything you want is what you'll be.
It's not impossible, my love. You'll see.