Saturday, February 28, 2009

#374: Alexei of the Doorways

Alexei is a cat who can't decide
which side of any doorway is the best;
he simply has to put it to the test
at every opportunity. Inside,

he'll peer through darkened glass, desiring Out.
Outside, of course, he strongly lusts for In--
once that's achieved, the Out looks best again,
and so and forth, around and round about.

At any squeak of hinge or knob he'll come
to gauge the portal's possibilities;
and no experience nor history's
his teacher--God, I swear the cat is dumb!

Or else an optimist who won't despair
of something better waiting Just Out There.

Friday, February 27, 2009

#373: The Futility of Valor

I guess it's war between us from now on;
it's no use to pretend it's otherwise--
for every father fights with every son,
viciously, all their lives, till someone dies.

Right now the terms of battle follow thus:
"Clean up your room! Put dishes in the sink!
Don't you talk back to me! No time to fuss--
now brush your teeth! To bed, you little fink!"

They wear me down, these nightly screams and tears,
that face darkened like rainclouds fit to burst,
these silent, hate-filled glares, contempt-full jeers--
I wonder which of us will weaken first?

No matter--I'm the one who writes this poem,
but he's the one who picks the nursing home.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

#372: Witches' Brew

The proper incantation starts like this:
"A pigeon's spleen! The leg of powdered hen!
An eye of newt!" (Of course, for flavor) "Then,
for potency, a turgid serpent's hiss!

"One of the four winds!"--any breeze will do--
"Another pigeon part!" (no sense in waste)
"A tapir's stubby tail, seasoned to taste!"
(If magic fails, you'll 'ave a lovely stew.)

Throw in three pebbles off a chieftain's grave
(He doesn't want them now), then say this spell:
"Ye mournful spirits, Denizens of Hell,
Come forward! Do your damnedest! Rant and rave!"

The dogs will howl, the deadly trumpets blow...
And what will happen then? Christ, I don't know!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

#371: Last Call

Another round, bartender, set 'em up!
There's far too many empty glasses here.
You see the money--go on, fill my cup!
It doesn't matter if it's wine or beer,

or whiskey, scotch, fine port, gin with vermouth
or else with tonic--put it in my hand.
The leap is short between old age and youth--
as who among us does not understand?

Some say to drown your troubles thus with booze
is just a coward's act--to them I say
go fuck yourselves! That's nothing I can use.
Either join in, or get out of my way.

Those that remain, please raise your glasses high--
and may you always be more drunk than I.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

#370: Roadkill

Raccoon, dead on the freeway: forelegs splayed
like wishbones drained of magic, and his tail
curled in, a question mark, striped like a jail-
house suit of clothes; his guts all spilled, arrayed
around about him like a proud man's gold
(the chain of intestines, jeweled green with flies,
soon pearled with maggots), then his famous eyes--
ensconced in double bruises--white and cold.

No tell-tale skids--the driver never saw,
or simply cared to little for this one
inconsequential life; only the hiss
of funereal gas, cooked by the sun,
escaping fissured skin rubbed asphalt-raw.

As if there could be poetry in this.

Monday, February 23, 2009

#369: Mulligan

I let it go today, so now you're stuck
with leavings, bits of thought now to be pieced
like lace--a doily at the very least.
But that's no good--ah, shit. What rotten luck.

I've got to train myself again to look
for things beyond myself to write about;
eschew these paralyzing swells of doubt
for confidence enough to fill a book.

What, three days in, and already so strapped
for inspiration that it comes to this?
Fill out the rhymes and syllables--it is
just what it is, no more. Do not get trapped.

Tomorrow, maybe, better words will flow.
Keep going now, or else you'll never know.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

#368: Momentum

Look out ahead--the journey yet is long,
the path uncertain as it's always been;
and whether left is right, and right is wrong
we will not know until we've reached the end.

When darkness edges every cresting hill
and echoes do not answer to our call,
it's better to keep moving than stay still.
Does fortune owe us safety? Not at all.

There may be treasure waiting where we're sped,
or else a yawning tomb. It's all he same.
The movement is the thing--rest when you're dead.
Till then, just run the race and play the game.

Where one succeeds, another always fails.
Let lexicographers sweat the details.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

#367: Eyewitness

It's said, behind the cobweb-colored drapes
and cataract windows, perhaps one night
of twenty, someone in there strikes a light
and walks those halls. The candle-glow escapes
through dusty panes and warping bits of wood
and sometimes through the craters in that roof--
the attic, where she died. If you need proof,
walk by there now--but I don't think you should.

I've been by there when light shone through the pane
that backed her bedroom. I have heard her moan
through that slit throat he gave her years ago.
And once I slept on her bed, when the rain
had chilled me cold as--why? Hell, I don't know.
But some things, kid, are better left alone.

Friday, February 20, 2009

#366: Prodigal

I'm missing this too much--the way my brain
not long ago would daily search the ground
and sky for inspiration; then, once found,
transform it to a vehicle for pain
or pleasure, memory of wrongs
or little kindnesses, or else just shapes
built to contain odd thoughts and small escapes--
dumb jokes; short stories; benedictions; songs.

The cycle ends, and one day you return
and barely know the place; the hinges rust,
the door swells in its frame. Does that home fire
still smolder under sleeping ash, still burn,
and want only this breath to re-inspire?
I'll get back in and find out now. I must.