Medley Of Rhymes

19th Century Reality Check
Drunken, the servant stumbled down the hall
and sprawled outward amidst the lordly ball.
So much of an uproar came from the fool
that a gentleman challenged him to duel.
“As it please my lord,” he said with a bow,
then proceeded to beat the dandy’s brow.
He broke the gent’s nose and blackened his eye
till the gent yielded with a pleading cry.
The servant then righted himself up, tall,
and glowered at the nobles, one and all.
“You thought yourselves superior,” he slurred,
“but now you can see the truth, by my word.
You think you can command us with your names,
but what happens when we tire of your games?”
He pointed at the gent weeping on the floor
and drummed his barrel chest, wide as a boar.
“Mark you, fools, a beast of the savanna
whereas you’re but cats on the verandah!”
He then stumbled out of that regal house,
having taught prideful cats to fear the mouse.

The Graeae (Professional Critics)
Oh, these critics three
passing one eye between them,
two thus blind in three
as they clutch at the one’s hem
and beg for guidance
while they look in jaded turns
and oft deride sense
for sake of what thereby earns
an eye passed again
as if good taste came, not sight,
with an eye plopped in
while in caves yet lacking light.
They cannot see much
in caves so dark with conceit,
each one out of touch
beneath the columns of Crete
and fighting for views
from the fickle, rolling eye,
blind to changing hues
in a new day’s dawning sky.

Clubfoot In Mouth
Lord Byron, that conceited bastard,
always had to put in the last word
like the boot to the head
of a corpse before abed,
but even that was a gaff
from which the corpse might laugh,
the clubfoot striking as befits
a club and foot dull to the wits
it disdained with tragic toes
as belike a nib, bent, that flows,
for he was, after all, an aristocrat
and, consequently, a pissy brat
born among pretentious elites
and despising Middle class Keats
and deriding him for dying from
a “bad review”, a conclusion dumb
and disregarding the acute thrombus
that had killed his brother, Thomas,
to whom Keats tended in bravery
while Byron committed knavery,
his sense of Art so narrowminded
that he was himself all but blinded
to the trends beyond his own,
like a dog chewing an old bone,
or a coxcomb nibbling his sole
swollen yet swallowed whole.
There is no doubt about it—
Lord Byron was a little piece of shit,
and as for the Little Ice Age’s start
it began, no doubt, in his heart.

Master Trappers
Some are ambushed from within
by their genetic booby-traps.
Some say, “Original Sin
is the reason for such mishaps.”
But it’s best to think these traps
inborn, waiting, like lightning rods—
and listen as the thunder claps
like snares set and sprung by cruel gods.

Earn The Urn
Ashes to ashes, all to burn
in a clay jar or porcelain urn,
and so the hours of accruing wealth
amount but to a heap of self
dissolute of its former worth
much as before its earthly birth,
and so some dwell in the bottle
to drink away the days they have got till
interred within the selfsame glass
through which their precious hours did pass,
whereas others to cubicle cages
are confined by career stages
and yet others choose to be free,
letting ashes blow across the sea.
As for me, do what you feel you must
since all empires aspire to dust
and earth become a gigantic urn
for the things we think we earn.

Two Poems

His Prayer
He prayed with his thumbs
crossed,
throat brimming bile,
spittle spraying from snarled lips,
forearms flexing like the forelegs
of a panther in pursuit of prey,
hands straining to the tendons
with an eagle’s grip,
veins pulsating rapidly
with quickened blood;
he prayed with thumbs
crossed,
a vengeful garroter
strangling his exwife
or his chuckle-head coworkers,
his estranged, ungrateful children;
prayed with his
thumbs crossed,
choking the whole world
until only the sound of his
grinding teeth
remained.
He prayed everyday
breathlessly
to a god of death,
his thumbs crossed
around the bulging cords
of his own empurpling neck.

Firm Grasp On The Matter
His painter’s hand had been ruined
by the relentless teeth of age,
crippled in the grinding gears of
arthritis, and so his grasp enfeebled
by a sacrifice to Art and Beauty
yet
he painted such Beauty into the world
with his gratitude for life—
even as his body fell apart around him
he could paint the world with his
gratitude
and none could paint better
than the workaday wonders that he saw
in the passing of routine things
juxtaposed with the inevitable finality
of death’s imminent grip
so close at hand.

Why Poetry?

Because when poetry is good
it is as a fairy-haunted wood
full of shadows and foxfire
which burns in glade, thicket, and mire
and fireflies in hinted flashes
while, at a distance, lightning crashes
and rain coos its gentle music
along the canopy, its dew thick;
because the wood is known, yet wild
and I wander as an elfin child
in want of magic and insight
between the gloom and the bloom of light
that sparks with such breathless surprise
and wakes the mind as it blinds the eyes;
because it is, too, the splinter
caught neath the fingernail, and Winter
blowing cold through the frosted trees
to bring famine to all families,
and it is the pookah, so crazed
it trammels its rider till glazed,
it is the wendigo, hungry,
and the charlatan, his tongue free
to charm off the chastity belt
of the princess whose soft heart doth melt
at the gold song of a cuckoo
and then her own song: that of “boo-hoo…”
It is the dagger in the bed
as she cradles so gently his head,
it is the will o’ the wisp aglow
to lead astray another John Doe;
because it heals us when we die
each day of our lives, wondering Why?
And it resurrects us anew
when the woes of the world hack and hew
at our hearts, our bodies, our minds,
gutting us like fruits unto rinds;
it helps us to understand ourselves,
and our feelings, those tectonic shelves
hidden away in our secret depths
whose quakes come with our quickening breaths
while we seek the words of solace
to shelter against pains that toll us
in an old crumbling barn’s facade
against the wrath of a jilted god.
Because it is innate, this need;
as inborn as to breathe and bleed,
and we know no better way
to heat the night and to cool the day
with but few of the choicest words,
nor how better to compete with birds.

Gravediggers (Dedicated To Carl Sandburg)

We are gravediggers
humming hymns while we work,
shovelfuls of silence
packing thickly the honorable dead,
embedding them
in the becalming bosom of the earth.
We put to bed those whose lives
have ceased in sudden violence,
whose harrowing finality
deserves the requiem
of hallowed ground
and gentle voices;
we tuck them in tenderly
as mournful mothers would
the sons who have paid
such sacrifice.
Listen to the soft rain of soil
as it reclaims such sons
born of mortal clay.
Some were believers,
some were not,
yet all are united in the esteem
and the debt
owed to them by the people they served.
Beneath rolling blankets of grass
they rest in reverence,
and we, the gravediggers,
the oarsmen,
the ferrymen,
paddle them to calmer shores
with our soothing shovels—
we sacrifice a few hours
for their sacrifice of many years,
hoping they find the peace
beyond a war-torn foreign land
crazed with the cacophony of
salvoes and cavalcades,
maddened with fretful waiting;
listen to the rhythmic lullaby
of our shovels
and know Charon’s song
toward restive sleep.
We are the gravediggers.
Please,
be at peace.

4 Poems

Mirage Magnate
He leads them through the desert
with a mirage of water,
promising an oasis
toward which they scramble
on hands and knees as if supplicants
only to find the shattered statue
of Ozymandias
strewn among the blank desolation
of the American Dream.
Their thirst goes unslaked,
yet they praise him with hoarse voices.

The Moon’s Glow
He was as jolly as the Summer sun
in a clear sky above golden fields
and so she seemed, too,
beaming with the light he gave
in unconditional generosity,
but however bright she glowed
with borrowed light
she herself remained a cold place
hard to inhabit.

Sylvian Psychoplath
A clutter of stemming words
in search of fruitful meaning;
clusters of inchoate imagery
without the thinnest shade of
sense,
like a drug-addled hypochondriac
thinking herself a dryad
at the mercy of a logging company,
lost in her own fussy blooms
as she traces the trifurcating twigs
during a whirling tornado
without an eye of calm.
The heartwood bleeds sap,
obviously,
yet one wonders if the
axe
taken to the trunk
was merely trying to cut straight to the
point.
The burl-knotted bosom
unburdens itself
in warty bunches,
and even when chopped up
and stacked in ricks
the woody worth of it is
dubious,
the dryad’s blustering smoke
a deliberate obfuscation
on whatever illuminations might reel
from the hearth
such tangled brush feeds.
And yet
there are mushrooms growing
along her thoughts
which I think quite fine,
even if poisonous as a
gas oven,
every single one.

Stone Dreams
Cleaved shelf of stone
jutting out from hills heavy-headed
with shaggy pine;
cleaved shelf of stone
rugged with old thoughts
like a giant’s brow troubled
by dreams that trickle in icemelt
as the sun rises unseen
behind a pale sheet of snowfall.
I have known dreams as steadfast
and bare
as such stone,
dreams blasted long ago by dynamite,
yet have not worn away
in skirling winds
and seasons of thunder
and tantrums of quakes.
Time wears on
and the stone dreams remain,
more silent than beds of snowfall;
more lasting than the roads
that divided them.

Apex Predator

You! Do not presume yourself as safe
from the apex predator of the earth;
rather, feel it gnaw, you silly naif,
the beast who gnaws at you from before birth
and to the day you die, and yet more,
grinding you down to such dissolute dust
that dispenses far, from shore to shore
with our marvels: a legacy of rust.
It comes by land, by air, and by sea,
below, above, and from every side,
within, without, our very chemistry
and our physics, where particles collide
and then fling apart, our building blocks
crumbling with entropy’s ceaseless disease,
a widespread fourth-dimensional pox
inborn as the greatest of maladies.
It will build you up, and then tear you apart,
growing you like a farmer a prized pig,
and will show you love, then break your heart,
butchering you on a scale small and big.
For Time devours us with unseen jaws,
sure as a lion the hapless gazelle,
nor can we escape its savage laws
when fight-or-flight instincts will always fail.