Ignis Fatuus

Ignis fatuus, a fickle fire
leading fools astray with his glow—
leading them into the fetid mire
where swamp creatures lurk below.

Flickering in the deceptive dark,
he draws lost people to his light
for despair, for anger, for a lark
as they wander the uncertain night.

Fanged creatures gibber and howl,
expecting a feast most gruesome
when he glows where they prowl,
all eager for the meals to come.

Drain the swamp? He will not,
for Foolish Fire needs slime to exist;
he would fade away without the rot
and the putrid gas in the mist.

So beware the flame among the muck,
popular though he is, somehow,
or you will fall in and get stuck
like millions who stumble after him now.

Beach Stranding

Strapped to the fabled White Whale,
Ahab rode his flanks inland
where waves wove a trail
along golden beaches of sand.

The ebbing tides receded quickly,
leaving the carcass now moored
and the stench rose so thickly
that Ahab struggled and roared.

“O fickle leviathan of Fate!”
he cried, all futility.
“You took my crew and firstmate,
but I’ve seen the end of thee!”

Along the golden coast of Cape Cod
rich families gathered together
as if to behold a dead god
while the captain cursed the weather.

“How hot Summer’s winds often blow
when a man is at Hell’s door!
Pride cometh now, well I know,
before the Fall to this shore!”

The sun baked the sand to gleam
as to be freshly shaved gold dust
and Ahab, within the whale’s steam,
growled as an engine gone to rust.

“Full market value for this bounty!”
He cried. “Ere true worth be enjoined
with apt reward, I’ll not count thee
entitled to a foe so finely-loined!”

The families looked on two thus bound
and pondered how came they from the sea—
this bloated, wasteful pair, pound for pound
equal to their own profligacy.

Innards soon exploded outwards,
festooning that private island shore
with a banquet for squawking birds
which glided in to feast on the gore.

And so strong was the gaseous blast
from the swollen sides of that whale
that it minced the families, all amassed
in the rotten blubber of a morality tale.

A Smattering Of Poems

Social Media Divas
They welcome voyeurs with spread
lenses,
inviting complete strangers to peruse their
intimate stream of posts,
their
photo-filtered lives,
and yet, however deep the probe delves
with flash and magnifier and high resolution
pic-pic-pic-pixels,
their lives are only ever
shallow;
the gleaning of a photo,
taken with “beauty face” on,
while all of the hollow
blandness
is hidden
on the backside of the camera.

Jester Of Jazz
He is always tripping along
from one improv moment to the next,
playing an unrehearsed song
as if he is badly hexed.

Sometimes he falls flat on his face
and smashes into a clamorous mess;
sometimes he has the saving grace
to orchestrate a feat of finesse.

But it is all up in the ambient air,
as is he, stumbling and somersaulting
over sheet music, his instrumental flair
a capricious cadence, never halting.

And there are times when he fumbles the note
and stumbles upon something quite sublime—
something beyond what is predictably rote;
a little out of rhythm, but keeping in chime.

Tradition
Tradition is the
graveyard
upon which we happily picnic,
unmindful of the
dead
buried beneath us, their
muted displeasures
unheard
as we lounge in our own
era.
Only the
graverobbers
seek the dead’s pretenses,
and who should trust a man
wearing the blood-gemmed ring
of a dead tyrant
recently exhumed,
or heed him when he says
“Tradition dictates…”?
After all,
Tradition
is the mold-eaten bedrock of
our home, sickening us as we
breathe in
its spore-crowded vapors.
Why not simply build a new home,
fresh upon a new foundation?
Why not
enjoy this picnic
and not mind the
worms
eating at the remnants
of a decayed era?

Entangled Genius
Is it not like a
spider
entangled and
dying
in its own web,
how he went
bankrupt
at his own casino?

Sisyphus Sighed
“Why not just give up?”
they ask, as if they do not
push rocks uphill, too.

Dis-Crete Labyrinth
Within the labyrinth
of your life
you are
Theseus, venturing bravely
while reliant upon another’s thread
to lead you out of
entombed darkness,
but you are also the ravening
Minotaur,
bullheadedly stubborn
and unwilling to ask
for help.
The Minotaur, being
pride,
shadows Theseus, being
humility,
and how often one overtakes
the other
as the maze twists and bends
like a spider’s web.
But there is a third among them
and she is Ariadne,
she being
grace,
and she holds the
clew
whereby the labyrinth may be
explored
without losing oneself completely to
Daedalic hopelessness.

Daylilies By The Crystal Lake

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Daylilies by the crystal lake
where grow green ribbons fair
and the glossy wavelets billow and break
with a soft sigh of Summer’s air.

You are flame-crowned, unfolding stars
bowing heads low in thanks
from ditches and roads, unheeding the cars
and bobbing along river banks.

Daylilies of daydream delights,
carry in you the day
and its glow, even in the darkest nights—
I would be as you, if I may,
growing you where I lay,
in darkness where I may someday lay.

The Coo Coup Clock

Ascend the throne,
king or president
or emperor, alone,
even heavensent,
but in time,
as like tides,
with rhythmic rhyme
that blind-sides
you must step down
or suffer a fall,
no more crown
for you,
not at all—
coo coup!

The late hour
draws so near
lose all power,
know true fear,
for the birds coo
and ascend
toppling you,
all reigns end
as the cold
pendulum swings
for you, too,
as of old,
the way of kings—
coo coup!

Gaunt Haunt

The winds moan among the fallen trees
and the black-faced knobs all collapse beneath
the Eastern night sky while Bluegrass banshees
wail like wan women in endless grief.

Twenty-odd men have been buried
underneath the weight of other men’s greed
whose hankering for wealth’s harvest harried
them into a cult’s incautious creed.

Crawling on hands out of their dark lair,
the gawping ghouls of graveyards are thus gaunt
with want of food and water and sweet air—
they rise, they rise from their ashen haunt.

Those not smothered in their darksome holes
die topside with every labored breath,
the coal never leaving their sooty souls
even after they have escaped Death.

Burning away their fear and sorrow
with rotgut whiskey each night before bed,
they do not want to think of tomorrow—
once more descending, the living-dead.

Therapy over telephone lines
fails widows whose thoughts are ever so veiled
with the shadows of the catacomb mines
wherein their loved ones are thus withheld.

A wendigo howls among scalped hills,
the countryside a galled, ghastly giant
whose quarry are those its livelihood kills
and feeds, each the other reliant.

Daft Draught

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It was no fairy ring of toadstools
through which ol’ Cooligan did pass,
but rather that ring of old fools
through the circle of a shotglass.
Tottering up from the bar, all a’ swaying,
he demanded another shot of sin,
but Angie knew he was never one for paying,
and denied him thus, whereupon he did but grin.
He wondered aloud what color was her hair
beneath her plaid skirts and garments
and so some men took him, with very little care,
and tossed him out, with the other varmints.

“Fleas on all ye balls!” Cooligan yelled,
picking himself up from the shamrock patch.
He looked about himself as the church belled
and he lit himself a roll with a broken match.
It was late in the evening, near to dusk,
and Cooligan went a’walking down the lane,
lighting his way with his cigar husk
and smoking it until nought did remain.
A splash of shadow wet the world
and soon the sun drowned in the murk,
and Cooligan sang as he kicked and twirled,
never him minding evil things that lurk.

“Tis’ a rotten world I know,” he said,
kicking a field mouse that flew in his path,
“And it weighs upon my sloshing head.”
He sniffed at himself, realizing he needed a bath.
The day darkened at last to night,
like a head overcome with its thick beer,
and soon the cigar between his overbite
extinguished to smoke, shadows drawing near.
The moon rose and the stars shined
and Cooligan loped on down the road,
thinking of Angie, and her comely behind,
and yelping at the touch of a hopping toad.

As stars wheeled in the moon-misty sky
and Cooligan’s head wheeled in wonder,
a fairy happened by, mischief in its eye,
thinking Cooligan a right bit of plunder.
“Hail, Cooligan!” the little fairy cried.
“A sodden sot with shite stuffed ear to ear!”
Cussing a storm, Cooligan glanced side to side,
looking for he who had spoken such without fear.
“Step forth, you bloody bastard,” Cooligan roared,
“and I will show you who’s full of shite!”
Cooligan swung his fists as if fighting a horde,
punching and kicking with all of his might.

The fairy laughed and mocked, spiraling about
while Cooligan tussled with the shadows and the air,
then the fairy sat on a tree limb, giving a shout:
“You seem a man with a bee up his derriere!”
Cooligan struck a tree with his fist, groaning,
“I’ll kill you soon enough, you whore’s son!”
but then he fell upon the roadside, moaning,
his fury unspent, but his body overdone.
Heaving and breathing like a woman after labor,
he lay there a while, staring up at the moon’s glow
and wishing he had in his hands a sweet-singing saber
to unsheathe and run through his taunting foe.

The fairy watched him a while longer, then grinned,
saying, “How about a drink to set things right?
I have me own draught with which to amend
my trespass upon you, my friend, this night.”
Cooligan wanted to tell him to go piss off,
but he knew he hadn’t the strength to pass up
any liquor, even if served in a trough,
and so he accepted his foe’s wooden cup.
And what a cup! What a liquor!
It was better than Cooligan ever tasted,
and though it was thick as a dead tree’s ichor,
he drank it dry—not a drop of it wasted.

“And here is my atonement,” the fairy said,
“for that cup shall never go dry for long,
but will fill up as soon as it goes to your head—
always the same amount, always just as strong.”
What the fairy said was soon proven true,
for the wooden cup refilled soon thereafter,
and Cooligan eagerly drank this draught, too,
and then the next, deaf to the fairy’s laughter.
He drank all night, and into the dawn,
staggering into town with a grin on his face,
drinking and drinking, like a rain-flooded lawn—
soppy and sloppy and wet all over the place.

“I have what no one else does!” Cooligan proclaimed.
“I have a cup that never, ever empties!”
And like a man who has never been ashamed,
he undid his trousers to loose his overladen lees.
A great commotion arose in the Irish town
because of Cooligan’s uncouth behavior,
and Father Flanagan came, his face a frown
as he exhorted him with thoughts of the Savior.
He said, “The only cup you should truly drink from
is that of Jesus Christ, God’s one and only Son.”
Cooligan spoke to the priest as if he was dumb:
“Christ’s love is finite, whereas this doth overrun!”

Soon enough Cooligan was doing nothing at all
except drinking and pissing both far and wide,
ruining crops worse than the coming Fall
and the stores to hold over the Winter-tide.
Millstones crumbled when touched by his piss
and crops withered from a blight before unknown,
whereas Cooligan drank and drank, never remiss
to shower the countryside with a rain all his own.
His neighbors all feared the coming famine
and so plotted to imprison Cooligan anon,
catching him in a net, like a slippery salmon,
and dragging him to church at the brink of dawn.

Taking his wooden cup, they were all shocked
when he pissed aplenty as if still drinking overmuch
so that his bladder yet brimmed, too overstocked
with the fairy liquor he could no longer touch.
They looked in the cup, and saw to their surprise
neither dregs nor wetness marked wood or inlay,
and so, hardly believing the import of their eyes,
concluded he had been pissing his own wits away!
This proved true as Cooligan withered and drooled
within the confession booth wherein he was bound,
and soon all his sense and reason were overruled
as his eyes emptied and his head lolled around.

“He will soon die,” one of the men remarked.
“And a good riddance, too!” another man said.
“That’s not how a Christian talks!” the priest barked.
The men withdrew, guilt and shame upon each head.
The priest then went into the receiving booth
and tried to draw out Cooligan’s last confession.
“Please, Cooligan, tell me all that is your truth
so I may forgive your sins in this last session.”
The little fairy sat upon Cooligan’s shoulder
and spoke to the priest, telling him heinous lies
about Cooligan’s sins, the next lie bolder
than the last, until the priest beseeched the skies.

“Oh Lord, God in Heaven, whom hath seen it just
to punish this man for his outrageous deeds,
please deliver him from his sins of wrath and lust
and intemperance and all that such breeds!”
Upon this utterance the fairy glowed bright
and absconded with Cooligan’s insensate body,
taking him to Faerie, while the priest saw the light
and marveled at the miracle of the God he
loved and served; Whom somehow forgave him
who had drank his countrymen into abject woe,
meanwhile Cooligan woke, weak of limb
and in the power of his diminutive foe.