Some Poems

Mourning

For weeks the widower next door
has been blowing piles of leaves,
fresh-fallen leaves heavy with last night’s rains,
his leafblower like the dull bellow of an
imbecile giant
echoing through the woods that surround his house.
Before Autumn he was cutting down dead ash trees
with a high-pitched, bewailing chainsaw
all day, every day,
and using a hydraulic splitter
to create pagan mounds of split wood
for a fireplace he did not have.
At night I can see
a flashlight spearing the darkness
as he leads his yappy little dog
out for midnight potty,
the widower following the dog stiffly
as if half-embalmed in his old age;
or I hear his grunts and groans
as he climbs a ladder
in the blind, moonless night
to pull leaves out of his gutters
and toss them into the shadows.
Every day.
Every night.
The woods resound with his tearless sorrow.

Grow Up

My grandfather once told me
that I needed to “grow up”;
an old man obsessed with money,
obsessed with little slips of green-colored paper,
with numbers in a computer on a flickering screen
at the bank,
obsessed with stock market reports scrolling across
the bottom of a television feed
while chattering heads speak of
market volatility,
capital infusion,
inflation,
recession;
he said I needed to “grow up”
because make-believe slips of paper
were more important than anything else.
Humans do not shed delusions
as we get older,
we only prioritize them,
organize them into concerted conceits
to make us seem “grown up”,
to make ourselves believe that the numbers
are as substantial
as a brick to the face;
and not only does the emperor wear no clothes,
but he is not really an emperor,
no more than the little germ is
that he inhales into his lungs
to grow sick and die
while shamans from all over the country
sing prayers and dance and wail
and the decimal point moves left or right
like a marble between two children
who make-believe the marble to be
the earth rolling between the stars.

Insectoidisms

The honeypot ant stores its trove
in its abdomen, bloating, fat, swollen as if
to burst,
engorged like a water balloon
stuck to the faucet head,
distended with cornucopian liquid
until the workers gather round
in the winter months,
to feed from the golden stores
that they offered from their wages
to feed in their time of need,
like honeydew welfare,
feeding until the honeypotis
shriveled
like a government in deficit
until the times of plenty return
and they distend again,
growing large, but not truly
excessive,
stuffed by the workers once again
for the winter months that will return,
that will always return.

The caterpillar grubs along the
tree branch, crawling, toiling,
nibbling at the summer foliage,
working to weave a womb to
birth itself again,
to take to flight on beautiful wings
and vacation in sunnier climes
away from its former life of inch-by-inch
drudgery, to
drink nectar not unlike the gods,
but only if he is born on the right branch,
only if he is not eaten by birds, by
spiders, by wasps, by
circumstance,
consumed from within by parasitic worms,
and then, even if his metamorphosis
succeeds
he can splatter across a chrome grill
on highways of speed and tech and
luxury
he could never have dreamed of.

But look at the dung beetle,
obsessed with his toil,
covetous of his dung, of his
stinking heaps as he
tiptoe-sprints like some absurd
Sisyphus
or, perhaps, Atlas,
shoving the bowel-ball along its way
as if it is his own
Shirikodama;
he is a Prime Mover,
in a manner of speaking,
his whole world before him,
reeking with conceit, his conceits
rolled-up before him until he is
blind to all else but his
Randian preoccupation,
paranoid with his pretense
that his fecal ball
is the world itself.

Bureaucracy

Is not the act of filing paperwork
like a pagan ancestor
sticking his trembling hand into the
stony mouth
of a giant idol and praying
(with sweat-salted lips)
that the rains will come
and the food will be plentiful?
Did not our pagan ancestors quiver,
not knowing whether that
stone-silent mouth
would answer their gestures of faith
with modest blessings
or whether it would remain
cold, quiet,
unstirred by pious pleas?
I stick my hand into the mouth of
bureaucracy
and pray,
wondering if it will
grant my meager prayers
or whether it will
bite off the hand offered
to slake its bottomless throat
as countless others queue behind me…

Blurbs

You scratch my
hardback,
I’ll scratch yours,
maybe even skim it,
so long as my commission
is paid in turn.
Blurb for a blurb
is the going rate in this
circlejerk of authors who are
corralled like livestock
by the stud-farm publishers.
Like the Art world
where galleries stoke the value
of a few select artists
so those premiere galleries can
cash in on their
rigged insider trading,
so, too, authors
are pressed to praise
what does not impress
as it goes to the presses.
What goes around
comes around
in a marketplace of
praise-prospectors.
And the blurbs are hyperbole
taken to such a degree
as if to be a secret signal
or warning
through unintentional satire.
“This generation’s War And Peace.”
“Would unnerve Bram Stoker.”
“I could not put it down, yet was fearful
of the next word.”
“Love In The Time Of Cholera
meets The Idiot by way of
Rudyard Kipling.”
“Kaleidoscopic usage of adverbs.”
“Will affirm all the worthwhile things
in life, awakening the heart of the reader
one page at a time.”
There is no difference
between sleeve jacket hymns
and porn-parody except
one is sleeved in plastic
and the other in latex.
It is MLM levels of
hype, the hyper hype
done with a strained smile
bordering on a psychotic breakdown.
The books may have spines,
but the authors don’t,
or perhaps they have no taste,
only a hunger for exposure,
even if it is exposure as a
fraud.
Or perhaps in this
dog-eat-dogshit world
it is better to swallow one’s pride
and expel a hairball blurb
than be choked to silence
when publishers refuse
to groom your works, works
lost in the multitudes of
showdogs
willing to sell their souls
one blurb at a time
for a blurb of their own.
It is a game
full of winking,
but you must never blink.
It is a farce of superstition,
yet you must believe.
Blurbs are the
conman’s currency, the
conman’s creed, the
conman’s rites,
the concentrated extracts of reviews
slavish to the publishing companies,
and, if you don’t mind,
please compare my book to Dickens
as I would like to evoke his everyday whimsy when readers read the blurb on the back of my book. I, in turn, will compare your book to Shirley Jackson so as to resonate with lovers of gothic literature, even if your pastiche of her work is diluted and amateurish to the point of absurdity…

Moments

A single grain of sand
slips through the hourglass
and with it falls
whole buildings, cities,
empires, crumbling to dust
in an instant,
so brief, the demolition,
and yet so many years
to build it, to amass
the sacrifice of days, of skills,
of lives, all
now gone
with the smooth slippage
of inevitability, the giddy
evanescence of the material world,
sand unto sand, the
humanistic mandala imprinting
the earth
erased by restless winds, by
sleepless tides,
burying pyramids with gravity’s
intractable pull
and the erosion
of fickle electrons.
There is no compromise
to be found
in the sinking sands of Time.

The Lighthouse

You do not
warn of danger
when you virtue-signal from atop your
white-collar ivory tower;
rather,
the desperate blink of your
gaslighting
is but a distraction, is but a
siren’s call
for those of us in
straitened channels of
blue-collar shoals.
Your flashing guidance
blinds us
as much as the dark of night
and so
Black and White all
capsize together
in the coral teeth of your
treasure-strewn whitewater
judgment.
No,
you are not on the
lookout
for anyone’s well-being
but your own
as you gnaw the unified bones
of the shipwrecked dead.

Vacation

Scott saw the lake from the highway,

sprawling at a lower elevation beyond the

guard rails and the trees that rose between.

Its green surface was still, untroubled,

silent,

undisturbed by the windless afternoon

while Scott drove by, going home from the

buzzing, banging, screeching noises of the

Amazon warehouse; the rush as he dashed

from one row to another, scrambling to pick

and pluck and rummage another profligate

item, Made In China, that was as needful

to the average consumer

as a scarf in summertime,

trying to meet the quota demanded of him,

minute by minute,

hour by hour,

day by day

unto endless days.

Going home to an empty apartment

after a twelve-hour shift

was like

dumping himself into a box

in accordance to his bin number

and mailing himself out the next morning

once again

to the same Amazon warehouse

to pick and pluck and drop all over again.

He wanted a vacation.

A real vacation.

He wanted to go to that lake —

not to fish

or to camp

or to swim,

but to plunge his car

headlong into the depths of it and let

that placid stillness envelop him

as he sank to the bottom,

apart from the hectic human world,

uncaring,

detached,

lungs filling up

while his life emptied out,

and the tranquil bosom of the lake

sealing up, like a wound —

reconciling him within its serene silence.

The real horror of his

life

was that it went on and on and on.

“God-Given” Gifts

He visits museums and art galleries

to see the master works of sculptors and painters

(because they have a God-Given gift, too).

He goes to concert halls, opera houses, jazz clubs,

to hear deft musicians play songs

(because they have a God-Given gift, too).

He attends theaters and goes to the cinemas

to watch brilliant actors become other people

(because they have a God-Given gift, too).

He watches comedy shows and standup routines

to laugh at the witty jokes comedians tell

(because they have a God-Given gift, too).

He looks after the runaways, the prostitutes,

the transvestites and the vulnerable,

enticing them into his car, talking to them like

an old friend, kindly neighbor,

philanthropist in times of need,

taking them

somewhere remote, quiet, and alone,

and he bludgeons them, stabs them,

strangles them, rapes them, kills them,

chops up their bodies, takes

souvenirs

for his own home gallery,

disposes of the remains

and then he calls their relatives on the phone,

mocks them,

tortures them with his firsthand accounts,

relives his depravity through their fresh tears,

and he

leaves complacent clues at the scenes of his crimes

to taunt the cops,

watching the News media

to rejoice in his grand debut,

becoming famous as the anchors

talk him up to

Godzilla proportions of destruction,

and then, satisfied, he

lays low for a year,

waiting,

watching,

returning when the ruckus has subsided,

cultivating his celebrity once again

with a second season of murders,

elated as his alter-ego alias

passes along the lips of those who

pray against his trespasses,

and eventually he

betrays himself,

outs himself so he can be celebrated with

loathing, with infamy,

with international intrigue

through books, movies, cult status,

fan mail, declarations of love,

becoming a cultural phenomenon

as famous as Raphael or Elvis,

and all because

he has a God-Given gift, too.

The Modern Oz

The modern Tin Man is fueled by

snake oil,

having given away freely his

heart

for an Amazon discount

and a podcast peacemaker of

conspiracy theories.

The Scarecrow has lost his brain

in a broken trade deal,

having pawned it off to pay for

tariffs

while he stuffs the breadbasket with

soybeans,

laying down,

at long last, beneath his

thresher

to return to a simpler time.

The Cowardly Lion roars

with hashtags on Twitter,

Instagramming a fierce photo

while, between posts, shuddering

in the dark of his

lock-down apartment.

The Wizard sits on a

golden toilet

behind the puppeteer curtain,

vociferating loudly

like an orange talking head

to distract from the sounds he makes as he

drops another turd in the swampy toilet bowl,

refusing to flush it.

Dorothy, meanwhile, has been picking fights

with the little people,

accusing them of being

illegal immigrants

while she ignores the tornado of

historical currents

that had brought her to this golden city

upon a hill.

And the

Wicked Witch of the West

sips Tea Party tea,

caterwauling as her flying monkeys busily

troll online,

copy/pasting disinformation for

a ruble a post.

And poor Toto is nothing but

roadkill

splattered along the Yellow Brick Road.

(Non bene pro Toto libertas venditur auro).