Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Household Idols XV; Bite-Size Demigod Glutton

To each object their spirit.
The stove has a function,
it's full of heat but heartless.
The smoke alarm speaks truth,
and therefore has no mystery
to enthrone it. No, no,
symbols have to start empty
of everything but suggestion.

There's the butterfly, bent
iron and milky filler,
it matches the paint over
the sink, but never sends
elves to scrub dishes,

there's also a dreamcatcher,
the obvious cat's cradle
and the authentic, molded
beads, dye-dipped feathers:
an excuse for a nap that writes
its own note, which I'd
prefer to keep folded away.

There's the coasters
with the fleur-de-lys,
provenance unknown,
the coasters with the cartoons,
(description omitted
due to copyright law),

there's the winged bear
praying on the sill above
a bed that checks
for brushed teeth and
washed face but not
for the elbow indentations
of the other evening thing.

There's a calendar
with pictures of dogs,
there's a drawer
for all the other calendars,

there's a quarter-horseshoe,
name chisel-stamped
in block letters so that
when the name is right-side-up
the luck all falls out.

There's some magazine page
of a mansion magnet-stamped
to the refrigerator,

there's bowls of rocks
on my desk, an empty
white board, an empty
cork board, there's even

wind-chimes hung inside,
little tinny bells that
never bangle unless
you brush them while
on your way back from
the dark bathroom,
and the angels bristle.

There's three unused
keyrings on the keyrack:
a lion, a plane that roars
and a bottle-opener.

There's palm trees on
the dishtowels,
a pantheon of mugs
upside down in the drainer,

the smart boxes of tea,
the piled bedside books,
the screaming magazines,
the gray sweater on my chair,
the bright sweatshirt on hers,

pictures and things to picture
us with. So many
symbols to see
I almost know
who owns them.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Household Idols XIV; Lizard in the Window

Stained glass in three green layers,
two pine eyes, two seaweed strips
along his back, the rest filled in
a nameless primary crayon green,

if grass were wax, or the window
a palm leaf, he'd be a chameleon.
Instead he's a slick-clinging
gecko, foot-pads pretending

to marry the transparency,
when it's the nose ring linked
up to the time-stopped squelch
of a suction cup that sells

the illusion of his bent-limbed
readiness to keep climbing.
No sun-sharing, flaring
salamander he, no winter-winking

blue fantasy of nature's
magical balancing act of ice
and fire, he's the common green,
the foot soldier of the mother

country of all countries,
dispersed as carelessly as seeds
to infiltrate every cranny,
like clover in cracked concrete,

like bugs shuttling crumbs
from the toaster's cooled autumn.
Perfectly the size of his type,
comfortably fat, the only stained

glass in a whole window, whose
crossbars seem to ask him
whether he could stand in
for a saint - for his halo

he could use the plastic
vacuum magic he's hung from,
which could be a good metaphor
for a holy aura. When the wind

rattles the window he rattles
back with the metal edges that
kept his skin in before he
finished cooking. At night

the shade covers him like
a blanket on a birdcage
and the only sun he has
to catch was already caught,

repackaged and resold
by the equally dead
but reflective moon.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Household Idols XIII; White Lion and Child

Highest of aeries in all the apartment,
excepting the soup-can shelf, the sweaters
beside the unplayed games in the closet
and the back-up rags stuffed unseen
into the tallest bathroom crag -

certainly the best display of the best
view - atop this highest of seeable seats
sits the silentest wisdom; in Sphinx's
erect pose lays a stuffed white lion.

There the hairy crown, growing down
in deference from his halo's circumference,
droops or shags like a weathervane
tuned less to the wall-weary wind,

but to the static output of appliances
and the minds that spin them in their places,
all two and half feet and four paws of him,
pink nose, blue eyes, whiskers cut

from fishing line: he is king of the topmost,
and therefore bookless, and therefore empty
shelf, king of the most refined dust,
only the lightest can waft so high. He looks

straight across the room, eyes unable
to unfocus from the ceiling's proof
that space is three-dimensional. A watcher
set in the crow's nest so that

the whole house lives below his horizon,
and him built with a grace to keep his head
up for him, so he can never look down,

so the eyes below never need look up
and meet them, when they ever look up,

and beside him, truly behind him, a white

kitten, nose as pink, eyes as blue, whiskers
the same springy monofilament, surely

they share a heritage, both stuffed up with something,
both soft and perhaps even pure. Plush kittens
never grow up, of course that's their purpose and curse,

so he or she is free to imagine the foster
father granted by the hand that tucked it up
and away from the bed it was once promised is his
or her adult form, to believe that the point

of a cat is not claws, but a history of monstrous
honor, roaring geniality, rampant entitlement:
the lion's share of symbolism, which has
been redistributed by so many revolutions

that it holds up as a dream for a cartoon
kitten, but in the real world lives as alone
as any gift does once it's given.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Household Idols XII; Tree of Lifelike

my brother the fake tree,

he's as leafy as I feel,
headless, a center less
a pivot than a boiling point,
and instead of bubbles,
sprouts clamoring to stamp
their pattern along every
radius. He's a toy,

plastic green like a soldier
stood in his corner,
the game not war but
make-believe, a scene
stolen from the other side
of the door, a color, a shape
from another way:

specifically, a five-foot
manufactured rod, molded
and then assembled, with
counterweight instead of roots
in a red-wicker woven pot.

Beside the television
like half a proscenium,
a reminder how the art started
dancing in groves,
shouting in circles,
chanting through smoke under
the sacred tree over the coals
of the sacrificed tree.

No fruit, no birds,
no weeds to choke with shadow,

and the light freely
scattered back, a stoic,
monastic lack of hunger,
these perfect leaves
whose green needs no
process, no water,
no air to make more
of themselves with, a tree
content to touch
its tallest point
and no more, every
branch proud of its
length, never needing
the pruning shear's lesson,

thick with the same
leaves, happily placed,
unworried by their identical
patterns, no need
of snowflake metaphors
or new clothes
or new music.

It isn't even a particular
tree. It's been designed:

fabricorum fibristorum
requirementis noneffortaxia.

Chopped at the top,
the trunk shows off
his ringless heart,

the year long it sports
a chameleon cord
of Christmas lights

and in the foam dirt
is stuck a sign,
like a flower garden's:

Faith, it reads, with
some little poem it
had no say in.

The stand-in plant
simply stands. The
dream that grows
a forest in the
house is not its
own. It was only
cast as background,
but at least
it's a part.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Household Idols XI; Shells on a String

Not a necklace, but a lei,
door-prize at an open-air luau,
a loop to hold her head
under the same hazy bond
that clumped unrelated faces
around the pig, the drinks,
the guitar and the fire,

now it hangs nailed to a wall,
against a paint sun-bleached
between bone-white and tope,
the range of which is sand,
latte, brown rice and tea-
stained tooth, inclusive
and beyond, every shade
from ivory to motor oil
modeled by every
mottled, shiny shell,

not a rosary, per say, but
surely something countable,
cowrie shells

which have been hoarded like money,
hunted down like symbols,
thrown like knucklebones,
glued onto tchotchkies
like the evolution
of macaroni-art
or a second career
as a second skin
for some object-d'art
too cheap to grow its own
glossy armor plating.

Once a circle, now two lines
descending from a manufactured
splinter lady-hammered into
drywall. Once an adornment,
they have never been worn

is harder? Hanging
ignored on a neckless peg
when the trashcan
might be kinder
or playing placeholder
for someone else's
memory when all you are
is cast-offs of the dead?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Household Idols X; Permanently Unplugged

Beads on a wire, glassy plastic
pretending to be amber or topaz,
ovals and cylinders wrapped
tight from base to top,
dried-honey droplets
layered into a lampshade

not for a lamp, but a tealight
stand - and where it lives:
the bookshelf. Not to read
by, no, not to guide, or illumine,
that purpose would require fire,
or at least the hope of a wick
life-line deep in wax, and
two inches from the paperbacks,
there's no bullet in that chamber.

Top-heavy too, since safety is
the concern of the consumer
like the label on the base says,
weighty enough to imply
other things might match
its size, an upturned cup
could be some gnomish footrest
and suddenly it's a floorlamp,
it's real furniture,
the imaginary gnome and
his whole world are as
important as it is.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Household Idols IX; Unseen Suns

To be eclipsed with clutter
is no great event, unless your
celestial sphere is as square-footed
humble as your roaring, point-sized
self; to dust more dust
is an asteroid field, and a knick-
knack lives in an ecliptic
rented to capacity, every
arc of night scratched like
a record with the trails
of orbiting objects, to wit:

the subject is not Sol
in Gloriam, hung on the wall,
placed decorations tracing
an intentional constellation
named the Adequate Interior,

but these few homeless imitations
of that great mystery,
the traveling center-of-the-system
show, the first of the least is

a shrunken sketch on a book jacket,
with a corona like a pincushion,
but as black and white as the title;

two, wait, there's even three
solar cameos propped up on the portraits,
fatuous bubble-heads blurred over
by eyes taught to target
the framed faces, not the frame,

and look, just distorted
by the gravity of words, a lens
for seeing part of a wall through,
a glass book-end
showing half a fiery chariot wheel,
the divine right of daylight
ready to rest on his diameter,
roll, clop and stop;

the blanket, woven blue,
but still known for warmth
(except it can't be said
the sunny symbol lends
any kindle to the comfort,
since the crescent moon
has as many yellow threads,
and cheekily shows off her
buttery side down and away
from him, the so-called
source of her subtle,
and therefore more
valuable reflections);

the refrigerator magnet,
yellow on a white background,
as if the big bang is still
happening, and he's just a time
travelling tourist,
and contrariwisdom,
the white isn't even hot,
but the abode of the not
so hot, although it does
have it's own central lighting;

and folded on a napkin-wide tapestry,
such horror, the sun temping
on the night-stand,
the placemat for the evening meal
of lamp, alarm clock and magazine,
an overly embroidered face
soon to wear someone else's
eyeglasses for the night,
plenty of time to consider
how rouge-red to flare his
sunspot cheeks and whether
it's intelligent for a
nuclear furnace to grow a nose

and the foremost
of these forgotten gods
marching one by one less one
into their evening abode under Egypt,

a trademark crumpled
on a countertop,
upstaged by the unwashable
yellow of the banana,
second to none.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Household Idols VIII; Oddity In Absentia

The pretense of a man,
as if his shadow was standing, not him,
as if the horizon's gone wrong-angled,
he's a black rectangle
stretched into a pole,
with four fragments of torso
glommed on like lampreys
instead of limbs;

he's not even here.
The box that binds him has
no twilightable windows,
no carpet to capture
the same dust that crowns
the head of his neck,
the adam's apple that
doubles for his nose,
no television to replace him
with commercially viable
frames per second;

he's in a shoebox.
Cardboard seasonally moistened
by the same double-bagged summer
the Christmas ornaments must
weather, wrapped in paper
in a plastic bag
in a shoebox
in a plastic bin
in the attic,
dragging every ragsop breath
through fiber and drywall
or wood, shingle and sealant;

he's been uncollected.
The museum of the everyday
has neither plaque nor place
to waste on his long-waisted,
stylized shorthand for a way
so left behind that the signs
themselves are curiosities;

he's a map whose legend
need no longer translate directions.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Household Idols VII; Dead Cat Under Glass

Impression: Deceased Feline.
In Truth: a watercolor unnamed by the artist,
who swabbed it long before Kitty
dwindled into needing a tribute.

The eyes are more baby than blue,
black irises fattened to a pleasing
curvature, no world-snipping slits here,
no dark gone sharp in its dismissal
of the light, but a petal-soft opening,
an invitation to stare into
all that's staring out.

Impenetrable could mean flat
or as a deep as telescopes can see;
both can be full or empty.

It could just be the intersection
of dilettante and pet;
but it does hang a question
on the wall, which reads:
why is our first, best window
always the same shadow?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Household Idols VI; Three Mothers on a Refridgerator

One school portrait, year penned on the verso:
she's a teacher here, blouse and earrings planned
to match the officially blue-slate background,
with a smile that knows it will be folded into some fresh
hundreds of student histories.

The two others are vacation shots with her daughter,
whose magnets stand in for frames on this freezer,
pictures sure that a shutter would capture her
sisters, too, and happily shuffled into the same
pack of snaps, comfortable the odds are against
her representing the whole vacation,

but there she is, the same smile.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Household Idols V; Plastic Dragon

The pun that makes his name
(imaginative or not? How
would you name him?)
is under copyright,
as is molded on his underside,
with the owner's name (not his)
and the birthmark that brands
him an immigrant.

Purple doesn't do him justice,
come on, use your words,
he's lilac and lavender, surely,
with tangerine wings that couldn't
lift a lemon; but he's all
toothless grins
with bow-tie and black beret,
although instead of a palette of paint,
he stole some leprechaun's pot,
dumped the gold and chopped himself
an arc of rainbow: a fantastic
feat even if the colors are a curiously
pastel spectrum, and only the four
that he already has on him...

I'm not sure if the imagination
should have a guide.
Maybe a doorman,
better just a greeter,
no benefits, part-time.
The poor fictive fellow needs a job,
after all.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Household Idols IV; Ceramic Castle

All towers and staircases, eleven
round towers around the gray rocks,
(one can only be counted from the back),
ostensibly hand painted, but

no courtyard, no curtain wall,
plenty of crenelation, despite
the roof-cones capping all but three,
(two flat, ready for an additional
nursery or catapults or tar,
the third with a crystal ball
as tall as the front door
and just as inaccessible);

no stables, no chapel,
no bailey, inner or outer,
no great hall, no moat,
no drawbridge and portcullis,
no bulk to fit the mansion
or the palace in,
just round towers
in the half-round.

Still, I'd live there.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Household Idols III; Two Heavenly Messengers

One headless, one press-board thin,
one folded sateen tunic on a torso,
feathers hooked up like laurels,
spread up for the show;
the other colored by umbers,
sienna reds and linear black,
her wings the opposite arc
like her downcast eyes,
two crescents over
rapture-rouge cheeks,
ecstatic flesh
but reverent senses.

To sum:
one in three-dimensions,
the other flat as paint,
footless as she's made to hang,
while the shining white
on the stick is made to stand
balanced on a black dowel
like a perch without a perch,
a cross without a crossbar,
a column to replace
her center.

Both are women;
the 3-D body with breasts,
V-neck tunic belted, skirted,
the cut-panel competition with rounded
dress and haircut (the same color
to save on the infinite costs).
Since these girls are someone else's
hands they seem to need none;
wings must be enough.

Excepting neither has flown
from their station
since arriving Christmas last.
They speak different recensions
of the language of the angels;
they suspect each other of scalping
tickets to the competing chorale
they rehearse, like all angels,
in astral (silent) voices.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Household Idols II; A Cotton-Headed Philosopher

Fifth shelf up sits a stuffed Nietzsche,
the only clue besides his label
is his Groucho mustache,
prominently straight-legged beside a clock,
(read "eternal return" for enthusiasts)
and blocking stacked titles of pragmatic
bent, like logic and politics,
as ready to be read as any face,
as ready to proclaim as any mouth,
which he does not have,
(it's all mustache).

His eyes are puppet-wide,
his hands three-fingered,
his gray suit silvery velveteen,
(as close to dour as a stuffed toy
can get?) but he never plays
with the others on the shelf,
a lion, a unicorn, a blue bear
with bow-tie and wings, instead
he contemplates his headaches,
asks if it could matter,
falling down to the carpet
or being raised to that mythical
sixth shelf.

If his hair was a little longer,
and it should be, given his image
if not his pictures,
and if his eyebrows and all
were gray, he could be Einstein,
in fact I bet they manufacture him
with the same chinless pattern,
the same slightly surprised,
slightly sorrowed eyes,
as if all the secrets were
reciting themselves in
book-length monotone,
a dejected revelation
he will soon have to pretend
is possibly understandable,
possibly positive,
possible of not being turned
from one joyous yes
into a million destructive nos.

He guards nothing, open-handed,
stringless marionette
borrowing the spine of the books,
especially one critical of him.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Household Idols I; Lord of the Toast Crumbs

Little tiki, half-scale spirit,
twist-plugged twine for a blonde shock
of permanently raised hair,

stylized features left
intentionally blank, equal parts
anger and stoicism, one fist
to hip arm as protector,
the other set to assist
the hard abdomen
as proclaimer of judgments,

a fragment of the whole
in an image of the whole,
a polyp of god,
all of five inches
squat in his chopping block stance,
one eye as merely carven
as his nose and elbows are,
the other painted with eggshell
thin gloss, in holy mimicry
of abalone or mother of pearl
that was his eye
that saw beyond or through,
or deep into.

He guards the coffeepot,
liquid as dyed dark
as his wooden self is.
Perhaps he blesses
his brother the umber
water, perhaps he dreams
of drinking it into his
dryness, wicked up through
his pedestal as feet asking
earth for strength;
maybe his stomach-by-proxy
would boil it down
to sacred sludge,
or maybe he'd spit it
in the eye of whoever's
nearby, hissing

look now and learn
two eyes are no better
than one
when they see the same.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Miss Moment

Dark the day before,
bright the day after,

in harsh relief
the present loses
half her nose
sticking it
into the neighboring
maybe's business,

facing neither then
it was or then it
will be she's a

harlequin mask half
blackened with past,
the other side slathered
with effusive tomorrow,
cheeks pinked as ripe
as the prickling light
wedging out the pantry
door where the unborn
baby new years
store the fat cells
full of futures
so they can marathon
the millenium;

the present could
give herself the benefit
of staring into the done
or the yet to burn down,
hang her eyes open
under all that buttery
about to be
or breathe free in
the cool, calm
shadow she herself casts
back over all that
ever was,

which should she prefer?
One loves that it will live,
the other is glad it is dead,

or there's the neither nor
running alongside, outside
the line and ready for
pretending, a canvas
always perfectly blank
since it's too slick
even for dreams to stick to,

maybe that's why
she prefers herself,
the best mirror there is.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Five Couplets

How many steps, Ivory Tower?
As many as the sea has eaten.

How many labors, Solar Hero?
A harvest for every sickle moon.

How deep the secret, Old Man River?
A circle's turning never centers.

How worthy the reward, Flaming Sword?
Heaven's dirt is gold, so shovel.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

22 (a parable)

Double-deuces are the subject,
a sort of perfect number
for the contemplation
although the math says perfect
means something too specific
for perfection to be a proper
metaphor for, but back to our
pair of pairs, definitely two
twos but not with the article
the, not the pair of pairs,
just a pair. How you count
could make one pair or
two pairs, one less apparent,
since the symbol is one,
not two, despite its name,
and so the mystic rules
these two are not to be
mistaken for four things,
even if construed as two
things twice, one number two
times or if unity is your
one-and-only love, then
allowably two squiggles
but just one digit,
one shape twinned for
some worldly purpose,
not for meaning,
and as a secondary argument
to that singular truth,
it may have ones and tens
but it's just one number,
twenty two,
which its letters
almost resemble,
which is also twice eleven,
half itself and another pair
almost as full of senses,
eleven is perhaps less
poetic, merely one beside
another one, for the poets
know that each and every
thing (a pair of constraints
just there), let me repeat,
the poets know that each
and every thing
is really two things,
that even those odd
one-sided loops still
have two sides and outside
the pretentious paradox,
there's at least two ways
to count both ways,
so to conclude eleven's
interference, each pair
is always two pairs,
pairable two ways
unless it can be said
a thing has duality itself,
which has been said
and since that sword
is sharp on each edge than each
and every one is really
four and by careful,
logical deduction
so much, so much more.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Battle of the Balcony

Bank hard,
bank left,
watch those shafts of shifting heaven stabbing down!
It's all that fallout from the ever exploding throne,
our perennially denounced crown, shards of renowned
jewels, the daily monsoon's return salvo for rounds
of our hourly poundings. Good shot! Utopia's well known
for buying up and building up the high ground,
so each city quarter of jasper and alabaster shattered
will dump poison gold, sharp glass and pearly stone
right back on the earthbound embankments that batter it.
That's the castle of the flag, the high tyrant sun.
Arise, up and at-em, rise up you dogs and run
to your daily shelters, answer your gun's hunger
with copperheaded jealousy, armor-piercing envy,
hot-footing, heavy-metal fully-leaded anger,
and as soon as heaven stops stomping our heads,
it's time to shoot the moon down too, so dead
chunks of that dictator's mistress can ring
the sky like a shield from all that keeps raining
down from our last target. Tell you what, son,
I'll keep shooting, those are my orders,
but I've been lobbing bombs up over that mile-high border
since I was a boy, and I tell you, I wonder
when the winning's done, if there's still plunder
enough up there worth the lives of us soldiers,
or if the guns are all that's left the thunder.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Outside the Feed Store

Sparrows on a brush-cut bougainvillea,
where the soil-side of the chain link sports
broom-tight roots like petrified vessels,
arteries made molds and melted as flesh would,
while on the sunnier-streetwalk-side the green
hangs itself out the tin wire diamond windows
where the red sells his and hers as cheap
as sunlight. Atop bristle-ended,
leafless skewers stop the sparrows,

not to converse, or wait, or watch,
but to halt, to become dots,
as dead as any license plate
or parking meter nearby can be,
by no agreement, no decision
collective or commanded,
only the conclusion of one movement
so there can be another fluttering.

One startles them all
with the reminder of flight.

Fearing the next revelation
will wake them up wingless
the birds burst into party lines
farther and faster
they scatter
than any seed has ever managed.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Cold, the cup without the coffee,
the hand without the mug,

cold the intractable calendar
penciling her appointed grid,
the day planning the stomach's work
without promise of premises, desk,
parking, payroll
or peanut-butter toast;

cold the morning's insufferably
seasonal punctuality,
globs of sticky chill
in an empty bowl of atmosphere,
gruel-gray air and a serving
of skim-white-diet light,

no yolk-fat yellow yet
for lungs to burn
blood red.

The just risen sun,
happily tangential to the sphere
he wakes with a nuclear-fused
crowbar, is elated to eat himself
again today and every day
for your benefit.
Although barely aware of the fiction
our orbit spins for him,
he plays host, providing waves
and particles for all,
every displaced volume of emptiness
earning the same as earth,
he lays down his spectrum
for all to see and abide by.

And if warmth and sight
are insufficient gifts
to tempt life to live out the day,
why don't stomachs
learn their proper work
and devour their own hearts?

Such is the star's advice
to the wanderers. Find a home
and set fire to it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Show Me First Your Penny

Here's an imagery for you free:

pictures were worth a thousand words
only before the market collapsed.

There's blame enough for each bull,
no poetry guild self-appointed
to self-policing, for one,
but for all,
the universities have been trading
unregulated paper for generations,
free verse labeled top-shelf imports
in turn-deserving-back-scratch fashion
for local exports sold at the same mark-up,
every intentionally didactic blurb
triple A rated, institutionally insured
so the students know to study it
until they're smart enough
to see the secret,

hyperventilating didacticisms,
hypoxic commentary,
handily self-anointed palms to rub
topical applications of pith,
both prose and quote,
reviews as overedited as their
chosen exemplars of moth-moment
brilliance collected among so many
equally eternal flames
out to dull the mirrors:

words as new locks to block
entree to condemned structures,
words as clippers to snip
all that weedy meaning,
words as astringent,
to dry out the pus-bubbles
that grow in hopes of exploding
a poisonously oily,
face-touching game,
the masquerade of my hand
to frame your face, your finger
to follow my nose,
words as vaccines to keep
the blood from loving
improperly vetted concepts,
words as thermostats
so the rooms of the world
don't interrupt their occupants
with their conditions,
words as ladders
to kick out from the competition,
words as hounds
to track the history
of dead horses stolen for
the glue that's good in a room
and the dog food that
makes the most solid poop
words as lines
inscribing where the notes
must go
words as prizes
for the pinning of winners
to the promise of promoting
the glory of their prizes
words as gifts
so that the gift-store owner's
inventory is taxable,
accountable to taste by aisle
and degree of ownership
by group and purpose,
bracket and racket,
words as tissues,
not to connect,
but to wipe away
with their own passing.

oh gluttony of gourmet linguists,
here is a dash of bitters,
no meat, barely a mix
for whatever you're drinking

oh glut, still the swimmers
stroke with the sewage
in hopes there truly is
a sea.

Monday, March 9, 2009

A Few Shoeless Feet Join the Search for a Slogan

All self-esteem vendors begin to cringe when
the religious give notice reminding all men
the debt they were born with has no bottom line,
and since delinquency costs the same infinite fine,

the self-help-rental market hemorrhages creditors,
blood that needs banking starts calling the predators
to swim on the floor with open-mouth glee,
and slash gills in their competitor's necks for a fee.

Lives there a monk alone on a mountain
unsoaked on his soon-to-be island, who can lend
what comfort he has proven true, given
the original limit on what one can win?
Perhaps this slip of pithy wisdom, lock-pick thin:
Lack of perfection is never a sin.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Unhappy Gene

Hair color and ambition
have to wait for seduction
to sign their contracts
otherwise there's no apartment
to build in their own images.

Emotions have invented
a new kind of copying machine,
two competative call and response
modes, broad-band emulation
and short-wave grass-roots
but not every prancy stance
is easily molded,

Depression cannot hope
for properly downtrodden progeny
to appear by gift of parthenogenesis;
frustration just can't figure out
how to make a mirror out of
bottle-wrong reflections, shards of
web-frosted safety-glass and
half-empty (and worse!)
spray cans of quicksilver.

Anger, the well-practiced priest
of the most honest existence,
has the best record converting
the masses to rank and file private
relationships with their inner
six-day-old creators, anger
knows the original, mystic one
is no white, sky-wide light
but the shape of himself
inside everything; anger
knows every state of being
is a block to make smaller,
to cut at until nothing
is left but his image, and

unhappiness takes her cue
from that iconic model of efficiency,
she takes up the sculptor's tools
to make sure the world
is full of her.

All the seeds falling from
everyone's every-day-shattering
greenhouses are not enough
for her; all the weeds she was
promised by divine law on the day
the original garden was foreclosed
for lack of faith in the loan
of self-awareness, those gobbling
mouths do not eat fast enough
to spread her hope of pre-digested,
uniform mood across the globe,

unhappiness knows the world is
unfair and she will make it so.

Unhappiness gloats in knowing
so many who do not deserve to
cannot afford to buy her off.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Bits of Kitchen

Oh, the darkness licks the dog bowl clean,
either by bug or dust-tongued ghost;

the crumbs under the toaster dream
of an eggy heaven to make them one
or of freezing solid into crouton cubes,
anything but their unbuttered hell.

White sugar in a box of black trapped
by the unprinted side, white atop
the squared-off freezer’s summit
with oatmeal, crackers, paper towels,
but no hope of avalanching,
stuck like sand in a stoppered glass,
no appointed hour to account for,
only a teaspoon’s worth ever rescued,
or for all the ceremony, extracted,
lost to some unimaginable experiment
where drowning leads not to death,
but sweet release, the sugar dreams
its own heroes, intrepid scalers
of an undefined slope come to chew
the glue and cellulose of a flap
or a corner and drag their granules
into some fresher, wetter dark.

In the sink, soggy blobs surf
straight at the drain, trusting
the catch to catch them.

Underneath, the trashcan
is king of the cabinet, where
a few homeless scraps
that missed the rim
dream of the top of the heap.

Inside the oven a cinder
wonders if there truly
is such a thing as soup.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Wide-Mouthed Candlestand

In a cylinder of iron slats,
an open-faced cage on
three legs bent and standing
black by popular design,

sits a bruise-blue candle unlit.
Fuel reduced to placeholding,
a color plugged into a socket
centuries older than the recessed
ceiling lamps so constantly above,

frosted bulbs strung together
by a switch no flame could
stand the yoke of. Candles
are snuffed, never dimmed,

and so proud of their heritage
for spectacular escapes,
that these mere flicker-width,
sickly scions of once
royal hearthfires
say they’d rather sleep

in their wicks than work
as caterers to special
occasions. They have
no way and therefore
can no longer show one.

Still, they sometimes burn.

The proud light
asks for an empty night
to be bright in.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Homestead Arachnid

On the toe-kicking side of the concrete
footwall capping the patio from the ledge
down which the roots of the hedge rise up from,
at three-quarters of its dollar-bill height
hangs a nickle-wide spider, legs black
with a whitish sac,
eggs clumped as close as an extra abdomen,
silk as naturally mottled as the mortar
between the bricks she ascends next.

Atop that flattened crenelation pattern
the spider stops, not for the traffic,
where compact, red economy ants drive
both ways in one lane, no,
she smells how much the rosebed's real estate
could cost.

The man of the guest house
never kills spiders, but cups them,
then out to the flowerbox, upturns the glass
or plastic adding one more hunter to the grounds.

She's still still there, on the brick,
face straight down, aligned to the grid
like no art director would ever allow,
perhaps she's asleep or starving
for some pickled beetle feet.

And then gone,
into the shadow of the hedge,
sure to conquer her nursery.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Fourth Soubriquet

Hey, chef death-wish,
why so glum?
The world's full of dishes
waiting on their orders,
don't you know the menu
makes restaurants of us all?

What does that even mean,
sergeant major madman?
So much weight in the world,
to make the normal force just so,
so mugs can hold their handles up,
so dirt stays down,
but you can still dig it.

Don't worry,
policewoman pollyanna pin-up,
the truth flies ever lower
to mow the proud trees down
so all the weeds can breathe,
and the lottery for the king's
divinity degree also sports
prizes for honorable mentions
namely the right to everyone's
pensions and the tickets
cost the same for everyone,
and the ocean of our discontent
still has whales and sharks
to spare, plus dinosaur-eyed
giant killer squids,
so big, so inspirational,

yes, sweet child,
all of us, even you,
yes, if you work hard,
you can grow up to be
a monster, too.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Questions Before the Quest, or The Zeroeth Temptation

Is there wisdom in the desert? Are there worthy
tenets to find inscribed on lines drawn in the sands,
laws uncrossed and thence unread, or was all earthy
truth long wrung out and drunk by jealous root's demands
unsatisfied to sift and sip through moist soil,
scouring every depth of ground to weightless grit?
Do loose-celled dunes promise an emptiness loyal
to their drifting birth or does hot, wide chaos split
equally between meaningless mirage and the dance
of dervish-quick, accidentally correct
pictures, there and gone by the genius hands of winds
enslaved to the high magic of unlikely chance,
or is the desert full of answers more direct,
a hall scraped clean of mirrors, walls and ends?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Leave the Puzzle in the Box

I make no jests in anapests,
I prophecy not with pyrrhic elision
or with a spondee's twitch-hard enjamb-

ment, I brook no ictus, macron or breve,
I never trust feet or for that matter, meter,
nor do I scan in vain the great iamb.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Build Where You Live

Doctor, please prescribe for us more nonsense.
Straight-nose calls for house-cleaning solutions
promise the gas mask isn't a mask, hence
the faces for all new revolutions
help hide the headlessness from the workers,
where safety in numbers means a paycheck,
whose health depends on purging the shirkers
who don't worship their share of the dreck;
this new ethic of the truth isn't new,
it's just the justly imperative voice,
shouting the good must mean you must be good.
Doctor, you know nonsense is honest, you
know sillyness is the best, safest choice,
not the self-sharpening, serious mood.