Friday, January 31, 2014

Roof over Faux Ozarks


The blue tarp and the drop ceiling battle it out,
each struggling for the right to be called
the true sky, each daring the other to lean down and kiss
the papier mache mountain range that rises above
the electric train set in the flooded basement.
The water hasn’t risen over the levees yet,
The water tower stands dry above the town.
The power lines, the bijou marquee,
the A &P, the horse drawn wagons waiting 
patiently at the crossings, all of them are still dry.
I’ve been renting a room in Mrs. Colescotts’ boarding house
at he corner of Prohibition and Distress, both of which end
in cul-de-sacs less than a painted gray block away.
Nights I stroll through the half lit hamlet,
wishing the flood waters would drop
or that someone upstairs would get around 
to building a saloon already.
I stand in the middle of the painted river, step on the heads
Of the painted fish, sit in the shade
of a sponge tree. One evening, inside one of the homes
I find a tiny electric train set and wonder if there
is an even tinier version of me standing at the base of one
of those pipsqueak peaks. I wave but don’t notice
any of the figures wave back.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Anchor



Sank into the muck, heels dug in
to the crushed velvet silt
Blew black bubbles that rose 
sluggishly, not straight up 
but slanting away from the shore
Cupped my hands around
a passing squirt
Felt it flutter against my fingers
before trying to nibble its way out
Its soft mouth merely tickling
my palms. Finally released it
and spread my arms, watching
the barnacles sprout
from elbow to wrist, their residents
raking the water with their feathery fists.
My necktie undulated
like an eel in the current. I didn’t want
to surface, if anything I wished
to burrow deeper
But the sea floor beneath the mud
was rock
and so I just stood there, watching the skates
float across the sand like flying carpets. 
Heart pulsed like a jellyfish traveling
against a current
Slow, translucent, deadly;
unable to stop,unable to swim away.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Here in Your Many Arms



She hauls herself onto a rock and reposes
on its warm hide, stretching out then curling
her many appendages around her torso
like a nest of flesh. She presses her cheek 
against one as if it was a cushion.
The sky is blue with clouds like scribbled whitecaps.
She yawns and smiles, her long lashes encrusted with salt.
She dozes and dreams of her lover, dreams 
of wrapping all her arms around his measly four, 
dreams of stroking and squeezing and gently kissing 
his tender flesh with her hundreds of suckers.
Each of her eight nipples point in a different direction.
Her fingers slip lazily down to swim within her slippery folds.
The surf hisses against the sand. Birds wheel.
From time to time she shifts her thick, juicy limbs.
Soon she will stir and stretch and slither back off her boulder
and slide into the sea without a splash
She will twist and twirl, weightless and graceful,
propelling herself down through the murky fathoms,
through the pulsing curtain of jellyfish
through the shimmering veils of fish,
to settle into her bed of kelp and anemones,
to slumber beside the bones of her lover
that lie half buried beneath a blanket of silt. 



This piece was inspired by this painting by the extremely talented Laura Nothern: 





Photo: A recent painting project...

 Untitled, oil on panel, 14" x 11"
Check out more of her beautiful work at lauranothern.com!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Cold Windshield



She said she likes to masturbate driving alone on the highway
One hand on the wheel the other between her legs 
Diddling herself nonchalantly through her jeans
I get bored she said
I asked can’t people see you
She shrugged and said not at night
During the day maybe truckers they’re so high up
One night while we were driving back from Philly 
She got so tired her eyelids began to droop
And the car started to drift 
So we pulled over along a dark wooded stretch 
So she could sleep a little
Cars whooshed by 
We sat there a few minutes 
I was startled by a rap on the passenger side window 
A man in a red uniform like a Mountie 
Motioned for me to roll down the window 
Which a month later would be replaced 
With a duct-taped sheet of plastic 
He asked if everything was alright 
I said she just needs to rest
You can’t stop here he said
I shook her awake 
The man strode off into the night 
Boots crunching on pebbles of shattered glass 
She started the ignition blasting the radio
To try to help her stay awake 
Shut off the heat leaned forward almost touching 
The cold windshield with her forehead
Staring out at the patch of road skimmed by the headlights
Tightly gripping the wheel with one hand
I reached for the other but she didnt offer it
And I couldnt see where it hid
A busy creature shivering in the dark 
As if I wasn’t there beside her 
Clouding the windows with my 
Hot breath

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Wind in the Willows

The Lack Calf edges toward
the Salt Lick
in the marsh by the bend in the river
The Half-wolf pads across
the cracked tile of the tiger cage
Dragging its bad leg
to where the Wet Lump 
sags in a puddle of itself 
...fly bejeweled, sawdust scrubbed, 
basted with the musk of rot, 
t-shirt in a crusty wad wedged beneath 
one stiff paw.
Claw picks at the rusty bolt. 
The buried harp string 
of a snare, wet snap 
of a sprung trap.
Sugar cubes and honey smears.
A birdseed bell with a tablet
of Alka Seltzer for a clapper.
Puddles of rancid molasses.
Incisors wrapped in wrinkled gold foil
strung from the barbed wire.
Shag carpet in Muskrat’s den,
bones neatly stacked in the corner.
A traffic cone, a cardboard box.
Yellow crud clogs the pond,
clinging to the stalks of the reeds.
The Lack Calf laps at the film. Mole’s eye
submerged, kissed by puckering tadpoles.
Nostrils bubble, legs thrash.
Tongue a black eel curled before
the sudden thrust, throat a thrush’s nest 
choked with shards of eggshells. 
Toad squashed beneath its hoof.
The parlor of Badger’s lair lined
with tigerstripe wallpaper; 
on the kitchen table, a pan 
filled with wriggling fry
trapped in the cold grease
resting upon a waterlogged storybook,
illustrations crackling and spotted with mildew,
waiting for the river to once again
flood its banks.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Husk



Sunk deep in his wasp nest head,
his eyes peer out through holes
in the gray, papery skin.
Body a bundle of wet scabs, cuts of meat
soaking through his brown paper garments,
bound with twine, scribbled on in black
grease pencil, chucked into
a splintery basket of ribs and wicker,
the whole mess teetering
on two spindly sticks
that tread carefully across the hard ground, 
wobbling with every step
The rag of burlap tossed across his shoulders
and secured with a scrap of wire
whips and twists like a flag in a gale
In his arms, he cradles an anvil
wrapped in crackling newspaper
as if it was an infant
Though it threatens to drag him down
he pats its head and rocks it,
moaning a thin, dry, tuneless lullaby
as he crosses the fields, 
leaving no tracks in the frozen ruts and furrows
of what used to be
a country 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Dawn


It is no longer night
so I put the water on for coffee
and drop a frozen waffle into the slot
lowering it into the glowing depths
You cannot eat
and I don’t want to
But I don’t know what else
to do with myself
while I sit beside the bed
and wait for it to be
another day

for Linda