Another death poem. I really should put a quota on these but Emily insists. The good news is they tend to alternate with orgy poems.
Death, the ultimate equalizer.
A Stalinist I suspect, though
I’d happy say a Democrat
If it left me free to choose.
Tyrant in extremis
To make of us a clod
Then note for consolation
Everyone is next.
This poem is one of my rare forays into postmodernism, the result of reading John Ashbery’s “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror”—twice. I wrote it in one sitting, completely off the cuff. I let it rest a few days, came back to it, and can only say I believe it improved on Ashbery. Nevertheless, I welcome the reader’s discernment here, together with suggestions for improvement. I’m thinking about a much longer poem channeling Ashbery’s brain that explores the Self-portrait as it relates to the Sack of Rome.
I say of a crowd well heeled
”Vanilla extract on a silver platter”
But that is less a compensation
Than the hordes ride with their envy;
The young hordes have more time
And there are billions of them
Though with paper plates, or rather,
Because of paper plates
To triumph. And so I tell the “best,”
The all-complacent arriviste,
Smug in his contempt of me, his own
Who does not own:
Be done with your toys and silver platters
These are totems of your death;
Pleased with a rattle, tickled with a straw
You are savage in your ken —
Worse, without the willing gene.
Go! Outgrow your extinction,
This gaudy death wish,
And make a toy to live!
Vanilla extract on a paper plate.
Unsprung so far
The green in me, my face
Still masked of winter leaf.
But the birds are singing au contraire
A Cardinal eaten by a cat
A spring of feathers signifies
Strewn with beak and scaly legs.
Cheer! Cheer! Cheer! they trill,
They trill. Cheer! Cheer! Cheer!
They whistle, thrilled.
I ask them why and they advise:
Aren’t you special to survive?
(Special thanks to Patrick Gillespie for haiku prompt)
My summer bride
Has skipped her vows
And dances in another town
Left darkness to envelop me
A darkness darker than is death
Perpetual and so solitaire
I search and cast and search and cast
To find her sunshine in a face
But find my own inadequacy.
Ah, I shall know better come the spring
Than think she brightens just for me
But chastened heed her going more
And keep around community.
A wayward intensity, terror,
So out of place with the vast forgiving sky,
The lounging life around. Not just the backseat
Driver but the driver infinite
With me in the trunk
Me in the bed
Me in constraints
Where will it go?
When will it end?
Who pops the latch
To will—to what?
A castaway’s pluck
This islet, this brain
With a patience
This beach of happy debts
……….On crests of sunny days
Our laughter out of breakers
……….One trilling voice to mine
Spendthrifts of our innocence
……….Before we have to save.
When afternoons wore endless
……….Our tides without a mood
The crimson brands upon our backs
……….As blessings of a god, peeling
Skin more seraphim announcing:
A nook of Our Selection
……….Twice we sought for shade
A crawl space sandy laden
……….We crawled on our bare knees
Footfalls just above us
……….Compact spoke in braille.
We returned to find our fathers
……….Drunk but not as blithe
Fearing sheepish Baptists
……….Our guilt we had betrayed.
“Th’sun es red!” Dad slurred instead.
……….“Dis Tonkin mess means war.”
“Johnson’s dawn it!” slurred her dad.
……….“Yer son will ave t’pay!”
I touched her hand, our glances met,
……….We grinned along the way
Back to our nook of kisses took
……….Before I had to pay.
the smudgy boughs of dusk a beacon
his first night as a fallen
from his youth but all the more
on the eyes, faces on the