Daily Archives: April 22, 2010

Poem For Steve

The ex-skateboarder
is a current cook,
thinks about cooking
a lot, cooks all the time,
in fact cooked his way
all the way
from Rhode Island
to Virginia
by way of Michigan.

Sometimes
he stops thinking
about the lead line
for two minutes
and wishes for a night listening
to New Model Army
after eating something good
someone else had prepared
in the fifty-first state
of the union,
the one that only exists
as the hypothetical next stop
on his road.

This,
he thinks,
is a good grind,
today is a good day,
or at least
it’s as good as it gets.
I can live with that
even if now I have to walk
where I used to glide
until I get there…

and eats what he cooks
because he knows where he’s been,
anyway.

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How I Know I Am An American

1.
If i can pay a price
immediately
and receive
what I ask for,
I do.

If I can delay payment
and receive at once
what I ask for, I do.

If I can pay and then receive
at some near date,
I may;

if I can pay now
and not be assured
of delivery, ever,
and there are
long odds
against getting what I want,
I may not;

if I can pay now
and maybe my children
will get what I’ve paid for,
I will not.

2.
Form or function?
Form.

Black or White?
Neither.

Right or left, red or blue?
Some purple in between.

Excess or right fit?
Are they different?

Answer or question?

What?

Answer or question?

That it is possible here
to have one without the other
explains everything.

3.
Refrain from the song
I just heard
echoes for a while after hearing. 
Whether it is
Guthrie
or Scott Key
or KRS-One. Whether there’s a flute,
a bugle, or a cuatro in the melody.
Whether it is loud
or soft, or can be either.
Any lullaby encourages
sleep when it’s sung.

4.
I am proxy
no matter where I go.
I will bleed symbols
when stuck or shot
here or there, by someone
who denies or affirms me.
I lost the deed to me an age ago.

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The Johnny Jump Ups

Front yard covered in
Johnny–jump-ups, flowers
too small
for their name

which reminds me
of a crew of riff-raff soldiers
on a suicide mission
in a late 60s movie trailer:
“…they were expendable, they were
unpredictable, they got the job done
when no one else could…
THE JOHNNY JUMP UPS
!”…”
and then you’d get a list
that would certainly include
Alejandro Rey and Ernest Borgnine
and maybe Lee Marvin, and some young
macho male looking for a name for himself…

and the flowers,
small as mentioned, tiny even,
variegated and pansy-violet faced,
they’re forgotten entirely
in favor of the association with
something artificial.
All of the other flowers get the treatment too:
I’m sure the Daffodils
are a pop band, the Poppy
describes their music,
I see the Grass
and at once I’m reminded
that it’s April 22
and two days past 4-20…
and Earth Day, too…
I’ll bang my head against something
if I think about this long enough.
If I were to bang my head against something
it would be a wall, not a rock.
Not even a rock wall.
Something made of sheetrock,
paneled in faux wood grain, or covered in earth tone paint…

Anyway, in that movie there would be a scene
where a young woman, not an American,
asks one of the soldiers what he calls
the flower with the pansy face in his country. 
“My ma used ta call ’em Johnny-jump-ups,” he’d say.
“She used ta say they meant spring.  She loved ’em.
She died in the spring a coupla years ago…
seems like a long time ago, now.” 

A little later the same guy,
not James Coburn,
someone younger
but like James Coburn,
would hear the Germans coming,
and light a cigar.  Then a fuse,
lit from the cigar.  Then he’d fling
the dynamite.  Big explosion!

He’d come up shooting,
all Tommy gun and cigar,
take a bullet
and fall into the flowers,
close his grimy lids as he died
with them under his head
and all around his face.

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Out On The Town

two for one ridiculous

finger dancing rejected
diggers of energy in clubs
and cafes, they stroll the South Side
arm in arm, resting their hands
for the night ahead

lick a glass rim and hop to it

charging around the circuit
looking for pals and the unmet
possible pals of tomorrow morning

there is cocaine and rationalization
that this is how the heroes rolled
and one of the sumbitches
is crying for some paper reminder
he can’t create for his inebriation
tearing his garments in mourning

slinky doormen
keep out the impossible artists
no shirts without ironed collars

blue blind doctors of unspecified ambition
looking for pals and patients

two for one
take one, get the other

romantic night in memory
but tonight it’s already
blurred
blank and ready for scribbled cleansing
ego repair

they’ll leave out
the puke on their shoes

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