8e9b800d37176dfe1875bc14898499b7Poetry by Steve De France Art by Anya Zkwirl (


The cashier says, “Have a nice day.”

I whisper, “Sorry I have other plans.”

I head for my 1947 Cadillac.

In the parking lot an ancient pilgrim

in railroad coveralls stands

like a stone in a stream,

her shopping-cart wheels

jammed between cement lines.

She is streaming epithets.


I find the car.

Geno is sprawled over the front seat,

drinking wine & putting finishing touches

to a poem tellings how horrible it is

living in the suburbs with a female lawyer.

And the awful neighbor kids &

how he’d like to kill them.

I start the car & turn toward the exit.

The ancient pilgrim is still leaning

into her cart as if into a high wind.

“I slash throats with a garden hoe,”

screams Geno. I stop the car.

“I crush skulls with a fireplace brick.”


I get out & say hello to the wayfarer,

her teeth slip, I lift her cart over the

gouge in the earth.

“Asshole,” she cries & clenches

her fist to strike.

I jump back in the car.

Geno is still ranting his poem.

“I eviscerate the little bastards &

roast their guts for the dogs.”

“You have a gift,” I tell him, “Pass the wine.”

I’m thinking of Dante’s Inferno.

Canto XVII to be exact:

“Those who have done violence to art.”

As we round the Long Beach Traffic Circle,

I suggest Geno call all the neighbor dogs Cerberus.


The night grows hotter.




Drinking morning coffee.

Out my front window I watch a man

standing in the rain—stolidly

cleaning rainwater off his car’s windshield. 

Stoically he disregards the weather

as traffic flows about him.


Everywhere there are people like him

executing a superfluous rite,

exacting an extraneous task

partaking of some kind of ritual

performing a private ceremony

that tells the mind I’ve cleaned a scrap of dirt

off my little piece of this world…

I’ve done something! I am not part of the chaos.

Again I look out the kitchen window,

and he still stands like a stone in a stream.

Yes, he has the audacity, the balls, to stand

cleaning his God Damned wet Windshield,

as if he has all the friggin’ time left in creation.


I have a second cup of coffee.

Well, it’s days like this

that just piss me off.

Days full of endless lines

of well-meaning chaps

down on their knees

cleaning a smudge off the carpet,

old crones sweeping the alley,

Park Rangers picking up leaves in the forest.


Watching TV—I pour a third

cup of coffee. CNN is showing

citizens blown apart—bodies

smoking in the streets of Iraq.

Telling myself that caffeine

facilitates all thoughtful people

into reflecting on chaos.

I decide to consider uncertainty,

Then the lilies of the field,

Then the Aurora Borealis


I pour the remaining coffee into my cup.


Here we are on a one-way trip

pushing into a perplexed cosmos,

a cosmos spinning into, or out of,

some scientific fiction—a fictive thing

called an unknowable black hole.

Feeling philosophically vulnerable I speculate—

then extrapolate on a black hole in space,

a rip in the universe…sucking all of us

into an eternal vortex.


The rest of us stare from our respective windows

at the devastations of the ignorant. We see a

world mortally wounded—-broken.

The death cock crows—as by fading light

the Savage Armies of Night race across barren

sands till they crash into a thing called eternity.

Even now

souls are being weighed against a feather.

I finish my coffee—the old man drives off.


Chaos is much closer than I thought.


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