2015: FIRE WHEN READY
Bah. .. Humbug
I feel like a Dickens’ character.
I turn my bedside mood enhancing night-light out
& my soul wallows in total darkness.
I hear a critter nibbling in the flower pots,
or was it chewing up my Australian fern?
Sleep refuses to come. I start to get up
but the crunching stops & the ambient
temperature inches colder.
I check my clock/ radio/ CD /Tape/ telephone/
thermometer /alarm/ environmental center/& tea time
bedside counsel & companion. . . sure enough
the temperature is precipitously dropping!
I snug-up in my winter-quilt & hit the Radio’s snooze button. . .
a morbid New Year’s recount is in progress. . .
Ebola is spreading ancient bubonic plagues,
the 9-11 attack,
The Paris free speech massacre,
war in Syria/ Afghanistan, and now the
Iraq war all over again, Iran’s Ayatollahs
pray for death to America, North Korea has
the bomb & wants to nuke California.
Bo ko Haran kidnaps women to sell
to Isis, Al-Qaeda, or Hesbollah as sex slaves.
Sunni hates Shiia—Shiia hates Sunni—-both hate the Jews.
Mass crucifixions & emulations, beheadings & stoning
as demonstrations boil over across the Middle East.
In America “No justice no peace” & Off a pig today,
Wall Street, Banks,“Hands up—Don’t Shoot”
The borders swings open to all undocumented.
Our government prepares for another war,
The ACLU in Berkley bans Christmas,
Downtown City hall is giving away Prayer Rugs,
Jesus Christ is crucified in absentia by angry,
shoppers at K Mart. Everyone hates America!
I hit the snooze button. . . . silence. . . Bombs explode on my block.
A Cacophony of Cherry Bombs & firecrackers. . .
People are shrieking Happy New Year !!!!
Yes, I screech, I am awake.
I poke the radio’s button & it springs to life in a Salsa song.
I am wide-awake & dancing with a Cha-Cha Step,
two-stepping my way one year closer to death.
I flip through my two hundred channels of cable
desperately searching for a replay of Lawrence Welk,
hoping to hear Myron Flores play some really lively accordion music.
Maybe The Flight Of The Bumble Bee.
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.
CHAOS AND THE COMMON MAN
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.
souls are being weighed against a feather.
I finish my coffee—the old man drives off.
Chaos is much closer than I thought.
YOUR LINES ARE TOO FAT
I’m at the mailboxes.
The IRS wants more money:
New Yorker & The Atlantic.
Both want poems
without so many words in them.
Thinner lines, not so fat.
The Big Blonde from the
back apartment stops & says:
“Did you hear ‘bout Howe?”
I stare at her.
As a Hollywood philosopher
once said she looks like
she’d been there & back.
Could have been an ex -hooker,
a retired Mafia party girl,
or just what she is–a lonely old broad
with too much perfume & too many chins.
“Died,” she said, “fell on the kitchen floor.”
“Sorry,” I say.
“Died alone,” she whispers,
“I hope I don’t die alone.”
By the time she reaches her door,
she’s forgotten the dead man
& his death was now all about her.
I am sorry to hear of Howe’s death.
He was one of the few people in the building
Who did not write poetry.
My hands tremble as I open my door.
Out my 4th story window—encroaching
rooftops rub against a rainy sky,
like ragged tombstones in air.
Is every building mad as mine?
Every street tired & old?
are all apartment dwellers’ hopes
lean from pain & mortality?
So what if my lines are too fatttttttttt!
If you’re dead like Howe
thin words don’t matter at all.