232 THIS YEAR, SO FAR I find myself lost in the news of statistics. The economy glazes into columns of indistinguishable symbols, clouding into some grim portent under which my primitive mind can only tremble and hope. Polls tick off who might think what now and when but math seems irrelevant in the shadow of amoral calculus. Numbers wilt against the wall of willful ignorance, like a dog forgotten in the sun, still worthy but abandoned. And the people. Counted. Dead. Four or more (not including the shooter), grouped and catalogued and added and subtracted and piled on the fire, glowing hotter and growing closer, leaving behind charred families and chasms, but not yet large enough to threaten us all. Though smoke has infiltrated the movies and the malls and the arenas and the churches and the mosques and the synagogues and the schools and the businesses and the homes and the streets, the entire world is technically not yet on fire. I find myself lost in math. I understand what equals what, but it doesn’t seem to mean anything.
Death Trains Chimps living in captivity are known to throw their poop at their keepers, and so it is that as he looks out on the railyard, where special police in black uniforms enforce the loading of a long line of boxcars, the inoffensive little clerk with a clipboard is very glad that people aren’t like chimps.
Affection Bandit Blues Decades ago my green canoe ran aground, so I’m slumpin’ on a sandbar surrounded by ardent bucks paddlin’ the River Amore unwary of wakes, snakes, a treacherous shore. I’m a retired Ol’ Man tryin’ to forget my regrets, bouncin’ my shoes to the affection bandit blues. Floatin’ down the River in my thirties, my squintin’ blue eyes searched the levees, like a bald eagle seekin’ catfish and carp, wantin’ to see a smilin’ gal wavin’ to me, blowin’ red kisses, beckonin’ my boat to a ramp of crushed rock or a rickety dock. Steered clear of nasty women lookin’ for screws, but she could be oblong, obese, oddly hewed. On the muddy bank, we’d bed down on a blanket cushioned by cattails, blue verlain, coneflowers. Touched ‘em feathery (no scratch or neck bruise). A spiritual connection of an hour’s duration or two. Even if they wanted a gown, a weddin’ cake, I launched my canoe, left ‘em in a watery wake. They had proved I was lovable. That was enough. Beamed as I paddled past bluffs, huffin’ barges, not realizin’ my fevered gazes and gallantry expressed nuthin’ but my affection banditry. No druggin’ pills like the funny TV father, no job promises or threats like the producers, no unzipped pants or grabbin’ like the Presidents. Yet I wonder now if some women remember me and shout “MeToo’s” to the skies. That’s why I blush and sing the affection bandit blues. Memories come in a meanderin’ stream. Lonely gals who loved me for a night, then waited for a call that never came. When a friend was liftin’ the trunk of her car, I caressed the plums of her tree ‘til she swatted free. Names that make me feel guilty: Cindy, Cathy, Nancy. Now I’m an Ol’ Man drained of pirate dreams, watchin’ other fools comin’ unspooled in the steamin’ whirlin’ pools of the River Amore. Sure, I was wronged as much as I wronged, but now that my paddle’s been termite chewed, all I can do is bray the affection bandit blues. .
Poets Out of Service (V6) By Michael Lee Johnson Like a full-service gas station or postal service workers displaced, racing to Staples retail for employment against the rules of labor, poets are out of business nowadays, you know. Who carries a loose change in their pockets? Who tosses loose coins in their car ashtray anymore? iPhones, smartphones, life is a video camera ready to shoot, destroy, and expose. No one reads poets anymore. No one thumbs through the yellow pages anymore. Who has sex in the back seat of their car anymore, just naked shots passed around online? Streetwalkers, bleach blonde whores, cosmetic plastic altered faces in the neon night; they don’t bother to pick pennies or quarters off the streets anymore. The days of surprise candy bags for a nickel pennies lying on the countertop for Tar Babies, Strawberry Licorice Laces (2 for a penny), Wax Lips, Pixie Sticks, Good & Plenty are no more. Everyone is a dead-end player; he dies with time. Monster technology destroys crump fragments of culture. Old age is a passive slut; engaging old age conversations idle to a whisper and sleep alone. Matchbox, hand-rolled cigarettes, serrated, slimmed down, and gone. Time is a broken stopwatch gone by. Life is a defunct full-service gas station. Poets are out of business nowadays.
lighting a wet match i tossed my sin sticks and hurricanes into a sacrificial heap: am i free? i’ve given up singing the lies in liederkreis: am i free now? i’ve not doused my hair in chemicals for a brood of old months: shall i be free? i seldom leave the great indoors anymore a prisoner to myself, in shambles and shackles for better and worse an altar-less shrine for mourning and rue where you may toss your faulty matches and decimate your glass of spirits
The Pain And The Violet Sky The violet sky with pale grey clouds feels oppressive overhead. The trees on the horizon seem to linger with intent. I remember walking this same route 20 years ago. At two in the morning to score some smack. I imagined serial killers hiding in the trees. I ran as quickly as I could, to get back home, holding the gear tightly in my hand. At least then I knew the pain would go away as soon as I got home. Now, I know that the pain will never go away.
Seasoning Been watching a few of the Monarchs Pass through, Reminds me that life goes on... And puts me in mind of a Monarch I saw, About 52 years ago. What I saw in those days Looked different for sure; It was a time when my heart was young, Before any real darkness Had come... A time before I began To be seasoned, More learned, With more knowledge of pain. Since those days I have learned to know thirst, And have patience, And wait on the rain.
Serious Help My animals, my cat and dog have both been playing up today. My dog took a shit on the kitchen floor, even though I'd put her lead on. So she knew I was taking her out. She should know better than that, it's not like she's a puppy. She's 11 years bloody old. My cat hasn't eaten a thing all day, no matter what I have tried to tempt her with. Then I noticed the date. It's 4 months exactly since their ' mother ', my Missus died. I'm not suggesting that they can tell what date it is, but it's strange that they don't usually act this way. Looking back, reading this poem again, I realise that I am the one who is really suffering, and I am acting completely insane trying to involve our animals in this. I think I might need serious help, maybe I should try the vet.
One of those what does it all mean things The only dreams I ever remember are about women I have known nothing sexy just a lingering as though visited upon by spectres of younger selves Hours spent dazed spaced out conjuring old faces inserting lives into imagined spaces subconscious a cunning trickster my mind a willing victim Bizarre to think any of them would ever read this shit A budget Rob Gordon A Championship wanker A what does it all mean thing. #4 Living in pulp Means less holding up the mirror the few times I look see past my chin fat the blood thickens in my veins everything hollowed weighed down with impeding pain squinting at the reflected light auras and blurred sight vivid dreams of things once been new fad anxiety at walking through doors I no longer comprehend what I am looking for no longer understand the end.
THE INSANE GUY BELOW THE DECK the insane guy made a lot of sense standing below my deck but it won’t keep him from being picked up by the cops before nightfall he’d didn’t seem like a threat so he’ll probably end up in the mental hospital which I hope doesn’t make him go completely nuts Talking to my mom when she isn't there a strong gust of wind mom like your spirit and I'm so tired seems like the gold on my cross has gone pale and I wish you were here mom the world needs turning and laughter isn't making a sound I guess I'll talk to the nite lite as if it were a lullaby and I could sleep I remember swimming with Cally at White Clay her paw underwater stretched out to paddle just like she was made for and I feel like I was made for nothing just these words fuzzy in the poor lighting of my eyes and the traffic won't stop I can feel the noise in the bottom of my legs remember how they would run mom? seems like I'm just all out of breath I need to get some air though it's sickly and coughing what stars are you wishing on what ray of sunshine set you free why am I in this fermented jar I should save these questions for God I guess you just remind me of Him I'll say goodbye now mom Goodbye!! my knees need the chapel floor and my lips need the sacrament like no thirst they've ever had before