Monday, February 26, 2007

Words Like Balderdash

You don't scare me, I told my maiden aunt.
Yeah, right, she answered. Baby, look at you,
You're quaking in your boots. I'm serving stew,
And that's what you'll be eating. When you rant
About your independence, like a plant
That thinks it has two legs, and that the dew
Is ocean spray, as your yacht travels through
Pacific haunts, that's balderdash and cant.

That's why I loved her: words like balderdash
Aren't heard enough these days, and no one knows
What cant is — they think someone simply chose
To leave off the apostrophe and smash
Convention, which my aunt loved, with panache.
She did scare me. Down to my quaking toes.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Band of Sunset

This isn't effortless, you understand.
I have to try. Nothing comes easy here:
Amid the effluents, the smell of fear
Pervades the nostrils, and a shaking hand
Points at the grey horizon. A dim band
Of sunset, broken like a dead man's spear,
Seems to have rested supine there all year,
The most especial opposite of grand.

Don't try to soothe me with those cooing sounds.
My stomach hurts, because of some damn bet
I lost before the white cement had set,
And every ball I touch rolls out of bounds.
I've measured out my life in coffee grounds,
Debasing myself, covered in flop sweat.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

To My Good Friend

Yes, fling me into bonfires, pinch my neck,
Explain string theory till your tongue turns blue,
My eyes glaze over, and we think it's true,
Hit me with spitballs, put my king in check,
Declaim insanely on a burning deck
About what fish got in the the seafood stew
And why the cook once tried to murder you,
Wretch that you are, a dim wrong-headed wreck.

I don't hate you as much as you hate me.
I am content, at peace. I can forgive
Your anger, uninformed, derivative,
And pathological; my heart is free
Of envy, evil, and of contumely.
Live and let live, my dove. Live and let live.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Restaurant Critic

Who authorized this mealy piece of meat?
Did someone set the appetizers by,
Expecting somehow time would not just fly,
But heal the gristle? I would leave my seat
To storm the kitchen, but I think my feet
Have been affected by the food. My eye
Has been assaulted by that piece of pie,
Too awful to be looked at, much less eat.

I think I'd like to see the management,
Perhaps the owner. Maybe he can tell
From what cliff these absurd vegetables fell.
Trying this diner was improvident:
My dreadful meal has left me indolent,
But otherwise I'd certainly raise hell.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

System of Belief

My poor friend Michael's system of belief
Has much too strange a structure to survive,
Much less, in the raw light of reason, thrive.
I can't agree that actors come to grief
With personalities subsumed and chief,
Causing a split between the Brits who strive
To charm, ridiculously, and the drive
Of cynical Americans. This is too brief.

I think the truth is even more complex:
Take terrapins and cacti, gently weave
A Shirt of Accident, tear off the sleeve,
Throw in a few stray thoughts about bad sex,
Loose trousers, gravel pits, Oedipus Rex,
And wine gums, and you'll know what I believe.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Who You Are

Give up the notion that you're going far,
Stop this pretence that everything is fine.
Things are not fine. It's only Frankenstein
Who thinks you're bound to be a giant star,
And just the Wolfman you met at the bar
Who thinks you smell nice. Have a little wine,
Thinned with the merest drop of turpentine,
And try to make some sense of who you are.

One of the worst of your scenarios
Involves a sewer spewing up grey steam
While you run past with your detective team.
Don't open doors that you were meant to close,
Avoid that open-mouthed, half-smiling pose,
Go back to Slopsville, and spit out that dream.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Six Hundred

I estimate six hundred, more or less,
Getting or spending. Calculate by powers,
Dividing it by sixty times the hours
You took to multiply it. It's a mess,
But would you rather be stuck playing chess
With some old geezer counting sky-borne flowers?
Give me some cheese, a tray of whiskey sours,
And fifteen dollars, and I'll make a guess.

I'd rather be a pagan suckled in
A creed outworn than have to figure out
The final numbers, like a racetrack tout,
By counting on my fingers. It's a sin,
Throwing my workbooks in the garbage bin,
And intimating Wordsworth wouldn't pout.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

True Apology

I'm sorry that I called you a great lump;
You are not great. You're certainly an ass,
Unhandsome as an aging wide-mouth bass,
An idiot, an empty-headed chump,
Unworthy to be living at the dump,
A feeble waste of time, a hollow mass,
A prime example of a lack of class,
The height of ignorance, a mental stump.

I can't be worried that insulting you
Will leave you crying, since you have no heart.
You wouldn't understand — you're not that smart.
Still, I apologize. It isn't true
That you're a great lump. You're a charmless shrew,
A moron, an indomitable fart.