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Four-olive Martini: A Minor Drama, Last Call

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Your eyes are drained as sapphires lost in blue
And ice. The frown your face is wearing tells
An adequate counterpoint to the tap
Of painted nails now playing up and down
A crystal stem. What is holding me from you
Maintains for us our several separate hells.
Our share in the punishment—your sullen lip
Against the rim, my olive quarto on
A cocktail spike—each rings as clear and true
As Gordon’s and diamonds (or Seagram’s and pearls).
Delivering the sudden burning sip—
The winter sting that splits us skin from bone—
“To each our own!” I say, and know it’s false
But wish to cut the crap with a little gin.

To Arena

to arena

            Corpus mortale tumultus
Non tulit aetherios donisque iugalibus arsit.

                        – Ovid

That day the beach crept up on us,
The tide a sideshow of seashells,
We began our sunburn early,
Soaked in warm beer against curly
Sails, a regatta of tassels
Thrown to a chalky blue chalice

Of sky. We drank and drank it in,
Your eyes going crazy with thirst
And whispering about your art.
I sought to touch your skin to sort
Out my feelings. Worse came to worst
And you dozed off mid-sentence, slain

By cervezas, college finals
And sand-strewn immortality:
So California left its mark—
White underbelly of a shark.
The running surf made us dizzy
As it swirled beneath us, runnels

That heralded a tidal wave.
Except it never came. Instead
Your white one-piece provoked a flush
Desire upon your slumber. The flash
Of flesh, your tapering thighs, fed
My eyes, a hurt longing that drove

Me out well past the surf. Earth’s curve
Swallowed up a ship to its mast,
And swam me to shore to search for
More than Crusoe’s evidence, more
Than Friday’s footprints…. I lost
You in the crowd—and lost my nerve

When I found the beach blanket bare—
As if you’d been absorbed and left
No farewell, except sun and shade
That marked your place. With sunset tide
As my witness, the shifting sift
Of sand had scattered you anywhere.

We were poets once and young…

…or younger, anyway.

Desktop5So JOB was visiting the Dappled Things website, as one does, and he stumbled across this in the “featured poem of the day” department: a little ditty he composed a while back for some M.L. character…

Screen Shot 2017-02-08 at 11.18.37 AMI do so love “ogling theologians.”

[Image: Gargoyles at Notre Dame, and the Café Grotesque mascots they inspired.]

What Came in the Mail

So Recently Rent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From JOB, for Christmas … with a note that perhaps I have an affinity for Eastern Europeans, to which I can say, Yes, I certainly do. I hadn’t read much of M. Codrescu. Know of him primarily because of his NPR gig, of course, and something he’d written in connection with New Orleans. Leafing through the table of contents, the title “dream dogs” caught my eye, which turned out to be a good choice because it is (a) short, and (b) consists of lines that are entirely left-justified, which is makes reproducing it in this post much easier.

dream dogs

years ago it was easy to dream of wolves
and wake up your lover
to show him the blood on your hip.
the wolves had ties
and followed after every sentence
rather polite.
now there are police dogs
using tear gas and the lover next to you
doesn’t wake up.

ME: I like it. Thinking that it must have been written with a woman in mind, I flip back a few pages and learn that it’s from a section named for a former wife, Alice Henderson-Codrescu. Naturally, this interests me, and so I read a few more.

reverse

the storm outside
must be the kind you read about in the newspapers,
killer of babies and bums.
the kind of rain that goes in the subway
when i hold on to the coat of a fat man
whose disastrous life
makes me happy.

ME: Not much to do with the wife, as far as I can tell, but the alliteration in “babies and bums” catches my ear, and the schadenfreude my heart … although I’ve put on a few pounds this last year, so …

zzzzzzzzzzzz

i want to touch something sensational
like the mind of a shark. the white
electric bulbs of hunger moving
straight to the teeth.
and let there be rain that day over new york.
there is no other way
i can break away from bad news
and cheap merchandise.
(the black woman with a macy’s shopping bag
just killed me
from across the street.)
it is comfortable to want
peace from the mind of a shark.

ME: I like this one, too, although I don’t have much of an idea about what it means. The title leads me to suspect it is perhaps a version of a dream he’s had, and now I wonder whether all of the poems in this section are based on dreams, since we have it in the title of the first poem above, and the imagery in each of the poems has sort of chaos we often experience in dreams. The lower case letters bring to mind W.S. Merwin, but Codrescu’s poems contain a great deal more of life as most of us find it. He isn’t trying for the sublime in every line, and in fact seems to be trying to avoid anything that might signify portentousness. So yes, I like it. Not as much as JOB’s own poetry, but I’ll be dipping back into this volume until I see more from him.

Thanks JOB!

Shucks! – I guess the 2017 litterachur Nobel is going to go to Bono

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But I’m energized – Big League – at least it’s going to someone who actually understands the difference between sovereignty and totalitarianism…

Well, shit, if you think I’m wrong about it – the laddy said it right here. I quote unquote quote:

“Edited clips of Trump replied: “I will build a great, great wall on our southern border and I will have Mexico pay for that well.”
“A wall? Like the Berlin Wall? Like the Great Wall of China?” Bono, a donor to the Clinton Global Initiative, shot back to the video screen.”

Well, let me uncling mesself from thissere gun, religion and God type-a-thing before I continue. [Sipping at a cold one now, hold on…]

Well, shit, what I mean to say is, hell and hard nuts, America is so tired of thissere electionation process… Oh, hell, let’s just all go home and hope that we have jobs come Monday… I’ll buy the keg (Quinn, can I borrow 40 bucks? The Hamms is on sale…)

Well, as I look out at this wonderful U Ass of A we gots usself here, I can’t help but thinks about that what which Bono’s countryman and fellow string-strummer once said, “That’tare ain’t no country for old menfolk…”

Well, Cormac, I guess you can be fixin your Nobel year to be—

Hell now, look at that, Mr. Tweedy, you made me spill my Blatz.

No, excuse me – EXCUSE ME, Mr. Tweedy, but we happen to got womenfolk in the audience just now, so you just you shut your jaw the fuck up, now you hear. I realize you got a grimace like a hound dog trying to pass a peach pit. But just heel now, y’hear? You’ll have your chance at the carcass after Cormac gets a gnaw!

Well, I guess that’s about alls I got to say – ummagonna end the conversation righ-chere.

Love and peace and I’m all with Her and all.

JOB

Storm Days

winslow homer

                            for my father

The wind is in rare form tonight – all in –
The pine and the walnut are sent adrift
In darkness to wave-break the night, an ocean
Of sighs that have slashed autumn’s lines and left

The summer unmoored – grief enough, father,
To see in the porch light your fading shade
That time when the talk sat with ease. Whether
The hour of that someplace translated your staid

And passing years – whiskey conversed, earnest
As lyrics, the crisscross of legacy
That made my manhood. Then you taught, honest
As wages, how jib sails are cut to see
A weather gauge measure a typhoon sea
And signal words speak a level ballast.

Save the date

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Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 7.31.25 PM

John Barleycorn in Rags

john barleycorn

He is John, man in ragged overcoat
Long to withered knees
Manbeard made of clipped leaves and twigs

Man with face of rough bark
John who walks Saturday-night stupor
Through sibilant rings

Of maple, elm and linden leaves,
Swiftly satyr-dancing
Into crackling flower of fire

In peripatetic permutations, cough
Of dry staccato vespers, leaf to stone,
Each skeletal ballet whispers

He who is barrowed by mottled stile,
Stilled and waked in copper kettle,
Kegged and bunged for cooling cellar

In hoarse tones violent riots of autumn
Become seasonal rites trans-
Corporeal, quiet in slow burn

He is John of the demijohn
Bottle god of good folk,
Fanatic familiar of flagon, flask and firkin

His limber limbs are all consumed,
Sap-drunk as wasp and hornet
Dry and empty as cracked bobbin,

His spirit tumbles leaves down empty lanes
And empty well; he is spirit in wind,
He makes spirits from color, heat and motion

He is tall shoots and thick roots,
A shock of fruited stalks between
Breaks from his loamy scalp.

His anatomy taps boot heels,
Claps coarse palms. He, mate of dance,
Husband of hilarity, spouse of song.

Brittle brown leaves, fallen angels
Dancing down cold swift winds
Hymns that scrape, swirl and click

And always he must come along,
Always feed fire’s fermenting flower –
He empties nectar from his eye

He is John, and John must die.

Ballade of the Fisherman’s Children

A Chilean fisherman, after drinking a couple of pisco shots, rests in the shadow of his boat on the beach of Quintero, Chile, 19 April 2002.

Our father is drunk again and sings a piece
Upon the deck, a snatch, a riff, a shard;
He ought not sing so crazy loud – suffice
To say the compass turns upon his word;
For neighbors want to hear – but what they’ve heard
Expressed is smiling tongue and laughing face –
A drunken fisherman who’s overboard
       With sister moon, now hushing father’s eyes,
       And brother sun, now blinding father’s voice.

He swigs his wine and holds a sloshing glass
Through which he spies opinions, preferred
Because they sound so good to folk so nice:
“I love that dirty water…!” sang the horde
Outside my father’s door – and he concurred.
For home’s a planted anchor, worldly-wise,
But progress blows with sweetened breezes toward
       Our sister moon, who’s hushing father’s eyes,
       And brother sun, who’s blinding father’s voice.

Within his wobbly tune, a note of grace
Is breaking through – to sober up and guard
His voyage. “Praise to you…” But lost in bliss,
As weevils in a bit of moldy bread,
Does he see that now twilight’s come aboard?
The shadows growing dark as sharks across
The dimming sea – they skim for us – are bored
       By sister moon, who’s hushing father’s eyes
       And brother sun, who’s blinding father’s voice.

O fisherman of men, not fish nor bird
Nor all the songs of earthly paradise
Can hook the world (the bait our dangling Lord) –
       Not sister moon, who’s hushed up your eyes
       Nor brother sun, who’s blinding Peter’s voice.

Korrektiv’s Drink-related word of the day.

The word is sgriob (“screebh”).