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Second Time Around

Ignoring an alarm
leads only to more alarm.

I cannot learn
what I am unable to learn.

Answering the question
“Do you believe?”

ends in questioning the answer,

since to simply believe
is never enough …

may it be enough.

Vigil

Mitternacht heißt diese Stunde;
Sie rufen uns mit hellem Mund

from Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme
by J.S. Bach

That familiar Friday night
dark, both inside and out,

and five of us scattered in silence
at the end of each sentence

like periods in a paragraph.
Smelling of shit and sweat, a laugh

breaks through the snoring of a sixth
not far behind me, and a body

adjusting itself to the forgiveness
of a creaking wooden bench

falls back to snoring after the creaking
ends. So it can’t be a bad dream,

and the candlelight illuminating
our presence is, in fact, just enough

to suggest forgiveness. I want to sleep
too, too tired to laugh.

The Night Before the First Day of School

‘Twas the first day of school, when all through the class
Not a brain cell was stirring and I needed a pass;
My classmates were sitting like lumps in their chairs,
Hoping the teacher would fall down the stairs.
The principal hid in her office and cried
While the flowers of summer wilted and died;
And mamma with her suntan and dad with his beer
Had just waved goodbye and got the hell outta here,
When out on the playground there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my desk to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The teacher freaked out and said, Sit back down!
We don’t need such behavior from a would-be class clown!
When what to my wondering eyes did appear
But a gigantic monster truck that was hitting third gear,
With a little old driver so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he was a lunatic.
More rapid than seagulls his curses they came,
And he whistled, and squawked, and called out my name.
Oh shit, I thought, this lunatic’s fixin’
To demolish the school like a linebacker blitzin’.
I said to my classmates, We can’t wait for the bell,
Now dash away! dash away! Like bats outta hell.
As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So out of the schoolhouse everyone flew
With backpacks full of books (and some with weed too).
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the street
The flipping and flapping of flip-flop-clad feet.
As I lept from the schoolyard and was turning around,
The dude in the truck made a cackling sound.
He put on the brakes and skidded to a stop;
I’m not really a lunatic, he said, I’m a cop
And I’m here to arrest you for gradeschool truancy
And make you learn math and linguistic fluency.
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how scary!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up in a frown
And the beard on his chin was dirt-like and brown.
The stump of an e-cig he held tight in his teeth,
And the vapor encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
He was chubby and plump like a horror movie elf,
And I screamed when I saw him and wet myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Confirmed that I had something to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
Rounding us up and being a jerk.
And poking his finger deep into his nose,
He said, You’ve been binge watching too many shows.
But then all of a sudden I heard a loud whistle
That tore at my brain like a thorn on a thistle.
It was my mom waking me up and turning on the light—
“Happy first day of school, did you sleep well last night?”

Love or Nothing

i

The hardest part
is getting started.
Until you do.

The hardest part then
is continuing, because
once you’ve started,

you need to find a way
to continue continuing …
all the way to the end.

And then you realize
there was nothing to it.
Nothing at all.

ii

Steel tracks and barbed-wire fences,
a square and squat, brick ding
every thing points beyond everything,
beyond even time and its tenses.

The welcoming arbeit macht frei,
albeit in iron. A hidden fire.
A gentle breeze, and smoke now
for our Intuition als Wesensschau.

For Edith Stein, Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, martyred at Auschwitz 9 August 1942

The Secret of Phantom Lake

(To the tune Identikit, by Radiohead)

Our country club was one tennis court
in the middle of a marsh,

and a large, rectangular pool

doubling a small, moon-shaped lake,
whose surface was always as black

as cannonballs stacked in the sun.

The girl was saved from drowning
in the deep end under the diving boards,

as I ran back and forth along the edge,

dripping dry, nothing to assuage
my guilt choking on action

even as it tried to swallow inaction.

Anger, that dispels all phantoms
and then creates more of its own.

To have a will as clear as water
without urine and chlorine.

Next morning, steam rose from the lake,

pieces of a ragdoll mankind,
that we can create, that we can create

as witnessed by reeds and cattails.

Birthday Limerick

Screen Shot 2017-10-29 at 9.27.13 AM

A fellow named Potter was born
On this date in a stable, forlorn
And the angels sang Hank
Williams songs while they drank
Irish ale from the night till the morn.

Redound thee unto mine own personage…

all-shakespeare-tragedies-ranked

Dappled Things took the bait… Heh.

With apologies to Dino

Haiku Prediction

Pussy-grabbing Trump
Will be grabbing his own ass
When they lock him up

Another Poem about a Painter

Michelangelo_Caravaggio_061

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Young Bacchus, Bitten By A Lizard
It wasn’t just bad PR plus zero
support from Cesari—Amerighi lacked
self-control and a sense of tact
from the start. But, oh, the chiaroscuro!

“Meter Master” — Spokesman-Review feature article on Chris Cook

Chris Cook

“Damn Good Cookie” (Korrektiv Press, $15), which hits shelves on Saturday, is Cook’s second book of poetry, following 2014’s “The View from the Broken Mic.” It features 42 poems, all of which Cook has performed for audiences. Some of them are relatively new, while others have been in his repertoire for more than a decade. “I’m pretty proud of this one. It shows a more complete writer,” Cook said.
Read more.