SCREW YOU AESOP

So Androcles,
how did it feel
when, in the pit,
the lion sidled over.
You saw his paw
finally healed
and no doubt
remembered the thorn
you had extracted.
Did you rub his mane
as his jaws snapped
around your thigh
his teeth tearing
into your flesh.
As you saw
the blood spill out
did you curse
the fabulist
for his detachment
from reality?


First appeared in Erothanatos, Vol. 3, No. 3, July 2019

HERE LIES

Ambrose Bierce walked into Mexico
one day, and was never seen again.
That was surprising enough, but
more so, he left no epitaph, the least
you would expect from a writer.

In retrospect, perhaps he was
the smarter one, for I know othersl
who have spent countless hours
trying to devise the perfect epitaph,
knowing they never quite got it right.

I almost fell victim to that trap,
but avoided it the moment that
I realized that regardless of what
I might so carefully select, it is
my heirs who will have the final say.

WRITTEN ON WATER

Tomorrow this poem will
most assuredly no lnger be here,
though when during the night
it will slip away, never again
to be seen, I don’t know or perhaps it
will return in a form I would not recognize,
re-crafted by the hand of an unseen editor.

It may take on a meaning unfamiliar,
or translate itself into a tongue
that I can neither speak nor read,
or perhaps, most dreadedly, assume
the shape of prose, accreting words
until the embedded thought is bloated
and wholly unrecognizable.

Even if I tried to stop it, watched
carefully, it would no doubt
remind me that poems have a life
of their own once cast to paper
or pixels, and I am at best only
another editor or reader, and it
takes kindly on most days to neither.

FUTURE HISTORY

The history of modern literature,
at least to those who purport to create
it, is inextricably tied up with technology.

The quill and inkwell ceded only
reluctantly to the fountain pen and ballpoint.
Foolscap was affixed to corkboard

by countless pushpins, but one wasn’t
a teal writer until one stuck in the sole
of your foot as you wandered in the dark

in search of a pen in the night while
trying vainly to cling to a thought that only
moments before had dragged you from sleep.

We have progressed far, the pen falling away
beneath the great weight of the keyboard,
paper now a wrapping for electronics

which now serve as both paper and book.
many are no longer writers at all, dictating
words which appear on the screen, the machine

at once editor and publisher and bookstore.
And we know the day is approaching when
voice and hand will cease to be tools, when

mere thought will be the poet’s task, and reading
will be a lost skill, something the ancients did
when they still had poetry and literature.


First appeared in Erothanatos, Vol. 3, No. 3, July 2019 at Pg. 41

NEXT QUESTION

It was a short questionnaire,
and he wasn’t sure why they
had chosen him to answer, or
for that matter, who they were.

He was one to follow rules, so
he sat down to complete it,
they, whoever they were, said
it would only take fifteen minutes.

“Who is the one poet you would
want to be forced to spend
an entire day with, and why
did you select that person?

In true High School fashion
I skipped it, went on to the next:
“who is the real person you would
gladly spend a day with and why?”

As a poet myself, it was easy now,
and I filled out the answer
and wondered why I paused, then
froze: did I know any real people?

THE CANNERY, LATE INTO THE NIGHT

The cannery, long before it was a mall,
sat on the verge of the bay
bellowing steam into the night sky
shrouding the stars in a gauze blanket,
listening to the braying of the harbor seals
pleading for the morning’s dross
to be returned to the bay waters.
The otters lie on their backs peering
over the rocks and the monolith
its lights blazing as the trucks and carts
are laden with neatly stacked boxes,
grasping their stones, crushing
the shells nestled on the bellies.
Outside the fishermen, boats
scrubbed clean, stagger
down the narrow streets, stumbling
from bar to tavern, sleeping fitfully
on benches in the nearby park,
dragging up narrow alleys
to small, fading framed houses
kerosene lamps growing dim,
knowing the sun merely dozes
below the horizon, soon
to edge up and watch the boats
ease back out of the harbor into the sea.
Steinbeck walks slowly, savoring
the smells of morning, tasting
the stale beer of the night before.


First Appeared Online at Beachfire Gathering, 1996.

EROTHANATOS Vol. 3, No. 3

Just yesterday Erothanatos (from India) released its issue number 3 of volume 3, a collection of poets from several countries.  I was honored to have seven poems appear in this issue and you can find them here:

https://www.erothanatos.com/v3i3n10

But if you don’t have the time, one of the included poems was:

In a Prior Life I Was

Reznikoff, casting words to paper
after the last brief was filed,

Aleichem, finding peace
amidst the hordes,

Red Deer Running, watching
as the horse soldiers drew aim,

a child, never understanding
why the old ones only brought death,

a poor Jew, hung on a hill
from the crossed beams, for believing,

a ram, led from the thicket
to the altar, as the boy was freed,

alone in a hotel room
fearing sleep.