CHARLES

Bukowski, you old satyr
when you croaked
was there the great
American novel locked away in your head.
When you pickled yourself
was it for fear that the words
locked away inside
would spew forth
like your lunch
so many nights
as you verged
on alcohol poisoning.
When you read Burroughs
could you picture
the young boys
bent over the back
of the aging sofa.
We have read
the countless eulogies
of the other men
who only regretted
that your words
did not fall from their tongues.
I stood in the City Lights
for hours poring over you
when I had too little
to lure you home.
Now you rest on the shelf
alongside Ferlinghetti and Bly
and someday I shall
catalog the lot of you.


First Published in Backchannels Journal, Ed. 2, 2019
https://www.backchannelsjournal.net/edition-no-2-2019

NAME THAT TUNE

He says, “I write songs
without music, my head
Is a libretto warehouse.”
She says, “You string words
like random beads, no
two strands the same.”
He says, “Symmetry is
for those with linear minds
who can’t see out of the tunnel.”
She says, “Dysentery, verbal,
is a disease to be avoided
particularly by poets.”
He says, “I’ll sing a song
for you if I can only
find the right notes.”
She says, “Fine, but know
it is the silent space between
the notes were the music truly lives.”

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?