Karate kicks aimed at your head
keep you in line, for what else
would work? You know,
don't you, that you've intruded
your appetites into every phase
of the project? And now
an angel or extraterrestrial
can be expected as readily
as anything else. A theorem.
A magistrate tax. A centipede.
The squalor of your psyche appalls
and I'm not the only one
who thinks so, no lace bodice
enticing the eye will sell your words
more effectively. Consider
the options. Life in India. Or Iowa.
If the future houses pterodactyls
that will mean a grave disservice
has occurred. And were you
and your friends finished
with the oblong box? Circuitry
replaces memory on this ship
and we've rarely encountered
anything more startling
than a tiger shark. Put back
that rare book or else eat it.
Didn’t Godzilla begin
as a radioactive catfish?
Love listens or exclaims,
lingering on the vowels so carefully
Like newborns we have precise needs,
even comforting fictions we call “mom,”
and in the city square
or the brittle field of corn, crows
have a way of undermining mercy.
She's never coming back here
except to hear that song again,
each note an occasion for reverie,
golden as sunlight on brass
or squalid as armpits unwashed
for days. I'm afraid there's no news
worth the time it takes to sketch it.
And what mines caused their deaths
will be determined by evidence—
whether the mine one works in,
exploding the earth to reach
something more rare, or the mine
one plants in earth to explode others.
A drink of water becomes
a way of tempting fate, exposing us all
to the furies of the desert,
the winds of the salt-rimmed shore,
the dependable food chain gone awry.
Many miracles have occurred,
millions perhaps, but none so striking
as this business of two legs.
Whenever you write your history,
remember to mention occult acts of faith
like first steps and words, maybe even
kiss. Who's to say
you can't take back your wings
or the rug at least? Maybe truth
costs more to fix, like tarnished silver
or like teeth, so useful,
so fortuitously arranged
and taken for granted till they’re gone.
Pilgrims have crossed this path,
have been heard to speak of leprechauns
and unicorns, of ogres and griffins,
and in their bags they carried
chocolate cookies and compasses
and spoke feelingly of the weather.
The crevices we avoided
were not enough, we need more,
each test a new boast,
a language lab with new equipment,
a clock beneath the waves.
Never, no, not at all,
no one will mind.
Take your clothes off.
See if I care.
she said this as a mantra
no one ever doubted.
Narcissus thought so well of you
he gladly shared his narcotics.
Speak the speech
as I spoke it,
now recite it
as though choked
by winds of dust,
Nails rend the flesh
and the wood, driven deep.
Nestled in the mossy patch
so near the precipice
is no way to live
if all the while you hoped to be
Oh, out of habit, I suppose,
only I'm never sure if solo
Out of order, I assume,
was the reason. And now
toys collect dust in a corner
like everything else.
You never wanted the bank account
to be so busy, always hoped
your brother with the broken arm
would arrive before the squad car.
And who sells strawberries now?
Insert the key in the ignition,
feel the low, thrilling hum
as if each spasm were favored by law
or at least by the TA in the tight white top
as she watches him narrowly
knowing he won't speak
because tomorrow she’ll leave for Bean Town,
or some other exciting spot.
If he comes back while I'm gone,
tell him a gimlet, Rose’s lime juice.
I’m awash in strobes of sound
and she’s a dervish, a deliverer.
Soap your complexion
like the best of daddy’s dearest,
ma chérie. Oh yes.
©Donald Brown 2010/2013