XIII


You can’t overdo something of this magnitude–a poem, a thoughtful greeting card, a pinky in the eye of your oppressor–or you’ll stick out like a sore thumb on the hand of a timid librarian perusing the stacks and suffering several paper cuts. Overachieving can only lead to disappointment later on, when you can barely stick your head out from under the covers long enough to change the song blaring from your computer (which has been running for 138 consecutive hours without so much as a break). Face it. Take on challenges with a half-assed spin and you’ll pleasantly surprise yourself when something worthwhile happens–a novel covering the basis of yarn harvesting, an apparition of the Dalai Lama in your homemade soup, the opening day lineup of the 1938 Chicago Cubs etched onto the back of your hand.

XII


Until we’ve all taken siestas
on each of the seven continents,
nobody will have the authority
to say what should and shouldn’t
be called opera. Just try to take
a nap in Antarctica without any
shelter, I dare you. About midway
through attempting to drift off,
you’ll lose function in your extremities,
with your limbs not too far behind.

Only at that moment will you say
to yourself that an opera can be
anything that involves conflict and
some sort of singing. The language
doesn’t even have to be grandiose!
You admit to yourself that this
proposition on the origin of art
is silly anyway, and you die
a cold, enlightened individual.

XI


Twizzling little tickling twinkles
splash individual fare on the clowns
falling all over 18th street,
Sunday after the hourless
Friday-Saturday conundrum
where teeth gnashed in pleasure
and trumpets blared
the anthem of the Bohemian state of mind.
Forty-eight ticks left the weekend
scratching its head and biding its time
until the wrecks emerge from the wainscoting
to lap up the Billy Baroo kind of obsolescence
planned for the children they’ll only have
once this planet has been assured of its safety.

X


Give me that impression of a youth in trouble with a decision to make that will shape her life and the lives of innumerable voting persons, and try telling me that the swamp of egregious warfare has a purpose. You know–as well as I–that a natural feature has no business existing if its very nature is one of violence and the quashing of dissenting voices. If, however, you sample from the rug of burnt mango offerings, nothing could please me more than the redemption you’ve always sought–when standing in direct opposition to the kernel of putty-nosed scoundrels, no less.

IX


A glimmering smidgeon of hope
has stalled the collapse
of our grand society,
through the execution of
a well-phrased debate that should
–by all measures–sway
the undecided and worry the supporters
of the crass, unprepared and
otherwise unsavory candidate
who spits rhetoric and bluster,
pretending to exert authority
over an arena completely new to him.

But nobody’s opinion will change.
Rabid contrarians will lick his wounds
and claim he doesn’t need experience
to control the (downward) trajectory
of this global hierarchy. He’ll be fine,
they say. He’ll bully others into
doing his bidding, since it’s worked
so well in his past endeavors.

A sucker’s born every minute, and
somehow each one of them
is old enough to vote,
come Super Tuesday.

VIII


Accept that few–if any–neon python boots fit as well as they claim on the box, “100% natural, perfect fit for all feet involved.” Claiming that to be a bold-faced lie would be inaccurate; they used a font of standard weight, understating the severity of their exaggeration. Be fair in your assessment and remember that one-size-fits-all technology has yet to grace the footwear sector, and statements to the contrary can only heighten suspicion.

VII


Forever–forever and a day–waits the slow-witted, laughing blue jay, sitting on a pole and grinning from ear to ear in the way only a blue jay can. It surveys the land below its narrow perch, all of which is enveloped in freshly-erupted lava that threatens to eat at the pole–were it not for the forcefield protecting the bird and everything it touches. As everything on the ground ignites, not a single cry for help can be heard. In fact, people are sloshing right through the scalding orange soup without so much as a peep. Be they devils, wolves in sheep’s clothing? Do they revel in pain and dare anyone else to take the plunge? The bluejay dives to the surface and feels no heat, just pressure to get back on the pole, away from those two-legged beasts who put it there.

V


Soup shouldn’t be hard to come by these days, but we all know it’s sometimes quite difficult to get a ladle and a dollop (of sour cream, usually). That’s why we’re starting the Soup for the Group Foundation, to provide adequate nutrition in hearty liquid form. What are we looking to accomplish? To be honest with you, we’re not so sure of ourselves at this juncture, but we know that providing food is one of the noblest callings. We’re hoping that one day we can rest upon our laurels, masters of our universe, sipping brandy and smoking horse-killing cigars while our manservants massage our feet and ankles–especially ankles.

VI


The minor inconvenience here is the loss of Davis’s colostomy bag. It’s not like there are so many locations where we could have misplaced it. We only went from the house to church, then to the breakfast place, then over to the drugstore. From there, we decided to make a quick visit to the county fair for some fried butter, picked up the dry cleaning, popped into the electronics store for some hearing aid batteries and went to the park for a quick squirrel-feeding session. Oh, and there was the aquarium, WWII Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, community theater (Godspell) and miniature golf. We shouldn’t have much trouble finding it.

IV


Sound off on the state of public housing,
whenever you’re ready. Okay,
I’ll get started. There are way too many
parrots and parakeets in these apartment buildings,
and most of them are going to outlive
their owners. Unless there’s a next of kin
or lifelong friend whose heart is big enough
to take care of their deceased loved one’s pet,
these verbose, colorful winged pets
will have to fend for themselves, something
they’d rather not do–or rather can’t do
because they’ve never been in the wild or even
outside the four walls of their modern prison box.

III


No time for minimalist distractions,
we need to get to the heart of the matter here.
There’s too much cheese on the train tracks,
and I worry that the next passing train
won’t even know what kind of slop
they’ll be tracking on their wheels.

Sure, it’ll probably wear off
after a few hundred yards, but
the claim of having 100%
cheeseless tracks and wheels
will fall on deaf ears–assuming
that this whole affair is disseminated
widely on social media, which
I’ll be happy to do for the sake of
train passengers and track managers everywhere.

II


But what of the significant boon
to our lovely colleagues across the channel?
I’d love to see what they’re doing
with the seventeen dollars we wired them
for incidentals in case they lose power
in a freak hailstorm. I hope they didn’t
go spend it on a lavish lunch of tunafish
and avocado, as I most likely would.
Even roast beef could cost a pretty penny
these days, and no emergency fund
is safe anymore from the clutches
of middle class midday cuisine.

I


Stout caricatures
come to life
on the boardwalk of natural pleasantry,

stretched foreheads
and foreshortened torsos
gleaming with impish security.

One day they’d be worth millions,
but they won’t survive that long.
Nobody will care for them,
they’re child’s play in the eyes of sensibility.

First Numbered Series — #50


Venture a guess as to the formalities
contained within your average disco music,
and you may become enraptured
by its simplicity of form while retaining
a semblance of impracticality that all people
may understand when given proper parameters.

Barriers formed by popular assent break regulation
to garnish spectacular emotion, often wagering
the impartial stoicism contained by our pedagogical
monetary system of rare surplus and surprising
resilience when faced with extreme obstacles.

Any keen observer must conclude after an encounter
of archaic and asinine proportions that tomorrow
takes stage fright’s assumptions and rebrands at will,
tarnishing hope for a stalemate of conscience and temerity.

Extraction requires astute willingness to change abstraction
into benign products reserved for the paying public,
outrageous to the average jack-of-all-trades, expected
by large hordes of collective consciousness to come to life
before their eyes in swarms of instant gratification,
hitherto supplied by chants and jingles formulated by hacks.

———

Original draft written and posted to WHARVED on Halloween, 2011

Major Update (Not Upheaval)


Hello all,

First of all, I’d like to thank you for reading my work. You’re the sounding board that helps me to legitimize my efforts, and I cannot underestimate your influence in that department.

Every once in a while I need to re-assess my progress and see what can be done to refresh my inspiration as a writer. If you look at my archives, you will see an on-again/off-again pattern, where I’ll have successful months followed by droughts. I never plan things out that way, they just naturally unfold in that fashion. There are numerous factors that play into this phenomenon, but they change every time I go through the cycle. I suppose I can just call it artistic chaos and leave it at that.

This kind of sporadic output definitely takes its toll on my psyche, and many a time I’ll find myself wondering if I’ll ever be able to reach the level of creativity and spontaneity that once came so naturally (without the nagging doubts and irrational fears). Recently I’ve been reflecting on my past efforts, and I’ve pinpointed a specific project that gave my creative self license to play and have fun.

Starting in May 2011 and ending a calendar year later, I wrote a series of numbered poems consisting of 146 sequential pieces that reached varying degrees of success. I started that particular project when my life was in a fragile state, recovering from (what I know now to be) my first manic episode. I’d recently withdrawn from the Spring 2011 semester of college, and my future was up in the air. I had a summer to reflect on life and do my best to gear back up for school in the fall (which was by no means a guarantee). I needed something that would channel my thoughts and energy into something that I could be proud of, something that would give my life’s work a sense of meaning, thereby giving my everyday life more of a purpose.

That numbered poetry project propelled me back into my final year of college, and swept me through my poetry seminar and final reading with aplomb. The sheer volume of work I could pull out of my hat at any moment gave me an air of confidence and legitimacy with my craft, something I sure could use right now. So why not return to my previous successes?

The major success of that numbered poetry project was the platform it afforded me. I could exist amongst the forms, sampling from any and all of the senses whenever they suited me. Nothing was off the table, but there was no table set in the first place. Pure spontaneous creation was the only goal, and I was able to write, forgetting those filters that life had imposed on me for survival purposes. I’m hoping that by reliving this series of sensations, I can once again find the wellspring of unlimited inspiration–where poetry lives and breathes.

I encourage you, fellow journeymen and women–journeypersons–to rip a page from this book and take a break from rigid societal hierarchy and imposed filtration that we deal with at every waking moment of our lives. Free yourselves, if only for a few brief moments at a time, writing what comes naturally without question. If you do that enough, you’ll see a pattern emerge, and you may begin to glimpse at your true creative being–you know, the one who used to draw on the walls.

Cheers,

-A

Traditionalist


A subtle twinge of confidence
is all it would take to begin
a revolution around here,
but there can’t be any upstaging
of the local patriarch, the man
who throws gestures at lesser men
as though there were no way
to upheave his macho influence.
But oh, could he be any more wrong.
He’s simply never seen power in flux;
he figured he’d live his whole life
without answering to the next generation,
all the while refusing to adapt
to the new universal standards
unfolding left and right.
Call him a traditionalist, forcing
his fossil fuel agenda into the oceans
and claiming it was merely an oversight.

Tall Men


The taut tree juts
upward in space,
wanting to be a tall man,
the way it’s seen
tall men walk around
with their arms outstretched,
laughing at the circumstances
that led them to that place,
applauding their position
on the planet as apex predator
for the next few thousand years–
as though being there
had anything to do with skill.