XXXII


As I hold the 4×4″ carpet sample to the floor, I try my best to visualize an entire expanse of it as the power of my imagination is challenged by the habitual tapping of fingernails on a wooden armrest just a few feet from the back of my head. I’ve learned to stop asking about why the tapping occurs, because I get a different story every time. I’ve tried–as gently as I could–encouraging the cessation of the activity, but nothing has gotten through.

“Sorry about the tapping, hon. I just can’t wait to see the lottery drawing, and it’s six–now seven–minutes behind schedule. I think I got a winner this time, I can feel it.”

Okay, at least I got an apology this time.

XXXI


The lake, once robust and visited often, drained quickly last week in a giant whirlpool that ripped through the homes of countless fish and waterbound creatures, taking most of them for the ride down. Current science cannot explain where the water went, as there’s no hole to be found in the bed of dry sediment. This predicament is likely to be hidden from the public, so as not to frighten them about phenomena linked to a different and more-accomplished species that regularly travels to our neck of the woods in order to observe this planet and impact it with unexplainable events that shake the very foundation of what we know to be true in this universe. Sneaky bastards.

XXX


Dump what’s expected of you
into a pile of rotting wood–
covered with mold and crawling
with bugs–and toss it into the fire
when its turn comes around.
It’ll get smoky and irritate you
if you stand too close (pondering
the necessity of holding other people’s
esteems above your own), so keep
your distance as you witness
the incineration of those external
elements, remembering that you must
continue to tend the fire and repeat
the process throughout the night.

XXIX


A savvy coffee shop owner must make
said business inhospitable to those
patrons who have chosen to frequent
the establishment with low batteries.
Only those prepared with sufficiently-charged
gadgets may enjoy a prolonged stay without
feeling like a shunner of technology or,
heaven forbid, a kind of beatnik poet
who only writes by hand–to soak up
the nuances of each distinct syllable
(all the while gazing at dozens of
different focal points and giving off
the impression of a tortured mind).
Why, if you write on paper, you simply
must live with what’s been inscribed;
the paper will be saturated forever
with jottings and musings and skeletal
structures of harmonious ideas (unless
you write in pencil and have a penchant
for erasing anything that doesn’t agree
with your sensitive temperament, which
will certainly not endear you to
the grouping of café guests who
compose emails while taking in the hum
of new wave music and general human presence).

XXVIII


Make it your duty to ensure
that a chutney wrangler
really works for his living.
When seeking fine wild chutneys,
request one of every variety
in his catalogue, even if
some aren’t in stock
and you don’t have a use
for most of them anyway.
Keep the workingman on his toes
so his trade will feel–to him–
more lucrative and challenging.
He must understand that his craft
is needed in this world
of increasing fragmentation
and unnecessary noise that piles up
for the sake of taking up space.

XXVII


A scattering scurry has uplifted the scoundrels responsible for the fireworks bonanza last Tuesday at quarter past nine. They’ve enlisted the help of none other than the wise old guardian of the lakes, that shifty yet stable man who would have no other way of expressing himself than a good old fashioned poetic rant–composed of spontaneous iambic pentameter, no less. Together, armed to the teeth with rhetoric and several air-tight alibis, they march to the courtroom and demand that justice be served–preferably on a platter of some kind.

XXVI


Dozens of daffodils are just sitting there,
like they expect me to pick up
their dry cleaning or pay their rent
(those ungrateful flowers). I’m walking
through this community garden under protest;
I can’t stand all these lackadaisical
plants screwing up their lives just because
they’re too lazy to better their situations.
They use their roots as an excuse
to not be active, like they would die
of shock if they had to move.
In spite of this uncouth behavior, the garden
continues to solicit and receive donations!
All these flowers are allowed to continue
freeloading off the dollars of hardworking
individuals with more generosity than common sense.

XXV


Trading cards don’t have the same mystique
as they used to have (once upon a time
at the level of a carp cheek
after it’s been roasted to perfection
or an espresso machine making three drinks
at a time). On the contrary, their value
has plummeted in terms of social interaction,
and they spend the majority of their time
sitting on shelves and waiting in vain
to collect dust in a way similar to how
they were collected, in a gradual accumulation
with no discernible beginning or end
(sort of the way a good childhood should be conducted,
beginning before the idea of conception,
among the forms and knowing just as much
as the entirety of the cosmos, but only
needing to recall part of it when choosing
which environment is most suitable
for the ensuing life that has a 0.47% chance
of naturally occurring anyway).

XXIV


I manipulate what I want.
I’ll grab a coconut if I can
(if I’m allowed to, at least)
and sling it across the garden
as a sign of respect.
Respect for what, I sure as hell don’t know.
Maybe I want to express admiration
for the basic physics that rule
our world. Or I just want to see
how the damn coconut bounces
when it hits the soil. Do I have to
make these decisions to justify my actions?
I’d say I’m defensive because
I shouldn’t have to explain
why each piddly little coconut
gets flung this way or that.

XXIII


Superimposed triumph, superlatives abound!
Just super- all around.
Nothing says accomplishment
like super- affixed to
decidedly average words
(or even nonwords in need of saving)
that would otherwise
have spent their time looking around
from collective tire swings,
pining for the days of wine and roses,
occasionally yelling at rascally raccoons
using their hands to get into
hijinks of the highest order.

XXII


Bombastic rhythm
leads to cool ivory tinkling,
always beating on the two and four–
the lub-dup that keeps us all honest–
binding us to the time
we only think we created
until we hear the birds and crickets again.
They’re the original jazz musicians
who gave us the meters
we eventually wrote down as gospel.

XXI


Bootlegging lost all its appeal
once they started to make
genuine Rubber Duckies again.
Sure, there’ll continue to be
a market for the knockoffs
and demand won’t be any lower,
but my heart just isn’t in it anymore.
I was a rabid proponent for access
to high-quality imitation ducks
once we learned the connection
between enjoyable baths and longer lifespans.
I made it my life’s mission to provide
nostalgic bathtime to as many individuals
as possible, especially those on a budget.
I never could quite replicate
the color and squeak of the original,
so I knew that once the prohibition ended
I’d feel like a fool if I continued
pushing my makeshift Latex Duckers.

XX


Pressure rarely leads to the best possible work.
At least, that’s what my psychic said to me
last time I had an evening reading
(morning readings are less practical, I’ve found).
I’m supposed to cut out the carbohydrates
and soak in a pool for at least three hours a day,
preferably deprived of all sensory stimuli.
If I can squeeze it in, I’ve also been urged
to adopt any stray animals I come across–
even tame-looking wild ones, if I can.
No matter what animal I start taking care of,
they must be fed a regimented diet
of broccoli, cottage cheese and morel mushrooms.
I’ve been promised that if I take all those steps,
I’ll be cool as a cucumber in no time, also
several steps closer to that thing we call God.

XIX


Riffing on a common trait
seems to stall
the heavy-lifting popinjays
who would otherwise flit
everywhere they see fit,
even if it’s for only a second or two.

Remark that their eyes are brown
like your own, and you’ll see
their gaudy robes and jangling chains
cease movement for a moment
as they question your motives
and likely come back with a
“you know, brown is such a mundane word
when you can use umber or sienna.”

Keep on looking for similarities.
Though you know that list is short,
you’ll be doing your part
to delay the slow decay of modernity,
one astute observation at a time.

XVIII


What’s to be gained from a margarine syndicate stealing all of our top talent in the butter biz? An inside source told me that they’re working to eradicate all fatty cream-based substances, one well-placed marketing campaign at a time. It won’t be long now before even milk–the very foundation of instant nutrition in the 20th Century–loses its credibility to whey protein substitutes. Cows are under the gun to come up with a new self-sustaining product to keep their farmers from foreclosing. Hoof paintings will likely be their first foray, as the arts have proven time and again to be quite the lucrative undertaking.

XVII


A humble statistician
sets up shop in the park,
thinking the squirrels
may cheer him up
after a morning of nothing more
than menial chores, dross
that bogged him down
and had him contemplating
a life worth living–ultimately
outside of his house (or,
heaven forbid, the office).
At this point in his life, he views
work and domestic activities
to be more or less equally disturbing,
yet chooses to continue both
as a way of channelling the great
collective misery and rooting him
firmly to the soil he honestly wishes
would give way and swallow him up.

XVI


At 1:23pm, two Washingtons
and a Jefferson converge
in the change of a dime store
hipster with more common sense
than would normally be allowed
for a person who spends so much
time out and about, strutting
through campuses and chatting up
interesting individuals who cross
his path–even the unsavory ones
whom his parents warned against
when he was a smaller person–
engaging in light-hearted conversation
regarding the economy, politics,
race relations, what have you.

XV


Nothing added to the mix lately,
our scotch salesman has lost his will
to peddle single malts to tourists
in the town square. Everybody
he comes across seems to be
a carbon copy of the people he’s already
met there, which begs the question:
are people all more or less the same?
A purveyor of fine peated spirits
may only see half of the equation,
as he’s not coming across the conscientious ones
who decided to stay home and save their money
for more useful domestic purposes (often going
to the liquor store and blindly picking
a whisky from the shelf while the store clerk
doesn’t even feign interest).

XIV


“Meep,” says the sterling squirrel,
well aware of what its noises
would do in a neighborhood dominated
by angry devil dogs, the sort
whose bark and bite match perfectly.
They gnash and chomp at the air,
gruesome lil’ suckers bent on biting
whatever it is they can find
on a sunny afternoon.

But at sunset, they take on
a timid disposition, retreating
back into their grisly hidey-holes
to snip at their tails in frustration
as brutal pan-species vampires
begin their sanguinary trawl.