Famished

On the menu is barbed wire
sautéed in heartless tyrannies.
The bloodied linens of the Visigoth.
Tongues of the vanquished, broiled,
with a side order of children sobbing.
And salads of inexpressible horrors.

Today’s menu includes bandage soup,
served drawn and quartered.
Knife pie, with a shotgun topping.
Visceral stew and smashed-mouth bread.
And the special, baked heads and hands,
which are, we think, to die for.

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Ode to John Ashbery

One day you finally knew
what you’d been put there to do,
and did it
while the loud voices rang louder
and tugged at your sleeve,
each cry a death cry, a flashing red sign.
But you knew.
You knew what you had to do,
though the thread unwound round you
leaving you nakeder and nakeder,
its melancholy terrible.
Then the queerest thing happened.
Being almost already too late, and too dark,
the moon threw down
a bird, a
shining wild raven and in its mouth,
a flower of life.
The stars burned in its brilliance,
at first saw themselves shyly
then danced and shone round to
find themselves extraordinary.

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I love my dog more than my dad

I love my dog more than my dad
By a distance, not a tad
There I’ve said it, the cardinal sin
Preference for a canine to my next of kin
His big floppy ears, doughy eyes, cold wet nose
Means more to me than my father’s bones
That lay in a grave, I hope at peace
My accidental parent, who came from the East
And whilst my dog showers me with kisses
I remember the drink, the rows, the Christmases
He was never there, never told us he cared
But still I loved this boy soldier, unrecovered man
Though not as much as I love my dog
Sorry dad, I hope you understand

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Broadcast

Seventy languages heard
in the bazaar of Dioscurias,
today’s tower of Babel
streaming terrible news.
Spleens vented and faux miracle cures,
the process a disembodied entity.
A dunce in his dark corner,
pulling out a plum.
Tales of the demi-demon’s hellfire.
The annals of blah.
When fear and ignorance wed
the fools’ opinion bred.

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What Crows Say About Black

What else is black?

A dragonfly frequenting backyards,
hunting metallically.
Flat wings, smear soot thin.

A rural road’s moonless night
where tree branches take
the passer-by pulse—they rustle

the scrape history lammed
onto bark thinly thinly
as dragonfly wings and first time

hearing white tail bucks stamp
and hiss in the pitch dark I tumble
into the ditch prostrate like a penitent.

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Immemorial

That greedy wheedler the aspen 
shakes its golden leaves. In earth,
its shoots snatch another foot.

And a young woman suddenly died, 
quietly, from a quiet well-loved life.
No cause is known. Her eyes 
that flicked like lizards closed.

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Rocket Man

I said my goodbyes, turned back to the shore, stopped trying to find you. It took me awhile, took me a few more pink striped skies, a few more mountains, a few more years. But I found my way, wrested my skin from yours, saved myself from going under. I talk to you still, the way we always talked, close and deep without platitudes or pretense. You know I have forgiven you for all the ways you almost took me with you. You didn’t mean to, never meant for me to get swept into your undertow. You tried to stop it but I was desperate for a reason to fade away.

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Forest Spirit

Many selves,
a raging fire, a sparkling chasm.
viper slithers to its apogee – the sun –
almost succeeds, almost destroys –
I am justified in brevity, breathing
as I, come face to face,
and so it is – angry souls in each other’s bodies –
while August burns treacherously
in the dry grasses.

Boy leaves tracks. Life trudges.
Brooding, endorsing the searing sun,
Can’t close the seed captured here,
die brother…live sister….
no distress or bitterness or revenge –
merely randomness that
divides itself unmercifully

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Patricide At the Dog Howl Cartoon

Father, my heart freezes
stiff as those chickens
when that slaughter truck overturned
in the blizzard of ‘78

and as I walked through the empty
snow world I kicked them,
feathers all over the road.

There is mother
in smoke and shame
hiding her face how the dead
know to do. Father,
her dark eyes hair skin all
a howl of rain.

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Our Danny Petoskey

The anniversary of his death is the cruelest fishhook. Yanking us back, violently. When the days turn crisp, as they have now, when summer fades and autumn crawls into our tiny farming town—that’s when we most grieve our fallen classmate. One year we tried to ignore the date, but the hook came anyway and somehow was even more brutal. So now we meet it head on: we make a day of it. The downtown is strewn with somber-black ribbon. Coffee is shared and then, later, whiskey. We pass the yearbook, we muse, we moan. If a stranger such as you wanders by, the story is told in fullest detail.

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