Sep 23, 2013

Poem in Which I Imagine Myself into a Woody Allen Movie

among upper-middle class white people.

I kibitz now, I wave my hands like I’m charading fire,
wear tweed, have a gelfilte fish pallor,
my pockets full of Cliff Notes Kierkegaard.

I dream that I’ve awoken to the need for
and the absence of soul—a void blooms—

but a mannered void— like the boarding up
of a quality delicatessen.

My lovely improbable wife bores me.

I’ve found a Bohemian surrogate,
un-jaded as April, my missed horizon
my buried life, incessant Dixieland,
and no part of the daycare Fellini
of my meekly whining domestic life.

I wait for her outside her high school.

Realism says she’ll dump me and I’ll go
back to my wife, newly appreciative, chastened—
             a song so played, and played and played again.

This pattern I am compelled to unlearn.

But sometimes a brave sense dawns upon me:

That this is some weary lockstep routine,
the light, new, but most of it recycled

among upper-middle class white people.

Sep 16, 2013

The Tailor of Al Hamdaniyah

Because he wore a suit and seemed
of high value and would name no terrorists,
knowing none, they stripped and hooded the old man,
the village tailor, and hung him by his wrists
from a mulberry tree that grew by the river.

The old man knew only thank you and please
in English which he said through the night
to the sound of the Tigris and the sound of the wind.

He hung from the tree, strange fruit, five days.
PiƱata man or Muslim ham, the Americans called him,
and burned his feet with their lighters 
when he seemed to sleep.

Five days it took for his brother to get word
and travel to Mosul and bring his release,
but by then the hands of the tailor had ripened.

His hands had changed, like the fruit of the tree,
from white to red to withered black and past saving.
They carried him to the clinic and cut them off.

Nine hundred dollars they issued him,

to which he said neither thank you nor please.

Sep 11, 2013

The Man We Threw from the Sky

Though the memory doesn't feel like mine,
I must have been there, moving north north-west,
holding, up above the Perfume River
with Simon, Isaac, our Arab gunner,
Vince, called Pineapple because of his face,
the NVA who kept on smiling
who would not stop to save his own life,
and Peter who had stopped asking questions,
having seen what no one should live to see
after Hue, and down to one emotion.

And if you could have held your head just right
seen the paint falling from the recent world
the old paint, there all the time, coming through,
you'd see our ancient nightmare carnival
framed in the CH-47's door
the Bosch pentimento of Viet Nam:

Here's child-meretrix selling her same ass
there in the tents which are huge green mussels.

The cargo choppers become dead-eyed fish
held down by the green bags of what remained
and the bodies, Jesus, pieces of bodies
women and boys in pieces, hanging in trees.

The dragons blowing their orange fires
with those same six hundred year old ravens
afterwards, and always a crescent moon.

But Bosch was wrong about how a man falls
In his Descent of the Damned into Hell
not handed to the air like a new bride,
or set down into space like firewood,
but arms out forward, braced, and on his knees
like a child's doubtful Indian dive,
but holding, past fear, and on both knees.

A parody of some liveable fall
with the river a lifetime below him.

The rest was just as Bosch warned us it'd be
and I'm not offended at our likeness:
demon-apes, empty of everything else,

prehensile hands, demon-hands, 
just like mine.