Saturday, September 15, 2018

Some Dry Humor for Karen (September 14, 2018)







It's Not That
By Maureen N. McClane

It's not that I'm opposed
to poison in my lips

or pig in my soap—
it's not that I'm opposed.

It's not that I'm opposed
to plastic bottles that won't decompose

to malodorous phosphorus flows—
it's not that I'm opposed

to what you propose—
surgery on your imperfect nose

favelas blasted
with hoses— it's not that

I'm opposed to opposing
the opposite of anonymous

neighbors, the nosy stargazers
who discover new celebrity planets

about to crash into your car. It's not that
I'm opposed that we drive

when it's not very far
to walk or bike not opposed

you're opposed to the subway
the stink of the general—

train 4, 5, or 6–not opposed
to the sex on Craigslist

to your pets' special tricks
to the organized slaughter of cows

by the tenderest machines—
not opposed to your dreams

to their screams to our hopes
not opposed to the hordes

with their ropes knives and bombs
set in desolate streets slums

and thrumming towns not opposed
to your proms and baptisms

to ongoing Christian schisms
most unopposed to fierce Muslims

Jews Baha'is and Hindus posed
in poses temples now oppose

the Kama Sutra too ooh-la-la
for the petit-bourgeois members of the BJP

—not opposed to a big GDP
to a loud ATV not opposed to anything

I can see hear or touch
to "enough or too much"—

It's not that I'm opposed
to whatever I should propose

opposing, knowing
knowing is thinning

in the species' extra inning
on a world slow spinning on an

axis slightly tilting
into folly so is it folly

to suppose you could oppose
proposing something to oppose



You Are the Penultimate Love of My Life
BY REBECCA HAZELTON

I want to spend a lot but not all of my years with you.
We’ll talk about kids
                             but make plans to travel.
I will remember your eyes
                             as green when they were gray.
Our dogs will be named For Now and Mostly.
              Sex will be good but next door’s will sound better.

There will be small things.
I will pick up your damp towel from the bed,
                                                          and then I won’t.
I won’t be as hot as I was
                             when I wasn’t yours
and your hairline now so
              untrustworthy.
When we pull up alongside a cattle car
                             and hear the frightened lows,
                             I will silently judge you
                             for not immediately renouncing meat.
You will bring me wine
                             and notice how much I drink.

                                            The garden you plant and I plant
                             is tunneled through by voles,
                                                           the vowels
                                                           we speak aren’t vows,
              but there’s something
                             holding me here, for now,
              like your eyes, which I suppose
                                                           are brown, after all.

Terra Nullius
BY ERIKA MEITNER

The poem in which we drive an hour to the beach and Uncle Dave doesn't get out
      of his lawn chair once.
The poem in which we left the yellow plastic shovel behind and everyone is bereft.
The poem in which I can't stop talking about how you walked deep into Lake Erie
      and the water was still only up to your knees when you turned into a speck
      past the rock jetty.
The poem in which everyone listens to celebrity gossip in the car on the way back.
The poem in which I pontificate on how ugly the fiancée of that Jonas brother is,
      and how they're too young to get married, and how my grandmother's old
      neighbor would have said, "Ugly? She can't help that she's ugly. It's that she's
      so stupid," and I would have yelled at her for assuming that all former hair-
      dressers are dim.
The poem in which I turn into my grandmother's old neighbor.
The poem in which I remember very clearly how they both stored tissues in their
      bras.
The poem in which I think about how this would horrify your mother—the
      pendulous breasts, the moist tissues, the dipping into the cleavage to retrieve
      anything.
The poem in which your mother tries not to wince when I order whatever I want
      from the menu despite her coupon for two medium 1-topping pizzas.
The poem in which I try to find a deeper meaning for why I notice the woman
      ahead of us in line at Johnny's Liquor Store who buys a pack of menthols and     
      asks the guy behind the counter if he knows her good-for-nothing brother. She
      has hair that looks like cats got at a skein of yarn, and a tattoo above her ankle
      that's dark and unspecified. It's far enough above her ankle that it's nearly mid-
      calf—like her ankle and calf are two different countries and the tattoo got lost
      in the borderlands on the way to its actual destination.
The poem in which I am territory that is under dispute and no one will occupy it
      because of fear and uncertainty.
The poem in which I reach the conclusion that this feeling is inspired by your
      mother and the way she hums out-of-season carols while doing kitchen tasks,
      though it's not really about the humming but rather the time she asked me to
      light the Hanukkah candles in the attic because it would be better if they were
      out of the way for the Christmas party.
The poem in which you and I are in line waiting to buy a mixed six-pack of Great
      Lakes and I am staring at a stranger's tattoo and thinking about the fact that I
      am not Anne Frank while the baby is in the car with your mother.
The poem in which I go into Walmart and buy the baby an olive-green cap that
      looks suspiciously like Fidel Castro's.
The poem in which I could eradicate the fact that I ever went into Walmart and
      bought anything so the baby can one day start a revolution.
The poem in which we see a couple on the highway median in a stalled-out Buick
      and don't stop to help.
The poem in which the highway median looks like the spit of land between two
      enemy trenches and I feel a deep longing for my childhood.
The poem in which I remember, for no apparent reason, the tornado instructions
      taped to the sides of all the filing cabinets in one office I worked in that was on
      the top floor of a mostly abandoned mall in Overland Park, Kansas. All that
      was left: decorative fountains, floor tiles, mirrored ceilings, Nearly Famous
      Pizza, the carcass of Sears.
The poem in which we leave Northeastern Ohio, The poem in which we return to
      Northeastern Ohio.
The poem in which it is night and we are lost in Northeastern Ohio and we keep
      passing Amish buggies adorned with reflective tape.
The poem in which the moon is a vehicle for content, and is far less than a perfect
      reflector of anything.
The poem in which we are all in some kind of limbo.

On an Acura Integra
BY PAUL VIOLI
Please think of this as not merely a piece
Of writing that anyone would fully
Appreciate, but as plain and simple
Words that attempt to arouse whatever
Appetencies you, especially, depend
Upon language to fulfill; that drench you
In several levels of meaning at once,
Rendering my presence superfluous.
In other words, welcome this as a poem,
Not merely a missive I’ve slowly composed
And tucked under your windshield wiper
So that these onlookers who saw me bash
In your fender will think I’m jotting down
The usual information and go away.

Poem in the American Manner
BY DOROTHY PARKER
I dunno yer highfalutin' words, but here's th' way it seems
When I'm peekin' out th' winder o' my little House o Dreams;
I've been lookin' 'roun' this big ol' world, as bizzy as a hive,
An' I want t' tell ye, neighbor mine, it's good t' be alive.
I've ben settin' here, a-thinkin' hard, an' say, it seems t' me
That this big ol' world is jest about as good as it kin be,
With its starvin' little babies, an' its battles, an' its strikes,
An' its profiteers, an' hold-up men—th' dawggone little tykes!
An' its hungry men that fought fer us, that nobody employs.
An' I think, "Why, shucks, we're jest a lot o' grown-up little boys!"
An' I settle back, an' light my pipe, an' reach fer Mother's hand,
An' I wouldn't swap my peace o' mind fer nothin' in the land;
Fer this world uv ours, that jest was made fer folks like me an' you
Is a purty good ol' place t' live—say, neighbor, ain't it true? 



For Karen Heiney Brown







Saturday, September 8, 2018

Tasks (September 7, 2018)



Chores
by Maxine Kumin
All day he’s shoveled green pine sawdust

out of the trailer truck into the chute.
From time to time he’s clambered down to even
the pile. Now his hair is frosted with sawdust.
Little rivers of sawdust pour out of his boots.

I hope in the afterlife there’s none of this stuff

he says, stripping nude in the late September sun
while I broom off his jeans, his sweater flocked
with granules, his immersed-in-sawdust socks.
I hope there’s no bedding, no stalls, no barn

no more repairs to the paddock gate the horses

burst through when snow avalanches off the roof.
Although the old broodmare, our first foal, is his,
horses, he’s fond of saying, make divorces.
Fifty years married, he’s safely facetious.

No garden pump that’s airbound, no window a grouse

flies into and shatters, no ancient tractor’s
intractable problem with carburetor
ignition or piston, no mowers and no chain saws
that refuse to start, or start, misfire and quit.

But after a Bloody Mary on the terrace

already frost-heaved despite our heroic efforts
to level the bricks a few years back, he says
let’s walk up to the field and catch the sunset
and off we go, a couple of aging fools.

I hope, he says, on the other side there’s a lot

less work, but just in case I’m bringing tools.

Going Back to Bed


By J.D. McClatchey

Up early, trying to muffle
the sounds of small tasks,
grinding, pouring, riffling
through yesterday’s attacks

or market slump, then changing
my mind—what matter the rush
to the waiting room or the ring
of some later dubious excuse?—

having decided to return to bed
and finding you curled in the sheet,
a dream fluttering your eyelids,
still unfallen, still asleep,

I thought of the old pilgrim
when, among the fixed stars
in paradise, he sees Adam
suddenly, the first man, there

in a flame that hides his body,
and when it moves to speak,
what is inside seems not free,
not happy, but huge and weak,

like an animal in a sack.
Who had captured him?
What did he want to say?
I lay down beside you again,

not knowing if I’d stay,
not knowing where I’d been.



My Sister, Who Died Young, Takes Up The Task


By Jon Pineda
A basket of apples brown in our kitchen,
their warm scent is the scent of ripening,

and my sister, entering the room quietly,
takes a seat at the table, takes up the task

of peeling slowly away the blemished skins,
even half-rotten ones are salvaged carefully.

She makes sure to carve out the mealy flesh.
For this, I am grateful. I explain, this elegy

would love to save everything. She smiles at me,
and before long, the empty bowl she uses fills,

domed with thin slices she brushes into
the mouth of a steaming pot on the stove.

What can I do? I ask finally. Nothing, 
she says, let me finish this one thing alone.


The Man Moves Earth 

By Cathy Song

The man moves earth
to dispel grief.
He digs holes
the size of cars.
In proportion to what is taken
what is given multiplies—
rain-swollen ponds
and dirt mounds
rooted with flame-tipped flowers.
He carries trees like children
struggling to be set down.
Trees that have lived
out their lives,
he cuts and stacks
like loaves of bread
which he will feed the fire.
The green smoke sweetens
his house.

The woman sweeps air
to banish sadness.
She dusts floors,
polishes objects
made of clay and wood.
In proportion to what is taken
what is given multiplies—
the task of something
else to clean.
Gleaming appliances
beg to be smudged,
breathed upon by small children
and large animals
flicking out hope
as she whirls by,
flap of tongue,
scratch of paw,
sweetly reminding her.

The man moves earth,
the woman sweeps air.
Together they pull water
out of the other,
pull with the muscular
ache of the living,
hauling from the deep
well of the body
the rain-swollen,
the flame-tipped,
the milk-fed—
all that cycles
through lives moving,
lives sweeping, water
circulating between them
like breath,
drawn out of leaves by light.