Deuced Pas de Deux

entrée

He:

‘I am alive today, and dancing in the wind
that cools the grass the sun is burning brown
The dunes demur, and gliding gulls rescind …’

She:

‘His splayed legs, in shorts, displayed from calves to toes
are dead ringers for plucked turkey tom cadavers
as far, too far, as epidermis goes.’

 

adagio

stage direction

She makes a wish and writes it on a paper
and seals it inside a bottle with a kiss.

they dance, both singing:

‘We laze upon the littoral and think
we are thinking. Thoughts as thoughtless as the waves
advance and crest and surge onto the sand
in which despite their fecundity nothing grows …’

her variation:

‘A plucked turkey carcass, bled and oven bound
shows better skin tone than the hide that’s found …’

his variation:

‘The deadpan surly words mask how we flirt …’

 

coda

The stake-fried chicken sizzles and goes out
for waffles.

[Shurly chicken-fried steak? Ed.]

The Codger Conga

Not yet ready (Surely ‘able’ — Ed.) to write anything worth keeping for the OWNERS series, but settling on Ottava Rima as the form. And that encourages stray thoughts (Surely ‘ravings’ — Ed.) like this:

THE CODGER CONGA

He is developing new dance steps without music:
the creep, the slouch, the shuffle, and the waddle.
‘Old age!’ he crows. ‘When I get there I’ll choose it
in preference to rejuvenation twaddle.’
With running gone, and short-range hikes elusive
he chooses totem poles as his role model.
He sits and dozes through the hours that bridge
the gaps between his sidles to the fridge.

Crocodylus Acutus

The puerile croc up to his eyes in alligator flats
has polished off two kiwis: one cordovan, one black.
He much prefers, he leers at all, the polish to the paste
and says he bastes his choice more on staying power than taste.
Koalas smell of leaves they eat, and in the same way Croc
has belched himself an aura that locks vulture flocks in shock.
One fly-by of Croc’s lee side, they refuse to salivate
and chunder in their plumage. Croc waves and calls out, ‘Mate,
come down and swim with me and we’ll gobble monotremes,
amuse ourselves by snorkelling sharks and other creek extremes.’
The vultures retch incurably and curse big reptile geeks
as blithe as kookaburras with two geckos in their beaks.


Published in MÖBIUS, May, 1998.

So Many Wonders, So Little Time

A hot big-bang describes the start
of this our universe.
Does that explain why teeth feel pain
or why this tale’s in verse?
To say birds fly because they fly
is talking through my hat.
It isn’t wrong but unlike song
it’s both too sharp and flat.
If you were dumber I’d seem smart
but that is not the case.
I see you want to find out Why.
Why don’t we have a race?
Let’s start off slowly: physics first
then chemistry and math.
Their dinky hurdles are not tall
enough to block our path.
We’ll run by frozen accidents
that pave the way to life
and run uphill while force cements
complexity that’s rife
with run-on sentences that stop
most runners in their tracks.
They won’t stop us; we’ll set up shop
in logic and brass tacks
and when we tire of calculus
of how if ‘p’ then ‘q’
we’ll race to board an omnibus
to view the primal stew.
Description’s easy (well, it’s not
but I’ll let you explain)
so I’ll describe and you’ll tell why
and that way we’ll both gain.
This race might take all afternoon
so bring along your mind
to exercise it as we run
from Darwin to the kind
of husky question I can see
there cooking in your brain.
Let’s run uphill until we’re tired
then run back down again.

Ferretería

(a ballad occasioned by my consternation on
learning that a ‘ferretería’ is only an ironmongery)

His four feet fastened ferret-style
upon the olive branch,
Raúl resents the tourist’s rude
‘If that’s a mink, it’s ranch.’

Raúl runs out the open cage
and up the tourist’s leg.
As ferret passes trouser cuff
the tourist starts to beg:

‘Oh, spare me from this maddened mink
or pocket kangaroo!
It’s not my fault. I didn’t want
to shop inside this zoo.’

Raúl, well in the dark by now,
is frightened by these cries
and charges on to private parts.
He can’t believe his eyes.

In general a ferret stops.
A major problem, see:
will Raúl, so incited, al-
ter corporeality?

The owner of the hardware store
can captain ferrets out
but doesn’t know where Raúl is,
or understand the shout.

The tourist turns bright green with fear.
The ferret gets stuck in.
You’d think he’s at the colonel now,
not only at the shin.

‘Ironmonger,’ screams the tourist, high
of voice and on fear,
‘Retrieve your beast, be admiral.
Protect my lone-star rear!’

The monger thinks the tourist mad
and telephones the cops.
The ferret’s met their dogs before
and so he simply stops.

Down trouser leg, he lopes to loo.
Tenant plans has he.
He’ll lurk there till the tourist goes,
or stops in for a wee.

The Gander and the Gooseherd

‘Now I lie, my down to keep,’
thinks the gander, feeling cheap
but knowing that his goose is cooked
should Eddie Bauer get him booked,
‘I’m worth more,’ he says aloud.
‘You’d best keep me (I’m not proud)
as a watchdog, on the hoof,
for my down’s not waterproof.’

The man before him, not his Maker
but perhaps his undertaker,
hasn’t known a goose to talk
though he shares the gander’s walk,
both being waddlers on their flat
no-arched waders that go splat
when they hear the lunch bell ringing
like their hearts do to girls’ singing.

‘If I pluck you,’ says the man
‘and your mates, I’ll get a grand
or so they told me at the store.
They promised they’d let me explore
their catalogue, and I could buy
toys, so it’s right you die.’
This talking gives Goose time to soar.
He flies off laughing, ‘Never more.’

Gin Real Practitioner

‘I am old,’ said the surgeon, ‘or given to drink.
Next year I shall be forty-seven.
In my surgery patients ask time off to think,
whispering, “ere he’s much older it’s Heaven
for our doctor”. There is little in my mien to leaven
their shock sighting lunch on my smock,
and at how my Mephisto shoes nibble my socks,
and how at lunch I slide under the table.
I’ve misplaced my house key, my Bentley’s in hock,
but my tremors don’t mean I’m not able.

Corriente Pimentón

corrient
I pause mid-river toeing for a rock.
The undertow unmans me. Tropic fish?
Although I bathe, I wish I wore a sock
or similar, to block against the swish
of Candiru. Perhaps a radar dish
antenna could, uh, foil his foul attack.
I swim strategically, float on my back.
‘Urethra! One has found me!’ shrieks my mate.
‘Piranhas leave you less you have to hack!’
His creepy shrieks persuade me not to wait

Paro no meio do rio, com o dedo, escavo areia.
A corrente me desveste de coragem masculina. Peixe tropical?
Mesmo que me banho eu desejo estar usando uma malha
ou similar, para bloquear contra o
Candiru. Talvez uma antena parabólica
poderia, uh, enganar seu ataque traiçoeiro.
Nado estrategicamente, flutuo sobre minhas costas.
‘Urethra! Um me encontrou!’ grita o amigo.
‘Piranhas deixam voce menos coisas para cortar!’
Seus gritos apavorados me convencem a não esperar.

Rosa S. Clement provided this translation to Portugese and this picture to accompany Corriente Pimentón’s (‘Chili-pepper Current’) guest appearance in August 1997 on her award-winning website A Moment for Poetry. Her current and even better website is at http://www.sumauma.net/amazonian/