Have you heard the one about how hunters in helicopters
chase wild jokes across the flats? How they rifle
feathered darts into the herd, then sling
the groggy fallen off to urban zoos
— and how limp each witty punchline gets
Out of context, unable to fend,
a joke makes no sense, just heaps of crap
for some kid to point a dripping milkshake at
and laugh, while his pregnant mother rolls her eyes.
Let me throw you a banana:
this joke has longed for death so long
it isn’t even funny. (more…)
Hunters and gatherers used to grumble that written language had given birth to craziness, and that craziness would grow up to be a culture that forgets everything it hears.
Now that cellphones have become so tiny you can clip one to your ear. You can stroll and chat with business contacts worlds away, hands-free. Today, a dozen brokers cluster like hungry mallards around my hot dog cart, each well-dressed multitasker talking to itself in the sun.
One of them, abusing my mustard container, announces to the open air that we should all expect to switch careers twelve times or more before we retire or die. The reason is the market or something. (more…)
When we fixed the grackle’s wing
and dabbed the grit from his cuts, we found
bits of shattered beak in the grass. It was fall,
orange foliage brittle — he had tumbled
through a rose bush after walloping the glass.
That night from his shoebox bed
he sang of flowing water and of a flightless
aquatic child who craves the summer air:
‘Afraid of submersion, it tries to swim.
It struggles for the moon
and brings us pain …’
His cuts began to stink.
Within five days the glands on his neck
ballooned into sick orange cysts. Mom made us move him
from Eric’s dresser to the shed. She was sorry, said
‘He’s going to a better place,’ but the grackle disagreed.
‘Each better place is next to nothing,’ he sang.
‘The difference is both hard and clear.’ (more…)
Follow the high road, take the low.
What can it matter? When your card
is dealt, some jerk in a stiff smock
will hammer your coffin lid shut. Hell,
as far as time can tell, our names
get scratched into planks and planted
in a willow’s shade to weather
forever, as though we were saints —
not deadbeats on shoulderless roads.
Come. Saddle up. Let’s scoot.
For we have miles to ride
before we sleep
beneath a heaven dark and deep
as hell, as far as I can see. (more…)