Monthly Archives: May 2017

The Last Circus

I am five years old, sitting in wiggly anticipation
under the circus bigtop. Barnum and Bailey
has come to Sheridan, Wyoming.

The crowd is a hot smear of Saturday afternoon faces.
The room smells of animal dung and buttered popcorn.
I have the surprisingly intimate feeling of being
let in on a secret — there is a world where the rules
are suspended and even run backwards,
where people fly and elephants walk on their hind legs,
where women wear spangled, skin-tight suits
and swing on swing sets the size of tall buildings,
where people are sawn in half and then reassembled,
where the polar axis shifts and time runs in a bright
circle with a man standing on its back with a whip.

Of course, I have no way of knowing the conjuring
has a cost. And like a broken foreign correspondent,
I have wandered ever since looking for what is conjured
and what is constant.

Last week, a man in Estacada Oregon cut off his mother’s head
and took it to a convenience store. There among the growlers
and Monster Tea and paste food and rows of cigarettes,
he tried to begin the second act of his show
but fell before he could bring more of it before the world.

Today, the last Barnum and Bailey circus show took place.
After 146 years, the medieval review and spangled
swirling together of what can and cannot be done has closed.

It is is being replaced by the grim theater of small, lonely, suicidal men in Oregon and the U.K. and France.

This time the roles are reversed.
The actors bring forth into the world
what is rarely seen, but is all too real
and we — all together now —
will conjure to make it disappear.

The Writhing Under the Skin

once a friend came to my house
lets lick the razor today, he said
you can be in this world but not of it
it does not matter if one poet goes missing
when we were kids he and I used to play marbles
the aggies and steelies and blue eyes
jingling in your pocket like little bubbles of money
my friend drowned one day while fishing
he drank too much and fell out of the boat
once I saw him on his bicycle in the sky
he was paper thin and had tiny window blinds
hanging around his head and ears
his teeth were cracked by lightning
there is a train in a ravine where no one goes, he said
if you go there you can hear the train’s thoughts
intertwined with mine
my friend used to say the math
that describes our days has its own symbols
that vibrate like candied light waves
but they never tell you if you should lick the razor today or not

Carrier Wave

A stone on a string swings around your head
for a few seconds. Then the knot slips
and the stone goes flying.

A lover on a string orbits you in widening circles,
glimpses in doorways and oxidic bars,
a hint of the bloody smell that attracts tigers.

Sink the evidence in a muddy lake bottom.

Slip into the stairwell with a co-worker.

As in a game of Russian roulette
it is the taste of the Other that attracts.

A woman on the street with a purple cape
and a missing hand.

A poison leaf, a custard filling,
someone buried face down in Salem.

The wildness of places
with bees that burrow and punish.

Donald J. Trump’s Inaugural Address Under Erasure

Today we became the rulers
the public, rusted-out

and scattered like tombstones
American carnage

this sad depletion our country
disappeared over the horizon

America First

the ravages, stealing and destroying
will lead to great prosperity and strength

I will never, ever let you win

Radical Islamic Terrorism
the bedrock of our politics

total allegiance
open your heart to patriotism

Now arrives
the empty hour of action

our soldiers will bleed
the same red blood
and be ignored again

We Will Make…
We Will Make…
We Will Make…

Thanks You and God Bless America.

The Hunger For Getting Things Right

Sound investments panic and fail.

Cars grow winter mold and must be cared for.

Witnesses misremember.

Countries hallucinate.

In Zen, the fervent desire
and the stone footbridge are interchangeable.

In poetry, the sound
finds the echo canyon before you do.

In navigating the old way,
the shape of surface waves is everything.