broke in New York
where to stay
try the Martha Washington between Park and Madison
tiptoe down Fifth at midnight
hushed as death, facing shadows
$20 a day, can’t be choosy
can’t have an ensuite bathroom
so what if a woman is screaming
on the street at 3 a.m.
someone running through the halls
banging on doors
a voice on the phone:
I know who you are! You can’t fool me!
massive building has two entrances
one on 29th St, one on 30th
where welfare mothers huddle with kids
up the street the church
where Mom and Dad were married…
you could weep for their sweet hopes
you try once again
to position yourself in the world—
in that dry white room
you remember trees, purple sky
summering grapes on the empty road
the neighbor’s horses
fireplace deep and wide
yet wherever you live…
it’s the house of madness
—Patricia Hickerson, Davis
nothing better to do
sit here, watch the gardeners
the lawn mowers, the hedgers
what a noise
cleaning up for Spring…
we are driving through dense Autumn woods
on a worn dirt road
under an overhang of branches
through a litter of fallen leaves
to a curving side ride
where you turn suddenly
where there’s a precipice
where I’m frightened we’ll plunge
wait, this will get us nowhere
border of intensely gilded leaves
I see the coming brilliance
we’re going over
you skillfully avoid the plunge
why have you made this abrupt change of direction?
you back up and we continue our journey
along the worn dirt road
littered with leaves less golden
this road is dimmer
fewer leaves, drabber leaves
it seems familiar
where we’ve been before
still sitting here
leaf blowers roaring
—Michael Cluff, Highland, CA
centered in mid-museum
a tennis shoe equilateral
to staring headlights
a bit of brick
embedded in tire tread
and burqa now slightly moist.
a pepper switch
behind the diploma
Junior never displays
jacaranda shits down its flowers
onto my freshly pressed suit, cleaned car,
I will chop it down with relish.
plywood tree house
draped in flag
confederate in nature.
OUT OF THE VALLEY OF THE KINGS
—Tom Goff, Carmichael
Mourning the Kings,
Mourning the Kings,
we will build a living monument
of eyes and eyes tearing in the winds
here, where our purpleblack valley equals Egypt.
Let the final Arco horn
grind out its desperation three-point knell.
We’ve cowbelled our last.
Let them pass,
let them transfer their regal house,
their full-court press,
leaving distress, from our riverbank Thebes,
our immemorial streamclad Memphis
Let them join those other spent embers,
the lady pentimenti of fast break, pass,
and dribble. Who, long after us,
will remember the Monarchs,
Hatshepshuts holding sceptered their halfcourt?
Where are the layups of yesteryear?
the already Royal, tan, embalmed, and Tyreked
potentates of Anaheim.
Hail these freshly kingnapped new rulers.
Fate, for all that we deplore it, not
one whit nicer or crueler.
Sing we now of the great Walter Pater,
who found vividness in a potato.
Proclaimed Walt of the spud,
“What a hard, gemlike bud!”
As it passed julienne
“STRANGE DYES, STRANGE COLOURS, AND CURIOUS ODORS”
Odors: the smell of apprehensive
con men running a nude
loom; the emperor’s loom,
the emperor’s already empty
robes and the parade not even
Colors: the underside, delicate
crinkle brown, shriveling the Easter
lily—what writing on this onionskin,
and must the lemon juice arouse it
like blood to the stung surface?
Dyes: the faint-lit dainty taint,
fecund scent, of a spent tampon
or condom—what tumescent song,
what twilight musk-secret
pressed into each
little Turin Shroud?
had a cow
when he heard Ho Chi Minh
was without sin
—Medusa (with thanks to today's contributors, and to last night's readers and photographers at The Book Collector, as well as the ever-ready Hansens for their graciousness and good will)
Annie will be reading at Luna's Cafe tonight, and at SPC on April 30.