if in the meantime she said
you want to think about culture
i suggest you look sideways
the flat is the gap
in the shoreline’s teeth
lights drawn across indigo
becomes the sea
look for the seam
we joined the crowds
in not talking and we reacted
as starlings do
flux in the malls
a shift in the crowds
a flex in the body
politic the silence
of aldermen advertising
their glories abandoned cinemas
leading men walk
through scenery you
can see through their
great hanging jaws
have already killed once
sacrificed a man
a father of twelve
his body on a pyre of books
pushed burning to sea
What scares me most
is that there isn’t always
a happy ending – that
one’s dreams are not good
dreams when they turn into
other people’s nightmares,
when the dream is all you
see and the rest is darkness.
A candle is
I am often
at the despairing
my own despair.
We live in a vile-age
Our heroes wear black
We continue to get
larger as the world
There is not
for the light to
We barely have
room to dance
It makes one
want to just
stand out on the
Stanley H. Barkan
August slides into September,
like a child down in the pond
of the playground we call “Last Fling.”
The sun has grown larger than toy balloons,
reddening the sky filled with purple clouds.
Brooding over the tall cornstalks
—full with the secret seeds of summer—
the sky so heavy it could rain answers
filled with crickets questioning,
luna moths fluttering about lantern moons.
In the dark lit by fireflies
—constellating patterns of premature birth—
we fall like so many fruits ready for harvest.
FOR SOME REASON
The night sky is alive tonight
with glittering diamels
and chittering super-strings
like sleigh bells, almost,
with their near-hypnotic ringing.
And the shadows thrown
from streetlamps are teeming
with these freaky hybrid angel/demon things.
And me, I’m whistling “Doo Wah Diddy” in the dark,
stumbling, half-blind, through a graveyard
on my way home from the bar.
And the trees are whispering the latest news
and the grass is strongly advising me to
“lay down and relax.”
But hey, there’s no time for that
’cause somewhere, out there tonight,
there’s a pale, wing’d horse on someones roof
hoofing out the secret code
for the answers to all our troubles
(or, maybe just the winning
And there’s a weaselly little rat-man
in a long, black coat and top hat
sniffing and prancing about the intersection
of Hilarity and Mayhem, calling out,
“children, I have lollipops, children!”
And a wolf in hobo’s clothing
is standing at someones sub-suburban back door,
asking, sheepishly, about a billy goat
or “chosen one” or somethin’,
and a sad, sad boy
singin’ a curbmouth blues
about a crown that’s been seized
by a new king of fools.
And, for some reason,
I’m seriously feelin’
like I’m about to be on the receiving end
of some kind of low-level divine judgment
(for something I’m not sure I even did)
like a low-hanging tree-limb
or slavering set of jaws charging wildly
from out of the dark or old-school locker-room
towel-snap from The Almighty, Him Self.
And He’s urging all his angels
and demons alike to
“engage target with extreme prejudice!”
‘Cause The Word flittering moth-like
through the trees this evening
has it that the Moon
has put a price of thirty silver-pieces
on all our fool heads:
those who would dare wander
into her dark garden
without some secret intrigue
to be party to
or some mysterious stranger
And they know the answers before I give them
And they know the answers before I give them
a word they said
just somewhere in between
although not entirely of my own choosing
of dying man
in army like retreat
We walk hand in hand
to a light rain
to swallow through the mud
there’s no stopping it
like a parasite
one with a suit vest and tie
who fuck only by appointment
to reach the sky
of early winter
and never say enough
like a machete
on the borders of each page
Unwanted Love Poem
Forty-five things are wrong tonight.
The clouds are about as thoughtful as a ski mask.
The expiration date on my indulgences just ended.
The teeth of whatever protects me are falling out.
Soon I’ll have no smile.
Let’s make execution your wife.
Let’s put her on a mattress floating in a river so polluted it’s worn out its name. She’s autographing the moon like mad, like it won’t cost anyone a thing.
Let’s make you marry her every day, over and over again.
Let’s see you wash those dishes.
Let’s watch her microwave a small bowl of sorrow.
Watch her place the ghosts of my caresses into little plastic bags.
Watch her use her cellphone and change a tampon at once.
Watch her eat this stupid camera with a fork and knife.
Watch her like a rabbit’s foot.
See even imagination should take its vitamins.
See a little knife is the same as a big knife.
See her chop me off like a haircut.
See inside her garbage.
The heart is a jellyfish that should be painted and shined like a used car.
The heart is the monster in something as simple as a toothbrush.
The heart is a radish made of pure distances.
The heart is a forest ranger with herpes.
The heart is the last fortune cookie on the plate.
It says darkness is still nature.
Sometimes I sit at my desk
at work and wonder if I
am just a slave to the man
(whomever is the man is)…
This is not my idea
of a good time…to
break bread with scholarly
business and feel like
I am accomplishing
nothing in the unpredictability
of an unseasoned life.
A deranged puppet-master has
control over my fingers as
I type letters about an MBA program…
Make more money…make the college richer.
More of this phoniness, pretend to care
What I am doing this for, when I really want to run
With the crashing of a ruptured wave,
Hold hands with a lover…look her in the
Eye and kiss her…
(Whomever she is).
But so many dreams are fables…
Stories that never find a way into the jaded notebook…
So I sit and play a part…find a way to make
it till quitting time. Go home and think about
Maybe open a beer to balance my equilibrium
And wonder if the souls who drive up and down
my street are as pained as me.