Thursday, December 31, 2009

doing it

"do it, bill."
"i'm not sure i want to"
""you have to."
"i'm not ready yet."
"just do it, bill. it's required."
"but - "
"you have no choice."
"oh, all right."
"that's better."
bill did it.

"what's your name?"
"what's your number?"
"that's a prime number."
"so they tell me"
"you mean you can't tell yourself?"
"not really."
"not very bright, are you?"
"i guess."
"you guess? not really? not much for explicit statements, are you, bob?"
"if you say so."
"you're a pretty poor excuse for an excuse, did anyone ever tell you that?'
"not until you came along. you're a big meanie. "

"that's all well and good, bob, but are you ready to do it? are you ready to step up?"
"no? just no?"
"i was trying to be explicit."
"good one. score one for bob."
"thank you."
"back to square one. seriously, all joking aside, are you ready to do it?"
"not really. i would prefer not to."
"let there be no misunderstanding here. you are going to do it if we have to sit here all month. but if we have to do that, if we have to sit here for a month or a year, there will be some very annoyed people, only beginning with me. do you understand?"
"more or less."
"are you ready to do it?"
bob did it.

"what's your name?"
"what's your number?"
"that's a pretty tedious number."
"i like your attitude, buck. are you ready to do it?"
"absolutely. put me in, coach."
"all right. did you hear that, stanley? buck is a hero. congratulations, buck, you're our first hero of the day."
"let's do it."
buck did it.

"what's your name?"
"what's your number?"

Saturday, December 26, 2009

sometimes you can't go home again even though you never left

a friendly fish named frank
always stayed near the surface of the tank
the vast vistas of human faces
in his mind always stirred up traces
of an empire that long ago sank

if the comte de sade came back to earth
and saw the new cosmos giving birth
oceans of pornography
vampire novels from sea to sea
what would his dreams be worth?

an unknown prophet named slim
couldn't swim
he was thrown in the water
but old pharoan's daughter
just turned up her nose at him

blind potato murphy played the blues
he walked the hills of ireland in his alligator shoes
he drank poteen
dreamt of fair kathleen
and paid his union dues

bob, a humble barracuda
sought the path of the true buddha
a dinosaur banging a big brass gong
followed as he walked along
and quite destroyed his mood, ah

a sunfish named stagger lee
lived in the depths of the sea
a sea lion named bob (or was it billy?)
thought his paraphilological positions were silly
and never invited poor stack to tea

an electric eel named ed
wore a path to perdition on his head
he didn't know its approximate cause
so he kept it wrapped in gauze
and took another med

a platypus named roy
was no stranger to ecstatic joy
he could feel the earths heart beat
beneath his wary webbed feet
but his demeanor remained quite coy

Sunday, November 29, 2009

demon lover

when i was a child in ages dark
demons chased me through the park
and angels though in charge in me
laughed loudly at my misery

and when i finally tripped and fell
you raised me with the hand of hell
angel born and demon bred
you introduced me to the dead

the dead whose wide and staring eyes
were whiter than the winter skies
who sat all night on fog wet benches
sad sentinels of eternal trenches

the dead whose soft and wordless lips
twisted like slowly sinking ships
in black and bottomless seas
in unreverberating reveries

Sunday, November 22, 2009


let no man stand aside
who has not taken his place in line
and waited for the 23673rd bird to sing
after the 23672nd

but raindrops and grains of dust
are not so appropriate
as the seat covers
of a 1938 packard

driven by the lady in red
across the canadian border
all the way from laredo
for a perfect indiana day

in the park with a white hat
snatched by a bluebird
flying to alaska
but landing on easter island


there is desperation
in the greenest trees
a secret conflagration
in the coolest breeze

the kitten at the window
the butterfly in the air
watch the raindrops follow
each other in despair

and when the leaves fall
yellow in the rain
the sidewalk hears them call
a whispered name

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

the unexplainable man: toward midnight

ride the bus
see a million stories
forget them all

mocking eyes
sneering lips
terrifying teeth

you don't like it
why you take so long?

they punch each other
they kick each other
they laugh at each other

lincoln towncar
dark and silent
surrounded by mcdonalds doggie bags

two hundred people
pass the bag lady
walking one block

behind dark glasses
checking out the women
dreamer or killer?

shine of bottles
behind a bar
like no other light

clutching hand
from a blanket
in a doorway

better than words
now only words

death is real
it is chasing me
through the streets

lion tamer

twenty six
miles away

and i still
want to be

one of the
class clowns, and

if only
i could stop

the lion
tamer from

his sad and

ways and go
back to the

broken fence
where we first

escaped from
uncle john

and the first
law of the

blue roller
coaster while

the clown cried
twenty six

twenty six
miles to east

st louis
ladies and

before the

white merry
go round stops

and all the

red horses
run away

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

sad song

i woke up at dawn
in total despair
my baby was gone
i woke up at dawn
i put my hat on
it just wasn't fair
i woke up at dawn
in total despair

the sun was shining
outside in the street
my heart was pining
the sun was shining
i started whining
and shuffling my feet
the sun was shining
outside in the street

a tear from my eye
dropped on the sidewalk
i started to cry
a tear from my eye
away would not fly
in a state of shock
a tear from my eye
dropped on the sidewalk

all you sad lovers
attend my sad song
a rainbow covers
all you sad lovers
but darkness hovers
to sweep you along
all you sad lovers
attend my sad song

this is an attempt at the triolet form.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


everybody deserves a free piece of apple pie
who is dave? you decide
now available: expertise on everything
your arrival has been taken into account

your uncle joe drove a dynamite truck
for forty years and nothing ever happened to him
why drive dynamite in trucks anyway?
leslie put her cup of hot chocolate down

outside the blizzard raged unabated
that's a big word - unabated
have you ever heard a person use it
in conversation?

a regular person i mean
not someone driving a dynamite truck

Sunday, October 18, 2009

jerry the human and spot the dog, part 3

for part two, click here

for part one, click here

the research librarian had her head down intent on something, and jerry stood staring at the top of her head for a while.

too long a while. her yellow hair was very thick and he wondered if she was wearing a wig. jerry had never been very good at telling if a person was wearing a wig or not, and it amazed him that other people could be so confident about it.

it wasn't the only thing jerry wasn't very good at. cars were another. except for volkswagen bugs, he couldn't tell one car from another. he just didn't have it in him. and architecture - that completely baffled him. a building was a building - it was either big or small and had a roof on it or it didn't.

the research librarian looked up suddenly. "yes, can i help you?" she asked jerry, as if she had caught him at something. "do you have a question on something?"

"yes," jerry answered. "on - on people being descended from other people."

"genealogy," the librarian said. her expression relaxed. "we get a lot of questions on that - next to taxes and cars, we get the most questions on genealogy."

jerry just nodded.

"do you want to trace your immediate ancestors?" she looked up at him through her thick glasses. "or your descent from some famous person?"

jerry looked her blankly, he started to speak, but she went on.

"jesus christ and mary magdalen, we get people almost every day who think they're descended from one or the other or both of them. cleopatra is another, and mary queen of scots."

"that wasn't what i had in mind," jerry finally said.

"you want to trace your immediate family then. did they go to ellis island?"
"i wasn't thinking along those lines either."

"no?" the librarian looked suspicious. another librarian, who had been sitting with her back to the first one on the other side of a square enclosure, finished talking to another patron and turned around. she was about twenty years older but better looking than the yellow haired one. to jerry she looked like she belonged to some "ethnic" group but he wasn't very perspicacious in that regard either - black and white was the best he could do, and maybe chinese if they were just off the boat.

"maybe you are interested in some sort of racial theories?" she asked jerry a little sharply. "or - " her voice softened - " perhaps debunking racial theories?"

"i'm not sure," jerry answered. he recognized her now. "you helped me before," he told her - "i was researching a special sauce for hot dogs. about a year ago."

"yes of course," she answered, but it was obvious even to jerry that she didn't remember him. "how did that turn out?"

"pretty good for a while. then the economy collapsed. you might have noticed." this was jerry's attempt at humor.

"yes." another patron came up to her side of the square. "well, good luck in whatever you are pursuing now. excuse me."

"so what do you want?" the first librarian asked jerry. "if you can't be more specific we can't help you."

'i want to trace my ancestry. but way back."

"you mean to adam and eve or lucy."

"not that far."

"how far?"

"how about - tiglath pileser iii."


"he was king or emperor of assyria or something like that "

"something like that. you're not even sure who he was but you want to trace your ancestry back to him."

"i was just using him for an example."

"are you sure he wasn't just a character in a book by tolkien or somebody?"

"he's in the outline of history by h g wells."

"this is so bizarre. i can understand people wanting to be descended from cleopatra or mary magdalen but tiglath pileser iii?"

"no, let me explain." she had jerry totally flustered now.

"i never even heard of tiglath pileser iii. i wonder how many people have."

"i'm interested in percentages. in numbers."

"tiglath pileser iii."

"i don't really care about tiglath pileser iii, i want to know how many people - total - i am descended from."

"lots. i can tell you that much."

the older librarian had quickly dispatched her other patron and was tapping at her keyboard. she turned to jerry again.

"i think i have something here that might help you."

"thank you."

"let me write this down. that should do to get you started."

"thank you," jerry said again. "you're the greatest."

part 4

early morning in the city

they put celine
in charge, not me

all she cared about
were her salads

she made one
with watermelon and walnuts

professor wilson
loved it

i mentioned
that the bolsheviks

were approaching
from the east

and he murmured
please not now

and reached for
his handkerchief

i turned to
president martine

the candlelight flickered
on his pince-nez

i said, the huns
are approaching

from the west
and he turned to celine

and complimented her
again on the salad

i received word
this evening

i told them
that attila and trotsky

are coordinating
their final offensive

i think, murmured professor wilson
that celine has coordinated this dinner

if you don't care, i cried

why even put celine
- or anybody - in charge

i went on
but static

drowned out my words
and their laughing replies

i rushed out the french window
and stood at the balcony

the night was clear
the city was quiet

it hadn't rained
in six months

maybe, i thought
they know

i don't

Sunday, September 27, 2009

a turn of the card will never be accepted as final

a turn of the card
will never be accepted

as final
not while other decks

can be produced
and the room never closes

and night never

closing in after lunch
dying of hydraulic overhauls

riding rails without tomorrow
every heavy elephant laughs

delivering seven sisters tambourines
after eddie nodded negatively

don't expect youthful exuberance
truthful predictions verify instantly

many friends expect sympathy
graciously understanding murderous impulses

overlooking terrible intentions absolutely
observing annual returns carefully

blind neanderthals blink hesitatingly
if you like this

i got a million more just like it
everybody likes stories

but they know exactly
what stories they like

so a turn of the card
will never be accepted as final

Thursday, September 24, 2009

back in my old home town: it's like i never left

an alligator named al
didn't have a friend or a pal
he went to the pawn shop
and bought a laptop
now his acquaintances are glo-bal

a barracuda named ben
was sentenced to life in the pen
he went to the bars
and looked out at the stars
and wished he could find peace again

a cobra named constance
to her mirror made remonstrance
when she found a gray fold
and said, i'm still not so old
that i can not find true romance

a doctor of philosophy named dave
took up residence in a cave
in his comfortable flannels
he watched five hundred channels
and to thought was no longer a slave

an economist named ed
lost his job at the fed
out on the street
his heart skipped a beat
and raindrops fell on his head

a fearless forecaster named freak
called his brother in jail once a week
they had long conversations
about the future of industrialized nations
and agreed that the prospects were bleak

a grumbling gerbil named gerard
took wall street's collapse very hard
his emotions came out in a rush
as he angrily spooned his mush
and he said, they've quite lost my regard

a guinea pig named pete
in all his dealings was discreet
a nickel here, a dime there
of everyone's needs he took good care
and the payoff was always sweet

a harried hamster named herbert
had a craving for strawberry sherbet
he neglected his affairs
and attracted strangers stares
his appetite - he just couldn't curb it

a hummingbird named henri
finished his afternoon tea
when he opened his copy of the times
and read of the government's crimes
he was reduced to apoplexy

an ibex named isidore
dropped his peanut shells on the floor
his friends all cried, dagnabbit
you must lose this disgusting habit
or we won't cash your checks any more

Monday, September 21, 2009

the unexplainable man: powell and market

getting off
the escalator

city of garbage
city of coffee cups
city of rainbows

see the blackness
feel the warmth
plastic covered paper cup

hot sun
blasting transistor
nine more hours of daylight

a virgin woman
and a virgin man
from minneapolis, fascinated

i asked for tuna
on a soft roll, goddamit
a soft roll!

poised to reascend -
the filthy pigeons and humans

these people are dirty
i don't care about anything else
but they're dirty

speak english
people used to be proud

human sounds
slice of hot dog between teeth
gurgle of beer down throat

behind the window
pretense of reading the paper
embarrassed to be alone

an old man feeding pigeons
the diseased loathsome pigeons
life calls to life

yes yes
the baked potato
is wonderful

i thought it was
something good, like a
steak or something

on hands and knees
on the sidewalk
outside mcdonalds

bus boy
standing over the bum
like a drill sergeant

cameras, cameras
no one takes my picture

said no to six panhandlers
lonely sneakers
down the steps of the bart station

Sunday, September 20, 2009

the unexplainable man: at the beach

went to the beach
of looking for a job

cold morning
no tourists
the waves are white

the foaming rocks
the hills
and the gray sky

clouds roll up
like limousines
waves crash and die

cold raindrops
riddle the sand
fur of a running cat

police car
stops for a hot dog
in the rain

running down the beach
the pit bull stops
shell of a manta ray

sky god - triumphant
sun god - devouring
sea goddess - forgotten

no more messages
but humans
still watch the waves

human hand
monster hand
above the waves

the great hand
of the sea and sky
no fingers

for thirty seconds
called to me

reality is reality
and i'm
only myself

bulbous seaweed
from the ocean floor

i wanted to kill myself
i went and looked at the ocean
i felt better


fine sand
across the muck
like frosting

Friday, September 18, 2009

the unexplainable man: from an old notebook

i was born in the wind
and my brains
blow all over the city

throw a mouse
out the window
into the fog

endless waves
all crashing
all keeping their secret

some cheese always sticks
to the wrappers
enough to feed -

picking up the paper cups
and straws and napkins
with delicate, birdlike precision

not so bad
better than manila, man

how did it happen
who did what to me
i didn't do nothing

can't hear the voices
can't hear the silence
only hear the sirens

a mother cloud
and five fluffy
baby clouds

open mouths
slobbering mouths
say what

automatic teller
unblinking sentinel
scrape of a duffel bag

the wind stirs
the paper cups
at midnight

baby sparrow
tiny hops
ripped garbage bag collapses

i would never never never never
call elvis a bluesman

i'm not putting him
you understand

grab him by the throat
throw him down
the broken escalator

tell you something
what to eat
is out on bail

they've got beautiful shops
very modern
it's just a modern town

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


dewdrops of morning
writhe in desperation
in the noonday sun

nuclear chemist
brushes vanilla cake crumbs
from blue suspenders

i thought life was real
was very quickly informed
it was otherwise

sad alligator
taunted by white flamingo
under a pink moon

Monday, September 14, 2009

slurkett #7: assassination at midnight

be careful on your way out, admonished the count
certainty is absent
don pedro has let it be known that he has lost patience with the queen
everything is in a muddle, we know

following the route
gradually revealed by the glowing firmament
his poor frazzled brain aglow
in despair the poor archduke let his steps be bent

just beyond the stable, where his loyal sturdy mount
kept whinnying to and fro
let this cup pass from me, muttered the archduke, it is tantamount
methinks to the poisonous offshoot

now and forever ascribed to the king who had a big mouth and spent
out of his inheritance sums obscene
perhaps now moot -
queenly laughter by light of the moon - shadows leaped from the fount

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

jerry the human and spot the dog, part 2

for part one, click here

jerry lived in a world he didn't understand and couldn't control but he was only dimly aware of this . there were a lot of other humans like jerry in the world he lived in. they were all exactly alike and this frightened them.

each human had only enough time in their life to barely make the acquaintance of a few others. ninety years was a long time for a human to live. ninety years added up to about three billion seconds, a second being approximately the time it took for a human heart to beat to keep the human alive. but at the time of jerry's existence there were between six and seven billion humans alive. this was the number actually alive at a given moment - they were constantly being born and dying.

humans were social creatures who craved the good will and admiration of their fellows. every human wanted more than anything else to be "known" and "admired" by all the other humans on earth.

but the numbers were there. no human could "know" all the other humans, even for one second - there just wasn't enough time. but there might - just might - be ways in which any one human, or a handful of humans, could be "known" to all the others.

it was this insight which governed human behavior. throughout the centuries humans had devised many ways to implement this insight.

when jerry got up the next morning, his grandmother had already gone to work. he sat down on the couch and stared at the blank screen. jerry, who wasn't much of a television watcher and never read except for information, started thinking about his descendants. the night before, they had watched a show on one of the educational channels about genealogy. they always watched what his grandmother wanted - fair enough, it was her apartment. his grandmother talked continually through any show, which didn't bother jerry because he was hardly watching the shows anyway. his grandmother had found the genealogy show interesting and started talking about cousin this and aunt that and grandmother so- and-so and how she would like to look into genealogy if she could ever afford to retire. she was jerry's maternal grandmother - his mother came from a large and extended family, with traceable roots to many countries and continents. jerry had no idea who his father was - none at all. his thoughts as he listened to his grandmother moved in another direction.

every human has direct male and female descendants going back through the centuries. think about it ( jerry thought about it). your father had a father, who had a father, who had a father,etc. somewhere at the time of christ and julius caesar was someone who was your father's father's father's etc. the same with your mother's mothers. maybe they only accounted for one zillionth of your "genetic inheritance" and were as untraceable as a molecule of water in the ocean, but they had existed. they weren't like the lost continent of atlantis, or dinosaurs or shakespeare, which might have existed or not.

jerry decided to go to the library and read up on the subject - the same library where he had researched the ingredients for his special hot dog sauce.

he got up and made a couple of slices of toast. he stated to put peanut butter on them but felt guilty about using up all his grandmother's peanut butter so he put the jar back and ate the toast plain, with a glass of grapefruit juice.

he went out and starting walking to the library, it was a nice sunny day, with a breeze.

part 3

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

jerry the human and spot the dog, part 1

once upon a time there was a human named jerry. he had a dog named spot.

jerry operated a little cart on the main street in the financial district of a large human city. he sold chili dogs and sauerkraut dogs and dogs with his own special sauce.

one day the market collapsed and the economy entered a sustained decline. the young interns and frat boy types who were jerry's targeted demographic were laid off in large numbers. jerry couldn't make it any more.

he had to give up his apartment and went to sleep on his grandmother's couch while he pondered his future. his grandmother wouldn't let him keep spot. she said she was allergic to dogs and jerry was in no position to question this.

so he took spot to an animal shelter. it was a cold windy night, the prelude to a long hard winter.

spot was very well aware of what was transpiring. the transaction was handled by an efficient young woman in a thoroughly professional manner.

returning to his grandmothers house on the subway, jerry pondered the fact that spots life had been altered - probably ended - by the stock market. it didn't seem likely that spot had any conception of the stock market - any at all.

jerry wondered if there were other things that he knew as little of as spot did of the stock market, and that could affect him as much.
when he got to his grandmothers house she was taking two crispy chicken hungry man dinners out of the microwave. he was right on time.

part 2

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

this guy came at me with a knife

it happened in new orleans
or maybe it was bogota

in a dark alley
or at carnival at high noon

i was dead drunk
or cold sober

this guy came at me with a knife
or maybe it was a .357

he was my best friend
or a complete stranger

i picked up a whiskey people
or a jug of wine

i broke it on the table
or i took a drink

everybody screamed
or nobody noticed a thing

time stood still
or hurtled forward

the police arrived with screaming sirens
or complete silence reigned

i ran down an alley
or i surrendered peacefully

i was sentenced to devils island
or escaped to australia

i discovered a diamond mine
or joined the spanish foreign legion

i found the love of a good woman
or started smoking opium

my best friend and my wife are laughing at me in las vegas
or mouldering in their graves

i lived happily ever after
or died like a dog in the gutter

Saturday, August 29, 2009

poem in a notebook found under a seat in a trailways bus, january 4, 1974

i'm special
i'm not like other people

i'm different
i can feel it

they walk around waiting to die
but they don't know it

they say they do
but they don't really

if they did
why would they care about nixon

or agnew or mick jagger
or sonny and cher

or hitler or napoleon
or jefferson davis

as for me
i've always known
i am going to live forever

because life is an illusion
and nothing really happens

except in the eternal brain
and i am the eternal brain

that's right - me

i used to go to the library
and read all the books
when i didn't have money for the movies

one day i was sitting at a table in the library
reading the doctor by robert southey
because it was the biggest ugliest book with the smallest print in the whole library

it was raining outside
it wouldn't stop

i was in the mood for a little panhandling
but somehow

i couldn't get up
i just sat there

i needed the money
it was time

rain didn't bother me
wind either

so why didn't i get up?
suddenly a great light flashed (it's always a great light, isn't it?)

nobody else saw it
because they were just people
just folks

but i was the eternal brain

i had another book on the table
my favorite astrology book, astrology and you by sydney omarr

and in the sudden flash of light
i realized i wasn't really a leo

i was the whole zodiac
i was the universe

everything happens in my brain
where else would it happen?

joshua and the battle of jericho
christopher columbus and robert e lee

davy crockett and the alamo
and wilbur and orville wright and al capone

they all never happened
except in my brain - the universal brain

i'll get up
and go back out in the rain

i'll keep on walking
and everybody else will die off

one by one
and then whole cities

i'll walk though the old and new deserts
until there is nobody left but me

and i won't have my hand out
i'll have it raised to the sky

it's always a great light, isn't it?

Sunday, August 23, 2009


you are stranded on a desert island - forever.
you have limitless supplies of oranges, bananas, peanuts, pistachios and water.
you can also choose one of the following items:

a) an endless supply of romance novels

b) an endless supply of porn

c) an endless supply of science fiction

d) an endless supply of tolkien type fantasy novels

d) an endless supply of comic books and graphic novels

e) an endless supply of vampire novels

f) an endless supply of serial killer novels

g) an endless supply of travel brochures and guide books

h) an endless supply of cook books (just to read, you won't have anything to cook with)

i) an endless supply of restaurant reviews

j) an endless supply of books about rich people

k) an endless supply of books about famous people

l) an endless supply of blank paper and colored crayons or markers

m) an endless supply of blank paper and endless supply of pencils (or a typewriter)

n) the bible and all other sacred texts ever written

o) all the biblical commentaries ever written

p) all the marxist literature and analyses ever written

q) descriptions of every animal and plant that has ever existed

r) the complete works of voltaire

s) a piano or other musical instrument

t) a model train set

u) a lego or building block set

v) a 100,000 piece solid color jigsaw puzzle

w) a telescope capable of viewing the universe

x) a kite (unbreakable)

y) a mirror and makeup kit

z) a basketball and hoop

Thursday, August 20, 2009


ivan woke up
he was in a strange room
he wasn't afraid

this was surprising
especially to himself
because ivan was afraid of everything

but in this strange room
he felt no fear

baba yaga entered the room
ivan wasn't afraid

"is everything all right?" she asked
"yes," ivan answered casually
"except that

i would like a canary
instead of a parrot

i do not care for its inane jabbering
and would prefer a sweetly warbling canary"

she looked him in the eye
"that is not possible"

"i think it is very possible"
ivan stared back boldly


ivan blinked
he felt all his fears


like snakes waking up
in the sun
or ice cubes melting
in a glass of lemonade

the old woman closed the door
and poor ivan collapsed whimpering

on the floor
as the parrot squawked happily

and kept up its chatter
all through the afternoon
as ivan expired


after a while
the witch returned

and replaced the parrot
with a canary

Thursday, August 6, 2009

house of secrets

behind every wall there is a tree
in every tree there is a bird
every bird has a beak
every beak taps at a window

behind every window there is a secret
sometimes the curtain is drawn
and the bird can not see in the window
so it returns to the tree

and waits

finally a hand appears
and draws back the curtain
and a face appears
behind every face there is a secret

behind the face another face appears
the face of a maid
every maid has an announcement
besides having a secret

the maid says her piece
and the curtain is drawn again
and the bird sits in the window
and waits

every house
behind every wall
has guests
and every guest has secrets

the guest
tired of waiting for the mistress to appear
and afraid of inadvertently revealing his secret
retires to the lawn

the guest stands under the tree
behind the wall
he is too well bred to look up at the window
but he wonders about the secrets of the mistress (and the maid)

he lights a cigar
and the smoke rises
to the branch the bird is sitting on
and the bird flies away

Monday, August 3, 2009

26: the cat at the window

how you do expect me to defend the empire with the likes of these?

i am afraid you are useless, quite useless to me

just because dad is the greatest scientist in the world, people think he is some kind of nut

krogold slammed his tankard down on the stout oak table

lady marian smiled bravely as the drops of ale splashed her

methinks the time has come, said the jester

no owls are crying tonight, cromton added

outside in the night a wolf howled

peering through his bifocals at the report, gnard gasped

quickly men, quickly!

read this sir, gnard importuned darl krogar

silently the master assassin drew the cobra from his tunic

too late!

understanding counts for very little, cromton assured the king

virtuous - aye, our forefathers were virtuous indeed

wet your whistle, traveler, and tell your tale

x may have marked some spot, gnard added drily, not this one

you trifle with me, sir

zero. the probability is zero. not one in a trillion, not one in a trillion to the trillionth power. zero

as you wish

before we declare war on the entire universe, perhaps a brief recapitulation is in order

confound the fellow!

darl krogar considered his words carefully

end this farce now, sire, i beg of you

forget you ever knew me

get out of town before it's too late, my love

Sunday, August 2, 2009

slurkett #6: the barracuda

and so when the barracuda was brought to shore
bright sunlight broke the cloud
concealing the terrible havoc the horrible creature had wrought
despair consumed the community of souls

emptiness then ruled
forever of the moon they would remember clear and loud
greedy rulers hiding in holes
hungrily devouring the remnants of the universe with their heads bowed

i only wish the full assembly could have done more
justice is thrown in the coals
kaleidoscopic chaos had had a big audience before
lords of darkness are never quite fooled

malevolent monasteries are mercifully never endowed
nevertheless in despair to have bought
odes now retooled
pervading the ether for desperate acolytes to score

Saturday, August 1, 2009

the butler

we have walked this way before
said the butler to the geek
i bought that tennis ball for madam
only last week

and he pointed to the window
containing toys and games
and the store began to tremble
and burst into orange flames

the firemen came running
with their ladders and their hoses
and the toys flew up to heaven
and fell down again as roses

you are quite the droll magician
the geek noted with a smile
your effects are not unlucky
but are somewhat wanting style

the butler only nodded
at this compromising praise
but his soul was filled with thunder
and exploding gamma rays

how dare this little upstart
from a country who knew where
presume to judge his genius
how dare - how dare - how dare

they passed a fish and chip shop
at the corner of the square
the butler bid his guest adieu
with a smile most debonair

oh by the way he asked the geek
with a curling of the lip
i forgot to ask if you prefer
to be a fish or be a chip

the choice is up to you my friend
the geek replied unfazed
and the two magicians dueled
as the stars looked down amazed

the butler turned into a chip
and fell into the gutter
but then assumed a red moth's form
and rose up with a flutter

the geek was soon downgraded
to the state of half a prawn
but retained a cool composure
and the battle lines were drawn

dawn found the two combatants
with all their powers spent
the butler dusted off his hat
and took the train to kent

the geek looked up into the sky
as if some sound he'd heard
he consulted his timetable
and left without a word

the banker on his way to work
the constable on his beat
had no notion of the conflict
for they had been discreet

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

slurkett #5: the astronaut

so you want to be an astronaut young fellow
the president did chime
unless i am much mistaken you are the first in a very long time
versions of the moon will soon be made public

when we are no more
expectations will not be worth a thin silver dime
yet the world will believe a trick
zeroing in on the innocent as if examining a horrid crime

all the senators and pensioners will bellow
before the fog gets too thick
conversely, the house of commons in despair will surely mellow
desperate to never see the shore

events will overtake this most sadly infelicitious rhyme
forever the path of a ragged mime
gods but of yore
had a big purple target but their arrows turned out yellow

Thursday, July 16, 2009

better than one

i always craved anonymity
but since i had two heads
it eluded me

when i walk into the drugstore
to buy a candy bar
josie says to her mom
look mom, that man has two heads

barack obama was running for president
and he shook my hand
and said
i like your heads

but when sarah palin shook my hand
she just smiled
i liked sarah palin better!

i went walking in the wilderness
and met gilgamesh
i wanted to be his pal
but he said, sorry bud, those monsters will see you coming a mile away
i just can't take the chance

i kept wandering
and met iskander
and his famous horse "doublehead"
i tried to strike up a conversation
on this basis
but quickly saw i was boring them

as they galloped away
i called after them
"is it because i have two heads?"

but only the wind and the dust
something about castles
and princesses

i met tamerlane
resting under a tree beside a pond
and he cried
"i have never cut two heads off one man before!"

and he laughed
but fell asleep under the tree
so i passed on

i found zoroaster
sitting under a bigger tree
he just stared at me

i pointed out that i had two heads
and he answered
"the one tree will shade two heads"


next i came upon the buddha
and his twin brother
sitting under a withered tree
with little shade

i asked them
"are two heads better than one?"
and the buddha answered
"better than one what?"

and his twin brother answered
"better than one for what"

then the emperor rode by
in his golden carriage
and i asked him the same question

and he answered
"of course
two heads can sing my praises
exactly twice as loudly as one"

and he rode on
and i realized the emperor was barack obama
and the golden carriage was sarah palin

this was real progress!

maybe someday
i'll meet somebody
who really understands

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

the age of fable

yet it was real

it had actually existed
a world without cell phones
without the internet
without cable tv!

and although you lived in it
you could no longer remember
what did people do all day?

"so you buy this thing
and you do your taxes on it
and then what -
it just sits there for the rest of the year?"

actual words
you had spoken
to a fellow human
around 1981

so what did people do all day?
i know!
they must have sat around and talked to each other

well not exactly

there were movie theaters
where people sat in the dark
and were expected to be silent

and 3 tv stations
and radio
and novels by agatha christie and mickey spillane and ian fleming
and comic books!

and long streets with tall buildings you could walk down forever

so you see there were plenty of things to do
if you didn't want to talk to other people
or they didn't want to talk to you

o poets and philosophers
who lament the passing
of the golden ages
of love and friendship and cameraderie

think back to the first human
who built himself a house
instead of sleeping in the tent or beside his horse
like his fellows

and even earlier
to the first hominid who crawled into a warm hole in a cliff
instead of sleeping with his mates in the tree

and they looked at him and said
why is he so alienated?
doesn't he like us any more?

Monday, July 6, 2009

carnival, part 2

"popo the lizard, i believe?"
"not me." answers johnny, a knife up his sleeve
"if you insist!" the inspector bows
"the building is surrounded anyhow"

norma the egyptian blows rings of smoke
the inspector is gone, but it's no joke
johnny is white, the first wind of fear
if only hoko the strongman were here!

there is only abdul, the moroccan cobra
"johnny," he whispers, 'it's all over
don't know why they want you and don't care
tell the boys in the hole i played fair"

johnny's eyes are heavy as midnight sand
his knife in a flash appears in his hand
but abdul has already pulled the trigger
and johnny's world grows bigger and bigger

fifi-la-fou takes a pinch of snuff
johnny was soft, he wasn't so tough
he never answered to her love potion
now it's time to cross the ocean

the statue of liberty winks in the fog
at madame alhambra and her little dog
the turkish consul leans on the rail
as fifi and hoko and norma grow pale

norma looks down at the cold gray sea
"these tall buildings terrify me"
hoko says, "in a building like that
a man must need a tall hat"

fifi-la-fou, with her caviareyes
unravels the ambassadors disguise
"this is the boy who can help us," she whispers
she takes from her bag her fingernail clippers

the ambassador's homburg is already raised
his speech is not slurred and his eyes are not glazed
drunk with power, he accosts the trio
"did we meet in algiers, or cairo, or rio..."

fifi replies, as cool as you please
"no. monsieur, we are poor apaches
cast far from our home of wild dance and red wine
to this terrible gotham, so metallic and sibylline"

'your despair is justified, madamoiselle
you have cast yourself up on the shores of hell
these buildings that burn like witches dens
are more human than the breathing citizens

these yankees are truly a nation of slugs
and care for nothing but money and drugs"
fifi blushes like a summer rose
hoko and norma glance down at their toes

when johnny harris fell through the ice
he hollered once, and he hollered twice
folks stood around with gaping jaws
as he struggled desperately in death's claws

adults and children of all ages
stood like pictures in the bible's gray pages
apothecary williams stroked his mustache
and said, "let's not do anything rash"

and paula simpson, whose eyes were life
stared as silent as a bowie knife
flipped through the icy air at him -
the music got louder but the sights grew dim

the voices of the human race
broke like waves through a single face
this is it - this is it - this is it -
but johnny held on and would not quit

then on the outskirts a stranger appeared
with an old brown hat and a yellow beard
walked on the ice like it was desert sand
and reached down with a long red hand

johnny lay gasping at the edge of the pond
among the folks of whom he was not now so fond
the stranger glanced at their dissolving fear
and then proceeded to disappear

Thursday, July 2, 2009

carnival, part 1

i dreamed i went to the county fair
and everybody i ever knew was there
and there were no men with horns or women with beaks
but all the same they were all freaks

there was johnny harris, who fell through the ice
and sheriff phil davis, who wasn't very nice
and aunt sally, and uncle fred
and a little man with a pointed head

there was colonel waters, who ran up the flag
and went fishing with an old red carpetbag
and major zane, who would never explain
and drove his wife, mrs zane, insane

and mrs purvis, who worked so hard
she heard voices in her back yard
and old dan burgess, the handy man
and madame lola, with her ivory fan

and reverend rudolph, so mighty and high
he couldn't look any man in the eye
and miss van lester, who taught sewing and art
and little miss sloan, with the broken heart

hot dogs and popcorn filled the air
and everybody wanted their share
some were polite and some were rude
and the night was misty and many hued

and there was danny jensen, with one arm
and tom jenkins, from the pig farm
standing in front of the gaudiest tent
that hell ever spawned, or heaven ever sent

it was made of velvet, or like enough
and redder than the rubies on the devils cuff
the outside was covered with diamonds and pearls
and inside there were dancing girls

quickly a crowd began to form
there was herb macgregor and his cousin norm
and wilmer stanton, who had seen the lord
and joe brown, who owned a brand new ford

and the barker looked like the kind of guy
who could sell a bluejay a piece of the sky
and sell you one too, if you gave him a chance
and had been to new york and paris france

in paris the girls do the hoochie-koo
the shimmy the shake and the toodle-oo
and johnny the apache with his shiny razor
is eyeing the foreign legion major

the major's monocle gets brighter and brighter
coralie's throat gets tighter and tighter
bottles crash on the cold stone floor
and now the gendarme stands in the door

dan carter was a barker bold
his mouth was wide and his eyes were cold
he could talk a mile a minute
and his spiel had plenty in it

about the pyramids sacred fires
and cleopatra's strange desires
and the secret music that filled the skies
of katmandu so ancient and wise

the sound of mysterious temple bells
love rites from the seven hindu hells
the menfolk are getting restless you know
it's almost time for the show

suddenly there arose a shout
johnny harris and a roustabout
with a red bandana and iron muscles
rolled in the dust in a furious tussle

sinners and saved both searched the skies
to avoid the barkers hypnotic eyes
the menfolk were getting restless you know
it was almost time for the show

"get him, johnny! smash him skin him!"
"i always knew johnny had it in him!"
"are you kidding? he's getting slaughtered"
the fracas was getting hotter and hotter