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

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

a novel and six sequels