Monthly Archives: October, 2016

Job Ad in the Afterlife

Has-been
wanted
to be
no one
and everything
all the same.
This position assists
with the day-to-day operations
of the Infinite.
Requirements include
a demonstrated aptitude
for butting up against
the cold, hard ground.
Must be formed of stardust.
Must have breathed your last,
certification as
sacrificial lamb welcome, but
not necessary
Dissolving as ash into atmosphere a plus!
Utter and complete bafflement preferred.
100% relocation compensation,
irrelevant sick and vacation leave policies,
opportunities to haunt.
The out-of-body
need only
apply. The Afterlife is
an equal opportunity employer.

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The Tarantula

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I.

When I talk about my fascination with tarantulas,
people usually say,
“Don’t get one. What if it got out?”

Conversations begin innocently enough,
but no one thinks it’s funny when
I tell them I was 3 yrs old, living in a trailer park
in Downriver Detroit, visiting a wheelchair bound Vietnam vet
who kept a tarantula acquarium in his double-wide.

I read that people are more afraid of spiders than they are of death.
An average of three per year creep down our throats as we sleep.
What if it got out? Crawled on me as I slept,
lodged its coarse hairs into my neck, bit one of my cats?

I’m not really going to buy
a Chilean Rose, but I found a dry aquarium
in the alley behind my apartment building
along side Thursday’s trash.

An open box of glass ideal for my pet
if I ever carried him from
the things I only talk about
into that other world,
the one where the living require something of me.  

II.

I’m loosing it,
falling between the spaces of the Mackinaw Bridge
like a casualty she’ll hear about on the news,
ruining my body
out of panic or boredom or neurosis or addiction,
neither wife nor mother, no one to be,
a future job for an engraver of stone,
having called forth
the tarantulas of Downriver
to gape at their silent captivity.

III.

The man I’m in love with will knock on my door within the hour.

He’s heard me tell people
that I think about owning my own pet tarantula.
He laughs and says, not the tarantula thing again.

But I wonder if he, or anyone I talk with about tarantulas,
have ever really looked at one, creeping across
the miniature valleys of its arid cage;
its large, hairy legs gripping gracefully,
its bulging body almost invites touch.

I met a Rastafarian one night who kept one in his blunt smoke flat.

“She’s deep,” he told his dreadlocked comrade.

On a web of silk, white as hair,
his tarantula perched its claws.
No one else ogled its hairy appendages.
They spoke the non-silence of alone togetherness.

I could have peered at the spider until dawn,
wondering if my mother was four trailers down,
searching for me.

2003

 

Enough Room

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When the discourse swings up overhead
Like circus acrobats,
Ooos and Aaas may be heard
From the seated audience.

Wanting to speak, but not speaking,
I twist a furrowed brow.
Acrobats perform their daredevil feats,
Complete with a satisfied bow.

Most of the seats are vacant,
But the ticketeer shouts, “There’s not enough room!”
My mind deliciously wanders
As my palm lifts to stifle a yawn.

Now, acrobats fling themselves
Skilled in their contradictory talents
Like falling until parallel
Or flying inside of a tent.

A few foreboding spectators
Uncrane their necks to the ground:
Below the adroit acrobats,
The fat lady coos the new elephant calf

And look! a fire juggler makes mouth masks
In the shadows, beside little people
Who bounce each other onto stilts,
As a caged lion dream-runs.

Better to catch that shock of light
When someone lifts the curtain, late to the show.
Follow that shine out, out, beyond the tent,
Passed the little people trying to be taller than they are.

 

 

Housecleaning

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It’s the last thing I want to do
And yes, I like the place better when it’s done
But actually doing it wades far out
Beyond my lazy stretch, miles away from where I currently sit
In my green silk pajamas, doing funny voices
Of picture book characters for my 2 year old girl
Or flipping on a show for her;
The needle bounces at peak volume
As the tea kettle whistles again
And across a page, my hand scratches the tip of a pen.
Morning’s rays whip corners like a flashlight:
Cobwebs, pet hair, miniature dust-bunny-tumbleweeds come to a halt.
Smudged window panes tell on me.
I loop and scrawl my book.
Soprano puppets yammer on.
I dream the day when I’m alone,
Rich with solitude, in silence, rolling. But, also leery of that empty nest
For I whither if secluded for too long.
Unlike the dirt, the hair, the crumbs, the unidentifiable goo
That dares, 
Don’t erase me. What do I care?
I like who I am. I’ll make more.

Downriver Grocery Store

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Bounce the pothole parking lot
At Kroger’s, south of Detroit
Where chem-trails smear up overhead
Like rainbows that don’t disappear. Enter to a stench
Of stale beer, can crush
Spits out receipts for spare change.
Familiar onions. Over here a brand called Simple Truth.
How many specials on root vegetables have been
Brought a boil to my cast iron?
Degrees of abundance,
Cries the have-nots
Whose tears measure rivers verses oceans.
Still, the places we want are not the places we frequent.
Questions of pedigree regarding the cheeses
Gives you strange looks from the clerk who wheels
Boxes towering Better Made and Private Selection.
Sweetness in the aisles.
High fructose corn syrup and smiles.
The consolation for residing
In a pit of Michigan.
Good folks pushing rusty carts,
The salt below the demolition.