Confidence Game

An ice cream truck on a neighborhood street
jingles a malign rendition of the The Sting
its notes warped, tempo ill-kept

The future is out for delivery, youngsters
clamor for ice cream sandwiches and evening books
lodging for the night, rises from its sleep

There’s something of the grifter in time’s passing
the done light signals a message, with a
surreptitious touch to the side of its nose

And things will go wrong for someone, somewhere
at some point, but they savvy buy into it
craft a destiny in relief, a slant reckoning

Even though time is there, in the shadows
selecting a point between past and future, for fate
to pull a fast one on some gullible bit of luck

The Grind

A stumpy old molar lives alone in the back of some mouth, like a tombstone at the grave site of all the missing teeth. He reaches up, searching for his mate above, to press against, eager for contact, ready to grind and mash together like crazy young lovers, but alas, she’s long gone. She got the rot and they came and took her.

He thinks they might as well come take him too. Lone molar, a widower with nothing much to do but keep that cheek from caving in. They give him a good flossing now and then, but really, he’s just biding his time, a mockery of function, like a gate with no fence. He can’t even go put in with the smile up there, back of the line his whole life. Front teeth were always so well cared for, weren’t they? Vain sons of bitches.

Well, at least he wasn’t a wisdom tooth. Butt of every dental joke he’d ever heard.

How to Abide on Queue

be calmer than an earlobe
but alert to subtle sound
quiet as a muscle twitch
as sterling as a pound

be lofty like the heavens
as consistent as a judge
unattached as fleeting clouds
be disinclined budge

reflective like a polished tile
be brighter than a flame
stoic as a VP’s portrait
valid as a claim

right like rain, and true as grit
determined as a dog
be quiet like a bell rope
and well rested as a log

be patient as a telephone
and sounder than a ring
stiller than a sheeted corpse
but proper, like a king

be ready like a boxer’s glove
for when they call it out
a name upon the intercom
it’s you, there is no doubt

.

Divination

if I possessed prescience
I’d spend my time peeking
like a Tom, at the future
while the present is leaking

into yesterday’s visions
where fortune tellers say
not much going on there
‘it got frittered away’

Thrive

I thrive in distraction
body and self, up to my elbows
in it, the fleeting time of it
but today, like clouds, empty of
any urgency at all, I will push
the blue aside, on my way
to who knows where.

Cell Division

Peace, it doesn’t thrive on growth
it’s conflict that takes naturally to
the idea of possession and expansion.

How often the fights we have
within ourselves get out of hand and
spill out into the wider world.

Where the path to reconciliation, once
much simpler, has branched out, circled
roamed, split, and split again, until
simplicity begins to lose its memory.

Cell division looks painful, does
it not, to a peaceful frame of mind.

But looks exciting and beautiful
to the enterprise, one becoming two
grow, it says, or die.

And we look everywhere but within
when, seeing it all spin out of control
we finally become desperate, and ask why.

A Slice of Longevity

pyre of the moment
denies all these lingering traces
and the fireproof memories
are breaking and entering
we weep for the dead
and gone, weep for ourselves

the death certificate
rendered into thin strips, gathered
ignited, burned, lanky curled effigies
prostrate their ashen bodies
in offering, an act complete in itself
without forethought, intent
or memory, like a barfly
tossing back a shot of whiskey
at the funeral pyre of this particular
slice of longevity

Rib

The bone itself, gone
a stunt double in its place
its owner’s family name recorded
on a little card behind the glass.

Maybe we think of fossils as
being all done with aging
and the ravages of time, simply done
and settled into a final rest.

Now recumbent on speckless felt
once removed, do the next million
years look forward to wearing down
that gouge made by a flint weapon?

Our bones today, somewhere between
the dust and the dust, and
maybe we can fancy ourselves
a million years removed from demise,

Our protesting bones, gone
substitutes pulling the day-shift
museum posers the lot of us, as the future
gazes curiously upon our mineralized remains.

at seven, at dawn

At seven, at dawn
the sky changed its mind
and rain drummed to the
gutter talk, and set off
a car alarm, the clouds
coughing up a shutter flash
blinding, stopping all the clocks
who all had memorized
what you forgot:

my birthday, my damp firecracker
with fizzles for wishes
and no funny paper hats, just a
sheet cake looking dumbfounded
like a hostage forced to read
his captor’s proclamation:

that every day is reason
enough to mark a year begun
or ended, so just go with it
what’s your problem?