Call Me Whale-Boy*

Call me whale-boy,
call me razor fluked,
call me sharp
in my harpoon-skin suit,
call me lungs
of tungsten steel –
you’ll need poems made of bathysphere
to hunt me down.

Lunging shark-breath,
I’m your Voodoo Sleighride
to the bottom of the sea,
blowhole Davy Jones’ locker
to smithereens,
chew the rotgut spleen.

Color me flensed, stripped,
and rendered,
blind faith with fatty acid,
my heart on fire
and burning for you now –
soul light in the tryworks.

All together now children
Repeat after me:

One fish.
Two fish.
Red fish.
Blue fish.



*Incorporating by reference the first line of Moby Dick: “Call me Ishmael”.
**Dr. Seuss, but you knew that.

For DVerse MTB

Considering Dustin Hoffman

While squinting at the graffiti scratched on the valve of this urinal, I decide I am overdue to consider Dustin Hoffman. Probably because the guy next to me sort of looks like Dustin Hoffman, and because I am in the Port Authority bus terminal in New York City, so Midnight Cowboy et. al.

Most recently I thought about Dustin Hoffman when I helped with my wife’s 6th grade scavenger hunt in the Central Park Rambles – supposedly to evoke survival in the wild. Central Park was the best we could manage. I suggested that better survival training would be to give all the kids a blanket and a knife and no money and teach them to panhandle. Nobody thought that was funny.

I hoped maybe we would see Dustin Hoffman because he lives near the park. But there was only a homeless guy, and the kids shared their macaroni and cheese with him. We gave him a big tub of macaroni leftovers to dole out to the other homeless people who live in the park. The kids voted our outing “the best field trip ever”, there’s that.

Maybe the homeless guy was Dustin Hoffman, disguised so that he can go out in public and nobody bother him. Like his Ratso Rizzo character in M.C., but maybe this time he doesn’t have to die on the bus from NY to Florida. Here in the Port Authority it smells like bus exhaust and like the bathroom hasn’t been cleaned since 1969, so maybe like death too.

The Port Authority is still dangerous because nobody has figured out how to make bus travel upscale and hipster and boutique and artisanal like the rest of Manhattan. Yet I think the cities and towns where these buses go are much more dangerous now. Meth and OxyContin in Des Moines, Toledo, Birmingham, on and on through the lifeblood of America.  That keening sound from the wheels of the bus metastatic with loss.

Quo Vadis Dustin. Quo Vadis Ratso.



For dVerse Poetics

Nothing Like the Sun

“My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;”
– Willam Shakespeare, Sonnet 130


This storm is not a shriek-wife,
misery’s rain of love gone cold;

Spring is not thrown down the stairs
by Winter’s violation of restraining order;

The missing sunset is not a corpse,
buried beneath clouds too grey for dead;

Because here inside, under wraps,
your eyes beget a Summer’s promise;

Once again, restored, the sun.



For April Poem a Day (Metaphor)


Kafka, you underplayed your hand,
dealt your man Gregor a low,
below the beetle blow.

How much better
to have made him an Assassin Bug!
Or Robber Fly,
or Death’s Head Moth.
Sure, tough to take his humanity,
but at least he’d have his pride.

“One morning,
after a night of uneasy sleep,
Gregor Samsa woke to find
he’d been transformed
into a killer bee!
So great! His family
trembled before that quivering
abdomen of horror.
Puissant, glorious –
death from above.”

100 years is enough wallowing
in despair, Franz. Time for “closure,”
or moving on, or whatever.
At least make him a praying mantis,
all proudly greened and sticked and mandibled.
At least let him die
In his lover’s arms.

For April Poem a Day

Ars Vigia

First thing on waking –
note deterioration of eyesight.
Blurry vision – good!
Might be day for soft focus poem.
But forces contemplation of death.
Bummed out, but could be good too.

Mistakenly pick up dirty sock
instead of clean.
Sniff to confirm.
Lock in theme of disgust.

Race midget from ferry to bus.
Cardio for the day – done!

Work interfering horribly with poetry.
Sit in SBUX and scratch out ideas.
The muse found standing in line –
she’s beautiful, luminous,
but sexually frustrated. No, no. Delete.

Evening walk with dog by the river,
scanning the rocks for washed up body parts.
Light on the water, the city,
she’s beautiful, luminous.
Try to channel Wordsworth.
Wordsworth didn’t have to pick up dog poop
in little plastic bags.

Running out of time
to post April Poem-A-Day!
For inspiration,
watch insects fighting on YouTube.
Read Wikipedia about
Crimean War, again.
Mother Superior turns out the lights
in the living room
and goes to bed.
Sit in the dark,
time’s up.

Bitter my lament.



For DVerse MTB and April Poem a Day

New York Minute

Sprinters all, we’re ready, steady
at the yellow safety line
on the deck of the ferry,
waiting for our starting gun,
the bump against the pier –

Every day I race a midget (yes, a midget)
for the best seat on the bus.
No holds barred, that’s the deal,
as we bob and weave and elbow and bluff
our way up the ramp and three sets of doors –
my long legs indomitable in the stretch,
her tiny size a huge advantage
diving through gaps in the crowd.

This is Manhattan, and until you’ve
walked a New York Mile
in my Ferragamo’s
who are you to judge?



For DVerse Poetics and April Poem a Day