Atomic Dog w/ Whitman

every day, second or third hand, the dog gets a new name:
"Bismarck" say, or "Windham", or whenever I peel a clementine –
the skin fragrant and loose as a nom du plume –
my lingering mind confuses the prerogatives
of gods and poets
 
right now she's "Walt" because someone said
to sniff the grass and that is for sure her dominion,
the adoration and open door of scent, and what she assumes
I too will assume, breathing atoms of the restless
and faceless tide
 
then checking her for ticks and tocks, and time's re-reading
of the leaves before they curl and fall and blow and I forget
what I most needed to say, what was meant as song now
more like the growl of a lawn-mower, the madness of wild seeds
cut down to size




Quickly Now

Rooted

You sniff and snuff for me
next to your pillow
like a sleepy truffle pig
rooting for your prize
even in dreams
 
Maybe love
grows best in darkness –
loamy, unseen –
a carrot say, or turnip
tapping our longing
 
In the morning, all
we can eat is before us
among vases of daylilies, begonias,
the table set
for two




Quickly Now

TSM 112

waking again with hair sticking up
like antlers,
my COVID doo and don't,
pillow wet where dreamwater
leaked from the corner
of my mouth
 
now the grass-fed belly of clouds
and thinking to gut them –
slice them open with the
knife edge of my palm,
hang them to bleed out
then salt and dry
 
or better my hair
is a field of antennae
scanning for life, where
Heaven plays its Top 10 hits
on the radio telescope 
in my skull




Quickly Now & The Sunday Muse

Ode til Torsk

3AM lying in the bottom of our boat
drunk as fishwives
strung on hooks of Everclear
we'd brewed with midnight sun
 
brighter in our eyes than any
moonshine,
singing hymns to the cod
in Norwegian 

Gunstig fisk!
Utgaven av havet
Eldste sønn av havet
Flott fisk av havet!
 
(Beneficent Fish!
Issue of the Ocean
Eldest son of the Ocean
Great fish of the Ocean!)

and the fish would rise
to our voices, to
our lures on ropes
barely tied to the oarlocks 

Dde rolige og rene herlighetene
Av havets dusør gitt
Omrøring gjennom vår dødelige ramme
Vend jorden selv til himmelen!
 
(The calm and pure delights
By ocean's bounty given
Stirring through our mortal frame
Turn Earth itself to Heaven!)

Which we thought was hysterical
as the fish would hammer the line
2-3 hits at a time
and we'd haul them in
 
I'd remove each hook
pinched between thumb and forefinger
laughing too at the blood
from steel stuck in my palm
 
I'm grateful to be the man
Jesus taught to fish,
grateful for the smell of fried cod
with a pinch of salt and pepper




Quickly Now

Quickly Now

a pair of egrets flies long and low
up the estuary long and low
up the water long, beckoning
water, white and low
to the grasses where they nest
across from our window
 
feeling like flight,
feeling low,
stepping out –
my face hidden behind a white wing
folded across longing,
my legs as strung as reeds
 
from a nest of crow tangle –
copper and liquid crystals
woven ever tighter by zooming
in concentric circles, whirlpools
draining silica
from an hourglass like sand
 
never up and out,
never as white as those feathers
with no song,
swinging into the air
ready to dive and slice
into water, speed first



For Quickly

Lease

A dusty piece of paper at the bottom of boxes
that rattled down the highway with me
from one place to the next
as I moved East,
said “Mineral Lease,
Lincoln County Oklahoma.”

Wasn’t worth one red hard earth cent,
but let me keep title I suppose
to the stories of families coming through
our ranch in Colorado,
A lease on my mother’s telling
what she saw of the Grapes of Wrath.

A claim too maybe on what lay below the topsoil
that blew away like the people –
what can’t be moved, but only extracted
like gold from the teeth of uncles
buried quickly
and left behind.

I made up tales my grandfather
won it in a poker game,
or took it as payment for a meal
at the back door,
but its origin as dark without genesis
as the sky

to the people of New York City
when it dimmed on Black Sunday,
in the Dust Bowl of ’35,
sky the color of deeds
done in wind
and grit.



For Miz Quickly

Quickly Now

If a friend insists TGIF, but the
near-beer, half-hearted/half-empty glass of your week
breaks in your hand so that you cut your finger with worry,
you mix a Bloody-Alice, because when life hands you blood oranges
you make Band-Aid, which
instead of raising a toast to wrap
the incredible bullshit you go on about,
Alice said “DRINK ME”, like in the story, and she
drank with you in the bar then drank with you back at your place
drank herself until squinting you looked like her wonderland, her velveteen rabbit, you want to ask her “are you my mother?” because its Go Dog Go, all now another story entirely
where you wake tomorrow with capillaries
that are toffee-sticky, a
headache gooey as cherry pie,
you didn’t listen to your friends
who warned you about the poison.



For Miz Quickly

Salad Days

Life ain’t no picnic
’cause when I open the basket
I get a head cheese sandwich
which is body parts, right?
In aspic, like the gelatin
of love, holding it all together.

Ain’t a bowl of cherries either,
aren’t the pits toxic? Dog got sick
last time she got into a bunch.
More like life is a bowl of crabapples
and those make her sick too.

If life is a journey, I’m amazed.
If it’s a game, my bones feel like
at-bats, and my ribs are scored.
If life is change,
someone stole my lunch money!

If life is a gift,
are we all supposed to
live in the present?

Tossing a salad for Miz Quickly’s Labor Day Picnic

Tarot – The Hanged Man

It was tragedy
Of no use to anyone
At all

My father would go
To the jail and speak
alone with murderers

His was divination
Of the cards –
Insane or not insane

Those who saw faces
Terrible eyes
Blood omens

And those
Who
Did not

The fate of each
And every one
The same – to hang

Which ones
of them
By rope

 

 

For Miz Quickly’s Visual