These poems were originally published on Twitter @TalbotStrange. Consider following me there if you enjoy the content and the format.
The dozing king with courtiers
dashing dribbles from his pink lips
snorts violently, an eruption
of mucous crusts gauzy epauletted
vestments as the sing song daily parade
of penitents slips shod
through blazing jurisprudence.
We are wounded by the tears in the sky
the golden streaks of white light escaping
the clouded scaffolds of our domed embrace.
We in the shadows cannot suffer too much illumination.
A constellation unknown
in southern skies the crane Grus,
fronted like I knew it.
Oh I knew the old English word,
lost in a frankifying middle age,
but this is what the squirrel god
Google wants me to know.
She found herself in an interesting state,
an expectation, with child.
Was it a vision, was it faith, the angel
seemed so real, so brilliant, so heavenly;
but in a state of grace and weakness,
the reality of containing the whole universe
inside herself, the hope of every thing,
of every ant and lion and eagle and man;
maybe it all seemed a bit much, and the leaning,
the missing shoulder of her betrothed, her tears,
like the quandary, like Elijah’s whisper,
the awful doubts after the brilliant victory,
with enemies chased and broken,
a brave face for the crowds,
no one likes a sad face in a victory parade,
but in those quiet moments we exercise,
exorcise, pray, lift up every weakness,
every forgotten hope, every potentiality,
each forecast whispered to us in the stillness
of our first bassinet, while Tchaikovsky plays
to develop prenatal brain cells for Baby Einsteins.
Snowflakes are coagulating,
melting into ice, a fricative, a hiss,
the swish of skis through slush
on a warm February day
as the trees, with their bared branches
stare drown wearily at passers by
content to wait for spring,
settled in their winter slumbers.
It’s hard to see what sort of man you’ll be,
or whether in the back of an eye some evil thought glints,
how the waves crashing, the long nights of love’s disappointments,
the cries out to God with no apparent answer,
can whittle down the marble edifice of newly formed Christians
and make of them Judases and Diocletians and Caligulas;
but in memories we are all the innocents, the lost boys never aging.
I can imagine that wooded night when he found his wife’s lover,
angry at the betrayal, lost in some demonic rage.
I can hear the shots fired like the pounding drums he once played
in the carpeted basement of his parent’s house,
with sweet Hallelujahs and sawdust walks and such.
Dusty reservation, dented sign,
speed trap on an empty road
hoping for native indigents
mesquite littered highway faded grey.
OK-corral court house,
classic roof on tilted columns
stolen from Athenian architects
with quotes from Pericles in dirty frames.
These jagged hills so far from wine-dark seas,
what tribulation could be added to the tasks of Heracles,
or messenger sped wing-footed like Hermes,
I spy mighty Athena lounging on an outcrop mocking ibices.
In stark O’Keefeian contrast, painted valleys,
invite escaped ladrones to their deaths,
the thunderheads have gathered like warriors
drowning sinners in their mortal purgatories.
And on a side road, cattle grills rattle,
filled with snakes.
He’s got twenty widows in his wake,
schemes for every day,
a calling card for every stay,
each night a new romantic.
Several times a week he breathes
stacks up Dear John letters in a pile
flicks his Bic and memories ignite
Onto the next lonely lady tonight.
He’s a hustler, a bustler,
he’ll take any fight,
he’s a stock yard rustler,
he’ll make her feel right,
for at least a night.
This seems a bit like a country song to me. Although I find interaction on wordpress very difficult, it’d be interesting to see what sort of verses others might come up with.
Somewhere in sobornost
with onion domes and ringing bells
columned halls peer heavenward
the riches of a thousand mines
speckling the inward skies with glory
alleluias pierce in threes
like the wounds of a savior
hanging dead on a tree
eyes closed in painful repose
as the sky blackens in dismay.
They sing in unison like angels
shouting fear not on Christmas eves
and the candle processions dot
the long ridge lines like light shows
on Independence Day, or fireflies
dancing in the new June heat.
Like the treasury in the Alhambra,
with the recession of Goths,
lost in their coastal enclaves
as exarchs and regents affix waxen
seals as symbolic as imperial wills
for long dead Caesars like whipoorwills
nesting in their shredded, gilded robes
grousing like hens heckled at twilight
scattering under the watchful gaze of hawks.
There in the fourth line, the verse,
an allusion lingers, a painted scepter,
the long lost risen savior’s diadem displaced;
and on the new head, crowned in light
sweat stains the brow of silk covered prophets
armed with scapulas and croziers and the odd rib
while in the wind a hint of jasmine filters
and maple trees shed their leaves on brown lawns.
Some bars are like joyless vespers
with bells and songs and sacrilegious prayers
yelped out in karaoke, soaked in liquor
strangers fight like brothers in dingy ill-lit rooms.
Sometimes the sushi is fresh, and worth eating
doused in soy sauce til all you taste is salt
and the hints of avocado fool your palette
like some Gauguin rainy vista or a harlequin.
The thumping beat can fool you, your heart racing,
the animal insomnia as Eros dances, playing
with the soiled rags of your untended spirit
as you memorize the catechism of despair.
The day was drowned in beer,
soft sunlight leavened by heavy leaf cover,
smoking pit sizzling with the last whimpers
of up til moments before creeping crawling
crabs and lobsters, resting in a bed,
sitting down for a nice hot steam bath.
Down the grey road, houses filled with the dissolute,
despite the sunny flower gardens, and the heady scents
of oregano and marjoram, the beefy heads of horseradish
and the bobbing, swaying rose hips in a heavy nautical wind
the wide tides rolled out, revealing mud flats, tempting
tourists, to trap their kayaks, hinting at clams to be had.
Some days slide by unnoticed,
some visits to little smokehouses,
gutted alewives hanging on tempered steel
etch themselves more surely into memory
than a thousand other limp hours.
Punch button coup, strung out on beach towels,
a trace of seaweed like some monstrous serpent,
hints of low tide in the stinking air,
a pair of squabbling crabs, half-broken claws
tickling the sands, little alien warriors,
defending shoals and tide pools, where life began
or at least we can all agree it ends sometimes.
The rocky jut, a spine of constructed land,
home to slime and slugs and starfish,
little snails and other icky things
collected by young boys
who promised to wear their life jackets,
but they got heavy.
There on the empty sandy beaches
among the fish-heads and blue corn
the dunes swept white, an incoming storm
peaked hats buckled after long sea voyages.
Someday soon the planks are laid
and quaint little coffee shops will sprout
doused in pastels and chalk board signs
and instead of seals and rotting fish
tourists and Adirondack chairs will populate the shore,
but the sea gulls still won’t care.
Will the -uits and -inuacs and -panoags return
when the rockets blast and other rocks are plundered
will the trees creep forward cautiously
breaking up the lifeless suburban lawnscape?
Will the seagulls ever care?
When Caesar glanced Elysian fields,
the silver slip of spears like coronets,
crowned hills, shivering in light,
the ancient Gallic cries for liberty,
long lie the honored dead,
the victims of countless luminaries.
When dust clouds rose to block the sun
as the walls barbed brackets embracing camps
ditched and trenched and pronged hills,
dressed with lilies in fish-less ponds,
took life, each sodden warrior’s ascent
the grasping fist of Julian ambition.
Here the Senate’s standard is raised.
Here defeat is turned to victory.
It buzzed, bee impatient, flower curling
“Droid,” it declared handsomely, insistently
the humdrum delivery of another message
godsent, like Paul on Damascus Road,
why do you persecute me?
Somewhere in the grey goo future they predict,
Watson sneers at his descendants, wondering
how they squandered his savings,
there in that other present no stars are blinked
no shadows mirrored, there the god creators
are pondered, as solitaire is played at sixteen
petabits per second, streaming live to fleshed
creatures, brains whirring.
Forced air whistling,
like the bray of forgotten prayers
in Apollo’s temple,
marble pillars strewn carelessly,
like Jenga blocks;
Vesuvius in her morning tantrum
shouts at the mirror,
pudgy face forgetting,
swollen, the disconnect
of action and reaction,
the unenlightened philosophy of the sinner
blackening each night
with the seeds of disdain,
shouting hatefully against
every harvest of tares,
cursing God for a liar,
every Saint for a thief,
the blackened book of irresolution
torn page by page
until only the cover remains.
Here is the hell we make,
brick by brick,
stirring the mortar willfully,
building our little shanty towns,
hating the instructions
of the wise men and women,
preferring our muddy independence
to lessons already learned.
Long green dribble through a forest scene
like Thoreau’s trail only paved,
high capped oaks and maples set up as a canopy
for pig farmers and shit hoarders;
for the two-thousand dolls sold on the road side
store so old everyone has forgotten it’s still there,
hours posted, ignored, in obsequium,
the long dead hobby handler, like a blueberry stained
harvest worker, burdened by the name
the finger ring, the elopement, the abscond,
the feathering abdication of fairy kings.
Do prophets scribble dialectics
On stained concrete walls
Brightly colored Banksy style?
Is there some hidden wisdom,
Some Gnostic gospel
In an alleyway clenched between
Forty second and Park Central?
What if Sophists are vagabonds
Begging pennies at Saint Marks
Their silver fogged manes,
A rostrum of infinities?