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.
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.
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.
A surcoat of leaves, the panoply of branches
spreading like boils, like rat infested storehouses
plagues and poxes and Khans, the skewers
of wooden fences pricking Seljuks to anger
as New Rome falters like smoke in wind,
tracing the zephyrs, conforming to the shape
the political engagement of turbidity,
a swirl of dust spun up like yarn from the hoof taps
of a thousand stampeding horsemen.
Over the plain, in the teeth of white capped hills
some horde, some golden envoy, some Tatar king
spies the walls of Muscovy lingering, low, pegged
to the soft ridge of a rolling highland, no domes,
no baptism, no Methodius, only the wooden piles for
ritual sacrifice – wine for men and flesh for women
an Animistic hypothesis, tilting quintains of
impending revelation, the spinning jabbers, the fish hooks
of an international conspiracy.
The newspapers lead with death, newspapers
what an antiquated term; in a few years will
that word be like Xerox or PC or Kleenex
as brand names slip into bland names and
the ever present marching, the tick tock of time
Captain Hook and his clock-o-diles dribbles over us
like the salacious details of a political scandal
outcome determined by the lyrical flexibility
of the leader.
Saw the morning too early, rain coming
eyes popped open, thoughts wringing
words eluded, like a rabbit fleeing
or an abbot locking his doors before a Viking raid,
my illuminated manuscript, book of Kells,
my silver golden I, curling like a bow
illustrated serpents, winged like dragons,
tongues extended unnatural long, allying
with unicorns and every disparate cryptid
a retinue of elastic demi-creatures, tangoing
caught between perplexity and communion
the friction of the heirless badger king,
maverick Swein the bully, divided lands,
a cousin returned to stir up mischief.
Natural bridge or stony portal
the eye of a needle to another world
the ridge line beckons camel archers
sharp spiny backed Atzular, Biscayan prince
in his open court, granite arch
the mossy benches resting jugglers
aluminum foil, a fencer’s purse
challenge from Bolingbroke, cast down
no Gallic parachute, only a trail
of blood and bones.
Agnostic mantilla, a laced drape of respectability
high backed pews, universal unitarian prayer book
odes to kismet and other inevitables, injustice,
war and misery, bake sales and library cards, long
darned socks and scarves, desert dwelling Inuit,
a wide white plain, featureless dead pan, the straight
to Jerry Lewis antics, a slide show Elijah, fireballs,
moths sizzling in the noonday sun, a trail of ants
coat tails to fermenting apples, rotting pine needle bed.
Smocked in burlap, mud trudging, the plop
of a dozen driven donkeys’ relief, burdened
by the peasants’ revolt, the laid out stores
of a long march, on some mystic road to Canterbury
heading in the wrong direction.
Vacating plumage, a hat trampled, noblemen absconding
along the line of crusaders, pungent with sweat
a high noon overhead, sun throbbing in the virulent heat
his bankrupt court is set to recess presently,
the hue and cry of hawkers plying revolutionary paraphernalia.
Intangible receipts, a chancery gozzle, choked
on a fetid cheese fermented in the gathered ashes
of a thousand crucified Spartans, aged with care, monitored
temperature maintained, this side of hell fire
that side of the crystal stagnation of imagined heavens.
Confraternity of vowels, hard syllabic
consonantal drift, naphthalic aspirations, breathe!
The lintel is lit with admirable qualities
horse radish in bloom, leaves bushing up
the heady days of late summer, harvest looming.
Flock of buzzards circling over midden heaps
Golgothas on the line of every horizon, the dip dip
rise, inspiring some colloquialism, some euphemism
a sexual inducement, some definition of life.
Respect for mortality, hope for eternities, the triskel
in aperture, an unexpected blending of disparate themes
discontinuous, striking, the surprise of anathema.
A meeting before sunrise to determine orthodoxy
the counsel of the waves crashing, beating, berating
shoreline yearning for jarring growth, silting, stretching
a constant struggle between opposing instances.