- Enchantment, and: Kaputniks, and: The obliquity of the ecliptic, and: The girl in the Blue Öyster Cult onesie, and: The daring sleeper
[End Page 167]
Because his neighbor was a witch Lucas agreed to paint her house
For birdseed. After the second coat He put a sunflower kernel
Under his tongue, washed it down With a boilermaker or three
And waited for the thrills to kick in. Will I sing like a skylark?
Will I soar like an albatross?Like the nightingale, will I inspire
Tuberculars to scribble odes? After more beer, Lucas fell asleep
And dreamed he was a goose feather In a pillow, between a pea
And a princess. Nevermore, He squawked to the dawn sun, nevermore. [End Page 168]
The Stonemason was rummaging For cigars in his son’s bedroom
When he came across a joint And an ass pocket of dark rum.
An hour later he was yodeling, “I’m stoned.” He sniggered over
His wisecrack, played “Chelsea Hotel” And wept. Then he whetted his chisel.
He carved his ex-wife’s name Into one of the blank gravestones
That grew wild in his front yard, Notched the name of her lawyer
Slash lover and finally, for kicks: LUCAS: his best friend. Next morning,
While the mason slept it off, Lucas Walked by on his way to work.
He paused, saw his granite marker And thought: This explains my lot.
He wondered: Should I call in sick? What’s the protocol? He felt light
And boundless, like a baggie, free Of its tuna melt, wafting
On a June breeze. Apparently, Lucas deduced, death is not [End Page 169]
A death sentence. He took a bus To the harbor and watched seals bask.
Lucas was pleased to discover That he still desired food. He ate
A hot dog, with the works. Alas, He was saddened to find out
That sauerkraut still did the Jerk With his gastrointestinal tract.
At ten his boss sent a text: Lucas—you’re kaput! It’s true,
He thought, at the meddle of my road I’m wholly lost and found.
He fashioned binoculars From paper coffee cups to watch
Gulls skimming slate-blue waves. He heard bickering and turned
To catch the Stonemason’s ex And her lawyer on hands and knees
Scrubbing lime from the deck Of their yacht. So, Lucas surmised,
There’s room enough in heaven For the hot place. Wise. He returned
To food, birdsong, the smell of salt— To the dalliances of the dead. [End Page 170]
- The obliquity of the ecliptic
It was summer. There was nada On TV so Lucas and Rosetta Went for a stroll. They were kid Sweethearts, reconciled after
20 years so she was a stranger Who knew his most terrible secrets.
They stopped near a soapberry to hear A parrot sing, “Vissi d’arte,
Vissi d’amore.” The streets were crammed With people—teens in mohawks
And shags, old men holding hands, And women squeezing Spaldeens—
Jawboning the latest rumors From the frontier. Was it now a war?
She pulled Lucas toward the river. Who was he to fuss? Rosetta knew
His poor boy’s heart. She knew what Really happened to his sister’s
Puppy. She knew what his father did With the neighbor’s willowy body
Every Friday night. They sat On a gull-limed pier to watch
The philosophers sniggle. Each thrust Of their baited hooks brought her lips [End Page 171]
Closer to his left ear, the dead one. What did she whisper? A curse? A pledge?
Words to change the leaves? Words drowned By Hegel giving Kant a wedgie. [End Page 172]
- The girl in the Blue Öyster Cult onesie
“My job? To defend our fair city From haywire robots,” Lucas said
As he eradicated the crust From his daughter’s croque-monsieur.
She nodded, but her face was under The moon. “I’ll write my essay on Mom,”