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Thirteen-O-Clock!

Let’s be serious.  (A very stern look.)  Ha, fooled ya.  Probably scared you a tick or a tock if you’ll admit it.  You won’t?  Are you sure?  Are you absolutely certain?  Fine, be that way.  I can be that way too.  (Arms folded.)  These are serious times, calling for serious columns and serious verse.  But at this moment we will not be serious.  We will ignore the times, the clock, the hands of Fate, and declare that it is time for a mad tea break (like a coffee break but with tea).  A tepid water with lemon break in my case.  It might even be time for a new clock, as the joke goes.  I don’t get that joke.  My clock regularly strikes Thirteen.  What is the big deal?  It comes after Twelve.  Don’t give me that look . . . like I have a frog in my ear instead of my throat, or my hat is on backwards!  (Why must people always give me that look?)  You there, wipe that expression off your face.  Here’s a hanky.  I’ll wait.  Thanks.  Now we can get on with our discombobulagreement.  Thirteen follows Twelve.  Says so right there on my clock.  Just above Acme Humdinger Doohickeys.  They make the best timepieces, don’t they?  Anyway, this particular piece of time is pointing straight at a one and a three.  Don’t tell me you can’t see it.  Perhaps you need an eye exam.  Or a head exam.  I tend to flunk those.  Nevermind.  We’ll forget about that.  And the part about being serious.  You know I can’t for long.  It’s really a strain.  Quite exhausting.  I have to cover my mouth — with both hands — stifling the silly impulses, those outbursts of humor that burble and make my head bobble, then bubble forth out of a primal bottomless well in my pit of pitiless pitter-pats!  Or is it my armpits?  Aunt Laurel used to call me a pit when I was growing up.  I wonder what she meant by that.  A cherry pit?  A peach pit?  I’ll have to ask her.

Okay.  Moving along at the gong of Thirteen because I can, because it’s my clock and my party and I can laugh if I want to, so I am putting my foot down to insist . . . phew, that was tiring.  I need a breather.  An air break, I guess.  You go on without me.  I’ll be right behind, huffing and puffing and attempting not to blow houses down . . . counting little piggies on one hand, my blessings on the other . . .  Go ahead, read some poems.  I dare you!

Oh, I see that I’m still busy scribbling them.  I forgot.  As slow as I write, it could be a problem.  We might be here all day.  And night.  And month.  What month is it now?  I accidentally ate my calendar while making a sandwich.  I mistook it for lettuce.  That’s understandable.  They shouldn’t color the pages green.  Like dollars.  What were they thinking?  I’ve eaten all my money.  I should stop making sandwiches.  And sense.  Not that I’m making much cents.  I’m being nickeled and dimed by penny-pinchers.  Swell, now I’m just babbling.  Next I’ll be psycho-babbling and they’ll have to lock me up.  I don’t know how or why, but I seem to have gotten off to the wrong start on my left foot down a gopher-hole (not nearly as fun as a rabbit-hole), with the best of intentions gone awry like my crummiest-laid plans or something to that effect.  Which is a mouthful of hooey, if you ask me.  (Take my advice, don’t ask.)

Speaking of advice . . . pardon me for a minute, I need to scratch my head.  No, I do not have cooties.  I am rather perplexed at myself.  Has that ever happened to you?  I am beginning to question if there is any purpose to all of this.  Some internal, intrinsic, inherent (take your pick) rhyme or reason for going on and on about so little or nothing.  Is it necessary?  Maybe I ought to stick to the poems.  Or fictional prose.  Maybe I should do something else entirely!  It’s a good thing I don’t listen to the voices in my head or the suggestions in my Suggestion Box.  Where would I be then?  I’m a writer.  It’s tough to tear myself from words to be an artist too, let alone give it up.  Sorry, it cannot be done.  I haven’t tried since I know there isn’t any point in trying.  It’s part of my soul, my blood, my very essence . . . what makes me tick like clockwork.  A wind-up clock with thirteen hours, of course, and Jazz Hands.  A nice little beret or propeller beanie on top.  That’s me, and nobody can take it away from me, unless a villain should build a contrivance to suck the talent and imagination out of a person’s mind and bottle it or lock it in a box or condense it inside of a nutshell.  That would be fairly heinous and diabolical.  It wouldn’t be nice either.  Villains are such meanies!

Don’t misunderstand, I am a fan of villains when they are cool like Frankenstein’s Monster or Dracula.  Those are classic villains of book and reel, eternally awesome.  They don’t make em like that anymore.  These days monster creators use modern devices and instant glue that can cement your fingers together if you’re not careful.  (Trust me on that.)  It isn’t the same.  It’s different.  And different can be its own kettle of corn or coolishness.  I should know.  I like to differ.  In fact, I beg to differ whenever possible.

I miss the ages when you could be weird without being told you have to be like everyone else — have to conform, fit in, blend.  I like being offbeat.  I enjoy those incredulous stares.  The ogles of disbelief.  I like being peculiar, as you probably know by this point, which isn’t a point at all.  I am aiming for your fondest bemused jigsaw-puzzlement; your noggin-shakingest jaw-slackery; your mockingbird hootin-toots of utter bafflence.  Which aren’t words at all if you’re a snit-picker, but I take much poetic license in my writing, even when I am not writing poetry.  You would know this by now if you were paying attention.  I hope you have been, however challenging it may be to follow my absurd drivel and dislocated chains of thought in these rambled preambles to the latest bursts of my worst verse.  (I never write my best verse.  That would be futile, for I could never top it and would plummet into a state of despair.  I try to avoid that.)

The world seems filled with baddities and saddities these days.  We need to focus upon the oddities of life, I feel.  The harmless inanities and insanities of existence.  Such things can put a smile on my face, for I am a bit of a clown at heart.  I was a class clown as a child in my day and occasionally wear make-up as an adult in a circus-clown greasepaint manner.  A “Baby Jane” Bette Davis fashion.  (That’s a reference to a classic movie from my childhood, in case you were unaware, and I developed most of my fashion sense from it.  That and the Addams Family, I suppose.  Lurch was quite a dresser!  Then there was The Bride from the second Frankenstein film.  What a trendsetter!  Before my time, but styles have a way of coming back, do they not?  Like bouncing balls and yo-yos.  Boomerangs too.  Duck!)

Oh dear.  I was actually trying to be serious there a second and flopped miserably.  You are really better off reading the little tags inside of garments, terms and conditions, warning labels, pop-ups on your computer than these horrible introductions to my awfullest poems.  The poems themselves are bad enough.  If only I could stop myself from blurting out this nonsense.  Go on, get it over with.  Wade through the verse if you must.  I shall bury my head in a bucket of embarrassment.

Voilá!  Je presente . . .

(Pardon my French.  Though I don’t know why they say that, it’s really very lovely.  And pardon me as I disentangle myself from the removed veil of a botched flourish.)

 

 

    Thirteen-O-Clock!

 

Oh dratted tempest of capricious time,

Why must you addle me with your chime?

Is there no fiddlestick lever to yank

That will stifle the echoing croon of your crank?

Are the cuckoos and loons of the night

Conversing at lung-top, in whimsical flight

With cacophonous blather, the lather of hens

Clucking or fussing about nows and thens?

Is it possible you have inner springs to unwind,

A clashing gear-gnashing of teeth to grind?

Could you suffer mechanical indigestion,

With clockworks upset or spontaneous congestion?

 

My ears are inclined to dread your automation,

The methodic precision of hypnotic vexation

Ordinarily tuned out, causing attention to lapse;

A curse, but not worse than the mysterious taps

That have lulled me to relax in their precision,

While unregulated by any natural division.

Paranormally-charged, like a persistent drip,

The ticking grows louder beyond the connip

Of treading over staid prosaic bounds . . .

Past the threshold of conventional wisdom’s grounds

To a wilderness zone of twilight unknown,

With an alarm clock’s tension-jangling tone!

 

’Twixt the steady metronomic marks of time —

Your synchronized motorized clicks that rhyme —

Sound the off-beats of gadgets, clandestine tocks;

A furtive assemblage of chains and sprocks

To unwind at the blindest unkindest hour,

Ignored by most, yet imbued with grave power.

Occultish, arcane, the feyest of enchantings

Appear at the stroke of Thirteen-O-Clock rantings!

I can lie awake tossing or burn midnight oil

In a tomblike reverie of brood and toil,

Certain to be disturbed by your latest clamor

As I struggle to focus upon fanciful grammar.

 

Years had I abided by the rules of the Twelve

And its limits of minutes that archaically shelve

An overtime abundance of thoughts that won’t fit,

The creative endeavorings not ready to quit,

Crammed into brief instants expired too soon,

Desperate for chances that weren’t opportune,

Scrambling to meet deadlines and winding up short,

My nerves in a bind, down to the last resort.

Running out of time was a daily affliction;

There weren’t enough hours in my life of constriction,

Of collecting hourglasses that didn’t add up

And begging for more with a half-full buttercup.

 

I have languished exhaustive, immersed in self-pity

For the measure of stitches that aren’t very pretty,

Yet bind me together if I’m falling apart

Every time a clock rings or announces the start

Of the macabre thirteenth hour I know to exist —

At the height of Nocturne, in the center of a twist

Where shadows all meet in the eye of the storm.

As nightshade lengthens, I tremble to stay warm;

A hollow head vibrates with the patter of mouseplay

That incessantly trails the chronologic display

Of watches and clocks, every manner of keeper;

Temporarily jarred from the realm of the sleeper.

 

Eyes bleary, I smother a yawn with my hand

In the hope of not swallowing a mouthful of sand.

When the portal of eeriness creaks slow and wide,

Still-life on my desk will trek side by side,

Jerking and stiffly parading around

Like old-fashioned toys, grotesque and key-wound.

Conflicted, I shiver at the eerie cavort

Of figures and creatures in teeming rip-snort.

An army of mayhem, they’ve started to bite!

The seconds drag on; I’m contorted with fright.

Thirteen is unlucky!  My silence is broken

In mirror shards, yet the words are unspoken.

 

A battle of wills; a grim balance of need as I plead:

“Do these eldritch minutes help or impede?

Has my sanity fled?  Have my mental parts rusted?

Could a clock on a tower be any more trusted?

We are guided by the tolls of huge clanging bells,

By whistles and sirens, machinery knells.

What are they telling us?  Where do they lead?

Are we pawns in a game of steeplechase greed?

Who set all these clocks?  Who fired the first pistol?

Is there really a forever behind the crystal?”

Time will not always tell, despite what they say.

I’m afraid the thirteenth hour is here to stay.

 

 

    Shortcomings

 

I have a few things wrong with me.

For example, I can be disorganized

as a carnival of fools

with my Alice watch unwound

or running too little too late

in a harebrained scheme

of impatient haste.

I might be mercurial as a polluted fish;

an alley cat on a tin roof in the middle

of August;

a bear on a trampoline

jumping for joy like a magic jellybean

containing a worm.

I will forget to remember things

that I wanted to forget

but can’t remember to

because I forgot to write it down.

The note might slip through

my fingers anyway and waft

in the breeze — forcing me to

scamper and chase it only to miss

by a wisp every time it lands.

I’m not all there and can neglect to pay

the piper, the fiddler, or attention.

Though I do try to listen to

the important stuff,

it can be tough to be in

the moment every minute;

a lot of the time I skip off into some

twaddlesome lanterloo of my own invention,

when not huddled in a corner

of the past

or fretting about tomorrow

in yesterday’s time zone.

My wits are whetted by absurd strings

of hyperbolic guddle and fuddlement.

I tend to grate the edge of reason

so sharp with my teeth while asleep

it can cut my hair, trim my fingernails

as I’m barely hanging on by them,

collect in strips and stripes

like wood shavings or cheese.

I’ve knocked on wood so hard

that it gave me splinters.

Words can fail when my tongue

is tied in a pretty bow

I cannot unfurl because

my finger got tangled up and trapped

when the ribbon was trussed

like a high-class hoity-toity pretzel

at the Prince’s ball.

And my stomach is frequently

knotted into a balloon menagerie,

pinched and creased like an origami zoo.

I am sure you know the feeling.

There’s a hole in my pocket

that leaves a trail of shortcomings

behind me wherever I go.

I could mend it with

a needle and thread but I might

jab myself in the leg

and leave a path of blooddrops

spilled over flaws and foibles,

the defects and deficiencies

that accumulate like bric-a-brac

or knickknacks, gimcracks,

spare parts, loose ends . . .

Oh look, there’s another!

If you should pick up a stray weakness,

it’s probably my fault.

Just drop it in the Lost And Found

where I can claim it

once my absence of mind

will allow.

 

 

    Time

 

If I pick at it like a thread

I fear it may all unravel

I can’t keep track of every second

For they get away from me much too

Easily.  I once looked at it as

An expanse, optimistic in my youth

Now as the candle burns lower

I find myself guarding it

More precious and valuable somehow

And try harder not to waste it

Without losing who I am

The senses of humor and perspective

That cling like static electricity

It takes a lot of time to become

Somebody — at least it used to

A rounded individual, someone great

Or at least good

Soon they will have a pill for that

Or surgery; a download for what used to

Take a lifetime.  At any rate

I think I missed a turn

Along the way.  It’s too late

To backtrack, and I am not one

To retrace my footsteps

I keep going on, right or wrong

It might not be the destination

I set out for.  Perhaps I settled

On a fate instead of waiting for

A destiny.  This life thing can be tricky

My view of it has grown shorter

Like my vision; patience too

And I have realized how uncertain

Plans are anyway as I ponder my

Tomorrows, scheduling minutes

In advance that are merely

Borrowed time and wishes, nothing

Certain.  Except that what I am now

Is the best that I can be at the moment

Not my very best; that will always be

Over the rainbow

Through the looking-glass

On the horizon

Just a little bit farther

A few strides away

Almost at the tips of my fingers

Slightly out of reach

But there, right there

So close I can nearly

See it if I squint

Hear its cadence, faint as a breeze

Wavering, an illusion

That flickers and drums

A more or less steady

Marching song.  Like the rain

A keyboard pounded by inspiration

A throbbing tempo on a dance floor

A rescue chopper’s rhythmic thumps

The flutter you hear in a sonogram

The pulse of everything

That ever was.

 

 

    Friday The Thirteenth

 

It is said

the planets may veer on such bleak dates, as fates

shy from the portents of stellar magistrates,

misled by a moldering graveyard, an alley’s invite —

for mayhem and mischief out of the light . . .

 

Where we might

fall prey to the murderous vibes of cursing crows,

harbingers of doom hunched in deathly rows

upon rooftops, gable peaks, high wires and boughs;

ebon soldiers of Fortune with piercing trumpet vows.

 

No simple cornmongers,

these are agents for the master of dark destiny —

dressed in black tie and tails, pallbearers of misery,

abiding the call to usher each star-crossed loser

drawn from a hat by the lottery’s drab chooser.

 

Look and learn

as flickering candlewicks turn to seething tongues,

the stark cries of birds emit from a billion lungs

neath the glitteral peers of livid eye-whites

forming shadow-puppeteer connect-the-dot frights.

 

Far above

is an umbrella of winks, where a gaudy umbral dome

frowns down at bottom-dwellers skulking the gloam.

We are bound by its firmament, by cosmic constraints

to shuffle on schedule, bear our daily complaints.

 

En-masse

we anticipate Friday’s advent, ecstatic for release

from the drudgery and toil, the machinery’s grease.

But not every fifth day of the week is so blithe;

if it falls on Thirteen, beware the grim scythe!

 

Dread will spread —

with frigid dismay, thick as butter on bread

over what could betide us, what perils lurk ahead —

conveyed like toys on a circuitous assembly vine

through the factory of Life, to the end of the line.

 

Bitter cold,

funeral-procession hearses with low-rider shocks

steered by drivers in moth-balled tuxedo frocks

congest the lanes, a broad belt of rush-hour panic.

Breaking the night, bats and crows hurtle manic.

 

The Thirteenth

will forebode disastrous consequences untold;

a period of tribulations when good luck is on hold,

suspended for an interval of twenty-four hours

that you may survive if you have special powers!

 

Should you feel

unlucky, expectations will be abysmal —

hope in short supply, the odds acutely dismal.

Air might crackle with arcane mysteries nigh

and your hair stand out as you wave bye-bye . . .

 

A mere number,

thirteen possesses no strength, I believe.

Such a day cannot harm, fight or aggrieve.

It is fluid, we know; composed of chance, thin air.

An evanescent flow to embrace and share.

 

I regard it

an occasion for celebration, the opposite of

a terribly off-day.  I think it’s okay to fall in love,

start a journey, pet a black cat, take a ride.

Do not dig a hole and cower inside.

 

We mustn’t fear

the grimalkin or grimoire for spells cast;

must not blame the culture of an iconoclast,

any more than a page’s ink for a worst-selling book.

And yet, The Thirteenth we had best not overlook!

 

 

    Current

 

Months unfold — a deck carelessly shuffled,

spilling across table or floor — a flat road

paved by slippery laminated cobblestones

like Tarot cards that purport to tell

the future.  But the numbered boxes

are empty, void of meaning, waiting to

be filled . . . blanks in the run-on sentence

Time writes.

 

Now the pen is out of ink, the roll of paper

sodden as it glides down a river of lost hopes

toward a rushing cataract of dreams.

The waterfall’s roar thunders in our ears

with a mighty flood of thoughts,

yet we cannot slow or dam its tenuous

stream of days and years, we can only strive

to float . . .

 

And not sink; to keep our heads above

the tides of Change that sometimes

pour like white frothing rapids

and other times subside to trickle —

a shallow layer clear as glass,

diluted and glossy, short of substance.

I am swept on my back, never a very

capable swimmer.

 

The current is all we can touch, not

yesterdays and tomorrows.  They are

just ghosts or figments, ethereal vapors

elusive to our reach, beyond our

present grasp.  Maybe one day

their images will be more defined than

memories; captured, concrete as fantasies

on paper.

 

 

    the truth about nothing

 

I have questions for the cosmos,

like why if I put lipstick on

my lips are not sealed

and how a couch potato can use

the remote control when everybody knows

potatoes have no limbs.

(Except Mister and Missus Potato Head,

but they’re not exactly real, are they?)

Where do June Bugs go in July?

How did the man get in the Moon

before there were astronauts and

ships to carry them there?

Why are we floating in Space

so indecisive and awkward —

simultaneously revolving

and following an orbit —

instead of going somewhere else

or spinning out of control?

Why doesn’t Gravity hiccup every

now and then, or get tired

and take a vacation?

And why isn’t String Theory

full of knots like my hair?

These are thought-provoking wonders,

wouldn’t you agree?

I am certain you must, else your head

has to be missing most of its screws

and could fall off at any second.

There, you see?

Better grab it or it might gather moss;

you could get mud in your eye

or pebbles in your ears that would

rattle around the inside of your skull

and then where would you be?

With a headful of rocks instead of

marbles!

A lot like a fish that doesn’t swim.

I can’t quite figure those fish out.

They come in a box and are orange

not gold, like the bowls of fish

people keep on tables for decoration,

only these are dry and crunchy

and have no scales unless you count

their dehydrated flecks of cheesy powder.

Thinking of them drives me crackers

so I am asking . . .

how does a loser stand a chance

when the wheat and the chaff

are separated, the corn and husk sorted

into organized chaos —

Frankensteined by mad scientists

recreating seeds that were already perfect?

Why does Man tinker with things that are

better left alone?

It is much the same as to arrange

orderly rows of mismatched socks.

It doesn’t make sense, like chickens with

stripes instead of pox; roosters with brushes

instead of combs.  And why are they

running around crossing streets, or squawking

about the sky falling?  I want answers!

Do you think it’s fair that failures can’t win

because to err is human?

I seem to have more questions

than when I began this soliloquy of ponderings.

If an eyeball itches on a lonesome eve,

can you hear the sound of one eye blinking?

Will you heed the flail of a thousand lashes

against the blade of Chance

cutting down the middle?

What does that even mean?

You see, I have lost my own marbles

among the blur of queries spilling

from my brainspout.

I am driven to hysterics by the flutter

of a cuckoo in my noggin

that must have flown in one ear

then out the other, unless it remains trapped

like a pigeon in a warehouse or store.

I can’t tell.  Sometimes my days

are literally upside down,

sleeping at Dawn’s break, rising at Dusk.

Oh no, do I belong in a coffin?

Should I travel by hearse?

Time has no measure over me, nor dominion.

I am a lost soul who lives by a clock

of thirteen hours not twelve, and navigates

by polkadots rather than the stars.

I move in slow-motion

while days have sped up,

which is a frustrating condition.

I am intrigued by a cattail twitch stirred

by the brittle wind as I ask the heavens,

will there ever be the wag of a dog’s tail

on a wetland’s mourning?

Do not feed the night though its belly growls,

for in the wiles of weeds and marshes

hide the songs of thrushes midst

the rustles of rushes

and the termagant reeds!

As you can see, the lines of this poem

have snapped under the strain of too much

senseless pollen getting up people’s noses

and making them go kachoo

as I have clearly gone haywire

in the aftermath of a total brainsneeze.

There is no truth about nothing

in the end;

there is but the dribble and drip

of faucet-noses,

the harmless broods of stranger breeds,

and the drool of aimless thoughtlessness

gone mad from the silly mud

that molds character,

the gumption and pink bubblegum

pasting the universe together.

 

 

    Yin Or Yang?

 

This world is an unsympathetic place

Where the weak can be crushed

Whether by physical or emotional baggage

Then weeded out by Evolution.  There is no

Room for being too sensitive or trusting

There is no sympathy for the broken

They are sacrificed to the volcano of

Progress that flows with molten avarice

To consume the present and pave it over

Erecting cold modern structures as empty

Of life as a city of ghosts, outdated and

Abandoned, or never lived in.

 

The world is a marvel of tender beauty

Of majesty and immeasurable riches

That have nothing to do with gold or silver

Coins or cash.  There are true wonders

Of Nature, and guileless amazing creatures

Who live without burdens and boundaries

Or they once did.  There are depths unlimited

In their souls, as in the heights of

Human spirit; the glow of warmth and grace

Kindness, determination, love and peace

That is possible if we stand united and believe

In good, however bad the times may be.

 

Our world is a duality, a Yin and Yang circle

Of dark versus light where moderation is

Key; balance is everything, like a juggler

Riding a unibike tossing crystal balls

That could shatter when dropped

And the future be sacrificed forever each time

The ball doesn’t bounce — analogous of

War and Fate.  We are the flingers

The catchers charged with maintenance

Equilibrium, stability, a steady hand

If a generation fails, the next must

Scurry to recover that which is lost.

 

 

    Candlelight

 

For Soledad Medrano

 

“It isn’t pretty.”

Three words she cast to the sea of night,

A message in a bottle

For whomever should find it

Washed on a shore, perhaps bobbing

In the waves of the celestial tide,

Swept by a current of sorrow and tears

Both shed and unshed.

Some tears are invisible, you know.

They burn the skin like acid

From the inside where none can see

The scars.  I saw these words,

Brief and vague, excruciating and poignant,

Far flung to the eclectic electric crests

Of social media; the faceless odyssey

Of cyberspace . . . a bumpy ocean of endless

Distraction I grapple, unsuccessfully,

To avoid while writing or drawing.

It isn’t pretty.

Such a cryptic thought, shared

With the gravity of a quiet life-or-death struggle,

The kind we can pass on a street

And not glimpse the severity,

Filtered through kaleidoscopic senses,

Or the lenses of expired rose-colored spectacles

Needing a new prescription.

Yet it caused me to wonder, to pause

And study it for illumination.

Busy, giving the statement a quick glance,

I would stay tuned for an explanation, a clue

To its riddle.  Like so many casual comments

Tossed out to random observers

At any given moment across a vast divide,

I couldn’t dwell on the meaning.

Only later, in another day or two

Would I learn how significant the remark

And recall that it struck me as rather odd

And terse; I had wanted more, something

To clarify.  But I did not know her well enough;

A joke, a witticism would have felt

Out of place, the wrong tone.

I so rarely glimpsed what she shared

And couldn’t think of the proper response,

Uncertain what it referred to, that brooding

Note . . .  A concerned reply from a virtual

Stranger would not have changed her mind,

I suspect.  She needed to talk to someone.

Belated realization.  Tragic retrospection.

I with my own introverted demons,

Time-challenged and pressured by

Continuous deadlines, agreed in silence:

It isn’t pretty; a lot of things aren’t.

But some are, and perhaps she needed to

Hear this.  I waited for what else she might

Add.  It was the last I would glimpse that night,

And the next.

Three simple words, how they touched me

With a twinge of mystery, a spark of curiosity.

And after that an indelible grief

In hindsight, for a moment of rue

I will always carry.

You can’t get a moment back

Once it is gone.

Had I reached out to ask, to inquire

What she meant . . . would the outcome

Be different?  We are left to feel such things,

To wonder in the aftermath

What we could have done.

Now I mourn

And treasure those terms:

It isn’t pretty.

Written of darkness and agony

One dim October eve.

I was there and said nothing,

Preoccupied with my own issues.

I must live with that too.

I will remember it, an eternal regret.

A solitary vigil.

A chance wasted to connect

And be a true friend.

Farewell, Soledad.  I did not say

Hello or goodbye at the time.

I just watched as I will

From the shadows of my own

Private share of past anguishes.

Now I know precisely what

You were telling us.

You seemed very nice, a lovely soul —

Who unfortunately harbored disastrous

Torments, inconsolable wounds.

A courageous author, brave enough to

Speak out about the unspeakable.

I among others will greatly miss your

Presence; your beautiful eyes and smile.

You were a light in the dark,

And your candle burns on.

 

 

    Paris

 

My beret is removed in sympathy

for terror in the City Of Light;

for Parisians, our fallen sisters and brothers

across the seas.  As French hats were lowered

when New York wept on Nine Eleven.

The world sobs together

for any town or neighborhood

targeted by hate,

ravaged with a violent yet curable disease —

the cold disregard for human life.

I hang my head in sadness,

grieving at the torches of disputes

on foreign lands or at home . . .

the bloodshed, turbulence, separation

dulling the shine of hearts joined

in mutual respect.

Atrocities occur too often,

wherever there are weapons aimed;

when groups with power cannot agree.

Cherished places are desecrated,

the calm of streets shattered by

bombs or bullets; by cowards and the brave,

who may resemble two sides of a coin

tossed in the air to decide who is right

and who is wrong.  History turns to myth

when the facts are slanted or obscured.

It is cities like Paris and New York

that unite us all, that belong

to the globe, a greater sphere,

though we may not have visited;

we feel we know them so well

and dream of seeing their sights,

of strolling their lanes like lovers.

No extremes of heartless murder,

massacre, brutality

can mar the vision we embrace

or steal the spirit of a people joined

in hope and peace.

 

 

    Plan C

 

From day to day

opinions can change,

ideas may shift

and firm or razor edges

can soften, reform.

Plans should be written

in pencil not ink,

certainly not carved in stone,

or there will be much crossing out

and chipping, smoothing,

then revising more

as we seek to refine our views

until perfected.

But even then, like artists

we must accept that nothing ever is.

What we scribble, etch, engrave

is a changing blueprint that may

end up being what we do when

all else fails . . .

either a complete surprise

or an alternate route —

Plan C,

after the other alternate (Plan B)

was scrubbed.  Erasing is neater.

Less time-consuming too.

I seem to have less and less of that,

and my plans will change accordingly.

It’s all interconnected, a network

of weights and balances,

like the universe.

I had a lot of plans once upon a time . . .

History is what it was,

a progression of events

from conquests to heroics,

depending on who recorded or witnessed

the happenstances;

the comedies or tragedies —

so often defined by violence,

by somebody taking away

someone else’s rights.

Now and then it might seem

The Good Guys won,

but there were usually more than

two sides,

an untold story.

For every win there had to be losses,

not always deserved or intended.

There were twisted fates,

unforeseen consequences,

stray bullets, random bombings,

grudges, mistakes, bystanders,

and innocents fell.

Wars seldom go according to plan,

while acts of terror are faceless plots

directed at ideals, beliefs, appearances.

Or the schemes of individuals

with axes to grind

and access to weapons.

There has been too much

destruction and hatred.

We can’t go back and fix that

because a Time Machine could create

a bigger mess, upset the scales

and tip things more out of whack

than they were.

We can only heal the present

and do our best for future generations

that history will not repeat.

I wish they would stop hiding

the truths

we should be learning from

to correct errors in advance

instead of multiplying them.

We have computers now

to help with the math.

Forget about Plan C;

it probably stands for Crazy.

By then it’s generally kind of late

to be repaired.

Or maybe the situation isn’t hopeless.

Maybe it needs another look.

And then sometimes,

just when Fate convinces me

that my luck is rotten as a black peach,

the worst or best serendipity reverses

my point of view entirely,

turning things around

from bad to good or not as terrible —

showing me the brighter side,

a flower growing on a battlefield,

a tree that survived

a forest fire — withstood the blaze

green and resilient among the charred

stumps and trunks of a bitter scourge.

One shining moment,

an uplifting reminder that all isn’t lost

if we find a shred of dignity or hope,

something to believe — telling us

not to give up.  Sometimes that is all

there is, all we can take away

and grasp.  Cling to this, a reassurance,

the thought that luck can change.

It might not be the end, the impossible

dream or limit of endurance.

It may just be a point of departure,

low tide before the current rises,

an ebb before the flow.

Or maybe, part of a grander design:

a cosmic sense of justice and order.

Karma, kismet, destiny.

We all share the fate of the world;

we are all one people under the sun

and stars.  There is no room for

ulterior motives, skewed priorities.

Life, innocence, peace . . .

those matter.

Not killing, not war, not death.

Stick to Plan A

for All Aboard,

All-Purpose,

One Plan Fits All,

the All For One And One For All

Approach . . .

just be sure to think

Ahead.

Plan B is for Bullies, Barbarians.

It’s Bonkers, Belligerent, Buffoonish.

Plan C?  That spells

Calamity!  Catastrophe!  Casualties!

Or Cuckoo and Cockamamie.

Do the alphabet.

It’s as basic as A-B-C.

 

 

    Clockfolk

 

The people in the clock are listening.

I know they’re in there.  I can hear them

between the ticks and cuckoos,

as sure as I can reach up and touch

that round silver moon just sitting

in the sky watching

the clockfolk wonder about me

like everyone else — except in their case,

I wonder about them just as much.

They’re tinkering inside, messing with

the way things are . . . the gears and

levers.  People can never leave stuff alone,

they have to change how things run,

raise the bar, alter the system,

upgrade rules, wreck or improve

the status quo.

Here today, gone tomorrow!

But clocks have worked pretty much

the same for ages,

other than the kind that aren’t actual

timepieces.  There are no gears and cogs.

No springs.  Who knows what they are —

alien technology or modern junk.

I blame the people in the clock.

Why couldn’t they be satisfied?

As soon as I like something,

it will disappear, replaced in a flash,

tossed on the scrapheap of the obsolete —

burying yesterday’s new thing.

 

 

    Loonacy

 

I can be a loon though I haven’t a feather.

I may carry an umbrella in all types of weather.

I might climb a scaffold without a paintbrush

and take my time while in a slight rush.

 

Don’t expect to be gotten or understood.

I refuse to be analyzed (as if you could)

like a bug under glass; I will still be duller

when vividly magnified in Technicolor.

 

How can the unfamiliar be appreciated?

The different may be snubbed, by some even hated.

My ways are mysterious as an unread book,

a head that has never been nodded or shook.

 

I seldom do the things you’re supposed to do.

Must be missing those parts, or some of the glue

that keeps it together, holds everything in place

like gravity and harmony.  I don’t have a poker face.

 

In fact, I’m surprised to be recognized at all.

My features can look bland, unspecific as a ball

that isn’t defined by a particular sport . . .

just plain and anonymous.  That is my sort.

 

Yet my heart is as light as an unstrung balloon;

I am deliriously me in the shimmer of the Moon —

when a clock strikes Thirteen and Time goes still

as a Will-O-The-Wisp mocking a Whippoorwill.

 

Not everything has to make perfect sense . . .

I am as blissfully ignorant as I am dense

about the state of the art of an artichoke heart.

Oops, I tugged a loose thread and am coming apart!

 

 

    The Monster’s Lament

 

What if I told you space and time isn’t real?

That it’s all an illusion, a fabric to hide

the ugly mechanical parts, the guts and bolts

of the truth . . . that the universe you know

is a dream of smoke and mirrors,

a dash of cosmic dust?

Not the dust of stars and planets,

but a darkness so complete it is brighter

than a sun; a force that encompasses

nothing and everything at once,

upon a metabolic mindfield where matter

is infinite and pure, defying distance

and limits.

 

Would you regard me a misguided thinker,

somber, bleaker than a forest of ice-trees

if I lost my faith in the ability to bend?

You must have disdained the obvious,

an elaborate frostwork of ornately sculpted

one-of-a-kind patterns within the chilling

haunted structure, clear and blinding in

the day, white and gray at night.  But none of it

is genuine, permanent, shaped from rock;

it melts exposed to glare, vulnerable to seasons.

I, a starveling for affection, crouch in the shade

of my convictions; an outcast freak born of graves

and corpses.

 

Can you see into my soul?  Would you meet

my eyes if I gave you the chance?  I have found

that one can blaze a path by stepping softly

without creating much sound or disturbance.

As I creep round the edges of civilization . . .

do you notice me, or are you blind to my

lurking out of shyness, my glimpses and gazes?

I have watched you and wonder if you could

look beyond the deformities, my eccentric

nature without growing alarmed, summoning

the club-and-torch brigade, the pitchfork

militia.  It is so easy to be unaccepted if you

stick out.

 

Would you view me as a threat because

my heart stopped beating, my flesh was cold?

Do you find it monstrous to live again through

a few borrowed parts?  Maybe it is Science

you should fear, having made me what I am.

That is what defies logic and principles,

crosses barriers and prudence, shirking morals

for the sake of experiment.  Perhaps you are

correct that I should not exist as I am,

for I am a work of artless forgery, a sham.

There is no place for such an aberration, whether

in society or the wilderness.  I must seek a cure,

a refuge.

 

The victim of Mankind, can I forgive you for

my suffering and then for spurning me,

your invention?  Where shall I fit in, this

creature of distasteful features and virtueless

traits but outside your cities and provinces?

I have no home, no purpose.  I must find a place

at the end of the earth, neglecting to mark

a trail of footprints as evidence, not leaving

a single fingernail shred behind.  And the time

will pass slower, every detail intricately rendered

by anxiety, but it will pass before you know as

you try to forget your mistake, groping within to

expunge me.

 

I may endure despite all efforts, a reminder of the

dreamworld once crafted to gawp at imperfections.

The walls of belief and race and culture erected

in order to have drama, to disrupt the glorious

mundane monotony of everything as it should be,

of a peace so tranquil that it drowns you

like an undisturbed lake.  I rose from the base

of that pool, from its muddy depths,

and fascinated you with my garish visage,

then frightened you — more human, more

sentient than your kind would tolerate

in a beast.  Therefore, I shall not vex you

any further.

 

I desired to walk beside you, engage in equal

pursuits, but I am aware now I could never be the

same.  That was my folly, for we were not created

equal.  What is disparate cannot be transformed

and labeled authentic.  Science must have limits,

must be wielded with due conscience and ethics.

I am the antithesis of humanity and life!

How vain and warped to conceive that one

such as I could serve as an acceptable substitute

for a man.  I am sufficiently intelligent by your

standards to recognize what I am and am not . . .

I am death.  I am deceit.  I am an ogre.

Nothing more.

 

~ An elegy alluding to Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN

Authors: 
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Lori R. Lopez

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