At the Bridge

I can smell your frail hope, little goat
Just as clear and strong and pungent
As the tantalizing odor of your fear

They’re quite alike
These two fine scents
Sweet and tangy
Toothsome and rich

Like juicy mutton roasting, charring
Over crackling, reaching flames

But the aftertaste
So scrumptious
Deep and secret in the throat

That’s how you know
That’s how you recognize the savor
Born in some peculiar corner
Of the soul

And I, little goat
I love fear the very best

And it’s terror most exquisite
That I cherish in the darkest folds
And crannies of my
Prune-dry, shriveled heart

So now you’ve met the troll
Now it’s time to pay the toll

I see you quivering up there
One tiny hoof a-tap-tap-tapping
On the closest creaky floorboard
Of my bridge

I see your soft chin-hair convulsing
Like itty-bitty mousie in his trap
Sorry, broken-backed and scared

And oh so scared
And oh so scared

But you know
You mustn’t cross my bridge
Oh no, you’ll never budge
Until I’m satisfied

Are you ready, little goat?
Ripe to settle your wee debt?

Then come on now
Come on quick
Come on under with the troll
Come and see me down below

these dreams

a moment
thirty years delayed

to the chubby, awkward kid
too smart to be cool
for whom this song
was a first kiss
a first love

thirty years
was twice a lifetime

thirty years
was an age unimagined

thirty years
was a thing unfathomable
known only to the ancients

but to the grown-up me
who experienced
at long last

the flawless woodwind notes
of nancy’s lead vocals

the spooky playfulness
of ann’s sweet harmony

the consummate
otherworldly guitarwork
of the band

to that svelter, still awkward man
standing in the cut grass
standing in the warm dark
standing in ecstasy
thirty years was only

a short climb up the stairs
from the vendors of t-shirts
and frosty margaritas
sipped from the necks
of plastic guitars

to arrive at the top of the hill
and our blanket
thrown on the lawn
far above the crowded
auditorium seats

in the company of dear friends
beneath a rippled sunset sky
like the sky above the fey-lands
or the realm of morpheus

and surrounded by thousands
of fellow travelers
each in their own euphoria

augmented by drink
or weed
or nothing but the night

and surrounded by sound
submerged in waves of music
as the band began to play

and surrounded
after all
by these dreams

Bottom’s Death

The poetry prompt was to write a poem using only the words of one character in one scene or speech in a Shakespeare play. So I decided to write one using Bottom’s speech after he wakes up, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act IV, Scene I. I wanted to try and write him a death speech – before falling asleep, so to speak, rather than after waking up – and it’s an older, wiser, humbler Bottom, and in proper iambic pentameter (because he’s a serious character now). Here it is.

Bottom’s Death

If Bottom’s cue is next: to be no more
And sing an answer to God’s gracious flute
This ass, this fool will be a man and go
His eye hath seen, his ear hath heard the call

But when this play of life is at an end
Will I expound it more, this dream I had?
My ballad, peradventure, hath no heart
My tongue, asleep, can offer no report

My life hath stolen hence – no vision comes
No more shall mender make a patched me
Methought I was a duke; I am a man
I shall conceive of death, and her fair hand

geek chic

geek chic
the nerd mystique
this t-shirt highlights my physique
and every day of every week
(six months now, in my current streak)
my shirt drawer opens and i seek
a different icon (so to speak)
to demonstrate my fan technique
they’re never bought in a boutique
but they are laundered (else, they’ll reek!)
they often feature snark and cheek
at times, political critique
but don’t you dare call me a freak!
for i am mighty, though i’m meek
i have a voice that’s quite unique
and i express it through
geek chic

The Damming of Sauquoit Creek

On the day the word came down
The people all just stood and stared
The time has come to make a change
The politician said

It’s been a long time coming, and
We know there will be sacrifice
But it will all be worth it when
The power starts to flow

The dam went up; the waters came
And Willowvale went under, just like
Chadwicks and Washington Mills
And large parts of Sauquoit

Some people wept, but still, they knew
That they’d all voted in this guy
And hey, WE have the power now
To bend and redirect

It’s a matter of power
And what’s the harm to drown
A handful of insignificant
Working-class towns?

maniac wind

when the maniac wind blew in
her habitat was unprepared
she’d had no time nor fragile chance
to adapt to chaos, chill, and din

when the maniac wind moved in
all she could do was stand and watch
amid the pieces of her world
as wildness whisked them all away

when the maniac wind dug in
she felt like a naked mannequin
deprived of covering, home, or dime
devoured by gale’s rapacious maw

when the maniac wind blew up
its riotous intensity
broke down its own integrity
its violence turned upon itself

when the maniac wind blew out
she whispered softly in its ear
it curled up in complacency
she put that tempest in a paper cup