Cyphers magazine has published my poem – “Zlatan”– in their Issue 93. I am really pleased as always to be published in Cyphers . Thanks to Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, for accepting my poem.
Cyphers is a Dublin based print only magazine which has been in existence since 1975. They publish poets from all over the world, both new and established and this issue features a number of translated poems.
Hiram likes to drink water direct from the spigot on the front wall of his house; he hasn’t had to connect a hose to that darn spigot since he converted the lawn to artificial. Good times. In the evening, he sits on his porch staring out at the Christmas tree green of the lawn drinking lite beer and polishing his assault rifle, this gives him comfort.
Not that he’s afraid, he ain’t afraid of nuthin’, he ain’t afraid of AOC he ain’t afraid of Antifa he ain’t afraid of that girl from Sweden the one that never smiles he’s vigilant, that’s all; vigilance is of the essence. He likes the sound of that, maybe get a T shirt made put that on the front, ‘G.I. – God Incarnate’ on the back.
No, he ain’t afraid of nuthin’, but sometimes in the early hours of the morning he lies awake his gut gurgling like a drain as it processes the Outback appetizer of deep fried onion rings that the waitress piled high on his plate like a jumble sale of used Olympic symbols; he lies awake stalked by a fear he will not name the fear of being left behind, left in the dust, by the twenty first century.
This week I’m hosting the weekly challenge over at Earthweal (Title “Fiction? Don’t be a Stranger”). So head on over there and prepare to be challenged.
This bar’s insured by Smith and Wesson Says the sign upon the wall Vern studies his empty beer glass Time slows down to a crawl
Audrey, the lank-haired waitress Watches from the bar Order something soon, she yells Or get the hell out of here.
There’s a special on at Wanda’s Ranch Tuesday night 2 for one But Vern doesn’t have the appetite He doesn’t have the wherewithal
There’s only one thing that he wants And he’s going to get it soon High Plains Sushi High Plains Sushi Hot Sake in a cup Five thousand feet above the ocean And he just can’t get enough
Two guys from the goldmine Old Arsenic and Rock Face Have journeyed up from the centre of the Earth To join the human race
But no matter how hard they try No matter what they do In the glow from the pool table They’ve still got that subterranean hue.
Something’s warming beneath a heat lamp Looks like deep fried road kill Beside a tub of mashed potatoes It’s making Vern feel ill
There’s only one thing that he wants And he’s going to get it soon High Plains Sushi High Plains Sushi Hot Sake in a cup Five thousand feet above the ocean And he just can’t get enough.
I spent a little time once in Elko, Nevada. There was a sushi restaurant in the town which served individual portions large enough to feed a small Japanese village. Elko hosts an annual Cowboy Poetry Festival. Interesting place. The theme over at dverse is food poetry.
This version of this poem appeared before as a dizain, one of those poems that keeps changing shape.
Rapiers and Pistols and the Sequencing of (Whiskey In The Jar – A Deconstruction )
I have often wondered why when he encounters Captain Farrell while going over the Cork and Kerry Mountains* the protagonist first produces his pistol and then produces his rapier. Surely the rapier is redundant once the pistol is produced.
(*In the Dubliners version, it’s “the far-famed Kerry Mountains)
Whack fall the daddy o.
Apparently people occasionally wonder what “whack fall the daddy o” means. Well it does not mean anything, it’s kind of like Irish scatting, what singers do when they run out of words.
I once wrote a sea shanty in which I used a variation on whack fall the daddy o. Here it is :
Oh. the herring were running wild and fast as we sailed out from St. John and the cod were plump as Mary’s arse on a Sunday morning after early mass with sausages on the griddle-o and rashers in the pan whack fall de diddle dairy oh whack fall de diddle dan.
Scenes from a Restaurant in the Time Between Variants
the guys from finance hold their wine glasses by the stem and every now and again they do that swirl and sniff thing
the girl in the tight dress is two drinks away from feeling comfortable
a couple out on their first date have discovered too late that they have nothing to say to each other the long evening yawns before them
the bathroom door bursts open two bros wearing dark suits and built like refrigerators emerge, their eyes pulsing with guilty energy
it’s happy hour
cocktails are fifty per cent off and all the cocktails have jokey names Insane Moose Milantini Rogue Zamboni
nothing on the menu escapes description the Market Crashin’ IPA has a dry hopped finish with a touch of citrus the Failed Priest Sauvignon Blanc is full bodied with gooseberry and melon grace notes and that beet and feta salad we’ve ordered just happens to be a personal favorite of our waitress she loves that hint of sourness the cheese brings to the dish
she’s a dancer, by the way, lived for a while in Saskatoon.
a ghostly whoosh echoes down the open pipe a toilet flushing
in a neighbor’s house uphill yes, we are all connected.
I hardly ever do this but here’s a challenge to all you poets out there: write a poem about plumbing. There are no rules, write about anything – an ode to your favourite plunger, a sonnet about a dripping tap, a haiku about flexible hoses!
Link back to this post if you like, so I can read your poems.
Myron volunteered once as a caretaker on an island in the middle of a lake in the High Andes, North of Puno, the Altiplano.
The top of the island was as flat as an anvil and every day he would climb up there from his lake side cottage to study the funerary towers of Silustani over on the mainland, using his large binoculars.
It was never quite clear to Myron what exactly he was taking care of. He had a house, a dread-locked alpaca and three guinea pigs. The guinea pigs were housed in a wired compound, inside the compound was a miniature mud hut with a thatched roof and three open doorways which the guinea pigs retreated through every time he approached. He thought that, perhaps he was supposed to eat the guinea pigs it was clear that they thought this also.
Located close to the funerary towers were the remains of an Inca temple worshipping the Sun God, at that time in his life Myron was losing faith in atheism and the Inca worship of the sun god had a certain logic to it. Without the sun where are we? Where are we, indeed! He wasn’t overly keen on human sacrifice but he had to admit that the Incas dealt with the blood well, channels and drainage being an Inca thing, knowledge they acquired along the way. Subjugate, assimilate, and so it goes forever.
Myron thought he would use this time to write but mostly he sat looking at a blank page listening to the tinnitus in his left ear roar and in the absence of his fellow human beings he began to think that the alpaca was judging him, the way it stared at him from under its matted fringe and down its long nose.
One night he found himself shouting abuse at the alpaca.
The next day he left for Puno and got drunk on gassy lager in a pizzeria on the ragged, dusty town square
NaPoWriMo eleven days in and I have nothing to show last night I rummaged through abandoned shoeboxes in the dusty attic of my mind (I apologize for those last two lines) and there’s nothing there, bro there’s nothing there………bro I’m moving in slow mo I’ve lost my mojo my get up and go I have met my Alamo or is it Waterloo? I’m running on empty no quid pro quo NaPoWriMo NaPoWriMo nineteen days to go nineteen days to go.
In the city of Nha Trang, Vietnam at the National Oceanographic Institute among tanks cramped with circling neurotic fish (Hit the glass. Stop. Turn around)
there is a multi-colored specimen whose toxin, according to the description, renders its victims
“unconspicuous or even dead”.
Conspicuous behind glass further north in the Hanoi War museum
lie the dog tags of dead American soldiers
to a man young, buzzcut and hopeful.
This poem was written a number of years ago, after a visit to Vietnam. The news out of Ukraine this week, for some reason, made me think of that visit and what happens to a whole generation on either side of a conflict when leaders decide to go to war.
It appeared in Open Link weekend over at earthweal.
My poem “Driving Home with Leonard” has been included in David L O’Nan’s anthology, ” Before I Turn Into Gold”, a collection of poems inspired by the work of Leonard Cohen. That’s the cover artwork above by Geoffrey Wren and the book contains some very fine poems and more wonderful illustrations by Geoffrey Wren.
Thanks to David for including me. The book is available here on Kindle and in Paperback. Check it out.
Also check out David’s Fevers of the Mind Poetry and Art Bloghere.
And your gravity fails and negativity don’t pull you through….Bob Dylan
Know your gym……Slim Volume
Gravity, Don’t Fail Me Now
two geezers pink and steaming towelling down after a shower discussing gravity how it is not fixed how it decreases with distance from the earth’s core how, if one was to climb to the top of Everest, since weight is the product of mass and gravity one would weigh less at the top of Everest and Slim’s thinking this is one fucking erudite conversation and he wants a piece of it so he points out that one would regain that weight on returning to sea level and one of the geezers replies yeah but you’d probably burn 10,000 calories climbing up and down the fucking mountain and a nearby jock encased in breathable fabric says shit, I’d burn that in 40 minutes on the rowing machine and Slim fires back wryly keep telling yourself that and the locker room erupts in laughter and in that moment basking in the unbearable lightness of banter Slim defies gravity and levitates above the bacterial swamp that is the locker room floor.
“A man who is tired of the gym, is a man who has been to the gym”. Slim Volume
Two bros on a mat one on his back hands clasped behind his head legs bicycling like a capsized fly; the other, the one with the green hair and the tattoos of a religious nature is grunting weights . Fly bro, it appears, is having girlfriend problems and is experiencing some kind of vague existential crisis, green hair bro listens carefully to his tale of woe and after some reflection says: It’s life, man, stop trying to understand it, no one can and then, as if startled by his own profundity, he repeats: no one can. Out of the mouths of bros….
in the background a bearded jock in a tight black T shirt his muscles packed with powdered whey his eyes a steroid yellow is down on his hunkers knees akimbo moving sideways across the floor like a slow motion crab across packed sand at evening.