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<b>Clock Man</b>

Profile, he's a cartoon
of one-thirty & eleven-thirty
pitching back-and-forth;
at the three
the watchers awaken as he
launders his liquid lingua until
they vault to high noon, eyes
spinning like animated wind-up
punches, the remarkable powers
of articulated spinach strewn
from auricle to auricle, then
all of the clockwatchers gather
in clumps and muddy their hands
onto one of gifted glossolalia,
sending his sinned & spinning
vessel into what could only
be called with flexed fingers
" "
but what we usually call
"a tile floor";
that one writhes there underneath
the undulating arms and tongues come undone,
the profiled Clock Man
wrangles the other writhers into
a zone sponsored by the
Financial Aid Office of Heaven
asking humbly on Their behalf for
just a little, what you can give,
a sufferance offering of fifty
will suffice, and if not fifty,
then how 'bout twenty; some
dig down deep and push aside
their pocket watches, open their
billfolds and step back as
doves miraculously fly from them;
cold, hard showers drench
the six at Clock Man's feet,
sending forth a small cuckoo hallelujah
that each clockwatcher collects
and takes home and encases
in his or her respective
empty medicine cabinet.

<i>First Place, Roy Burkhart Religious Poetry Contest, 1998


your capture of the moves of the swoons of my lungs
into words borne from pretty-pawed keys
swirls me with a rush of red
a painting framed, someday hoped, by your two soft arms



I learned your last name today
by unabashedly looking at the
audition sheet.

And I sat next to someone I know,
who knows you, whom I knew
you'd talk to,
in my proximity--

you know a Chicago director...
your restaurant is closing...
you have a sister...

I'm fake-reading my <i>Merchant of Venice</i>.
Even fake-turning pages.


"She's just <i>really pretty</i>," I keep telling my roommate:
Fiery red hair, light hypnotic blue eyes,
and a sense that she is genuine through--
"She's in her thirties," I say. "I'll just be happy."


I found your headshot today
by unabashedly entering your name

I confirmed your Chicago roots.
I saw you played Bianca.
I found still more pictures.

When we finally do meet,
I will already know too much.

For now I'll just pine for a second passing wink.
(For you did wink at me once before!)

6:45am: That's when you typically show up.



<b>Magic Wanda</b>

Mother called Wanda, a woman in New York.
"Wanda's a healer," she said,
"She's healed people who were in trouble."
I'm naturally a skeptic, but I let my mother be.
I mean, it's her phone bill--
as long as it's not Psychic Friends.

Wanda's part of a prayer circuit.
People in need call Wanda--she hears their stories,
then passes them onto the circuit.
The people on the circuit pray for those needy,
then, soon, the needy can feel relieved.
All those caring circuiteers, all their dialed-in benevolence,
really helps, as my mother testified.

I decided to play a little joke.

I prank-called Wanda.
I told her that my mother fell ill,
and that her prayer circuit failed.
My mother had died.
I faked sobs and threw accusations.
I was really cruel.
Wanda believed me.
She sobbed too.

The next day, my mother showed me the strangest thing.
It was a card, addressed to the family:
<i>"With deepest sympathies
upon the passing of your mother.
Mother said "Grandma's surgery was successful,
I don't know what they're talking about.
Whoever it was, rang once, left it in the door,
then took off in a taxi. I tried to flag it down, but--"
She suddenly turned, and walked to the kitchen.

I heard the lift of the receiver, and many buttons pushed.
Mother waited in stillness.
Then, with an exhalation of breath, she hung up,
without a word.

<i>First Place, Roy Burkhart Religious Poetry Contest, 1997</i>


<b>A Giant Poem</b>

john and john
are gone
hey, mon,
sing me a sad song
to member the guy
with the four chunky eyes
and the coffee drinking
spaz with the puppethead--

tour me around on your great skybound toothbrush
(the kind with shoes)
and let me honk the horn
while the curly drummer hits his thing out
out out out,
accordian to my observations,
they might be dead

willy's on my shirt
a big head with no place to come
nowhere, he calls himself
even though he lives on
on tape and tapestry
'my shirt jerk' i call him
big head 'T' like a monster

i will get a record
when they played happy
live, alive with freckles and caffeinated kids
chiming out particle man particle man
and we want istanbul
there will no longer be an album
for there are more states to sing
and puffy monologues to write

but who'll teach me drama?
and who'll act like a thousand years?
and who'll look me in the eyes like at that concert
when the accordian spreads my way?
i had a bar to which i clung
so i wouldn't lose the front row place
and so the music would ring in my ears
for the next three days

now (anon)
i shall turn to tears
that they have left
and gone to


that's how i let them go--
with a

3/12/96, sent to the TMBG Digest
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And thus I close my eyes to run with
blue-greens cast over swirling velvets;
I bat an eye, snore a fool--caressing a pillow
like a love letter and thinking of someone something somehow;
if I had a million dreams to spend upon the year,
I might give up the fortune to feel momentous midnight sands
--that sleeping green dragon, that castle of foggy consciousness--
Hold my hand, Slumber, keep me your companion
so when I awaken in the world,
I see that visage for
the rest of my only lonely life.

from the close of an email to Miriam, 3/4/96



sweet words tongued like
jam on bread, a strawberry
uttering warm with butter
underneath and crumbs
dabbing the sides of your mouth,
shutters on Victorian windows

shudder to think a mouth so
reptilian scrumptious could fork
such somethings as I, love, and you,
whence did it pick the ripe moment,
when in its full fruition? only the
cows can tell, the udders sloshing
with warm white cream saying
it's time

so grandma's patchwork quilt is torn
along with some britches you wore
to bed, how can the obvious question
be avoided, how did you get these?

your cheeks blush strawberry
with the jam that you spoke

and your knees turn bashful
and walk you away

7/4/95, <i>Second Place, Quiz & Quill Poetry Contest, 1996</i>
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<b>Man Fully Legal</b>




fully man

I can
buy <i>Hustler</i>,
and a beer.
My license
my badge
my cock.


Adult Forever




Take a seat
--A perfect chance
Steal a pinch from her sleek pants
Some talk
And assessment
No one knew what

c. late-1990's
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<b>The Second Coming</b>

My milkman Jesus
once gave me his last bottle of milk
and said he would return to get me
a second. Coming
from the milkhouse was a very long drive
so I knew he would be back
a long time later. In the
I drank a glass of the
milk--white as an angel--
and it turned out to be
Wanting good milk, I waited on the porch
for Jesus to come back
with my second bottle of milk.
I waited and waited.
Jesus never came.

I figured
Jesus wouldn't come
until the cows came home.

c. late-1990's


sometimes I just
hit my head over and over
on the stovetop
for lack of a better word
for turning up the heat

4/26/02, written in a minute


<b>Lamenting the Fat Girl</b>

fat girl
bare toes like
Cleopatra lounging
gobbling grapes.

fat girl
has written two poetry books;
well, she just flew
to New York and
plastered her fat John Hancock
on a contract,
and inhaled
up a pork chop at the
Four Seasons--
one will be
Will be containing old poems,
the other of yet-to-come,
And A Novel! (partially written.)

fat girl's
here as I write
"We are getting married
--we have to wait for the familial ... familial ..."
and blabbing about Plath
saying almighty Boyfriend
shuns her interest in, pathetic
respect for the poetess;
and the subtext
bites at my ears, tiresomely, again, again,
rattling bragging rights
on that windsome, weary
suicide attempt.

fat girl
'll be an
English major, a writer
(of wrongs, of black roses
and whining babies and
flashbacks to razor
blades) of quality words
'cause She's Deep
and flabby,
fat girl

c.1995, of Maura while overhearing her talk to another girl in the Honors lounge


<b>Making a Tape</b>

one-night stand and
stumble; fall; Roommate
sloppy drunk and
fogged and cool and
fogged and brought
home girl; Christen;
kermit-eyes that bulge
like bubbles and dopey
demeanor; and she
sits on his,
bed and they say so
much; say nothing; as I
busy myself with
making a tape.

You can't judge a
book by its cover
but it's hard not to when the
book's called <i>Slut</i>.
Women couldn't visit at
the time they got back--
inebriated and orally fixated--
but with the lights still
on, they covered themselves in
Roommate's bed.

In the periphery, I could see
the mound the comforter
concealed from cool and
Christian fluorescent
light bulbs, and I
could feel the anxious
stillness, and I could
hear the smack-smack
of beercan kisses, and
I knew they couldn't.
They cared not about
my music-business, too
stupefied to civilize
themselves or call one
another names. Strangely, I
wasn't uncomfortable, I
just thought, "This is
just really stupid."
and went on with
my tape until finish.

And when I was done,
Christen and Roommate
wrestled around, still anesthetized
by their dull lust and groggy
consciences, probably forgetting
each other's face and
sadly thinking of
past loves.

The last thing I heard
that night, when I slipped
into my bed with clothes on and
wallet with me, was the voice
of Christen in the
sudden-dark room:
"I can't believe he turned out the light--"

c.1995, written the next morning in the library, then given to Susan with the tape


<b>Trip L</b>

A confused
once she spoke in parting, but
I wasn't curious.

We saw a play together
but there was no music, even though
a voice teacher showed--not as
Lively to see me as I'd expected.
She told the teacher of our
drive to this Little Theatre Off Broadway:
how she got ticketed for driving
too fast
in the leftmost
Lane. I was all too eager to see
the show--featuring a guy I knew from college--
all too eager, I thought: my fast
festination and chair-squirms spoke all.
She was to be an actress, she told me, and
she was going to win a
Tony. I giggled, boyishly, nervously.

"So we can disappear," said
the touching Old Man in the play. What we saw,
it was called
it was <i>Prelude to a Kiss</i>.

We left the theater talking about ticket prices
just after we'd seen the show. Irony:
that's how it tasted, the little blood seeping from
my fingernail.

c.1995, a gift poem for Laura L. Lane after seeing Rebecca Lively, our voice teacher, at a play featuring Tony from Otterbein



She was mugged;

She took shot after shot
And she thought she had energy
Until that brown thing
Made her tremble in her clothes,
Fall down off her feet
in spirit

It mattered not, really,
That she was walking out a coffeehouse
With less cents in her hand
Than when she got there--
only the small amount of change was disturbing
--But that brown thing mugged her,
Mugged her right there, shot through her
So she would fall to the grounds
In front of the coffeehouse;

She lay there amongst the
cigarette butts and styrofoam cups
Crumbled amongst the ground's drowned sounds,
Lumped worshipfully in front of
the static sticker "cappuccino"

c.1994, after hearing Miriam had too much coffee



with spicing
no dressing?
dip your fingers
in the salad
lettuce, lettuce
let us try it
let the green graze off your lips
garden fresh . . .
cherry tom's
and salad forks
for eating
and you



<b>Ode to a Mailman</b>

44,000 Clydesdales
Or one Porsche 911
Are the muscled yells
Of the mailman in disguise
He hates the bitches'
Chasing after him
And tears them up
With a blast from some mace

After a long day of delivering
His mail,
He does not with a passion admit
He is fagged out--
Today he has found his Porsche!
A gift from the mailman's girlfriend
Is it, not a
Of painful geldings--no matter

Auto Power
To the mailman desires
Scramble his hormones
--He hopes to hit no bitches
But to strip them to the bone
She gave it, can she drive it?
She really wants to know--
The request slid in like mail in slot:
"Let her
Test out her own."



<b>Auto Sacramental</b>

Corpus Christi, years ago:
driving, I passed a church
and out came a running pope
white and plump and dressed-to-kill
and I stopped, upset, at a sign
and there was a cross-walk
and that pope outta nowhere
walked through it, and I saw
not a man but a papal privilege
and, no brakes, turning left,
catapulted the blur, his body heave',
crumpled where the soles run rampant,
the hit-and-run in the paper
the next day, called by the mass:
"All gory."




I remember building sand castles with you
at the beach. We would take the many hours
dumping the buckets, plugging the sand,
and smoothing the wet, gritty fringe,
making turrets and castle walls
so high the crabs couldn't get in.
And I remember the moment we knew
we were done, and we shared an evil eye,
and demolished the sand castles,
leaving foot marks and bucket scars
for the tide to come sweep


I remember being in the play with you,
and we drove together to and from the
rehearsals, braving snow and ice and nighttime drivers.
Our hands were held as I drove
and you talked to me, both feeling warm
and both holding too hard. And we'd cry a little
and kiss a little after our times on the stage,
never parting on the inside and never wanting to
on the outside. And I remember strike,
when the set had to come down and the play
had to end. You lay there on the floor,
a board having punched out your breath, and
I wanted to help you but you refused my hand,
understandably. The crew swept the floor
and drove away,
leaving a barren stage and empty chairs,
once full with the sound of our performance.

We didn't want to see it go.

c.1994, of the time in <i>Enter Laughing</i> with Miriam