|Methamorphosis||Roger awoke from nagging dreams|
|to find he’d grown into a whopper,||a hairy human swarmed in vermin.|
|“Don’t break bad on me,” his mother||yelled at the door. “Bugs don’t dream,||asleep or awake. You’re late for work.”|
|But he hardly knew how to work his new||legs and arms. How would he get about|
|on so few? His hands and fingers he found||fascinating, and he lay in bed studying|
|their shapes and twists and movement.||His father banged on the door: “Get up!”|
|He felt his skin – soft! His two eyes saw||only one thing at a time, yet he knew||his skin was covered with insects so|
|various how or where was he to begin||eating breakfast? Even the hands (but|
|he was not quite sure why he called||them hands) on the clock moved like|
|the arms of a slow moving cockroach,||around and around and up and down.|
|What seemed absurdly a bad eternity,||(after all why would time break bad?)||three roaches slipped under the rug.|
|Roger watched the roaches dissipate,||his body wasted with bedsores, as if|
|he’d come to the roundabout of a pier.||The Viral|
|Dude J. had few followers and those||probably bots, and he rarely if ever|
|tweeted, so when the POG knocked||on his door to ask about something|
|gone viral, Dude assumed some hack||had infiltrated his computer system,||spreading multi-vile messages about|
|him with perhaps a pic in his briefs.||Dude’s habits were simple and hardly|
|worth the effort of tweets, of looking||words up in a dictionary, as if a dog’s||wag in a side street was any different|
|in Tijuana than in Timbuktu or Paris,||Texas, where Dude had often visited,|
|enjoying an escargot with a Beaujolais,||taking in jazz in the Business Quarter.|
|None of this of course reached home,||and Dude’s annual review relied solely||on ratios of quotas to sales, of clicks|
|that stuck to worrisome dead links.||The Condo|
|Outside beneath the colossal condo||K. camped with the peasants just in|
|from working the streets with their||signs but he was in no mood for noir|
|poetry. He curled up on the margin||of a broad sidewalk away from the||bird stoppers placed all around the|
|condo and out of earshot from the||sounds also designed to discourage|
|one from coming too close because||the spacious steel walls were warm||to the touch like a rubber hot water|
|bottle his mother used to sleep with||after his father left them in the cold|
|house to go work a shift in the town||factory owned by the rich Mr. Rook.|
|In the morning there was hot coffee||and a young woman recruiting men||to join her crew of window washers|
|and dressed and harnessed K. arose.|
Typo walks into Grimalkin’s Pool Hall,
pockets full of rolled papers,
places four quarters in the green
shadow of the felt cushion,
takes a chair, and chalks
up his pencil.
In the cool quiet of the pool room,
Typo scratches again and again,
and down five games
Pencil in hand, he
should have kept
to the kitchen,
where the cook laughs
at his filling the pool
table pockets with poems.
In the sun after pool,
Typo pulls from a pocket
one last poem: It’s this one,
and poem in hand, he posts
it to a telephone pole
thick with weathered bills.
Scamble: Where did these lemons come from?
Cramble: This is the way they play pool in Southern California.
Scamble: I thought they were having a drought.
Cramble: The shooter is called a “Willy.” The Willy takes lime in hand and places it wherever he wants within the dish of billeted lemons, turns around, and pokes the lime at one of the lemons, using the shaft of his stiffened tail as a cue stick, attempting to push the lemon out of the dish, at which point he is awarded another “Willy.” When all of the lemons are in this manner poked out of the dish, the players celebrate with a glass of lemonade.
Scamble: I notice there are nine balls.
Cramble: Yes, this particular game is known as “Nein Ball.”
Scamble: But one of the balls is the lime ball.
Cramble: Yes, that’s the cue lime, also know as the green ball.
Scamble: But if the lime green ball is the cue ball, that leaves only eight balls.
Cramble: Yes, you can also play “Eight Ball.” Most shots are called slop shots. There is no penalty for scratching, as long as you keep your scratching to yourself. If you scratch your opponent, that is called a “Zoe,” and you must put a lemon back in the dish.
Scamble: I never knew pool was so much like poetry.
|Press yes to play here||the balls fall for free||hear them drop and roll||english orb orbit||for texting eddies|
|no to go away||in pool hall heaven||chalk up your cue stick||break like a big bang||syllabicating|
|maybe to come back||no need for quarters||green felt of grass field||consider the balls||men who cut their tongues|
|some day some day soon||8 ball in corner||in the universe||across the table||gaming without words|
|tonight not that moon||pocket that was quick||full of dandelions||stars stripes black and cue||ball white as the moon|
|semiquantitatively||microdirectionally||yet who can’t get no no no||unsatisfactorily||twisting down the back alley|
|sociodemographic||ideologically||seven syllable word count||so what is the so what here||pseudointellectual|
|imperceptibility||suspicion grows this is all||pseudopoetically||irresponsibility||what can I say you reading|
|waxing then waning away||autobiographical||compartmentalization||social media neither||social nor mediational ideas|
|unsystematically||superficiality||huge lack of self confidence||just give us the artifice||we’ll know what to do with it|
|without rhyme or reasoned sense||oversimplification||he likes unconventional||individuality||cosmopolitanism|
|syllables all connected||he seems influenced by John Cage||and that explains anything||we seem to be moving to||microcommunication|
|We appeal to fruit||the nature within||seeds meat juice and skin||figuratively||and then the real fig|
|banana orange||grape raisin ugli||miracle passion||fruit worms flies mildew||self-preservation|
|and vegetables||puritanism||free love free fruit gloss||dogs and cats and kids||seal it with a kiss|
|cherry red pepper||baked raspberry pie||apple cloudberry||running toward the surf||rub it in your palm|
|garlic and onions||coconut olive||oils and buttery||fat when it is cold||now back to the sea|
Press yes to play here the balls fall for free hear them drop and roll english orb orbit for texting eddies
no to go away in pool hall heaven chalk up your cue stick break like a big bang syllabicating
maybe to come back no need for quarters green felt of grass field consider the balls men who cut their tongues
some day some day soon 8 ball in corner in the universe across the table gaming without words
tonight not that moon pocket that was quick full of dandelions stars stripes black and cue ball white as the moon
semiquantitatively microdirectionally yet who can’t get no no no unsatisfactorily twisting down the back alley
sociodemographic ideologically seven syllable word count so what is the so what here pseudointellectual
imperceptibility suspicion grows this is all pseudopoetically irresponsibility what can I say you are right
waxing then waning away autobiographical compartmentalization social media neither social nor mediational ideas
unsystematically superficiality huge lack of self confidence just give us the artifice we’ll know what to do with it
without rhyme or reasoned sense oversimplification he likes unconventional individuality cosmopolitanism
syllables all connected he seems influenced by John Cage and that explains anything we seem to be moving to microcommunication
We appeal to fruit the nature within seeds meat juice and skin figuratively and then the real fig
banana orange grape raisin ugli miracle passion fruit worms flies mildew self-preservation
and vegetables puritanism free love free fruit gloss dogs and cats and kids seal it with a kiss
cherry red pepper baked raspberry pie apple cloudberry running toward the surf rub it in your palm
garlic and onions coconut olive oils and buttery fat when it is cold now back to the sea
Press yes to play here the balls fall for free hear them drop and roll english orb orbit for texting eddies no to go away in pool hall heaven chalk up your cue stick break like a big bang syllabicating maybe to come back no need for quarters green felt of grass field consider the balls men who cut their tongues some day some day soon 8 ball in corner in the universe across the table gaming without words tonight not that moon pocket that was quick full of dandelions stars stripes black and cue ball white as the moon semiquantitatively microdirectionally yet who can’t get no no no unsatisfactorily twisting down the back alley sociodemographic ideologically seven syllable word count so what is the so what here pseudointellectual imperceptibility suspicion grows this is all pseudopoetically irresponsibility what can I say you are right waxing then waning away autobiographical compartmentalization social media neither social nor mediational ideas unsystematically superficiality huge lack of self confidence just give us the artifice we’ll know what to do with it without rhyme or reasoned sense oversimplification he likes unconventional individuality cosmopolitanism syllables all connected he seems influenced by John Cage and that explains anything we seem to be moving to microcommunication We appeal to fruit the nature within seeds meat juice and skin figuratively and then the real fig banana orange grape raisin ugli miracle passion fruit worms flies mildew self-preservation and vegetables puritanism free love free fruit gloss dogs and cats and kids seal it with a kiss cherry red pepper baked raspberry pie apple cloudberry running toward the surf rub it in your palm garlic and onions coconut olive oils and buttery fat when it is cold now back to the sea
Flobe’s Pizza below my friend Frye’s apartment one night last April was puzzlingly rowdy, so we climbed down to see what was up. The place was steaming, crowded, people sitting on the ceiling, hot cheese slipping, falling pepperoni pieces and mushrooms, while a string band fiddled. The open mic was live, with Pepper, Herb, and Fava’s trio in line on the sign-in sheet to perform Joe’s “Surf Surge.”
Frye and I occupied empty seats at the end of a rambunctious table in the corner, and Joe got in line to order some pizza and orange soda. The porthole sidewalk window next to our table was occluded with steam, the string band zipping, and a couple without a table was dancing, one with the pizza the other with the beer. Suddenly, Willa and Raymond took the stage with ukulele and tambourine.
They sang of an old photo of Joan Didion sitting in a Corvette, holding a cigarette. A young man riding a piebald pony rode up to the takeout bar and ordered a veggie pizza with extra garlic and sauce. He fed his pony a breadstick. Joe came with the orange soda and said the pizza was a forty-minute wait. He poured us each a glass from the pitcher, sparkling yellow, not as orange as we had expected.
Joe sat by the porthole orb. He saw flashing lights, paisley globes filled with silver and gold light. The bubbles flew like electrified parameciums escaping down the side of the window, along its tarnished curved brass edge. Big Dada announced Joe’s pizza would not be ready until September. By then no one would be reading poetry any longer than a tweet, and that before they realized what they were hearing.
By the time Joe’s name was called (“Pizza ready for Joe!”), he had grown a pony tail and Frye had gone bald. Pepper, Herb, and Fava were on tour somewhere in the Midwest. I had tired of waiting and moved back down to Southern California to be near the beach. Every day I ride my bicycle along the Strand, watching the surfers come and go without a thought for pizza or poetry.
“Without grip or gripe, what bed thou hast, sleep in it, sleep, sleep, perchance to rest, for a sound bed is worth all the wine in France, all the beer in Germany, nay, all the ale in England.” (Polonius, The Collected Deleted Scenes of Shakespeare)
Introduction – the idea of the poem as an unmade bed:
“Joe Linker on April 10, 2015 at 6:14 pm said
[in comment, having never heard of ‘My Bed’]:
But on the subject of Emin’s bed, which apparently last sold for $2.5 million, imagine a bed-selfie, and unmade at that, in such demand. But of course a made bed would never have fetched as much attention or money. People want to see unmade beds. In fairness, I suppose many poems are nothing more than unmade beds. But when did a poem, made or unmade, ever suck in $2.5 million in a single breath?
I may find myself later today attempting a bed poem.”
1: The Sonneteers
On the green barracks bunk,
a thin mattress on chain link
steel frame Army 30 foldable,
wrapped in ephemeral wool
as tight as a barnacle’s grip
against the red tide of sleep,
nothing personal save a letter
from Susan in the South Bay,
tossed into open foot locker,
touches the drab rolled socks,
no night light in the dull quiet
dark hall full of dunned boys,
roused by reveille’s mournful
made bed, hook up and wait.
2: The Makeshift Bed
Thum that’s got ‘um, smoke ‘um.
In this next 30 minutes of instruction,
you will learn how to make a field bed.”
The sun crashed, and I climbed into the cab
of a deuce and a half, parked
in a field with a raw view
of the moon and the Pacific Ocean,
curled up in my fatigues
and fell asleep, my face to the canvas seat,
surrounded by coastal sage scrub
lit with a few Lord’s Candles.
3: The Water Bed
We drove down to Hermosa Beach and picked up one of the first
water beds, a giant surf mat. We took it home, put it on the floor
in the bedroom, and filled it with water from the garden hose
stuck through an open window. We went to sleep hushed
and soothed by one another’s jostle, canoeing over surf.
But early in the morning we awoke cold and colder.
The next day back at the water bed store, the guy told us,
“Yeah, you need a foam pad and a wood frame. If you sleep
on the bare mattress, you’ll wake up with hypothermia.”
4: The Money Bed
After the water bed experience,
whenever we needed a bed,
I made a frame out of 2×4’s,
upon which I nailed a sheet
of plywood, upon which we
plopped down the futon, a
bag of airy baffled cotton.
In bed, we are lodged in
one of two kinds of beds: one
easy to move, the other hard.
The hard ones cost much
more than the easy ones
and frequently must be
put asunder to move.
Tracey Emin’s “My Bed” now
takes several million dollars
to move, maybe so much
because the installers must
budge the bed without
disturbing the sleeper.
One might try making beds
for a living. People often seem
to prefer beds to poems.
Joyce sat in bed and wrote,
embedded in his spidery
notes and his family’s issues,
while McTeague’s Trina
slept solo on her bed of coins.
5: The Short-sheeted Bed
Some readers may feel
short-sheeted by this poem.
They probably would prefer
sleeping in their own bed
and writing their own poem.
Then again, someone may offer
forty winks for this poem.
Who will start the bidding?