Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Death of Bacardi (a true American)

Last day of April, Bacardi
the alligator that ate the toy turtle
the size of a cookie cutter
turned up dead in Big Pine Key
Turtle jammed the valve
between Bacardi’s stomach and intestine
This nine foot natural couldn't digest
Lost seventy two pounds
They also found a toy
plastic soldier in his gut

Why everybody knew Bacardi
Icon gator with 151 rum tail tag
The local swamp guy
The guy next door with wife and six kids
The guy growing rice in India
with an eye peeled for Texmati
The regular at Max’s Diner
The elephant who reads from memory
that he will soon be shot
The Monarch butterfly in waylaid flight
Bacardi of low water and muck
or so he thought, if he thought
when the plastic turtle got chomped

Why old Bacardi, he just went along
He sat there in the swamp that was him
until somebody with a look alike turtle
Maybe a flag he was supposed
to recognize, a food, say a potato chip or a Coke
passed around the neighborhood that day
Hadn’t he hung in the park for X years?
But a turtle, what surprise in this wise
Day and age, a plastic animal
One of the ones you find in the back of trees in Somalia
Or say, Nepal, a make believe something to eat
which if the alligator had watched his Youtube
or his CNN, he’d have known
not to eat the plastic soldier in the first place
but Bacardi just lay there in his scales
Grabbed what came along,
Showed up ferocious at the movies
Snorted, snapped, whipped the tail
Got caught in another bomb or a flick
for the tourists and the news.
while the turtle seemed to grow real
in his belly and the soldier, well
what did one expect from an eternal march?
A Victory? A solid meal?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Night Poem

This poem can't sleep.
It slips in and out of bad rhyme.
The lines bump, run on
come up short.
It hears explosions between syllables.
Smells death in the distance.
The poem blinks, rolls on its back.
Its lover tucks her head on its shoulder
and the poem thinks, oh yes
now I can count my breathing
finish it in the morning.
But the poem can't listen.
It keeps seeing faces
blank faces, white nothing
and silent screams keep the poem
running after itself.
Something, someone is dying.
The poem dodges looking for a place to hide
a fox hole, a haiku, a villanelle.
It just can't sleep with all the goings on
all the young faces, the bodies blowing up
in darkness and repetition, all the bruised
words, the onomatopoeia, alliteration
gods, tyrants, poetry flags and enormous bombs
shaped like poems for the flash
and forget, of what is, or not
that keeps it awake this time.
Maybe a glitch, the poem thinks.
Maybe start over, free itself
find another truth in whatever
godforsaken hell flashes
in the poem this time.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Bastille Day

I drive into the VA clinic
parking lot at 8.43 a.m.
just as WTMI radio announces
Bastille Day, time for the Marseillaise
I whip around the lot four times
squeeze into my parking spot.
and the glory that was France
fills my small car.

I slip the car in Park and pump my arms
singing what little French I know.
I’m marching past the Arc de Triomphe
when in the left corner of my front
windshield I spot a blue pickup
with the words Blue Angel hooked
to the top of the front license plate.

A chiseled seventy plus cowboy
with straw hat and sunglasses sits in the cab
holding a long plastic tube
and I stop marching in my car.

This cowboy shoves the tube down his tracheotomy
with the gauze around the metal
jams the tube past his gone larynx
sucking up phlegm and snot.
His head lurches. He gags.
He wretches. He sucks up
war, cigarettes and time.

The Marseillaise breathes victory all around.
This whole pass in review marches by.
The sun beats on, the cowboy
puts his tube away and wipes his chin.
I turn off the radio.
We turn off our ignitions
and get out to stand
in line again.