Ask not reason, Klytaemnestra, or probe
your ice-pick through those multiplying
diptych grams. Ablutions rain down
worthy patronness, the saint
between cleric and layman gesturing
prosperity and war. Black lines
border yellow, red and the white
poofy quiff tangles in a down-heaving
brand. Shave me clean as an ice-
pick, pink soft fasten bulbous. Splooge
mascara no good for eyes um.

Caractacus shook off his chains temple
trembling in wooden blocks — lintel
pillars architrave and pediment — a sauce
of pureed white beans garlic
pepper salt staining blue cobalt plate.
A stiff January wind whips the page from the
reader’s hand, blurs over the
microphones. I do not speak this language
well. I cannot read this second term.

Spencer trends Dylan Andy Big Boy
tangles of Nereia’s hair not sandy
and in my mouth. A cowlick consummation
tottering over the steps and into
the bricks, brought them all
to what they assumed were their feet.
Vagueness, said Dr. R———, is the upright man’s answer
to the arrows and slings of outraged
specificity. Pull me down another Meister-
brau. Pull out before you do it.

I do not speak this language term. Soft fasten
pulp prosperity war. Mr. Cleric, Mr. Layman, name
a “Chaplin” for the Aryan nation. Beat them
with baseball bats and feed their
texts or bodies through a shredder. I acted
only under orders, your honor, I did
chains temple bricks and feet of clay.
Too many deictics neuters and feminine rhymes
for this to be an American sonnet. Free to starve
to kill to speak someone else’s mind.

My name is datum, my nature is
a gift. Oriel of oriole orisons sea
to shining scent, purged of scenic estuaries
methodical fjords and transient
sporting utility vehicles. My name is torture,
the best penetrant your money
can buy. A flag in every classroom, boiled
head in every pot: your sparrows
are numbered, ticked them off on nine
curled fingers and a twinkle toe.

Pull out before you do it, make sure the camera
has a clear shot. Money in the bank. For
casualties read casual tears, for remorse read
remoras, for regrettable errors read triumphant new
era. Galley proof slaves. Resentment
spawned a bright and shining obsession, poising thought
against the blurred third-hand idea: truth is to
beauty as duck is to rabbit. Quack quack, said the
poet, which echoed through the fish-houses.

The full monty, as if talk
of sexuality would not seem objectionable
to someone, somewhere. Tie that one down before
it blows away. Guttural sound in the throat
of the saxophone, scratched my leg
on chemically treated mulch.
Dragonfly, damselfly, ladybug, mosquito,
a fog of bugs smeared across the wind-
shield. The word made flesh less interesting
than its neon-bordered converse.

“Winsome” one of those looks to muster while
sucking a finger and spreading it wide
for the camera. Motion option
whoreson poise. Beef and kidneys,
liver lights and complicated
closely packed flesh seins forward
over time, as if time would make it all
clear, the rough places straight and the high
places flat and easy.

I did not know what the word “anachronism”
meant until you explained it to me.
Eat your cellphone. A-1 vegetarian.
A charming plastic pink house
with a charming plastic blue roof, bleaching
in the sun, formalizes the informal garden, draws
palms bushes ornamentals and sickly
grapefruit into an enlightened whole. Sedentary
or sedimentary feet up and drawers down.

Somewhere they’re giving up the search
for chemical depots or stockpiled pikes and
halberds. Somewhere the clouds have squatted
down over our heads like a copulent ploughman
taking a midday dump. Like, really,
no kidding, man? The gear and wheels
are binding in an alarming mechanical
obligatto. Humming in my ears. And so
are we who are astonished to be loved.
Put it in park to remove the key.

This one runs like a scalded
dawg! but the heat will bake your brains
right in your head. Don’t sit there, Margaret,
if you want to pee go back to your
own damned room. Cash or checks
only No Credit cards No Debit. And bake
the green out of those beans
on the steam table. If you bread
and fry it, he’ll eat the sole
of a fucking shoe. And ask for seconds.

They grumble in the line at the deli counter:
one half-pound of smoked turkey — smoked,
you whoreson knave! No chance
of a revolution happening here,
and when it does we’ll stay out
of its way. Smeared gravel and asphalt.
Yesterday pink (the dead possum) today
a stomach-turning pinky-
grey. Dodge the lightning bolts falling
like pitchforks from a sun-powdered
sky. Not my president baseball cap.

A lizard straddles the pool fence, leaps
up to a post like a gymnast to the
horse, reading between the lines of a
newspaper three days out of date,
waving another car into line with
a gesture of two tobacco-spotted
fingers. If I knew anything about music, I might
understand Webern’s reliance on voice
and texts, poems and singers. You can sing
anything to the tune of “Jingle Bells”
and it sounds like the National Anthem.

Once upon a time there
was nothing here but swamp
lizards and mosquitos but now
there’s a solid chunk of concrete
asphalt and fifty-seven
varieties of ersatz. Choose your
ersatz carefully. One national anthem
swaps with another, and who knows
what that bald boy’s singing there
in Arabic — I don’t trust him.

Kassandra walks the battlements, chiton-
hems blowing around her ankles. Turn, twist,
dip and seize, make an answering harmony
to the throbbing of that electrified
intermittently seized-up pump. Tanglewoods.
Black sails on the horizon. Red
sails. Assisted living and nursing home
care two separately defined spheres, where the
cat limps along the fence,
shunning the neighbor’s animals.

Mark Scroggins (© 2009)