In Bragg Alley I opened the eye of a dead bear

(with a long stick in case he was still alive).

Mayday? No, was truly dead & so I asked

for a roll in the hay of anyone in my audience

of three - a damsel fair, a truck driver square

& the Mayor of Iswhich, the village in which

I was trapped, that truck driver's hand

clutching me by my collar

as he gave me to understand that as

an opener of a bear's eye dead or alive

I was about to be hung (a sky-hook from

a cloud descending) by the scruff of my neck.



Birthday Boy


A cinquante sandwich, a chance to French, it's

Lenny's line of course

I know I've used it before & will again, right up

to the very end, those sugar-sweet visions

turning sour as Mayhem gets in synch

with a kookaburra's laugh. All you want

on the mattress without preamble as the flags of the ten

most recently extinguished nations are torn to shreds

by laureates who've never had what it takes

to say what was said, crowding instead

into my coffin as it's lowered

into a hole. Bombs

away! It's a sky burial as subtle

as hourglass sand. Hands up,

I surrender &, yes, it is the cotton pickin' case

that I've blown my chance to French, that sandwich

turning fifty in July. Spiked with candles

I've left it for Lenny.





They're making the wrong moves - the waltzing dead.

What they need is a good drenching under

one of those sexy waterfalls where savagery

sweetens into open country without definition although

at the base of that hill there's some narrow gauge tracks

emerging from what was probably a coal mine circa

1840, a pony pulling a small gondola, the contents

of which are unceremoniously dumped in the aisle

of a 747 where subdued terrorists are calling

for their mothers. One corpse tumbled down

a boarding ramp & another to come

at 3pm if the conditions weren't met, & these guys

expect mercy. Pony boys, set them to pulling

gondolas or, better, no-nonsense mistresses

in buggies. Faster, boys, or get a taste

of this whip. Sounds like fun. Wouldn't mind

some pulling myself. Down some country lane

to the manor house, a dungeon in the cellar where

I'll spend the night if I don't get a move on. Stumblebum,

now you're in for it. Stripped & shackled, & tonight's

the Grand Ball, a coming out for fellows like me. Corseted

in leather, waist like a wasp's, I could have taught them -

the waltzing dead - the right moves





Idiot, I've mistaken (for the 3rd time) the morning of men

for the night of animals. Fattened

in a feed lot, my ex, Gloria, would enjoy watching

me squirm, another self-inflicted humiliation. I just can't

seem to stop. The last time, how embarrassing, my

dinner party contention that puppet sex with friends

was okay but not with foes was howled down by everyone

present. And then they milked me, the bastards, for all

I was worth, half a pint at the most, which my hostess

(Gloria's sister) gulped down with a smirk. So milk

under that bridge & more to come if I don't find a way

to keep my opinions to myself. Wear a gag, always,

only taking it off to stuff my mouth with a few

funeral meats while mares thorn. Mares

thorn? Yes, surely it's a striking image that will lead

the astute reader (albeit, by a twisting path) back

to the opening lines which I'm about to correct: the night

of men for the morning of animals.

poet's biography ->