Monday, November 30, 2009


Android Clarinetist

In that century before
we entered the innermost atom,
they played games
like Physionotrace:

assorted noses, eyes, and lips
that could be placed
on the surfeit slate
of a cutout face

and rearranged
to form a Hottentot or Jew.
The question of race
is still that inscrutable

God-in-a-box, back
to the outermost Adam,
simple body siphoned
like a water organ,

from whose subtle variations
spring the complex
machine: trunk
pulleyed by levers,

potato-headed predecessor.
In the garden, he could choose
to grow or starve
one flower

to force another
to bloom—thus today
metamorphic industry,
metaphoric as a bird

on the branch of a bare tree:
curiosity, a kind of pain
with conscience.

Is it sour or sweetness
we desire
when we turn back
to the code we've cracked,

as the Calvinists looked away
from the Android Clarinetist,
physiognomy free
from the defect

of imperfect individuality,
not by any definition a man—
this kind of music
wooden fingers make.

-Robin Ekiss

Tuesday, November 17, 2009



A few hours after Des Moines

the toilet overflowed.

This wasn't the adventure it sounds.

I sat with a man whose tattoos

weighed more than I did.

He played Hendrix on mouth guitar.

His Electric Ladyland lips

weren't fast enough

and if pitch and melody

are the rudiments of music,

this was just

memory, a body nostalgic

for the touch of adored sound.

Hope's a smaller thing on a bus.

You hope a forgotten smoke consorts

with lint in the pocket of last

resort to be upwind

of the human condition, that the baby


and when this never happens,

that she cries

with the lullaby meter of the sea.

We were swallowed by rhythm.

The ultra blond

who removed her wig and applied

fresh loops of duct tape

to her skull,

her companion who held a mirror

and popped his dentures

in and out of place,

the boy who cut stuffing

from the seat where his mother

should have been--

there was a little more sleep

in our thoughts,

it was easier to yield.

To what, exactly--

the suspicion that what we watch

watches back,

cornfields that stare at our hands,


that hold us in their windows

through the night?

Or faith, strange to feel

in that zoo of manners.

I had drool on my shirt and breath

of the undead, a guy

dropped empty Buds on the floor

like gravity was born

to provide this service,

we were white and black trash

who'd come

in an outhouse on wheels and still

some had grown--

in touching the spirited shirts

on clotheslines,

after watching a sky of starlings

flow like cursive

over wheat--back into creatures

capable of a wish.

As we entered Arizona

I thought I smelled the ocean,

liked the lie of this

and closed my eyes

as shadows

puppeted against my lids.

We brought our failures with us,

their taste, their smell.

But the kid

who threw up in the back

pushed to the window anyway,

opened it

and let the wind clean his face,

screamed something

I couldn't make out

but agreed with

in shape, a sound I recognized

as everything I'd come so far

to give away.

-Bob Hicok

Monday, November 2, 2009


A Calculus of Readiness

I, too, come from the city of dolls.
A small palm is my umbrella.
This takes care of above
but below, the blind river of sadness rolls
on and in it, a hand is always reaching up
to pick fish from the night-time sky.

The lines on the palm of the hand lure a trout
with a strand of hair from the head of a doll.
The bait is the hope for a hand on your brow.
Shadows play on the wall. Or the face of a doll.
The plants eyeing each other
is all.

I would not call the stars generous.
They don't cry enough for dolls to play Drink Me.
They don't cast a covenant's fishy rainbow
yet leaf faces watch the open window
where they hang far and hard.
The rein of starlight a second hand

with which to play Go Fish.
Now Give me a hand, plants. Now give me
good-night, stars.

-Liz Waldner