Week Twelve.

Its been a long week – by my calculations, approximately seven days and nineteen minutes long. Which cannot fail to make you wonder if there’s any way of proving whether what we’re told is a week is really a week at all. Surely you cannot argue that some progress more swiftly than others, let alone smoothly. So, what do you suggest? Watch the clock? Don’t make me smile, chimp. If any given unit of time moves at a quicker – or slower – pace than the last, then logic dictates the hands of any given face of any given clock would too. Time is perceptual, capisce? Therefore, it is subjective, yeah? Therefore, our measurements, and recording of it are also.

Go on. Fix your eyes upon the clock, I dare you. Tell me it isn’t playing with you. Tell me your watch is not quite aware of your watching. Yeah, thought so. Now you’ve missed your flight. Nice going, chimp.


I called Lauren this week, and she was not happy. She said she’d been looking for a four-slice toasted-sandwich maker. “I’ve been all over Portland, and nothing,” she complained.

I asked her what he was doing in Portland.

“Looking for a four-slice toasted-sandwich maker,” she replied. “I was tired of pretending to be myself.”

Familiar words, in unfamiliar form.

'Circles'

Your tears
Are not acid, but they sting
Please, allow me: here's 
A sleeve to catch them in
Here - and if they spill upon my skin
Well, okay, okay

My ears
Are for you, and they ring
And when you sing
It's so unnerving, but I never heard
Love in love's own words, before  
So sing away, love, sing away...

The circles 
That you run in go nowhere
And make me reel
But, if I fall, I fall in love
I fall to you, in laughter, in 
A dream of weightless ecstasy
So, while you have no place to be

Run, run! in those circles of joy.

- L.G.


'A Good-Looking Man'

We are the merest shreds
   Of the draft of our designer's
   Most ambitious escape-plan yet
   And it is our own
Strutting, as he came
   Like a chicken from the coop
   With middle name of snake's tongue
   And a last that looped-the-loop
Arvin S. Pirroule
   (Senor)
   Was a real Jim Dandy

We beat our phantom wings
   We, with lizard hands
   Reach for hold, and grasp no sun
   And have wings! (if phantoms)
Best viewed, most easily seen between 
   Two pillars in the evening
   Where shadows meet, with open arms
   In each palm a feather, what distinguished
Arvin S. Pirroule
   Was his height, and
   Leanness of limb

Who are you, Arvin S. Pirroule?
   Who collects emotions at 
   The kerb, to be wrapped in boxes
   And given back to us, once-a-year
We are the merest shreds
Playing games where the prize
Is only for the borrowing
Arvin S. Pirroule
   Was a length of ribbon
   Curled with scissors

We need you, Arvin S. Pirroule!
   Both stimulant, and depressant
   A fragrant twist 
   That makes us think
We are a smoker's cough
Our emptiness is all
Our hunger has left, of us, to consume
Arvin S. Pirroule
   Was a needle in the day, rising 
   From the eye of an opening flower.

We are Arvin S. Pirroule!
   Who was, rumor has it, hatched
   From an eagle's egg, and suckled by wolves
   And smoked cigarettes at the age of three
We sit around our tiny cauldrons
Filthy tongues, describing witches 
With the same four words
Arvin S. Pirroule
   Was cocaine in the nose 
   Of the pitchmen, and the sloganeers.

We love you, Arvin S. Pirroule!
   Who lifted up one finger to 
   His lips, and the curtain fell
   On all the operas, in all the world.

- L.G.


There is no Outsider Art, only art, and art someone thinks they can make some money from. Since no profit is generated for the members of this collective, or anyone else, the product of The Morning Corporation is, most assuredly, art.

Adam’s poems this week are not liable to cause outrage at first. On the contrary; many will be delighted. But they will be opportunistically seized upon, and held up to the flame by individuals seeking to discredit those who provide the relief that they seek, vainly, in self-righteousness.

On another note: Adam, I have your jumper cables.

'Squeeze'

Forefinger-and-thumb exerts a firm and
Steady pressure either side of the
Major joints; shoulders, elbows
Wrists, the hips, then the knees

Strangely, not the ankles, down
To each of the toes, instructed by
Our movements, gripping tighter as

Required. Atop, upon the head, there
Rests, and presses one great chin
Attached to one-ton jaw. When one is
Filled with something good that 

Travels to, suffusing limb and every
Distant part, this creature doesn't
Like, and, like the lights of the city

Powered-down, at once, all coming
On again, the weight lifts and, in
Almost synchronicity, the
Digits loose their grip and one knows

Then, they are not separate things
Many problems, they are one: that 
Is relief. As anyone who knows

The emptiness we fill, the fullness
We release, knows how it feels
To run, to rest knows, and, from sounds
They make, you may divine: relief

Is not a creature, also. This
Sensation-most, emotion-most
Is human, most sublime of us.

- A.W.


'Red Box'

A long time ago
When the Major swung a stick,
And men wore double-glazing
On the face,

Some bloke, one day, woke up, and said:

"Let's destroy Julian."

For times that he disgusted us
On booze, and drugs, and unashamed.
  
"Let's destroy a man."

For a joke, the likes of which
These days, you'd hear in a Tetley ad.

I don't remember the bloke.

But I remember Julian,
And I remember the joke.

- A.W.

“Make a bed in your sleep!” Drawn in by this enticing pitch, I once paid $500.00 to take a course entitled ‘The Art and Practice of Advanced Bedmaking’, run by a charismatic and, in appearance, well-rested individual named Gary Eagle. Of course, when crunch time came, the improbability of making one’s bed without getting out of it was sobering. Indeed, when the course reached this stage, Mr. Eagle was nowhere to be found, if he was ever anywhere. This bird had flown. Nevertheless, what I learned to that point got me a foot in the door of a popular mattress outlet where I was immediately employed in selling a bed that had over three-thousand modes, and guaranteed to help you sleep twice as long in half the time, which was recalled when it failed to meet emissions standards. I wouldn’t mind my five-hundred back but, as Gary said, but you can’t put a price on memories, or memory foam.

Arvin, call your mother, already.

'The Old Folks Back Home'

I miss them, every hour,
The old folks back home.
To put it the Romanian way,
I wish I had an air - no, aeroplane.
I thought tomorrow, which was
Meant to be today,
We'd all have hover-cars, or boards,
Or hydroplanes, or something,
In a garage, of our own,
And the world would fit on
The head of a pin.
I'll build one on my wages,
Balanced on my overdraft.
Start out with a nut, perhaps,
A washer, or a wheel and go
From there. If my boat comes in,
I'll use bits of that! - what's that?
Take the boat? I'm no salt.
I am the like the sailor who
Complains about the wind, a real
Diana, and you'd need that kind of
Money, and a special hat.
Yes, indeed, but now I'm thinking...
In the kitchen, there's a drawer
Containing, I am sure
Almost everything required
For to make a jumbo jet.
Me fingers went a-riflin' through...
But, argh, it's just a bunch o' junk.
Yet, wait, here is a card
I forgot to send, saying:
"Hope this finds its way to you."

- A.R.


'Encounters'

I stood before the window. In
Reflection, at my side, a figure stood.
To which I turned, and it was me. 
"What are you doing here?" I asked.
"What are you doing here?" I asked.

While the clock became a man -
The face became a face, and
The hands became moustaches
Beneath which formed a mouth -
And told me the time:

At once. The spirit appeared
And spoke of death
With little conviction, and left.
He was here for no more than
Five minutes. 

(Said the clock.)

I don't believe you.

- A.R.

Matt delivered two lovely poems, this week, under a paper plate upon which was a slice of chocolate birthday cake. The frosting was a little rich, but the cake itself was good – moist, but light, with a good, assertive natural vanilla aroma and flavor. Was that a hint of almond…? Next to the plate was a jaunty-hued, but diminutive paper cup filled with a liquid on the violent end of red. Once the ants were evicted, I downed it, enthusiastically. Almost instantaneously, the reason behind such a meagre measure became clear, as my constitution was sent flying by a speeding juggernaut of sweetness that I can only speculate constituted somewhere in the region of two to three-thousand percent of my recommended intake of sugar. I returned to the cake. The frosting tasted like lilacs on the breeze.

Thank-you, Matt, and happy birthday, Mellon.

'The Museum Of Dolls'

Her legs don't work at all
But, still, she can smile.
I'm not sure that I'd want to live
If all I could do was smile.

I, trying to pull a comb 
With gritted teeth
Through her thin hair,
Tied in a terrible trap.

Woe, and woe besides, betide
One who confuses the crime
Of never growing up
With never getting old.

- M.B.


'8-19-14 (First Day)'

Harder than I thought it was

To turn our backs and go,
To let the real world in.
To let your life begin,
Ball roll, and teacher teach.

You didn't seem too nervous, though,
I noticed that the night before
You only ate one-half slice pizza
And one segment peach.

And I told you: "It's okay,"
And threw the rest away.

I missed you very much, today.

- M.B.


It sounds like the opening line a joke, or a bit in a Beat novel, but I once stumbled off the street and into a church where a wedding was taking place. A buffoon at the organ mimed with his hands to music that came from a small sound system a few feet from where I stood, while a small congregation, perhaps six-or-eight guests, sat very still. From her expression, and the minister’s repeated checking of his wristwatch, it was clear that the bride had been stood-up. Faced with such a scene, I did the only honorable thing a man could do: I unplugged the sound system.

I’m not sure what I took from the experience, except to say it inspired me to create an alternate version of ‘The Wedding March’ for accordion, which I played on every corner at a million miles an hour. I was young, then, and had the world’s ear in the palm of my hand.

Come on. Let’s go,

J.R.

Week Eleven – Word Special!

After an evening with Arvin, the greater part of which was consumed with a discussion on the etymology of common political language, I called him at about 3:45am, excited to share what I’d discovered about the word ‘sincere’. At least, I tried. Due to the presence, in my kitchen, of an intruder, or at least a person unknown to me who was, by the sound of it, sawing the legs off a chair, I was unable to raise my voice to an audible level. So I texted him, instead, to explain that ‘sincere’ comes from the Latin ‘sine cera’, meaning ‘without wax’. Workmen of the Roman era, contracted to deck out the dwellings of the spoiled with marble floors and pillars, would sometimes attempt to fob their clients off with sub-standard materials, and would disguise cracks and other imperfections with wax. Thus ‘without wax’ – ‘sine cera’ – came to mean ‘with integrity’, or ‘honest’.

A few moments later he texted his reply: “Oh my god.”

The next morning I went out to my car to find that a brick had been thrown through the passenger-side window. Around it was duct-taped a small, spiral-bound notebook. What did I find inside? Why, prose-poetry, which I like to call ‘brave-chicken’.

‘What’s in a word?’

Number One:

Mortgage.’ (from French, mort+gage, meaning “death pledge”.) 

Prior to the 16th century, loans were commonly for smaller sums, or apples. Then, someone came up with the idea of a loan so large and burdensome it was said one would “pay it till the day you died.”

Like a meme, what started as a wry aside became pervasive and bothersome, and death upon settlement of loans became a standard stipulation in most contracts. Thus, the word “mortgage” was born. Not only that, but the outstanding balance quickly became the most accurate measure of a man’s lifespan.

Obviously, the property market exploded, house prices skyrocketing as people overpaid grossly for even modest dwellings. Records show, par exemple, that, in 1819, a professional pipe-cleaner named Laurent Robais paid over forty-trillion French francs for a bilet doux. He is still alive today. Indeed, after adjusting for inflation, he is expected to live for another 24,802 years.

For the love of words!

Number Two:

‘Sniff.

In the early, heady days of onomatopoeia, there was a separate word for each of the different sounds generated by a sharp intake of breath through the nostrils. ‘Snuff’, ‘snoff’, ‘sneff’, ‘snaff’, ‘snaeff’, dialectical variants ‘snerf’, and ‘snorf’, and the tricky to pronounce printers’ term ‘snf’ were all utilized, where appropriate, for many years. During the great move towards a common standard of speech, however, moves were made to eliminate words that were seen as superfluous and, due largely to Papal influence, ‘sniff’ won out. Later on, attempts were even made to standardize the action itself. Indeed, men were fined or arrested for ‘snoffing’, or ‘snaffing’. Which seems a bit rough – after all, when you gotta go, you gotta go!

What in the word?!

Number Three:

Infinity.’

Ever wonder why ‘gastronomy’ and ‘astronomy’ are almost the same, exact word?

In early-18th-century society, it was customary, prior to a function, for hosts to inquire of their guests their favorite foods, and construct the menu accordingly. Those guests with more exacting tastes, or displaying particular specificity were called “finicky”. Those less so, “infinicky”. In kitchen parlance, the latter word came to mean a limitless array. Over time, like the smell of onions, it suffused the house, and even wafted into the street, and general conversation. By the mid-1800s, however, the less-fussed decided they could indeed be fussed after all, and quite a bit, but only about the food. The drinks? – fine, whatever. So the word became “infini-tea”, that being the slurp-du-jour, then, due to some errant spelling, “infinity”.

The moral of the story: don’t be too fussy. After all, who knows what drinks they serve at the edge of the universe from that crazy bartender like an octopus?

Wordy Guthrie!

Number Four:

Football.’ 

Originally, “foot-ball” was an English game for two-to-eighty players. The aim was for one of the players to kick any other player in the testicle. For this violation he was awarded one point. For the kicking of two testicles, he was awarded two points, and the owner of the offended testicles was out of the game. The awarding of a “two-pointer”, or “a-ha”, relied heavily on the honesty of individual players, though you could tell quite a bit from facial expressions.

As technique improved, strikes grew firmer, and as the popularity of the game increased, the birth rate in towns where foot-ball was played began to drop exponentially. Soon, thick padding began to be worn in the groin and leg-pits, but organisers merely adapted the rules to include kicks to the head, shoulders, knees, and nose. Padding was soon applied here, also, which lead to the development of American Football, which Americans are so good at today. In 1883, with football’s star on the wane, the sport was given a kick up the rear, as a real ball, usually of leather, or lead, was introduced to the field of play, and attacks on other players penalized. Football, or soccer, as we know it today was born.

Incidentally, the phrase “hat-trick”, meaning the act of a player scoring three goals in a single game, comes from the idea of a kick so hard that one’s testes, it was said, would end up in one’s hat.

Word did you say?

Number Five:

Etymology.’

The following is an excerpt from an interview with Father Ransard Heinkel, d1578, the famous word-inventor:

“Etymology? (LAUGHS) Yeah, that was one o’ mine. I made up a lotta’ words back then. Man, I was makin’ ‘em up all the time. Plagiarism was always a thing, y’know? So, anyway, I was lookin’ up a word to make sure no-one had done it before – “untrousers”, I think – when I started to question myself: am I a fucking loser, or what? Who looks up words? And I answered myself: bookworms! Y’know, nerds, dorks. Then I was like: what would a bookworm look up? Well, it’s an insect, right? Close enough. A bug, spaghetti, whatever. And the answer was – duh – “entymology”! The study of insects! Then I thought: what would a bookworm do? I know! He’d eat the shit out o’ that word! So “etymology” – it’s like he ate the “n”. Like he’s just startin’ out, and bam! I had a word. I knew it was a good one, so we all went out to celebrate. Boy did we get drunk that night. Larry tried to make out with a dog and puked in its face. Things fell apart pretty quickly after that.”

Word to your mother.

A.R.


Arvin called me later to apologize. I told him there was no need; he now has one less brick than before. I have one more. Who wins? One day I shall have even more, and build a beautiful bridge across the wide water. Without wax.

Poor Arvin. I think he may be suffering, mentally. I know he’s not been sleeping well.

Sweet dreams,

J.R.

Week Eleven.

Last week, I turned a whole year older in just one day. It’s hard to imagine that is possible, but then it’s hard to imagine a joke as shabby as this:

Q: Where do you go to find out what people are saying is wrong with you?

A: A rheumatologist.

But there it is. Anyway, my birthday, as it often does, put me in a nostalgic mood. This led me to ask the poets if they might root out, and send me their earliest surviving poems for this week’s post, along with any observations they might want to make about them. To my utter amazement, and a late-summer florescence of pleasure and gratitude, they did exactly that.

Let’s get started, and go back to the beginning.


“My childhood was divided almost equally between England, and Belize. I played in Belize, and went to school, and watched television in England. I wrote this when I was fourteen, or fifteen, I think, inspired by a very odd British TV commercial that I was a bit obsessed with, for ‘Kia-Ora’, a brand of orange drink concentrate. I loved the theme – a remake of a very odd number by a Swedish novelty group named ‘Caramba’, called ‘Fido’, which featured a lot of mumbling and barking dogs. How everyone moved in time to it. How the drink in the boy’s hand both led, and kept at bay the louche crows that followed him, as if a valuable possession conferring great power. In its use of a particular, and outmoded graphic style it might be accused, today, of being racially suspect, and might not have a leg to stand on – even the product’s name, ‘Kia-Ora’, co-opting a Maori greeting, is contentious – but, in 1986, I was innocent of these issues. I was reminded only of the intense, cool heat of summer, and kind of sun that only exist in one’s imagination. Besides that, the boy was my hero, and believed, then, and have no reason, now, to think he might not walk that way forever.

'Ad'

Hot day
Blue sea, yellow sky 
Wrong way up, right way up

It's gonna be a hot
Blue sea day

We all adore ya
And the one with the basketball
And the one with the basket-head
All snapping their beak
In a rhythm

we're walking along in an 
Endless line

I'm drinkin' my drink
Walking slow
In 
a rhythm
For ever and ever
In a slow, slow rhythm

We all adore ya
Hot day

Uh-uh, no-way

It's too orangey for crows
It's just for me 
and 
my dog.

- A.W.


“It was a song that became a poem, or a poem that became a song. I only have the words left. I don’t remember how old I was when I wrote it, but I was young. It came from my discovery of psychedelic music and imagery, mostly of the 1960s. A little druggy, a little sexual, ‘Silk Machine’ sounded like a groovy thing to say, or a great band name, but in the context of the poem was supposed to be the internal, imaginative world which I was also discovering, and all the things you could see and do and experience there. One thing I miss about being young is the sense of limitless possibility in everything you do, because everything is new to you. I have continued my explorations in imagination through adulthood, and while the mode of expression has evolved, I suppose, the feeling of stepping off the edge of the known world thanks to, or in-to the workings of a strange machine is eternal and always.”

'Silk Machine'

There is a Silk Machine,
Sitting in my crazy brain
Crazy Silk Machine,
Take me where I've never been to
Captivating scenes, I see you
All by Silk Machine.

I'm a Milk Machine,
Floating in a burning sea
Silky Sex Machine,
Set me in a fire of flame and 
Coolness will surround me, all by
Milky Silk Machine.

Driving in my Silk Machine,
It goes slow and slow, but it's a 
Moving Silk Machine
Only I can make it go - it 
Only moves for me - it's my
Own, slow Silk Machine.

Oh! my Silk Machine
Everyone is after you
My Silk Machine, my dream
They never look behind their eyes, they're
Always gazing out, not in
I love my Silk Machine.

- A.R.


“I wrote ‘New Freedom’ when travelling a long way to meet a boyfriend from whom I had been apart for some time. It’s quite hopeful, but also recognizes the struggles we both shared. The struggles didn’t go away, but as the poem implies, we planned to make music together, and we did, so I think there’s really not much else to say except that hope was right again – why, though I destroyed much of my past writing several years ago in order to begin anew, I kept this one; as a reminder of a time it was, and how invariably it is.”

'New Freedom'

JAM!
Where the
M is meet
For we have

New freedom
To dance in our chains
And hold each other
While tired
And dusty

And the chains were
Just stupid... we had the key

And the key was wrong, but

The Blues taught us
That in every flawed note
is beauty
And release, when you get to A

And jazz taught us
mostly
that broken things
can be one

- L.G.

“I remember the day I wrote this down. I must have been about seventeen, and I had been out walking and got a sudden sense of the damage humanity has done in its desire to impose its will upon nature for its own convenience. I’m not sure where the country-and-western voice came from. I always hated country music. I just recall a burning frustration and dissatisfaction with the falsity of the world I lived in, and deep impulse to rip it up. The last lines are partly true. I was digging a hole for my Dad so we could put up a mailbox at the front of our house, and drove the spade down, hard, into a lump of old concrete about eight inches below the surface. If you’ve ever done that just right, you’ll know it feels like you got hit by a train. I’m afraid of it to this day, but you’ve got to keep digging. There’s good stuff under there; what’s on the surface doesn’t even compare.”

'Verges'

Don't this asphalt maze just give you heartache?
As you wander slowly down the street
Above, a tumble-blown newspaper sky makes
A fear you can’t unseat

Don't you know, son? This was all once farm-ground
Right beneath your feet, right where you stand 
And all these trash-strewn squares done keep this hard town
A green and pleasant land

Don't them verges simply make you crack-up?
Planted like a fools wish to deny
We fell from nature's arms and can't get back up
A green and pleasant lie

Don’t those verges make you want to give up?
And shake the crushing hand of your defeat
One day I took a spade and dug the verge up
And there was just concrete

- M.B.



I had told the poets some weeks ago about my September Celebrations, and instructed them not to shower me with gifts, as one does with a certain degree of expectation that one’s commandment will be soundly flouted. With their wholly unexpected delivery of these poems, they showed me a generosity far beyond the bounds of financial means, and gave me something far more valuable than wishes.

Thank-you, Adam, Arvin, Lauren, Matt – each a window in the each of four walls of The Morning Corporation.

Good year!

J.R.

@saymoco

Week Ten.

While enduring a dull man’s speech, I was reminded, this week, of the time I was asked, as part of a creative writing workshop, to write a short story from a prompt, which was as follows:

I inadvertently rejuvenated a wilting basil plant growing on my windowsill by urinating on it while drunkenly attempting to put out a small blaze that had broken out in a fast-food cup in the street below my kitchen window around which everyone I had ever been mistreated by in school stood warming their hands and…”

I added ‘The End’, and never looked back.


In a dream (I think – at least, both my hands were swathed in bandages) Lauren Galmington handed me several poems this week, then turned and ran away. Before she did, she leaned in to kiss me on the cheek. When she did so, I flinched. I have no idea why. I mean, what did I think she was going to do? Eat me?

“Thanks, Jim,” she said. “You’re one-in-a-hundred.” 

And, yet, here are the poems.

'Timekeeping'

A tick, then a tock.
After winter, spring.
You like to know what time it is
So keep abreast, and your devices close
To the chest,
To the wrist, to the wall.
All things new, and green, first fish
Hops on an egg, and goes to work -
O, tiny, quivering quartz!
Such is their design they are
Not easily distracted by 
The arrow-bird, new chill
Of seasoning, the rhythm that
Picks up, pulls back, occasionally,
A sputter when the beans are bitter,
Leaps upon a spill upon
A lap you cover up in cloth
Just as you cover up, for shame
The sound in time
The beat, the same
For fear that you might fall behind
Too far off, and out of it.

- L.G.


'Hospas'

The Latin hospas
Meaning guest, or host
From hostis, meaning stranger
Meaning friend, or enemy,
Is root of our hostility,
And, also, hospitality.
See, meeting people isn't easy.
So, we hoist a flag atop
A pole, by which to show,
That others know,
What's going on below
That begs response in kind,
Color of by which to judge
The whether, or 
The weather of the other,
What they have in mind.
So we say "hello".

- L.G.


Matt called me this week to tell me, excitedly, that he had conceived of a viable alternative to poetry. I think he sells ‘Unselected Works’ a little short, and also a little long, as well.

It is comprised of a number of unsuccessful entries to the New Yorker magazine caption contest. Divorced from the context of the accompanying cartoons, it’s impossible to offer my judgement on their merits, as they mean so much less, which, as we all know, is more.

The second of his poems was unselected by me, several weeks ago, partly because it was in a pile of thirty-six poems Matt managed, somehow, to text me in a frenzied fifteen-minute episode, and which I have only just managed to read through. I include it here because it goes a long way to explaining the first.

'Unselected Works'

i think what we mustn't do at this point is 

panic see what you get when you trade

your leg for a cat happy exactly

how am i supposed to have come

on to her? i honestly didn't 

know there was a thirteenth step can 

we get brenda in here with a fly-swatter? i'd 

clap my hands but i can't put it down

don't feel inferior i brought the zinfan

-del the nurse said i can have 

more chicken wings at eleven ten zillion

pounds? close enough it's yours 

no longer shall their branches o'er-hang 

england's fair property line we must

make love now before the exterminator arrives

- M.B.


'Military Memories'

Please remove the tab.
In the heat of battle, when there's
BOOM half-way up someone's back,
I don't have time to mess with that,
Like that, like that...

You're killing me.

- M.B.


Two nights ago I made a casserole, then vowed never to do so, nor speak the word, ever again. Then, I went into every room of my house and yelled “Fire in the [NAME OF ROOM]”, finishing up in the basement where I ran around for a while pretending to catch an invisible Yorkshire Terrier. After tempting it with some soup, I carried it up the stairs, and out to my yard where I released it like a bag of butterflies. Immediately, I called a local automotive repair shop and made an appointment for September 17th at nine-thirty a.m. for the next thirty-two years. Then I polished a glass until I could see Wales.

This is called the Ceremony Of The Fire Actuation Welsh Pocket Dog Tomato.

Then I realized it’s all been done before.

'Democratic Republic'

Somewhere else, those winding lines
Are proof that veins
Once flowed with blood
And rains fell from eyes filled
With darkness of the ocean night

Of people, to old faces drawn
To touch that which responds.
To catch fish from experience.
To plant a seed
For each that spills.

Hear the new songs.
Hear the young ones singing.
Hear the words, their asking:
How long, and for
How long must we walk?

Tell them: we must walk until
We find the source, and, soon
We will hold each other, there.
Yes, that's fine, they'll say, for they
Are much more certain of themselves,

Having lived through such a lie,
Than we could ever be.
Let us sing! they cry.
Let us cry! they sing, that
Our children may pick flowers.

- A.W.

'Dance With My Dad'

Not always eye-to-eye
Never cheek-to-cheek, god-help-us
Dances with my Dad
Were of questionable grace.
In the kitchen, doing dishes,
It got vicious; first he'd feign
To jab me in the navel then
With the other hand, flick
Dishwater in my face.
I fell, every time, for that.
Dances with my dad
Were a bit wet.

After making sure
I was fed, at eight, eight-thirty,
He would dance me up the stairs.
A battle of the wills.
"Bed," he'd say, with added threat:
"Your Mum'll kill you, and besides
I want to watch 'The Bill'."
"Okay, then," I said,
And went, a grudging trudge
He, behind me, to my room,
Just as little-pleased as I
To coax the bloody cat
From underneath my bed.

Where I would lie, not sleeping yet
Antenna up for sounds beneath.
In those hours, I learned from him
The fine, sometimes graphic art 
And subversive embrace
Of prevailing musical
And societal stereotypes
And organically rendered communal
Resurrection of the atavistic
Tribal function of
The obscene terrace chant
And, when that useless tart, for once
Put a chance away,
The water trembled in the glass,
The picture hit the floor,
As he performed another dance,
The sort you wait all season for,
The sort you stay awake to hear...
A kind of 'get-yer-gees-up"
With the knees far apart,
And I would dance myself to sleep
While, somewhere far away
Mum was giggling.

In those hours, I learned
A Dad's love is complete.
A fact which he displays
Mainly, with incessant
Repetition, with an overbaked
Mockney slant, of the phrase:
"Not 'arf."

In the silence,
Once the whistle blew,
I'd remember things he'd said
A voice like thunder in my head.
In all the Dad-I'm-thirsty-well-I'm-Fridays
Gags, and pearls
("The best kind of comedy's
the kind that makes you laugh.")
The Polish and the spit,
Curry with Hazmati rice,
A lifetime's free advice,
Over and above all these,
One bit of wisdom, even now,
Echoes through my days:
"There's no such thing as 'can't' 
- it's 'cunt', you posh git."

- A.W.


Arvin turned up on my doorstep this week with a small pet carrier, two rolls of aluminum foil, and a metal detector. “What’s in the carrier?” I asked. “I think it’s a weasel,” he replied.

I indicated that I was about to be busy.

As he left, he turned and said, quietly: “I think you might’ve forgotten how to have fun.”

Over the course of several sleepless nights, I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t his leaving that broke my heart, but the smile on his face when I opened the door.

Sorry, Arvin. Let’s do something, soon. Like, breakfast?

'The Citizenship Test'

This is a test of which are we
Not you, alone, unless you built this
That was there before you came
Bouncing, from the oven door.

This is a test of mettle, and
Will you endure the stinging nettle?
Or be overwhelmed with vines -
'Dressed up to the nines', they say.

This is a test of with what grace
One handles those occasions when
While practicing solemnity
Laughter steals the voice.

This is a test of bone, and brick
Of which are we, beneath the breast
This is not the end, this is a test:
Do not adjust yourself.

- A.R.


'How To Advance A Monkey In This World'

Make a man - yes, ma'am - to lead
Appealing to the most with his
Charisma, and good-looks, that knows
The sea, from coast to coast.

Have him take for his right-hand
A monkey without fur
Who never held a spoon
And calls the Captain "Sir"

And knows the sea is salty from
The mourning of the land
Who knows, deep down, where morning
Never rose, there is sand

To suddenly resign, citing
Vague health concern
Place his hat on Matey's head
And say: "Okay, your turn."

Who lobs his clippers overboard
Ah-ah, to smash the seal, with
A noose between its teeth - voila!
Monkey at the wheel.

- A.R.



It’s not that I have lost the capacity for joy, rather that years of being forced to do something one is profoundly unsuited to leads to the development of a reflective, and reflexive exoskeleton by which anything without appointment is refused entry, the combined approach of sensation and emotion soundly rebuffed, and preventing meaningful demonstration of the same which remain, nonetheless, within, highly active, and reactive, whirling about a body suspended, naked, and as vulnerable as ever, in a vacuum.

That’s what I wish I’d said. What I said instead, was:

“I need to vacuum my car.”

Get ’em, girl!

J.R.

Week Nine.

The Morning Corporation has a sound. That is, a theme of sorts; a mantra in musical form. Several notes, or tones which, together, represent everything – artistically, spiritually, and philosophically – the organization – such as it is – stands for. It is designed so as to be playable on any instrument, in any location, by someone with any level of proficiency. It is best played, however, with a whistle of human lips, at least one level up within the structure of an empty parking deck.

A new kind of sound that you’ve never heard before.


As I reversed my car one morning last week, there was a squeak, and the car jumped, like a hiccup. Terrified that I’d run something over, I immediately shut off the engine, and got out. A bird was singing very loudly in the tree that grows next to my driveway, that was here long before I, and full of birds. Beneath the car, just ahead of the left rear tire, I found a dog toy in the shape of a frog. Attached by a neatly punched hole to a length of string tied about the frog’s neck was a small card. On one side, and the other, were printed the following poems.

Of all the places to which my car has borne me, the words of Adam Waverley are among the most dear to my heart.

The first five notes, to be played in descending order are: G, E, C, G, and F.

'Corona (Back And Forward)'

Clear the air between us.

Through my picture window -
That's a view.

The sun is getting nearer every day.
The stars are brighter.

The world is moving away.

- A.W.


'Glove-In-Glove'

Late in August,
The fields start to stink
And fear sets in.
Will there be time
To get everything done?

Will there be time? 
If so, for what? - but why, a flame
Flares up from the embers, bright enough
To cause one to recoil.
"Move back," it warns, before
A whisper of the bare-back, winter-kind
Cracks surface, fingers through one's hair -
First, most beautiful time.

To say goodnight, or say goodbye?
Fear subsumed by something else...
Paralysis of choice. To
Go in, or wait till the glow is gone?
This, or this, glove-in-glove...
In our weighing we go on
They have no trouble saying, so
They say, the best is yet to come
And always at the end of things.

A joke - or something like one.
Glottal stop, in verbal terms. 
Shall we hasten? Can we slow it down?
Only money, therefore time, and
There are stairs, first, to climb,
If I know you, as you know me:
The hard way, or the highway *huh*
No higher call: to tire, and to retire
To one's bed, to die.
To say goodnight, or say goodbye.
Kiss my girl, and make her cry.

- A.W.


When I was young, I read somewhere of the supposedly confidence-enhancing, or intimidation-reducing technique of picturing the person or persons before one stripped of their clothing. I remember once being summoned to explain my actions – foolish, but flippant – to the assistant-principal of my school, an elderly woman who had foregone the pleasure of retirement for the height of superiority. On this day, she held my future in one hand, and something even worse in the other. Narrowing my eyes for assistance, I endeavored to picture her naked. Sure enough, to my surprise, her clothing melted away, almost effortlessly, and almost at once. I should have been more concerned that a thin, silver necklace with a small blue-green globe hanging from it did not disappear but remained about her neck, and have thought about it often, since. Instead, I was transfixed by the quality of her skin which, in contrast to the weathered folds of her face, and the thin, be-speckled tightness of the backs of her hands, was incredibly pale, smooth, and youthful in appearance.

The sixth note is A.

'Fortune Or Fate'

   At dawn, in the City of The Unarmed and 
Pensive, a man removed his clothes and laid 
them on the sidewalk. After
   
   dressing himself in a new set of clothes
he'd brought with him in a backpack, he 
walked on. A naked man
   
   came rushing along, whose clothes had 
been torn off by a bush of brambles. Almost
stumbling over them,
   
   he stared. "Whose clothes are these?" he 
asked, for whom they were intended, almost
too afraid to take them.

- L.G.


'A Word On Toilet Walls'

When writing about the painting of a wall
How about the paint
The brush, or the boredom?

Or using the bathroom; shouldn't one attempt
To convey
The feeling of using the bathroom?

Or, when one is writing about
The game, play ball, at least
In spirit, or it's just not right.

We must instruct the young, the old
Poetically inclined:
You can't just take a thing and go

Poetry all over it.

- L.G.


In my present role, I see myself as a sparker (if that’s a job) of ideas. In other words, I like to think I facilitate, providing a word here, or there – perhaps as simple as a judiciously-placed “and”, and/or “or” – in order to set in motion a train of thought that goes ‘whoosh!’ before careening from the tracks and reforming into The Poem. I also realize that I have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with it and, in actuality, I find it attached to plastic frogs under my car.

The joys of parenting!

The seventh note is C.

'Dad Makes Rules'

Let's go! to the cemetery
Where the going's smooth.
You bring blades, I'll bring my board.
Let's go get told off
When the sky is ocean blue,
On a day that's cool in fall, by
The lady picking stray
Fake flowers blown
From their owners' hands;
"There's no skating, here."
Let's go: "Okay. We didn't know..."
Let's skulk away, and snicker. 
Going home, I'll remind you: do not
Do these things unless I say.

- M.B.


'Affair With An Actress'

i.

"Let's step outside," she said.

Back when we all smoked
Who ever would have pictured, then
Those young lungs full of cancer?

But this isn't starting right...

ii.

Let's begin again.

"Let's step outside," she said.

She asked me for a cigarette.
I didn't have a light, so
She raised it to the night, and
Before long, it was lit.

It was not the same moon.

She laid a hand on mine.
"How wonderful," she sighed,
"To cry the tears of others
 many years, and miles from here."

"I've tried to quit," she said.

And the moon was just a light
In a window, in reflection.
Was it ever there at all?
She turned to me, and winked.

In my mind, I took a picture of
Her careless hair, her lips
Together, one side curled
And someone else's eye.

"It's a process of revision."

I saw, then, what she saw in me.

To step outside, to see oneself
In someone else's eye.

- M.B.

Fear is like a bathroom; a cramped place, humid and smelly, we all have to go sometimes. Sometimes it is prison, sometimes it is refuge. If one stays there too long, for sure, someone always comes knocking.

The eighth, and last note is E.

'Some Of Us Were'

Flight depends on gravity.

Peace is not the absence but the
Management of conflict.

We struck out at sun-up
Trying to live.

Death, beside us
Whispered encouragement.

- A.R.


'"My Life Matters!"'

Sweet power of hair,
Sweet power of hair,
But never mind that now

For just a moment, there
When the first white begged the native
Give me strength
A brave new world was born
With it came new roads
And, with them, the bumps, such as
'The Colgate Comedy Hour' and
Less jocular highway robberies.

Loads of men were lost
Along with scores of smaller mammals
Some whose names live on
Some who shall be nameless, ever.

Anyhow, the first 
Was a bust
And by the second, they said:
"This cannot go on!"
"I've seen winter, but not like this!"
"I know. It's ridiculous..."
Et cetera, and so, and so
By the law of entropy -
Anger is a heat, and
Just holler - for a dollar there is
Always one who'll sweep a street -
Next thing you know they're C.E.O.!
This, too, cannot go on. As it must
This, too, shall pass.

Like obligatory pleasurings
This, too, is the season
Where everything changes.

- A.R.



You have now collected all eight notes needed to complete your collection, and may now reproduce the sound of The Morning Corporation for yourself.

The eight notes must be played in the following manner: the first five in descending order, the final three ascending, as illustrated in due course.

Having described above the ideal instrument, and location for reproduction, I feel the need to clarify the desired effect of the latter. Namely, that there be an echo such that, at the tempo each note is played, the echo corresponds with the note TWO NOTES prior. In other words, as the third note, C, sounds, the echo answers simultaneously with the first note, G, and so on, and so on.

I trust you will find the following illustration helpful.

                G, 
    E,                     E
        C,             C,
            G,     A,
                F,              (C-E-C-E-C-E)

Should you desire further explanation of the sound I have described, there’s nothing I can do for you. Relax, and remember: if you know, and someone asks you “Don’t you know?” the correct answer is “No.”

Kia-ora,

J.R.

Week Eight.

Out of the inc.well comes The Morning Corporation!


It began with a simple conversation about the Arab/Israeli conflict, and the single versus two-state solution, during which I happened to mention that as much as I admired snakes from afar, I wouldn’t want to put one under my arm. The uproar – born, as it so often is, of confusion – was immediate. This led to a detailed explanation on my part of ‘Underarm Theory’ – the theory that one’s deepest feelings about a thing are illuminated most effectively when one considers placing the thing in question into one’s armpit, and holding it there for at least ten seconds.

The first of Matt’s poems this week, I would place under my arm, but would be anxious while it was there, though I am acquainted with, and much enjoy the work of Daniil Kharms.

The second I would place in my armpit, and feel a beautiful nothingness.

'In Kharms Way (The Prophecy Of Kharms)'

After his bird died
After falling from the window
After flying through the center of
A rubber band, unfortunately,
The owner of the bird thought he
Should close it. So it was
That he, and his wife, whose hand
He held for safety's sake, fell from
The window. The authorities
Began a full investigation -
Shortly, a detective, was on scene.
"Something here's amiss," he said,
Drawing on his pipe, before
He, himself, and three colleagues fell
From the window. When
The mayor got wind of all of this
He saw an opportunity
To give a speech, at least, and promise
Earnestly to punish those
Responsible, whoever they be.
So he went to see, to where
It happened, happened, happened,
Though it proved about impossible
To hear him as he tumbled when he fell
From the window. On TV,
The Chief of Police appeared
To say, about the tragedy:
"Don't panic, there's a very
 scientific explanation:
 people fall because they fail
 to understand the gravity
 of the situation."

- M.B.

'I Am Tom'

My name is Tom, it wasn't before
Till somebody told me
I don't know what for, or why
The world decided I am Tom.

It's strange to be Tom.
I don't feel like one
Yet nothing's changed except my name
And still I feel the same, but I am Tom.

They say: "Tom! How's it going?" but 
I never said a thing, and yet
It's like they have some way of knowing 
- maybe I am showing I am Tom.

I'm Tom, I am, and still I am.
To be him seems quite like a dream that's 
Flowing on and on until
I think I might have always been.

At least, I think I always will.

- M.B.

To illustrate the theory further, here are some objects I would be comfortable placing under my arm:

  • A ball of mozzarella cheese
  • A guinea pig
  • Jordan Pond, in Acadia National Park, ME, U.S.A.

I enjoyed Adam’s poem this week. I would not place it under my arm.

'Everything Is Sampled'

Who goes before me to the stage
Says: "Have you heard the news today?"
Tales of the age...

See, the sun is rising! Now it's time
For another hit. Let's
Get up, put some pants on, so
You won't get cold, or arrested.

A cold washcloth under the arms.
Somebody said: "Ooooooh!"
Someone dug the sound of it, and
Thus was born the opera.

Back up on the treadmill where
A man goes nowhere faster! faster!
Still, it's awfully good for you.
When I'm done, if ever I'm done
And I get off at last, why
It's straight to the Olympics!

A cousin of my wife
Let us borrow her humidifier
When I cracked the shell, after
Noticing a musty smell
There was thick, black mold inside.
Still, how kind of her!
Following much vinegar
We returned it, good as new.
The cousin said: "Oh, thank-you!"

Reminds me of the time
I borrowed a car from a man I knew
Who lived in Decatur, which
Broke down before I'd even made it
Halfway to Rock Island.
One alternator later I
Returned the car to
The man from Decatur
Who said: "It runs better!"

Reminds me of the time
Of great upheaval and division in
A place corrupted by the boundless
Greed of gutless men, and
The one who grasped the tiger by
Its little tail, and balanced the books
Lowered crime, increased employment
United the people in mutual respect
Pleased, alike, the rich, and poor
Made the Country - at least, made
The Country feel - more secure
Then, after four years more
Passed it down the line
And the next guy said: "It's mine!"

Which, in turn, reminds me of
The crooked man I met, that is
I met a crooked man
He was an audiophile
Who walked a crooked mile
With his dog, to the park
And all along he questioned: "Who
Let the dogs out (who, who)"

This is what he sang
Without a question mark.

- A.W.


According to Underarm Theory, here are some things that I would not place under my arm:

  • Ice
  • A swastika
  • Dirty windows

As for Arvin’s poems this week: no, and yes, understanding that the latter would tickle, though not, I believe, in an unpleasant fashion.

'Quinoa'

You'd have to be a little
   La-di-da
To pronounce
   Quinoa
Correctly - if that rhymed
   You are.

- A.R.


'To One Who Threw Away The Coupon'

(Of all days) praise
   the birds, today
For they, by word, and deed
   unimpeded the indictment of
The shuddering, near
   -sighted cleric, and

Crack wise about, but with
   a gutful of affection, one's
Couch-cushions, without 
   whose design
The Yorky Bar might only by
   some fortune find its way atop
The heap it would
   turn out. Compel 

The fathers! who
   would rather bless
The mothers, who should sooner 
   kiss their brothers, who 
Wear lunar boots 
   with spikes
Their toes, in tights, to wiggle in 
   and no facts facing - o

What light! and holler 
   'Hey!' for
The microwave, its buttered ray
   to neutralize defiance
In a yolk, and smash the mutiny
   of what they mutely call
'Hang on' and bloom!
   the cannon ball

Sing out! and press the flowers
   which are masters of 
The flask of verse
   that sinks a boat, and drinks itself
Down to
   its own, and sticky end

Lastly, with your tied hands, of
   the bended, and
Unblended; hollow
   cheeks, punctured, lovingly, by
Drummers with their beaks
   (wood pigeon, curlew...)
And the fountain pen
   of Master William Tell.

- A.R.

With one exception, I have never read a poem by Lauren Galmington that I would not, gladly, put under my arm.

When we met, briefly, this week for her to give me the following poems, she greeted me in the following manner:

“Jim! Another day older, none the wider…”

I hugged this with every pit.

'Court Stories'

Case 1 - A Suspended Sentence

   A jury on the fence!
   A jury must decide!

Case 2 - Reverse Robbery

   A man is acquitted of paying, by force
   The Plaintiff for goods he was
   Giving away.
   "I don't do free," he says
   "I've got money."
   The defense appeal
   And the man is fined a nominal sum.

Case 3 - A Liquid Lunch

   The expert witness clearly lied
   But they let it slide.

Case 4 - Mistaken Identity Theft

   A builder is charged with stealing his life
   And posing as himself.
   The charge is not denied.

Case 5 - Matricide

   Said the young man from Kilbride:
   "I once was convicted for murder based
   On circumstantial evidence;
   I was stabbing my wife in the chest
   When she died."

Case 6: Uneven Justice

   The court takes recess while the judge
   Consults his spirit guide.

- L.G.


'Piano Improvisation'

Before the keys, he was, so long
And at long last, and thereupon
The count of perfect ease, in time
Able, then, to take a step
One, and full, a backwards stride
Outside the self, and, looking down
Watch his own hands on the wheel
As if another's played, forte
The song that he was thinking of
At the very moment - timely!
Apt, highest satisfaction
Farthest reach of antisocial
Kiss of breath of page that burned
Gratefully read, and gently turned
And that piano kind of love
Where others raised alarm, it led
When others blared and called, it wrote
Notes of grace, held, like a lover
At arm's length, in loving arms.

- L.G.



‘Underarm Theory’ is not conclusive, nor exclusive. It is neither corporeal, or psychic in nature, but almost certainly both. Its strength is undiluted by the use, or non-use of underarm deodorizing products, and the presence, or absence, of hair. It is a profoundly human theory, though animals may serve in a supportive capacity. Nobody accepts any responsibility for any harm to any persons as a result of this theory. All investigations are at the participant’s own risk. Remember: you can lose an ear, but you can’t replace an armpit.

I pray you understand.

Under where?

J.R.

Week Seven.

This week I thought I’d share some of my favorite quotes.


“I knew a man who was so poor, all he had was money.” 

This, which I heard from writer/atheist Ricky Gervais, is credited to a number of mouths including Bob Marley, Patrick Meagher, and Mike Tyson. I wonder who said it first. My money’s on Mark Twain who was, as we now know, Millard Fillmore, and his son, Millard Fillmore.

Have I said too much?

'For Those Doing It For The Money'

A wonderful one is not enough
I do not look back, nor forward
I hold out my schedule in 
Cupped hands - please, can I have some more?
I eat little, not enough
Of what I like, and the rest 
I'll take, and that is more
Than fair, and then I'm done.

The Pampered Chef is suffering!
In these challenging times
It is no longer cost effective to own
A slave, that may be cheaply hired
When can I retire?
Hope it's coming soon
Just the thought is near enough
To make you want to grow old.

Give me time, which bringeth me
Closer, I, to Thee
Give me minutes to chew like grass
And remuneration in 
Long hours of rumination, in
Good time to learn to sew
So I might mend my rags
Time to cook, and also feed
Get reacquainted with my feet
Or I may, simply, bore
Boy! - what boredom! - when it comes
Springs pop songs from soap suds
Draws the gods in stars; if
The devil made work for idle hands
Then God made acoustic guitars
And the urge to please oneself
- God's work 
Is sometimes private joy.

When they made Bob Richards
They stuffed an old banana skin
With grease, and let it set
Then wrapped it in a business suit
Then stuck a gumball on his shoulders
Oh, he looked so cute
And did quite nicely, thank-you
Selling insurance, and paying the bills.

When they made Mike Stewart, they took
A bushel of shucked corn
And dried it on a fender in the sun
Then dipped it in the green
Wrapped it in plaid, then bored a hole
And stuck in a Marlboro Red
He did okay for himself
Behind the wheel of a big Dodge truck.

But these, if left on earth alone
Could built a rocket from
The junk they tripped, and crashed upon
And the miles they drive could take them 
Off into the universe
Past the moon, the edge, and on
And home.

Good job we are blessed
With endurance, almost limitless, of
Endless self-inflicted pain
This country would slip off the
Face of the earth
Dirty, rotten scab
But someone's got to picket
One man in a drunken coma
One with mesothelioma
It was the job that did it
And, while undeniably
A cause of ulcers, and tumors
There are, at least, two things for which
Such pain can be praised:

One is that it may teach you
If you really want to know
What tiredness really is
Well, let me tell you, and save you the effort

Hobbled by a personal Gollum
Gaggle Lilliputians
The first step is a labored lift
And placing of the foot
And tiredness is to run out of gas
But still have change to get you home
Exhaustion when the station's closed
In cold, and fear, the night alone
Stuck, and then you're done.

The other is as a source of humor
Somebody's got to do it
And nothing makes you laugh like this:
"Thank God it isn't me!" (today)

But one is not enough
More? Yes, more. 
Give me a porch where I might 
Think about my thoughts
Give me words to whittle
Quite content, and seriously

I can never work too little.

- A.W.

“I knew a man who was so bald all he had was face.”

This one was from man called Deighton, who had scabies, and shared it with everyone around him – that’s how generous he was.

It was the first, and last line. There was nothing in-between.

'There Goes My Baby'

Greed is just a child
And childhood is disorder - that's
A range of normal drives
Present in a creature but
Beyond its full control
Not an illness, in itself
That brings no good at all
Nor a bug you'll never squash
You wouldn't want to if you could
Puritanism breeds perversion
That's not what we need.

Give it what it needs, and
Not always what it wants
Encourage it to read
Especially the classic story
Of the mighty empire
Of the great man, and the glory
Of the power, and the pride, entitled:
"How The Battery Died".

Nourish it with facts
How every gain's to someone's cost
Every win's another's loss
How something going backwards makes
You feel you're going forwards
Viewed through the windows of
A new, parked car.

I know, yes, I know...
Didacticism's frowned upon
But when you know of someone who
So clearly knows not what they do
Or knows, alright, and says "Fuck you"
To stand by and do nothing is
Neglect. Hands down. I.M.H.O.

Ism of the Capital
Its scientific name
Rather than eliminated
Must be supported
Guided as it grows
Toward responsibility
In homes, and banks, and schools, but
It must not make the rules.

- L.G.


'Mary And Marty'

One translator had Mary, while
The other had Marty.

How different this world
Would be, had our history had
The infant Great King Pharamel
To suckle at the teat of Marty.

Mary got the nod.
That's why this is this (and that's that).

And did, so it appears
This same committee, just the same
For good, and greed
For black, and white.

Spake Marty: "I am always right."

- L.G.

I met with Matt this week at his home. As so often happens, we found ourselves playing Pass the Frisbee. In this version, the disc is passed, respectfully, between two or more people. Upon each exchange, the passer says “There ya go,” and, as he takes it, the receiver says: “preciate it.”

While we did so, I casually asked him for his favorite quote. “I don’t know,” said Matt. “‘preciate it.” Then: “A problem shared is a problem halved.” I inquired as to the author. “Job?” replied Matt.

'M. Café'

Drip, drop, crick, crack.
Waiting for the little beep.
As you flow, so shall you reap.

Up too long, the hill too steep.
The water ain't wide! The jaw is slack.
Boil it black, and knock it back.

A heap, not heap, of beans, and sleep.
Got hope, got pin, got nothing to pin to.
Heard the wasteman: I'm a paste-man.

What this grind is grinding me into.

- M.B.


'The Savior Of All Womankind'

I visualized a tree
And I, the hero, bulging in 
My tights
In my heroic flow
In ecstasy of flight, above
A lush, and weedless place. And there 
Were three, and no children, there
I said:
            Yo-ho!
and:  Here we go!
            Look out below!
            I know... I know...
And we said:
            Who are we?
And we agreed:
            I don't know, we said
So it is, and so odd things
Appear in dreams, and fantasy
How right seems the un-right, when
There's something there one needs
How wanted the unwanted
Hidden found, the dollar, pound
Wrong way up, right way 'round
Beautiful turned ugly, and
The other way a - no, it doesn't work
It isn't working
It is work, sweet pills, and nicotine
So real the unreality!
Tree, and just so tree
It was us, 
            it wasn't you.
It wasn't her, 
            it wasn't me.

- M.B.

Want quotes? Arvin’s got ’em.” – Arvin Reyes

I think my favorite is: “Truth is where opinion lands.” That is, I think our aim is often poor. This explains ‘Pass the Frisbee’.

'Gospel'

Truth is flat.

Truth's a plane
On which occurs opinion.

Truth's the field on which it plays.
Opinion is the ball.

Truth is white, and truth is black.
That's why it often seems
Grayest shade, dullest star
Of all.

Truth is no cigar.

Truth is far, truth is near,
That is, nearer there than here.

Truth is common ground.

Truth is where opinion lands.
Truth is what opinion shares.
Truth is where opinion stands.
Truth is where opinion falls.

Truth is where opinion lies.
Truth is where opinion rests.

In truth, and in peace, Bill Hicks.

Truth is an accord.
Truth is equilibrium.
That upon which all boats float
Desire! but I am straying, here.

Truth's a thread that has no end.

Truth is how the story starts.

Truth is texture of the painting,
Canvas that shows through.

Truth is truth.

Truth, at best, is even odds,
More than merely cones and rods.

Truth's a rack,
Opinion is a pinion.

Truth is god of gods.

Truth is any one of these;
None of them unlike the other.
Go ahead, and take your pick
After all, truth is choice
Ask a politician.
All are incomplete,
None the definition I came up with 
In the car
That was truth, yesterday.

As you can see, the truth
Is many things at once.
Truth twists, bends, and stretches.
Truth is soft, that's why it's often hard
To believe.

This is my opinion.

- A.R.

“Let’s wrap this one up, then.” – Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon

Manana, Simon Shama!

J.R.

Week Six.

What is a snob? I have heard it said that I am a snob. I have also heard it said: “I could care less what you think.” I have slumped to the floor, the table, the horse, and various other surfaces.

To hear – not once – such a boneheaded misstatement betrays a want of logic that makes me wonder – it really does. Are people truly so ignorant? Are so many people truly so ignorant? Are so very many people so truly ignorant? Are very so ignorant many so truly people?

Is it a genetic twist? A cultural leaning? An educational shortcoming? Am I a snob?

I have the slightest idea.


Once, in Ohio, in a local museum, there stood an old church piano. Next to it a man like me saw a sign that read: “Do not put feet on pettles”.

A rare, and rather delightful double mis-spelling, there. Like a inventor proudly holding up a two-legged tripod.

I mean, what the hell? 

Sorry, I’ll stop.

'Market Forces'

Inspired, a young inventor 
Came up with a cradle like 
The kind that holds harmonicas 
In folk musicians' faces for
Smoking cigarettes.

Due to health concerns, and
A drastic social shift
As the years went by the
Popularity of smoking dwindled
Nearly to a niche.

Inspired, the inventor
Came up with a cradle like
The kind that holds harmonicas
In folk musicians' faces for
Not smoking cigarettes.

- A.W.


'Rewritten Will'

Dreamlike, glistening prosody
Those the words 
The morning spoke
So might every morning be
If we left this city, and
This city life, its social life
Stuff, for want of better
Words, the things
Of the city (really all
Our finest fears come true)
Behind, barefoot on the hill, I say:
"Give me a minute, here
- actually, a few...
 No. Give me fifty-two..." for
To go within the hour
Would be a blessing not
Unmoved, entirely, sorrow in
The parting, such relief
These words
Of morning are the words
Of a song, a line of poetry
The title of a play:
All is well that ends that way.

- A.W.

Imagine a snob working third-shift at a gas station in a rough neighborhood. Imagine unbecoming facial hair. You just imagined a young me.

I found a note on the coffee machine. “Is broke needs fixed.” Unable to cope with the sheer odor of these words, I showed my boss. After I’d explained the problem, he became hostile.

“You work at a gas station,” he reminded me. “What gives you the right to be a snob?” he yelled.

I told him it was my religion. I was afraid he was going to hit me. A couple of drunkards fought in the car wash while a small crowd egged them on.

'Big Boy, Don't Cry (The Pride Piper)'

He led them to the canyon's edge
Gathering as they went along.
"I know what you need," he said
"And you shall have it here."

Red sun upon the orange skin.
At the edge, he stepped aside
This man of pride, and bid them:
"Ok, then. On you go."

They stared, obtusely, back at him.
Dumb, and deaf to orders - "Move!"
- they could only follow leaders
- no-one did. "Fine," he said 

"I know what you need,"
And marched off, very gruff, indeed.
Several hours passed before
A cry from the canyon floor:

"Hey, you up there! Come on!
It's beautiful down here!
Get!" - and he stomped his feet
Raised his fists, and kicked the dust.

"Jump you lazy cunts!"
After an hour of this, he stopped.
"What is wrong with you?" Then
Sat down in the dirt, and began to sob.

With immediate effect
The first, seeing this, stepped over
And the rest came after him
Over the brim, tumbling. Like

A silk cloth sliding from a table
People poured, and he was
Crushed by six million tons
Of human empathy.

- A.R.


'Umbrella Like A Zoo'

I cannot rage. I cannot fight.
I cannot growl. I cannot bite.
I cannot shit. I cannot hiss,
Or spit. Can I do
Just one thing like an animal?

Three knees, and two noses.
Noises of the frightened child
I go back to being.

There are desert lands 
Of such a sun that bones become
Dust with just a puff, but

It rains, without mercy, here,
Nor pause. 
What am I to do with, and what use
These teeth, and claws?
In this wet world made
From paper,

Give me an umbrella like a zoo
Where families spend the day
Where those who are lost in the wild, and
Can wonder no longer might stay.

Where exhibits number two:
The Tiger, and the Tapir.

- A.R.




Turns out it was my boss who left the note. I left the gas station shortly afterwards. I kept the note, like the topper of the wedding cake of a failed marriage.

The Morning Corporation’s own Matt and Lauren were married for four years. Both wanted a child. Either side of success, they endured the misfortune of several miscarriages, and the stillbirth of a baby boy.

They asked that the following poems be included this week. I am grateful to them for doing so.

'Berry'

There were clear signs

That within
Everything of beauty
Was sorrow, its shadow
And in every terrible thing was
Beauty, its finest exponent
And the greater beauty
The longer the shadow
And darker the shadow
The sweeter the light
And, when I held him in my arms
Free from his machines, and alarms
And he opened both of his eyes
As if to say goodbye, or take
One last look at life, perhaps
I knew.

And, when we stood
With our distended jowls, together
In the bathroom, peering through
The opaque skin 
Of that still-warm berry
Dotted with blood, on the tissue
Into another, little world
Asking: "What is that?" - meaning:
"Is it life?"
It was confirmed.

And, when I turned 
And walked, from the bathroom
Back into the kitchen, where

Our daughter was
In her high-chair, expediently
To find that she had somehow
Reached down to the laundry pile
And taken hold of your bra
And was
Wearing it around her neck
It was poetry.

- M.B.



Matt and Lauren are no longer together as a couple, but collaborate as poets, parents to their lovely daughter, Mellon, as well as occasional lovers, when “educated”.

Lauren Galmington has a way of coloring in the right parts; in this case, the loveliness without which sadness would have no excuse at all.

What a lovely thing. This boy, this poem.

'Sawyer'

It cannot be advised
Yet imparts the quality
Of lace upon the leaf at rest.

I will! and I will smell the smell
Of that strange hotel
Where the sick receive the water of the well
Where you slept, all day, within a limpid shell
Something like 'Purell', forever

I will taste that taste
Of that young, and awful waste
Mercury tang on the hem of the tongue
As I went to the bathroom
For nothing but to think, and rest
And first few drops of vapor of
The cloud that threatened rain
That never came
Gathered in my chest.

I still smell the smell, and it stinks
And, sometimes, it will guide one
Like a bridle, by the nose
Other times, by lashes like
A whip in the guilty rider's charge

An inadvertent grace note
Played with trembling fingers, that
Pulls taut the shoelace of the heart
And ties a knot that is never excised
And, from the heart, takes a part
That will not be replaced.

It cannot be advised: to love 
So deeply, in such haste.

- L.G.

I told Lauren the gas station story. She shook her head and said it didn’t surprise her one bit. She asked if I fixed the coffee machine. I refused to answer but, no, I did not.

I both trust and fear the poets. As such, the poems on this site are reproduced as I receive them, unaltered. Any typographical errors, grammatical inconsistencies, or incorrect usages are those of the poets themselves. Please don’t think it’s me. It’s not my job to fix things.

I am not a believer in marriage. I believe in passionate relationships of mutual fidelity, fealty, fierceness, fairness, faithfulness, frankness, forbearance, and friendship. Marriage vouchsafes none of these. In fact, all evidence suggests it positively discourages them.

I do,

J.R.

Week Five.

I have learned much about the art of poetry this week.


“Why?” asked Lauren Galmington. It is inconceivable to me that just yesterday she and I strolled together, flanked by blazing orange day-lilies, in the gloom before a storm that would produce no rain – again. “Why, why?” she repeated, I having inquired as to submission(s) for this week. “No matter,” I said, and at once was as good as knocked off my feet by a large wasp.

As I scanned the sky above me to be sure it had flown on, I realized she had begun to compose. Hurriedly, I retrieved my phone. Furiously, I swiped, and tapped so as to open my notepad app. Her on-the-fly rendering, punctuated as it was by “um”s and “uhh”s, fragmented by repetitions and revisions was, to say the least, hard to follow. I concede I was still nervous about the wasp, but, in any case, the resulting transcription was a travesty.

The first four lines were missing entirely, several “um”s had survived, many words were unintelligible, and line breaks totaled one. Fortunately, I awoke, this morning, to find the poem in question, in the form presented below, in my inbox.

Some say poetry is meant to be spoken. I disagree. Read aloud? – perhaps, if by a trained professional. Recited? – for points. Speech is meant to be spoken. As is clear, if we would only desist from consuming for one minute of the day, poetry is meant to be written.

'Heaven'

Take the mountain, and the tree
Take the seventh, shining sea
Take the breeze - you can have 'em
We believe in heaven.

Take a lover, free to choose
Green, gray, and actual news
Investigation of abuse
There's none of that in heaven.

Take the artist, and the art
Take the song of love to heart
Leave us with our Valu-Mart
(We believe in value.)

Take your beggar with his hat
Take a piece of what I gat
- sorry, wait, you can't have that
We're taking it to heaven.

Take your tax, your education
Road, bridge, sanitation
Take your public transportation
There's no bus to heaven.

Take your facts that lie around
Under, and above the ground
No matter that they might abound
The only truth is heaven.

Take your deaf, take your blind
Take him with a troubled mind
Why spoil it for the worldly kind?
They're not going to heaven.

Take a building in good taste
We'll be filling every space
On an island of our waste
While we wait for heaven.

Take election, take decision
Take your healing of division
Take your freedom of religion
We'll be one in heaven.

Take a cure for your disease
Take alternate energies
Take your civil liberties
We believe in heaven.

Take your man upon the moon
Dancing robot, red balloon
The end of days is coming soon
And we shall be in heaven.

- L.G.

When I met Arvin this week, he shared with me his theory that, by removing the distracting influence of overwhelming bodily urges, frequent masturbation is an aid to the poet in his practice. I cannot confirm or deny this. I am not a poet.

''Definition (A)'

Drive a car the same way every day for nineteen years.

On the dawn of the twentieth year, do it while wearing a blindfold. 

The resulting damage is art.


- A.R.


'Charge The World'

So.

You wanna change the world, eh?

You gotta have a T-shirt with
A slogan to remember on.

(It doesn't have to be smart to be art!)

Here's one I made earlier...

(Unbuttons coat, and opens it up...)

'LIFE'S A TREE - CLIMATE.'

Wanna change the world?
First, change your clothes!

Let's make ecology fashionable!!!


- A.R.


I have a chronic, non life-threatening medical condition that causes significant blood loss at least once every day. To be, in this way – and daily – reacquainted with one’s blood is helpful in reminding one that the human is, essentially, a bag containing all of the elements necessary, and essential, for life.

Adam Waverley could tell you more. For now, it may be said that, in practical terms, if not physiologically speaking, the greater part of us is skin, thick, or thin.

'Between The Madman And The Genius'

All this, you understand, is
One part nonsense. For it is
In the spittle and the blather of
The trap, of aimless wondering
When we are in a bind, says
The mad dog to the moon
We find the truest freedom of
Expression, that's provided one
May turn it off, as well as on
That is, one has a mind
Firmly, with both hands, to grasp
The handle of the broom, when
Without prior warning, someone 
Comes into the room.


- A.W.



Is anyone from ‘The New Yorker’ reading?



'Most-America'

Cover, editorial
Trying to keep the flame lit of
The novel, and memorial
Article too long
And story, short, inspired by
A novel that the author, in his fifties
In his twenties, never read, if he'd admit
Let's go to the movies! then
Let's watch TV, critically
Another glass of wine
Then check out this review
Of the latest West Coast hip-hop hit 
I hear someone afraid to say
His rhymes are total shit
Thank-you, Lord, for the restaurant section
Finally, some poetry! Because
What inspires most
America's a bellyful.

- M.B.


'Abortion'

Please don't let this be
   another 'modern thing'
Not abandoned, but aborted - God

We are like bad parents, now
Trouble saying no
   to anyone that isn't me
Because I have the right
   and anybody can
To a woman, to a man, I write
And if you say I don't, or can't
I might write one about you!

With intelligence, and free from
Intellect; for what is learning but
   a perfect rhyme for earning?
And not wisdom
   - of this last I am
One-hundred percent convinced

Oh, here we go...

   Once, I had a shower
   and, afterward, applied
   deodorant, then went to bed
   and woke up with my mouth pressed to
   the inside of my upper arm.

   Given the choice between
   Snickers bar, and deodorant stick
   go for the one with peanuts
   - damn your rotten breath

   This is authenticity.

No pocket, mine, with nothing in.
No bone, no beat, but, hey, enough
To eat - there is no 
   grace here, get stuffed
Poets, trying to think of every
   thing, not every-thing - here
Allow me to review this one
   before you take a shot:

"A hare-brained eructation
      the thrust of which, it seems, boils
      down to:
   'No-one is as good
      at poetry as me.'
- a gross conceit, concluding with
  a hamfisted quote from
      'Spinal Tap' that
   appears (roughly) sixty-six
      lines too late."

Cowards! Never written on
   an envelope, balanced on
   the steering wheel, like this: "yyk"
Who don't know how to be funny - and
Who knows if they can laugh? - or that
A great joke is not, necessarily
Funnier, but most beautiful
The second time around

Humor's part grows smaller, as
The role of the poet is over - that is

Not to say that poetry
Is comedy, but that standards of
Its audience
Its Scottish, paying 
Audience should apply: if
You can't be funny, you must die
I mean, you cannot live
I mean, don't stand there trying to be
Ye, ye, ye, who with
Your intellect have murdered-over
Poetry, again, and
Again, to within
An inch of its life

- but, hey, enough of my yakkin'.

- M.B.

The more I learn, the less I know. For more information on this, please see the song ‘There’s A Hole In My Bucket’, and keep your eye out for Henry. For more information on this, please refer to ‘Oh, Man: A Pocket Guide to Natural ED Cures’ by Chad Smith.

Happy travails!

J.R.

Week Four.

This week, I decided to try something different, and asked the members of the Corporation for poems on a specific topic, namely politics. With the exception of Arvin Reyes – at a stretch – my request was entirely disregarded by everyone. 


While walking in the woods with Adam recently, I was surprised to discover that, in a previous incarnation, he was a successful Doctor of Orthopedics. This illuminated some previously murky corners of Adam’s personality for me. After an unsettling story involving the limb of a twenty-eight year old man, and the limb of a three-hundred year-old tree, I suggested we return to the car, tucked beneath the front-right wiper of which, two days later, I found the following poems:

'The Dogcatchers'

I argued with 
A colleague who maintained 
The dog was light.

I, in turn, maintained 
The dog was heavy.

We did not agree.

Which didn't matter, after all. 
We couldn't catch the dog.

Besides, the dog was heavy.

We made
One-hundred thirty-three
Dollars-an-hour.

- A.W.



'Forest Park'

Trees fall, and that is true
Even should one turn away
The tremor is the clue
Sometimes they break and are, by two
Or many parts reduced, but
A tree does not grow shorter
This much one can say for sure:
Nothing can be known
Not all is always new, but
One cannot go back
Even bent, or bowed
There is only forward
Of remembrance, I would add:
Do not entrust a life to it
As for turning time
The best that one can do
Is fumble, in the blindness of
The room, where a bulb
Hangs, somewhere, from the ceiling but
No cord, nor switch
Nor any means exists
To excite it, there
In the countless boxes of
Who-knows-how-many shelves
How deep, how high
To tell, by touch alone
By feeling, the significance
Of that which one was able
Of experience to grasp.

- A.W.

Thanks to Lauren Galmington who delivered, in a rare diversion for this solipsistic bunch, a topical poem! Given her recent separation from her partner of six years, resignation from her employment of twelve years, and the loss of a dog, she could have been forgiven a bit of self-indulgence. I should send a card..

'Lockdown'

You, who go steady
Are you ready to be stuck?
In a basket, as the weeds and hedges
Grow, all your plans
Before you like a path, concrete.
You, with your balloon to blow
And your cork to pop.
You, who go hourly
Are you willing to be slow?
Will you stop to watch the river 
Flow on by, the flood of spring
Dwindling to a drip? Many
Brightly painted boats 
To pass the eye - green... yellow...
Red - between the bars
Taking notes with frozen fingers
Gathering the ends
To marry them in rhyme
To stay the heart, to pass the time
You, who go south,
Are you able to survive the snow?
To last the winter through
You, not dumb, but dough, when
The sun comes back, to rise
Above the incandescent rim
To climb beyond the bounds of blue
And dust yourself with stars.

- L.G.


I was reminded by Arvin’s first effort this week of the time, in school, we were assigned to complete a report with the prompt: “If not me, I’d wish to be…” A classmate of mine chose Jesus. After the report, the teacher, suspicious, asked if he had read the Bible. The classmate admitted he had not. The teacher instructed him to read about the life of Christ, to present a new report the following week. When the time came, the classmate stated that he could not present his report, as he no longer wished to be Jesus.

Take note, Arvin Reyes.

'I Am Joe Stalin'

Fallacy does not mean
Knob-like.
Stupid men are dangerous.

But, see, when you let them speak
How easily they condemn themselves!

A kind of satire, I suppose
In my stronger, sharper days
I might've agreed 
Straight through the heart
Of you.

Fallacy is not
The third of an array
Of male genitalia.

To look in the mirror, and not see themselves!

Nodding their heads. Pathetic.

- A.R.


'Egocide'

I poured a ring of gasoline
Around myself, then stepped outside it
Carefully, took one step back, then
Struck a match, and lit it.

- A.R.



Following a tornado strike in the Midwest of the United States, in the mid-1950s, a farmer went out to his field to discover the dead body of a mule he owned. On closer inspection, the cause of death was revealed to be a windblown corncob that had pierced, and become embedded in the poor creature’s skull. Since hearing this story, I can no longer consume corn-on-the-cob without getting a migraine.

That last part is fabrication, but the rest is true.

'Peter The Rabbit'

I. PETE

   The carrot, and the stick:
   Fast friends, though one is thin
   And one is thick.
   Best paired with the other
   Like a child in the arms of 
   Its mother.

   Some say: "aye", while others 
   Take the Mick
   Say: "It'll cost you, dear"
   But if they'd any taste at all
   And felt the way I feel
   They'd say that you're 
   A steal.

   Cut me to the quick - how come
   I always get the stick?
   But for which I'd do nothing.
   A Jack to its Jill.
   For the carrot I'd do anything
   I wish, and I will.

II. MR. MCGEE

   I see the daisy, she sees the bee.
   I see the gardener looking at me.
   Says: "Come here little rabbit and
   I'll have you for my tea.
   Give me half-a-chance and you'll
   Spend the night in

   I.C.U., and you see me.
   Who d'you think you are, then
   Running 'round free?
   You should get yourself a proper job 
   Like me;
   Chasing after rabbits in a 
   Shooting spree!"

   Aye diddle-iddle aye
   Diddle-iddle-ee.

   Aye diddle-iddle ee
   Diddle-iddle aye.

- M.B.


'Laces'

Death cannot come soon enough
For death, not me

Today! while I am
Trying to make it work
So many laces left untied.

Well, fly me to the moon!

I heard about a man who tried.
"How about we meet again
 next week?"

But that's not quick enough
For death.
It must come soon.

I heard about a man who died
Before he was done dying.

- M.B.

Presumptuous, perhaps, but I would not have pegged Matt Black as acquaintance of the work of Beatrix Potter. Are any us who we think we are? As I tightened the screws on the dishwasher door last night, I asked something of myself I think we could all benefit from asking of ourselves, or a close friend: am I a leader, a follower, or an operator of machinery?

Knock-knock,

J.R.