Out and Around

 

The streets have never been more replete
with automotive self-assertion. The sun
has its instructions: keep up the heat. Nouns
drift about like paper. One of them, a politician, orates,
creating haphazard currents of serial realities
and on the corner stands the archetypal critic, musing
as in a blog - scanning the empyrean
for discourse, paradigms, process, and praxis
while poetry pauses, unnoticed, to signify
on his or her leg. And we are not on the same page
so I turn it and move on to the Librairie de France
where La Monarchie austro-hongroise pour les gourdes
is finally on display, justifying the years of toil
in making The Austro-Hungarian Empire for Dummies
fit for Gallic consumption;
and somewhere in yet another context
the grizzlies are creeping closer
and are doing well from the outside
but can they prosper in the paint
is the question put to the otherwise empty landscape,
and a gentle ripple of opinion
passes through the waving field of experts.
But you are skeptical of all this darting about, you say.
Very well, I shall pick my way through the fundamentals
in these explosive times and relate a sad but cohesive tale:
Krakatoa grew up with two magmas,
which created feelings of stress, conflict, and volatility
and it resulted in a predictable eruptive displacement
that preempted the attention of all in the neighborhood -
and thus they were treated to monumental trauma
as acted out with rock and gas,
supported admirably by lava and all the ash you could ask for.
Now, let us return to the unfinished landscape:
You are correct that the lesson is not clear,
the translation inadequate, the rainbow suspended.

 


Tableau

 

The smoke curls steadily upward.
The work of Attila the Hun? No, his "Other,"
Flotilda the Hunnie, cigarette dangling from her lips, braids
bleached in historicity and descending
from the Pannonian past
into the sink of the Pennsylvanian present
where she washes the dishes
to the violins of the rainswept interstate.
On the right, Attila thunders into the driveway
and there, on his right, the more conservative hordes.

 

 

from Truth in Advertising

 

Vehicular Presentiment

 

The Pathfinder has again come to that section
in the narrow cliffside road
where it has to drive over the colossal letters of its own name
deeply incised in the stone, bumping down and up,
straining the suspension while moving carefully along
over the autobiographical roadway: from the I to the F,
and then across the H and the T, inching onto the edge of the A,
toward the perilous gap on the other side,
the hollowed-out space below the bulge of the P
into which the left front wheel will drop once more
and send the car plummeting into the bottomless canyon below -
and at this point the vehicle awakens, its cold engine shuddering
in the silent showroom, beads of moisture covering the hood,
the sales staff gone home for the night,
the stars twinkling over the beckoning mountains.

 

 

The Show Went On

Some 1200 children rioted in a Manhattan theater after realizing they'd been swindled. Each had paid the sum of seven cents for a performance billed as a charity benefit for "The Children's Home," which did not exist. The performance consisted of the hunchbacked organizer of the event attempting to imitate a porpoise by making strange sounds. The irate children hurled the potatoes they had brought to donate to the Home at the performer, seriously injuring him. One boy swung from the chandelier, which came crashing down to the floor. Others smashed the windows of the theater, at which point the police arrived and arrested the organizer/porpoise imitator, a hundred years ago this week. Now, answer the following:

 

What charges were filed?

__________________________________________________

 

How long was the sentence?

__________________________________________________

 

How many of the children testified at the trial?

__________________________________________________

 

What was the name of the theater?

_________________________________________________

 

What would have been the capacity of "The Children's Home," had it existed? Why?

_________________________________________________

 

How could the porpoise imitation have been more convincing?

_________________________________________________

 

What happened to the uneaten potatoes?

_________________________________________________

 

Which vegetable would the youth of today most likely have brought to such an event?

_________________________________________________

 

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