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spacer.gif   C. J. Laity
Posted by : cj on Friday, December 03, 2004 - 03:06 PM
Poetry:  Click On The Author's Name
How To Be A Good House Husband

It has gone unnoticed, the stain on the mirror
That fog splayed across the wood framed glass

As if an oily breathed ghost has been huffing
So slowly, over four years have somehow passed

Make a special trip, a quest for paper weapons
If you pinch generic, that would be depressing

A reminder, like a cheap honorable mention
Tall above the sink, or looming over skinny cows

Get the quilted bounty, or the man of muscles
In his red plaid shirt, wielding his mighty ax

Roll it like cotton candy, around your open fist
Spray, in abundance, the pretty blue mist

Battle the intruder, until gray hairs appear
Every speck of ash vanishing, who knows where

The power of the wrist, it surrenders with a squeak
Show it no mercy, work the trigger finger, repeat

The next morning, she will stop abruptly
Face to face with her own clear beauty

Humming a melody, not thought of since childhood
She will cherish her backward world less dismal

Disney On The Highway

Heat wafting, distorted on the horizon, like a mirage
The ultimate cute, a climax to our road trip
Mother duck with her parade of gray ducklings
Single file in speckled kindergarten uniforms
Her chest protruding, defiant, beak high
Across the pavement like the lobby of the Peabody
Miniature children mimicking her stride

A two-lane convoy of feather, pride and bone
Such a site, for Maggie and I, we exhaled our awe
Changing lanes out of pure instinct, the way lovers sigh
Our relief brief, fractured by a backward glance
Glimmer of hope failing us, the inevitable Disney family
Turned to confetti as the traffic came barreling by
Limp packages of life, tossed around like dice

Rolling away, violated, under the crush of good years
Fierce rubber and chrome, leaving nothing recognizable
Oh month of egg warming, shit now on the shoulder
Wide open and shrieking, not at all hollow
Black eyes, no different than yours or mine
Take your gape away from the rear view,
Grip your steering wheel, cry inside, drive

In The Mail Truck

So you want a strained, gray peek, one 
of life's cruel ganders into the el-el-v
claw away the ice, take a look inside
nothing is where it is suppose to be
fractured ankle, shattered wrist, cracked ribs
wasted pulp, strapped back important
swallowed, held in like an angry bird
clamor flying out despite the struggle
The day's pain taken away as if it wasn't even earned

Held to the dash, like a makeshift x-ray
the sad silhouettes of marrow, half-
seen rapist, slouched down in his shell
human vitellus etching hieroglyphics
or the finally beaten liver vitiating its liquor
some tit opened a hundred fuck ups
typed or scribbled, unfolded, off white
which, with faith, had been dropped
A batch of brain cells, licked, and stuck to the top

Within the mail truck's cold metal walls
will be found, all the broken bones
stacked side by side, rubber-banded
on mounted tray inside plastic bins
to be carried like firewood in a sack at the gut
sorted and numbered in evens and odds
and shoved in a blue bag, dished out
slapped in a box, bar code scanned
Sharp edge, disgruntled prosecutor cut by the slot


Pulled from my escape
by the new day's first rage
pried between window frame and shade

Hunger, no spice to satisfy
except your warm hand, so much smaller
fingers twined, holding mine

I am now the long day's mannequin
turned to plastic by shear memories
our embrace, as if we owned one heart

This, at least, I thought would survive
raindrops from my blue sky
tiny ocean waves that wet my lips

Fate is a bastard, a reckless prick
even strangers know we're doomed
so I cling to this stubborn bitch called truth

As I'm pulled from my escape
by the new day's first rage
pried between window frame and shade

they play with plastic toys

they play with plastic toys in their
uniforms, wielding pointers
got a secret decoder from the cracker jack box
it says just assume they are lying

want to be a kid again just like mr president
liked it when music resonated from a groove
not from an aluminum laser beam
got hold of a big stack of black one day
the corner house where we stole returnables
old lady must have keeled away,
threw out her collection
too small to be 33s, to big to be 45s
whipped them like frisbees into the sky
had to have damaged some cars
had to have shattered some illusions
punch a thumb into playdough
drop a big black ant in and pinch it closed
let it sit for five minutes, still alive
for an hour, still alive
damn if that fucker didn't last a day
taped it to the blade of a fan and turned it on
let it spin for five minutes, ten minutes, a day
dead, dried up, sad, best friend admitted it was his pet
president lincoln's copper face
by a freight train
box is squeaking, got a fat hampster
squeak squeak squeak under the ribbon
sister vera suggested name it after an apostle
just want to call the rodent happy
ran away and was found a year later
overdosed on lettuce and turned inside out
sister said kiss is evil, all that make up
spitting blood and shooting fire like the devil
secretly, place the vinyl on my mother's hi fi
burning watercolors crusting my face
bacon grease and butter don't mix

I don't think you understand

mom dated howard after the divorce
thought he was strange but he gave up fireworks
used them to destroy all the model cars
played with those cars like they play with their planes
crept down into howard's basement
turned on the projector, the screen lit up
saw it for the first time two people fucking
howard had jet black hair and wore cowboy boots
stuck his thumbs in his belt loops
showed his knuckles
every so often couldn't come out to play
couldn't explain
so she came through the dark and peeked in the window
howard--all his friends--in white robes
pillow cases over their heads, eyes cut out
no more fireworks
brother used a baseball bat
a strike to the ribs for each model car
catholic church excommunication
as if raw hamburger smeared in the face wasn't enough
big boy holding a giant burger in the sky
sucking the fumes out of a rusty gas can
best friend said it never happened
wrist was shaped like an s, couldn't wipe ass
couldn't even write and that was a bitch
got twelve stitches from an aerosol can
forehead bled all over the john
let it sit there, dry up and get rancid
punishment for working in a factory
son of a bitch forces the doxen to take a power hit
poor little jennie freaking out barking
laughing but I was sad
jennie looked sick, confused, victimized
if you asked her "do you love me" she would howl
tell me you love me, jennie, howl it again

they play with plastic toys in their
uniforms, wielding pointers
got a secret decoder from the cracker jack box
it says just assume they are lying


The blood stained river
It is far away, hidden behind your eye
A sight unimaginable
So don't even try
Shhh, sleep my child
They are just taking a dip
Would I lie?
Try to dream

.....................of flowers
You'll only break your heart
With thoughts of that scar
The corpses will swim
Through the veins in your bain
Their arms, their legs, their heads
Will drive you insane
If you care, if you cry
And we are all so very tired
Let's pretend, let's imagine
There were no souls
In those bodies washed ashore
Rest your head on the pillow
It'll be gone in the right amount of time
The stench cannot travel this far
The red will

....................dilute to pink
In the water the innocent must drink
The faces will wrinkle and pale
No longer bobbing gaping mouthed
The painful expressions will slide off and twirl
For the birds and beasts of prey
Who devour the signs of man's nature
Then all will be yesterday
If you'll only hush now child
If you'll only close your eyes

(also published in Poetry For Peace, The Peace Museum, 1996)

blood, water pen, sword

. . . and she announces she will read her poem
out loud, right there among the dust
where the dog hairs have matted themselves
into a permanent part of the upholstery
though my eyes tell her I don't need her poem
at least not as much as I need another drink
to mollify me, she opens it up and it blooms
a story I've heard with my fist to my ear
no, not in so many non-conversational words
but about the bats she spends her days with
how they fly in circles and can't tell the difference
between artistic horizons and textbook windows
they suffer from amnesia by cracking the glass
in an attempt to touch what's behind it
she patiently flinches, slowly shakes her head
tinseled by her fourteen year old chains
her proud jewelry nonetheless binding . . .

(the blanket stinks of a fat man's yeast
laid out on the field pocket by horse hooves
some other scent burning kindly with the breeze
her soul never quite echoes between pear trees
at any time only ninety-nine percent free
when some ghost of a duty calls from the city)

. . . and this is why I am offended
by her blue lines, so perfectly parallel
how they sandwich her words like bologna
if she can't run naked through her dreams
then I at least advise her to write on it sideways
like a good dissident should

(also published in Power Lines, Tia Chucha Press, 1999)


I wish I could
Peel the scars
Like plastic dresses
Off Barbie dolls
They won't go away
Always a copy below
I can kiss them and hope
My name won't be carved
On her body or soul

She would feel the edges
Of my scars
If she got too close
They would etch themselves
Into her palms
As she falls in love
She would find them
Between my lips
Read them off my heart
Like a big Japanese word

Her rose colored glasses
Don't reveal scars
I would stand fleshy mesh
Flinching as the map is cut
Covering that spot
Where she thought
She saw through me
In my wildest dreams
She catches one and pulls
I spin around, unravelling

(also published in Stray Bullets, Tia Chucha Press, 1991

China White

The whispering ghost is
.....a nod
A thought, fragmented
.....riding your mind
Like a kite

.....Pied Piper

Fall down to him
.....he puts his veil
Over your eyes
By Venetian blinds

(also published in Indelible Ink, #6, 1994)

Bosnia Hurts

a building was shot yesterday
and shot again today
the same building....the same bullet
a hunk of hatred slamming into brick

buildings don't bleed like faces
nor do they cry out in anguish
they don't feel the pain
or get buried in wooden boxes

after the explosion--set to music
the building stands smoking
inside, white skeletons dance
to the mysterious tune of fools

they waltz for the child
who is stitched up like a football
they wave for our cameras
which shoot the building too

(also published in Hammers, #8, 1994)


I tried to close the wound with a butterfly
But there was someone mysterious yanking it open
There was a tiny man in her ear
I held my breath but the pain did not stop

We never learn from the patterns of our failure
Our love is falling upon us like snowflakes
Although each is complex and different
They all appear exact from a distance

I wanted her to have her garden
I wanted her to have her friends
I wanted her to cut the flesh
I wanted her to be herself

But when she was in her garden
My heart swelled like a splitting egg
But when she was with her friends
My hair fell out into my fists
But when she cut the flesh
My lips bled with my sins
But when she was herself
I thought she died and left me here

There is nothing to be done
To save the beauty I thought I possessed
I cannot grab it as it runs
Or I will crush it into dust
I cannot scold it like its father
Or it will shine for someone else
I cannot tell it how I hurt
Or it will wither with my words
I can not bribe it with my cash
Or it will show me what I'm worth

Sunday is a rainy day
Sunday is full of ghosts
Sunday I wonder what I have done
Sunday she goes to work
Sunday I wish the sun would shine
Sunday I'm all alone
Sunday I wash my spirit clean
Sunday will she come home

(also published in Hammers, #4, 1990)

The Diet

Snack it, chew it
.....not another pound there
.....burn it away sleeping
..........viral nightmare
why does it feel so hollow
(Eat all you can swallow!)

Stuff it, shove it
.....into the bloody machine
.....passed first-sign sores
..........white tongue
Reach toward the gore
(And eat all you can swallow!)

Push it, drop it
.....feverish body above it
.....spoiled inside, alive
..........cancellation date
A stain, raised like a flag
(Eating all it can swallow!)

Lose it, shrink it
.....is to be half-ghost
.....give water to the pillow, over
.........so-called sin
Be prepared, pneumonic end
(Eat all you can swallow!)

(also published in Tomorrow Magazine #9 and 10, 1992, and in Take Two They're Small, Outrider Press, 2001.)

The Spot

This is the spot
where lovers stop
stare at the moon
it's a headlamp shining through
a stricker of Jesus

The spot points below
upon the carnival show
it's a dancing poodle
in lipstick and tutu
humping the leg of our President's chair

Here in my hair
a snail rooted there
it's a bullet shell
a bump, a node, denting my skull
a spot engraved with a tale

(also published in After Hours Magazine, 2002)

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