Selected poems from JUICE
published by Regal House Publishing
From Part One
At some point in their lives just about everybody
wants to go to Hollywood to see stars. My point
is now! Just turned sixty, and as the pilot announces
we’re about to land in LA, I hear a big W H O O S H
and everywhere outside my window I see seaweed,
not palm trees. Others on board see seaweed too.
I’m here to see stars and I’ll be darned if that
isn’t young Lloyd Bridges from Sea Hunt snorkeling
with a dolphin and there, Jack Cousteau, skinny
and French as ever, and no, it can’t be, it is,
it’s Miss Esther Williams doing her famous butterflies,
and oh my gosh, I can hardly believe my eyes,
I see other planes out there buzzing around, diving
and swimming with mantas and hammerhead sharks
and the gi-normous finbacks, one with a baby, and look,
look, it’s the giant squid everyone has been
wanting to get a glimpse of. The pilot comes on again
and tells us we can now deboard and thank you
for flying Ocean Air. I make my way to the carousel. Where
did these sunglasses I’m looking through come from?
And all of the flash bulbs and people with pens?
Oh, Miss Merman, it’s so wonderful to see you again!
From Part Two
I tell you in a whisper
I enjoyed your warm words
over the burn barrel. And what
a lovely spectra as the fabric
softener jug turned to goo.
Wasn’t it thoughtful
of the officer in his chopper
to descend to just above us and declare
the degree of your singed brow?
He was one and the same
who spread your uncle’s ashes
over our desert crater. Didn’t you
want to add The Sun about now?
Watch page by page so much thought
on our world go up in smoke?
You know this very moment
hundreds in Samoa and the Congo
are roasting supper on a stick
while hungry thousands abide outside
the stone circle. And countless
homeless here at home are rubbing
hands together over flames
as if mere hands
were keeping flames going.
From Part Three
I ask Titus, an alien from CX-48
in the constellation Cassiopeia
why he doesn’t want to meet
the gang down at the bowling alley.
He says they’ll take one look
and want to knock some pins down
with his head. He’s right.
So let’s go fishing.
We wade Paduka Creek halfway
where Titus reaches down
among the rocks and picks up
trout, three per hand. Trout,
he says six times before he lets them go.
I’d like to get some pictures first,
and he agrees but when I look at them,
he’s barely there, only trout
that look like they are roosting
in the aspens. I forgot Titus
really doesn’t capture well,
if at all, and my pics look like I ran them
all through Photoshop.
I ask Titus why he’s always
stretching his arms up in the air
and he tells me that he’s reaching
for his long-lost playmate
back on CX-48. I ask him
if he’d like to stand up
on my shoulders. He does.
Titus starts to cry. His tears
come out all purple
and silky like Johnson’s baby oil.
Then he disappears.
But only for a moment and then
he’s back. I ask if he’s forgotten
something and he tells me
he was told it’s not his time
but I know he misses the trout.
From Part Four
BUILDING A BETTER MOUSE
Freda lays frays of red blouse thread
on her forearm. They look like scratches raised up
off her skin. She either breathes on them furtively or
waves her hand over them dismissingly and they skitter,
get lost on the red rug. Freda feels for them,
circles her lined palm on the pile and returns with
a loose ball, ganglion she calls it when held up
to the patient white of incandescence:
this is the start of a heart. For a body Freda recovers
a pink jellybean clothed in the fate of a dust bunny
under her recliner. Pinches, twists make limbs, features.
Slight bulge in her apron pocket begets a soul.
Somewhere in Freda’s needle is a hole.
From Part Five
THE TWO ARMSTRONGS
Boy deep down inside the man
has Keds on. Springy as a pogo stick.
Divides his day-to-day among his pockets:
maps, collapsible telescope,
Mars bars, compass.
On his belt, canteen full of life force:
Kool-Aid or Tang.
Boy’s been rattling the man’s
thorax. Man just calls it gas,
something he ate. Words come,
sound like module, lunar.
pulls a beanie, bent propeller
from the man’s esophagus.
like a Saturn 5 rocket. Lands
in a silver-on-the-inside cape.
When he lifts his arms,
a thousand parakeets fall out.
Doctor falls down.
Man puts down
Throws his keys
into nearby weeds and woods.
Donates explorer/discoverer biographies.
Stops the mail.
Boy shows him
how to walk all over again,
that make good pics. How
not to kick up dust, jar rocks.
Eventfully they plant a flag.
Place hands upon hearts.
Never before, stripes
wide as these. Never again,
stars this close.