Farmer Gloomy's New Hybrid
Henry Kafka:And Other Stories
For more Poets
The Big Chair
A man causes chaos in his house.
His family flees, finds shelter.
Here there is much light.
Here the clocks function.
Here the children learn to hunt.
Meals are served on plates.
The earth does not shift.
A woman wears a hat of fruit;
she sings into a microphone.
Each morning a calf is born.
Children may select their facial features.
It is safe here.
A man lies on a suspension bridge,
curled in a ball.
He closes his eyes
and doesn't breathe.
A man causes chaos.
50 of One, Half a Dozen of the Other
The armadillos are on the tarmac.
Their demands are unreasonable.
We should never have given an inch.
our nation has ground to a halt.
The wheels of industry
The students crouch
beneath their desks,
covered in ducks.
Nothing's on TV.
What's a chalkboard?
Used to be you could
buy a book for a quarter,
pretend it was a hotdog.
Now you're hard-pressed
to flap your elbows
and bug out your eyes.
Now every year
is its own generation.
They're making soft drinks from sandpaper.
The prime-minister is on the radio.
He will not comment on the terrorists.
He says if we don't reelect him
he'll kill himself.
He makes a pun about “endoskeletons“
that no one understands.
Why must we do everything ourselves?
Are we happier than our parents?
We'd be happier than our children
but we don't have any.
Used to be
you could carve your initials in a tree
and someone would fall in love with you.
Now there are no trees,
we have no initials,
and no one remembers
what “carve“ means.
There's a guy selling maps
down at the kiosk,
but who can find the guy with the map to the kiosk?
My line grew taut,
I woke from an allergic slumber,
knew I'd caught a cow
(my father long ago had taught me how).
I reeled its living carcass in
and sat it down beside me on the rock.
We'd have a talk. But when I looked
into its mucoid eyes, and it
into mine, all red from last night's
smoke and self-loathing and wine,
I knew I'd throw it back.
As it crossed its legs, adjusted its cross,
and gazed across the water, I plunged a hand
into the gash my hook had ripped in its chest.
I felt its heart, its lungs, its ribs, its steak.
I felt its warm blood bathe my fingers clean.
I saw my future black and white,
a desert, where among the cacti,
human skulls and bovine skulls from John Ford films
lulled and roosted and mised their scenes together.
My daddy wore an apron — “I'm the Chef“ —
my mama fussed about a picnic table.
Their own parents huddled fetid in
the bowels of a boat, traversing a
desert of water (their brothers and sisters
marching to slaughter) to give birth to
my daddy and his apron and my mama.
When I withdrew my hand from the bowels
of my prize-winning catch, I heard flies
flying hungrily, buzzing the blood,
and I knew we were brothers,
or brother and sister,
and I was a moo-cow and it was
a killer. I bowed my head, tenderized,
and the cow threw me back in.
I do not know how
he came to be in my apartment.
How any of them came to be
in my apartment. But I threw him out.
And when he returned, he had a knife.
And when I looked in my hand,
I had a knife, too. We both
had knives. We had those knives
our dads kept by the workbench,
retractable metal blades.
And he began parrying,
dodging and thrusting,
and my uninvited guests
were eating all my food, and drinking
what they could find, there wasn't much.
They tore posters from walls,
tried on my shirts,
and shit on the floors.
I knew now what it was like
to be popular.