Tuesday, May 3, 2011


There’s a child standing atop the caliché skyscraper
Buried under a century of Simon and Garfunkel
He meant to come down, but there’s a sun and a grandfather and he can’t remember why he came

The cameras are rolling, the receivers are throwing
           beads and poppers and rivers of whiskey and Phoenix
And the glare from the streetlamps burns Ohio River bridges
           til the tenderizing blast
           turns Old Miss into glass

He says if luck were a lady no one would care that you’re crazy
           because betrayal of fact is the essence of memory and the
           tunnels through town always seemed like a maze to me
           even when I still cared where they go

So the Contras get desperate, Princess Di is protesting
Stevie Nicks and fireworks and strip-mining Oasis and we’re stretching these metaphors
like ambulance-chasers trying to find truth in a song
                                                                            knowing four-fourths time is wrong

We look back to the child on the school lunch skyscraper
He’s learned to flow fresh and roll blunts without fingers
He’s learned thousands of modes of subcultural self-expression
                                                                                        He still classifies by race
                                                        and he’s preaching all the wisdom he never remembered
                                                        he interrogates his rhymes with waterboarding he learned from
                                                        the alliteration on porn mags

So he’s kept distracted from the son and the grandfather
who are melting the jello foundation of the skyscraper
lest heavy metals allow him to avoid the decision to be or not to be
                                                                           like Esterhaz watching Buffy

--Jonathan Penton is the editor of www.UnlikelyStories.org and Unlikely Stories of the Third Kind. He has written four chapbooks of poetry: Last Chap (Vergin' Press, 2004), Painting Rust and Blood and Salsa (Unlikely Books, 2006) and Prosthetic Gods (New Sins Press, 2008). He is standoffish to the point of being unfriendly, which might be why he's so often accused of being an undercover cop, which confuses him because he'd expect undercover cops to be really ingratiating but he doesn't actually know.

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