Friday, July 10, 2015

Raymond Keen- Three Poems

. . . Or Let Me Tell You The Story About The Man Who Came To Work With A Crack In His Head – (Originally published in Radius – February 9, 2012)

In the morning,
After the radiation treatments,
He told us he was the butler.
He told us he was their Catholic son.
He told us he had fucked their mother.
He told us many things,
Blaming it all on Eve.

His doctor,
Not a bad man,
Just another kind yet bewildered whore
Unable to read the brain scan,
Tore up his office records
And prescribed a dose of poison
Large enough to go around.
Fortunately, we have a way of
Monitoring the self-destruction.
A bad memory helps.
Can you name the four seasons of the year?
“Je crois que oui,” they said.

City planners,
Tired of thinking on tiptoes,
Bleeding, as it were, from all their orifices,
Thus displaying an unmanly sensitivity,
Where eagles once soared,
Where jackals once howled
(A drama of good and evil),
Are fully covered by insurance
If “accidents” happen
In “priority” tunnels.
“Don’t let him hug the baby,”
They said.
“He’s radioactive.  Very radioactive!”
Would you like a cigarette?
“Je crois que oui,” they said.
Tragedy, however, takes time.
Even when everything runs smoothly.
There’s not a lot to do,
But there’s a lot to pay for.
Oy vay iz mir.
Social workers,
In full pursuit
Of the American dream
Of not having to choose,
Explained to volunteers
The plight of the Third World.
“We’ll get right on it, sirs!
Hoot hoot zat!  For now,
All we want to do is look good!”
They said.  “A bad memory helps.”
Can you name the colors of the American flag?
Je crois que oui,” they said.

After the radiation treatments
In this cold house,
Either way,
We need more liars
Who care about the truth.

. . . Or let me
Tell you
The story
About the man
Who came to work
With a crack
In his head.


Hic et Nunc (Originally published in Pismire – November 2010 Issue)

One Christian empire
collapsing into another,
like fly wings
falling into infants’ milk,
or the worm-dog
with no legs
sleeping in the fog,
ichello briatsia
his little teeth
starting to rot,
tears seeping
from his single infected eye,
here and there and
everywhere his mouth
or similar opening,
like the devil’s hand,
lies heavily upon us.
Teme Mori
Remember Saturn
eating his own children,
or silver water
turning black.
A little bit terrifying,
when we wake up blind,
when we wake up blind.
Are those Siamese cats
playing dead?
Are those Mormon families
neatly arranged
in the order of their dying?
They will be numbered
before they are named,
a company spokesman said.

Mr. Safety Says – (Originally published in Love Poems for Cannibals by Raymond Keen – February 2013)

Mr. Safety says
the dead
have been
On his blueprint,
the good guys
are supposed to win.
Nice script
for a sweet God
talking through
a bloody handkerchief.

Raymond Keen was educated at Case Western Reserve University and the University of Oklahoma.  He spent three years as a Navy clinical psychologist with a year in Vietnam (July 1967 – July 1968).  Since that time he has worked as a school psychologist and licensed mental health counselor in the USA and overseas, until his retirement in 2006.  He is a credentialed school psychologist in the states of California and Washington, and a licensed mental health counselor in the state of Washington. 

Raymond’s first volume of poetry, Love Poems for Cannibals, was published in February 2013.  He is also the author of a drama, The Private and Public Life of King Able, which will be published in 2015.  Raymond’s poetry has been published in 29 literary journals.


  1. Very interesting and thoughtful poetry, sweet, sour and a visit to reality, nice job Raymond.

  2. Powerful images and powerful sentiments.