Sunday, December 30, 2012

Mark Jackley- Three Poems

In the weeds (and I do mean weeds) of Greg Allman's life
story, I thought of you when I read the part
where he posed with Red Dog, a roadie, at the crumbling
edge of the Grand Canyon, where once I also stood,
wearing a fake war bonnet, fake war paint on my face
like Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now as you held the camera, 
shaking, green from drink, and I see the look you shared
with one of the better white boy singers of the blues, a style
best practiced on the edge of sin and fear, two things you had
in ample stores as you weaved your Ford Econoline van
through the desert to jump-start me as I thumbed back East,
fear and sin that bloomed like sage after rain or fire-
vomiting Martian demons after a tab of acid,
after tomorrow stubbornly came, again and again, along
with stories that started trickling in like the smoke-filled years:
you riding your ten-speed bike on Interstate 95,
or setting a roof on fire with an acetylene painter's torch
and jumping from the blaze, you actually being tarred
and feathered and I believing it might actually be true.
It's dawn and I am reading, friend, in a parking lot,
thanking Henry Ford for the unintended gift
of stillness. Every word is bright in the ear inside
my skull; the sun sets fire to dandelion heads. 
I'll never stumble upon the glossy story of your life
in library stacks or hear it moaned in twelve ensorceled bars
as drunks close their eyes and grin, and groupies sway. I leave you
with this little flame, what I’m waving in the dark.

Let us be dogs, lie around like dogs, pant, drool and hump like mutts,
for the dog days are here and honey, there is nothing else to do.
The summer storm that blasted through like a psycho-killer
named Jeb Wayne Lee or Jeb Lee Wayne has left us without power
and air conditioning and ceiling fans, has melted the coffee ice cream,
and the beer is getting warm. Let us lap it up like dogs.
Let us comfort our dogs, who whined, who whimpered and cowered in fear
as Jeb Lee Storm pulverized trees and flashed and roared because,
well, no one knows, not the weatherman babbling
about super cells and cloud-to-ground but who can never explain
violence, why it exists, how it bares its teeth like a dog.
Let us lift our legs on science. Let us snap and snarl
in boredom on this simmering day and woof when the other speaks
humorously. Darling, you can sniff me anywhere,
it's perfectly fine, why not, the TV is out and the stereo too
and both PCs, oh honey, let us do as they knew to do
when our ancestors grunted and dropped from trees
and barbecued dinosaurs.  I can almost remember the darkness,
what roamed its edge and howled.


Bring me a pile of pills as colorful and insane
as the Christmas lights that make my baby crazy and sad each year,
oh bring me a year, a new one, more May than January
hardening like a mound of snow in shadows and festooned
with motor oil and nameless crud, a hangover month, let's face it,
Santa, bring me some life, I am old but I am hungry
in the silvery mist that should be snow, which yes reminds me
it's mid-December and seventy-two, please bring a brand new planet,
we've fried this one. My sister, the one in lower Manhattan
dons a hazmat suit these days to rehab moldy homes
in the Rockaways and Santa, I'm sorry to piss and moan,
but I haven't bent your ear like this since 1967,
when all I wanted for Christmas was my balding daddy back
from the Central Highlands and the Delta in one piece
and you came through, never mind he spent a solid decade
in a piss-poor mood and pills were less abundant, but
thank god for booze! Santa, if in fact you're fiction,
will someone let the Easter Bunny know I have some questions?


Mark Jackley is the author of several chapbooks, most recently Every Green Word (Finishing Line Press), and a full-length collection, There Will Be Silence While You Wait (Plain View Press). His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rougarou, Sugar House Review, Pebble Lake Review, Tirage Monthly, Body and other journals. He lives in Sterling, VA.

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