In Praise of Hay
It’s true that at times the good die young,
but some like Lennon, King and Hendrix
live on, sealed in folklore that speaks
with every pulse of every bleeding heart.
And if there were a God that could actually
bring them back whole and in the flesh
they would be soft-spoken as are free fish
and have absolutely no need to be praised.
The Great Barrier Reef is disintegrating
and Glacier Park’s ice in alarming decline.
Meanwhile mantas--those majestic acrobats
that glide with glee through open waters--
are hooked, hauled in, and then unloaded
onto foreign docks, arranged in neat rows
on unforgiving concrete and clubbed until
dead. Their magnificent Stealth wings
whacked off with sharp machetes,
the cartilage sold by insidious profiteers
to Asians who anxiously await its arrival
to include in their beloved shark fin soup.
Half-naked Haitians support themselves
creating steel sculptures out of recycled
oil drums. They first fill the drums
with hay, then set it on fire to burn off
sludge that clings to walls of the barrels.
Once the steel is flattened they fashion
exotic aquatic figures—sea lions, orcas,
dolphins, starfish—together swimming
in synergistic asymmetry in an altogether
imagined pristine ocean. The Haitians
sing reggae as they toil, or loudly chant
traditional indigenous songs as they
bang mallets against heads of chisels,
the metallic clangor resounding throughout
an entire village that has weathered quake,
inundating flood and unspeakable famine.
As a counterpoint to riches filched from
victims of cataclysm, the collective psyche
is stripped of its patina as well as motive
to grasp control of its progeny’s evolution.
He can only detect five of the twelve
documented dimensions, which means
omniscience has yet to take hold.
He must daily deal on the phone
with schizos he calls Nazis.
And now a new Muslim clique
plots an invasion across the border.
He noted what gruesomeness man
is able to inflict when he viewed
Jodie Foster grilling the cannibal
Anthony Hopkins in The Silence
of the Lambs. A minimal amount
of spam emails can be deleted
with one click of the mouse because
the internet is too congested.
Li Po on sabbatical, Lao Tse is fog.
He can only shinny up
a telephone pole so many times
until concluding he’s not
Coppola, Galileo, a monkey.
Quite a shame, he muses,
that imperiums like Rio and Barcelona
amass graffiti. As an addendum
Monet painted smoke inside
the Paris terminal, only one
to have attempted this. Obviously
Gandalf is nothing but a sly tale
like the Kraken. He felt
the vagabond didn’t have to get
so uptight when he mistook
his Australian accent for British. Oh
yes, Henry did pen the Dream Songs.
And he knew all along Pete Seeger
was a communist. So did I.
This much he can count on:
Julie resplendent in the foyer
of the snazzy moonlit oceanfront hotel
sings soothing jazz tunes
while waves hoodwink shaven sand.
Of all the implausible notions
brought about by impotent potions
and convoluted mixed emotions
the least defined was his uncanny
defiance while facing death head on.
At the forefront stood stout fathers,
byproducts of volatile verse,
grandstanding. To the rear
his shadow gained on him
like a lightning stallion.
Not to be mocked
that he might hail new space,
any other than that which
was inhabited, intrepid beast
unscathed by revisionist voyages.
Mucky turbulence a caveat:
he’d already bought and sold
a king’s ransom of hollow souls
and was left for dead.
As a result he pranced about,
dug untapped earth,
creatures warrantedunworthy of redemption.
Thomas Piekarski is a former editor of the California State Poetry Quarterly. His poetry and interviews have appeared in Nimrod, Portland Review, Kestrel, Cream City Review, Poetry Salzburg, Boston Poetry Magazine, Gertrude, The Bacon Review, and many others. He has published a travel guide, Best Choices In Northern California, and Time Lines, a book of poems. He lives in Marina, California.