Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sonnets For Lily Yukon - 2. Last Chance Saloon

Say— nothing's sacred anymore in the world's northernmost
but there's a hypothermic bathtub & plenty of people drowning,
they're treeless islands in the wake of a heavenly cataclysm,
a paperback Moby Dick splatted against the wall;

& it might amaze you Lily to hear the meteorites splash breaking
        hearts across
unearthly breakers tossing around nude boats;
Oh the stars in these parts they have bad attitudes, the old man
Mostly they grind their resentful magnetic teeth

& there are a few other things you don't know:
for instance, I wanted you so badly when I got tossed ashore from
        that liquid oxygen heaven
I puked ocean snow & called it stellules;
& tonight's reek is retch & piss & a men's room white & for-
saken linoleum floor—an ice rink where I'm lying cold-cocked,
        a smoked Sockeye on ice, & only
my fingertips are still smoking

Jack Hayes
© 1990-2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sonnets For Lily Yukon - 1. True North

The arctic tundra's microcosmic diorama in this ashtray,
this heap of ossification & flakes piled glacial in snowbanks &
        drifts: the
caribou antlers, the ptarmigan shit, the walrus tusks, spent
which aren't unidentifiable marrow bones the carrion birds
        picked clean, Lily—

Go ahead & look out the window:
Polaris is up there reflecting a tangle of wire & uncombed hair
        & irreconcilable fractions:
the square root of dead silence—
which is negative one & this indoor blizzard: a snowdome aswirl
        with ashes

& I suppose before it's over you might ask how I managed to
        evolve as this
polar region that looks macrocosmically so much like a
        prospector's barroom—
a buffalo's savagely bovine eyes staring from the head hulking
        stuffed on
the wall remembering the ice age.
Just cut open my chest before you say goodnight that final
before you step out into the infinite,
& you'll find this chunk of ice,
the pumps & springs it froze around.

Jack Hayes
© 1990-2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Big Carnival Ballade

Was it Oscar's body a bosc pear a white ceramic pitcher
        dripping milk
Was it Nature Morte
Was it an orange rock cod on ice bundled in newsprint was it
Cold Duck Oscar gulped was it a love potion he chugged he
        couldn't hide the fact was it
Paper dolls was it
        as sexy as any walleyed tropical fish swimming past the
        wreck in its tank was it
Soap bubbles Oscar blew gasping what a dilapidated accordion
Was it a wax museum
If it was a hand it must have been waving

Was it someone's Ti Bon Ange was it Alice
Pissing Liebfraumilch was it
Poor poor Oscar's body a navel orange splitting under a
        thumbnail the thumbnail was
A decaying molar the tooth fairy will come for was it
Meat sauce was it red carnations ladled across the linguini
Was it a stomach x-ray was it
A Frederick's of Hollywood catalog in the good doctor's office
Was it Oscar plagued by canaries behind his face
If it was a hand it must have been waving

Was it Liz doing Little Egypt was it
Another hospital moonlighting as a Herzog movie
Was it puppets cursing like Violas D'Amore being tuned up
Was it Turkish State Monopoly cigarettes
Cough cough was it the Black Death was it

Sugar molecules swirling tentacles in the black coffee was it
        Oscar's black suit he stood shivering in was it
An upright bass grandiose as a Frigidaire moaning coronary
        thrombosis was it
A blue love wig from Sheba's he stroked it was it
Alice's chest inked with the entire orchestral score to Aïda
If it was a hand it must have been waving

Tell me what happened once the tricycle sank was it
Aortas like bulbous kelp washed up was it Dungeness crabs
        boiled passionate in the pot was it
A valentine Oscar ripped from his ribcage was it
A toucan
If it was a hand it must have been waving

Jack Hayes
© 1990-2009

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sam Peckinpaugh Mexican Xmas

It was 1 one of those border joints gets you feeling you must be a
        1 car collision accordioned
smack at the intersection of an upright
piano a taxidermized swordfish & a rack of pool balls exploding
like a basket of rotten fruit
1 of those joints that’s crawling with axolotls &
lobotomized sombreros
& a dozen Hummels in need of a lithium script
Rita looked irrationally lovely too
like a pair of cat’s eye sunglasses worn lopsided
by a bruised columbine sprouting in a junkyard
I don’t doubt she had her troubles existence
determinism & eyelids held open with
needles in the orange a.m. It’d get here
someday she looked sad as a
napkin pink lipstick’s smeared across & under that anti-freeze
& conjunctivitis pink bird-of-paradise piñata strung up on a
I had a few things on my mind
& they all had names
Gasoline Alley & Rosie & Rosie’s dejected
sunglasses burning chemical
blue in Gasoline Alley xmas eve about
39 hundred miles past
you can’t forget Rosie that 5 foot 9 redheaded mourning dove
she said time to time she felt like a Minnie Mouse watch with
        both hands
reaching toward the sky Christ
what a honeymoon that provocative & especially toxic rendition
        of Bach’s Toccata &
Fugue in D Minor giving the Greyhound
bus the shakes Christ it was really a washed-up conchshell
in the midst of West Texas & just about now
Jimmy was stumbling drunk & he looked just like
a dimestore knickknack burro with human
risus sardonicus teeth a brutal paintbrush slapped
onto its kisser He tells me I’m better off Christ
it was 1 one of those joints makes you feel you’ve got to be lost
inside a Bosch triptych the joint was swarming with
refugees from the Personals’
Wild Side section
Decked-out xmas trees’ chasing lights that were shuddering
loose in a fit of El Niño shakes no amount of
nembutal or gift-wrapped
baby dolls was going to
fix amphibious leather jackets with big amphetamine ideas
& a taste for Monarch butterflies impaled on a hatpin &
a few stragglers from Twilight Zone
        reruns whose hearts were parrot
hearts who sported Panama hats & had this nasty habit of
        chewing cuticles at the frenzied climax of
reveries about Plan 9 From Outer Space
Made me wonder what’s more lonesome
a campfire in Death Valley
or Warren Oates’ ghost which is mostly hungry sunglasses & teeth
or Rosie’s gasoline-burning blue eyes burning irrelevant
love letters up like so much neon
alphabet soup Christ I was packing an imperial quart of Colt 45
        in my once festive guts where it waltzed with
smoke from 17 Nuestra Señora novena candles that reeked like
Chesterfields inhaled in the drizzle It was
1 of those past life experiences
Rosie singing Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire in the key of
Nothing flat That’s when I’d known it was just about done for
All I was seeing were mangled brown
monterey pines still trimmed with
candy canes somebody’s false choppers embedded between the
swirls & them ditched on the curb on xmas 11-something pm & I
        wasn’t singing
Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire I was
Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire
Did I tell you Rita looked inappropriately lovely
like a phonebooth sporting a broken heart tattoo Christ
she was no help
I felt like a 1-way ticket to Oaxaca
only took me far as Juárez & there wasn’t much in my suitcase
a Three Musketeer’s bar some garbled memories of mariachi
        ballads all the
dark matter strewn thru the cosmos between here &
Oklahoma & of course the rearranged faces of all Rosie’s
ex & future lovers & Jimmy was drunk as a fold-out scenic
        postcard as an
eyeless fish as Ernest’s Borgnine’s
teeth when he guffaws about Nearer My God To Thee violence in
an Old Mexico that doesn’t exist there was going to be a sunrise
        but who could say when there weren’t any
angels at least not sober 1s There was Santa Claus though blind
        drunk & baring
pharmaceutical dexedrine teeth snickering
pink & green feathers & Tammy Wynette crooning
D-I-V-O-R-C-E on a country station transmitting
radio waves bounced off the Diá De Los Muertos
sugar skull that passed for a moon in those parts but
there was no Rosie except transformed to a freight train hooting
I’ll Be Home For Xmas as its highballed a zoo of exotic birds north
        up the coast Christ
She’ll reach the North Pole someday &
I felt like an upright piano with ornery lungs & 1
dud G that stuck coughing up
Stranger in Paradise in the key of Fuck Off Minor Christ
stuff lay broken all over
falling stars like so many incisors & molars a left
uppercut knocked helter skelter & Rita’s
unbearably lovely flat affect It could be a face on a matchbook
smoldering in a black plastic ashtray
that’s cracked leaking black black millipedes with a
more than 1 beer thirst for toxic
polyurethane smoke
It’s a shame they got squashed like that afterwards Jimmy’s
        knuckles cracked
like an upright piano with a decrepit ticker stuttering
Blue Xmas the first few bars burning blue streaks every half
        note drenched in
gasohol touched off with stubbed Camel straights the butts
snapped at the blue print
& Santa’s smudged Foster Grants
cracked too reflected con-
cupiscently needless to say pretty faces pretty much like
Rosie’s foundering down in the bottom of his cracked beer glass
        Christ like so many
hearts like a broken-hearted bird-of-
paradise piñata a 34-oz Louisville Slugger swung level & eye
        on the
pill by Warren Oates’ ghost shattered nearly lyrically &
the way most things break apart in slo-motion

Jack Hayes © 1995-2009
This poem appeared previously in Chump