If I claim I was a terrible, horrible,
Evil no-good person,
It would be a lie, and it would be
Wanting always to be the best or the worst.
So now I’m destined to wander,
My bag full of pride a lot lighter,
And if I say I am done
With whatever ails me,
That would also be a lie.
I am not done, will never be done
Till the day I die,
But I am content to be human,
Naked and shaking with love
At the moment, and the next moment,
I just can’t say.
Travis Wayne Denton
The Cartoonist Is Struck Dumb by, Perhaps, a Higher Power, Grief, Drugs or Lack of Sleep
Only four frames to fill and every thought balloon is empty.
His characters sneer at him, their smiles still wet on the page,
Waiting for the blank of their wits to be inked.
And across the country, his sleeping readers dream
Not of flying or strolling into class without a stitch,
But of quarters jingling in their pockets,
As they stand in front of rows of paper machines,
Their thoughts craned to page 17b for some bit of wisdom
That can only be found over morning coffee.
The comic is simple: Frame One: a man who clearly needs
No haircut or shave sits in a barber’s chair, with a woman strolling by
With two leashed St. Bernards.
Frame Two: Three ducks in a bathtub. Suds piled on the floor.
For this one, he has words: The first duck says to the third
“Hey man, pass the soap.” The second replies,
“What do I look like…a typewriter?”
Frame Three: The scene is an Old West ghost town.
A VW microbus and a stagecoach glare in a showdown
And all the townsfolk have gathered to watch the game of chicken.
Frame Four (the last one): Saint Peter has just opened the Pearly gates
And, to his surprise, finds standing there a man in a barber shop smock,
A woman with St. Bernards, three wet ducks, a microbus, a stage coach
And a crowd in western get-up.
The cartoonist stares back at the faces, their appropriate smiles, fixed
On him as they watch the wrinkles deepen around his eyes.
The duck can’t forgive him for the platypus or for birds that can fly.
The carriage can’t forgive him for the industrial revolution.
The man can’t forgive him male pattern baldness,
Monday Night Football and St. Bernards.
The woman: For the man and the leash.
And there’s St. Peter working his 9 to 5 (always a step behind big “G”)
Who can’t forgive him for the toga and its association with the righteous.
Peter can’t forgive him, or won’t, for being the designated bringer of news
And is waving the group away with a tired hand.
They are gathered here waiting for the cartoonist’s pen to stop pulsing.
He enters the frame, takes his place between Peter and the ducks
With a thought balloon rising above him.
I can’t make my comeback in this
less auspicious environment
the tall man in the bookstore great impostor
stealing the seat I was ready to sit in
I get tired of fighting passive wars it’s not worth
my time what’s your name?
something corporate no doubt they thrive on neglect
today: a chain reaction
with good views of the sky, mostly
no one looks out the window, just
generally aware of the rough outline of clouds
beautiful even dumping buckets of rain
I love you best
when your back is turned
I love you best when you’re in the other room
do you want love, luck, money? Full of questions
I wish you’d listen but when you do
I can’t quite—
there was something important about clouds—
I become like you
an early riser
stumbling into the day haphazard
as is customary, no coffee no umbrella but
I brought a book called Rain it is a fine
yellow book it fits right in my bag I can feel it when I walk
the wet sidewalk gingko leaves everywhere
children calling each other archaic names
Hazel Agnes Henry et cetera
everything is making a comeback
I Imagine That Voice in the Farmhouse Is Yours
There are a lot of voices in the night
when you don’t live far-off and alone,
and this may make you feel more alone.
Often, I think they are saying great numbers
of dumb things, and sometimes, radiant degrees
of brilliance that I cannot comprehend. To me,
rarely, I imagine these voices aimed. It is quiet
and I am desperate for some information I am
without, and have craved. Someone is yelling
to their dog, at their lover, and I am neither.
I am not inclined to answer, but I wait. I don’t
listen, but I anticipate, maybe, a beautiful voice
one day calling, not to me, to Come here. I won’t know how,
or to whom they’re speaking, but I do believe I’ll feel ready.
It’s Getting Cold. And
Is it just me, or does snow make gravity more real?
I mean the weight of the world. I mean what’s really
got you down? I mean how many Positivity tapes do
we have to listen to before we can forget direction
entirely? I don’t want to compare any love to snow
but the burdens are so similar. It’s times like these
when I long for the comforts of certain corporate
logos. To feel the warmth of a fully communicated
idea. We should go places and look more interesting.
We should go places and let little smiles soften our
faces. We should go to our faces and let little kisses
litter their softened places. I have ladynames for all
your ladyparts and I have been sending you a ton
of dirty texts, some of which I even meant. You are
coming home and you are a little red but still you
are totally qwerty. All communication, you say, boils
down to time signatures. Mine is loopy and 12:15.
Yours is sexy and simply says, dusk, which I think
is real genius on your part. The instilling of images
and whatnot. I want to get interface with you, wear
those shirts we have that are the same color, but say
different things. I want you to practice kissing me the
way that I like. I mean, I feel bad for my face and how
it can only mimic the punctuation and never really
mean it. The sun looks weird now squinting through
the snow like it’s doing. If I ever think to miss winter,
this is what I’ll miss; our bodies, a mess of crayon
peach, and the space heater promising more than
it could actually ever deliver. Still, its noise is nice
and white and when we get done having sex I will
be more positive about its warmth. Sweaty almost.
the only chance
the factory, once a producer of flashlights, begins to produce bears. tiny bears and big bears and hyper-intelligent bears. the hyper intelligent bears take management positions at the factory. soon the factory begins producing young girls in ringlets and blue eyes. the bears pull the ringlets and blue eyes off the girls and underneath there are the tiny bears. no, the tiny bears say, this was our only chance. the only one.