Inhuman Swill : Poems : Page 3
            

How can you live with a dog,
with its lifespan of ten to fifteen years,
and not realize how quickly the clock
is ticking?

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Time is not on my side

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time is not on my side today

instead it's hanging above me
like a Damoclean sword

or gaping at my feet
like the very jaws of hell

no, time is not on my side today
unless time is a spear
piercing

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Telegraph

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This poem was written for Tina Woelke, a donor to the Chicago Writers Conference Kickstarter campaign. One of the reward perks available was an original poem composed by me on a topic of the donor's choosing. Tina chose "reading," and I debuted the poem at a special edition of Tuesday Funk on Friday, September 14, 2012.

The telegraph was not invented in 1836
but three thousand years before Christ,
when the first writer took up a pointed stick
and traced out on papyrus the careful,
casual chain of coded symbols that
transmitted meaning across time and space
directly into a brain equipped to decipher it.

The telephone was not invented in 1876
but over five thousand years ago
when the first writer took up a pointed stick
and scratched out the vibrations in clay
that tickle the tympanic membrane of the heart
with thoughts conceived in days older than dirt.

Telepathy was not invented in 2170
but forty thousand years before Christ
when, by the light of smoky torches,
the first writer poured out his heart
in ochre, hematite, and charcoal,
unable in any other way to express
the experience of stalking a god,
and slaying it with a pointed stick.

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milepost 0

a bike towing a dog with its hindquarters on a cart

a totem pole

a line of hand-holding kindergartners being urged by their teacher in French to move quickly across the path

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Like writing a bicycle

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Writing
Is a lot like
Riding a bicycle

Not because it's so easy
To get back up on

But because
Sometimes
You're
Flying along
And you go farther
Than you intended to go

And you have to
Turn around and take
Yourself home

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Biking on Bryn Mawr

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Biking on Bryn Mawr Avenue,
clear sky, afternoon sun,
I pull over to the curb
for the ambulance
hurtling my way.

But it turns on Clark,
and as I pass through
the intersection I see
the gapers gathered,
the body in the street,
face down, lying twisted
like a crash-test dummy.

I have to look.
But I can't look.
I make myself not look,
face forward into traffic,
lest I become the thing
I gaze upon.

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Some poems

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Some poems come all in a burst,
Flaring in the brain nearly complete,
Nearly perfect.

Should the mind mistrust them,
These gifts, seek the flaw,
probe for holes?

Twist the knife in their bellies
Until they holler uncle,
Change their tune?

Or are they sparrows, breathing
Mysteries that can only fly again
If left untouched?

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Old man walking an old dog

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Old man walking an old dog

Not so very long ago would have been
Old man walking a young dog

Not so very long from now might it be
Old man walking a young dog again

Once upon a time might it have been
Young man walking a young dog

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Lost things

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On my walk this morning
I encountered lost things
here and there:

A glove.
A key ring.
A hearing aid.
Me.

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La sagrada tarea

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Today I read
about a man
who has spent
the past thirty
years writing
someone else's
biography.
And he's still
not finished.

Not to quibble
with anyone's
life's work, but
that's a lot of
years to spend
on somebody
else's life.
I'm not sure
I've even spent
that much time
on my own.

How does that
even happen?
A random turn,
a shiny detour,
and suddenly
you've walked
a hundred miles
in someone
else's shoes?
Too late to
turn back, the
only way out
is through?

No doubt my
own devotion
to invented lives
in invented times
and places
would look as
puzzling to him.
What, reality not
good enough?
Earth not room
enough for you?
I guess not.

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The Accidental Terrorist 30th Anniversary Sale

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William Shunn

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