Tag Archive: surreal


Like an uncertain monstrosity, the laughing cowboy surveys the wild plain

taking in the artificial sheep and monumental lanyards,

the percolating fences that manipulate local disdain.

For too many pavements he’d squandered his cigarette charisma,

rubbing his beard stubble vociferously in a gesture that drove the laundresses to drink.

He calypsoed at Gilbert’s Diner, sashaying in front of the mashed potatoes carousel,

fingers poking out of his pockets and eyes hooded with knowing nonchalance.

He’d known too many women to recapitulate,

even using his efficient pocket calculator from the drug store.

Maladust, the befuddled sheriff, provided free custard to anyone who’d look away

while the transparent donkeys performed burlesque routines outlawed in most other towns.

It wasn’t as easy as the days when brain-dead Hilda made a display of reticence,

chomping on lipstick the shade of embarrassed nectarines.

“You can’t find trains like that in the old world,” she muttered, nursing a tomato hangover.

She cavorted with menacing toothpaste in a show everyone knew to be planned,

squeezing the green malignancy from the giant tube

with a grin that any dentist would shiver to behold.

She’d offer to sleep through anyone’s resilience,

proferring her arcane plant knowledge afterward,

pulling obscure thistles from her apron pockets

bewildering the veteran men with tales of creosote

and bursting into laughter at a windy provocation.

“History is for the hysterical,” she’d whisper in an unctuous tone

before drawing the gingham covers over her head.

It remained only for old Doc Hallway to extract a mint cornhusk from the dining table.

“Don’t let your laundry obstruct your better nature,”

he would counsel, sinking his head onto the greasy bar.

“I’ve absorbed the scorn of a woman tossed,” he’d somehow enunciate,

his mouth a rubbered distortion. “Let’s take the parade to hunkytown and dangle the miasma.”

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When you leave Sears at midnight

Turn off the lights for the mongoose

And luxuriate in a papaya tea

The gypsy woman with the eyeliner

Will wait in the boxcar

Undeterred by sheriffs

And dental assistants

Where the slides of her youth betrayed a razor

A man with rollerblade sides

Who took too long to appreciate her gum

These are the voyages of a girl who takes trips

Where the beaches are less photogenic

Than the steel folds of your lost hometown

And the desiccated potatoes of Mrs. Lindstrom

Who knew more about driveways than you ever will.

Plumber Poem

She imitated a successful plumber,

knocking on doors with no reason,

replacing arachnids for the saddest girls

and knocking back orange mimosas on the pine-edged porch

after a hard day of washers.

Eventually she enrolled everyone in her ranch dip diet

showing them how to twirl the cylindrical vegetables

and laughing at the simple acceptance of their faces.

It was only when she took off the olive garments

and confronted the same refrigerator as always

that the parades and the banners took on the same bad aftertaste,

the metallic knowledge of the underwhelmed.

 

She devised an electronic cereal

that detected her lack of excitement

but the alternatives suggested were damp.

Somewhere beyond her fictional redwoods

stood the monumental Kleenex box,

decorative live mice nodding, adorning its corners.

They would pretend to chew her until

the moon, with its poor sense of timing,

approved the impregnable shapes

oscillating just beyond the glassine limit.

Then the desiccated milk, deprived of speech,

made a detuned rasp of false languor.

Ever since my tweet about skeletons on vacation in Bermuda (‘Snorkel? Do I look like I need a snorkel?’) lots of readers might have been wondering, what are your tips for writing about skeletons? Like any subject matter that involves lots of shiny white bones and perfectly skin-free skulls, there are important rules to observe when writing about skeletons in order to come up with a piece of writing that’s entertaining, enjoyable and not too gross. Here are ten of the most important:

1. Know your skeleton’s back story. A skeleton that belonged to a little boy from Fresno will act in a totally different way than a skeleton that belonged to a trucker from Tampa. Hint: The Fresno skeleton will be smaller.

2. Stay away from skeleton romance. The skeleton erotica genre is a tricky one and best handled by experts. If you must include a sexual element, try having your skeleton seductively fondle a rubber Halloween skull mask.

3. Watch out for clichés. As in any genre, certain stories in skeleton fiction have been done to death. Your readers don’t need to see yet another story about the young skeleton boy who loses his beloved skeleton dog. Especially in a freeway accident.

4. You can’t go wrong with a plot line where your main character tries to cover up sordid misbehavior from their past. We don’t have the phrase ‘skeletons in the closet’ for nothing.

5. Don’t fall into the trap of writing about skeletons only from extreme ends of the socio-economic spectrum or skeletons with so-called ‘magical powers’. There’s still a lot to be written about the plight of the typical middle-class skeleton with no extraordinary abilities.

6. A good heart-tugging scene is the one where your skeleton loses its skull and has to retrieve it from a high school biology classroom. This is always great for a ‘skeletons are people too’ kind of moment.

7. Don’t shy away from controversial issues. Such hot button topics as skeleton euthanasia, ceramic surgery and ‘equal pay for equal bones’ can make for solid stories.

8. Focus on what separates your skeleton from other skeletons. Does it have unusually large eye holes? A missing rib? A femur with an interesting malformation? These are the precise details that will stick in your reader’s mind.

9. Scenes in a restaurant, over dinner? Don’t do it. Just awkward.

10. Finally, your own best guidance for good skeleton writing is probably already deep inside you. Take the time fora long hard look within, and if that still doesn’t work, get an x-ray.

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Like mummies engulfed in jello

They were cranberry-drenched

The black raisin eyes squinting

At a spidery destiny.

They made the intermittent, slip-filled march

into the forest of gauzy brambles

on a miniature mission, but no less harmful for that.

Desiccated bees and abandoned abdomens lay strewn along their path.

Lanterns the size of dwarf pennies did little to assist them

Giving each other distrustful stares,

they tramped above ever soggier leaves,

into a horizon of sarcophagus gray.

The burger prowled across gray plains of segmented cockroaches

Dripping globules of grease, its mutant mouth poised in a reindeer-sized gape

A heedless genetically modified patty, burnt bacon bit eyes crispy with vengeful drive

Leaving behind a trial of meat slime on the blasted earth

Giving voice to an onion-scented raspy growl

It had guzzled small crippled poodles, toasted dachshunds,

A singed, brittle sponge that had at first appeared to be a shrunken burnt squirrel

Still its appetite vaunted, a burger demanding to conquer,

Tearing away from its bun-bound past with one dull gnash after another

One in a mutant landscape of ravenous mad meat.

My Bad Poetry #19

‘and the mermaid said, why bother?’

 

April is the coolest month, making

Swim trunks out of old jean shorts, mixing

Tanqueray and lager, stirring

Stray dogs with spry brains.

YouTube kept us dazed, covering

ears in formica rhymes, slipping

A tiny boy in tired viewers.

Seymour surveyed us, driving over the wet interstate

With a powder of beans; we stood on the fish-drenched wharf,

And went on in green mist, into the new Starbucks,

And drank macchiatos, and passed out.

My Bad Poetry #18

When the curtain opened on the severed cat head

We knew it would be a long night at the theater.

Burnham forgot his comb

And the holographic bowling ball failed to appear.

The women of the croissant society charged extra for gum

While the mealy-mouthed protagonist

Could not find the exit from the rumpled, burlap corridor.

Champagne spilled on the meatloaf,

Excruciating dog noises came from backstage.

At least, the rain was convincing.

My Bad Poetry, Nos. 6-10

#6

I gave you the chicken of my dreams

But you just gave me maize.

I dressed him with fine poultry gloves

And stared at him for days.

I strutted through the barnyard

And wore my blackest cloaks –

But you just read St. Augustine

And made medieval jokes.

#7

The Pope who kissed my mother

Was much fatter than the other

Who tittered in faded robes

While the stout one fondled her earlobes.

#8

Burning down the house

I forgot about her blouse

That I left by the fire parade

With the bowling ball charade.

But afterward, the cops

With their integrated crops

Were able to entangle

The fingernail’s angle.

I gave them forty bucks

And a Sirloin Duck Deluxe.

#9

I once dated a shirtless raccoon

Who managed a drink-free saloon

He ran out of peanuts

And ordered three grilled mutts

But his jukebox did not have the tune.

#10

“I’m going to copyright your head,”

Warned the mayor,

Pointing the gun at the cold cuts.

I tiptoed and got him in a headlock.

Staggering, he sputtered three words:

“Meat.  Rice.  Poultry.”

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