After Robert Coover
Beyond the zoo of Africa,
stick man and stick woman hug often,
two apostrophes becoming quotation marks,
pictograms of multicolored fonts
jammed into quiet language.
He is happy in his world, can shade outlines with his mind,
yet he wonders what is behind the horizon inline
and imagines the human world.
Stick man becomes an instant celebrity due to his stickness
finds himself on display on Broadway doing a five stick
and one circle show where he stacks together poses such as;
Stick man putting his cat to sleep,
Stick man scatters kindling over a wild fire,
Stick man sleeps and changes color.
Soon he perfects the talk show nod, wins a million dollars
on Deal or No Deal. Leyla (number 13) gives him a hug
and her left breast pushes through hoop of his head.
His Hamlet stuns the critics. They note as especially fine
his soliloquies and sword play.
He moderates the final presidential debate with postures
of hope, joy and sadness, then points to each man.
They contemplate the state of the sticks and remain speechless,
unable to discern stick man no longer can imagine the outline
of stick woman
her triangle mini-skirt perched at a jaunty angle,
her buxom center line.
Stick man imagines himself a star
on Hollywood Blvd.,
then in the garden of paradise
with the great pumpkin snake who hangs from limbs,
snaps the heads off of stick people.
Some re-imagine their heads
while others pick up apples
and screw them
on their stick necks
beyond the zoo of Africa.
(published in Rattlesnake Review, December 2008
For awhile, I was in the window light
perched on a pine shelf. At night, Andy
and I rumba’d with the deer mice, crept through
happy toads and paper dragons on the lookout
for lucky pennies or a scuttle roach.
Now in the locked down dark,
I think Andy is gone but can’t be sure.
My head is wedged upside down behind the shelf,
one painted eye pressed into a board-game
adventure of sawmill and grit.
Once someone grabbed my foot and pulled
until the seam under my chin ripped, the cotton
burst free as my feet were stuffed
behind the board next to my ear. For awhile,
they stacked cans of Play-Doh in front of me,
then Barbie, Monopoly and Life. The mice made
a nest in my throat, suckled their babies,
kept my headache warm.
In my gingham, I have dust mites and fairy
bone roaches to keep me company. My bald head
comes alive each night – a prisoner
of pine, wrinkled rips and wounds.
I imagine laughing with all of the children
I never wanted.
(published in Verseweavers, 2008)