Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bird Taxi

Bird Taxi

Bird Taxi Mystery
Bird Taxi Purr
Bird Taxi Times
Bird Taxi Boy
Bird Taxi Rain
Bird Taxi Bicycle
Bird Taxi East
Bird Taxi Me
Bird Taxi Belief

Bird Taxi

At 4 AM I heard the birds at the end of the street.
Almost an hour later, a robin started in our yard,
then I heard a car motor arrive and stop at the curb.
I was too tired to get up and look out the window,
so I let myself see it another way. I pictured
the yellow shiny door of a checkered cab open.
With the sound of pouring water, all those birds
from down the street flew out and found places
in our tree. A new day was beginning,
they were making the rounds, singing
their hearts out. So thick you could walk
on the sound, or float on it, let your mattress
drift like a raft if it wasn’t 6 o’clock and
time to get up.

Bird Taxi Mystery

It’s like finding out a magic trick is no more
than wires and mirrors. The bird orchestra
was in full swing as the taxi noise eased in.
I heard the door open and this time the wet
slap of something hitting cement. The door
closed and the car rolled on. Of course,
I knew what it was, I recalled seeing this
happen before. The taxi was a blue car
driven by a man who carried his family
inside. When he stopped, his oldest son,
maybe seven years old, would get out
and drop a newspaper in the driveway.
That’s why the car was there early mornings.
The birds arrived by air as usual, but now
there was a bigger mystery. Who were they?
Why were they driving, delivering newspapers
together as a family? How did it happen
and what is the fate of that family?

Bird Taxi Purr

The robin still started up at 4 AM,
I woke moments before and listened
and waited. A few more birds joined in,
the way musicians do, meeting each other
out of the blue. Exactly 21 minutes later
I heard the Bird Taxi. Its engine purred
and it rubbed up to the curb as I fell
asleep again.

Bird Taxi Boy

One of these mornings, maybe tomorrow,
we’ll see, I’ll be able to lean out of bed
to push that green curtain aside. Usually
I’m so tired when I hear that car, I can’t
move. Next time will be different though.
Yes, I will see it there, with family inside,
and the boy will leap out. Because it’s
so early, the mind is thick and cloudy,
the door to dreamland is wavering open.
I will watch him move up the driveway
only his feet don’t touch the gravel, he is
hovering, flying actually. He drops a
newspaper near our house then he spins
and floats back to the waiting car.
The engine will carry them away.
I will let go of the curtain and it
will cover the window once more
and when I wake at a minute to six,
will I even remember to wonder?

Bird Taxi Times

The paper is thin and crackles at
the touch. It is covered with little
scratched marks. Somehow I know
it’s a musical score, this is what
gets delivered early each day.
So the birds can read directions,
I fold it open, leave it on the fence.

Bird Taxi Rain

On a raining morning things like waking
are forgotten. The birds hide in leaves
tight to trees and eaves and there’s no
sound at 4 AM. The alarm clicks on
at 6 AM, a muffled song that could be

Bird Taxi Bicycle

Because we’re having trouble with our car,
thirty years of roads and sometimes it won’t go,
I hope they’re not in the same boat. If their car
broke down, someone would have to deliver
by bicycle, carrying the papers in bird cages
slung like lanterns roped to the frame.
Would I even hear it? Only the rusted
pull of chain, pedal and creak as it went by.

Bird Taxi East

And when it passes our house, where does
it go next? The dawn isn’t done, it rattles
down to the shore and the bicycle wheels
churn it west across the sea. It rises on
the east coast of Japan, and with the new
sunlight again finds a house like ours,
wakens with birds and different words.

Bird Taxi Me

That could be, it’s possible there is more than
one me hearing birds this way. After Japan,
across more water to China, India, climbing
Himalayas with the sun it goes. Sometimes a car,
sometimes as a bike, whatever form it takes,
moving around the world, returning in a circle
each morning to me.

Bird Taxi Belief

This spring I noticed the birds that wake us
arrive by taxi cab. It happens at dawn like an
ordinary newspaper delivery. I have never seen it.
Only because of my first impression do I keep
calling it a taxi, and only because I rely on a
dreamy sleepiness truth do I believe what I do.

writing: allen frost in june 2009

Monday, June 29, 2009

Your Favorite World

Mr. Fritz’s Bug
At Last The Year 1923
Beedler’s Welcome
Benign Time Travel

Mr. Fritz’s Bug

Observing the flights that raced across his retina,
Mr. Fritz finally eased out of his hammock. He had
nothing else to do this lazy day. First he put a thick
lens invention in front of his eye. The world jumped
with details. He fine tuned the box all the wires ran to.
The connection created vision made of horizontal
lines that he could follow like yarn left behind in
a maze. Taking up the fading thread of one, he
pursued it across the field, along the dazzling wall
of garden flowers to where it landed on mossy bark
of an old elm tree. He tuned the dials to see more
clearly what was happening on the trunk. The line
ended in a little green bug who had flown all the way
here. It waved its six legs to another bug it met and
Mr. Fritz had to zoom in close for this astonishment.
The bug whose life he chose to chase, pulled out a
blur of something and had it punched in the smallest
machine. It passed the timecard to another bug,
who then counted out frail scales of money. Mr. Fritz’s
bug stuffed them under its wing and sprang with a joy
off back into the wind.

At Last The Year 1923

Andrew always wore a cardigan and like a mother
kept Jocko safe in there. Going up country his pet
caused a stir riding in the open touring car.
Arriving in New Hampshire, swimming in the river
to cool off the hot air, Jane’s white legs were nipped
underwater. At last the year 1923, when Andrew died,
his dearest friend cried and cried. A broken heart,
alone, so sad without him. It must seem like a dream
to know about these things happening. Once upon an
afternoon the family would gather together at the zoo
to go see Jocko and so remember Andrew.

Beedler’s Welcome

Heavy footsteps creaked on the porch outside
Beedler’s door. His two year old daughter went
wide-eyed into his arms. The house almost shook
with the knock.
“Come in, Pat,” Beedler called. He tried to calm
his baby while the door swung open to reveal
an eight foot tall robot.
“Parents As Teachers...” The metal gleamed and
stepped inside.
“It’s okay,” he brushed the little golden head of
his daughter. “Pat’s here. She’s going to play
with us.”
“Good afternoon, Mr. Beedler…” The robot’s
height bent towards the floor. “Hello Bella...”
“She’s a little scared,” her father smiled, “It’s
okay, Bella.”
“Before we begin, Mr. Beedler, I would like
to ask you a favor…With your consent, my
advisors will be arriving shortly for a routine
evaluation of my work…”
“Fine. That’s fine, Pat,” Beedler nodded.
So Pat began. “Look Bella…Pat has a box...
Can Bella open the box?”
Bella was interested enough to take a step
away from her father. The robot held the
brightest toy at the end of an extension.
The small hands quickly found the lid and
pried it open. A cube blinked inside.
Pat chimed, “Bella found a cube...”
The girl held onto the lighted cube.
“Let me find something else…” Pat
continued and a sliding panel opened
for more. Then Pat dimmed and slumped.
“Don’t worry,” Beedler told his daughter.
He had a screwdriver and wirecutters.
He worked away with the tools and
sang a song he made up.
When the advisors showed, shortly
afterwards, they could hear strange
music piping inside. An elderly man
in a blue smock knocked on the door.
Beedler called, “Hello,” and the group
opened the door to the outrageous sight
of Pat in red sequins bellydancing on
top of a bending table.

Benign Time Travel

They turn you into a sort of a ghost so there’s
really nothing more you can do. Observe the world.
Float unseen except to a few. To them you may be
no more than a faint glassy shine moved along
the wall. In those moments you travel, you will
experience wonder. You may want to go back
again and again. They never seem to let you stay
long enough. Of course their machines will return
you for air in the place where you’re from. Then
sign on the line, you will pay as you go, follow
what you are missing, fade into your favorite world.

cover & writing: allen frost
written 1998 at 411 miami place huron, ohio

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

King Leopold's Slow Leak

“In these twenty years I have spent millions
to keep the press of the two hemispheres quiet,
and still these leaks keep on occurring.”

*Mark Twain
'King Leopold’s Soliloquy'

Remember Abbott and Costello
21 Circus Rooms
And Their Names
The $50 Rabbit
The Tin Man’s Trouble
Johnson Dracula
The Tin Elizabeth
Eddie Risk
The Chinese Dog
Enlisted Cantaloupes
600 Souls
Stop It
Chaplin Books
Charlie Soo
Out Come The Cellos
Linda Johnson
A. Robins, The Banana Man
Slow Leak
George Returns
Eddie Bracken
The Chinese Thumb
Moon Buggy
The Werewolf Notes
Venus Hum
Ed The Frog
Start Over Again
Empty House
William Blake
Another Wind That Blows
Rosa Says
The Ugly Cat
Other Yard
King Leopold’s Slow Leak

Remember Abbott And Costello

Remember Abbott and Costello
when the two of them stumbled
through our room with a
television set rocking it
in slow motion back and forth
tipping in the socket and
turning the antenna towards
Canada and beyond

They wondered if
the cable still worked
we could have free movies
if it still had reception
sometimes that happens
but the static fowled
that plan and they laughed
at the snowstorm formed


Excuses run to the horizon
promises he’ll be by soon
to nail the carpet ends down
replace shingles lost to the wind
but he has troubles everywhere
a ghost haunts another rental house
his spine needs a shark bone put in
the washer and dryer he brought
still needs a heating element

I had to turn it all off
collect everything he ever said
out onto the lawn and spraypaint
Curly, Moe and Larry on them

21 Circus Rooms

“Constructed by the Pullman Company
in 1950, sold in 1970 to a circus,
converted to 21 small rooms
for the performers, it toured
the country for 23 years.”

And Their Names

Egyptian Giant, The Living Skeleton,
Double Bodied Wonder, Sword Swallower,
Moss Haired Girl, Human Skye Terrier,
What Is She?, Bearded Lady,
Tattooed Man And Woman,
East Indian Dwarf, Marvelous Pig,
No Armed Wonder, Japanese Lady Magician,
Armless Girl, India Rubber Man,
Great Exhibitionist, Human Pin Cushion,
The Georgia Magnet, Glass Eater,
Human Calculator

The $50 Rabbit

Who would have known what we paid
to get where we are, that desperate
on the other side of this counter
we signed over travelers checks
and he gave us a toy rabbit prize
for a list of houses and apartments
that might rent out

Johnson Dracula

How about Johnson Dracula? An unfortunate
vampire with shoes that squeak so he’s never
able to sneak up to bite anyone’s neck
and too humble polite to attack.
“Excuse me my dear…I thought you
were somebody else.” He backs off.
Sallow and skinny, he has to go
to the greasy spoon diner
and order a roast beef sandwich.
The waitress notices him and knows,
“Here comes that nut in the tuxedo
who sucks his sandwich.”
Johnson passes the time,
napkin tucked under his chin
looking out the window
while the moon shines
above the neon signs.

The Tin Man’s Trouble

The tin man’s trouble was a boxspring
mattress, bought surplus after a war
when he was no older than you.
A family, a wife and daughter to
support. He must have half thought it
part of the victory to buy that swayed
brave thing and his daughter took to it
silently. Night after night on its coils.
The tin man’s promise comes after
years when he’s selling used beds
from a warehouse on Meridian.
His daughter is somewhere grown
a little mean, old as a willow from
the days that bent her when
she was green.

The Tin Elizabeth

The Douglas firs give way to
a narrow daylight door on ferns
where a statue is formed

She is made from things found
on the crushed folds by the road

Like thoughts of the rocket age
The Tin Elizabeth goes up
catches and cradled it rests
in the telephone wires

Eddie Risk

Wouldn’t you know
I met him again
while getting gas
this was years ago
and he had a crumpled
sort of car, but he’s quieter
than ever before
and he asked me
“Don’t I know you
from somewhere?”
and it was true
flash and I was there
tromping through
the gravel pit
searching for gold
like pirates
and later on fights
the playground terrors
words and whatevers
the schoolbus shook
with Alice Cooper
and eggs thrown
from the bridge
all so far from
where we are now

The Chinese Dog

Caught in the arms of the laurel tree
on the handle of a moss covered branch
he watches down the silver gun barrel
beads on something moving under leaves
covered in calico fur, slow with the world
wandering the neighborhood, smelling wind
the Chinese Dog ignores the popping caps
the eight year old is shooting from above
to pause on flowers below


The school clock on the wall
in a spotlight seems so slow
pushing around

The students are guided
in a blackboard chant

A window is open
just enough
to slide out

The air is sweet with Spring
drum and guitar on a radio

Gliding like a bee
over the lawn and
parking lot, away

The free flight ends
over the road into
a gray building

Chaff through
air conditioning

A room is crowded
with table and giants
moving around

Another clock
pens and pencils
filling paperwork
it’s the same again

Enlisted Cantaloupes

George is in his seventies and he mows our lawn
just the narrow strip of grass thatching the alley
the rest grows tall around our house and waits
for me waiting for the right time to arrive.
I finally caught up with old George
after he was done one day
and we talked under the maple tree.
He told me stories and then he took
out his wallet to illustrate one.
On the island of Tinian in 1945
a B-29 stretches silver across the runway
three engine mechanics work in the shadow.
With trembling finger George explains
that one had a wife back at home
she mailed him cantaloupe seeds in a letter.
George points at the halved out
incendiary bomb shells lining
the right side of the photograph.
You can imagine them starting to grow.
George can’t remember the man’s name
it was another time, so long ago
but he never forgot what happened
when all the cantaloupes were ripe.
That mechanic stood his ground
when the officers raised hell
“These are just for the enlisted,” he said
and he made sure that they got them.

600 Souls

The pollution hung over the city
in a thick sea. Sometimes it parted
to let the hot sun beat on everything.
June 29th, the factory shut down.
The electricity costs were too much.
The city used to pour it to them
for nearly free until a vote forced
them to admit. So no surprise,
gates shut, 600 jobs stopped.
The mayor scurried to give
the factory back its power,
black smoke out the stacks
and blue white sparking
in the windows at night.
The next day morning rose
the factory opened metal doors
to let 600 souls back in.

Stop It

Here it is
set your alarm clock
toss and turn with warnings
it’s a world of worries
you call that dreaming?

Presenting images
of what happens
when day after day
after day empties

The work-a-day world
will get you in the end

All the hours
wasted like a lie
makes you wish
you should have lived
instead of died

Chaplin Books

His room in the trailer was a square
metal hollow, the walls had pictures
torn from Chaplin books. A hook
on the door held his loud costume.
Plaid clothes, a white rubber headpiece
with yellow hair wigged on, shoes
not untied before he went to bed.
They stretched red and long as boats
moored off his feet.
Out in the parking lot rain,
the last cars were leaving, their lamps
yawned over his dark wall like searchlights
or shooting stars. He took off his look
of wrinkled thought and dreamed.

Charlie Soo

A ton too big to be a kid,
Charlie Soo goes from
one neighborhood park
to another, putting himself
on slides, or swings,
or monkey bars
and breaking them.
Then he sues. What a guy.
He makes a living this way.
A bus pass. An apartment,
with a hot plate to cook
his food on.

Out Come the Cellos

A sky blue car passed by carrying
the driver and sitting beside him
a cello. And then a truck with one
in the cab and more travelers too.
Everyone drove with a cello as if
it was a law. Either that or
the fashion of the day. And every
other store along the road is a lure
for the curved wooden passenger.
Just wait until night when all
those engines stop along the hills
and out come the cellos.

Like a boat in drydock
our daughter’s mattress suspends
across two chairs in the backyard

Sun and shade of green maple
a warm breeze will help

It is June of 2000
she is learning to sleep
without waking up at sea

Linda Johnson

I took advantage of Linda Johnson

Each morning I would wave goodbye
at my parents house and walk a block
to Linda’s house. She had a color TV
a warm breakfast and a ride to school

That’s all she meant to me and
after third grade she was forgotten

In other words, the last person
I expected to see walk into my room
was Linda Johnson

Not much had changed about her
except for her size, nearly four times
bigger than I remembered.
I stepped back from the doorway
in black and white slow motion terror

“What’s for dinner?” she asked
finding the sofa and taking over
pointing at the TV screen,
“Anything good on?”


When he rented an apartment
he told the landlord he had ‘a kitty.’
It was quiet and sleek and its spots
had a lulling hypnotic power.
The truth wasn’t revealed
until the cat marked its territory
on the radiator vent. The smell
drove all the other tenants outside
at midnight onto the chopped lawn.
They stared like moths as the ocelot
came out. That was the end of its stay.
To its way of thinking, the jungle
was forever gone, its home of walls
was always shifting, there was
something very wrong with the world.

A. Robins, The Banana Man

He came out onto an empty stage
in a huge black overcoat
the size of a billowing garage
wearing a giant Groucho wig

With the orchestra playing
he proceeds to take out
collapsible furniture
from his coat and person

By the end of his act
the entire stage is filled
with things that weren’t
there before

Slow Leak

It doesn’t help
having a boss like her
riding you all the time
from eight to five
week after week

She lets out the air
living inside you

And it takes hopes
going home and dreams
to find the strength
to start over again

George Returns

After finishing high school, he was sent to training
and flown around in a B-17. There are pictures of
him on the lawn in Peyote, Texas, hamming it up
like a movie star. After a few flights, the pilot
decided George wouldn’t make it as a career
gunner. George got sick holding the machine gun
at 30,000 feet. The plane went on to England without
him. He stayed on the ground, repairing engines.
He wrote to his old B-17 friends and waited for replies.
When he received a letter, he read how the entire crew
was lost over Germany. No more has ever been known.
George was assigned to the 504th. The bombers he
worked on flew to Northern Japan and dropped
mines in the sea. The war went on. He lost planes.
There were a lot of them. They all had names and
wore paintings of women. Lost. Then all the officers
suddenly left; something so dangerous was about
to happen they moved to another island, miles
away. Mystery arrived. A single bomber landed.
It would carry one bomb to Hiroshima. Nobody
knew what would happen, either on Tinian or in
the wooden houses and streets of the Japanese
city with one day left.


Hap parked his car
in the garden
by the road

the blue jays parted
on his way down

Eddie Bracken

A wooden stage and movie screen
on the sand of that island
waiting for him to arrive

The Chinese Thumb

On his way back to the docks,
nets to repair or whatever,
he got caught in a police crossfire
and his thumb was shot off.
It disappeared clean off his hand.
No expense was spared to repair
their folly since it was a Federal affair.
Doctors huddled all night grafting
a new thumb on. It worked.
It even had feeling touched to a flame.
It only became obvious when
he explained and held it up close.
It wasn’t quite a thumb at all.
In fact, it was all that could be
found at the time: the big toe
from a Chinese man.

Moon Buggy

He has spent a lot of time doing this
his wheelchair is on a pedestal
a sort of wooden height
made from pallet boards
nailed together to make a ramp
lifting him to the screen

He’s not rich, he spends
his time in quarters
playing himself
to high scores
on the moon



The Werewolf Notes

The forest changes
and shifts
and disappears

A man is lost in it
Venus Hum

These machines are quiet
they talk from room to room

when she stirs in her sleep
or calls out from dreams

her mother replies

Ed The Frog

Ed the Frog
a steel frog
on a big spring
in the gravel
at the park

Start Over Again

Slurry ground
left over
from machinery

start over again
knock every factory
off the planet

start over again
you should know

water and land
lends a hand
everyone can learn
how it feels
to begin again

Empty House

Empty house
listens to me

without you
hears a heart
missing you

William Blake

The music plays
paint dries
they go

Another Wind That Blows

Our daughter
who is three
asks about death
after we stopped
in a cemetery

the closest place
we could find
for her to pee
driving fast
it’s an emergency

this isn’t a park
the cut of the lawn
no somewhere to play
she wonders at stones
set up in rows

what can I tell her
we’re only here
for a little while
and when she’s done
we get back in the car
and go

Rosa Says

The sun is a moon
daylight hasn’t come
I’m going to keep sleeping
stay in my dream

night and day go
it’s all up to me
I’ll see the world
how I want it to be

So when you say
time to go to bed
the moon is a sun
I’ll stay awake instead

The Ugly Cat

The porch became its home
day after day and nights too.
Not because it was getting food
or the best shelter in the neighborhood.
The whole thing was a mystery to Martin,
he didn’t know what to do
about the ugly cat, attached to
the wood sills of the porch like
a barnacle with crooked eyes.
Other Yard

When we lived in that other house
remembering a few years ago
our daughter learned to walk

Whenever we were outside
under the clothes flapping sails
on the windy lines off trees
she would drive herself wobbly
on to the other yard next door

The grass was all wooly around
the rickety swing set bones
standing like a dinosaur
with a slide bowing down

King Leopold’s Slow Leak

The air let out
joining whatever

world was left
a sigh above skyscrapers

cover, writing & pictures: allen frost
written summer 2000

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Royalty Toy Company

A Cat And A Rabbit
Mike vs. The Mig
2 Clowns
Inspector Ozawa
The Ordinary Malfunction
Rosa’s Lullaby
Gus Belly Up
The Chicken
The Clockwork Troll
Spring Night
The New Wheel
Sleep And The Monsters
Rocketman Remembered
Royalty Toy Company
The Opening Act
Dr. Biocal’s Butterflies
6 Moths
Garage Sale
The Guitar Of The Great Wackencracker
The Shadow Next Door
7 Pictures
The Wonder And Worry Of Digby LeStac
Edison Farm
The Caterpillar King
Mr. Jensen’s Geometry
Son Of 6 Moths
The Green Balloon
The Laughing Buddha

A Cat And A Rabbit

She feeds a cat and a rabbit
living on the cardboard carpet
in the dark sloping meadow
under the house

Mike vs. The Mig

A Mig 15 heated up
the concrete swiveled underneath
as it pointed steely shine towards
the smog outline of Mount Rainier.
A thousand or so people
lined the runway here and there
visitors to the airplane fair
but Mike was standing over
the yellow rope to really feel
the charcoaling exhaust
the jet fuel pummeling him
in a stream of heat and whine
then the Soviet engine
shot sound like a rocket
ripped off Mike’s straw hat
tore off his camera too
cut him ragged in the air
as the thing tore away
to become a fast dot
lost from view

2 Clowns

A dream thanks to television
brought me of all people
Ricky Ricardo and Groucho Marx.
They were dining, red curtains
around them, gold white candles
suspended over in chandeliers
a huge table served with dishes.
On one side, Ricky speaks,
“You know, Groucho,
we’re in a wonderful place.”
Groucho, after a bite,
napkins at his mouth.
Ricky strains to see
it looks like Groucho is sad,
“Of course,” he adds quickly,
“You would probably rather be
in your brother’s company...”
Groucho has blurred his brow
the linen leaves a gravy smear
hangs like anger above his eyes
“Well you don’t have to be that way!”
Ricky sulks, and silence falls.

Inspector Ozawa

Maker of the metal heart
he walks along the beach
littered with shopping carts
watching the sea
for spare parts

The Ordinary Malfunction

Our neighbor must be trapped
in a refrigerator tapping out
military code on the icy insides
or else the men across the street
continue to repair the roof slant
at midnight. Whatever possibility
it’s too much to get out of bed
until the alarm makes morning.
When I moved from the blankets
the sound was still there somewhere
like the bent cogs of a windmill
but it was only the ordinary
malfunction of the gas heater
in the other room.

Rosa’s Lullaby

She falls asleep
holding paper flowers
filled with milk

Gus Belly Up

Looking for a dog that afternoon
the outboard slipped the boat along
a small racket causing waves
to wrinkle against the shore

The ghost of a friend appears
settled on the rocks and green
ballooned with air and water
the wake washes Gus belly up
and over

The Chicken

He spent all day trying to sell the chicken.
Carrying it in a white plastic bag
marked with red letters, it got heavier
and filled with a pool of watercolor.
When he was so tired of hours,
he finally went into a record store
and dropped it onto the counter
and simply asked,
“Want to buy a chicken?”

The Clockwork Troll

As though a character from a fairy tale
she lurks the alleys of town like a troll.
Once upon a time we saw her so mean
she squashed a green spring leaf
dropped into the street.
Then again, the next time she reappeared
she had changed. She leaned over water
at the bank fountain while she dug into
her red pocket and took out a bag of
chocolates. She found a rock sized one
and offered it to our daughter.

Spring Night

Sweet smell of laundry
and night flower hedge
I linger a little too long

A dog makes my skeleton
jump out of my skin


He was wide and carried
a huge bag lovingly
She was tall and almost
like a tree next to a barn
squeezed in the same seat
as the bus rolled along
“Because I love you,”
she said, prepared to kiss
but he ignored her and so
the bus turned corners
and drove some more
until she got up
moved to another seat
quiet and away
shadows, morning sun
and streets
At last he opened the bag
reached in and took out
a sandwich to eat

The New Wheel

Trying to improve on the wheel
diagrams of fantastic plans
developed, unfolded, took form
until the shape of the wheel
turned into strange to behold.
Dreamlike movement
across the floor
open the doors
to the world
and let it spin
out of control


One of those places with a sign
drilled on the lawn For Rent
the house an empty echo
we clomped in late at night
flipped open black cases
a trumpet and a clarinet
walked in the dark warming up
room to room, slow and around
haunting with Mood Indigo

Sleep And The Monsters

The floor in front of the glow
watching the late night show
for us the vow of staying awake
while sleep and the monsters
meet on the screen
and turn into dream

Rocketman Remembered

How he used to fly
and how we would try
to repeat that leap
on the concrete
the next day

Royalty Toy Company

The crown came down, the king went
under and the subjects plundered through
everything that ever made them wonder
The Royal Museum and the Armory
all the golden magpie jewels
tearing the cloth off of airplanes
to a corner room of the palace
where the glass lies shattered on the floor
Noah’s ark with all the world’s animals
painted birds left half ready to fly

The Opening Act

In Ohio, the famous State Theater glows beside
Lake Erie. It has been open from Vaudeville and
the Depression to this very end of the 20th century.
A crowd of bright colors bent to the ticket windows
to pay twenty dollars each and go inside. What
brought us there too was the mothlike appearance
of the Smothers Brothers. Jostling among the senior
citizens for a while, we hoped for a white haired
scalper or tickets to fall somehow on marble floor.
When we were alone, everyone was deep inside
the theater watching the red curtains and gold
carvings, we decided to sneak in. Around the
corner, we found a gray service door propped
open with a little block of wood. I opened it
scarcely and saw red uniforms dressed like
decoys weighted down in chairs in the hallway.
Also, a man with thick black glasses had spotted
me and was bearing down like Teddy Roosevelt.
I hopped backwards and scooped my wife’s hand.
We hurried down the length of theater and around
into the parking lot. I looked back over my shoulder
and saw the door just beginning to open, slowly.
We were safe. A dangerous looking fire escape
clung to all the bricks running towards the roof.
We could hear applause washing inside the theater.
Past the next corner at the side of the wall, we
discovered a stage door there. We were so close
we listened to the heavily bolted metal and heard
the familiar guitar and bass and voices from records.
I put my hand on the door and for a few seconds
considered what would happen if I opened it.

Dr. Biocal’s Butterflies

Burrowed to new heights underground,
Dr. Biocal’s electric shadows roamed
back and forth, feverish at work
making deadly butterflies. Lording over
the line of pinned, stain-glass wings,
his magnified eye looming like a hole
in the moon, attaching a poisonous spine
to each specimen. When the fleet
was prepared, Dr. Biocal freed each
butterfly into a cell imprisoned in
the hollowed disguise of a violin case.

Out in the blue day, The Flower Society
buzzed around the park gardens. Hidden
in leaves, Dr. Biocal spied from a hole
in the ground. Their feet moved near
and he could hear their purrs to orange
begonias. Snaking like part of the roots,
Dr. Biocal pushed the violin case through
the brush and opened it. As it burst,
he fell back underground to watch
what happened next in a periscope.
What he saw was like a silent film panic,
the cast falling and running into each
other. He laughed at the view.

The movie didn’t stay that way.
Susan Fenton arrived and knew what to do
finding a sprinkler hose and spraying
all the deathly butterflies away.
Dr. Biocal snarled at the picture of it,
but it wasn’t quite over yet.
Overhead raindrops, distantly, then not,
the wet sound of clapping hands became
the sound of flapping, angry butterflies
returning in a waterfall down the
tunnel to him.

6 Moths

The first pet hung around the house
upside down on the ceilings of rooms
following us throughout day and night.

Using magic, it seemed to be in
more than one place at a time.
By and by though, we realized
and started keeping track of moths.

They liked to gather in the bathroom,
wrap the shower curtain over
their shoulders or hang on the wall
like paintings.

Garage Sale

“The lawnmower is free,” the man said.
He pointed from the porch to the
contraption. The rusted machine was
left in the tall grass beside the sidewalk.
A piece of string ran around it
to hold some part of the engine.
“Does it work?” says I.
The voice replied, “No.
That’s why it’s free.”

The Guitar of
The Great Wackencracker

After all the rain
wind and weather
the town could deliver
onto the planted guitar of
the Great Wackencracker
it still grows in the garden
with the usual dandelions
tall green flavored weeds
lupins and stray colored other
flowers that lose their seasons
too soon

The Shadow Next Door

The woman with the basket
pulled out wet clothes and hung them
on the line to dry. The sun in blue sky
made the white sheets glow, the socks
were candles. Birds crowded the branches
of the apple tree to sing while she worked.
She pinned up a blood red blanket
in front of her like a bullfighter,
heard the crash of the meadow fence
and she froze with her arms in the air.

7 Pictures

Janice Porch fell in love in 1942.
It must have been the work of grinning
angels, the heady draw of lobelia poised
over everything. She got married in a
week. Then the soldier was taken away.
There were seven pictures left for her.
She unwrapped them in white to look
at every night. She had to think hard
of his face, even when she held
the photographs. His tall body
next to her always ended before
his head, cropped off out of
the frame. Funny at first and
sad at last, each one like a
sunflower with the top
chopped off.

The Wonder
And Worry

Of Digby LeStac

The first time he saw a star fall,
over the dark blue ridge of town trees
to beyond, he raced back home full speed.
Along the steep walk of cracked cement,
the houses all shed glows and sounds
of radios out curtains pulled closed.
He sewed across their checkered light
running up the crazy hill.
He crashed in the swinging screen door
winded and breathless. The comforting
warmth and smells of his own home
held him all around. An orange lamp
by the sofa. His father dropped
the newspaper, looked at him
in old motion, his son, who could
only gasp and point to the sky
of the world outside.

Edison Farm

They must have built the house in winter
and the snow got caught in it, leaving
the ghost of cold that never warmed,
even in summer. The ruins were
a good place to stop after walking
in the hot open fields on the way
to town. The view out the window
stared down another mile before
the spires of the grain elevators

The Caterpillar King

Sun warm on him
from the tallest height of a leaf
the Caterpillar King surveyed
the realm beyond.
Over the dark ocean tar
he saw another green land.
He wanted to know
what that mystery was.
Others had tried before
getting onto the road
and they were lost in
a sudden roaring flash.
The Caterpillar King
was lofty on his weed.
He couldn’t wait for wings.
He left the golden crown
like a drop of dew
inching down.

Mr. Jensen’s Geometry

The rain on the window
looking at the parking lot
and out of that gray day
grade school monotony
he would put you to sleep
quick as any poison apple

Son Of 6 Moths

He was waiting in morning
on the bleak ceiling next to
the hot sun of the lightbulb.
75 watts sizzled on his
brown wings, contemplating.

The Green Balloon

Out of her hand
goes the green balloon
she pushed her mother after it

but the sky is an upstairs room
and she cries at the sight of it
going home

The Laughing Buddha

The Laughing Buddha curved with the world over
water. The steamship held a full load of mahogany
in the hull. Some of the sailors were also taking back
animals to sell in America. A monkey got loose and
lived in the network of pipes that ran vines all throughout.
Over the metal bolted doorway, a slip by the cook and
he could eat all their food tossed to him above the table.
A long voyage past mines and submarines, the oceans
turned to land. After all the unloading cranes onto train
cars, the first mate drove off with a seabag and his
Laughing Buddha set up like a wooden clock on
the dashboard. For a long time, the rest of a lifetime
flowed by like a wheel. At the end, in the last seconds,
he suddenly knew. And the Laughing Buddha sat on
the fireplace mantel next to seashells, some photos
and a gong from the Congo.

Writing: April 1999-June 1999 by Allen Frost
Cover: Michael Paulus

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Watch CARUSO the Super-8 masterpiece here:


Filming Caruso

The idea arrived in the phantom light of 2 AM.
A 50 watt bulb on a cord clicked on, notes were
hurried down until they were done.
In the morning I was at the café washing dishes.
Think about the storyline while the machine keeps
rolling out white plates and steam.
Long after a forty cent meal from a box,
I sat with a cup of coffee and explained to Mike,
"The film is called Caruso." I stopped to let it
sink in to another sip of coffee. Just the name
should roll upon the air like thunder.
While I waited for my Director’s reply,
the waitress came by and I caught her arm,
"More coffee please."
She paused and dead-pan delivered,
"Would you like to order any food with that?"
"No," I told her. "Coffee’s fine."
She was slow about it though. While she poured
by drop, I laid out the story-line across the table.
"Here it is," I said. "Read it and weep."
We saw our camera waiting for auction,
numbered on a shelf with Bermuda souvenirs
and radio-controlled toys. First we had to wait
through the antics of fishing poles being sold
by the cowboy calling from his cage above.
"What about this stereo?" his voice rodeoed
"Jim, turn that on, let the folks hear it."
A shriek of noise wouldn’t stop.
"Jim, turn that off!"
We watched poor Jim struggle with the bent dials
He mumbled something up. The cowboy yelled
on and on at him. The crowd sat in folding chairs,
fanned the heat with folded magazines. At last,
Jim followed orders and unplugged the set.
The charge died. Some neon signs were next to go
before the cowboy finally ordered Jim to hold out
the Super-8.
"Seven dollars!" I heard the Director shout.
Miraculously, that was enough. Everyone else was
waiting for junk.
Black and white Super-8 film is a thing of
the past. As of that day, we had bought the last of it.
Whatever was left would have to be enough.
Filming began on a sunny day in the graveyard.
We parked the borrowed car next to a slate colored wall
and got out. Make-up was applied to my feet (cornstarch
and water, dots of red ink) and I fitted the pig mask over
my head.
It needed a retake to film the simple path of pig
between cemetery stones; the Director was laughing
and the camera shook like a candle landslide.
Painted on the wall was the Budget descent,
figured in pennies. The minute we lost to laughter
had cost us six hundred of them.
The next bright day was all railroad shots.
Pitiful feet dragging shoes on the tracks. Some
Mexicans pulled up chairs beside the blackberries
to be entertained. The heat of the sun in the mask
was unbearable.
At the mortuary, I was chased down
the steps by a pale ghoul in a dark suit. At the
traffic roundabout, the Director risked his life
leaning out of a circling car, camera rolling at 40
miles per hour. A Russian tourist slurred advice.
A pigeon shadowed over the bricks in Chinatown
where the missions were early dawn releasing the
bleary back to the streets. A church service was
interrupted to capture their slamming door on film.
I couldn’t afford a nail for a prop, so I stole one from
the hardware store. And more seconds and minutes
were taken from the air.
For a moment we considered giving
the reels to a someone somebody knew.
There was a bathtub involved. Picture it
with lion claws, a rusty ring, filled deep
with chemicals and the seaweed kinks of our
developing film.
In the end, we chose to run the Budget
into the ground. Check enclosed, Caruso was mailed
off in a yellow envelope with the imposing return
address: MGM Jr. A couple of weeks would
have to pass.
The news arrived fast as I pulled the last load
of glass from the dishwashing machine. The Director
clawed at the screen door like a firefly. "It’s here!"
he gleamed. Yesterday we had rented the editing
equipment by posing as college students, tonight
we could hammer out the film seam by seam.
A little crank pulled the film through.
Peering over his shoulder, I watched the smallest
window reveal white leader, then black.
Slowly, as if driven by Bela Lugosi in a
cape, the black ebbed away, leaving the title
shimmering . . . Caruso.
Fevered, we strung the midnight basement
room with clotheslines. Bit by bit, we cut lengths
of celluloid and numbered them with tape.
The story hung from spider webs.
Sticking them all together into one roll
took the moon a long journey towards Japan.
By the phantom light again, we watched in awe:
the fade into trees, cut to a rose in a garden, written
The End.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Home Recordings Outtake

The original cover design by Anna Locke
for book published in 2009 by Bird Dog Publishing
Super 8 frame photograph courtesy of Michael Paulus

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sacred Heart Junkyard

walking on water
sunny day dog
where we were
door in the air
a deer
moth dog
wet light
moth dog awake
bird dog
shoe retriever
tourist attraction
the western swimming pool
rustle’s game
the haunted room
that reflection
victrola repair
penny trees
two dogs
the lamplighter
watched cows
living by writing
the gold ghost
the california morning
outer limits
nootka rose
how to open a coconut
old mr. bellingham
dry the sea from our shoes
summer reading
a cornered ghost
tin moses
fish harmonicas
that rabbit
i have to go home now
a monk
the box maze
some sparrows
strange quarters
the evening rite
bob hope & a china cup
3rd grade
the hawkmoth
the chuckanut exit
samish way
samish bay
circle dog
the story just happened like the radio on
sunlight bucket
small fishes
leaving safeway
radio to sleep
the bull
of blue water
state farm
connelly creek
it will happen underwater
the sacred heart junkyard
going silent
paper trail

walking on water

summers ago
we would practice
walking on water
as if we believed
it could happen
but all that
mind control
never got us further
than one step over
and then in

sunny day dog

she reappeared
the sunny day dog
a mouthful of ants
in a smile
made of apple

where we were

that was where
we were
a tree
pushed down
by wind
the path
into weeds
we stopped
a moment
the boy
the dog
and i
to feel
the eyes
in green

door in the air

be ready
to picture
the possibility
an appearance
through a door
in the air
laurel & hardy
or somebody
when you
need them
to be there

a deer

the dog stands alert
with me by the door
a deer has crossed
to walk the lawn
across the street
and we’re both
as still as stone
at the screen


upstairs in an attic
a long time ago
there was a dragon
having the last
scales painted on
for a parade
that’s come
and gone

moth dog

he has a dark
winged moth
who sleeps
beside him
on the floor


a game to play
with the world
jump into the ground
go down the miles
dark for days
then come up
into light
on the other side

wet light

the house is
wired for water
plug in a lamp
at night
turn it on
and it fills
the room
like a sprinkler

moth dog awake

this morning
i woke up the moth
behind the door
its wings did
all the barking
as it circled
on the floor


a seagull
followed by
a crow and more
the starlings
hiding under
the eaves
a commotion
for an eagle
carried into
the neighborhood

bird dog

a bird
startles her

that’s how
she sees
the ground
like the air

shoe retriever

she can’t walk
in the door
without grabbing
a shoe
on her way

tourist attraction

a san francisco sailor
eating spaghetti

the western swimming pool

each night
after shooting
in the desert
they would return
to the hotel pool
the real star
where cast & crew
illumined in blue
splashed games
threw a yellow ball
at the moon
cooled off
and laughed
until midnight
when they would
go to sleep
so the pool
grew flat & still
waiting again
for the dawn
holding the sun
all day long
a traveler
stepped in
during the day
with ballooned
checkered trunks
the hotel pool
was out of the way
mostly it was
painted water
while blazing
away from there
the western
filmed on
for two weeks
that was enough
build up to
the showdown
shoot out
a last night
and it’s over
at dawn
and cars
when a man
in blue overalls
to clean
what was
left behind
a swirl
the drain
and that’s
the end

rustle’s game

he likes
hide & seek
on a stage
with a field
all around
when he’s ready
to play
count to ten
eyes open
and see
right away
the game
is all about
being found


i break
two branches
and the chickadees
ring like bells
in the pine

the haunted room

the haunted room
with its sewing machine
and window painted shut
feeling the footsteps
staying awake
with the light on
until dawn

that reflection

don’t let
that reflection
make you cry

hang that mirror
on the clothesline

let the night
make it dry

victrola repair

i played
a carriage wheel
the sound
only carried
a crackling
few whirls
under tall elms
along the lake
then wind

penny trees

from buried jars
in the backyard
they wind up
copper trunks
and leaves

two dogs

two dogs barking
between a fence

getting them to stop
means pulling on ropes

plenty of noise

i’m still rattled
and wonder
if they’ll ever
learn peace

the lamplighter

the lamplighter
goes out at dusk
to set the glow
above the bricks
watched cows

we watched cows
set like clouds
in green weather
we couldn’t resist
the temptation
to go over
the stone wall
lifting up
rusty wire
taking steps
into untrampeled

living by writing

really aren’t i making
my living by writing anyway?
i’m here at a job but the real
work of writing does
come throughout the day
and lays down in pages
so i can say that i am
being paid for being
a writer, even though
they don’t know it


the goats have been
at the tansy again

when the wind leans
those flowers in

their milk will be
salty by evening


under the house
the saw blade
and cutting
seems somehow
connected to
the tide

the seawater
will arrive
and disappear
and wet
cut pine

the gold ghost

his last years
spent looking
and seeing beauty
in the painted hills
leading past
palm trees
then inclined
to the palace
on the hill

the california morning

the california morning
wakes you up
it’s still a dream
sound of sprinklers
dew on the lawn
even the cement
warms in the sun

outer limits

after watching
outer limits
last night
the glass hand
& the monster
sitting like a sofa
on the lake floor
it’s no wonder
i’m on the run


last time
i traveled
this way
i push in
a grove

the path
eaten by june
covered over
by milkweed
fern and

nootka rose

every morning
before the rounds
i begin at her door

she’s still asleep
twined in sheets
with blankets
grown to floor

and every
working day
i pass by
another place
on the way
to the hours

a quiet forest
and a flower
growing there

how to open a coconut

since you asked
my south sea advice
on how to open
a coconut
here's the best way

start in the kitchen
push up the window
set it there
on the sill
and slam
frame down

go out to
the parking lot
look around
find it rolled
under a car
bring it back
and try it

old mr. bellingham

they may have
the trees but
out in the country
they don’t have
this breeze

dry the sea from our shoes

we couldn’t go
to the shore
without getting wet
after an hour
lowtide mud
tidepool slips
skipping rocks
and seaweed
we’d climb
the path
to the house
and line
our shoes
the stove
to dry

summer reading

pirates or volcanoes
and submarines
quiet afternoons
in old houses
with green
coming in
the screens

a cornered ghost

in the corner
curled a ghost
for just a moment
stunned me
with a memory
while it turned
to disappear

tin moses

found in tracks
beside the road
abandoned car
with open hood
warm engine
a baby sleeping
amid the whir

fish harmonicas

i heard all
the silver mackerel
i pulled from the sea

i used to thrill
when the pull
meant a fish
took the hook

the pole bent
as it fought
the pound test
dragging it out

the colors
ocean fresh

i don’t know
if they saw me
if their eyes
stung from air

i guess it was
their time to go
but i wish those
fish harmonicas
played in the sea
instead of my head

that rabbit

that rabbit
this morning
watching me
riding bicycle
clover & sun
too pleasant
to run

i have to go home now

my friend arrived
in ninth grade
with a blue coat on
sitting down
next to me
when a pale look
knitted him
he forgot
to wear
a shirt
that day

a monk

the weekend
i left to rest
my ears from punk
he ended up
with a stomach pump
i didn’t know
until i got back
it was quiet
in the house
and he had
cut his hair
to look like
a monk

the box maze

the box maze
in the basement
running the ledge
along the walls
across the floor
around the furnace
cardboard tunnels
you could get lost
in there
find each
for laughter


by flashlight
we could have
walked the woods
but we had
and that
is how
we got

some sparrows

some sparrows
picked through dust
this passing bicycle
sends them up
gray stones
hold down
the spot they left

strange quarters

it was predicted
in my dream
this morning
and now
i really do
have them
“strange quarters”
in my pocket
almost as if
someone knew
watching me
from a dream city
feeding my reality
like a washing machine
in a laundromat

the evening rite

a simple question
she can’t hide
the amusement
in her eyes
after the chase
as i close
the screen door
standing quiet
like a chinese poet
observing the falling
light of the sun
on the neighborhood
and the evening rite
“Did you let the fly out?”

bob hope & a china cup

a little later
she arrives
hands occupied
“i need your help”
holding the flat
picture of bob hope
over a china cup

we stand together
in the doorway
when she tips
the fly out

3rd Grade

gamera appeared
on television
a giant turtle
flung above city
spinning and burning
in black & white
no small wonder
that was all
i could talk about
on the playground
the next day

the hawk moth

we spent most days
that summer in maine
trying to catch what
seemed to be a strange
kind of a bird that moved
so fast it whirred
like a paperclip engine
my sister thought
she could catch it
in a quart jelly jar
running across the lawn
or pouncing from flowers
laying traps on the grass
mashed berries & petals
to capture that thing
that couldn’t be caught

the chuckanut exit

what a relief
to see that
green hill
rising above
the town

when finally
they kill it
and roofs
i guess
it will
be time
for me
to leave

samish way

where samish way
bends like water
towards the sea
an everyday
kind deed
seems a rarity

samish bay

a raven
closer than
a museum bird

orange engines
to pull a train

there goes
the vision
on samish bay

circle dog

digging sand
she puts
her whole head
in the hole

when we
get home
she makes
a circle

to become
a yellow dog
in the sandbox

the story just happened
like the radio on

once with socks
on my hands
i lay below
an open window
for a puppet show

all i could see
was trees
the story
just happened
like the radio on

i didn’t know
an audience
out there

sunlight bucket

a paint bucket
full of sunlight
enough to cover
one wall and
a gingko tree
leaves whatever
day leftover
to scatter
on flowers
at sunset


that door opened
to a morning
so golden with
the summer lawn
tall enough
to wade through
like a sea
beside the sea

small fishes

lunch is done
putting the dishes
into shallows
small fishes
clean the crumbs

leaving safeway

leaving safeway
using alleys
to go the long way
to get back home

radio to sleep

i liked radio
to help sleep
the old programs
also the strange
ones that drifted
cast off clouds
across the night
from big cities
down the coast

the bull

they tried
to keep us out
told us stories
about the bull
but every time
we snuck
into the field
we never saw
any sign of him

of blue water

hand held
like a half moon
smooth round stone
to be thrown
across the top
of blue water

state farm

one ohio morning
driving to work
with one headlight
working the fog
a police car
had to get me
what do you know
luckily he fell
for the fake
insurance card
with the year
by a crease
i realized
how slim
the chance
that charm
could work again
we needed
real insurance
(in defense
of that crime
let me explain
the reason
was money
a half time job
in a library
doesn’t pay
more than
rent & food
we barely
made it
every month)
after calling
numbers in
yellow pages
i found
an old man
and we went
to his house
and he overlooked
a lot of things
he had to know
through cloudy
white curtains
he could see
our car parked
next to flowers
in his driveway
our situation
was understood
without needing

connelly creek

every time
the bicycle
takes me
in morning
on the way
to work
it happens
right there
onto the old
wooden bridge
connelly creek
tears start
as usual
to wipe them
away i wonder
what history
i’m feeling

it will happen underwater

i can see it
with a little paint
some practice driving
on the city streets
it will happen
if this rain
is still around
in the morning
i’ll be waiting
on an island
at the bus stop
to catch a whale

the sacred heart junkyard

that orange van
with the holy icon
mike painted on
should have been
bound for the garden
across the street
the st. francis fountain
the church has hidden
instead of where
it ended up
getting broken
by a punk band
who ran it down
on the highway
abandoned and towed
to another kind of garden
where motors don’t run
then again
maybe that’s okay
that face with crown
and burning heart
holding hands out
and comforting
looking out
across the flock

going silent

this morning
an eagle came down
low enough
to look me
in the eye
moving sideways
cutting the air
like a brown saw
going silent

paper trail

each page
after read
loses hold
in the book
and floats
to form
a path


these feet
i wear
take me

they know
the way to go
all i do
is follow

cover painting by michael paulus
drawings and writing june-july 2006 allen frost