Saturday, July 4, 2009

Trelawny Cable Car

the end of may
when they fly

The End Of May
We Lost
Lamentations #4
Thank You, Goodbye
Another Traveler
Mulberry Tree
Radio Tide
Really And Truly
Changing Charlie
Ukrop’s Artificial Orange
Real Yellow
Hill Wool
The Food Taster
The Slow Motion Hero
Birds Expect

The End Of May

What night
calls on us
I hear a car
and music
far away
to the stars
and the next


Shed some light
things are shaky
breaking like pottery

Look for news
read the map
who knows where
America lies

Catching feathers
whatever works
tuning car radios
satellite dishes
spilled tea leaves
I see it play
the same old movie
coming back

Once upon a time
is here again
reminding me
we’re a colony
where Rome
used to be

We Lost

This is
another sign
of what
we all know

Put here now
we are watching
how we lost
something deep

Those stars
and dreams
come true
are gone

We’re left with
what’s going on
and no end
to this

Lamentations #4

The sun has lost its crown
the sea is dark below

Whoever thought
such things could happen

Beggars cross the street
to be opposite me

Lamentations #4
cover the land

I can’t help it
whatever happens next
is a mystery

Thank You, Goodbye

8-legged me
by the bathtub
in that corner
next to the plunger
and the sopping wet
curtains with mold

I have no excuse
to be here, I’m only
waiting for you
to sweep me away


All of this
white disquietude
creeping and repeating
the same thing

If only I could sleep
I could dream
to another world

Another Traveler

I’d love to see
another traveler
come riding in the lean
whether in a tin sided car
or a tilting paddle wheel

Someone find me
mashed in green
thrashed and left to die

I’m waiting
for a traveler
in the bending
leaves of Spring


A whistle
or a holler
hear the tags
on the collar
the dogs follow
or lead the way
under the blue sky
in the yellow hay

Mulberry Tree

in shade

The tree shakes
while the flock
eats mulberries
in the leaves
above Lake Erie

a berry falls
and rings
on tin

Radio Tide

The Fibber McGee and Molly show still plays in Maine
the radio airwaves have been trapped in a cove,
with the green water and loose thick weeded tide.
Jack Benny, Phil Harris, then when night arrives
Suspense, The Shadow, Boston Blackie and
Lights Out.

Really And Truly

She was beside the road that morning
and told the garbage man, “Thank you.”
He couldn’t believe it, she said to me,
“really and truly. I wish I had a camera
to catch his face.”


All the stones waiting
for the tide to move them again.
They spell whatever shifting pattern
the waves want them to say.

Changing Charlie

I heard some coyotes last night
but that seems impossible
here in the middle of town
maybe it was Changing Charlie
shaking out his pockets in the wind


Who is going around knocking the wind out of birds?
This is the second time I’ve found a crow on the ground,
wings folded around, packaged for death and left.

Ukrop’s Artificial Orange

You hope your worst thoughts don’t come true.
I’ve been haunted by them lately and today while
I was standing in the line at Rush-In Food, I could
picture it all happening like a nightmare movie in
the back of my mind. I left the boys playing on
the sidewalk in front of the house. As I went down
the hill towards the store, I kept my eye on them,
I looked back a couple times. Small as toys,
they ran around getting smaller all the time.
When I turned the mashed fender of a parked car
on the corner I lost track of them. The tar on the lot
was melting, big scabs of it had turned into thick
black ooze. I didn’t want to lose my shoe in it,
I wanted to hurry over it, the day was so hot.
Beside the doorway was a big cooler of lemonade
and I grabbed three of them. They were a quarter each
and I had a dollar with me. I forgot how long it takes
at the checkout though, I was stuck in tar after all,
I had to stare at the display of gloomy tabloids and all I
could think of was the kids. I could see a car stopping
and someone calling them over. The black conveyer
belt moved and stopped. Just in front of me, an old
couple were unloading boxes of Ukrop’s Artificial
Orange from their basket. They were slow, everything
was slow, it had to be. I opened one lemonade
and gulped while I waited. I thought of leaving
the empty thing and running for the door.
The old man turned in degrees, creaking worn
notched gears to face me, “Would you like to go
ahead of us?” He was so pleasant, I couldn’t take
his place. I said, “No thank you, no,” even though
I didn’t know what was going on up the street.
I could already see the aftermath, I could see the
neighbor boy staring at me when I asked, I could
see that confused mouth. He only had a few teeth,
most of them had been gone for months. I nearly
screamed at him, “Where’s my son!” We moved.
The old man paid with dollars taken out of a
billfold. After I paid, the cashier threw away
the empty bottle and I went out he door fast
past the potted red flowers and signs and tore
across that blacktop. Elbowed on by the heat
of the red hot sun, I ran across the street and
turned the corner to scream up the hill.
Cars parked on either side of calm houses
with a round white cloud at the top. Across
the lawn I hadn’t yet mown, tall dandelions
waved back and forth. They were in them,
playing games, everything was fine in the wind,
everything was okay. I had been out in the sun
for too long.

Real Yellow

When the moon came out of its bowl of white clouds,
shining bright through the window of the tenement,
Bertram Fenn woke up with a start. “I’ve got it!”
Beside him, his wife groaned curving back to sleep.
For days he had been trying to figure something out.
Trust the night, the mystery out of dreams, to find him
an answer. He wanted to tell his wife, but she was
already asleep. He wasn’t even tired now. He slipped
out of the thin summertime layer of blankets and
searched the gloom for his clothes. “I figured it out,”
he mumbled while he dressed. “Hah!” he beamed,
pushing arms into sleeves, stepping his legs in next.
Bertram stood there in the pale blue of the room
wearing his gorilla suit. It was his second skin.
He wore it every evening on the stage. Putting it
on now, he didn’t even think twice, it was natural
to him. So he went padding out into the dim hall,
down the stairs, outside. He did laugh when
he realized, looking out of the round holes
cut in his mask, seeing cobblestones and
the gas-lit lamps. At this hour who would see
him, he was only crossing the street to his
partner’s apartment. He loped over to a tall
limestone building, but his gloved hand
couldn’t open the door. Of course, he realized,
it’s locked for the night. Undeterred, Bertram
slouched to the alley and the fire escape leading
up. Laundry, blank sheets and all sorts of
ghostly clothes pinned to the ropes, webbed
between the walls overhead. Stars were
everywhere else. He had to stand there for
a moment to watch. A pleasing breeze blew
down his angry snarl. He saw the flash of
a shooting star hitting the atmosphere and
skidding into sparks. Then he started to climb,
first the step ladder, then the metal stairs.
His heavy leaded feet took him echoing and
shaking to the slant next to his partner’s window.
By accident, he knocked a potted plant off the sill
as he reached a hairy arm into the room. “What!”
a silhouette shot up in bed. The shadow of a gorilla
spread across the moon colored wall. “For God’s
sake Bertram,” his partner croaked, “What are you
doing climbing around the city at night? Look, it’s
three o’clock!” The gorilla sat on the edge of the
bed, “I know, I know, listen. I made an amazing
discovery. It’s about Houdini.” His partner moaned,
“Houdini…” and glared at the ape. “Listen, I’ve
been watching him for a week and I got it figured.”
“What? There’s nothing to figure out.” The ape
growled, “I know how he’s getting out of that safe.”
“Bertram you fool, anybody knows that he—”
“No. This took me all week to discover his secret.
Allow me to illuminate.” With his giant hand, he
pointed towards the ceiling, “I thought it had
something to do with all the padlocks they put
on the door, but that isn’t it. It’s so much simpler.
The safe has a sliding panel! He just steps out!”
Bertram clapped hair covered hands in triumph.
His partner shook his head, “Wrong,” and lay down
again, “Now get out of here, go back home, sleep.”
“I know how the act works, it’s not real magic.”
His partner pulled his pillow over his face and
that was it. Bertram couldn’t stand the silence
of the room anymore. An apish long sigh and
he was clambering out the window again, the
slow descent, on the fire escape to the bricks.
He was a little upset with himself, all this way
before dawn. Maybe Houdini was nothing but
another dream, something everyone wanted to
believe, but it couldn’t exist. Letting out a yell
made him feel better. What did it matter? Sure,
he became the animal he played, howled again
as he held to the bars and swung among the
sails of laundry and outer space.

Hill Wool

The hills have wool, the low sky
laying down clouds over forest
as the cold weather blanket
pulls from the sea

The Food Taster

In the workings of the castle walls
who knows what it’s like outside where
the blue fires smolder. Piled golden bowls
are gathered waiting to be tasted. Trying
the soup of the day, he fell ill with poison
hidden for the king. He left this life,
his body was wrapped in white tablecloth
and dropped from memory into the moat

The Slow Motion Hero

He wasn’t alone going slow. There were snails,
shadows of clouds, the tree growing in a vacant lot,
and others too who seemed to move in a dream.
That was fine, but he was also more than that,
if he felt the need, he could also fly.
One day a frightened woman ran up to him,
“Please! You have to get help!”
His right foot left the ground, then his left.
It took him two minutes to float ten feet off
the ground. Though he threw himself into motion,
he was heavy. In the fur of hot air trapped over
the cul-de-sac, dragonflies and bats whirred past.
He droned with the paths of bumble bees,
traffic of pollen, bright shafts of sunlight
rushing through the chestnut leaves.
Clearing a fence over someone’s back yard,
a dog leaped at him until tiring of that. Gradually,
he pushed his way into the crown of an apple tree
overhang. His shirt got caught on a branch.
A button scratched off. It would take a couple
more minutes to free himself before he could
continue. Above the lawns, sidewalks and cars,
over the state of hurrying America, he was
the only one who could move at this incredible


push the poetry
melody goes
where it goes

the air
is where
it’s waiting

as always
where are you
to hear me

you leave me

Birds Expect

Birds expect
to be chased
by children

they wait
on sidewalks
on window sills

what surprise
they feign
when they fly

writing: allen frost in summertime 2003

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