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     The Literary Review
                                                                      Issue 8

Page 64

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“BY THIS TIME”

“Frequent streets are another key part
In the physical and social construction of cities.”

What’s left of the wilderness is no analgesic,

Though there’s more of it
Than you might think.

For instance it’s surprising
That there’s anything left to burn
In California.

White picket fences burning on your lawn.
By this time.

She lived in the exurbs
By this time.
She had a big garden.
It was fall.

A runder of thumble could be heard on the gramophone.

The sheriff doesn’t like it.
Don’t twist his arm.

I subjected myself to the juke box
In another life.

And “Sympathy for the Devil.”
I have none. The anti-Christ
Lives in The White House.

The fires indicate the end of time.
By this time.

But the fiddler pays no attention
And continues playing
Bonaparte’s Retreat or Turkey in the Straw,
Interminably.

As long as the fiddler keeps fiddling
The world will not end.

But who believes
That sort of thing
By this time,

When everyone
Has a mortgage?

By this time.

  Ian Ganassi__


______________

CRUISE CONTROL

Nobody cares about your free vacation.

The seagulls acting like pigeons,
The garbage cans overflowing
Down by the seashore.

“Take a dip,” he said.

There’s no simple word for you,
And believe me, I’ve tried a few.

Skeins of plastic stuck in the propellers.

We still haven’t gotten
Around, over or under it.

Take myself, for instance, far far away.

It will not do to investigate the subject too closely.

The trees become the wind.

Draw me a perfect circle,
Never to be unbroken.

And don’t worry—
You’ll have plenty of time
To jump to conclusions in the morning.

Which doesn’t make me terribly unhappy,
Just slightly puzzled.

Is this the church bazaar? Am I my brother’s keeper?
Whoever’s in charge, the shit is going to get deeper.

There were no injuries,
But some of the 345 passengers
Vomited after disembarking.

And always remember to cover your head
In the contagious cemetery
By the Erie Canal
Where you’ll never know your neighbor.

Hiding my towel behind the lockers
And then claiming I lost it
Was how desperate I was not to go swimming.

If the Navy doesn’t
Have your number,
The Army does.

And they went to sea in a sieve.

  Ian Ganassi__



















SPECTRAL FACADE

One man’s “purposeful doggerel” is another’s “Zen-like beads.”
The sorcerer’s housekeeper was stuck with a resentful ghost.
There’s no ignoring or getting around the endless need.

A bunch of bourgeois houseflies running away from the swatter.
What the xylophone said was, “I wish I was a vibraphone.”
It’s very difficult to get the spilled milk off the blotter.

Not too much farther and we’ll be there, or somewhere
Like there. In the meantime look after the horses.
Leave the walking to us, while you take the subway to nowhere.

To lose by one month’s frost 20 years of conquest.
Haunting the dank basement, a ghost
Writing about ghosts. “But isn’t that nonsense?”

Cornelius Dillhopper had a wheelbarrow full of disappointments.
He couldn’t figure out which end was up or where the time seemed to go.
He went looking for absolution but found only ointment.

For better or worse you couldn’t get much further out on your limb.
If you can’t navigate the narrows you can follow the coast.
Even Napoleon’s enemies emulated him; some even wore their hair like him.

He admitted defeat, I admitted defeat. It wasn’t very far away.
Other than the Salvation Army, all he found was day-old toast.
And after what he said, there wasn’t much left to say.

Just when it seemed time to start again, it was time to stop.
There wasn’t really anything wrong—it was a savory meat loaf,
A good meal to distract you while waiting for the ineffable to speak up.

What’s that sound? Is it square or round? In six or eight? Two or three?
Are you in need of a seeing-eye dog? Dumb as a post?
You can fool some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool me.


  Ian Ganassi__


___________

“BETWIXT AND BETWEEN”

It wasn’t just her, everything was turning sour.

No more bleeding Gatorade or dying of heat stroke;
The big show was fading
Like the logo on an old t-shirt.

You can’t see the path to hell
Until you stumble onto it.

“It’s a thin line,” she said.

Talking shit and singing scat,
It’s a cinch that you take what you can get,
Until you’ve had enough.

He’ll be damned
That had once been your evening wear.
Or prom date.

And in this urgent landscape
There’s only one pair of shoes.

I felt lost without my childhood sled.

We’re moving to a place where there are no tennis courts.

No more bleeding Gatorade or dying of heat stroke.

It’s a cinch that you take what you can get.

They first told him he had zinc poisoning from his denture adhesive—
So much for the specialists.

Just keep stumbling forward. And ignore the ghosts.

Talking shit and singing scat are attached at the hip.

And two hips make an ass.

I fear I’m repeating on me.

He’ll be damned.

It turned out to be sinus cancer;
So much for the specialists.

“It’s a thin line,” she said.

  Ian Ganassi__

© Michael Lee Johnson: Virus Air
© ┬áMichael Lee Johnson: Virus Air
   

© Michael Lee Johnson: Virus Air

STRANGE BREW

The politics of estrangement
Go galloping over the hill

Into the arms of Annie Oakley
Who puts down her gun briefly

To clean her glasses
In an estranged manner.

She’s just like a dream
Of an old friend

Who looked like that,
But now is dead;
Who cleaned his “specs”
Just like that.

And with friends like that
Who needs enemies?

But mind your manners, stranger,
Or she’ll give it to you, too,

For a few dollars more,
“For a nickel I will.”

It’s a witless outlier or outsider
Tied to ceramic insulators,
The new style in cement shoes.

If you tie on enough of them
They’ll pull you down
Into the water and around the block.

Imagine drowning in a hurricane.

Or head-first in a toilet bowl.

Maybe there’s something to be found,
Mainly there’s something to be lost.
The fish rots from the head.

But the mutations don’t care
If you find them or not,

Unlike the players,
Who prefer to be caught in the act.

  Ian Ganassi__



DEAD BLUES

The game is fair play
But sometimes we run out of fun.

“It’s just a game,” they say.
Some games are more than we bargained for.

I shy away from games like a poorly-trained horse.
A poorly-trained horse shies away from me.

A poorly-trained horse is shy.
And who can blame it

For hiding behind its mother’s
Skirts, or skulking on the outskirts

Probably wearing a beard?
And the machines play on.

But I showed up anyway, dressed in blue.
Some games are more than we bargained for.

Skulking in corners, probably wearing a beard?
As for the machines how come they couldn’t

Stick with rakes? They were a lot more fun,
And a lot quieter. Be fun, be gun. The guns have begun.

Actually, they’ve been gunning
For a long time. What or who in the world

Can make them stop? As I was blue and
The robots were here to stay, I declined to rsvp,

But I showed up anyway, dressed in blue.
Professor Slobberdash was not amused.


  Ian Ganassi__