On January 29th, 2019, it was colder in Chicago than Antarctica
Every elephant foot destroyed by a landmine misses
the direction of thunder underground
My son's hands windmill the air with wood & Turkish bronze
My wife's bones are a house I want to live in
While autocrats play oil reserve tug-of-war, Angel Falls goes unvisited
The Maldives are vanishing
Some believe romance isn't real without power & jealousy
The pale & privileged inexplicably foot the throats
of those who resemble the nannies who raised them
There are a million Mexicos you haven't heard of
In the furnace of connection, only trust produces lasting fire
Irony alert: impending environmental disaster is underreported
because it would decrease consumption
The mountains are angry. Rivers in a mood. Wind thoroughly over us
& our handling of this ellipse, hissing through space
Footprints now blueprints, tree tracts now Big Macs, wisdom now lost change
in humanity's pocket
Pro-lifers haunt curbsides with concern not for the Mother, but her resource within
How long can we play with a rubber band before it—
My 10-year-old growls like B.B. King in a St. Louis
nightclub, vamps lyrics to made up favorites like Chicken Farts
& Coleslaw Has Treated Me Badly. I slap the faucet
shut, shout I love you, but please PLEASE STOP!
Which he does. For seconds, till being home &
done with schoolwork & his voice bubbling
up like a geyser is too much & he erupts
into the second verse of Chicken Farts, unsurprisingly
identical to the first. When my wife arrives,
she palms my flustered cheek, says You & I
never got to be kids; this is what safety sounds like.
Wreathed in remorse for how I’d spoken to him,
I apologize to my son & to the boy I never was—
cloistered beneath a spotlight of scripture & screaming.
My son tells me I’m a great dad, but I think
he deserves a father who knows what it’s like
to scramble the letterboxed screen & be loud
& childish. I wish I could shop on-line
for the kid I never was, have him left
at the door in two days’ time. In a cardboard box.
Bubble-wrapped & ready to open.
Broken Word Artist
Here it comes: a landslide of anguish
to vanquish your attention, shibboleth
suspension of disbelief I thief & dazzle,
hassle you into invention, Houdini
misdirection because I am not
saying anything. Scaffolds of sound
across town lost & found, under towers
of allusion, call me Ishmael on Bleecker,
subterranean homesick delusion,
cherubim glistening in my Bermuda Triangle
of verse & what’s worse—I am not here.
Or there. Or anywhere. I will not eat green eggs
& ham or write what could crack
my shell open. I’d rather still, thrill
& fill your dome with constellations,
planetarium installations of diction,
friction from my lexical prescription
for the addiction of this narcissist pharmacist
scared so shitless he paints palimpsest
pictures as he slinks out a room,
a friendship, a door, the coward’s allure,
‘bout to dodge & hop drops of gin, dope
skin rope, thin hope that next time
I’ll be honest. This quasi-tension &
foiled apprehension, affect without
affection, is my predilection: like,
ellipses, let me slip my dactyl
under your dipthong, syncopate
your syntax, pop your plosives, set forth
a semiotic (expletive) soiree of semantic
(expletive) excess, pusillanimous pyrotechnics
in a cadence appropriated from
the vulnerable & rarely heard.
This regurgitation of arcane
parlance, obtuse riffs that joust
with a sharp lance, will mesmerize
with rhythm & rhythm & rhythm
of her class & his sass & no gas
left to search or lurch or sit
in the not-knowingness, the hot flowing list
of now—no ladder out this pit
of construction & obstruction,
mirage & sabotage—into the vernacular
of real human struggle, where every
word, like a tiger’s first claws,
cuts through the skin.
© Bob McNeil:Think, you are not alone
© Bob McNeil:Think, you are not alone
There is Only One Cord
Grab whichever end you like.
Tears sizzle on your body’s anvil,
umbilical superhero, sea wall
breached, cut lilies, finch flight.
When muscle rips, it strengthens.
Life is no masochist’s playroom.
Pain is groundwork, is double
the bus ride & locked bathroom
mirrors shaking down your
reflection for clues. You are only
as broken as you are distracted.
In a perfect world, no one
would be furious. Or happy.
Joy is the fugue we are meant
to hear. It rhymes in triple time
inside the rag wet paw of a kangaroo,
the hand of a beaten child,
eyes of heartsick felons.
Cheer cuts the rope of
our mooring, spills our spark.
that happiness squared
equals joy, then went back
to triangles, defeated.
Joy is the frequency
of whale song, slave quarter
pounding in Georgian forests
of stolen dirt. Happiness is
dragon gold, a birthday wish.
Joy dances regardless, cranks
the portcullis of resiliency’s castle,
tells happiness to find another
heart to storm.
Joy dangles us from cliff edge,
anchored to memories of cornbread
& kissing, moon jazz & Istanbul
frying its fish in seven languages.
Nature chimes in with scale—
every carcass, mudslide
& cave crammed with skulls.
We rise like salted warships.
The cord bends—any hand
touches another with ease.
We were never cut
from another’s breathing—
the slow & joyous
art of dying.