Caravan was original, Chrysler
Trying to get us to buy the dodge,
Artfully labeled to imply transit
Of all the baggage of forty camels.
This we need, if our children are to be
Properly attired, prepared for all
Weather and all events required for fun.
Aerostar was Ford’s offer. Trapezoid
In motion, with endearing manual
Transmission perfect for those who need one
More thing to think about inside a box
Filled with children, hurtling through traffic,
Like the valkyrie or sprite evoked by
Its spectacularly ambitious name.
Not to be outdone, Chevrolet bestowed
An Astro, with all the aesthetics of
Houston’s eponymous dome and all the
Responsiveness of George Jetson’s Great Dane.
It was called after the stars, I presume,
Since it would not move outside a vacuum,
A high cube tossed about by every wind.
Japan wants us now to believe this act
Of folding entire households onto
Wheels for a routine trip to the ball-field,
Walmart, or grandma’s should be an epic—
An Odyssey or Quest. Heaven forbid
We suffer shame from traveling light or
Shell out for a cross-continental flight.
Chrysler now is at it again, duping
Into unceasing violence of packing
And unpacking a Pacifica the
Unsuspecting American with the
Great inconvenient convenience
Only a false sense of ownership can
Properly convey to one’s thinned billfold.
Life in these United States is a game,
A never-ending level of Tetris
Played in Conestogas made of steel.
When you’ve got all you need, you can’t bear to
Leave any bits behind. Our minivans,
Quaint and manifest density of hope,
Rattling around from sea to shining sea.
East of Eden
When your father has dubious means,
And you’re not too sure of your own genes,
Your mom is a witch,
And you’re a snitch,
You can’t buy anyone’s love with beans.
Pride and Prejudice
Hearing the truth quite often hurts one,
But ignorance is even less fun.
Darcy and Bennett
Might take a minute
To figure out just who they should shun.
The Brothers Karamazov
Fyodor Pavlovich was some kind of a jerk.
His three (or four?) sons each a unique piece of work.
Grushenka lived loud.
Katya was proud.
Priests rot, but in the loud dark, both death and hope lurk.
The Power and the Glory
Everyone’s sin is a nonstarter.
Church on the lam; wine on barter.
You shouldn’t get drunk
When you’re the lone monk,
For conscience will make you a martyr.
Said Hugo, “No one can write bluer,
But ev’ry injustice I’ll skewer.
Valjean’s the hero;
All others zero.
Wait! I forgot about the sewer.”
Image credit: engraving for 1886 edition of Les Misérables. Public Domain.
Houseplants sit a bit aslant on a windowsill.
Dieffenbachia, Schefflera resting, still,
A vine, drooping in line with the next crusty shrub.
Wanting water, Settling for soil, a dry brown nub.
I bought them for a dollar. I brought them to work,
Meant not to neglect them, but they know I’m a jerk.
A little TLC could go quite a long way,
“A cup of water today wouldn’t hurt,” they say.
Even so, life is tenacious, almost gracious,
Enduring, audacious. Literally vivacious.
My mistakes can’t kill their dream, though their leaves may scream,
A simple gleam of water as their one daydream.
Just a hint of compassion, giving their ration,
Brings ashen foliage back to the height of fashion.
In Photosynthetic glory, I see allegory,
But casting myself as the star of this story.
“Look what I grew!” I think as they come into view,
Withered stems askew, pain ignored by this breakthrough.
They laugh, “If only you knew; if only you knew.”
Photo: Santa Fe Botanical Garden, February 2018.
“Write what you know,” wisdom conventional,
Threatens to morph into ironclad law.
Fearing aggressions unintentional;
The best lack all conviction in its claw.
Sympathy is nice; empathy divine,
But you’d better think twice (or more), you cad,
If you think your words can ever touch mine;
If you, you WASP, you geezer robed in plaid,
Dare deign to make artist’s gestures this way!
What you know (not much!), keep it over there,
While I sit here and type, to my dismay
Using all your best English words with care.
Forsooth! Never could I more clearly see
That your culture appropriated me.
Photo: Feeding Time, Tracy Aviary, Salt Lake City, Utah, October 2016.