Thirteen Myna Birds

15.

She Came in Through the Bathroom Window (Remix)

Slip-sliding over the sill
like a seal,

& wearing her lime & lemon
housedress,

Grandma-in-Tampa
waddles up to me
as I’m drinking day-old coffee
working on the computer,

leaving a wet glistening trail
behind her
on the hardwood floor.

She clasps me close,

damp & smelling
like the sea
till I relax & hold her
round the waist,

till I know I’m hugging
the same old woman
I loved who died.

Now she’s in the kitchen
fixing salads for our supper

though she never eats
a single bite.

(this poem previously appeared in Writing in a Woman's Voice, 2018)

(this poem currently appears in the NEW chapbook, "EVIL ME" by MISH, published by Blood Pudding Press and available HERE - https://www.etsy.com/shop/BloodPuddingPress)

*

14.

Grade School Reunion Memory House Dream

I hide in the closet
as it vibrates with Beatles tunes
& dirty dancing
& no music newer than the eighties

all kinds of toys, holiday decorations,
& bottles & sprays
have been shoved 
into this gothic monster closet

outside of which Sister Mary Rose
like a withered spoon
stands too close to the door,
repeating, who’s in charge?
& where’s the dessert?

balloon pops make me jumpy

& I do think
of visiting my one friend
who died:
I would like to be able to watch
her PowerPoint shrine
nestled near the lunch buffet

knock knock

it’s my other friend
the childhood friend I forgot
she slowly opens the door
her wrinkled face
almost as ruined as mine

(this poem previously appeared in Whale Road Review, 2018)

(this poem currently appears in the NEW chapbook, "EVIL ME" by MISH, published by Blood Pudding Press and available HERE - https://www.etsy.com/shop/BloodPuddingPress)

*

13.

LAST NIGHT

Last night 
I texted you a selfie
as you watched another 
COVID patient flatline.

Last night
you sent me a selfie, too
your smile so tired
you texted
When will we quarantine together?
I guess when there’s a vaccine.

Last night 
I held my own hand
lacing my fingers together 
to ease the rock in my throat
to keep quarantine loneliness
at bay.
Until there’s a vaccine.


*

12.

Treatment

so bright we call it a sun so long
we call it a day nobody here wants to be
here we stay to stay out
of the sun epicenter
of the epidemic still
thoughts are hard to find to stay no
guarantee the rats will eat
the poison no guarantee this brightness
is the sun.

~Michael A. Griffith~

*

11.

Song of Ambient Sounds

1
The label very clearly states
alcohol may intensify the effect.

I wash the pills down with beer.

Angels hoot all night in a tree outside
the National Museum of Death.

2
Calamitous flower,
the melancholy

that floats up
from the depths,

what makes
some words a poem.

3
The sky bleeding at dusk,
and pale and blotchy at dawn,
a scrap yard of broken hearts.

~Howie Good~

*

10.

War Baby

1
A war ends. But what changes?
The magician, after all, doesn’t
actually make the card disappear.

2
On the birthing table, the red queen,
feet in the stirrups, mind full of rabies,
pushes and pants and pushes again.
Then, calmly and coldly, darkness falls.
The drunken angels clink glasses.

~Howie Good~

*

9.

Euphemistic

I’ve heard it called box,
snatch, snapper, muff,
beaver, pussy, honey pot,
cooch, slit, hoo-haw,
but never what I think it is,
the eve of everything,
dreams, myths, fables,
the philosophers of note
who ponder it bursting
now into tears, now into flames.

~Howie Good~

*

8.

COUSIN

My cousin
not the one on my dad’s side
came into my bedroom
one fine thanksgiving
shut the door, and
locked it.

I was wearing my favorite
red and white dress
with the giant bow
stationed at the neck
and bigger than my head.

And this cousin-
The one assigned to say
grace up to God
for this year’s feast,
sat on my bed
and said

Close your legs.
You’re attracting flies.

I pushed him off the bed
unlocked the door
bolted out the back, ran
down the hill, scaled
up the tree
scuffing my patent
leather shoes
ripping my white tights,
and hid in my tree fort

forever
sobbing
spreading
my legs
looking
for flies.
They never came.

When Thanksgiving was over
and all the cars were gone
I returned to my house
trashed my clothes, and
cursed all things cousins.

Later
when my sister
and I were older
staring down the casket
of my cold, stiff cousin
I told her what he said
and how it landed
me in the fort, and
my dress in the trash, with
a hatred for thanksgiving
an aversion to cousins
a disdain for my legs
and everything in between
an obsession with flies, and
years of psychotherapy,
she said

Fucking Capricorn.
Only a
Capricorn
could take down
an entire
childhood
in
one
shot.

~C. Cropani~

*

7.

STUMP FINGER

Hey, Mr. What happened to your finger?
Eli!  Maizy yelled. She pulled her brother by the arm.

But how did you get that funny stump?
How do you think I got a funny stump?
Did you fight in a war?
I don’t believe in war
Did you crash it in a car?
I don’t even drive
Then how did you get that funny stump?
How do you think I got a funny stump?
Did you chop it on a block?

Maizy yanked Eli by the sweater, but he wriggled loose.

Listen, kid. Mr said, wiping his nose on a sleeve.
If I told you how I got a funny stump
would you go away and never come back?

I’ll go away and never come back.
How’d you get the funny stump?

Your sister took it.

Eli flapped his arms. He rocked back and forth and then turned to his sister.
Maizy! Why did you take the funny stump?

Because he stuck it where it didn’t belong.

~C. Cropani~

*

6.

Resolution.

sun creeps the hills
like a cat
chasing pigeonfeathers.
there are 7 of us,
walking together,
the mile or so
toward fresh air
and a lakeside. we each
hold an oar
and a cheap lifejacket;
one of those which dangles
like a stab-vest
on the shoulder.

I walk
beside Melissa
making small talk.
in her bag
she has a knife
between the two
obligatory wine-bottles. her husband,
my cousin,
is loudly drunk already,
walking ahead and talking brazen
to the girl
with whom last night
he was discovered
inflagrante
ass out.

Melissa
does not say
anything. just
scowls
like she'd be kicking heads
off daffodils
if the month didn't happen
to be June.

she hasn't spoken
to anyone
since this morning.

for now
only she knows
what she intends.

~DS Maolalai~

*

5.

TEMPERANCE

Jesus walked in
and sat on the arm of my couch
while Mary stood on the lawn
holding a baby that looked like him.

The sunlight caught a big blue flower
on Jesus’s Bermuda shorts
and I kept glancing out the door at Mary
and Jesus glanced out, too
then tightened the white rope on his shorts.

You look like shit, he told me.
Sit up and give me a kiss.

I drank too much whisky last night.
I know, he said, and glanced back at Mary.
No kiss? At least let me brush your hair.

He pulled out a brush from
God knows where
tugged at the dread
that had formed
in the back of my head.

So, he started in.
but I was onto him.

I’d done the same thing
with my son, playing
basketball games for a
fistful of nickels
chess for cheezits
Parcheesi for chocolate dots

So,
I’d start in with my son
you know I love you and you know I am so sorry I didn’t drive you to your friends funeral the one who died by suicide when you were in the seventh grade but I had things to do and a presentation at the University and if I didn’t show up I would have flunked and wouldn’t have gotten my degree and wouldn’t be able to buy you basketballs and chess sets and chocolate dots but I am so glad that the other mom could drive you so you could shovel dirt onto your friends grave and how was that wanna talk about it you okay?

I’m a horrible mother, I told Jesus.
I know, he said.

Wind swirled in
slamming the door
we couldn’t see Mary on the lawn
she had moved to the window
like a predator

I guess I gotta go, Jesus said.
Next time, try water instead of whisky.

Mary, Jesus
and the baby who looked like him
walked down the driveway.
toward the basketball hoop.

Jesus
picked up the ball
took a shot
missed.

Mary
handed the baby off to Jesus, then
took a shot
scored.
She tossed it back to Jesus.

So,
she started in.

~C. Cropani~

*

4.

BUDDHA FRED
                       
                      lived
at Telegraph and Haste
on the sidewalk

One sock black
the other sock gone
ripped jeans
plaid shirt with
sleeves
to his knees,
dangling like
snakes swaying
on the branches
of trees

He had no belly
but he puffed it out anyway
taunting strangers
to rub it for good luck.

An old ramen noodle
hung from his beard
and he was always pissin’ in bushes
on account of his drinking.

And for a Buddha, he did not know things.
For instance, when I asked

What is the one true thing
that sits at the center of the universe?”

He said
      You, sugar tits.

and the noodle fell out
and he ate it.

~C. Cropani~

*

3.

Tornado Warning

One time when the circus came to town
after all the tents were set up and billowing
twisters jump-smacked right on top of them

Ka-boom (a detonation)
Seemingly out of nowhere

Maybe it was in a town where the high school
team was the “Centerville Tornadoes” or the
“Doon Cyclones” to give the event some

Poetic resonance (or maybe not)
The elephants; the tigers –
they would have gone crackers

The clowns would have been scurrying pell-
mell with their faces ½-way made up; noses a-
kimbo. The wind whipped wild clovers
sawdust, wheel grease, face grease

Here you need to deploy your imagination and
Picture the tent stakes uncorking themselves
from the summer soil up to blackened sky                 
Zip – zip – zip – zip


2.

Uncharged Vehicular Manslaughter (1915)

Early headlights cut through none of the darkness so
in those days, a passenger would step out of the car
& illuminate a path with a torchlight on foot, pacing

safely & slowly
zig-zagging between obstacles
weave-wafting around hazards
punctuating the rainy darkness

None of that one night of drinking & driving back from a tavern;
The driver’s carelessness sheared doilies of gore; a crescent bitten

abruptly: Ka-boom (a detonation)
& seemingly out of nowhere –

Deftly adhering to Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion –
steel bars from a railroad flatbed pierced
the car’s windshield & the passenger’s face

The impresses in the skull did not belong there
The skull had belonged to comedic actor

Now there was a Rorschach Test
all over the street composed of wet
bits of driver and passenger
but mostly of passenger
The bits of driver
were all of his teeth


1.

Chaney’s Face

Chaney’s visage was its most cadaverous not when playing the goblin but the villain. His visage was troubling. Scowling. Not icy but warm, strong, and misguided. Sweaty. Gracefully scheming and taut. Braided with a brand of twine that might be inked with a cursive script across the shipment crates in the hold which contain heavy scrolls of it: “Retribution.”

Those butterfly eyebrows ready to skewer his peepers. The teeth are unnaturally perfect. The tension between wanting to look away and holding his grimace.

In this way, his face pays its regards to cadavers. His face does not radiate the warmth of warm. It radiates something practiced of a blank etiology. It wraps itself around you – which is not something an ordinary man fancies when it comes to cadavers.