Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Caleb Puckett Ducks the Wide Grandpa Scythe, Taunts the Mute Idols, and Knows the Apollo Placebo

Unacknowledged Legislators

In both letter and spirit,
how close to peon poem
seems of late.

Why’s advice:
Go with peony, then.

Paeon as paean—
Apollo on all fours—
doctoring the gods,
a placebo winning the day.

Yes, but dirt stains
your fingers either way.

Broken Ballad

If stable,

speech lacks labor.

Once bonny,
I had thought on love,
become feeble in finding
the approximation of.

I understood need,
yet would not change
my fear of want,
wanting too much, dearest X.

Did believe. The steps.
Did harm. The ascension.
None turned nonetheless.
Fall deepened.

Alone, a banished man, I traveled
through the great green-wood
with brow beaten
to reclaim nature’s succor.

My causeway crumbling,
a mockery built of shining rock.

Go on to the gone side, gypsy lord,
I cried.
So courteous behind it all.
The intent crystalline in supposition.

She. Anointed.
She. In case appointed.
A baron’s day took me footman.
Pretty little brogues with money
twinkling, she danced for Johnny.

She, likewise, must go.

Testify. Her eye passes wonder
Hair feathered with ash.

The joy of counsel to part
ever again.
Averring peace
in the burning plain between.
The whole span of hope collapsed.

Strange, still
I must believe in moon talk, that love,

no matter its twisted manner, blame, pain,
comes end-wise for salve or salvation.

Beside time in the bedside kneel,
the rainfall runs to ague.
Odd flash of steel blade. Promises beyond.

A lowland day,
an empty castle
and my wanton
lady drowned at sea-strand,
tangled in broken mast.

Inquire, understand and yet—

a gold ring
sorry for its finger.

Alone at last grasp, she and I.
Laws of memory twine
Darkened, sheets seem vines, anchors.
Prayers folded, shaped for windfall,
set for no man’s landfall.

A kiss captured for a moment’s glamor.
Good for once and only.
The art of haste.
Grief’s delighted maid
trampling the heather, rutting reunion’s field.

Cloak kept, will to sustain taken in spite.
Winter’s white blast sickens.

So now I switch a sexton’s head for a doctor’s,
dearest X.


Red moon city,
rat city,
city of reproaches
whispering mad omens
from solitary corner
to choked square.

Streets eat buildings
while buildings bite at the air.
The air is an armory waiting to blow.
The wind smelled of sugar, now sulfur.
The old carapace erodes.

Mute idols
and eyeless portraits dissolve
with fevered touches
as we seek vestiges of solace.
Behind the walls, the claws
of rats carve epitaphs
among heaps of black excrement.

Matchsticks for tinder,
promises to be kept,
we pace out the night captive
to the moon’s rasp.
Wrapped in sackcloth,
we repent of our injuries,
history, presence.
Too late to change the signs,
stay the wrath.

Red moon city,
rat city,
city bereft of stability.
The whole of tradition will collapse
with a single, distant gesture.
Our gates cannot be defended
against grave stars.
Look away, stranger.
Know us only by myth.


peonies doze
offhand beyond
the nutritious grids.
Grandpa scythes wide.
The agent plays doctor,
sewing the Bard’s lips shut
as he says, “Bread’s the thing.”
Shirts on the line drip red with dusk.
Ask not what your country can/ did for art.

Caleb Puckett lives in Kansas. His books include Tales from the Hinterland, Market Street Exit and Fate Lines/ Desire Lines. Along with writing, Puckett edits the literary journal Futures Trading.

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