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BY Michael

05/01 Direct Link
It Figures #38

Chicken Little
Is a bit frenetic today.
He is first out of the barn
And into the light,
Hopping the shed’s door step
Instead of taking a stand on it to stretch first.

Out into the dust,
Chicken Little loses his balance,
And does a tight little spin
Three times around,
Before running full-tilt into a fence post.
Sitting here, legs splayed around the fence post,
Chicken Little suffers

Illumination.

His breath taken,
His eyes roll up
Into their sockets
And burn with tears of beauty.
His little heart stops in mid-beat
And looks up
To Awe.
05/02 Direct Link
It was August 14, two days before his mother’s birthday, that Roger Shultz decided to take a walk through the small copse of trees between him and the dainty pond bordering the condos that were on the other side of the vista in his wall-to-wall picture window. It was a beautiful day from where he sat in his Apartment. The sun was absolutely startling. He knew it wouldn’t be much of a walk. The glen was small, and the copse itself, you could easily throw a stone across and into the pond. He had no idea he would get lost.
05/03 Direct Link
It Figures #39

Looking for Trouble
Didn’t come home last night.
Early morning
Dew still on the steps
Where his mother sits smoking
Red-eyed,
Looking toward the hill,
Her whole body leaning
Up
Over the hill.

She had checked his bed,
But he wasn’t in it,
Under it,
Or near it.

She remembers him
From the evening before,
Tall, thin,
Hair thatched out,
Worn coveralls,
Blue eyes
Squinting into a cigarette.

He had been standing on the porch
Behind where she sat now.

People had been talking.
Trouble was in town,
And now Looking was gone
And not come home.
05/04 Direct Link
It Figures #40

No Accounting for Taste
Is doing just that:
Accounting for taste.

He walks the city
With a notebook
And a backpack full of
Other notebooks
And pens.

This morning he is at
A table
Outside a coffee shop downtown,
One hand circling his coffee
While the other makes
The necessary notes
To account for taste.

“The Scone,”
He writes,
“Has too much baking soda.”

He continues,
“They didn’t have real cream.
The coffee is so hot.
I cannot taste it at all.”

“My teeth hurt constantly.
I worry that this could affect my
Ability to taste accurately.”
05/05 Direct Link
I don’t know why, but I find myself trying to imagine what his life is about. There is some singularity about this man. He’s not a regular, yet I will see him several times weekly. He smiles, and he is friendly. He tends to order either the scones or the chicken roll-ups. He frequently goes with de-caffeinated coffee, and about half the time he stays and half the time he goes. He wears a hat sometimes, sometimes not. Sometimes he will bring a book and sit in one of the overstuffed chairs in the corner, reading while eating his scone.
05/06 Direct Link
It Figures #41

Out of the Fire
Wasn’t in the fire
That long

He made a show
Strutting around the perimeter,
Patting his chest, and
Blowing smoke rings,

But he was
More through the fire
Than in it.

When my brother-in-law Fred
And his son Charlie
Came out of the fire,
They were on fire.

Johnny Flame
With flame on.

Falling through the garage
Entry door
(How DID they get it open?)
Flames licking from the backs
Of their shirts
From the backs of their heads.

My sister reading a book,
Under quiet light and
Looking up at them,
Wondering.
05/07 Direct Link
It Figures #42

Into the Pan
Went head first
Flish flop
Happy hop
Splat pop
Head bop.

It was a shallow pan,
Teflon,
And he slid on the butter
Palms picking up the sensation
Of some naughtiness.

Into the Pan
When not jumping
Was a philosopher,
Dwelling happily
With the quieter
Retrospections
Of life.

This was something new,
A problem of pain,
And adrenalin,
And a future he had not
Time to consider.

He scrabbled,
Nails slipping on the sides,
Belly already seared,
Heart stopping mid-
Beat,

Eyes glazed,
Oblivious to the smoke curl,
The mushrooms tumbling
Off his back.
05/08 Direct Link
It Figures #43

Knuckle Sandwich
Wears
A well-how-would-you-like-one?
Kind of grin.

When he walks,
He rolls as if
His shoulders were
Too heavy to carry.

Black leather jacket
Naturally
Winter or summer
Sweat or freeze,

He reminds me so much
Of Bad Penny.

He picks on everyone,
Everything.
It is said that he once
Punched out a parking meter.

(He said it flipped him off.)

He once had an entourage
But they left
When he beat them up
One by one.

Yes,
Knuckle Sandwich
Is the block bully.
He wanted to be
Town Bully,
But that is for another poem.
05/09 Direct Link
It Figures #44

Sadder but Wiser
Must dwell.

Dwelling is his condition,
His definition,
He is informed by
His conversion,
By his awareness.

And because he is aware,
He is sad.

Wiser,
Well wiser has many
Things to offer,

But Sadder must
Still dwell.
He must soak, seep, sleep,
Embrace, cling to, and cuddle
His unhappiness:
Sadness.

He IS wise to the ways
Of this thing,
But it is the Sadness
That defines him and
If
He is to live, breathe, or feel some measure of happiness even on the sly, well then
Yes,
He must be what he is.
05/10 Direct Link
It Figures #45

Tight Ship
Was a tight ship
When she was.
But this writing finds her
At another stage of life.

I found her in the cellar?
How did she get there?
Someone gave her to me?

Ok, I admit:
Toy boat
Toy boat
Toy boat.

The hull,
Three feet long
Was carved from a solid block of wood.

She was heavy.
And rot,
Both wet and dry,
Had booked regular passage.

My father shook his head,
But I brought her out into the sun.
Unlike the other boats I made then,
She had a maturity
Worthy of dreams.
05/11 Direct Link
It Figures #46

Bite the Dust
Has teeth
Brown and worn
Nearly to the gums.
Nubs, they are
Chipped
And set with tiny stones
Like melting stained jewels
Of pain.

Bite the Dust
Is the hard lunge behind
The long dusty ball glove
And the bloody doomed slide
Left drooling on the infield.

Bite the Dust
Takes the long fall in grace
From Devil’s Tower,
From the new skyscraper,
And at your feet
At a cold word.

Always an extra,
An unlucky second,
Or the last one picked
Bite the Dust is all
Broken heart
And always
Comes up smiling.
05/12 Direct Link
It Figures #47

You were a
Breath of Fresh Air,
A sunshine of smiles
Bathing in clear water,
So that all I had to do to breathe
Was open my shirt
And bask.

I had gills of wind,
And life itself was breath.

But now
More like a memory
I search with closed eyes
For the only thing
I can breathe,

And it is hard
To find.
It is like
Sucking wind
Through a 200 mm cigarette,
Double filtered,

So that the dark closes
Fingers tightly around my chest
While everything waits
In collapse
For a new shallow half breath.
05/13 Direct Link
It Figures #48

Smooth as Silk
Always felt
A little raw
To my fingertips.

She walked
In perfect posture,
Every glance groomed
To perfection,

Scattering perfumed handfuls
Of grace
To adoring crowds.

They had to make way
Even to open the door
To get her out of the car,
Squeezing back the hungry
Press of desire
To touch that airbrushed complexion.

But I’m telling you
That Smooth
Was not really all that
Soft.

I cannot say whether
It was just a texture
Relative to what,
Or my own sensitivity
To any touch at all;
But to me,
Smooth was rough.
05/14 Direct Link
You call and
My voice is filled with cough,
My heart with riot
And I am sleeving into and
Through this metal vine.

I am woven through
Herman Miller trellis
And knotted across the floor.

I’ve tangled under your feet
My body wrapped around
This hard plastic doll
Forced against my face,
Pushing my jaw
Out of joint
So I won’t miss
A single syllable.

This love, this phone,
This heart wrapped
Even when the voice is gone.

Even then
The phone clings and sticks,
Tendrils of organic goo
Grasping
End to end,
Holds on
And I cannot let go.
05/15 Direct Link
It Figures #49

Crying Shame
Rushes from the stage
Stumbling over a worn step,
Hands covering her face.

Her life is this old
Auditorium
Where she recites the story
She has refined year
After year.

But today something
Went wrong.
The story has broken,
And even Crying Shame
Cannot hold the lines down.

The lines themselves
No longer hold anything down
And the story has become
So thickly laden with patches
And perversions

That it doesn’t look at all
What it is supposed to,
Doesn’t fool anyone,
And Crying is left now
With only the Shame
Of a broken story.
05/16 Direct Link
It Figures #50

Crack of Dawn,
Well, to be honest
As I consider this subject
I get a surprising
Visual.

This is what I do.
I surprise myself in the morning
With a visual,
And write about what I see.

This morning
At the Crack of Dawn,
I am presented with

Dawn,

A young woman
Maybe in her late twenties
Who has the roundest ass I have ever seen.

Short blonde hair
Blue eyes,
Round Dawn face
Wondering what she is doing here.

She had been bending over
Watering a plant
When my imagination transported her
Here
To 100 words.
05/17 Direct Link
It Figures #51

Bored to Tears is running,
Running downtown,
Running to get fit,
And running to the beauty parlor.
She is running to the library,
To the grocery store,
And she is even running to the high school
To pick up children she no longer has.

Bored to Tears is running
To stay ahead of her life,
Pushing as hard
As she can
So it will not catch up with her,
Because the few glimpses
She has had of it,
In a reflection in a store window,
Or in the rear-view mirror,
Have made a runner out of her.
05/18 Direct Link
It Figures #52

Crammed in Like Sardines,
Has a problem with the sauce,
Doesn’t care for the oil,
And is afraid of the sharp edges of the
Open
Tin.

He doesn’t miss the ocean
Very much.
That was just a place
Where one was eventually
Eaten by another,

Here in the tin
He feels safe,
Albeit crammed.

He is the essence of crammed,
The cram de’ la cram,
Has become a spokesperson
For cram
If he could speak.

He doesn’t seem to be able to
However.
What’s with that?
Was he never meant to?
Or did something happen to him?
05/19 Direct Link
It Figures #53

A Stitch in Time,
A silver dart
Suspended in the dark,
With blue thread hanging.

Everyone focuses on the needle
As they pass,
The long graceful shank,
The intricate ferrule at the back,

And there is some conversation
Occasionally about whether
The purple piece of yarn hanging
Limp at the end,
Would really be strong enough
Or whether
It is the right color.

It is, however
The simple loop,
The knot about to close
That most people miss,

And this is clever, unfortunate, and predictable
(Pick one or more)
Because the stitch
Is all about the knot.
05/20 Direct Link
It Figures #54

Nose to the Grindstone
Is a thing that causes
My body to contort in
Acute
Empathic
Pain.

It shows some dedication
To do a thing like that.

Do I need to describe
The sweaty hand turning the handle?
The quiver in the knee?
The wobble of the grinding wheel?
The sparks as it notches the glasses?
The spray of blood?
The widening sinus cavity?

I know you do it with pride
And applause, but
Just how long can you keep this up?
How long can you keep your nose
Thusly applied
And still have one at all?
05/21 Direct Link
It Figures #55

Spring Forward peers
over the board.
What if the water isn’t there?
When he jumps?
Just suddenly isn’t there?

It’s too early.
He should be in bed,
Not
here,
high in the air,

The board vibrates.

Looking behind he
sees a little girl,
pink one-piece
step off the ladder
and onto the board behind him.

He’s cold,
water dripping from his
swim trunk.
This seemed a good idea
down there.

But now,
so far up,
and someone is swimming
beneath the board.

Is the water really
deep
enough?

He hears the voice behind him,
“You gonna go?”
05/22 Direct Link
It Figures #56

Bought the farm is up early this morning. He’s on the porch, hands in his pocket, sucking in the morning air full of dew and stale chicken shit. A heavy breakfast of eggs and bacon pops and bubbles in an iron skillet behind him in the kitchen, and he has on his brand new coveralls.

It’s not a huge farm, but huge is not important. Farm is important. He’s waiting for Dingus now. Dingus is going to show him how to do the milking. Bought the Farm is excited. His father always wanted to be a farmer.
05/23 Direct Link
It Figures #57

Oddly Enough
Doesn’t really scare them,
But the children like to pretend
They are afraid.

Oddly enjoys her part in the game,
Running out on the porch
Making sweeping motions with the broom
Saying, “Shoo, Shoo,”
In her best creaky witch voice.

They run to hide
Behind the sunflowers where she
Pretends to not see them.

Shaking her head,
Talking to herself,
While she sweeps their ghostly
Remnants off her porch.

She’ll go back inside
Take off the bonnet
And apron she bought especially
For this game.

And she might forget
And cry for just a moment.
05/24 Direct Link
It Figures #58

New and Improved is going to class today. He is wearing his crisp blue polyester suit and his brite smile. Today’s class focuses on bold font shouting and the most attention-getting colors. New and Improved already understands the importance of using a font with a crisp edge.

New and Improved also has an extra-close shave with a double splash of Old Spice. He has been somewhat taken by the blonde in the poodle cut who sits next to him in class. She is breath-taking when she turns to talk to him, stretching her skirt across her hips.
05/25 Direct Link
It Figures #59

Feet First sleeps face down, alone on a twin bed with his Size 16’s hanging over the end, out there in the air. Feet first is six foot, eight inches tall. He ducks for most doors, although he doesn’t really have to. And you always see that size 16 slicing the air first when he comes around a corner.

As he sits in his office his shoes stick out from under his desk. Feet First is a staunch Republican and Presbyterian with firmly held opinions on both. Go ahead, offer a topic. He’ll be there, Feet First.
05/26 Direct Link
It Figures #60

Heart on Her sleeve
Doesn’t wear her real
Heart
That way.

A history teacher
At an Ohio high school,
She is the subject of much
Speculation
Among the students.

One hears it is Mr. Hein,
The Biology teacher.
“Not true,” says another.
I saw her talking with
Whitehead.”

“OH NO!”
And they fly in tight
Formation
Between classes.

But a heart is not
Nestled in that sleeve ruffle.
It is a red construction paper
Cutout
Stapled
To a rubber band.

Her real heart is
In a safe deposit box
In a Rhode Island bank
763 miles away.
05/27 Direct Link
It Figures #61

Quiet Desperation
Curls up on a stone bench
In the cemetery.
Dressed in professional attire,
Gray skirt, red sweater, she lays
On her side,
Her hands folded beneath her head,
Her knees drawn up to fit on the bench.
She is carefully are arranged
So that even her shoe heels
Do not show over the edge of the bench.

Quiet does not want to take up
Any more space than her due.
She can feel the desperation;
She is choking it down;
But she can feel it pounding.
She can feel the screams
Echoing inside her skull.
05/28 Direct Link
It Figures #62

Bat Outta Hell maybe needs to be written at night, not in the morning. He is sleeping now, hiding from the sun. Late, after a long night of swooping terror, cleverness landed up against the brick siding of the house and crawled, squeezing, side to side, up beneath the plaque of wood displaying the house numbers. There he sleeps during the day, a mere four inches from the doorbell. He dreams the shoes scuffing up the steps, the arm reaching for the button. He dreams the surge of electricity running up the wall to light the bell.
05/29 Direct Link
It Figures #63

Bone Tired
Feels each finger drum hard
Through worn flesh
Against stony relief.

He leans against an ache
The arc of his spine
Pulling thin
Away from brittle hips.

Bone Tired
Is the pulse swelling
Against broken knees
And bloated legs.

He is weak walking
The leafy park
Beneath the tall dome
The arches of his feet.

Bone Tired
Is arms given up
Laid down weighty
At his side.

His breath
Comes slow, heavy,
Damp from shallow
Places in his skin

Even his toes are
Small lead sinkers
Wanting to go nowhere
But down into the earth.
05/30 Direct Link
It Figures #64 Just Shoot Me is a big red horse that lives in a too-small pasture lot across the road from my parent’s house. There are five horses in the lot, and the owners do not feed them. Just Shoot me leans mournfully over the fence waiting for my father to mow is lawn and bring the grass clippings over and dump them over the gate for him. The pasture is only a half acre and the horses have eaten it down to the mud. People have lodged complaints with the authorities, but so far nothing has been done.
05/31 Direct Link
It Figures #65

Doubting Thomas wasn’t sure. He wasn’t the only one, but he was the one who had courage to tell the truth. “I want to be sure,” Thomas thought. “This is important, and I am being asked to invest a lot of myself here.” So Thomas said “Show me.” “Let me touch the wounds to make sure they are now faked up with wax.”

Some feel that Thomas would never be sure, no matter how much proof he was given. They feel he was that kind of guy. I think Thomas just wanted to seal an important bargain.