(after The Dancing by Gerald Stern)
In all the fly-ridden
diners, with all their grease-coated steel walls and coffee stains and
hard-boiled eggs and spoons I have never seen a black and white TV with a coat
hanger for an antenna nor heard Ernie Harwell call a Tigers game the way I did
behind the counter on Joy Road, nor pour coffee as much as I did then, the globe
of my coffee pot all sloshing, the ballgame droning on, my mother smoking at the
counter, my father flipping burgers on the grill, (doing the short-order dance
of small steps and flat feet), the sound of the burgers sizzling, cars tires on
rain, everything a machine, the customers eating and drinking, all of us just
being and working, as if we were really living, showing us that the world would
never stop―in 1975―in Dearborn, radiant industrial Dearborn, hometown of Henry
Ford, thousands of miles away from the other grime―Hanoi and Chu Chi―oh Buddha
of compassion, oh wild Earth.
I. The Saturday Afternoon Monster Movie Host
The Man With A Hook
Moo ha ha ha the movie is about
to begin. But first my pretties I must
tell you a little tale. A man broke out
of the insane asylum. He was just
your average maniac with a hook for
a hand. A couple at Loverís Lane heard
the news on the radio, locked the door,
and kept necking, ignoring the hazard.
Then they heard scratching on top of the car.
Metal upon metal, a screechy sound.
The teenagers were overcome with fear―
the driver jerked the car into gear and
when he dropped his date off they took a look:
dangling from the car door: a bloody hook.
II. The Actual Story
Lost my hand in an auto accident.
Pianist. Psych Ward. Unreality.
Stopped taking my meds. Again my torment.
Crescendos of ripened insanity.
I think it was May. Broke free of that place.
Became just another kook on the street.
Hook for a hand but never a menace.
My brain was simply dysfunctional meat.
Wandered into Loverís Lane. Had to tell.
You know, the secret government plot
to put alien implants in us all.
Instead, I lost my hook. Some idiot
teenager tore it out of my stump. Lost
that damn right hand all over again.
(after Tsvetaevaís Some Ancestor of Mine)
Walking Through the Orchard of Forgetfulness
Maybe a friend was once unkind, or even a plagiarist in
addition. Who can tell, now that implacable Time has scoured memories to nibs?
Dark, scowling, bow-legged Time is the one who leaves me in the pear orchard,
removing my hands. (But, I am the one responsible for my fate.) Proud of the
workers watching the clock, Time fiddles with his pocket watch and bites into a
pear. He is always inspecting, blurring, the memory. Not a tender mentor. He is
fond of his calendar, the days, the years, and all the new mewling babies being
born. . .I think Time may also be a taskmaster; my formal overlord. His soul is
not worth one hair strand of gold, so he whistles past the graveyard in the
night. Though perhaps he shambles through the orchards like a ruined woman. I
suddenly wonder: did he even leave me in the pear orchard?
Reason is now
This in our world, three
a kaleidoscope here.
Said quite unamerican,
advertisum ad nauseam
proclaims no spirit:
potion of miscreants.
I come after
the vulgar eloquence
of Truth, now
this death trip
is spellbound roulette
it taps and
grasps while no
solemn voice prevails.
The quick nonsense
of celebrity actresses,
primitive with always
the wrong news;
junk governments of
asses have dimmed
me quiet, secondary.
We are atom
maulers and pared
vowers, Truth asunder,
although my verbs
aspire the sky.
But we exude
this poison since
all imitations are
accepted with potent
artifice -- these accidental
veils compliant in
all of us.
I come and
earn this tantrum
verily, at the
tail-end of armed
eden, questioned in
veins almost tracts.
Jilly Dybka's poems have appeared in
Michigan Quarterly Review, No Tell Motel, La
Petite Zine and other journals. She lives in
Tennessee and works in the
department of a University.