I Was No One’s Servant But My Own

Barefoot

I go barefoot when I’m with you

 

When you’re away

I go to the closet

and consider my shoes

 

 

 

 

Let Her Dress Herself

She wears a moon on her vest

and a cockroach on her lapel

she’s into every­thing

 

She’s a hotel for travelling extremes

 

Her mother noticed early and

let her dress herself

 

 

 

 

Serious Work Play

I mixed some chocolate in your clay

while you were away

unhappy

 

I was just trying to make your serious work

play

 


 

 

Sparrow

In December just before work I see a sparrow is the color of a tree and say, “What am I the color of?”

 

“Anything I’d like!”

 

And storm off laughing at how simple I am

 

 

 

 

Pinecones

Some pinecones scattered on the sidewalk

didn’t spring up as I approached

 

I really thought they were sparrows

 

 

 

 

snow bank

a snow bank drifted past my window this evening

 

i had read about this sort of thing in the movies

and seen it in books

but here?

 

there it went

right down Hamline Avenue

doing the strangest things

 

it picked up a mother

daughter

and a mail truck

 

unbelievable

right to the end

 

 

 

 

Pigs

Pigs have babies, but they don’t go around bragging

or making documentaries that air on PBS named

“The Miracle of Birth!”

 

 

 

 

Guts

The dark world of guts

cut a hole

slide a hand in

the same inside

a badger or a duck

 

 

 

 

A Good Mammal

A good mammal doesn’t play games

with the afterlife,

a good mammal says nothing

 

Walnuts and worms

 

A good mammal lets them all fall

thump on the ground

and mingle

 

 


 

You Start the Revolution

I walk around

I share something

 

I play a song on the guitar

I think

 

Why do we wear clothes?

I don’t know – and I don’t want to know!

 

You start the revolution

 

You grow a face that knows something

 

I can’t do it!

 

 

 

 

Free Tibet

On a corner in Minneapolis there are two signs

across the street from each other

 

“Free Tibet” and “Free Firewood”

 

I like the idea that firewood should be freed, and not burned – but

liberated – take this wood home, please, but do not burn it!

 

 

 

 

Written on a Napkin in Knoxville

I wanted to die young

I based my whole case on it

 

But I fell through each crack

and kept landing on my feet

 

Harmed but healthy

enough to crab on sideways

 

 

 

 

The Rat’s Life

I am a rat that approves of the cat’s sedentary life

following sunbeams around on cool autumn days

 

Oh, to loll sleepily in my oozing pelt,

a hideous dirtball eager for petting

 

But the sun is the perfect distance from the earth

for the cat’s life we rats envision

 

One day purring under caresses

 

 

 

 

Jesus

Jesus didn’t turn real estate into wilderness

Jesus didn’t turn shit into food

Jesus turned water into wine

 

How bourgeois of him

 

Think of the sentimental Indian in all of us, Jesus

so full of broken hearts

 

Think of me, Jesus, brimming over, staggering with pain

– if only you had bounced a rubber ball with me –

I would have called that a miracle!

 

Or if you had twirled a hula hoop with my little sister,

or used a telephone to call my mother when she was sick and

dying and calling out for you every five minutes

 

Seeds fly everywhere in the spring, Jesus, you can catch

some of them if you want to. Some fall like snow, and some

fall like helicopters. It’s fun.

 

I don’t care what you did, or what they say you did – just come

out and play sometimes

 


 

 

Melinda Melendez

Melinda Melendez was found dead

in her coin-operated apartment last week

 

All she wanted to do was bark like a dog

and shit outside

 

She lived in a quiet suburb and straightened her skirt

before she faded out

 

 

 

 

Consider the Martini Glass

A martini calls for a glass just wider than a mouth

at the top, and just narrower

than a lady’s pinky finger at the bottom

 

Artifacts like martini glasses surround us

and give meaning

and give us something to reach for on bad days

 

The wheel, the hat, Hitler’s self-centered black mustache,

all seem somewhat

meant to be

 

 

 

 

Work and Play

Work and Play were separated at birth, blindfolded

and driven in two black limousines with smoked glass windows

to the opposite ends of the earth

 

Where they were told by hard unscrupulous men

with a strategic plan that they were orphans

whom their mothers had abandoned

 

Their mother, however, knows that the earth is round

and “opposite ends” means they live in the same town,

on the same street, surely even in the same bedroom.

 

She sees them walk past each other every day,

one coming, and one going. She weeps, moans,

and prays that one day they will meet.