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Issue 18

Poetry » Ron Singer »

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Brown, the Concept

An old boy toddles along the sidewalk
in busy conversation with himself.
Part of a burgeoning demographic,
he’s too familiar for the young to notice,
but, as his co-old boy, I do notice…

On this cold day, he’s almost all in brown:
boots, pants, coat, muffler, scarf, all the way up
to a watch cap, with “BROWN” in black letters.
Though a brown study, he’s cheerful enough,
championing a young man’s trendy color.

With that metonymic sign on his prow,
he could be a conceptual artist,
an ersatz semiologist, of sorts.
“Cold enough for you?”
                                        “Brown enough for you?”

In the Neighborhood of Dreams

Approaching Whatever and Attitude,
our bus is bathed in blinding sunlight.
Cannabis, mushrooms, qualudes, caffeine, booze,
consumed by students, the homeless, left, right.
The sun in my eyes, impairing my sight,
makes a runaway bus jam a building.
I blink, and the bus is a dark awning.

Chalk it up to another illusion,
my third or fourth in a single day, night.
It’s the Age of SMS, so what’s new?
Let’s see. A pit-bull dream gave me a fright,
woke me with a start. That happened last night.
The dog wore Mick Jagger’s face. With a lurch,
I fell out of bed, knocked right off my perch.

Awning-buses, pit-bull rock-stars, that’s two.
Let’s see. My breakfast threatened to bite
me, a mass of tooth-Krispies on the spoon.
The coffee said, “Drink me, dear, that’s all right.
This is your mother. Don’t be so uptight!”
Nagging coffee, cereal carnivores,
isn’t reality real, anymore?

Back on the bus, taking solace in you,
I say, “Did you see that? There, on the right!
That awning looked like a bus. Number Two.”
“Okay,” you smile. “I can see how it might,
if you squinted, blinked.” You squeeze my hand tight.
Then, my hand falls. When I look, you are gone.
“Another illusion,” I think. “Game on!”

Pillanelle: The Medicine Drawer…

… is getting so full, something must be done,
antibiotics from infections past,
painkillers from ailments undergone, gone,

this’s, that’s, a pharmacopeia vast.
I’ve started to think of my bulging drawer,
stuffed with pills whose dates have passed,

as an Augean Stable, Pandora’s Drawer,
or a rude guest who eats, drinks and lingers.
It occurs to me to dump the whole store,

but that idea seems fraught with danger.
A passing pill head might O.D. on my stash,
or it might harm the planet, endangered.

There is no more time to equivocate.
The pills will attack! I have to act fast.
Should I pull up stakes? Should I relocate?

Like most decisions we tend to postpone
—having a second child, buying a phone–
to waste or to hoard, not easy to choose,
for, like death, itself, the choice seems lose-lose.