Miles David Moore
A BLUESMAN IN CHILLICOTHE, OHIO
Yo! Cleanhead white boy,
bowling-ball bald beneath black porkpie
and shades; child of the banks
of the deltaless Scioto, who wants the world
to believe he's seen too many dawns
through the bottoms of bourbon glasses,
why do you slouch at the Fox Farm Inn,
clashing like a headache against flowered wallpaper?
"My woman treats me so bad it feels good"
rattles teacups and church groups
with your pea-sized Peavey amp;
"Ole Boll Weevil lookin' for a home"
searches for cotton among man-made fibers
as diners scowl at their scalloped potatoes
and long for Linda Ronstadt.
Does it stab your professionally aching heart
that fields of corn, not cotton,
lurk behind gas stations on Route 23?
Do you care it's Buckeye cows
who stare cud-mouthed at the Fox Farm's neon
bleeding over the buses and cars of pilgrims
to the Sugarloaf Mountain Amphitheatre
to see Tecumseh die for the ten thousandth time?
The Indians are gone. We have no slaves.
There's nothing blue here except the twilight.
So why do you chain yourself to your guitar?
"I got a right to sing the blues"
tumbles from your shrouded mouth
as travelers with a bellyful of soul
get up from the table, start their engines, shoot
their starry lights toward Sugarloaf,
due north along the Freedom Trail.
me alone! I am--a sea of--alone."
--Alfred Hitchcock, at one of his last public appearances
are the stairs you always knew you'd climb.
Your pale blonde obsession waits above,
Her cigarette your only light. It's time,
The tower bells ring, to rise and claim your love.
But is this a McGuffin or what's true?
The staircase stinks of mold, the old steps groan
Under your heft. It all comes back to you--
What you must do, have always done, alone.
made it to the edge. Stern redwood trees
Cluster below in a nefarious plan
Of God's, grow rings around your waking dreams.
The sight amazes even you. The ease
With which you fall is timeless. The blonde screams
To see this hurtling void shaped like a man.
IN THE TIME OF DROUGHT
is the time for making hay
and hay and hay, hay of grass,
hay of flowers, hay of crops, hay of fever
as the sun lobsters us, parches the earth
of fruitfulness, makes every garden Death Valley.
what are you doing about it,
Fatslug? The children of Sudan
could eat a week off one of your meals,
but instead hold dusty bowls against the heavens
for one drop of the fluids you guzzle.
at that plastic half-liter of water
you have, Fatslug. If you were
to pour it on the ground, all it would do
is puddle into mud, making a sinkhole
in the middle of the shriveling grass.
all you can do besides that is piss,
Fatslug, fouling the soil
with salt and acid. You are worse
than useless. The world is dying, Fatslug.
And it is all your fault.
AND THE MYSTERY OF LOST CLOTHES
a free, naked world
Fatslug never sees--only
its wadded leavings by the road.
Shoes, socks, ties, T-shirts,
jogging shorts--once even pantyhose.
Where are these secret nudists,
these abandoners of life's
The people Fatslug sees on the street
seem bound as tightly
as bundles of newspapers, or Fatslug.
the city's concrete coat
cracks open and blooms as Eden Park
where the ecstatic wind scatters
fig leaves from limbs, where banks of bushes
muffle the happy moans of the free.
Someday Fatslug will find that Eden
and run, heedless and pink--
a study for El Monstruo Desnudo--
with all the liberated of the world
as they bare themselves to moon the moon.
ART A POET
(The Muse of Poetry Visits a New Disciple)
art a poet now; thou art in my keeping.
Know that I am a jealous Muse, intolerant of apostasy.
Heed my Holy Commandments if thou wouldst avoid the vanity publishers!
shalt spend six hours a day at the dictionary.
Thou shalt spend thy disposable income--what there is of it--on floppy
ribbons, stamps, envelopes, copying, Anacin and jug wine.
Thou shalt forget the names and birthdays of they family, and remember
them only to
harangue them on the damage wrought by Ezra Pound embracing Fascism.
Thou art a poet; thou art dedicated.
shalt be thoroughly conversant with the works of Freud, Marx, Camus,
Wittgenstein, and Derrida, and expound they theories on them, loudly,
at parties and
Thou shalt be able to identify all the allusions in The Waste Land
without checking the
index, and do so for the entertainment of the masses, loudly, at parties
and in bars.
Thou shalt prefer Finnegans Wake to "Family Ties" and
Schoenberg to the Super Bowl;
those who do not, thou shalt denounce as Philistines, loudly, at parties
and in bars.
Thou art a poet; thou art scholarly.
shalt not go to Taco Bell in Bermuda shorts and beach thongs.
Thou shalt not go to Taco Bell, period.
Thou shalt go to awards ceremonies at the Folger Shakespeare Library
in Bermuda shorts
and beach thongs.
Thou art a poet; thou art tasteful, but rebellious.
shalt be either a libertine, gleefully raping everything that moveth,
Or else a celibate, writing haunting nature poetry that lingereth pathologically
on birds and
Thou art a poet; a normal sex life is not for thee.
then, these salutary precepts;
Live and abide by them all the days of thy life.
But if thou breakest the covenant with thy Muse,
then mayest thou never receive a grant,
mayest thou be rejected from the World of Poetry Anthology,
mayest thou become a standing joke at the University of Iowa,
mayest thou be mistaken for Kahlil Gibran at Safeway,
and mayest thou be hurled into the fiery pit,
there to write greeting card verses
David Moore is founder and host of the Iota Poetry Reading Series
in Arlington, VA. He is a director of The Word Works and administrator
of its Washington Prize. His books are The Bears of Paris (Word
Works, 1995), and Buddha Isn't Laughing (Argonne Hotel Press,
1999). With Karren L. Alenier and Hilary Tham, he co-edited Winners:
A Retrospective of the Washington Prize (Word Works, 1999). Fatslug
Unbound, a CD of Moore and 14 other poets reading his work, was
issued by Minimus Productions in 2000.
Published in Volume
3, Number 4, Fall 2002.
Read more by this author:
Miles David Moore: The Whitman
Miles David Moore: DC Places Issue
Moore: Audio Issue