Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Fly With Umbrella


2 Silver Coins
Now You Got Me Lost
Aluminum Ladder
Stuck In The Air
Flying People
Between The Clouds

2 Silver Coins

Give the man
two silver coins
ride the wheels
to where

Scarcely a dawn
passes by
when I’m not
going there

Doing this
for the day
I wonder
into a dream

I only wake
when I hear the bell
to go back
home again

Now You Got Me Lost

The orange blood of Sylvan Moore left a trail across the
floor. It stopped where he stopped at the washroom door,
and spilled more going in. At the sink, the water had been
turned on, the faucet handle bore the trace, the bowl too,
where the splash had formed. It was terrible to think of
poor beloved Sylvan Moore struggling like this,
staunching himself with those torn gray paper towels,
but this was my job and I had to see it to the end.
The evidence of his escape was everywhere. The window
was left open where he crawled out to the air. Who
knows how far he could get but I wouldn’t give him
2 to 5 that he could reach the boulevard alive.
Especially now that I saw the arrow thrown in
the trash.
It was painted with orange, from the feathers on
down to the jagged barb. I could take my time
tracking this kill.
Back in the hall, I took the elevator down the twelve
floors to the lobby like anyone else would do. I
wandered over to the counter and reached towards
the little silver bell. Before I hit it though a bellboy
popped up like a jack-in-the-box.
“Can I help you, lady?”
“You got the new paper yet?”
“Yes, of course, up to the minute,” and he turned around
to the wall. We both stared at the glass pipe leading up
into the ceiling. He flicked a switch and we watched
the newspaper capsule drop down the chute. It landed
with a click and the kid brought it to me. “That’ll be
six bits, lady.”
I told him, “Keep the change,” passing him three silver
coins. I tore open the tube and shook out the crisp roll
of today’s latest news. I skipped the front page of the
Herald with its photo of Sylvan Moore and opened
the paper to the dograce listings. I sighed. “Looks like
I lost this time,” I said and tossed the paper onto the
counter.
“I hope you don’t mind me saying,” the bellboy grinned
sourly, “but I bet on Sylvan Moore.”
I let him know I didn’t care, turning away from him
without a reply, walking my reflection over the marble
floor. I was always cast as the heavy, I was used to it.
The public was conditioned by what the media said.
Sure, they’re rooting for a man with an arrow wound,
they’re always betting on the other guy. I already had
the next arrow locked into the bow, I was all ready to
end this.
I wasn’t expecting the rain though. When I came in,
the weather was fine! I pulled my cape up over my head
like a hood. The rain sounded like sand falling on me.
The night was full of the rain. I headed for the alley,
I knew he’d be there, half dead. Why worry?
Diamonds shined in every neon sign angled out over
the street. I reached into my coat to get my hand on
the bow so I could finish this game.
There was moonlight in the alley where far overhead
the washroom window let out, onto a weakly-holding-on
fire escape. He wasn’t up there. I was ready to shoot
at the next second. Where are you, Sylvan Moore?
I didn’t spy him right away. Where was he? I was
between two walls rolling off rain, silhouettes and
strange shadows. For just a second I doubted whether
he was there or not. Nobody could go far after what
I did, especially not Sylvan Moore. But all I could see
was rain falling down.
I held the crossbow in front of me and I quickly went
further into the alley. I was tiring of this. The drainpipes
popped and trickled. Suddenly I was through to the next
street. Did he make it this far?
Some carriages slid by in the shallow slick. I looked for
any disappearing signs of orange on the cobblestones.
They were there.
The smallest flow of it lurked in the puddles.
It occurred to me that coming this far he could have
grabbed a trolley. They rattled by every once in a while.
That must be what he did. He had a bit of luck on his
side, that’s all, so what.
His trail limped up to a flower stand that was in the
midst of giving up and closing for the night. I caught
the edge of the shutter swinging down, then asked,
“Just a second, I have a question.” I took a look around
the bright yellow room. He wasn’t in there. “Have you
seen anybody in trouble?”
The green face of the florist leaned down to me.
“You mean Sylvan Moore?” At that he laughed. I didn’t
have to guess he knew more than he was telling me.
They were all in on making sure Sylvan Moore won.
Was everyone helping him along the way?
I threw the shudder closed. It didn’t matter. He didn’t
have long to live unless he made it to the …
Of course! He had to go to the infirmary. I hiked out into
the rain on the road and hooked a taxi.
I jumped in the back seat. After I shut the door I wanted
to say where we had to go, but the taxi was already
rattling as fast as it could in the right direction.
“Don’t worry, friend. You picked the winning ride.
I got my money on this. We’ll find him.”
The taxi slew through the pour of every last bit of the
night.
“How do you know where he is?” I asked.
“Somebody squealed.”
We went around a corner that put me hard into the
cardboard trimmed corner. I leaned into the next turn
better. The plastic windshield showed a view of the
tilting, weaving city sights I knew.
“Are you going to the infirmary?” I asked him.
“I’ll take you there,” he told me. The road was in control
no matter how it seemed to shoot us like a meteor here
there and everywhere.
It must have been another minute before I realized
what was going on. I leaned over the seat, “Alright
wise guy, you can stop the cab now. I’m getting out.”
I had to take out the crossbow to get through to him.
“Okay, okay,” he wheeled the cab to the side of the
road, then he laughed, “But you’ll never win now!”
I got back into the rain. He had done a good job
getting me lost. I watched the red lantern swinging
on the back of the taxi as it left me stranded out here
next to a wall of brambles on the dark edge of suburbia.
I was already soaked.
Across the road from me were some houses with
lights burning. Maybe I could get a ride into town
somehow. As long as they weren’t laying odds on
Sylvan Moore. So far, everyone was.


Aluminum Ladder

Standing
on the lawn
all day long

In the spot
where
the Big Dipper
will appear
at night

Stuck In The Air

The getaway steps
to the stars
went up
at night
returned in dawn

If someone moved
the ladder away
before they climbed
back down
they would be stuck
in the air above

Small as sparrows
tipped around
like little dots
waiting for
the ground

Flying People

When a person is dreaming, radar passes right through
them. Even after discovering this, verifying it in one
experiment after another, Irvam Nashteer wasn’t sure
what to do with this remarkable knowledge. He cut
the power to the swiveling aerial, threw a black curtain
over it and woke his snoring patient.
“Mr. Hursky, your session is over.”
With a groan, Irvam’s client rolled onto his back and
stared at the ceiling, blinking, rubbing his eyes. He
mumbled, “Thanks.” Despite the treatment, it didn’t
take him long to start talking about cigarettes, but
Irvam wasn’t listening.
His eyes followed the stitching rise and fall of the
swallows out over the parking lot. His distraction
took him far enough away from his office to the most
fantastic vision no radar could detect.
The telephone rang and interrupted his notebook
diagrams. “Nashteer Hypnosis and Mentalist
Therapies,” he answered automatically.
“Irv! It’s me, listen what are you up to tonight? Correction.
I’ll tell you what you’re doing tonight. You’re coming to
my barbeque. I’ll be watching for you, Irv. See you then.”
Irvam was left holding an empty phone. He set it back on
the cradle. That was his neighbor, Matt or Pat, or whatever
his name was, with another attempt to make Irvam feel
welcome. They seemed incapable of understanding.

It was twilight as the small electricar pulled into the red
clay driveway and stopped. Sure enough, just across the
street was aglow with checkered lights and loud mariachi
music from the other side of the fence.
Irvam unfolded his car door and got out. For a second
he wished could disappear into his dark house, but it
wasn’t going to happen.
A sign popped out of the swaying thick leaves overhead
and frazzled with the static image of the party waiting
for him.
“Irv! It’s about time!” The blurry dotted cartoon of his
neighbor flapped at him. “Get over here, pal!” The sign
redirected Irvam as he tried to move toward his house,
it pushed against him, shining colors and bleating until
he got the picture.
“Alright, alright…” Irvam sighed, “I’m on my way.”
“That a boy, Irv!” The sign jostled and coasted on its wires
back to its origin.
Irvam was tired of all this, but he knew it wouldn’t last
much longer. After he put his plan into action, everything
would change and their rotten system would crumple and
fall.
“Hey Irv!” The silhouette hung over the plastic fence,
waving at him. “What took you so long? Burning the
midnight oil?” And the dark shape broke into laughter,
“Get on over here!”
Irvam swatted at the fireflies that circled him.
Once he got into the street, under the stars and clear
of the leaves, they disappeared.
His neighbor, Bill or Will, or whatever his name was,
held the gate open for him. The mariachi spilled out
too. That was the latest craze, they never held onto
anything that lasted long. That’s how it went with them.
“Good to see you, Irv. I’ve been waiting for you.”
Irvam went in and got slapped on the back like an old
friend arriving. The gate clacked behind him, the night
already taken over by the barbeque.
“Come on over here, by the fire. This is the place to be.”
On a heap of split tinder, an entire deer was roasting,
legs pointed up towards the stars. “Have a seat here.
Let me get you a plate.”
“Not much please,” Irvam insisted, though he was quickly
given a plateful of the meat. In the flickering light Irvam
looked down at his feet; the red dust had stained his
white pants.

Later that night, Irvam had assembled more than
thirty people in a moonlit field. They were all sleeping,
they were in his control. They stood in a tightly fit circle,
arms and feet locked to each other, their bodies cast
shadows like spokes inside a wheel. The quiet night
wasn’t terribly cold but every time Irvam uttered a
word it balled in an icy cloud that floated away from
him on a current. Cloud by cloud his breath weaved
a ring around the sleepers, then the whole thing
began to spin. Irvam lifted the merry-go-round sight
into the air. He pointed the slow wobbling higher and
higher until it revolved a hundred feet above. At that
height the puffing steam-driven blurr caught the wind
and ascended.
Irvam had worn himself out with their levitation.
He collapsed onto a rock. He needed to catch his breath
before he carried them further. The hoop had become
distant and lost in the astronomy.
“Irvam.”
He jumped. He felt a shift.
“Irvam, what was that?” The woman, whoever she was,
came closer to him. “Remember me? We met at the party.
I had to leave early.”
If she was smart she should have started to run, right
now, when Irvam was too weak to do anything, but she
came near. She held a little net and carried in her other
hand a glowing jar filled with orange and green fireflies.
“I was collecting some electricity,” she explained.
“I saw a strange flying machine or something.”
Irvam had to maintain contact with the air. By degrees
though, he turned on the rock so he could face her.
Yes, he remembered her from earlier. She was new
here and lonely and innocent enough to be wandering
around seeing things where she never should have
been. He felt sorry for her and those who were like
children, who just didn’t know what was happening,
but it was too late. Flying people were on the way.
In another couple minutes they would float up there
undetected, a few more layers leading in the sky.
The next history would happen soon, as soon as
she let him catch the breeze up there, but it didn’t
happen that way.
When she dropped the jar full of fireflies, that light,
shock and sound of broken everything woke him
right up.

Between The Clouds

I saw you Kerouac
at the airport
you laughed
at the obvious
whoever what was

I went on the plane
nobody checked my shoes
nobody sorted me out
I crossed the sky
way above America

If you blink you miss
the next message is
no longer hidden
it is written
between the clouds



cover: rosa frost
writing: allen frost
in the middle of june & july 2003

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The End Of Beryllium


Quick Thinking

Cruise Control
The Greyhound
Three Masquerades
The Horse
American Stars At Night
Honest Ron And The Settlers
The Boy Who Spoke Robot
Ronald Orkinson
The Beryllium Tanager
For A Couple Stars And Wind
Lucky


Quick Thinking

“Is it fair to Midland?”
“I don’t know, let’s call him in here.”
He pressed the intercom. “Midland…”
A few seconds later, a tired voice
crackled in the speaker, “Yeah?”
“C’mon in here.” He turned off
the intercom. “I’ve always trusted
Midland’s opinion in the past.”
“We’ll see,” said his partner,
shuffling a hundred page tome.
“I’d be surprised if—” he stopped,
as the door to his office opened.


Cruise Control

A gray cool morning, dew rolled
across the windshield, the Winnebago
flashed along the highway.
They had been driving for an hour
or more when the old man turned to
his wife and said, “I think I’ll go in
back and have some tea. Can you
take the wheel?”
She smiled and put her book on
the dashboard, “Of course dear.”
He stood up in the aisle as she
scooted into the driver’s seat.
Yawning, he rubbed his weary
muscles. “I’ll be glad when we’re
there.” He made his way to the
kitchenette. He turned on the burner
and sat onto vinyl. The window blurred
with the sweep of dry farmland. Mile
after mile, until the teapot broke his
reverie. The Winnebago gently rocked
like a cradle.
“I decided to join you for some tea,”
his wife said pleasantly. She poured
two cups.
Then it dawned on him. “But who’s
driving?!”
“It’s okay. I put us on cruise control.”
In the serious pass of those icy seconds,
they felt the Winnebago start to lean.
The tires beat across the lane divots.


The Greyhound

Freddie Silk had to spend the night
at a friend’s house. Dawn barked at
him in the form of a purple and blue
greyhound. Its bulging eyes goldfished
urgently while its mouth opened and
snapped. Bark!
“What do you want?!” Freddie bolted
upright on the sofa. His head spun.
The sleek dog shuddered and it took
a few mincing steps.
Freddie seemed to recall a request
to take the dog out when nature called.
Freddie groaned and got up. His bare
feet hit the floor and he cursed, “Let’s
go dog!” Only after he stumbled to
the front door and opened it did he
realize what he had just done.
His friend’s retired greyhound racer
launched off the porch to rocket
down the sidewalk.
“Waaait!” Freddie called. “Hey—!!”
he struggled to remember the dog’s
name. The lope and curve of its
disappearance was awe inspiring.
Frightening. 35 mph on the loose.
Freddie had to chase it in his
undershirt past every cold
sleeping house in the neighborhood.




Three Masquerades

There were funerals every day, and this
afternoon there were two. As the mourners
of the first sadly departed the funeral home
in long black shadows down the path, got
into cars and slugged away, unlike them
he couldn’t conceal his joy. He ran across
the lawn, a smiling maniac. A Transylvanian
thing might have been at work for he had
just found a way to bring dead back to life.
Now he had a whole new chance at living.
Behind him, as his father was getting
used to an unmarked grave,
he took the bus on a fifteen minute ride
back to the brier patch, his home. Sorrowful
buildings, brown colored scribbled plants.
It figures…He hopped off and made for
the nearest bent-over house.
It was the house he used to share with
the old man. It was all his now. It sagged
as he went in, then down the flimsy stairs
to the basement level where the grim
washing machine and furnace shook
against the air and walls.
Frank Shliefer Jr. had what he wanted
and he was happy. At last and never again
would he have to fear for rent, costs, the
day to day job at the funeral home, the
enormity that made his young life so hard.
Everything was taken care of.
He was gone behind the door for half
an hour or more. What came out was
another man. The years wore on him…
Yet there was something familiar…
The amazing camouflage made it look
so real. Maybe he had to go around in
ancient disguise whenever he went out,
but Frank was free. While the rest of the
crowd he used to know had to wait for
their sixties to retire, slaving away for
the golden day of their old age pension,
he beamed like a full harvest moon.
So a few months passed, perhaps a
year. Frank could go on and on
without worry. The checks covered
food and shelter expenses and he even
had the old man’s bank account.
The winter melted into the ground.
With the arrival of the warm season,
Frank could venture outside, in the
old man’s spring clothes. Plaid pants,
green shirt, white sweater and hat.
Cherry trees blossomed innocent pink.
On the pathway, he laughed at daffodils
tilting their yellow faces towards him.
His own face wore a quarter inch of
makeup that stretched to wrinkles
around his smile. The whole world
was coming through to a new life.
“Hello there,” warbled the voice of
Bea Lefter, his neighbor.
“Good morning!” he returned, even
gesturing an old man’s way. “It’s a
beautiful day.”
The old woman on the porch
watched him so intently that he
was worried his act may be failing.
He caught his breath next to the
picket fence, ready to run if
necessary.
“Yes…” she agreed at last.
“But how could you forget
the Spring of 1975?”
Frank laughed in relief.
“That’s right! I remember!’
Safe. He straightened out of a sag.
“Say, listen…” she hushed, and
leaned a hand to her mouth. “You
ought to come over and see me
again. Next time that boy of
yours falls asleep before you.”
“I…”
She smiled and blushed. “You
know where I keep the key.”



Louis Manhattan pulled on his
company shirt and blue matching
slacks, zippered his coat and put
on his cap. Before the mirror, he
examined himself, setting his jaw
squarely and proudly. The company
colors, stripes and logo were still
his…though he had been fired half
a year ago. He wore this uniform
every day. The disgrace had simply
been replaced in his mind, he
continued to live as though on
payroll. In a way, he was too.
In his blue pocket was a company
credit card. He still used it. Who
would ever know? The company
practically owned America. Why
not? He was just one flea feeding
from it. Completely dressed, he
swung round, turned the TV off
and left his hotel room.
Downtown, Louis imagined
employment, going into skyscraper
lobbies. From one to another, he liked
the polished copper light of them,
the red carpeting, all the marble
and brass trim and the official
feeling that permeated everything.
His everyday routine was to carry
a big box in the elevators on his
mock business. Sometimes he would
get out and explore the plush halls,
maybe stare in glass doors. He could
admire his reflection or tip his cap for
the secretaries. Back in the elevators,
he’d talk to the other riders about
the weather and news headlines.
Things he knew they’d agree with.
At noon, he left for the street.
The whole avenue was company
uniforms and it felt so good to be
a part.


The cafeteria filled with sunlight
and the clatter sound of the lunchtime
crowd. The skyscrapers had let go.
So many men and women went
through the line and carried their
trays to tables set in even rows.
The chatter was muzak to the ears.
Only fate would will it so, that Frank
Shliefer would sit next Louis Manhattan
and the two of them would be eating
the same Special of the Day. They
chopped up their meals and ate
suspiciously…Last night they had
shared the same dream. A policeman
was looking for them…It was only a
matter of time…Magnet attention on
the door and the line of people forming
there. Half their food was gone before
they both stopped, blinked, realized
and froze.
A policeman had joined the line
entering the room. He took each slow
step like a tidal crab, or a comb
though hair. He jerked his belt,
disturbing the gun and billyclub.
Nobody else seemed to worry, but
the eyes of those two men grew large
as lamps. Frank and Louis were one in
fear of their nightmare coming true.
The policeman grabbed a plastic orange
food tray off a full steel shelf. He took a
step.
Suddenly two people crashed from the
tables and tangled up in running.
They flipped around on the floor
like just caught silver fish.
What did they expect?
The policeman broke from the line
and grabbed them. “That’s far enough!”
he ordered. They were tight in his claws.
He stood them in front of him, one in
each hand like a puppeteer. “What’s
your hurry?”
To the policeman’s surprise, the two
began to cry and confess outrageous
stories. One had been living the life of
a dead man, the other was stealing from
a company. They were both guilty of
crime. He reached for the handcuffs
on his belt, cleared his throat to read
them their rights, when another voice
stepped on his words.
“What are the charges?”
The policeman swung his puppets
around to face the questioner. A scared
gasp betrayed his confident expression.
His eyes saucered wide and
he let them loose. He was caught.
“That’s not a real badge…Where did
you get that?”
“Woolworths,” admitted the fallen,
so-called policeman. “For half price.”
“Right…” said the officer, new to the
scene. “And who are these two?”
Every masquerade had ended, the music
had slid out the cracks, all anyone could
do was admit.
“I’m not a cop…”
“I’m not dead…”
“I’m not working…”
That was it.




The Horse

“How great an act can you do in a horse costume?”
he demanded. He put another toothpick in his
gritted mouth. It already looked like a porcupine.
His acts gave him the same trouble anytime applause
closed the curtain on them. “Look, this is a simple
crowd, they just want to laugh. They like what you
do, you’re successful, why change it?”
“We can do Shakespeare,” said the front of the horse,
Joe was his name. “Othello, or Macbeth.”
Simmons, the back end of the horse, broke in seriously,
“We don’t want to do the same old juggling and
limericks anymore. We have big ideas for a new show.”

They could hear the crowd out in the theater still
clapping for them. On through the walls until the
orchestra played for the dancing girls kicking the
next act on. A toothpick fell. It blended in the plaid
of the manager’s trousers. “Listen boys,” he sighed,
“I been in show business for forty nine years…
Forty nine…That’s a long time. I’ve seen a lot of
acts rise or fall.” He took one of the toothpicks out
of his mouth and studied it for a moment. “When I
choose to book someone such as yourselves, it’s
because I have a wealth of experience. Suppose
the spark I see you possess will be the next Martin
and Lewis? I take a chance, I gamble, I bet, I get
you on stage and I let you perform. I have a vision
of what you will be.”
“Yeah…” Simmons interrupted defensively, mad,
“You haven’t seen half of what we can do.”
“That’s right,” Joe agreed.
Simmons insisted, “We don’t need you to tell us
what to do. We’re taking the show on the road!”
The two stood up defiantly, clutching the halves
of their costume.
The manager shrugged, unaffected. “I already
got a dancing cow waiting for a call back.”
Joe scoffed, “Replaced by a cow! What a sad
joke. Good luck!” He and his partner kept laughing
as they took up their bags. All down the stairs to
the door they joked. At the landing, the green exit
bulb buzzed and flickered like a radio dial. They
swung the door open and went out into the infinite
blue and moon shadowed alley.
“We’ll go to Chicago. There’s plenty of shows
there.”
A pail colored taxi slowed past on the street
and they ran to it.
“Take us to the train station!”
They lit up cigarettes and glowed in the dark
back seat. Joe rubbed his hand over the horse’s
carpet fur for luck.
A couple hundred yards was all it took.
The taxi journeyed to a stop beside a brick,
yellow lit platform with a little bungalow
stumped next to the tracks.
While the car idled, the driver’s eyes moled
in the mirror, looking at them. “We’re there.”
He stuck his hand over the seat at them.
Joe dug in his pocket.
“Here, let me,” said his partner. He paid
the man and opened the door. “We’re on
the up and up. I want to breathe in that Chicago
wind.” The taxi left them into the dark pour.
No lights of Broadway. Standing there,
they could hear crickets calling back and forth
from the wheat stalks that grew in between
the pavement slabs. “Goodbye nowhere!”
They walked to the glass booth that held
a goldfishing man. “Two tickets!” Simmons
beamed. “To Chicago!”
“You’re in luck, boys. Train just arrived.”
Simmons laughed, “See Joe! Everything’s
working perfectly!” Under the slip of window
he paid enough money. They could practically
hear the music with them, running to the waiting
train, to leave the old for the new dream of
skyscrapers. They showed their tickets to the
porter in the door and found their two seats.
The car was filled with sleeping people
who had already been a long way, too long
to open their eyes for some dustbowl late at
night, yet a small boy with a wooden toy
watched them sit down with their curious
animal halves. Simmons pushed the horse
body under his chair, reclined and pulled his
coat tightly around himself like a blanket.
“Just wait…” he yawned. “Chicago is on
the way.” The train lurched as the wheels
bit hold of the path again. The town was
leaving them forever. So long. Joe could see
the gray whale slant of their old theater amidst
the trees and bleak. Simmons yawned and
sighed, “I need to catch some shut eye, pal.”
The rails began to click the passing wheels
monotony. “I’m gonna get some air,” Joe said.
“Don’t forget your head,” Simmons reminded
him sleepily. Every performer knew that much.
There were stories beyond number about
costumes and lives lost in transit.
“Right.” He stuffed the horse head under
his arm and went down the rocking aisle
past crooked uncomfortable sleepers. A few
cars opened doors until the last one ended on
a little airy porch affair. He sat down on the
wooden chair and dropped the head at his feet.
What a relief. What a relief, watching the brief
lights of farm houses, shadows, the bleary fields
revealed by half moon, the sleeping lion bales of hay.
He shut his eyes and listened to the rhythm until
it became the crackling Victrola soundtrack to
a dream. In the Chicago of his dream, he and his
partner danced with a line of beauties across a
stage set Eden. Their tapping four hooves stopped
in a dramatic spot and from the horse’s mouth
spoke verses of poetry. It seemed so real that
when it changed song, he couldn’t believe that
world was gone. The train was stopped in
blackness. Boiling clouds hid starlight.
Maybe it’s been here for a while…He stood up.
Silence until he coughed. By squinting his eyes
at the midnight, he could almost see trees shaping
hills far away. It was a little spooky to be this
alone, wondering how his partner was in the cars
far ahead. Joe opened the door and went into
the desolate. What a nightmare. The abandoned
rows of seats faced quiet air. “Hello?!” Nothing.
He hurried anxiously to another door.
Turning the handle, he nearly collapsed into
the tracks laid yards below. The horse head fell
out of his grasp, end over end, to land on the
rock chips and gray slates in between the iron path.
Where was Chicago? Where was he now? There
wasn’t a sign of civilization. If he let himself down,
where would he go? He was trying to figure out
the riddle when his body was shaken into waking.
Suddenly he was staring at the frantic cut silhouette
of his partner Simmons.
“Joe! Get up!”
“What is it?” Joe straightened up in the chair.
The train was still tearing up the night. A little light
passed them by like a shooting star in the black.
“Wake up. We’re in trouble…”
Joe rubbed his eyes, “Why? What is it?”
“Never mind right now. I have to borrow this.”
Simmons grabbed the horse head from under the chair.
Joe seized hold of his sleeve before he could disappear
back into the train. “What’s happening?”
Simmons tugged his arm back. “I’m in a little fix.
Don’t worry. It’s nothing I can’t handle. I have to win
back the rest of the horse.”
A clown appeared in the lit doorway, ominously
blocking it. “You aren’t trying to run off, are you?”
He had a black ace of spades tucked in his hat band.
“No! No!” Simmons laughed. “I’m just getting some
collateral.” He quickly revealed the horse head. “See!”
The clown nodded slowly and wheezed, “That’ll work.
Come on back. The dealer’s ready for the next hand.”
Clinching his arm over Simmons’ shoulders, the clown
led him back into the car again.
The door shut behind them.
Joe sat where he had been, blinking his eyes,
waiting for that new dream to begin.


American Stars At Night

Applause and fanfares from the big band as
he came out onto the stage. He did a double-take
under the flashing clapping meters and then he
waved to the audience. With all that amplified
commotion pushing him along, Stu Tipps swaggered
over to the bronze colored desk to sit down beside
the host of American Stars At Night.
“How you doin’ Johnny?” he grinned.
“Good, good. It’s been a while, Stu...”
The crowd and technicians had settled down
to be entertained by the Hollywood colossus.
“Yeah, I been busy. Another movie in the can.”
Stu nodded gratefully towards the impromptu cheers.
“My fans…” he smiled another million dollars and
pointed his thumb at them.

Johnny leaned over eagerly. “I understand it’s
something different. You directed the picture
this time, right?”
“Not only that, Johnny. I produced it, I wrote
the screenplay and I star in it. The works! It’s
my baby.”
“Fantastic!” Johnny sat back for a moment of
applause to wash over the studio shell. “Could
you tell us a little about it?”
“Sure Johnny. After I finished Buck Shot Cop,”
the mention of the film caused more pandemonium,
but Stu smiled and went on, “I couldn’t stop
thinking about Easter Island. I was being haunted.”
“Fascinating,” Johnny intoned.
“Do you know about that place?”
“I’ve certainly heard of it. I understand there’s
quite a mystery there.”
“You better believe it, Johnny. Once upon a time
there was a civilization there. They had towns
and road and a religion and they also had forests.
No different than us. So what happened? What
did they do to their land? You go there now and
all we know is traces, there’s nothing left, only
the hills and the rocks. The ones that look like
faces. People today like to say the whole thing’s
a big mystery, but I’ve been thinking. It’s not
so strange. It makes sense, even to me. I think—”
“Hold that thought, Stu,” Johnny interrupted.
“We have to go to a commercial break for a
word from our sponsors.” He winked at the
camera, “Don’t go away.”




Honest Ron And The Settlers

(Horse clopping, pulling a cart)
“Martha, it will be a miracle if we get this
Conestoga through the desert to Fort Bixby.
But we must press on across this God forsaken
land…”
“Hold on Jebediah! What’s that up ahead? Are
my eyes playing tricks on me?”
“It looks like some kind of odd contraption.
There’s a man standing next to it!”
“Look at those outlandish clothes!”
“Step right up folks, don’t be afraid. Welcome
to Honest Ron’s. I’m the time-traveling used car
salesman. Have I got a deal for You!”
“I…”
“Fellah, I don’t mean to insult you, but look at
that jalopy you’re driving. Two horsepower!”
“See here, strange man.”
“Look, don’t you want your little lady to feel
proud beside you? What’s that wagon made out
of—wood? C’mere friend, let Honest Ron show
you a 72 Buick. Solid Detroit steel!”
“I don’t know…”
“Listen pal. I understand your situation. You
need a reliable car at a fair price. Go no further.
Check out the mileage, FM radio included, just
kick those sidewalls!”
“What??”
“Can’t you see what a deal it is I’m giving you?
Look at the aerodynamics.”
“I don’t even know how it moves. Where are the
horses?”
“They’re under the hood, kid. A hundred and fifty!
All you have to do is get behind the wheel, step
on the gas and ZOOOMM!”
“But what do you feed it?”
“Heh, heh. That’s the beauty part. You don’t feed
it! And an automobile from Honest Ron is guaranteed
to run forever.”
“I like it Jebediah.”
There! You see, she’s got vision!
“I’m not so sure…We have seven days traveling ahead
of us. This desert is powerful hard.”
Hey! Would Honest Ron steer you wrong? This
Buick will get you there in hours! In the future where
I come from, the 72 Buick is the King of the Road.”
“Let’s get it Jebediah.”
“I don’t know if we can afford such an…auto…mobile.”
“Friends, today is your lucky day because I’m gonna
sell you the car of tomorrow at the price of today.
What do you got?”
“Ahhh…some Confederate money, some gold coins,
aahhh this letter from Robert E. Lee, maybe we have
something else in back…a map of America drawn by
Lewis and Clark…”



The Boy Who Spoke Robot

There was nothing anyone could do to
get him to talk, though something different
happened whenever he saw a machine.
He would get as close as possible to hum
a secret. Anything that clicked and whirred
to those tasks it was programmed for,
he would run up to it and make friends.
The mechanical driver of the monorail,
the eggbeaters there past the kitchen doors,
the traffic light post shining red yellow green,
even the simple LED calculators stuck in the
bargain store bins. All of them heard him sing.
And since it took so many machines to make
a city run from day to day, it could be that
he would still be known after the war,
when the machines overthrew.
After the static, quiet calm formed,
as if a new ocean was laid down,
and a time to try again began and
someone would be needed with
a song.



Ronald Orkinson

I had to stay in bed and watch the blinds.
The bright spring air rattled them with every breath.
My clock read almost eight, but time didn’t matter,
it was all a wait. Sooner or later the footsteps would
approach my door, a parcel would fall through the
slot and my day would begin. Until then, I listened
to the outside world, layered with cars on the street,
birds in the trees and far above the pull of an airplane.
Until then, I was nothing.
I must have drifted off because before I knew it,
the noise of the metal latch caught me by surprise.
The package fell inside, the footsteps disappeared.
Hard as it was to move, the thing drew me with
magnetic power. Ronald Orkinson was written on
the manila. I tore it open and let the good Book out.
Gold lettering on the blue cover announced my name
and Day 11680. I opened it up.
Get Dressed.
I obeyed instantly. My clothes were piled on
a chair in the corner. All I could think about was,
“What will happen? Where will I go?” At last,
I tied on my shoes and returned to the Book to read.
The next command was simple enough.
Go Outside.
I opened the door with the Book under my arm.
The stairway down the side of the house creaked
with my sneakers. A cat on the last step ran off
into the garden weeds. At sea level, I quickly
opened the Book again.
Get Breakfast.
I smiled. It wasn’t often that the Book allowed
me a treat like that. There’s a restaurant a couple
blocks away. I’ve smelled the wonderful aroma
many hungry mornings before as the Book took
me journeying somewhere else. I opened the
brass doors and let the waitress show me to a table.
“Coffee?” she asked.
“Sure. Why not?” This was going to be a great day.
I set the Book to gleam in the window light. My
eyes feasted upon the menu, finding the most
outrageous ingredients. My coffee arrived and
I let have it with my breakfast order. She filled
a whole green ticket. When I left I’d be walking
on air like a balloon. So I had my coffee and a
refill as well. A rainbow bent from the thick
window glass, spread on the cover of the Book.
“Thanks,” I told it and touched its corner with
affection. I felt compelled to read the next
sentence. Usually I wait until it’s appropriate,
but on this day…waiting for my meal…I felt
so warm and happy I had to know where it
would lead me next.
Get Money.
That took me by surprise. Money! I realized
I didn’t have a cent in my pocket. I looked
around me, I could see the waitress balancing
plates, spinning my way. I grabbed the Book
and bolted. It was the only thing I could do.
Running down the street, I wished I had the guts
to toss the Book in one of the passing alleyways.
It had done this to me before. Real funny, thanks.
I had to catch my breath, I stopped with my
hand on a white stone lion. I knew I could never
part with the Book, I knew that without it
I was helpless. It had always controlled my
days. Even now. It had led me to the bank.
The lion guarded the entrance. The stone eyes
watched me go in.
People echoed all over the marble floor.
I stood there with them, not knowing what
to do. You can’t just walk into a bank and
get money, didn’t the Book know that? In
exasperation, I consulted it again.
Get A Gun.
Where were these words leading me?
What did it want me to do? For the second
time, I felt an overwhelming compulsion to
reject it. Then I saw the guard sleeping at
his desk. His hand was slumped over the back
of the chair, newspaper fallen on the floor,
and a pistol beckoned, hanging on the side of
his belt. The Book was right, I could do it.
I moved along the shadow of the pillar.
I crept onto the Persian rug moating his desk
and I reached out.
“That’s far enough!” He bounced to his feet
with his hand on his hip. He drew the gun and
pointed it at me. “I always knew some punk
would try that,” he puffed steam triumphantly.
“Everyone thought Old Charley was sleeping
on the job. Hah!” Instead, he’d been waiting
like a spider. He set the gun beside him on
the table to fumble with his handcuffs.
My moment had come. I opened the Book
and as chaos shot around me, I tore the
morning out.




The Beryllium Tanager

For a hundred years, the Beryllium Tanager
has been extinct. The song that once clouded
the sky over America is remembered only
in the whistle of children and the squeak
of the factory rinds that are dying now too,
in the valley end of this century.





For A Couple Stars And Wind

After a last night in the ballroom
the elevator took them all to the top,
where they set up chairs and music stands
on a tarred roof, with chimneys and aerials,
an audience of a couple stars and wind,
to play music that was already the past.




Lucky

“Just keep telling me the winners,” he said.
“And we’ll get that place in the country.
Then you won’t have to bend so low to fit in.”
He rustled the newspaper in front of his lucky
pet’s nose. “Take a look…Black Tie looks good
in the first, but don’t let me cloud your vision.
You just tell me. You know the odds, you’ve
never been wrong...” He leaned back to wait.
Holes punched in the wall illegally let in more
light and air, traffic rush, flies. He waited.
As soon as there was a reply, he could call
his bookie. He scratched his hands. “No more
city…just meadows and sky...” The answer
would take them there. Then it came.
Effortlessly, the giraffe clapped its hoof
against the floor. Once, twice, three times.






cover & illustrations: aaron gunderson
writing: allen frost in 1997
at 411 miami place in huron, ohio


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Stowaway


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Burt Ives In Televisions All Over The World


Burt Ives, the legendary folk singer,
recently became the first musician in space.
120,000 miles from Earth,
cramped into a bullet shaped capsule,
Burt tuned into Cape Canaveral for a report.
Televisions all over the world showed the scratchy
picture of Burt Ives looking pale and horrified.
Someone at Houston Control cut in nervously and asked,
"Hey Burt, could you play My Green Teenybopper?"
Millions of people watched him hopefully
as he struggled for his guitar under the emergency oxygen supply.



writing & drawings: allen frost in 1994 for egyptian books

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Champion Dreamers Of The World



Dishes

The Second Time
Ufology
Jack Shellac’s Art Shack
Jim Champagne!
Pirate D
Past Argentina, Over Water And Hills
Everything Began Across The Sea
While The Rest Of The World
Until I Woke Up In Surprise
Into The Stratosphere And Back
The Zeppelin Affair
The Miracle Of Science
Dream Machinery
Geronimo
Next To An Ocean
Dream With Mexicans And Floating Lions
The Elevator Music
Stamp Collecting
A Dog In A Sock
Barns
Cow
I Have Imagined And Now We Are Real
The Flowershop Quartet
Burt Ives
Snappy Pete’s Ankle Complete
Guarantee
A Loving Heart
Sister City
Hubert Faucet
I Wonder Where You’ll Be
Bob Hope
Toad Ricky Returns For A Waterfall
Up And Down The Sides Of Mountains
Love Again
Sun
While Rain Fell
Down By The Factory Crumbles




Dishes

See how she lives, now that it’s Christmas
and the lights are strung across the roof.
Her house blinks with colored bulbs
and it makes all the satellite dishes
on her roof seem to jump. I walk past
at night on my way home from work,
after long hours of the assembly line.
It’s a relief to see something out of
the ordinary. I just can’t understand
her need for so many satellite dishes
unless she is the eyes and ears
of the world.




The Second Time

They decided to wait until winter to cut at
the blackberry bushes piled behind their house.
When January set in across everything, the vines
would shed their leaves and snake back to burrow,
then they could cut them and rake the ground and
turn it into a garden in Spring. It would be good to
have it gone. In August they picked ripe berries
to make their last ever jam and pies.
Early in December, snow fell, but they were going to
wait a little longer. The vines tangled in the cold.
Wearing double layers of clothes, Elmer Ford
marched up and down the hall, ringing a bell.
This was the morning they had all been waiting for.
Children came running through doors. Outside, they
fell around the frozen vines and sliced at them with
rakes and wooden swords. Elmer even tied a rope
from the bumper of his Model T and dragged roots
out of the ground. That’s how he dislodged the tube.
It was plowed out of the earth like a bomb, it sparkled
as something golden from Mars in the weak sunlight.
Elmer’s children were making drum noises on it with
their rakes and weapons when he got out of the tin
car and made them stop. He examined the steel hollow
tube and he found letters on it, underneath the dirt and
weeds. Already one of his sons had discovered a silver
door handle on the side and he turned it open. The hiss
of steam threw them all backwards, they stared as a tall
man stood up. It was him, it was Abraham Lincoln.
He put on his stovepipe hat to shade his eyes from
the glare of the twentieth century America.
To get his bearings here, in a ruin of blackberry vines
fifty years after the war, he cleared his throat and gave
the Gettysburg Address again.




Ufology

They made some mistakes in the past.
In the 1950s they used to fly over deserts
near highways or flash by in the night sky
where small towns grew. That’s how they made
their presence first known. Shooting through
the air in their silver glowing spaceships,
disappearing at the blinking speed
of light, but people took them
the wrong way.

Films were made about them
landing and taking over with
superior technology and weapons,
frightening powers unheard of.
Since then, they’ve decided to
become more careful on this world.
They seldom use their flying saucers
leaving them covered by tarps
in garages. Now they prefer
to travel by car, it’s easier that way.
In blue Pontiacs they coast along
the highways at midnight
driving beneath the stars.




Jack Shellac’s Art Shack

The cameras were rolling, filming him
as he lay the thick paint across canvas.
He had a running commentary going,
something about how beautiful camping
in the Appalachians is. The leaves,
the swaying trees and purple lakes
the haunting call of the loon.
He made a joke about not paying
the trailer park, leaving in his
Winnebago early before the ranger
woke up. While he began adding
a deer to the rippling edge of
an alpine lake, there was a crash
and a boom-mic swung wildly.
Jack’s banter ceased abruptly
his ashen face stared in horror
at the approaching sight.
A bear walking on its hind legs,
eight feet tall, panting, slobbering
and slashing its claws and teeth.
It fell over Jack like a shadow
and the scenic painting stuck
to its hairy back while
the TV crew retreated
leaving cameras fixed
on the grizzly.




Jim Champagne!

The woman on the pay phone
was asking for Jim Champagne.
I overhead her as I walked past.
Jim Champagne, that rings a bell
I thought, but I couldn’t remember
why. Apparently he wasn’t there,
I would hear her shouting,
“Well where is he?!
I have to talk to him!
This is important!”
Later, sitting on the bus
and watching the world
pass by the windows
I thought about where
I heard that name
and then it came to me.
There he was
on a choppy sea
maybe the Atlantic
trading military secrets
for fish.
Jim Champagne was
a trained spy seal.
He wore on his nose
specially designed radar
and carried plans
and real estate
inside a waterproof tube.
But Jim Champagne was
in trouble, she was calling
to warn him about it,
the Coast Guard,
they knew everything!
The oysters were bugged
in that seafood restaurant!
By now, Jim Champagne
would be swimming
against the undertow
and Gulf Stream
with all the forces of
America after him.




Pirate D

The last freight train
features the lonesome tickets
and empty pockets of Pirate D
who sold his gold treasure map
and gave up the ship one day

The sun shines no more
for the one eyed parrot
asleep at the wheel again
and the tumble weeds
push him along forever




Past Argentina, Over Water And Hills

The famous American showed up at the Little Java Circus
and the crowd cheered. They had seen him on the silver screen,
they had watched him wrestle lions and break crocodile jaws
in Hollywood. Safari dressed, he flexed in pale spotlight,
took a rose from a girl and played with a big mangy cat,
snapped a whip, holding a chair. Then when he was done,
he bowed and was gone to the circus owner’s trailer door.
He banged on the rusty steel, shaking the walls,
demanding his $10,000 performance fee.
Quick out the window, into the night
a bottle of wine still left on the table inside,
the petrified owner ran for his life.
Past Argentina, over water and hills
into dark clouds of jungle where he could
never be found.




Everything Began Across the Sea

I always think of your English eyes
it’s a long time I’ve walked up stairs
paced by the brick fireplace
chosen words so carefully
you must go to sleep to meet me.

Everything began across the sea
Hampstead Heath and Rolling Green,
the raining top and moving spirit
hills slouching on the way to London.

Silver and stone gray memory
learn from the passing of trains
checkerboard pattern of fields
glowing going back to where
it all started with your breath.




While the Rest of the World

She can tell our story
with art and words
while the rest of the world
is in the dark

Let her tell you
what she sees
open up to her view
she can reveal
she knows what’s real

While others say nothing
she has a light
and the talent to live on
down through the ages




Until I Woke In Surprise

I tried all night to listen
to the rain on the rooftop
like a Japanese painting
the quiet water sound
seemed to never slow

It wouldn’t stop
until I fell asleep

Then dreams appeared
black and white movies
I was living in another world
until I woke in surprise and knew




Into The Stratosphere
And Back

If I’m not here
then I must be somewhere
you weren’t paying attention
and maybe there’s a reason
I needed to leave

After all that time
being hypnotized
eyes like jellyfish swimming
into the stratosphere and back
they land sunnyside down
at the Goodwill store
and become old records
waiting to be heard




The Zeppelin Affair

He fell in love with a zeppelin
a big dream about a flying machine
they told him you’re making a mistake
she lives in thousands of miles
she’s pushed by the smallest wind
she’ll be here and gone
why can’t you see the obvious
tomorrow she’ll be in France

But he was excited in New Jersey
to see her again in the morning
moving so quietly as she got closer
the same thing happened in the film
I guess something went wrong
he reached out and she burst into flame




The Miracle Of Science

The first sign that he was getting cold
it was 90 degrees in the middle of July
and he outdressed the Eskimos
drinking a pot of boiling coffee
and he never felt the warmth

Ever since he returned from Venus
not even his wife knew him anymore
nightmares waved every night
the miracle of science
had to be used to
connect him to her




Dream Machinery

There’s no reason to sink
any further underneath

We had our inventions
the aeroplane
motorcar, highways
the Empire State Building

We controlled electricity
technology, industry

We saw the universe
from telescopes on mountains
everyday we were getting closer

As long as I can remember
we desperately reached out
at the furthest thing away

Just like any broken part
of that dream machinery
let it go if
it doesn’t seem to work
trade it in for something
that will




Geronimo

Grocery shopping
all the rows of food
carefully and colorfully
displayed for buying
frozen, dry, or add water
being poor doesn’t matter
there’s a price for every dollar
and a sale on the 4th of July
it’s the American way
there is so much to buy

Also take a look at housing
where you can afford to live
a little gets a place with bars
a million gets a white palace
what makes you worth it
what’s your salary
where do you work
how many know
who you are?

Just like Geronimo
I can’t take it anymore
I know at the airport
we can get away




Next To an Ocean

Fishing now
for broken hearts
where loneliness
most hurts

When dawn arrives
swept up in tide
they catch
on silver hooks




Dream With Mexicans
And Floating Lions

In big wooden cages, the lions floated ashore
and they broke out of the surf onto the sand,
angry and looking for food. Their roars carried
all the way from the sea up to the town.
We turned from the cliff, I held her hand
tightly and we ran to look for shelter.
The houses were all locked and boarded up
except for one and we hurried for that place.
Maybe we could hide down in the basement
where the lions would scratch but couldn’t
get in. We ran up the path, almost safe,
when suddenly a family of Mexicans
pushing a piano and moving furniture
blocked our way and we tried to explain
but they couldn’t understand our warnings,
our hysterical shouting and pointing
to the ocean.




The Elevator Music

Elevator Music
the sound you hear
like angels going up
off of the street
out of a broken heart

Don’t think about where you’ve been
now you’re going to a better place

There are buttons
sparkling on the wall
and the sound you hear
will help you
make your choice

Maybe pick someone on another floor
go together onwards to another door

It’s a beautiful dream
everywhere there are ways
no matter who you are
it will move you
if you want it to




Stamp Collecting

If you’ve ever thought about being a detective,
considered it a life of black and white glamour,
intrigue, your own beautiful secretary taking dictation,
gunplay in abandoned warehouses, and a sultry widow
paying you twenty grand for curing her woes…
then think again friend…
Sure there are moments of all that
(once in Tuscon, I helped a woman
get a piece of corn out of her teeth, and
I shot a racoon in broad daylight in Yuma)
but looking back on it, I wish
I had continued with my first love,
stamp collecting




A Dog In A Sock

The pasty cream walls were filled with bullet holes
the sergeant scratched his mutton chops and sighed

The only witness to the crime
was a dog in a sock




Barns

There’s nothing like finding yourself
lost in a fog and a spinning clock
with the road serenaded by cows
in a hundred clouds
in shoals of barns
all alike in the night




Cow

I live in green
I eat flowers
I stand around
watching the clouds
or watching the ground




I Have Imagined
And Now We Are Real

You’re in a little boat
my hands are about you
then I put them to water
and we row upon our dreams

I love you

Can you count the colors
when rainbows have tears
in their eyes
so happy they cry

I love you

My heart rides a cloud
we have found each other
I have imagined
and now we are real




The Flowershop Quartet

For a time, I went there for flowers every day.
Being in love was connected to all those green smells
and colors. It was juicy warm inside too, the windows
steamed tropical wet, the gray city snow backed away,
turned into slush in the Spring doorway. A bell welcomes.

The four girls who work there play jazz.
It’s the perfect sound for searching through all
the hemmed petals. Though daisies are all I could ever
afford, wrapped up with Thelonius Monk, tied with
white piano ribbon, from hands like these, daisies
become the very breathing air in romance.

They knew what I was there for, smiling back of course,
maybe I said so one flushed afternoon. Anyway, it was
the obvious courting of a songbird unconnected to
the peddling darkness sinking the rest of the country.
Someone in love must ride with angels. Laying in flowers
to flood with. When I stopped going, they knew.

It happened on the street when I was deep in only myself,
trying to forget. The four girls of the flowershop caught
up with me at last and reminded me not to collapse. They
had seen how I could be, it filled them to have me be that
way. Out of the black cases and old boxes, they took
gold instruments and right there shook jazz again.




Burt Ives
In
Televisions All Over The World

Burt Ives, the legendary folk singer, recently became
the first musician in space. 120,000 miles from Earth,
cramped into a bullet shaped capsule, Burt tuned into
Cape Canaveral for a report. Televisions all over
the world showed the scratchy picture of Burt Ives
looking pale and horrified. Someone at Houston Control
cut in nervously and asked, “Burt, could you play
My Green Teeny Bopper?” Millions of people
watched him hopefully as he struggled for
his guitar under the emergency oxygen supply.




Snappy Pete’s Ankle Complete

Problems with gravity had reached such proportions
that people couldn’t walk. Their ankles gave out in the
pain of air that was drooping trees and pushing clouds
down. People began to crawl again, others slithered
on the ground, some returned to the sea. In cities,
there were brightly lit stores all around the padded
sidewalks with overbearing salesmen dressed in
tartan suits. “Come on in and get your ankles repaired!”
their voices graveled out of American flag draped
speakers. “You have to walk everyday, trust your
ankles to professional care. Free knee inspection
included…” Snappy Pete was just like the rest of
them, ranting and raving on two minute TV
commercials. “Snappy Pete’s Ankle Complete
is more than a store. We’re a friend to your feet!”
His store flattened itself over the wreckage of
the Ravenna Bridge, down the ivy hill, easy to fall
into. Unhappy people went in slumped, then came
out later with the plodding determined steps of
Frankenstein’s invention.




Guarantee

Out of the tumbled water logs, they built themselves
a house of trees. Slung like carp, its wooden lines
fish-tailed with seaweed, dried and brine. So close
to the ocean, up from sand, hightide waves
masqueraded as a lawn. On a stormy night,
they are guaranteed starfish visitors.




A Loving Heart

Her nightgown caught in the wave of the wind
this late at night. On the balcony, sitting there,
overlooking the rest of the town blinked in lamplight
she stares, if that is the word, really she looks far
beyond. America isn’t even a thought tonight.
As usual, her entranced life has been brought to
this place once more. There are stars. She forgets
which one is Mars. Someone told her long ago,
it’s easy to find: it’s as red as a loving heart.




Sister City

Sister City walks with the land holding skyscrapers
and shopping malls cupped in her hands. Her long
legs take her in one step into the sea. The water
climbs over her, as she flows down and her dark
hair floats around her, swimming with her hands
above the waves. She carries the city across ocean
and plants it on the shore of another continent.
The buildings left like sand castles, softened by
the clouds, she goes back underwater.




Hubert Faucet

Hubert Faucet, champion dreamer of the world
walks on his own stares on a carpet unrolled
wearing a vaudeville show

In the spring, birds fly a crown
he will set up court on your lawn
hush the city
turn off every out-of-tune sound
ask that all traffic stop
cars and buildings bow
the ground is felt and
flowers taught to grow




I Wonder Where
You’ll Be

Since I can’t see you
in daylight
I search for you all night
in my sleep

…dreaming you were a talking seal
I touched your face and you said hello
soft water eyes you’ve seen me
…dreaming you raised wings
to fly a hundred miles per hour
I learn the touch of your hands
…dreaming we found places
with safe walls and windmills

When day arrives
the morning takes up the sky
I go to work to walk up stairs
for the cost of living I pinwheel

Then night falls
I go home and close my eyes
I wonder where you’ll be




Bob Hope

One night, he called the operator, forgetting it was late.
Of all the people in America, sleeping or somewhere
involved in the dawn, he wanted to talk to Bob Hope.
“I don’t know his number, I’m not sure where he is,”
he said. “He might be in Hollywood, or maybe it’s
Miami Beach.” The operator paused not so pleasantly.
She hated this part of her job, she was just waiting
for her next coffee break. “I’m sorry sir, but I’ll need
a destination. There are names in every city in
every state that are the same.” He listened and
sadly sighed. Millions of Bob Hopes, lost in crowds
of any town, cast like Halloween masks afloat.




Toad Ricky Returns
For A Waterfall

Toad’s legs turned bicycle wheels
for a long time they spun miles
first the sun then the moon sailed overhead
green eyes star guided riding towards dawn

Morning bird songs filled the sky
the dew on the hills made silver oceans
flowers schooled like fish waking up

Around the corner the road folded
and cupped a puddle in the middle
Toad’s eyes glimmered the thought
riding straight through the splash
putting water into air
and maybe hanging
a rainbow there

So he sped up his pedaling
and got low over the handlebars

A couple rabbits saw it happen
the bicycle submerged in a wave
and Toad Ricky was gone




Up And Down The Sides Of Mountains

He was reckless, he walked on roofs, on the tiles
and blue shingles, next to old river gutters filled
with rain. She watched him from her window cut
into the eaves. “Stop doing that!” she said and her
windmill voice proposed, “You should be in here
instead.” Opening the rainbow colors of her
curtains, he saw her leaned heavenly in the sun.
That was it, he was falling. He took the steep last
walk past the scarecrow of television antennas
to where she smiled, flowerboxed out over
the window ledge.




Love Again

The planets groan
love has come again
so hello I call
from miles away

This is not a game
show your fidelity
I say what I say
and I don’t lie

Colored rainbows
make heart pattern
just like a child
I want to smile




Sun

The same way
grace the day

Start like a motor
turn the sail

Put your energy
into the making




While Rain Fell

While rain fell
to say hello
again
beloved
motion
curls
in water
on your skin

Viaducts
the ancients built
to carry dew
to the needing

I am learning
weather is teaching
with summer lightning
all around you




Down By The Factory Crumbles

Down by the factory crumbles where the river
sweep washed a little higher, a little lower for
year after year, she stopped to read the rusty
tea leaves cast upon the shore. When you are
made of such as this, you think you may last
forever. Concrete will turn back into sand,
while ivy vines make veins through relics plans.
She came here everyday to play, until she grew
old enough, found love and moved away.




writing: allen frost compiled in 2003

Friday, July 10, 2009

One Eye Open


The Old Goat
Hawthorn Tree
The Diamond
Ghost-Eye
Dennis The Menace Park
Spaghetti Girl
Jerry Lewis
Gomez
Written 4 Days After
Beware Of The Invisible Blob
The Other Dennis The Menace Park
The Flying Nun



Intro:
These were all written around an accident
that occurred in March. (Actually Jerry Lewis
is a bookmark in Raymond Chandler, written
on an airplane ticket stub, July 28, 2000.)
The original idea was for this little book
to be about Super Powers, each story
featuring a different hero.
So that’s what it is.

March 27, 2002


The Old Goat

On the way to the bus each dawn I walked through
a field on a path dug in bracket and thorn. I waited
for the appearance of the mythical beast in leaves
and sure enough he would be there, torn above the old
glass gourds of wine, inside a windowfull of vines.
A long white beard and curling over horns and eyes
like blue marbles sunk so deep in the dew.




Hawthorn Tree

I was carrying an old wooden radio along the sidewalk on
a bright blue Sunday afternoon, looking at my shadow moving
over the pale lawns. There was a loud clack as a witch’s broom
hit the middle of the street. Out of the air from nowhere.
I didn’t see her though, when she fell off of it she must have
landed in a tree. Or she’s holding on desperately to the peak
of a house across from me. I thought I saw her black dress and
wool sweater as she clawed tiles, reaching over for a window,
with a foot on the gutter to steady herself.




The Diamond

After she works a ten hour day, she has to pass through an X-Ray.
All employees are scanned to make sure they’re not smuggling out
diamonds. Waiting to be set free into the warm summer night
beyond the doorway, the screen discovers she is pregnant. Surprise!
Growing bigger in her, month after month, the little baby is grabbed
by the powerful beams of electricity going into her, going into him.
Even though she gets weary, she has to keep working, that’s the way
things are, until the very last evening shift when she is finally due.
She leaves the factory holding her belly. There’s a light snow and
crows looking for food. The Spring is aching to get out of the cold
March ground. Twenty two hours of labor later, a boy is born.
She holds him, feeds him, warms and dreams him. Then she
knows him—The Diamond—he has the power to go through
walls and any eyes that gaze upon him are hypnotized.




Ghost-Eye

Now he can see again, now that his eye has mended
and the patch is gone. The view from this repaired
half of his head confused him with visions he never
knew, glimmers and wonders and floating shapes,
like nightgowns, like the light from pearls. They
would disappear when his other eye roamed over too.
By the third time or so, he knew what that eye could do:
having made a trip to the land of the dead and back,
it kept picture postcard contact with ghosts.




Dennis The Menace Park

John Steinbeck is the Monterey King of Writers
with his cannery row of stores, but we let him alone,
following the road a half mile away to El Estero.
Hank Ketcham lived here too and drew Dennis
The Menace adventures for years. He left us a park.
The flowered hedges reveal glimpses as it appears
before we stop in the air under tall eucalyptus.
We can feel it drawing us. A black train is stopped
by the gate, boys climbing all over its iron. We hurry.
It’s so dreamy we have to run.

Spaghetti Girl

Oh what could be better than
getting limp in hot water?

Jerry Lewis

Jerry Lewis can’t walk by a pool
without falling in




Gomez

What would happen if I didn’t get up? Gomez pressed a button
that mechanically curled a sheet of metal to where the staplers
caught it in the corners. He had been thinking that before he got
out of bed this morning and it was still with him. What if everyone
decided not to get out of bed? The factory would stay quiet after
the late shift left. There would be no replacements to come work
the machines. And then what would happen if the next shift didn’t
show up? He could imagine this big loom of iron arching out from
him turning into rust and wind when the roof broke in and weeds
grew through it all.
Each time the steel velocipede shell was curled over and
stapled, he grabbed it and stacked it on the pallet next to him.
He looked at the other people working around him.
Everyone was in their own thoughts. He imagined them
as radio towers and he couldn’t tune to their frequency.
Except for old C, he was talking out loud as usual.
Gomez smiled, took another sheet of metal and flopped it
on the track. He caught the curls and put them into hinges.
C was competing with the factory sound. His beard unrolled
with each loud every other word. As long as he kept up with the
work, Gomez thought, they would keep him on—he was the token
American and he did work like a maniac.
That’s what Gomez was thinking at 9:37 in the morning.




Written 4 Days After

Let’s get the gruesome story into the open once
and for all so this weary narrator doesn’t have to
relive it again. Early Sunday evening my charming
wife had a startling idea, “Why not have a new
tradition of family game night?” Sure. Our daughter
Tabitha-May picked her favorite board game (and I
paid no attention as yet to the razor-edged cards)
and we set out. I chose to be the duck. Tabitha-May
leaped to a lead with a spin of 6 and picked a card.
It was the Bear! What Joy! She flung her hands in
the air and the card ripped cleanly and quickly
across my cornea.
A half hour later we were at the Emergency Room.
After a forty minute wait in a room full of human
tragedy, I was allowed beyond. Following a
kind nurse who treated me first, appeared the
shuffling green slippers of my doctor. He drew a
Neolithic picture of my eye and gave me a prescription,
while behind the curtain next to me, a man had his
leg turned off. Though I spent the next couple of
days reeling in a Quasimodo nether-world of creaking
agony, now everything is fine. I just have a headache
and my eye has the vision of a Galapagos tortoise.
As for morals, I don’t know, there’s a lesson about
games, or luck, or animals.




Beware Of The Invisible Blob

By the 5th year of Medical School, students are finally
told the truth about the common flu. It’s a terrible
invisible blob that cruises aloft in the air. It picks
people out, descends on them and that’s that. Yet
there may be a handful of people who can actually
detect these phantoms. Ghost-Eye is one who can.
Sunday early evening, he and his daughter took their
only trip outside the house, walked down the path to
their car and drove to Crazy Mac’s video store. There
were no more than three other distant people in the big
room and he and she quickly found a couple cartoons
to rent. They were done, he bought her a 25 ¢ bauble
from the gumball machine and they left the store.
Unaffected by the wind or rain or cars and crowds,
The Invisible Blob could hover and take its time.
It had been fishing all day. The shiny eyes and laugh and
spring of the little girl must have been too much of a lure.
Ghost-Eye never really knew what had occurred until late
that night when his daughter was so ill and fevered in bed.
Then he remembered their trip and that lack of sky-colored
air above the car before he shut her in. Whatever that thing
was, buoyed in space, it had caught her with its cold, deep-sea
creature reach long enough to make her sick.


The Other Dennis The Menace Park

After a while I catch myself getting nervous.
I become the cricket watching Pinocchio and
his friends turn into donkeys. I see the rust
showing through the bright colors, angles of
metal in crashed airplane shapes, ladders
lead up to points, chutes drop out of sight.
A bridge grins twenty feet above the sand
where a boy cannonballs. What’s the matter
with me? It’s Dennis The Menace Park!
Somehow every child is protected from
the dangers the parents see.

The Flying Nun

I was a little surprised how easily
she told him her secret




cover & illustrations: rosa frost
writing: allen frost in 2002 at 1452 Franklin St Bellingham WA