Excerpt for Labyrinth Men by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Labyrinth

Men



By

John J. Beach



Smashwords Edition



~~~~

Published By

John J. Beach on Smashwords



Labyrinth

Men



Copyright © 2017 by John J. Beach
Cover image modified from
PixaBay user georgesyrios
released under
Creative Commons Deed CC0



The author’s poems:

“ [Conan] Ascending the Mountain”

“King Numedides III”

were originally published in

Barbarian Crowns II,

Rogue Planet Press, 2016.

~~~~

License Notes:

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. It may not be re-sold or given away to others. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please purchase a copy of your own. Thank you for respecting the work of this author.

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Contents

Introduction

Daedalus

Monday’s High

Standard Time

Free Consultation, Act Now

While Others Act (for Freida)

Shoals and Sirens

[Conan] Ascending the Mountain

Constellations

If Hearts Might Lie

Much Ado About

Wheelie

Facebook Feeds

Lions

Poles

Democracy Lording Over

City Funded (for Mark)

Then: Like A Distant Scream

Goose Neck Dipping Behavior

Anthocyanins

Negotiating

King Numedides III

A Clutch of Colons

Walk to My Hometown Dentist

Trade Off (for Kurt)

Before But No Longer

Void Fraction

Cliché

Cliché II

Cliché III

A Nervous System Sensing

Barter

The Rotting Redolence

My Inimical World

Blue #1 and 2

Subtracting Artificial Additives

C1407W (scrawled on the bottom)

About the Author

Introduction

Labrinth Men is a collection of terzanelle poems, a poetic form that combines elements from the terza rima and the villanelle. The terzanelle features five tercets and one concluding quatrain—19 ten-syllable lines, which, ideally use iambic pentameter, although I frequently ignore my metrical feet. The rhyming of terzanelles normally uses the end-line structure of A1BA2, bCB, cDC, dED, eFE, and fA1FA2. And only four of the poem’s 19 lines do not repeat. However, even with the 15 repeating lines, I usually “cheat” their punctuation to force enjambment and to help change the meaning of the echoing lines.


This book is dedicated to
the rantings of old men.



~~~~

Daedalus

Labyrinth men dance wide paths through mazes,

serve others as points of comparison,

teach answers come as each question raises


further questions. The take-away lesson:

consider the long-range consequences,

serve others. As points of comparison,


we must be the doorways through the fences.

Between the foaming sea and blazing sun,

consider the long-range consequences:


wings will soak, waxed feathers become undone.

Good inventions may fail in the extremes

between the foaming sea and blazing sun.


As a colony, we will follow dreams,

lay down ant trails that lead straight to honey.

Good inventions may fail in the extremes


or weather throughout days wet or sunny.

Labyrinth men dance wide paths through mazes,

lay down ant trails that lead straight to honey,

teach answers come as each question raises.

Monday’s High

The world’s too damn hot, but I need to walk.

I’m not salubrious, can’t sit around,

so, I stretch in sweats, smear on the sun block,


lace bow knots, and stand too fast, sit down.

There’s an igneous swirling in my head.

I’m not salubrious (can’t sit around),


nor indolent enough to stay in bed.

My rubbery soles flop plop on payment.

There’s an igneous swirling. In my head,


I step along where Sunday’s parade went.

A Tootsie Roll melts on the boulevard.

My rubbery soles flop plop on payment,


stop, then I swash through grass. Working hard,

an ant patrol has found what kids have skipped:

a Tootsie Roll melts on the boulevard,


a Starlight Mint lies there lathered and chipped.

The world’s too damn hot, but I need to walk.

An ant patrol has found what kids have missed,

so, I stretch in sweats, smear on the sun block.

Standard Time

As much as I hate shadeless summer days,

my personal hell’s bound to be frozen,

helplessly staring as my light decays,


grows bitter dark, and dreams of could have been.

So, knowing this, which moments should I seize?

My personal hell’s bound to be frozen;


heaven then must be burning memories,

the ones living now without excuses.

So, knowing this, which moments should I seize


to blaze within, and to which purposes?

I cannot be comparing with others.

The ones living now without excuses


are not victims. By their own druthers,

desire burns inside out. I won’t be,

I cannot be, comparing with others,


in their shadows walking on my journey.

As much as I hate shadeless summer days,

desire burns inside out. I won’t be

helplessly watching as my light decays.

Free Consultation, Act Now

What’s with the I-barely-know-you people

who need to change lives in every way?

It’s for your own good, and they’ll tell you so.

Although their kindly helping hurts, they’ll say,

“It’s good advice. I’ve heard it from people

who need to change lives. In every way,

I can better you and help you to grow.”


We should ban these meaty, critical hooks:

It’s good advice;

I’ve heard it from people

on the World-Wide Web

who write self-help books.


These are the personal-assault weapons

we should ban, these meaty, critical hooks,

the elevating-carcass hang-upons,

their I-must-breed need to vent discontent.


These are the personal-assault weapons:

drive-by passersby exalting judgment.

What’s with the I-barely-know-you people,

their I-must-breed need to vent discontent?

It’s for your own good, and they’ll tell you so.

While Others Act (for Freida)

Couldn’t have held the rifle to your head,

hadn’t the heart or steady guts enough

for a mercy killing. I’m sorry, Fred.


You were all used up and had it so rough,

unable to bend or clean yourself, blind,

hadn’t the heart or steady guts enough


to breathe, digest the food you oozed behind.

I cried over the shot and our weakness.

Unable to bend or clean yourself, blind,


or close, would you see this as unkindness,

cruel betrayal of your head bumps and purrs?

I cried over the shot and our weakness,


would not witness the end as it occurs

or given you seizure medication,

cruel betrayal of your head bumps and purrs,


the doggéd way you’d walk with me or run.

Couldn’t have held the rifle to your head

or given you seizure medication

for a mercy killing. I’m sorry, Fred.

Shoals and Sirens

Lighthouse words can be a one-way beacon,

directions where I lose a step or two.

I’ll misstart, misspeak, my voice may weaken,


crack, then glottal attack and seagull mew.

As I fashion dance through the haphazard

directions where I lose a step or two,


lips and tongue may round and dart back misheard

lyrics. My suppostions will explain

as I fashion dance through the haphazard


down the middle splitting right- and left-brain

riddles into brilliant and falderal

lyrics my suppositions will explain.


My fertile mind mines hypotheses, shall

sing to me as probability churns

riddles into brilliant and falderal


discernment, both of which, are taking turns.

Lighthouse words can be a one-way beacon,

sing to me. As probability churns,

I’ll misstart, misspeak, my voice may weaken.

[Conan] Ascending the Mountain

At the beginning of a man, He breathes,

touches his tongue with a taste for success,

a first penchant, a dry swallow that seethes


within and wants, needs, to drink to excess,

quench undying thirst. The King of Conquest

touches his tongue with a taste for success


then leaves man to fend himself for the rest.

It is enough. Men are given to strive,

quench undying thirst. The King of Conquest


never listens, nor cares a man’s alive,

only watches how man lives, how he dies.

It is enough men are given to strive,


to obliterate weakness. This supplies

Crom’s exhalation. The will of a god

only watches how man lives, how he dies.


This determines whether he deserves laud.

At the beginning of a man, he breathes

Crom’s exhalation, the will of a god,

a first penchant, a dry swallow that seethes.

Constellations

There’s power in the sky and a closeness.

The sun and moon are just beyond the clouds.

On hooks, heaven hangs its stars, and those bless


the night predictably. It’s all small, crowds

us down here within thunderstorm moments.

The sun and moon are just beyond the clouds,


circles of light, reachable enchantments

willing to listen to heartfelt appeals…

us down here. Within thunderstorm moments,


we pass quickly beneath the solar wheels,

plow dirt, and farm ourselves out to someone

willing to listen to heartfelt appeals.


Men are a borrowed breath, and then we’re done.

We net the fish from a glistening sea,

plow dirt, and farm ourselves out to someone


whose hands may shape us into poetry.

There’s power in the sky and a closeness.

We net the fish from a glistening sea.

On hooks, heaven hangs its stars—and those bless.

If Hearts Might Lie

Humans thrive to make heaven disappear.

Well-weeded world views inductively prove

but can’t believe, we can get there. From here,


the evidence mounts and the mountains move

us inward. We’ve cold reason to embrace,

well-weeded world views, inductively prove


we are rare instances—the rest are base.

This world cannot heap enough praise upon

us. Inward, we’ve cold reason to embrace,


fallacious premises, conclusions drawn,

nonsense. We’ve infinite ability.

This world cannot heap enough praise upon


selflessness, although it cheers vility.

Why is it we can believe all of this

nonsense: we’ve infinite ability


to take but can give back only abyss?

Humans thrive to make heaven disappear.

Why is it we can believe all of this

but can’t believe we can get there from here?

Much Ado About

Seventy percent of the universe,

though nothing, holds dominant energy.

Don’t know why it’s there, but things could be worse.


We live in the only moment we see

a way to verify. Our existence,

though nothing, holds dominant energy


over a speck, and, at our insistence,

centers the world beneath us as we seek

a way to verify our existence,


purpose ourselves above absolute bleak.

Zero, it’s the total of everything,

centers the world beneath us. As we seek


to puzzle out equations, what we sing

is mystery. Something in us wants more

zero. It’s the total of everything,


negatives and positives, peace and war.

Seventy percent of the universe

is mystery. Something in us wants more.

Don’t know why it’s there, but things could be worse.

Wheelie

A tricycle wheel or a Croquet ball

flung streaming down the sidewalk. Toward the goal,

defenders—geared with garbage—formed a wall.


Up first, the youngest chucked a Cool Whip bowl—

some crap with little chance to stop missiles

flung streaming down the sidewalk toward the goal.


The middle kids advanced with melee skills,

whipped gunny sacks or Hot Wheel track arrows.

Some crap with little chance to stop missiles


might wobble them with a hit—on the nose—

veer them out-of-bounds. Boulevard soldiers

whipped gunny sacks or Hot Wheel track arrows.


Goalies swung broken rakes or drain-pipe spears,

garage-found armaments to stop wheels cold,

veer them out-of-bounds. Boulevard soldiers


straddled cement and battled what we rolled,

a tricycle wheel or a Croquet ball,

garage-found armaments. To stop wheels cold,

defenders, geared with garbage, formed a wall.

Facebook Feeds

Jagged cardboard lips and pieces missing,

the world assembled puzzles expectation.

Your figural lion memes are pissing


the purr right out of people. Frustration

slots knobs against knobs, overlaps pictures.

The world assembled puzzles expectation,


corners, crams it beneath jigsaw strictures.

It’s all LASER-cut. Its straight-edged flatware

slots knobs against knobs, overlaps, pictures


a prison moment you have to compare

with the cover to get your lock-step right.

It’s all LASER-cut. It’s straight edged. Flatware


has more loving dimension than your spite

improvised and made sentient out of myth.

With the cover to get your lock-step right,


you goose like dead Nazis wanting brains with

jagged cardboard lips and pieces missing.

Improvised and made sentient out of myth,

your figural lion memes are pissing.

Lions

Want to say we don’t like disagreement,

but know we thrive upon it at our core,

and damn who’s right or any resolvement


that is beneficial. We want the floor,

limelights, to show we don’t seek to oppress,

but know we thrive upon it. At our core,


we want agreement more than correctness,

circus applause while we wield chair and whip,

limelights to show we don’t seek to oppress


opposing views nor condone censorship.

It’s natural-threat response, desire for

circus applause. While we wield chair and whip


we hide our pride behind a fearful roar.

Territory’s tamed by pissing on it.

It’s natural threat response. Desire for


truth? We’ll seek only when forced to submit.

Want to say we don’t? Like disagreement,

territory’s tamed by pissing on it,

and damn who’s right or any resolvement.

Poles

What’s the same for you is never for me.

I’m widdershins, back at the why and how

our paths cross. A reverse polarity


transfixes us in place. We curtsy, bow,

turn ourselves around as currents would steer.

I’m widdershins, back at the why-and-how


causes, effects, the testlas per ampere.

What we always do: we stir emotions,

turn ourselves around. As currents would steer


the soul, I see your colors, the oceans

of limbs pulling, lips not speaking of

what we always do: we stir emotions,


regions. Wide fields of weakness cannot shove

us back magnetically from a drowning

of limbs pulling, lips not speaking of


like mindedness, moments always crowning

what’s the same for you is never for me,

us. Back, magnetically from a drowning,

our paths cross a reverse polarity.

Democracy Lording Over

The under God portion’s an added clause,

which rankles, but there are other, bad words:

Republic reminds us we’re states and laws,


and pledge, a contract supports, never herds

allegiance. It’s liberty (it’s justice)

which rankles, but there are other, bad words


we prefer, hyphenate, and those thrust us

from indivisible, seek to divide

allegiance, it’s liberty, it’s justice.


The Flag’s a worse form of worship; it’s pride,

well trenched, fabric that gathers, never rips

from indivisible. Seek to divide


a land for all into ours, and it strips

and bares the brunt. Belief is one nation

well-trenched. Fabric that gathers, never rips,


drapes America in separation.

The under God portion’s an added clause,

and bears the brunt. Belief is one Nation.

Republic reminds us we’re states and laws.

City Funded (for Mark)

The wood for our bed lofts had been heisted.

My roommate Dugan kept mum at the time.

“My Dad’s a high school shop teacher,” he said,


which diverted my thoughts away from crime.

That seemed a reasonable lumber source.

My roommate Dugan kept mum at the time,


but larceny needs boasting in due course.

His home town police had up scaffolding.

That seemed a reasonable lumber source


for one with access to a shop building.

He snatched their platform planks, ground down their height.

His home town police had up scaffolding.


Dugan knocked out their Main Street lamp at night.

Using a spotlight and level planer,

he snatched their platform planks, ground down their height,


turned cement-splashed walkways into timber.

The wood for our bed lofts had been heisted

using a spotlight and level planer.

“My Dad’s a high school shop teacher,” he said.

Then: Like A Distant Scream

We’ve got Whis’lin’ Moon Rockets with Report

on the Freshman end of the dorm hallway,

which, once lit, we’ll sidearm fling down the court


at the Juniors—a thunderous bouquet

just to say we haven’t forgotten them.

On the Freshman end of the dorm hallway


fireworks are what passes for mayhem.

18 year olds and LPs are rockin’.

Just to say we haven’t forgotten them,


we attend our classes but take stock in

air-popped corn and the burning needs rousing

18 year olds. And LPs are rockin’.


We’re the Heroes of McElroy Housing,

got Juke Box stars in our eyes, gun powder,

air-popped corn, and the burning needs rousing


through us, slung down low, then growing louder.

We’ve got Whis’lin’ Moon Rockets with Report,

got Juke Box stars. In our eyes, gun powder,

which, once lit, we’ll sidearm fling down the court.

Goose Neck Dipping Behavior

Huddled, we nested in the balcony,

horizontal on a picnic table

slat-screened by pillars of mahogany,


perished cat brier, and honeysuckle.

My hands flickered in motion pictures tipped

horizontal on a picnic table.


The eyes of night traffic stuttered and swept

gold bars across the wild geese of your skin.

My hands flickered in motion pictures tipped


in October’s chill. This blind Venetian

groped, unfeathered you with headlights strobing

gold bars across the wild geese of your skin,


your window covering. And I, probing,

pressed against autumn’s winter-cold glazing,

groped, unfeathered you. With headlights strobing


through Highland Park’s fence work, we laid, gazing,

huddled. We nested in the balcony

pressed against autumn’s winter-cold glazing,

slat-screened by pillars of mahogany.

Anthocyanins

In the sweet outdoors, nothing is so near

as thoughts explore, peddle along, become

autumn leaves. Flinging, the end of the year


darkens. Summer lights, disappearing from

the trees, are burning the last good weekend.

As thoughts explore, pedal along, become


old, they brake backwards, try to comprehend

a divinity lost in the color

the trees are burning. The last, good weekend


creates people everywhere, makes smaller

these countryside trails. And they bring to me

a divinity lost in the color


gone missing from greenery. As I flee

in time, my bicycle wheels roll over

these countryside trails, and they bring to me


smells I can taste, the fall-planted clover

in the sweet outdoors. Nothing is so near.

In time, my bicycle wheels roll over

autumn leaves, flinging the end of the year.

Negotiating

Fallen leaves crumpled dry, clumped, and scattered.

Broken branches and husks joined trail litter.

Clouds, silent, freezing, no longer mattered.


A gathering storm of black birds, bitter,

angry, shrieked, plumed the bare trees with menace.

Broken branches and husks joined trail litter


and me, beneath them, yet I made them dance,

flap the sky full of wings. But they returned,

angry, shrieked, plumed the bare trees with menace,


their numbers thick and dark as coal unburned.

I stood, staring; movement made them nervous,

flap the sky full of wings. But they returned.


Today, it’s their kingdom, impervious

to a man who’s forgotten how to fly.

I stood, staring. Movement made them nervous.


For fifteen minutes, I did not pass by.

Fallen leaves crumpled dry, clumped, and scattered.

To a man who’s forgotten how to fly,

clouds, silent, freezing, no longer mattered.

King Numedides III

When a young man casts off life’s frailty—

the possibility life can be lost

then the lives of others look differently,


beneath him. Consequence is not a cost

for any action he takes or commands.

The possibility life can be lost—


matters—isn’t something he understands.

The flesh of Aquilonians is torn

for any action he takes or commands.


Their chieftain takes no queen; no son is born.

He knows blood will course forever in him.

The flesh of Aquilonians is torn,


Hyborian hearts weather, minds grow grim.

When mortal man feels he’s amaranthine,

he knows his blood will course forever. In him,


there’s no pity, restraint; he cannot sin.

When a young man casts off life’s frailty,

when mortal man feels he’s amaranthine,

then the lives of others look… differently.

A Clutch of Colons

All they produce are heaping piles of crap,

the night soil, a rich biosolid dough

where superficial roots weather the gap,


the chasm where dissolving hatreds grow.

Discord is the source of their potency.

The night soil, a rich biosolid dough,


just keeps us from caring, hides what we see,

provides excuses. The Kool-Aid we drink,

discord, is the source of their potency.


But we want to bitch; we don’t want to think

too hard about why. Life narrows, caters,

provides excuses. The Kool-Aid we drink


washes down reason. Negotiators,

we chew—with greedy, rotten teeth—with jaws

too hard. About why life narrows, caters


exclusive-thought politics: it’s because

all they produce are heaping piles of crap.

We chew with greedy, rotten teeth, with jaws

where superficial roots weather the gap.

Walk to My Hometown Dentist

There’s so little to see in the small town’s

foundational cracks and mismatched brickwork

façades. It’s all cemented dental crowns,


smiling over decades of decay, murk,

unplanned-for neglect, financial burdens.

Foundational cracks and mismatched brickwork


jag across memories and die like friends

too young to be late, rooted in the ground.

Unplanned-for neglect, financial burdens,


and time’s stolidity have gelled around

hollow funeral homes. You’re too early,

too young to be late, rooted in the ground,


veneered over, and departed dearly.

What is present that suggests a future…

hollow funeral homes? You’re too early


to pull out, but the pulp cannot endure.

There’s so little to see in the small towns.

What is present that suggests a future?

Façades—it’s all cemented dental crowns.

Trade Off (for Kurt)

THC took moments you now pursue,

hash about in the mind, discuss with friends,

while I dwell within things. I did not do


your Party House, inhale the dope that bends

you, question the what if. Those answers will

hash about in your mind, discuss. With friends,


we learn memories trying to be still

cannot be. Filled with overbought longing,

you question the what if. Those answers will


change who’s asking, all sense of belonging.

No matter how you set, the emptiness

cannot be filled with overbought longing,


frame-of-mind efforts trying to possess

life you lived but no longer recollect.

No matter how you set the emptiness,


the lost neurons—your head’s weeded out, wrecked.

THC took moments you now pursue,

life you lived but no longer recollect,

while I dwell within things I did not do.

Before But No Longer

Everything has a temporariness.

Youth goes on forever only for youth.

Something happens somewhere in the process;


permanency gets replaced by new truth.

We hoard moments and pain becomes chronic.

Youth goes on forever only for youth.


Arthritic limbs root desperately, chthonic

brains reexamine journaled memories

we hoard. Moments and pain becomes chronic.


Children shake off hurt, brush grass to the breeze.

Dirt stains come out in the wash. No big deal.

Brains reexamine journaled memories


convinced they are clay on a potter’s wheel.

We can rewet shards and stick together

dirt. Stains come out in the wash. No big deal.


Just arrange the pieces how you’d prefer.

Everything has a temporariness.

We can rewet shards and stick together.

Something happens somewhere in the process.

Void Fraction

A percentage of you, time moves along

slowly at first, then a quick conclusion

spins us into the earth where we belong,


a borrowing of tears and dust begun

billions of years ago, clay accreting

slowly at first then a quick conclusion,


life, fire glazing over us and sealing

impermeable our porosity

billions of years ago, clay accreting


a Hades’ heat within plasticity,

kneading, wedging, pinching all our hollows

impermeable, our porosity


measuring the empty space that follows

the cooling of a pot-core furnace heart,

kneading, wedging, pinching all our hollows


into vessels of gravity-thrown art,

a percentage of you. Time moves along

the cooling of a pot-core furnace heart,

spins us into the earth where we belong.

Cliché

The nearby-the-tree fall of an apple

on the other-side-always-greener grass

shows, like the present, there’s no time to crow


the tough-goings of the tough, which must pass

(ship-like in the night) book-cover judgment

on the other-side-always-greener grass.


We end, bitter. Blissfully ignorant,

the identity of money is time.

Ship-like in the night, book-cover judgment


builds ladders for corporations. We climb,

hastily waste action while our mouths shout,

“The identity of money is time!”


Left well-enough, those alone who work out

the archean need of worm-catching birds,

hastily “waste” action, while our mouths shout


at too-much-like-us kids; in other words:

the nearby-the-tree fall of an apple.

The archean need of worm-catching birds

shows, like the present, there’s no time to crow.

Cliché II

Brodsky’s cliché victim is this day’s waif,

another poem of on-the-wall writing.

Knowing the sorry are worse than the safe,


dreaming is life (in indirect lighting),

the never-boiling nature of watched pots.

Another poem of on-the-wall writing


measures its worth in thousand-picture lots,

difficulties old habits have trying.

The never-boiling nature of watched pots


over spilt-milk, out-loud, uncle crying

suggests a summer’s-day comparison,

difficulties old habits have trying:


99 percent are inspired; the one

who soldiers on and earns each salt granule

suggests a summer’s-day comparison,


la vida es sueño. Louis Daniel

Brodsky’s cliché victim is this day’s waif

who soldiers on and earns each salt granule,

knowing the sorry are worse than the safe.

Cliché III

Heels-over-head falling, every minute

at the birth of suckers, no love is lost.

We perform. Winners win and quitters quit;


each red cent has a pretty-penny cost.

P. T. Barnum spoke no aphorism

at the birth of suckers. No love is lost


in-the-meat-house dog-blind mannerism

we show when injuring whom we insult.

P. T. Barnum spoke no aphorism


about his customers. Such things result

in a monkey business losing profit.

We show, when injuring whom we insult,


no regard for souls we’re trifling with.

New York quick and off the mark, we’re buyers

in a monkey business losing profit,


swinging without nets on the high wires

heels-over-head falling. Every minute,

New York quick and off the mark, we’re buyers,

we perform. Winners win and quitters quit.

A Nervous System Sensing

Life and love are a wandering nonsense.

Who can I touch who doesn’t finish me?

Anxiety, steeped in the self-conscious,


feels first then captured images agree.

What will I see if you’re out of my mind?

Who can I touch who doesn’t finish me?


Waves of reflections, air pressures, entwine.

Where might I hear what falls upon deaf ears?

What will I see if you’re out of my mind?


Troves of memory resound in flavors.

When shall I taste the sweetest victories?

Where might I hear what falls upon deaf ears,


chemically tongue perception in the breeze?

Why do I smell roses, which are dead now?

When shall I taste the sweetest victories


and know the things my senses disallow?

Life and love are a wandering nonsense.

Why do I smell roses, which are dead now,

anxiety steeped in the self conscious?

Barter

When nostalgia is coming, we’re running

back on children’s feet, meeting memories

freshly formed, but our young selves are cunning,


scrutinize future flesh for guarantees

and note our hungry stride with much suspect.

Back on children’s feet, meeting memories,


we trade the realized for young prospect

moments. We climb up on their sweet promise

and note our hungry stride. With much suspect,


our echoing past bares teeth to warn us:

make fair exchanges, provide relevant

moments. We climb up on their sweet promise


like monkey bars. There’s no reason we can’t

shelter them through time-and-again filters,

make fair exchanges, provide relevant


hope, and still hide what actually occurs.

When nostalgia is coming, we’re running

sheltered words through time-and-again filters

freshly formed, but our young selves are cunning.

The Rotting Redolence

We cling to what we love as time takes hold,

oxidates, and breaks down into acid

the worst newsprint pulp paper ever sold,


inked in four colors, handed to a kid.

Sweet smells form as each comic book page cries,

oxidates, and breaks down into acid,


breaks cellulose. The lignin yellows, dies

brown and brittle. Ethyl benzene, almond—

sweet smells form as each comic book page cries,


destroys itself in moments, fleet, solemn.

Nostalgia drills through the nose to the brain,

brown and brittle. Ethyl benzene, almond


benzaldehyde, vanillin—these perfumes reign.

Nature streams its course. Old men drown within.

Nostalgia drills through the nose to the brain,


intoxicates, and takes us back again.

We cling to what we love. As time takes hold,

nature streams its course. Old men drown within

the worst newsprint pulp paper ever sold.

My Inimical World

The trail and small streams ice at the edges.

A cold breeze keeps my gaze ahead of me.

An orange-jacketed man strides up, pledges


to stop traffic, which neither of us see

left or right along the crossing highway.

A cold breeze keeps my gaze ahead of me.


I greet the hunter’s dog who pads my way.

Happiness slides off his tongue in driblets

left or right along the crossing highway.


His spotted fur—brown—smells of cigarettes.

The gums recede, caves pale around the roots.

Happiness slides off his tongue in driblets.


The man spits, and I wonder what he shoots.

Too cold to drink it in, the ground enures,

the gums recede, caves pale around the roots


of trees—a weariness only March cures.

The trail and small streams ice at the edges,

too cold to drink it in. The ground enures.

An orange-jacketed man strides up, pledges.

Blue #1 and 2

Right out of the box, I’m eating handfuls

of discounted Boo Berry cereal.

There’s no good reason why. Only God knows


what triggers such impulses, their appeal.

My defense is: Was only a dollar

of discounted Boo Berry cereal,


nine point six ounces of corn-sweet color.

And, probably, my body needs to boost

my defenses. Was only a dollar


really doesn’t cut it. I was seduced:

the bright darkness of cartoon creations.

And, probably, my body needs to boost


up on acid and modifications

of starch—modified from what, exactly,

the bright darkness of cartoon creations,


spooky-fun marshmallows? Not lacteally—

right out of the box—I’m eating handfuls

of starch, modified. From what, exactly?

There’s no good reason why only God knows.

Subtracting Artificial Additives

Out of the blue, Mother says, “No more red

M&M’s.” She dislikes the way they taste.

This is some blood thing, but that goes unsaid.


She wants them all picked out, somehow erased

from the snack bowl that keeps her weight-loss down.

M&M’s—she dislikes the way they taste


if they're not yellow, blue, green, orange, or brown

(psycho- and biological pref’rence).

From the snack bowl that keeps her weight-loss down,


lacking rational basis and good sense,

she pulls negative feedback from her brain,

pyscho- and biological pref’rence


reinforced, rooted. A memory stain

reminds her of death not the warmth of life.

She pulls negative feedback from her brain,


an assassin armed with a palette knife.

Out of the blue, Mother says, “No more.” Red

reminds her of death, not the warmth of life.

This is some blood thing, but that goes unsaid.

C1407W (scrawled on the bottom)

Half its varnish worn and smoothed off the seat,

its top and mid rails balding to bare wood,

my father’s office chair, far from complete,


manages to have my back—as it should.

The five spindles are solid, set between

its top and mid rails. Balding to bare wood,


four legs fin downward, have suffered umpteen

shoe heels grooving in, toes taking a poke.

The five spindles are solid, set between


rails notched in two upright curved spines of oak.

The metal spring creaking, I swivel tip,

shoe heels grooving in, toes taking a poke,


I write and game in a throne of clerkship,

some pieces lost, like me. I am this chair,

the metal spring creaking. I swivel tip


arch and ache along with its wear and tear.

Half its varnish worn and smoothed off the seat,

some pieces lost, like me, I am this chair,

my father’s office chair, far from complete.

###

About the Author

John J. Beach is a recently-retired Assistant Professor of Information Technology, and he taught courses primarily in Linux, UNIX, and Macintosh systems. Along with Computer Science and Mathematics bachelor degrees, he also completed an MFA in English some great period ago in a time called The Twentieth Century. And although—while teaching for over 20 years—he wrote many technical workbooks and exercises for his students, he was not actively writing creative fiction, nonfiction, or poetry… until just now.



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