augury doggerel

Wednesday, October 29, 2003


A man on the bus is bright burned red from drink or sun or fire, a red man in his seventies with his nose just glued on wearing green garden gloves and carrying a pail and a shovel. He tips his cloth cap as we pass the old graveyard. It looks like no one has been buried there in years. But there are candles.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003


We pass a billboard that usually advertises clothes in packs of three or lean Sunday hams or children's bicycles. But now it's almost November, almost All Saints' Day, and there's a sale on sepultural candles, brightly colored, in four-packs.

Monday, October 27, 2003


We ratcheted all our clocks back one notch, so it's temporarily light again in the morning, but our big axle is not quite true and we'll be back in the dark again soon.

There's thin snow on the grass. The lumpy grass. The groundskeeper has expanded his antimole system, a circle of plastic pop bottles sliced open on the sides and upended on sticks in the ground. The bottles are supposed to spin on their sticks and send mole-frightening vibrations through the ground. That, at least, appears to be his theory. But my invisible friend still works at night despite the cold; one of the molehills is snowless, dark and fresh between two frosty bottles.

Saturday, October 25, 2003


I was late for the bus and it was cold and dark, but there were two skinny boys pulling a handcart full of bricks and they were stuck on a curb, rocking the cart, flexing little bums and failing.

I put down my pack and got my hands under the back and heaved while they pulled the cart over the curb. One said 'we thank you' and they went round a corner.

Just down the walk, I found a hole knocked in a garden wall and a hundred bricks missing. The weeds spread through.

Friday, October 24, 2003


This morning I woke and rolled off a kitten. Though it had been playing the flounder between a mattress and a snoring animal a hundred times its weight, it stood, decompressed, and purred out. Then it walked up and punched me in the nose, a good right to the man who was keeping him down. The vet has offered his knife for when testicles descend.

And now, just now, the first real snow floating.

Happy birthday to Chris Murray.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003


First snow now, hard little balls, almost hail, bouncing off the sill. And an evil half-headache.

Sunday, October 19, 2003


The hinged bus must be broken. We're stuffed into something more intimate this warm afternoon. I have a woman ahead and a woman behind pressed close. I feel breasts at my back and buttocks at my crotch. The bus goes round the curves through the woods. We're looking out the window and pressing and releasing together from the knees and the thighs. I think, this is why we encourage old people to sit, because they've had their turn and now they have to sit in the vibrating seats, and I make myself not laugh down this woman's collar. She has a mile to go and a spine that goes all the way up.

Friday, October 17, 2003


Jupiter Hammon was the property of three generations of the Lloyd family of Lloyd's Neck, Long Island, New York. It's not known when he died or where he was buried, but his grave was probably on land owned by his owners.

Today, though, is his birthday and, because he was the first published black poet in the United States, today is also Black Poetry Day there. Imagine that.

So take a black poet to lunch, if you're in the US. (Any black poet who gets a free lunch out of this owes me a dessert.)

Thursday, October 16, 2003


I open the kid's door in the morning and catch the new kitten posing for internet cat pictures. I make coffee for the snoring in the bed and find socks and the kitten runs out. The old cat growls and goes under our bed to mound and watch. The radio digs out "sugar, awww, honey honey, you are my candy girrrl" for the kitten, who only dances so far, dances or eats or sleeps. I have to coax the old beast out from under our bed. I used to pop her head into my mouth for a laugh.

Sunday, October 12, 2003


Select good specimens from the market. They should be firm. Get them from older dealers, who know and nose the good ones. Crack and peel the shells. Get as much of the calculus as you can with your thumbs without bruising the flesh. Leave the shells and husks for the scavengers. The trick is to fold them clean about themselves without corners. Warm them. Then they unfold and crackle. It's better than you might remember.

Saturday, October 11, 2003


It's warm enough and Friday to lure us out. The bartendril removes herself from around the mirror and strops a smile for each face through the door. Man and woman, we look at the smile after we're done with the push-ups. Her tee-shirt appliqu� is a large woman's face covering her chest. The eyes stare us all down.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

The Imitation Game

I seem to this man to be conversing, all nods to his eyebrows and his slurred Slavic complaints. I seem if you're watching to be taking dictation. He's been retired now twenty-three years, which leaves him somewhere over seventy. His son came home from the first day of work a long time ago with more money than his parents made together after years. But his son ran a bar and had to give it up because the government somethinged the something while I was writing. Now his son works the black market in Italy. His dog was born in the winter, which must mean something or I misunderstand. And I was born in the winter in Kashubia or I wouldn't look so sad, he says and he watches me, so I crack and I smile and he smiles. He offers me a smoke, but no thanks, no thanks, no really. An offered smoke accepted always leads to more swapped smokes and shared rounds, and I don't have that many years.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

A Venus Amulet

Today again there is nothing new to write. The trees are turning. We had a fine rainbow in the afternoon and little rain. No geese. No snow. The moon is gibbous and yellow down at the end of the main street. It must look like that where you are. I'm telling you nothing new.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003


A charming Caribbean woman asked how long I've been here. Ten years, I told her, and she said she could tell. Then a conference call with women who sound like Boston and New Jersey. Boston told me that my English is excellent. She managed not to say 'excellent for a foreignah' and I managed not to voice my fricatives.