- Sixth Hour
I’ve been sitting out over these rooftops
listening to the crazy lonely sirens be-
low, the disputing men, the furious ambulance,
the nonstop bebop out-of-tune ragtime dogs.
Episcopalian gargoyles cuckoo clock their watch.
“Nay, answer me.”
“Stand and unfold yourself.”
Soon the vesper bell will toll,
diminish, and, like a leaky pipe, echo
in the bedlamites.
One wondering soul
pulling on a cigarette, his beard
of history and et cetera so reminiscent
of someone I read once.
He plucks blue notes out of a mandolin,
while dimes collect in the high-cut-well
of a steel-toed boot….
“The legless morning lags behind!
We fear those fiery bit-biting colts
corralled at Los Alamos 1945…”
His hands leave him but he keeps time
with a thumping naked foot.
“…in spite of all Zeno’s arrows,
those boys in that desert
turn their backs, and when the rails broke,
and when the rails broke…
when the rails broke, Mephistopheles,
set back by a wager, told a joke,
wagged his tail and raised the stakes.”
His lines let loose, his mouth dried, his tongue
atrophied as a salt-soured snail,
he seemed to recede
made mad by a lynched mind,
with each sung word he went
hell-bent-blind, singing and singing
singing spelunker of the underworld.
- Eighth Hour
The thunder comes and comes
tin sheets rippled under
static electric clouds, brilliant
and brief, the clear flashes
illuminating Autumn trees,
stranded in somber rows, dressed
in black bark suits letting loose
reds, browns, and yellows.
In the corner of the cafe
waits the stool and mic….
The dark takes us under its establishment.
We dance without knowledge,
or grace. It isn’t, couldn’t be, beautiful.
The deaf boy falls to the boards
seized by epilepsy, jerks his wild signs.
I think he is a tongue.
pagan women pantomime knife fights
to the death, their resurrected shadows
coat the exposed brick wall.
We are seated, talking:
“All our luminaries are poison.”
“The cure is luminous.”
“The cure is poisonous.”
The folk singer breaks in:
“…past vacant lots
and chop shops, where
bent men bang out
dents to pay landlord rents,
it’s a modern day shell-shock….”
- Tenth Hour
I come with the wind down North to Valley.
Wind undoing heaps of dead Fall–it
crouches beneath parked cars. The Hunter’s
Moon is a razor slit. The neighborhood’s
pumpkins grin their mean flame
licked grins. I pocket my glasses.
The windy night humps its back, turns on me.
Dark birds congregate on tenement chimneys
keeping their secrets: the geometry of Hell,
news, if any, of the inhabitants.
Some blood-soaked, corkscrewed,
strait-jacketed souls, their faces splashed red
coil and recoil under the yellow scowl of street lights.
Headlights stare out the cemetery,
hijacking winds screech into leaves,
pile them against the pig-iron fence. The drifts
of headline news come wild like flags loosed from their poles.
In a bar I must squint for friends.
“I got the cure for those blood-shot balls,”
Neil, in a sawed-off voice. Circle slashed
Swastikas, arrow-pierced hearts, Stars of David
Tattoo the table–braille for the fingers. He pours
a beer, lights a cigarette, gives me both.
He shrugs his don’t-know shoulders.
- Eleventh Hour
Main street is a hijinks of dirty psychology,
death certificate logic, thigh-high skirts,
myths locked in briefcases, hotel-death
headlines: Prostitute ODs.
An in-depth look at blue ladies
with syringes under their tongues,
between their toes. One went cold
with a hypodermic broken off in the lips
of her second mouth that once spoke, talked
back, swallowed. The sky, a dark sour milk
pouring over emaciate trees. A gypsy-
cab skulks and shortcuts fares through
Halloweened streets. I’m done in.
I charade-see through night…
Satans, Ghosts, Reapers. Crucified
scarecrows, their torso’s hung headless
and bound in barbed wire. Pairs of legs run
wild over dark lots. Spindly brooms done
with dragging crumbs cluck and giddy-up.
Body outlines draw up and walk.
The jack-o’-lantern moon yawns.
A union of pranksters jump at their chance.
The sky is a lake of shadow and wind.
Hundred year storm has come around again,
breaking, point-blank over the Atlantic.
A Die-hard Buick fishtails up High Street hill.
Stalls halfway. Headlights, all cock-eyed, go dim,
with the engine turning over…over…over…
then fires the Sisyphean hulk, jerking
left and right, here, now there, no-where,
till down it goes whence it came, railing against
the curb. Closer come are we to Christ
or other schooled ends
while all the shapes of shadows shift,
and I but a pilgrim cresting this hill’s ascent.
M. K. Sukach is the author of two chapbooks, Something Impossible Happens (Big Wonderful Press) and Impression of a Life (Corrupt Press). His poetry appears in a number of journals to include JMWW, The Hamilton Stone Review, Connotation Press, Spoon River Poetry Review, Construction Magazine, Yemassee, and others. Closer look: www.mksukach.com.