On the Waterfront "What are the stars but points in the body of God where we insert the healing needles of our terror and longing?" ~Thomas Pynchon Enhanced Security outside the bars. Inside the Yankees losing to the Sox on rows of television screens. The stars obscured above the burning vapor blocks are swollen, indistinguishable. Sunk. Immortal constellations have dispersed~ De Kooning, Dorothy Gibson, Johnny Kucks. Sinatra joins the mythic figures cursed amidst the din of I-Don’t-Give-a-Fucks at sidewalk tables, poking cell phones, drunk. The Clam Broth House dissolves in its own light as rhapsody in neon fades to red. A decent slice is hard to find tonight. There’s oxygen available instead at Satellites with bodies in the trunk. Hoboken, NJ, August 3, 2018
Constance A crazing landscape hangs above her bed where sunlight, filtered through the autumn dust and yellowed curtain, finds the riverhead reflected in a cumulus of rust. An oak four-poster with a linen sash, a wardrobe and a Persian carpet worn to reckoning about the edges fade into the harmony of leaf and thorn. The Blakelock painting of an amber glade at dusk illuminates her meager cache of perfume bottles, brushes and a box of letters. The eternal afternoon, reflected in the faces of the clocks in other rooms and hallways, holds the moon inside a trunk of satins, earth and ash.
Totem Pole Come at this with your catalogue of birds, binoculars, and German sailor’s hat. The priest and anthropologist have words, but you have little time or space for that and nothing of the necessary learning. Pronunciation poses yet another hurdle for the weekend roustabout. Evoking Kwakiutl in the mother tongue would prove impossible without a docent app to access the discerning scout or sachem who would know the duck, and buffalo, the eagle, bear, and brave by sense of smell and touch. With any luck the local is familiar with the cave at which the torch of memory is burning.
Rick Mullin’s poetry has appeared in various journals and anthologies, including The Dark Horse, American Arts Quarterly, The New Criterion, and Rabbit Ears: TV Poems. Exot books recently published a 10th anniversary second edition of his book-length poem, Huncke; his latest collection, Lullaby and Wheel, was published in 2019 by Kelsay Books.