Robert Roley

epitaph for clabber girls         and rubber maids

                        all that was      america sleeps

in the waning days      of copulistic consumption
                                                         between epic    and aphorism
thru an open window
                                    what little is left to us                 laughs

                        "the Copalises never
                        let their fires die out
                        because they always expected

appears the herald      derelict
                                  parsed by dimensional instabilities
                                                                                    at the interface
beyond the event horizon what
                                                   can we know
            only this
                          that in the fire's waning        light we dream
                                                                     of one who was promised
                                                but never

how far did we think we could get                  
                        riding that tinker toy  train
                                                past lincoln log houses                
                                                                        and lego barns

(Note: the quoted passage in epitaph is from the 1966 edition of A Guide to Indian Tribes of the Pacific Northwest, by Robert H. Ruby, University of Oklahoma Press. The Copalises were a Native American tribe, now extinct or virtually so. They got visitors alright, but not of the sort they had hoped for.)

tales of the bovine amoeba

                        besotted           before icons of the erroneous
                                                when was it        laughter        failed

the moment you arrive            in the litter of creation you're rent
            with wounds from which words         swagger and dance

like ravens enraptured             storming heaven
            sparking off cracks in the wrath plaster
                                                                        we tumbled to that old
                                                                        tumble down dream
what did we know      of angels thru the ages
                                    contorted apparitions 
                                                                        with silken tongues
if this were not enough          
                                      could you have found to hand another
after all it's not as if
you were born in a stable
                                      some squalling plastic
                                      plebe in a crèche

                        you learn the only word
                                    in the language of the bovine amoeba
                        but can't recall
                                                if it's noun        or verb

not your mother's       common grievance

after all the weary          clowns we danced
            barren and dis    possessed of all that was      the accreta of light
had we so soon               forgotten glimpsing
                                       masks unfold from masks     unfolding faces

the bloody fingers of dawn    probe the cobbles down a grimy side street
in a small cafe
                        you barter in vain
                        for your soul went forfeit early on
                                                                               for borrowed time

your farce complete    the last of your lucifers
                                                            quit the stage
                                    footlights dim
                                                            to waning embers
the camera captures you         
                                    sitting huddled
                                    pen poised on the cusp
                                                            of some impossible

broke down in the damp
and the collard squalor ask  
                                                 would alice     follow you down