by David Thornburg
But I’m a Cat Person
I like the way dogs show you their assholes.
I like the way dogs don’t start weeping hysterically
for no apparent reason.
I like the way dogs pay attention.
I like the way dogs don’t care what they’re drooling on.
I like the way dogs accept even ugly owners.
I like the way dogs serve up unconditional love with
French Fries and extra cheese.
I like how dogs vary in size from igloos to skyscrapers
and the difference isn’t racism or ethnic snobbery.
I like the way dogs prefer chasing sticks to accumulating wealth.
I like the way dogs sleep.
I like the way fame doesn’t go to a dog’s head when he’s saved Timmy
yet again from another bleeping well.
I like how dogs lack shame.
I like how limber dogs are.
I like how dogs accept you at face value.
I like how dogs let you dye their fur any color.
I like how dogs appreciate any kindness or attention.
I like the lack of resentment in dogs.
I like the way dogs shed hair and don’t care.
I like the way dogs lick strangers.
I like the way dogs shake water off.
I like the way dogs don’t need me to own one to admit me to their club.
In the Forbidden Zone
I wanted to eat ice cream
inside a volcano
but it is forbidden
I wanted to fish bank notes
but it is forbidden
I wanted to unsnap the bra
of blindfolded Justice
but it is forbidden
it is forbidden to look away
or rust faster than physics allows
it is forbidden to let your heritage
go wild or run to seed
it is forbidden to bay at the moon
smoke under water
or make fish swim backwards
it is forbidden to forbid
those actions which are necessary
like vacuuming the sun of flames
or knowing the names of every kind
of figment which makes marriage
it is forbidden to say
it is forbidden
The Iceberg of Almost Lovers
An iceberg is the crown of clichés.
Floating far from the shipping lanes
keeping on ice all the woman
I loved from afar.
Prettier than penguins
as well preserved as museum fire hoses.
When being friends meant more
than one more clinch between sheets
on fire. The nurse that wouldn’t
give me an enema, the beauty queen
who wouldn’t crack a champagne bottle
against my hull, the belly dancer
who wouldn’t show me her navel.
Penguins with a view of the Atlantic
years after the Titanic has passed.
They Had Faces Then
In silent movies the world is new again
quick pans of ships at anchor in Marseilles harbor
cut to seaman’s dive a tired beauty wiping glasses
and sighing around a cigarette
or a child’s ball coming to rest in open gate
leaves blowing along a country road
In silent movies the story is in the face
the eyes lined with kohl
the cheeks glowing with rouge
the hands clutching at breasts and throat
a style that screams meaning
understandable across the years and continents
Love gone wrong or wavering on the fender
of a fast car parked down the lane from the manor
while her older husband is out
windows open on parks filled with memories
the moon glides still water a faded beauty
rubs roses over her face murmurs mon amour mon amour
as the callow lover roars away between pollarded poplars
Love triumphs love fails love burns love returns
and lurks in the shadows listening to pleas
muffled by kisses on marble steps the danger
leans in as close as a monkey screaming in a bar
as knives flash love dies of a foot on the neck
and a crippled geisha gropes toward a glowing rose
In silent movies the world expands like a flower
toward the light before color and sound blanked
out the faces to voices and machine roar
in silent movies you can hear the world breathe
and see the lovers through centuries superimposed
ghosts as silent as falling leaves
No Spinach for Popeye
Popeye is a long way from the ocean
without an anchor or an oar.
Popeye’s fabled forearms
have shrunk to pipe stems.
Popeye is an old man
who has lost his sea legs,
has no money for spinach.
When you hand him a coin,
Popeye in his dotage
sees a world of Blutos,
hears Olive Oyl squealing
behind the captain’s cabin door.
Popeye is lost at sea,
dry land of old age,
no teeth to chew spinach,
David Thornbrugh currently writes from South Korea, where he teaches English in a National University. He writes to push back the darkness a little bit at a time, in the same flighty manner as lightning bugs. He has been published in numerous small press journals, and once wrote the questions for a geography textbook. He prefers multiple choice questions to True/False.