Cantos VII-VIII by Teg George

Canto VII


a / b

            your unlucky day—

                                    your career ender—

gone bender

                        booze upright—

:  Wooster won’t jive with you,

won’t watch the PM news,

won’t hold your hand,

divvy up the mortgage,

pay the oil bill,

resurface the drive—

Rapid Rewards Membership                 none entered


you’re a stay-at-home-dad

            with no kids,

                                    no AFLAC,

no summer house,

no Holy Matrimony—

pick up sticks

                        put up               shut up

give up                         hands up—

                                                            tiger in your tank,

seal in your tub,

                        elephant in the living room


Will Work for Dough

                                    Will Knead for Work—

false dichotomies

                                    painful lobotomies—

milk toast                      tea biscuit

                        lemon curd                 lime turd

tea curd                        gin toast

                        lemon flirt                   pine tea

curd flirt                        biscuit bitch

            tea gun runner

                                    toe curd rifle


“Form 4684 w/ instr. rolled into cylinders

and chambered in your frikking, silver plated Mosby

Centennial shotgun pointed directly

at your guts, you S.O.B.”

think of the children

                                    think of Mom & Sis

think about your obit

think about your pension

your life insurance policy

your side-by-side grave sites

                                    so shady


your weed in the basement

                                    smothered in horseshit

with blazing red buds

                                    beneath 150 watt PAR CANS

Golf Pro?                     not a career

Surfer?                         not a career

President?                    not a career

Headhunter                   not a job for a wuss

House-husband            not for the snippy

:  do you really want to test your luck?

:  pre-nup match up re-up


b / a

            “The little fool, she spends all her time

writing.  She’ll never be anything.”

            “How do you know she wants to be anything?”

            “Everyone wants to be something.”

You never get something for nothing.

            Most agree that the lack of family cohesion

in this country is due to the male principle’s

unwillingness to confront conflicts and resolve

them.  They always manage to mention Vietnam

as the ‘great lump in the stomach,’ where young

men learned mortality.  They say, ‘don’t strike

me or be mean to me.’  As a result, they begin

to be dominated by their female counterparts.


Was she something?  Must we all be some thing?

            “Men are naturally selfish.”

            “Yes, they marry virgins because they know those

girls will be easier to please.”

            “The little fools.”

Coitus, a small bird flying into a mountain cave

never to return.

                                    (Can I watch your clock?

I know it’s strange to want you, but I can never be

sure of myself until I possess someone.

Security is all I want—

                                                can I ask you a question?)

Possession is nine tenths of something or other.


Dawn breaks and you listen for its shatter,

but there is none.

The station is empty.

Someone died

                                    here last night.

Silence gives an illusion of peace.

You notice this the way ants hear footsteps,

            and the night’s dreadful quiets off.

            “Yes, well you know I’ll probably end

up with a man

                        who writes one poem

and gives it

                                    to several women.”


c / b

            you may sail to another shore,

if you wish

:  push off in your hollow boats

and we will stand watch

and wait—

            buckets of steamers

smell dirty

                        like the ocean at Port Canaveral

submarines slipping in and out

trawlers emptying bilge

                        you floating in it

            mired in the flotsam

                                    tar between your toes

scum in your hair—

            suffering has nothing to redden the lips

as love

            squeezing through beside the one

with stinkfoot                even Odysseus yearned

for peace

            for his plow

                                    for his weaver

far from the walls of Troy—

                        none of the Achaeans

could know the god’s mind

            nor could the god’s plan be fulfilled

w/o the schism of the marriage bed—

and none could succeed unless the archer

could be tricked

                        into returning

:  maidens                     don’t waste your breath



Canto VIII


De vulgari eloquentia


            whether an act of love or greed

to grant all earthly power

            through breath and bone


(though Dante believed his good

            intentions bore bad fruit)

Crispus’ da removed to Greece


            evil began when jealousy unquenched

read reports of foreign entanglements

            unknotted and nodded to executioners dispatched


such without theory have all fallen

            when polymorphous present succumbs

in the throat of eternity


            fossils covered by cloud spirits

Sears                Pledge              Bounce            Tide

            taste notwithstanding W Magazine


notwithstanding WW Daily kneeling

            the pure products of America w/o

whose news we die we die


            peanut shells litter the bar’s floor

where barrels of roasted goobers magically

            dwell next to barnwood and nudes


shot glasses bottles and Jesus

            all spread leisurely amongst believers

and infected souls alike


            only in Baltimore in August

edging sideways past the aquarium

            into the harbor and under the boats


tied so lightly to the shore sailors

            waiting to rake oysters

drunk on stools beneath the swells


            Fell’s Point drifting past Ft. McHenry

and the switchblades flashing

            like Rockettes kicking NBC’s ass


where poetry is not the only consolation

            and money not the only salve

our fate not reducible to treasury notes


            even the Aztecs found something

estimable in men’s hearts besides beating

            to the plow’s remorseless furrows


hasn’t fellowship more to offer than shorn

            wallets more to propend than streaks

of manure tilled deeply to crust and corn


            why go ahead baffled by love where dollars

dry and shoals of shad spoil

            for our forks help is not fishy


helpings fed one by one to the less aristocratic

            every moment                        when shortcuts bite

the hand            space breeds eloquence



Una selva obscura


            as spring comes on

                                    watch the forest

darken under its canopy of leaves


                                    analysts need analysts

what would poets need

                        : Dante rants


: the problem is you have to wait their deaths

            before you can consign them to icy hell

over ouzo for that matter


: drink your enemies with grappa chaser

why does pastis turn water white

                                    only the shape changer


could redo the coast of Liguria—

had Mary landed there instead of France

perhaps more beaches instead of rocks—

perhaps the Saracens would have avoided resorts

                                    besmirched by bathing beauties


: only the shape changer

could understand Crispus and Absalom

and their strange fathers


: one resort on Cinque Terre

                        has Atlas elevating a balcony—



: you have to wait till the lying bastards

die before you can subject them

better to be a king subjected to the terrors of Dis


otherwise it’s war crimes on the first Tuesday

in November or whatever and the state

has 1 bad sky-high hurl after another


                                    Peristalsis Against Fascism

hate is the space—

                                    behind the waterfall

the rocks below—

                                    what hate heaves


space empty                 : hate emptiness

hate makes its own space

Opera              apropos of nothing                   has


not a frigg’n song to sing about Crispus

worse               Crispus sunk to limbo

while his da rose to Martian prominence


court artists get a lot from each tile

where he’s concerned

                                    plenty of detail in 2D


no noodling is too much                      here mosaic

: piddle here                              piddle there

and pretty soon you’ve got S. Sofia


monkeys                       giraffes             penguins

                        rattlesnakes                 behind the eyes

should we have pinned


and would that have saved his son       his wife            mother


silver screws tied to white wires

            and copper to black

hark the light from carbonized filament


hark the same thing from cotton

            only the energy channeled

death to death                                       life to life


Edison bulbs like gladiolas

            sprouting from every ceiling

some kind of artsy-craftsy


nightmare where labor becomes dusk to dusk


no spirit level                            no plumb bob


those fascists shot and hung

            in the square were hard hunted

through wheat fields


staring and not staring              seeing and not


milky gaze superimposed on pastels’

            glaze sharpend at edges

and swirled in the corner


simpering like V’s Venus

            puddling in lilies                        nous

float like hyacinth                        like frogs on pads


or faeries on Stilton



Cantos I