Roadkill on Highway 154

After dinner I’m going to drive my Honda Civic
way too fast over a narrow mountain pass,
and 100 yards downhill from Painted Cave Road
I’m going to lose control and

overcorrect to the right then spinout to the left,
into the uphill lane where the Dodge Ram Pickup
is going to spear me on the passenger-side,
the whole mess coming to rest against the cliff.

I’m going to die and one of my passengers is going to
die and the other two of us are going to survive, just barely.
It’s going to be a real mess to clean. Scraping bodies out of
cars and scrubbing blood from pavement can be hard work.

The local news will focus on the road closure,
both directions being shut down for hours,
and how inconvenient it will be for the living to take
the long way around, through Goleta on the 101.

And in this knowing of my death soon to come, and in
clear view of the chaos I will create in the lives of others,
I now realize that pickup trucks made here in the U.S.A.
are much heavier than economy cars made in Japan,

that many dogs will get their dinner a few hours late tonight,
that they will be howling for their owners much like the dogs
on Staten Island in the days following September 11,
and that being hungry is so much easier than being full.

Shopping for Godot

There are seventeen brands of water
on sale at Trader Joe’s and I’m thinking
Smart Water infused with
lavender essence, zero parts per billion,

because I want to be smart,
and lavender sounds like a Spring meadow—
lovers and their children,
being chased by bees

all the times I ran and how good
I got at running
at eating

grass-fed free-range
environmentally enlightened beef
with an e-Coupon
redeemable for negative karma

gluten free organic non-GMO Gala apples
each handcrafted by a wild
Arizona mustang’s bastard Kachina-child.

It’s such a relief to be healthy again.

My eyes stare Hubble-blue at you.
I’m four inches taller than Jesus.
My abs are six-pack pop-top aphrodisiacs.

You, with eight reasons to doubt me,
forget your list and
help me carry these heavy bags.

 

 

Totally Disconnected

Start with a simple declarative paragraph;
minimum two lines. Best if it’s
first or third person and highly specific.

Journalistic styling is acceptable.

“Mary” is a good female name.
There are no good male names.

Proceed quickly to a scene from nature,
go light on adjectives and alliterations,
no similes. No birds either.

There are now two choices: human society is
losing touch with wild nature; or, we live in
an unavoidably connected wild natural world.

Mary had a little lamb.

Dammit!

Start over, this time naming the main
character “Sheila.”

Bring in a contrasting natural setting:
mountains, rivers, trees, Winter.
Avoid the color “purple,”  the nouns “wine”
and “rainbow,” and the adjective “fetid.”

Next, wow them with a shocking segue
to an existential emergency – birth, aging,
death, sex, whatever. Choose Sheila’s
three-year battle with stomach cancer.

The words “fog” and “mist” come to mind.

Give a call back to the opening. However,
“Hey Sheila!” is a sure loser, believe me.

Consider ways of using Sheila’s cancer and
death as a metaphor. Avoid clichés. Pause to
marvel that death could be a cliché.

Conclude with a magnificently profound
platitude. Use Google to make sure
it’s original. Read some Basho and try again.

Publish.

Await the inevitable raves and
accolades: oh, thank you! Thank you!

Recall the phrase bloody ignorant apes,
that Winter on the mountain tastes like
fetid wine, rivers tumbling over Sheila’s
forgotten shadow, a foggy rainbow, a tree
lost in the purple mist, a falling bird.

Tell them they are so very wrong.

 

© 2017, Eliot Jacobson, Ph.D.

Dead Elephant Hair

The end of an African
elephant’s tail is hairy.
The hair is coarse and
strong, like fishing line.

On big game safaris
it’s traditional to cut off
the tail of your dead elephant
with a knife.

The bwana will take a
picture of you holding the
tail in one hand and your
knife in the other.

When posing, make sure to
hold the tail vertically:
bloody stump down,
hairy tip up.

Don’t let blood drip
onto the hair. Nobody likes
bloody elephant hair.
It’s very hard to clean.

Legend says wearing an
elephant hair bracelet
will protect you from
misfortune and illness.

It will bring love, health
and prosperity.
You only need two
or three hairs.

You can buy a
bracelet on eBay
or you can kill
your own elephant.

Tanzania and Mozambique
still allow elephant
hunting. But Zimbabwe
is the best place to go.

You will find an elephant
to kill about midway
between Bulawayo
and Victoria Falls.

 

© 2017, Eliot Jacobson, Ph.D.

Published in PoetryCircle, July 3, 2017

Keynote Address at the Cliché Symposium

Ladies and gentlemen,
I’ve got an axe to grind
with all of you.
In a nutshell, this is
a cautionary tale.
In this day and age
it’s either sink or swim.
Suffice it to say I’m
cautiously optimistic.
Make no mistake,
don’t get me wrong,
it’s a broken system.
But quite literally, I’m
turning a blind eye and
basically calling it for
what it is –
a last-ditch effort to quell
the perfect storm of hot-
button issues. Or so
the thinking goes.
But, contrary
to popular belief, I’ve
got a face-saving
compromise in the works.
I’m giving it all I’ve
got, one-hundred and
ten percent, for sure.
My new normal has
sparked debate
and has raised more
questions than answers.
In case you’re wondering,
withering criticism by
grizzled veterans who rose
from obscurity has more
often than not shined
a spotlight on this
firestorm of controversy.
And I am not alone
on this long journey.
The same old sad story
applies to each and
every one of you.
And so, in summation,
I say to you,
this day and every
day to follow:
you have to love yourself
more than anything,
and always, always, always
pray for peace on earth. It’s
as easy as 1-2-3. Now,
get the fuck outta here.

 

© 2017, Eliot Jacobson, Ph.D.