From the archives – Necktie Party by Ed Shacklee

Necktie Party

He seemed to nod my way as the oak limb, bent
to hold the noose’s fruit, bent still lower
from the weight, as leaves along the bough
shook, like heads of serpents.

He seemed to gaze at what the night wind pointed
at, a view out west. The eyes went white,
vision turning sour in his head,
maybe, wanting

some light beyond the bonfire to show a way
past the twisting dance we’d set him to;
but no, there was no other way to go,
though God knows why.

The next day, in town, it was like a dream
scarcely breathed about among the decent folk,
or, Showed ’em, didn’t we, the boys’d say, talking
proud, which now seems

damned nonsense best left buried: except he turns
my way, an old man the night wind points out
to those white eyes, till I wake shouting
what nobody learned.

 

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, September 28, 2015 — by Ed Shacklee

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

The Carrion Flamingo by Ed Shacklee

The Carrion Flamingo

The carrion flamingo is an undead parakeet
with feathers tinged the iridescent pink of rancid meat,
whose wingspread is high-handed, while its flapping seems effete;
its hooded gaze is overcast with just a hint of sleet.

It lays an addled egg, abandoned just before it hatches.
Its heart looks like a casket or a book of soggy matches.
Its skin is pale and leprous – pocked with sores, it sheds in patches.
The smirking beak invites you, though you wonder what the catch is.

Some lair in mausoleums, others underneath a rock.
Their voices shake like rattlesnakes; one quails to hear them talk
about the corpses over which their sunset shadows flock,
and few sights are as ghastly as their limping, gimpy walk.

They stand as still as statues just before the chase is on,
and make folks blanch on mornings when they find them on the lawn,
carnivorous as hearses with the silken curtains drawn,
their plastic hues a mockery of rosy-fingered dawn.

by Ed Shacklee

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Editor’s Note: Imagining plastic flamingos as living birds only leads this poem back to the dead.

No I in Team by Ed Shacklee

No I in Team

Inside of every hen there is an egg.
Inside of many hovels there’s a house.
In each and every beggar there’s a beg,
and soon, inside of kittens, there’s a mouse.

Within the vilest hater is a hat.
Perversions always have a bit of verse.
A man will grow inhuman, fate more fat,
by chopping her to bits inside a hearse.

There is no I in team, two eyes in I,
the devil is more evil than you know;
so hide a cask in casket when I die,
we’ll drink to death if God is short an O.

by Ed Shacklee

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Editor’s Note: This poem is both amusing and disturbing (which is quite an accomplishment for twelve lines).

Let Down Your Hair by Ed Shacklee

Let Down Your Hair

Like Goldilocks, I’m off in search
of the bed that feels just right,
not the soft, too accessible perch
where strangers commute at night,

nor the hard one, the bed of nails
with blankets so small and thin,
or quicksand, which conveniently fails
to explain what I’m sinking in,

but the bed, as the fairy tale goes,
that isn’t too lumpy or brittle,
and doesn’t cut off or stretch my toes
for being too long, or little.

I don’t want a tortured affair
with some growly old bear that could bite;
Rapunzel, my dear: let down your hair,
wherever you sleep tonight.

by Ed Shacklee

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Editor’s Note: This poem’s deft play on several fairy tales delightfully belies the underlying desperation for connection.

A Riposte of Gibes by Ed Shacklee

A Riposte of Gibes

The chilly edge of fashion, they wear pointed leather boots.
Instilling paranoia with their catty, haughty hoots,
they grill anemic Hipsters and make monkeys of the Snoots.

Thin as whips, their snapping turtle wits reflect their genus –
their eyes are funhouse mirrors, and their smiles flytraps from Venus
that turn inflated self regard into a flaccid penis.

Their loyalty’s so nimble one’s imagination staggers,
and as they gyre and gimble Gibes have surreptitious swaggers.
Their morals are symbolic and their tongues are poison daggers.

They stare at utter bastards as they slyly mark the trump,
and parrot secret masters just to prod the toads to jump.
Take care, and don’t be crass – reduce your ego, if it’s plump;

beware these mock assassins, or your neck will be a stump.
Don’t carry grudges massive as the dromedary’s hump,
blare a barbed sarcasm at a slugger in a slump,

or scare the pants off fashion if you’re actually a frump.
Don’t glare from blinkered glasses; don’t be heard to boast, or grump.
Be wary, gentle asses, or the Gibes will roast your rump.

by Ed Shacklee

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Editor’s Note: With the faintest hint of Jabberwocky, and the floral after-scent of Kubla Khan, this poem conveys a sense of dark nuance that persists beyond the last line’s lingering notes of fruity rump-ness (i.e. ROFL).

Late Night B Movie by Ed Shacklee

Late Night B Movie

Colossus in a tub with model ships,
the lizard-suited actor runs amok.
Waves sweep plastic soldiers off the dock
as subtitles outpace staccato lips

of jut-jawed admirals wearing rented suits
who cover ears in pantomimes of noise
to prove the tanks and missiles aren’t toys,
while teenaged extras counterfeit salutes.

In the darkness, I remember when
each thing from Monster Island had a name.
The screen light flicker imitates a flame:
Tokyo the phoenix burns again.

by Ed Shacklee

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Editor’s Note: I confess, I adore action flicks of all kinds. This sonnet spoke to me of flickering black and white screens and plastic terror.

Necktie Party by Ed Shacklee

Necktie Party

He seemed to nod my way as the oak limb, bent
to hold the noose’s fruit, bent still lower
from the weight, as leaves along the bough
shook, like heads of serpents.

He seemed to gaze at what the night wind pointed
at, a view out west. The eyes went white,
vision turning sour in his head,
maybe, wanting

some light beyond the bonfire to show a way
past the twisting dance we’d set him to;
but no, there was no other way to go,
though God knows why.

The next day, in town, it was like a dream
scarcely breathed about among the decent folk,
or, Showed ’em, didn’t we, the boys’d say, talking
proud, which now seems

damned nonsense best left buried: except he turns
my way, an old man the night wind points out
to those white eyes, till I wake shouting
what nobody learned.

by Ed Shacklee, first published in Lucid Rhythms.

Ed on Facebook

Editor’s Note: This is suitably creepy for beginning of the autumn season. Dead men tell no tales, except in this case, the narrator’s memory of the hanging speaks forevermore.