“Graceland” by Clayton Beach

Clayton Beach


under graceland
the distant whine
of a dental drill


bloodhound stare
through sliding glass


freezing fog
a few leaves skitter
across the docks


now, conveyor belt sushi.
the illusion of limitless bounty


and so it is with happiness;
the fleeting leap
of a red


or dangling chads—why you
always digging up old stuff?


the ancient struggle
against my own better angels
lunar halo


when lichen outpaces
erosion from acid rain


the marble steps
of the central library will eulogize
all abandoned wisdom


a single flame burning
in the collective unconsciousness


i can think
of several things more cruel
than lilacs, mud and springtime


staring balefully from the kitchen
like an empty paper towel roll


the simulacrum
of a phallus stretches up
to the pure Virginia sky


pa’s stars and bars stashed away
in the sourmash reliquary


just waiting for that
old time
tent revival


i renew my vows
of complacent acceptance


the wind shifts,
a scent of hope and fear
mixes with gardenia


a blister under the tongue
tastes of excess succor


for a danish
in denmark
is viennese bread;


hamlet rubs one out
to a bit of ludwig-van


and poets are made of fire.
or was it silk and chocolate mousse
with shards of glass?


there is virtue left yet
in not knowing one’s place


be it watergate
or waterloo
the slack tide yields to dawn


two fistfuls of mini-buddhas
and still no closer to sainthood


mary’s heart sinks
in the slow glissando
of masking tape


what odd joinery is this?
what shoddy craftsmanship!


the lake glisters
with fragments—
of moon of sun of star


a solemn marsh intones
the flatulence of will-o’-wisps


champagne tastes
best drunk straight from the bottle
among good friends


another year is born
seeming more weary than new …


the look in the eyes
of goya’s cronos
as every second tries to eat the next


serving leftover turkey
in the homeless shelter


a landscape of crystal
meth enjoyed
from the comfort of a frozen box


the taxman can’t take
what you never earned


double cherry blossoms
in profusion
around the federal bank


a child weeps gently
like a national guitar

from Rattle #63, Spring 2019


Clayton Beach: “Some psychological models describe consciousness as an extended metaphor for reality, using the substrate of language. If that is the case, then poetry is the crucible where human consciousness is expanded through alchemical manipulations of the word—for poetry is always expanding language through the deepening of metaphors and through the playful stretching of sense and meaning. I started writing poetry, like many, for emotional catharsis as a teen. Over the years I have found in poetry the delight of playing with the music of pure language and the joy of exploring both inner and outer worlds through the magic of metaphor. Haiku and the related forms—with their intense sense of interiority, focus on linguistic play, and deep connection between the perceiving self and the external universe—have been a central part of my poetic journey, and my engagement with Japanese language poetry is a constant inspiration.” (web)

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