from the skin

I enter the belly
of the cross-town train
        across from me
a young soldier
is gazing at Portland
        grim and gray
I look to see
what he is seeing
and what I see
is the crumbling
        of modernity
clinging desperately
to the old city inside
which is trying
to shed its itching skin

I’m suddenly aware
that under the plaster
lies something
closer to the truth
        old streams
that still travel their ancient course
breaking down bones
of wooley mammoths
killed by the last chthonic belch
this old tooth of a city
        I see
                no fossil
but some living carnivore
long thought extinct
like the methane beast
that waits in the bogs
beneath the Siberian permafrost
ready to devour
these latest upstarts
to challenge its dominion

in the newspaper
I read that the river
has swallowed a farmers field
        the storm
has swallowed a city
monsters have emerged
from the skin
of old and brittle men
who sacrifice to the dragon
this tender young flesh
which so willingly goes
into the gullet
to the flashing teeth

© 2005, duane poncy

silence is permitted

may i have your attention, please!
due to considerations of homeland security
        we must advise you
of new regulations for this establishment.
aloud is not permitted
silence is allowed
you are allowed to ask questions
but aloud is not an option
silence is permitted provided
you apply to the proper authority
to clarify, aloud is not permitted,
that means you, tonto,
        no indians aloud
i must stress this point
aloud is not permitted
                i repeat
you may apply to be silent
the permit is freely available
        to all loyal citizens
it is our view that
in most cases
        a good citizen
                is a silent citizen
you are allowed to question authority
        except under interrogation
        aloud is not permitted
you have the right to remain silent
but failure to cite the fifth amendment
may result in immediate imprisonment
if you are an enemy of the state
your permit to remain silent will be denied
you have the right to appeal this decision
you have the right to protest the appeal
you may appeal to your god
you may appeal to your interrogator
if you are stupid that is your right
however, in most cases
for the vast majority
of law-abiding americans
        rest assured
we will protect your rights
as long as you are not foolish enough
                to use them
        i repeat
silence is allowed
but aloud is not permitted
thank you for your attention.

© 2005, Duane Poncy

street of dreams

I am walking in the wilderness
the moon disappears into shadow
above the rooftops owl
carries away a hapless soul
my spirit guide says beware
beats his wings
against the side of his cage
my spirit guide is a small yellow bird
I send ahead of me into the mine

in the dreamworld i am walking
down a street called the future
the houses on this street are bubbles
like the universe —only collapsing
high on a hill other houses rise
like the carbonation in champagne
        or coca cola
one by one they burst in thin air
leaving a faint, putrid odor
my bird sings beware beware
as owl carries away one more soul

and now i am walking down another street
this street named the past
is filled with small shops
which sell things we no longer use
the shopkeepers have sad eyes
as they turn the keys in their locks
go home to their shrinking bubbles
        owl is screeching
i continue walking
even though my canary is silent

i am walking down yet another street
with my dead canary
there is no street sign
but i know this street
i know the name of this street
it is filled with the dead and dying
garbage piled in the alleys
where blue smog hangs
over oily blacktop
it is the street where i live
but i am not yet ready to go home
i am not ready to face
the crimes i have committed
i will choose the wilderness
i prefer exile to waking

i am walking down another street
        in another country
and stone-faced soldiers
stand guard on every corner
the owls are screaming
a brown-skinned boy
sits on the broken concrete curb
ditsenvsvi hena he says
        you go home
there is nothing here you can do
he spits in the gutter
in the distance a baby cries
the owls, the owls scream

i am in a car
careening down the highway
the radio spitting hatred
spitting blue smoke exhaust
i am almost there
i am almost
at the street with no name
i am lying in my bed
a baby cries feed me
a baby cries wake up and feed me

i have no choice now
but to face the waiting mirror

© 2005 by Duane Poncy