Clouds hang low
As Wobbly agitators
Suspended like saucers,
Whole plates of mashed potatoes,
Or maybe platters, paint palettes
Your mother might have dreamed up
To mix the dark oil she splayed
Across nightmarish canvas . . .
Like the cigar smoking mule
That suffocated you while
He rhymed in the caved-in
Stopes of your mind,
The repeated promise of
Eternal harps and gowns, blind
Hopes spun by heavenly clowns
Who claimed they saved Evel
From burning. Joe Hill
Still waits at the pearly gates,
St. Peter is a company man . . .
Frank Little’s playing poker
With Clarence Darrow out front,
Sees you trying to sneak by
With your prayer shawl on.
Recognizing your long ears
And Bowler hat, Joe Hill coughs up
The blood of Christ, refuses to go
To Hell. No cigar, Frankie smokes
Like a presto-log, pulls two jokers
From his sleeve, so Darrow raises
Hell—tells Pete to kiss his ass.
He knows who holds the kings
Of copper hostage, but the fools will trade
Their teeth for rosaries, booze,
Or dentures that don’t fit. The lowest level
Keeps changing like clouds—now bowls
Of oatmeal topped with Sweet and Low.
Today everything smacks of you,
Ed, in this blue sky above me. Like Daedalus
Or Marianne Moore, toads croaking
In their imaginary gardens, this blue
“Bird” is winging it, singing it
Because he can, because he’s flying high
Once again over the labyrinth he sees below.
Unfortunately . . . he cannot land.
In memory of Ed Lahey