by Jim Esch
Copyright 1996 by Jim Esch
This is a collection of short poems and nonsense verse, most of which were written in the early 1980's. The poems explore the awakening of suburban adolescent consciousness by means of semi-random imagistic revery. Themes of love, sexual awakening, superficiality, authenticity/inauthenticity, maturation and responsiblity act as a coherent subtext to the surface chaos disseminated in the poems themselves.
Thanks to my high school creative writing teacher, Tom Williams, for exposing me to the can-opening poetry of Richard Brautigan, to whom I owe an artistic debt here.
The Green Berets - haiku - Haiku - Summer on Elm Street - TONKA POEM - SPACE AGE WRAP - Skippy Loves Bologna Sandwiches - Miss April - Ask Hansel - "What a Deal!" - Aerobic Norseman - Fast News - SANTA JOINS THE MISFITS (first version) - On the Rack - Knawk It Awf! - Scrap Heap - THE SPRING CHICKEN MASSACRE (A DRAMA IN 3 LINES) - Happy Poem #11 - Digital Breath - Nuclear Bridegroom - HIT PARADE DOWNPOUR - Sixteen Silly Sheiks - Summer in Dogland - Stick To It, Dough Boy - The Rooster Socks It To 'Em - Tan Me - She Had The Tongue - 60 Miles From Nowhere - The Man Who Was a "Stuckeys" - School March To The Death Camps - THE COMPASSIONATE MARBLE - INHALING SOFT FREEZE - NEXT OF KIN - ODE TO VEAL SCALLOPINI - Like Eve, On Tuesday Morning - Fertility - Leave My Twinky Alone - NEW SENIOR - SUBTERRANEAN MEATBALLS - DOUBLECHINS AND PARTYPOOPERS - Swine Flew - Locusts in October - Dinner At Almost Your House - CREW CUT - STUBBLE ON THE TILES - I've Got a Totem Pole - Greasy Men On Parade - Cruisin' Bulldogs - HAIKU - FUZZ ON MY SHIRT - THAT CLOWN NEEDS A MANICURE - HAIKU - BABOONMANIA - Woah Nelly! - BETTY AT THE BEACON BOWL, BARSTOW, CA - AN INVENTORY OF SOUNDS - Birds In My Hair - Concert in the Dark - Cape Cod - Let them beg - Shortly Before My Navel Explodes - Won't It Be Fun? - White on Black - Carthago Delenda Est - After Great Wars
The Green Berets
I'm waging a war
to free your hair.
a dog scratches fleas
in the dark
she's waiting for you somewhere
can't you see
Summer on Elm Street
Mommy is my mommy
My daddy is taller
Come play firetrucks!
little guy in a little red car
turns into a grown-up street
makes me think of toys and kids
and mushy little tasty treats.
SPACE AGE WRAP
all hail the superior,
peanut butter sandwich.
Skippy Loves Bologna Sandwiches
strapped to an easy chair
(we've only two months to live)
"I'm not stepping out of my room to get the mustard!"
In second grade, David Hickman showed me a centerfold
-- Miss April in a shower.
Today it is raining.
why do the ginger men taste burnt and crusty?
"What a Deal!"
genuine simulated artificial vinyl leatherette.
Thor has thunder thighs that need thinning.
The kings and the quarter pounders:
edible mass, incredible media.
Jennings, Brokaw, Chung, Rather:
big mac, happy meal, wendy burger, whopper.
News, analysis, commentary, pundit-try:
Fries, mustard catsup, diet slice, apple pie.
Eye on america, national focus, money crunch:
sprinkles on sundae, special sauce, burger of the month.
Journalistic objectivity --
The colonel's secret recipe.
SANTA JOINS THE MISFITS
"help!" she cried.
"ahh!" she screamed.
"What can I expect if I help you?" He belched.
"Your boots are tarnished. Give me my front teeth!"
On the Rack
sitting in the trashcan
evergreens never scream
Knawk It Awf!
a fine rhapsody indeed too many -
sounds awful, others are comforted
Me? I don't care about accents.
She has a problem
Ma says stay away....
THE SPRING CHICKEN MASSACRE (A DRAMA IN 3 LINES)
"I can't drive."
"She messes up."
"I don't care if it's raining out."
Happy Poem #11
one and one
is two and
me and you
a bit too perfect,
the sun gleams brightly when seen in your eyes.
He can't escape the fallout.
HIT PARADE DOWNPOUR
The light between the blades.
Flashes among the masses.
Soft summer sweat.
Sixteen Silly Sheiks
roundrobin love affairs
(the maximum penalty)
Summer in Dogland
oodles of nuts 'n bolts
concocted by masked dreamers.
Batman wants some too.
Stick To It, Dough Boy
Create, expand, knead and roll.
We're all hoping for that last large pizza to go.
The Rooster Socks It To 'Em
Remember how he'd cock his doodle...
Now he wears a tux and sings "I did it my way."
ooh baby you're deep and dark and mine all mine
She Had The Tongue
knew her place in society--
intelligent, sparkling, stately, cute,
but above all that... she had the tongue.
60 Miles From Nowhere
Desert fighters on manuvers --
Tomorrow Mike will eat dust
and we'll be on needles
wondering why we're 60 miles from nowhere.
The Man Who Was a "Stuckeys"
while his mate got gas
the girls refueled
with refreshments, traded anecdotes
and mental souvenirs
under his blue roof.
School March To The Death Camps
Off we go, yipee! We will die!
I can't wait! Go Team Go!
THE COMPASSIONATE MARBLE
we loved to see you run.
INHALING SOFT FREEZE
moon dance: breathe in, eat out.
laugh - funny - laugh. Breathe.
Looking Out From a Bottomless Pit
I saw your socks inside out,
your mind stripped of consciousness.
I saw a see-saw and your soul.
NEXT OF KIN
goats, bunnies. rabbits, cat fur.
A mother weeping.
ODE TO VEAL SCALLOPINI
doesn't that have cheese sauce on it?
I don't know what it could be!
I can taste the grissle!
Like Eve, On Tuesday Morning
must we ALWAYS have applejacks for breakfast?
in the simple green mustard fields blessed by waxy leaves
I'd relish the sight of you picking fruit
Leave My Twinky Alone
Muffy and Sue
talk about their boyfriends
all day long.
hail the all mall hall --
upon waxing my bike, the asphalt crumbled.
DOUBLECHINS AND PARTYPOOPERS
we must arrive before the cats litter on corinthian leather.
dancin' crackpot fever
but for the needle.
Locusts in October
messengers of the living dead,
in the park or back yard
astride lawn chairs and skateboards
they drone and chant a withered harmony.
Dinner At Almost Your House
It was close enough
and you were there and
words will be words.
something will have to be done.
Make It Short.
STUBBLE ON THE TILES
I've Got a Totem Pole
see my carved and painted faces
Greasy Men On Parade
tomorrow we'll play PAC-MAN,
eat pepperoni pizza
then we'll sing about the war,
watch John Davidson re-runs.
tripping through the night
searching for nothing they have
leather collars with spikes
clouds on the move
patrolling the skies
FUZZ ON MY SHIRT
recently arrived from parts unknown -- glorious imperfection.
THAT CLOWN NEEDS A MANICURE
cut those nails. feed him dog food.
wipe that smile off his face.
on the town
nature begging for some peace
street lights shine.
Buzz Aldrin in our brains.
BETTY AT THE BEACON BOWL, BARSTOW, CA
desert dudes go bowling
eat ham 'n cheese --
she's been sandwhiched.
AN INVENTORY OF SOUNDS
My feet walking on a dirt road that went from my grandparents house to the elementary school.
The tires of my grandfather's '65 Buick moving against a gravel driveway in a church cemetary.
An old hickory rocking chair, built by a great grandfather, creaking in my room.
Walking through six feet stalks of corn and waist high carpets of wheat.
Our screen porch door slamming shut.
The barber's electric razor nearing my head.
The low hum of electricity in school, especially when no one was there.
Birds In My Hair
she's wearing a short skirt and
the park's been turned into a lot
(there's no music anymore)
Concert in the Dark
Have you walked from the door
of a time machine dream?
In your sweater and skirt,
saddle shoes, bobby socks...
it's only one night,
and we have lost our innocence.
in love with everybody
everybody minus one.
Let them beg
the birds wait for me to feed them
they bounce and peck themselves
I will not feed them any more
let them sing, let them fly
Shortly Before My Navel Explodes
I'll hear the faint whisper
of everyone I ever considered loving,
like a kamikazee's last hurrah.
Won't It Be Fun?
Do you realize that we've never been together for a year and a half?
Let's not celebrate. We won't have a party. We won't call each other. We won't write.
Remember to look away when you spy me, and I'll do the same.
We won't even think of each other.
Don't forget the times we never had.
We won't let anyone know; It's just you and not me.
White on Black
a lover's touch,
a plastic nativity scene.
Carthago Delenda Est
I had to hold this for you in here,
the ring of flame tore me,
worse yet it was your words like claws
who conquered who?
After Great Wars
after great wars
ideas are empty coffee cans.
after the fire you cough up smoke.
poems don't rhyme.
What to do?
dance naked in your room,
don't try to explain.