Poetry from Rikki Santer

 
 
Detours
  
Couple bottles of Boone’s Farm that Belinda’s 
older brother got for us at A & C Beverage 
when we met up with him around the corner 
and of course the peyote buttons and we were off
cruising country backroads in my mom’s ’63 Impala
convertible that last summer night after graduation
when we found a moist valley of fireflies that 
swallowed us like the sparkling, star-filled sky
as if we entered a Kusama Infinity Mirror
when time was giving us a second chance
to lose ourselves before maturity showed up
with handcuffs and magicked the key away.
  
Midnight phantom footfall inside the bedroom
ceiling and the scene dissolves out of focus
and then into focus again
landing me in that prickly flip of past,
not to repair history in order to save
a Joan of Arc or Soulika sister,
but to squirm into my middle school locker
so that this time Ruth White won’t find me
with her punches when I take the last
chocolate pudding cup in the cafeteria
before she can get her spoon-ringed
fingers around it.
  
A jet stream snares me, squeezes me
through jalousie window slats
to territory of bigger/faster/more/more/more
instead of snailing through sweaty lines
of government cheese and unemployment.
How to make doppelgänger sense of it,
these roundabout visits that send me rewinding
to never meet up with Gus who stained me
with a mickey he claimed was the size of a whale’s.
  
How can I be my best ingredient,
in glory to each birthday’s butter cream?
To follow the next trail of twine
through hallways where Easter eggs
are painted zygotes and that if I swallow one,
I could clear my throat of trouble.
  
  
  
 Clothes Horse
  
 You like wearing a soup of polka dots
 with rascally pockets 
 and that hat of ostrich-egg-over-easy.
 You’re a landscape
 seen through pinhole, born for knowing how
 to keep your clothes
 dancing. Passersby nod through clouds around you,
 gardenia with a bit of ginger on top.  
 Sometimes you’re in the habit
 of spandex, buttery soft camel toe
 whispering for guests.
 Sometimes you’re all in for the dissenting swag
 of a judge’s collar.
 But always you’re hungry for the click & collect,
 or thrifting
 in the hunt for your next highlight reel.
 Closets never enough,
 scarves and gloves and bracelets color-sorted
 in the pantry.
 You tell us it was the shapeshifting of adolescence
 that got you here, 
 the scripture of accessory,
 the rebel arithmetic of your  
 outsiderness + your outside-ness
 = bondage trousers, chain mail nose
 ring, neon spikes for hair.  
 Now it’s martingale back and designer
 pouch with teacup pooch.  
 You say you always wear your soul on
 your sleeve, your style slippery or stonewashed. 
 And there you go again, chiffon creature 
 preening in limelight,  combat boots prancing
 for romantic notions like sprezzatura 
 and je ne sais quoi.
             

  
 Rod Serling Takes a Stab at Stand Up
  
  
 Before he says anything he draws deep
 on a fresh Chesterfield and turns his head
  
 to profile so he can better think sideways.
 Swish pan / swish pan / swish pan / ah,
  
 there’s the ringmaster, hot light, hot mic 
 and he’s rapier thin cool in a black mohair 
  
 3 roll 2 sack suit and crispy white oxford
 spread collar.  Glad you all could make it tonight 
  
 because you’re traveling now with the best 
 dressed man in any dimension. Rod straightens
  
 his Brooks Brothers double stripe and clenches
 his jaw for the baritone glide.  I just flew into
  
 town an hour ago and boy, are my gremlins
 tired.  Rod straddles a stool. You know, some 
  
 people call me the Arthur Miller of science 
 fiction TV, but my wife calls me television’s 
  
 Groucho Marx of  eyebrows…Yeah, I’m a
 Jewish kid born on December 25, that one 
  
 Christmas Day my parents had something else
 delivered besides Chinese take out.  He grips
  
 the mic and a beam of light launches off his
 silver military bracelet. You might have
  
 heard I was a paratrooper during WW2,
 but hell, that wasn’t half as harrowing as 
  
 battling with TV sponsors… I’m no dummy
 but we all know what it is to look into the face
  
  
 of the Twilight Zone—you have to have toilet
 paper with you at all times for the doo-doo- 
  
 doo-doo… But seriously, I do hold the record for 
 winning 6 Emmys in outstanding writing for a 
  
 drama series but what the hell do those two aliens
 in the front row care.  They’ve probably got better
  
 jokes on their planet, like “an Earthling and a Martian
 walk into a diner”… A mound of ash has been softly 
  
 growing near his Florsheims. My daughters keep 
 telling me that I smoke too many cigarettes, but then 
  
 I remind them of our digs in Pacific Palisades and
 Cayuga Lake, and they stop nagging me. Oh yeah, 
  
 Sometimes I like playing the“ In Rod We Trust” card.
 Rod drops his cigarette butt to the floor and rubs it 
  
 out with his shoe.  So that’s my time, folks.  I’m heading
 back home now to the hacienda and when I get there, 
  
 I’ll walk into my study, sit down, put paper in the typewriter, 
 fix the margins, turn the paper up, and bleed.
  
 
  
 Consider                                
  
When you consider a pitch to end all pitches, a pitch for
angels some say, for what  materializes in the dusty corners
of your apartment, a pitch as delicate as Shantung Silk 
carried across ocean in satchels underneath the ruby 
throats of birds, then your perfumed scarf will touch 
down upon a vestibule’s tapestry rug and proclaim 
the final exit.  How euphemisms spiral into themselves
as our pendulums slow, and cantankerous static clings
to our nose hairs. How we want to chew the date off
our ticket to the Imperial Lounge and just keep rolling
around a lush field, olly olly oxen free. How we yearn
to get drunk on cocktails of instant smiles and 
cellular serums, our pinkies tapping our lips. 
How we limit, to a parakeet mirror, our scavenger hunts
for wrinkles and dearly pay to have done what alchemists
do with plastic. Death will launch the trajectory
of our accumulating selfies and leave us with our
monkey minds godsmacked like undigested bits of beef. 
So wag your tongue all you want at that grandfather clock
and swath your phone in a crochet shawl to muffle calls
from the grave. Branch shadows will play upon your
sleeping face and your scarab ring, too loose now
for your fingers, will twang to the floor. 
No such place as exactly what happened.  
  
  
  
Poetry Accessories
  
after Rod Serling’s “The Bard”         
  
 spurs of moment + tertiary motivation 
 + worn copy of Ye Book of Ye Dark Arts 
 that flies off top shelf + riddle for riddling 
 + doodle for doodling + fecund uncertainty 
 + that crazy moon + blacks, whites & grays 
 spring-loaded + quill pen at attention 
 + title/act/scene/cup-inside-cup-inside-cup 
 mash-ups from Brother Will + sand conjured 
 from your loafers + first picture book cherished 
 + porcelain tureen with footnotes brimming 
 + six-foot hot dog bun for napping under stars 
 + dust motes whirling in sunbeam 
 + pixel by pixel hearing + gaze unmediated & gliding 
 + cockles squirming your heart 
 Harpo’s harp in barbed wire 
 + Méliès’s flash, dazzle & poof 
 + world too small to be satisfying 
 + horsepower via headstone + va va voom +
 ipsy dispsy  + za za zoom
  
 
  
   

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