for Ashely Capps
,dental impressions in the bars, cockroaches in the plexiglass coffin and a squeamish contestant planking down upon them. When you hear that screaming, then you know you got their attention. When you hear that jingle, you'll buy whatever it's singing. The Choice is Clear: I sing of the bullhook revising the elephant's hindquarters. I sing of the worm being eaten alive by a woman competing for money. Since dolphins can't move their faces, though, they always look like they're smiling. Since fear is a factor inspiring paralysis, I can't seem to look away from my coercer.
Animals make lots of decisions. Some decisions are minor, such as whether to walk to the right or left of a rock. Others are major decisions, such as what I will choose to watch on TV tonight. That's why there's feces in my beast wagon. That's why I bite the bars of my cage. Starfactor, when even the audience is captive, I chew-chew-choose you because I may have no other options. Because I shit where what and who I eat.
When a man volunteers to eat Buffalo testicles in hopes he'll be richly rewarded, I don't just feel bad for the Buffalo.
Waist deep in the freakfest of sky's glinty compact, a swisher and a paperback—some gonzo columnist prophesying endings nighing—that's half my maker, baby. Basking. Basking. A basketcase of beautiful, apathy tapestry papacy, relapsed, prolapsed—template of my ruptures. My seam combustions bursting through with lumen. Fwoosh! That's my stencil Amen, Amen and Amen, whom I hate. Which is how I know I'm Christian. The oddist collagist Collosus—cigar box Sonny saxaphonin' it in, phone sexin' up a backlogarhythm of construction orange prescription porn, medication admonishments. What I mean to say is, the man made mean mosaics all pharmacu-cucutical orange and white—what? Full of empty pill bottles = dosages of Christmas past. That's my papillion. My Pappy on some whole other Ishmael fishtales, like the time he saw a chicken on the side of route 20, halted our hoopty and scooped it. Stunk so high heaven he surrendered it back to the road shoulder ay-sap like payback. Couldn't stand the stench on his hands, washed 'em in Colgate he kept in the glove box. Fresh.
Dumpster punster, only man I ever knew who put a church pew in his dining room, who shot a BB gun all holiday season at a secondhand Santa candle; canvas vandal, it hurts so bad to create that I'd rather just hate. So I hate my father. Yea, and even my own life a bit. And this the first step be of my inane discipleship.
Papillion, thanks for making me. Must have smarted something sharp sharted. But still you taught me how to embrace & recognize your fate; how to be small, erase yourself, and let the lake be great.
Waist deep in the freakfest of sky's glinty compact, a swisher and a paperback—some Taoist philosophy highbrow colonoscopy. That's my butterfly, higher than the buttersky sun. Funsize as the butterscotch sunrise. My maker slaked by the great lake's breakers. My maker's maker's son.
for Pamela Smiley
Ball so hard the horizon sighs at the size of the wise one rising. Ball so hard like another day started, flaunting its pastel heart like an artist. I'm gonna forget every single word except for fire as soon as I walk into your crowded theater. I'm gonna end this prayer with the italicized words of a feeble old man with Alzheimer's.
I write the polar opposite of self-help books. I take the shatterproof backboard to places. It didn't know. It could go. Muhfucka like me, when I say holy shit, I mean both terms so literally. When I say holy shit the waves make their booties clap all up in the faces of the breakers.
Ball so hard every time I hear an ambulance I say a lil' prayer it's for me. Ball so hard the congregation barely registers when the Reverend asks “Do you know how many hot bitches I own?”
What's Gucci, my ninja? What's Stockholm, my syndrome? It's when the captives/ fall in love/ with the persons or things/ oppressing them.
This one's for all you ladies out there. This one's another ode to the sunrise, which persists, despite everything else.
This one is about how even awfulness is holy. How apparently necessary and gorgeous it is! How the song I stole this hook from is Willie Lynch with a sample. But I'll be damned if that chorus ain't catchy as hell/ if that ish ain't cray.
Ball so hard like my soul windows shed shards at the Sol crescendo. Ball so hard at a sky so scarred— say you scared of the holy merde.
So yeah. I'm crying. Even though I know it's a brobro no no. But I said you melt my froyo, Honey Boo Boo star. I don't know who you are. All I know/ is that I love you. And I ball so heart at the flood you flash like a drug in my bloodstream, you tug strings while scuds scream. Alas, my mug beams back at the above. Like a parolee, I throw up deuces and slowly split—unfit, but still sunlit. I submit, wholly. Holy! Holy!
Nick Demske lives in Racine, Wisconsin, and is a children's librarian at the Racine Public Library. He is the author of a self-titled collection of poems which Joyelle McSweeney chose for the 2010 Fence Modern Poets Series. He is also the author of a chapbook called "Skeetly Deetly Deet" (Strange Cage Press, 2012). His work has appeared in ACM, Action Yes, B O D Y, BOMB, Colorado Review, Forklift: Ohio, jubilat, Matter, Rhino, Spoon River Poetry Review, and many other venues. For the past eight years, Nick has curated the BONK! poetry and music series in Racine, which is a very magical thing.
Cover image by Sarah Meadows