The eerie allure of
hunchbacked birches and
sycamores whistling, lips
of a thwarted limb
grown into an awkward

eye, the ashes and oaks
left guiding the gliding gaze
across fractured faces and
              those mullioned bones
          of stained glass windows
          filliped and stripped by a
                           dulcetly wistful
I stood where I, years ago,
spoke with a stuttering veteran,
perched upon trellising limestone; his neck brace
gleamed like an orrery circling
birds had picked of its drupelet planets, a mobile
plucked of the dandling plush which once some
cherub had dreamed of chewing to ruin, and
           by the bearded seal I’d never know,
by the fish tank doubled, the Bronco—

Granddad’d dubbed it the Bronco,
  where he’d sneak bulleits
             the depth of six airplane shots
  and, whispering, flaunt and applaud
  a portion of pot packed tight as a shark’s tooth.

He’d an elaborate test for anyone interested,
things like,
                    Should you see a key in the road,
should you retrieve or leave it?
                    If you’d left the key, he’d
      as per his father’s instructions,
      politely refuse you.

A few of them seemed but innocuous nudging
          (albeit he’d glaringly bony elbows),
                    What’s your ideal home?
              What form of water would it reside beside?
       What kind of trees, if any, would be there?
He’d then decrypt your answers,
       wise and wry as a toothless, gin-soaked psychic.

Sycamores! Everywhere sycamores!
Stocks swoln piebald, bay, and pearled above
vibrantly peeling bark, and their limbs like
tuning forks struck to a thewsome clew of
contortionists spluttering moves of an alien cancan.
Real weird fucking serpentine, fish-scaled trees,
with seeds like inchoate clown ruffs
nosing luridly red and inedible berries
, seemed
                      my stock response.

The types of trees portended, apparently,
                     kinds of friends you’d wished to keep.
Should one have said, None,
I’m unsure of just what he’d have done.

—we all had a death wish once,
and here among plangent wells,
the umber of plundered pennies
one combs from a crapulent grease trap,
               dreams began boring bruising fruit
in palavering latin,
in Panx and Boone, the pips, some
leather-tongued termagant licked
                to still-snickering insoles
slung from a burned-out Yugo Ciao.

I was between two twisted stints
      at the Orphanage, years now
      over-done-and-dead as a
possum drawn along wriggling wires,
a long-garroted-carotid-nerve or a
quietly karmic crutch requiring,
glibly, that I serve some sordid
                      purpose polishing
plates and pans.
      Between two twisted stents I stirred
and heard through the whittling nibble of engines,
Goldwyn!                                                      Goldwyn!
            clung like a bur along languid lobes,
               like dangling emeralds opening
                             osseous holes
she once was known for—  Goldwyn.

His hair was longer, maybe
his spectacles tinged to a urionous tortoiseshell, maybe
an errant edge grown just a touch gruffer, or maybe
                          no more than a moth preserved
                          on a pincushion pitted midst
                          murmurous mushrooms.

Astride a Honda Gyro,
one of but five in these United States,
he rolled beside a For Rent sign, I,
as a favor, transcribed upon pilfered paper.
He’d moved to the river, the dark one,
cellophane-sticky and green as forgotten meat,
to better observe his friendships,
    burnish the carnival chrome of a
    hundred sundry purring contraptions,
    squat in a shack amidst rats the size
    of your foot
, he’d said, the Ferrule House;
    to be with a girl they’d named
                for a cotton-eyed yam,
    who’d ditched him, got into realty maybe,
    real sobriety, really adult-like things. He
told me, in line at McDougal’s, cars ahead,
two people were shot between drive-through
windows, one where you pay and one
where you’re meant to receive your imperiling
victuals; that one of the shooters
had, in their ascent among moldering shotguns,
looked to him, leering.
                          Somebody else was slain but a
block away as he turned his change into beer cans.
He couldn’t remember the name of the store, though.

At the Orphanage, ever, albeit
unwritten, the dish dog (they
who chipped cheese from plates),
controlled what could come in the way of
music. When he’d churned water greasy grey,
he’d summoned the sound of bawdily howling wolves,
and not some snarky reflection on Redford’s take,
       strictly howling wolves
where others might muddle their maundering metal.
He’d sneak things into communal meals,
like plastic packets of sallowing condiments
snugly curled in a pinguid pie
or squeezed through a bloated stromboli’s bulging something.
He’d say, commonly, wildly reeling things
and chuckle abruptly at any disfiguring strangeness,
any old novelty taken as glaringly natural,
any most earthly, albeit, plainly alien sentiment stretched
like nails grown long as a carton of cigarettes
wattle-and-daubed from end to end,
wanned butts of a giggling friendship
clung around gravelly teeth of the cigarette garden,
there in the shoals of Broken Porcelain App Boat Reef,
with the glass and the bottle caps suckling nascent tomatoes.

(Hennisen’d nicked a fountain feigning
children muddling hands in a bird bath.
             They’d turned it into an ashtray,
                                               just to keep
                    the cigarette garden at bay.)

He recalled that restaurant
Waits had enshrined in Nirvana,
those crazy things that a line cook cried
that made me smile and, wildly, cry, and, still,
                                        wring treacly weeping—

He recalled those reasons I’d stayed there, daily. Now,

I’m scouring souring
cheese from skillets with bristling steel,
I hear but baying hounds worn down to a whisper—