Dribbling Penny’s Lied
with tearful rainfall filliping foibled stone,
            she stood at the slouching stoop
of young Cohen’s koan,
the darkened door,
       her ears gone
cross-eyed picking from toddling droplets
fledgling dregs of discoloring songs and
psalms that throttling songsters teased,
dissembling bells among broken breezes.
A soddenly sobering mood entwined
with the twisted chimes no elbow nudged
and the punctured drum of macadam
                                                beat raw as a
beetle, borne on its back,
still strumming the staling air,
                              on the cusp of a relapse.
the moire of macadam muddling
fickle reflections fleshed against glaucous rock:

a man, beneath an umbrella
mat black of a stone-cut crow
           or lighter-chewn tissue,
milled with a maybe malingering limp
at the lips of abandoned manses
   froze in the wallowed out moan
              of a car-cracked squirrel;
he imposed his crackling stature,
much as a doddering bubble bulges forth from frothing surf,
                     and snaked through the din of the dandling rain,
Are those apartments?
                    He pointed at Cotton’s coldly moldering skull
of a clumsily sunken structure,
        stretched to Italian eaves
        and operatic balconies,
        black-eyed, shucked, and rat-tailed husk
        of a vaudeville playhouse kicked
        to the barnacled curb of a swollen street, gone
verdigris green of a buckling  headstone.
                                                                        She offered,
I’m sorry?
                            Are those apartments?

This went on
       like a fob watch
  gropes to applaud,
     at a pitying pace,
a community theater’s rendition of
Cats, though stripped of all
those songs and costumes,
butchered back to Old
Possum’s practicum,
belly rubs and malodorous
borders, streams run
red with ablated skipjack,
puckering sough of assiduous tongues
like chalk bluffs licked to a pitiful powder—

I think it’s somebody’s house.
                                             What’s that?
I think it’s just a house…

he spoke a succession of numbers
several times, six seven five, then Somebody’s house,
                     though in an ascent,
        and sluggishly lumbered forth,
the street like a frozen hedge maze
               felled by a catling’s sneeze —

another man, sporting some kind of
shower cap over what bulged like
an officer’s hat, and looming
           a beetle-black walker
  forth, then froze before her,
        void as a ruptured door;
he smiled and trailed off further,

I knew there was a reason
I was living
             in San Francisco—
I was beginning, I was
         beginning to forget
             how to recognize people.

She politely smiled and
squeezed out the hull of a
decorous, albeit reticent, chuckle,
through rictal, cabbage-patched, fjord-tall teeth.

She’d never been to San Francisco.

She thought of the moon like a worn down penny,
the Beggar’s Opera, Penny in heaven or hell now,
Reading beat in a chattering tailgate, Pennsylvania,
Baltimore, Akron, B & O—
She thought of those strange machines you’ll find
at the zoo, that flatten and flatly emboss upon
mangled zinc a playful impression of apes or
elephants tickling wrinkly calves with a
sneeze suspended.
                    She picked through the din of the dandling rain
this chortling croon of a traipsing train
that brayed like a hunting horn harrowing,
heralding brumbies come to deliver her
muttering cars and Lamington Timtam bitching
with curtest conceit about all of those times he’d scolded his
oogle compatriots, heavy as rain-sopped talc, to just stop
singing the goddamn Big Rock Candy Mountain already—
My teeth hurt.

scales uncoiled through threads of the molting Elkhorn,
                stocks of Seward Park perturbing her
                      plangent bones to buckle and boil,
                         an A ensconced in winter creeper nudging a homely C,
                                    a fresh and impressionless folio
                                                peeled from the cheek
                                         of a slithering birch tree,

swoln with a loathsome song of longing lapped
like tar pits licking at pachydermatous plastic—
My cat had tacitly batted at shreds of her freedom
for nearly ten or so years now. When I’d adopted
old Murder Slag, she was found chipperly licking the penitent
backs and bellies of every kitten they’d canned there.

If I so much as graze one lazing finger
over the lip of a can now, idly teasing
silence from an harmonica cobbled from gormless tin,
she won’t stop whetting her fingers over my feet
until I’m obliged to
                      open it.