Ballad of Penelope
Entry for 2017-10-22

Out in evergreenery,
in cedar and scotch pinery,
stands, pining, poor Penelope,
December snows enveloping
her futile dreams of finery

She longs for lights and candy canes
and ornaments and icicles
and presents laid in panoply
from turtlenecks to tricycles;
sprucelike, she lingers silently

Debarked is cousin Juniper,
who went to the distillery,
and Uncle Jack in Omaha --
a pole for some utility.
They left, bereft, Penelope

And Father's gone, a table leg,
and Brother? Off to tournaments
(a hockey stick in Winnipeg)
Now only Christmas ornaments
can comfort poor Penelope

One day, one happy family,
one woodland reconnoitering,
one look at poor Penelope,
no bartering, no loitering,
one sapling packed off pliantly

Romantics, are you listening?
Resplendently, Penelope
at hearthside stands all glistening
in tinsel-tinted frippery,
as happy as a tree can be,
which isn't known, unfortunately

The Bermuda Rectangle
Entry for 2017-10-19

(excerpt from form 10K financial disclosures)

This page intentionally left blank.
Our investment pools and eddies,
contangos and financial pas de deux,
uncharted here, are all offshore.
Picture this pure, white paper
as the Atlantic Ocean. Off the left edge
is the U.S. mainland. East of the right
margin lie Bermuda and the Cayman
Islands. You are looking at the gulf
between disclosure and reality,
and what goes on here is
none of your goddam business

The Mountaintop Tourguide Bureau
Entry for 2017-10-17

Here is your route, clearly marked,
                              up to the mountaintop.
Go as you please but please go,
up the bald rockfaces, driving
your pitons, scratch claw and cling,
or set up your base camp and climb
through the passes. Ride if you like
or follow the mules. Salmon
get there by swimming, some of them do,
or dash themselves brainless leaping.
They're the largest known sperm.
You can travel by air, like the buzzards,
or gyro up with the National Guard.
Hannibal did it with elephants.
Bridle paths everywhere. Go as you please
but please go. Noah made it by boat
but couldn't sail back. Probably wanted to.
Everyone up there steals. Homesick,
all of their stuff used up, and besides,
they think they're entitled to something,
                              some sort of prize

Playing the Float
Entry for 2017-10-13

Excerpted from Tax Shelters (filed under "Structurals")
What better way to escape land and building taxes than to live in a house that doesn’t occupy any land and isn’t even a building?
Until very recent times, houseboat dwellers led the same tax-sheltered life in this country as they did in Hong Kong Harbor. And a few entrepreneurs operated offices, restaurants, nightclubs, and casinos on the same privileged basis. At one of the early world fairs—the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition following the Alaskan gold rush—visitors to Seattle frequented dozens of floating “teahouses” for entertainment. By World War I, there were 2,500 houseboats in Seattle and flourishing “ark colonies” in the San Francisco Bay area. One neighborhood is still afloat off Sausalito, but the original tax break has been compromised with docking fees in lieu of real estate levies.
Elsewhere, there are others—buoyant houses, restaurants, boutiques, casinos, even offices—but officialdom is closing in: tax collectors, building inspectors, sanitary and fire code enforcers, and the pressures of shoreline developers who feel that boats should float quietly into view and then move on.

Wait for the Light
Entry for 2017-10-11

Ladies and gentlemen,
please keep your places in line.
There's an eight minute wait for light
from the sun. We must all take turns.
There will be enough light for everyone;
don't crowd, follow the signs

While you are standing by,
in the absence of light you're free
to amuse yourselves, unobserved,
or each other, or watch the show:
in the Crab Nebula, if our charts
are right, a pulsar will undergo
a star quake tonight

Six thousand years ago,
long before Ptolemy, Ramses,
Tut, in fact before Ra,
light left the Crab with news
of a quake (we predict) and, lo
it is almost here, now passing
the sun at the speed of light.
In another eight minutes or so
it will interdict the path
of earth through night

Now folks, be patient, please.
The sun never knows when it's noon.
We do. Everything's closely timed:
waves from the lunar seas arrive
in a second or two, then merge
with others that left long since
from stars, clouds, bursts,
all to converge like spokes
at precisely the place you stand
and, brilliantly, all at once

Wait in the shade of earth.
Clearly, the days take turns.
Ninety-three million miles away
our fire burns; everything's fine.
You needn't search for origins,
nor travel to parts unknown;
no, it's nearly time for light
from the sun, and when that comes
you can tear up your charts.
An eight minute wait, a flash,
and all of the lights go out
except your own