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Sunday, May 19, 2013

“Even if you’ve never had a piano lesson in your life…” Illustrated by Bill Griffith!

Bill Griffith's "Musical Pins" inspired not just one queron but a second as footnotes.


“Even if you’ve never had a piano lesson in your life…”1
           three Zippy the Pinhead comic strips2

These days you can get a gloss of anything
you don’t understand, watch Liberace’s spot
for The Baldwin Fun Machine, get sold and ring
it up with shipping—without leaving your post.
Then videocapture with all your being!

Saturday Night Sing-a-longs—teens thing they’re tops!
Mom puts out a plate of garbanzo crescents.
Dad plugs in the home fog machine and flash pots.
Suddenly you’re three of the many Osmonds.
“I think about your lovin’.” “Double lovin’.”

We’re graced with a visit from our long-nosed friend,
so we gather around the keyboard console.
His face opens up—such a sweet audience.
When he starts to get confused after a while,
we explain: the organ sounds best off. So stop

the one-finger harmonizer, and roll out
the F’tang F’tang Olé Biscuit Barrel.


[1] So begins the TV ad for Baldwin’s value-priced home organ
pitched by Liberace. He performed a one-finger finale,
The Beer Barrel Polka. The same years it sold on television,
you could have watched musical numbers by The Osmond Family.
“F’tang F’tang” comes from Monty Python’s “Election Night Special.”
They’re mostly online, the sundry ingredients of seventies

culture that suffused my growing up. Reference is a common trope
in literature—and in music, movies, choreography,
comics (sequential art), and so on. To create is to copy.
Obscure reference in art predates even modernist Ezra Pound.

[2] Long before I ever read Bill Griffith, I loved the word zippy,
so I painted it in an amateur pointallist circus style.
Years later, I went gaga over Griffith’s surreal comic strip.
I sent Bill my painting, and he inked on the Pinhead—what a guy!
It hangs in my office. Poems have my permission to be funny,

to play around the wisdom of pure play, to disarm and beguile,
leaving no one with a framed answer, but somebody with a smile.


More credits: The Bone Doctor playing "Beer Barrel Polka" and daughter Mirabai on the Tiki Room Song.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Meeting the Doctor, illustrated by Christian Roman


“Transplants are commonplace nowadays, even routine,
so no impediments remain to performing the process
on oneself. Pleased to meet you. Doctor Kenneth Frank—Ken’s fine.
Transplants. Symbiology. You’ve probably guessed
the hand you shook just now was not always mine.

My gardener, a former cowpoke and prizefighter, possessed
musculature that was enviable, indeed.
When he quite unexpectedly passed,
I imagined a mutually beneficial arrangement. His cadaver agreed,
you might say. His arm lives on, serves me and retains

the strength and soul of his brawn and breed.
You felt him in the handshake. You met him, too,
just then. Sadly, his left hand would not accede
motor control (damned thing). But look here! Mismatched, it’s true.
My left belonged to a concert harpist. Female, yes.

It was her dominant hand, so although in school,
I was right-handed, I now find myself ambidextrous—
and master of this limb’s delicacy. My sutures
have become gestures with the power and finesse
of music. See my ankle? The fine needlework

scarcely left a scar. I’ll never suffer again with as scabrous
an attachment as my first shoulder. I’m an artist now.
You’d almost think this was the leg I myself grew as a fetus.
Realize you are standing before a crowd,
all of us animated by a medical brain ahead of its future.

The procedure is costly, to be sure, but you learn to stop counting.
Take my card in case I might help you out, someday, somehow.”

Christian Roman is a story artist at Pixar Animation,
having been in the animation industry for over 20 years.
He has worked on such projects as The Simpsons,
King of the Hill, Disney's Fillmore! and Toy Story 3

Monday, May 13, 2013

House Guest, illustrated by Sybil Archibald

By Sybil Archibald. I'm thinking I better find a publisher willing to make a full-color book!
House Guest 

Plastic wrapped her from the inside,
entered as a gas and sealed her.
The home closed its doors to its bride,
repossessed the meaning of “where
the heart is.” And she might have died

on the curb but for a neighbor
whose own scarred heart bled quite enough.
After all, what’s a great room for?
“The Big One doesn’t make us tough,”
she said. “It just shakes off our pride.”

She gave her time to sleep and slough
the cellophane around her brain.
Too, there was the brother she loved
who had not made it past the strain.
On a clear afternoon, grief tore

the seal open and out she came,
shaking, wet, ready to begin.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Unearthly Whiz, illustrated by Stefan G. Bucher

As I've approached artists for this book, I have been telling them truthfully that
I would be "backflippingly thrilled" to get a piece from them. Since March,
I have turned a lot of back flips, figuratively.
The incredible Stefan G. Bucher, warned me off attempting a literal one,
but getting this piece from him brought me close to endangering myself and others
with spontaneous acrobatics. 
Here's "Unearthly whiz," illustrated by Stefan G. "The Daily Monster" Bucher.
You can play along with Stefan with The Daily Monster app!
 Unearthly Whiz

         Initially sparked by the documentary, Wretches & Jabberers

A’s for appearance, the first shapes one sees,
and mine don’t help to make my beauty’s case.
Beard bramble, beach-ball belly, buzzard eyes,
bottom bite—and bejesus, what a face—
cleave all my encounters to choppy seas.

Do you think you’d do with a self like this:
a knack for remunerative visions
but no rein on the way you come across?
My gifts for profit get badly shaken
by swiveled necks, bulged eyes and guts that seize.

Fed up with shrugging off being blown off,
I started to keep my trumpet muted.
I’ve mucked through anger and introversion—
but it couldn’t last. If you’re like me, friend,
you’ve your fair share of shareable genius.

So we aim to express it before zed:
what we’ve got here is the premium blend.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Zombie Movie Climax, Illustrated by Art Moura - Please vote

The amazing Art Moura submitted a whole graveyard full of zombies in illustration of this poem. Which one or two do you like best?

                                      published in Turbulence Magazine, Issue 8 (2012)

Zombie Movie Climax

This is a zombie movie scenario starring me
as me myself, and also as the zombie who shambles
patiently through the abandoned midnight neighborhood scene:

Hero-me stops running, grabs zombie-me by the lapels,

yells “Wake up! Smell the roses!” Both shaking violently.

Close up on two faces. The living one: “Look at yourself!”

A spark ignites in the zombie’s eyes. “You’re animated!”

The room spirals and goes bright in a frenzy of cellos.

Their clutch breaks. The hero cries, “You don’t have to be so dead!”

The zombie’s mouth closes. Then opens and moans, “Oh. I see.


Animation. It’s all. I have. So. It has. To be. Good.
Enough. For me.” Dawn’s first rosy finger touches the east.

Zomb-me turns to look. On the face of it, life doesn’t hold

much for the vitally challenged. On the other ghastly

hand, what might a cadaver become, exploring the hills,

riding a cargo ship to Chile, learning how to dance,

dining with—who knows who—or what—on tacos de sesos?