Mark Jackley

HAPPINESS
 

Sometimes it rises quietly
like water in the basement.


It may ruin something

you've lugged around for years,

stored in the dark,

bound with tape, whose mouth

 

you sealed, a thing you were

unable or unwilling

to let go of, so

 

it held you hostage too.

 

 

OLD GLORY
 

Angled on her pole
at forty-five degrees,

like the head of a horse

poking out from a country fence,

she is waiting to be whipped
by the next storm.

 

All the men will stamp
their feet and gallop madly.

 

 

IF


If I were the Addams Family tree we paid a guy

named Steve to trim and fell,

I would brightly burn

 

in Emily's and Matt's new old Sixties boondocks home

with its two wood stoves,

like confetti I would burst

 

all over Steve's red face and his stubby, hungry saw

to celebrate myself,

I would calmly face

 

the twenty-something cretins from the all-night party house

down the street who took the biggest

pieces from my base

 

and gathered in their driveway, circling with beers

and axes, wonder-struck

by my power and my girth.

 

I’d shine out from my stump like the clean face of the moon

and gaze up at the sun,

remembering our love-

 

making without cease, even in the naked winters,

screaming from my grasping

Thomas Hart Benton

 

limbs and when you leaned into the February gales,

like a lost bird,

you would hear me sing.

 

 

SITTING DOWN IN THE SHOWER
 

Hot tub on a budget.

Lazy man's water slide.

Maytag for the soul,

irrigation system for

calm, green thoughts

in the Mojave of middle age.

Low-rent Blue Lagoon.

Summer storm for one.

Jacuzzi for the jobless-

recovery, child-support

paying set. Closet monsoon,

rapids for the mild,

a poor man's Iguazu,

skinny-dipping for the shy.

World's lowest soapbox,

where monologues and dreams

disappear like bubbles

and gray hairs down the drain.

 

 

BABY,
 

all I ever wanted

was to hug you baby-like,
a la John and Yoko.
Mother complex but

sister too and dog
snoozing, potato bug
like the poems we are,

wadded in God’s pocket.

 

 

TO A GNOME
 

Bobbing towards the Azores in your smart red hat, a gift

to my sister for her sliver

of Manhattan garden,

 

swallowed in a New York minute by the hurricane—

tell me, sir, you are

staring down the waves

 

like De Niro. I will tell you Annie's nails are cracked

and dirty and the lilies,

the crocuses are back.