Word Poetry

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Sample Poems by William Greenway



To My Journal


I don’t see you much anymore, old blue-lined
Blue Horse with the tattered leather cover.
Now I type on the nippled, clitorised keyboard
of my techno-doxie.  She’s fast and blonde,
takes all I can give and begs for more.
Her face shines in the dark while yours
wrinkles, soft now as thumbed vellum.
I know she’s all flash and no substance,
pure vibration that vanishes as easily as passion.
Truth is, she doesn’t feel at all,
doesn’t need the pen pressing into her,
for the grossest fingerings bring her off.
There was a time when your covers opened to me
to keep all my secretings enfolded.  How
did you know that all I wrote could vanish
into air like static?  How did you know my life
was only pixels and electrons,  that only you
could save me with my stains
on your pure, white skin?



The University of Hell
 
It’s open admissions, free tuition, attendance
mandatory, the classes eternal.  Pitchforks
of the teaching assistants say no falling
asleep, no rest for the wicked, no soft answers
turning away wrath.  They advance through the lower
levels, the core curriculum, each room packed
and stifling—“Principles of Envy” (prerequisite “Pride”),
“Getting and Spending,” “Advanced Rage.”   
The restrooms are filthy, the graffiti (Satan
Sucks) never washed from the walls.
The elevators don’t work, and Not Smoking
 is Prohibited.

Everyone has tenure, couldn’t be fired
if they tried. The football program’s
well endowed, but except when the Flies
lose to the Angels once a millennium,
the games are intramural.  No rules or refs. 
The cheerleaders jump and twitch and beat
at their flaring skirts with blazing pompoms.
Howling the fight song, “All Hope Abandon,”
the fans in the stands, smoldering in raccoon
coats, can hardly see the players, silhouettes
bashing each other in the sulfurous light,
trying to make the draft, though the pros
are as full as graduation is empty: black
wool robes, paper fans and programs catching fire,
and then the walking to silence across the stage
to get that pre-signed, pre-approved entry form,
since all of them, even the magma cum laude,
the Dishonor Students with brains to burn,
get to be freshmen all over again
because some people never learn.




Dreaming With Fish

Thou hast nor youth nor age,
But as it were an after-dinner's sleep
Dreaming on both.                   
            Measure for Measure

Sometimes, lounging on the Riviera,
or snoozing on the beach in Waikiki,
or even someplace I’ve really been,

one of the beautiful people around me,
maybe a skinny woman on a raft,
shrieks at things in the sea, the clear,
cobalt blue suddenly teeming

like the roiled surf of Louisiana.
Panic—waiters tossing buckets
of ice, tycoons revving their outboards,
beachboys flexing to shoo them away.

Only I’m prepared, rousing from my fat
and oily doze, and pulling from beneath
my chaise a tackle box, for once untangled,
neat, and two pieces of rod that slip

together as easily as married sex,
fasten a reel packed with 20-lb. test. 
I know them, greet their schools
and long-lost appetites. They know

me too, as I cast toward them things,
in this foreign place, they’ve never had—
perfect likenesses of southern shrimp and silver shad.
While the jet set gawk from the beach,

I’m laughing, and the fish break
every line there is, diving deep,
some of us dreaming we never wake,
some dreaming we never sleep.