VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Shane Allison

Litany for Jarret Keene

Jarret can I ask you a question?

Well more like a few questions.

Have you written any poems lately?

And if so, have you written any poems about pickles recently?

What about tighty-whities?

Do you have any poems about potted soil I could borrow?

Have you ever written poems about dry, cracked lips?

Jarret do you have any poems about chewing gum

Or cranberry-colored carpet cutters?

Jarret what about a poem about Lou Diamond Philips?

Got any Lou Diamond Philip poems or poems about Siamese cats?

Can you get me a moped for Christmas

With a poem about it taped to the exhaust pipe?

You got any Joyce Dewitt poems lying around?

Can I have a bite of your danish?

Could you write a poem about my taking a bite of your danish?

I could use a good platinum wig poem

And poems about nylon stockings and durags.

You got any poems like this anywhere in your possession?

Jarret when you write that poem about the chiliburger,

Can you copy a few copies for me?

Better yet, can I get some chili cheese fries

Wrapped in wide ruled notebook paper with a poem

About chili cheese fries written on it?

Remember those series of poems about Marilyn Manson

You said you were planning on writing?

Can I have one?

Jarret do you have any poems about hermaphrodites

Or poems about charbroiled chicken?

Or how about that poem you wrote about

Charbroiled-chicken eating hermaphrodites?

Do you still have that one?

Remember that bad dream you told me about, Jarret?

Did you write a poem about it?

Have you written any sonnets lately or a maybe a villanelle?

Can you write me a villanelle about pimple cream?

Would it be too much to ask, Jarret, 

If you could write me a poem about Timothy Busfield?

Got any poems about radioactive urine in Rice Krispies?

Or if you have a poem or two about pissing in cereal,

That would be so neat.

Jarret can you do me a favor?

Can you possibly write a poem about this dead

Armadillo I saw in the road once?

I need a coconut poem.

I need a poem about pink elephants and pig feet

Pickled in pig feet juice, Jarret. 

Do you think you can write them?

I need a hockey puck poem, a monkey wrench poem

And a poem about wax fruit.

Jarret do you know anyone who has written

Poems about Tammy Faye?

Do you think you can write a sonnet on Tammy Faye?

I need it by Thursday.

This poem you wrote about deep fried chicken fingers

I’ve been hearing so much about, can you fax it to me?

I might put an anthology of poems together about kiwi milkshakes.

Do you have anything that fits this theme?

You know what I need, Jarret?

I need a Dana Plato poem.

I need some poems about anal beads and shrimp forks.

Jarret can you write me a poem about dust mops?

Jarret I want you to write seventy or so poems

About cum in shag carpet in a purple van. 

Think you can do that?

Can you write about my hemorrhoids?

Can you write something about that bad case of anal warts I had last year?

I need a poem about chopsticks and anti lock brakes.

I need a Beau Bridges poem.

I need that, and a poem written about Anne Bancroft eating peach cobbler.

Think you can handle that?

If you can, tell me about it in a poem.

Medicine Cabinet

Opened the medicine cabinet

and out came ear drops.

The ear infection stopped

then out came cold and flu tablets.

The tablets were expired

then out came shoe polish.

After buffing my shoes to a high shine,

out came hair gel.

Rubbed the gel thoroughly through

and out came deodorant.

Rolled the deodorant beneath hairless armpits

and out came athlete’s foot powder.

Sprinkled the powder between my itchy toes

and out came medicated body lotion.

Massaged the lotion within the roughest, toughest

Parts of my body and out came arthritis pain pills

A little too young for pills of this sort,

so out came cologne.

splashed its sent on a shaven face,

then out came toothpaste.

Brushed until my gums bled

then out came alcohol.

Poured alcohol on the wounds made after self-mutilation,

then out came lip balm.

Smeared the lip balm across fat, cracked lips

then out came iron supplements.

Took the iron supplements

‘cuz the doctor said, “You’re a little anemic,”

Then out came nasal decongestant.

Cleared up my sinuses, then out came

a nail clipper. Clipped my toenails

over a toilet bowl of blue water, then out came anti-itch cream.

Rubbed the itch cream on all that itched,

then out came soap.

Washed all of my 2000 parts

then that was that

Poem for Charles Bernstein

Charles Bernstein understands the human heart

    I wish Charles Bernstein ruled the world

   Because of Charles Bernstein, I stay off the wrong side of the tracks

Charles Bernstein reminds me of Benny Hill

   I touch the whiskers on Charles Bernstein’s cat

Charles Bernstein says I could sleep in the basement

   I dream I could be a great teacher like none other than Charles Bernstein

   I cry because Charles Bernstein cries, too

   I touch myself when thinking of Charles Bernstein wandering around inside me

   I hear Charles Bernstein’s motor bike rumbling down Martin Luther King Boulevard

   I hear Charles Bernstein reading poetry at some crummy dive on the lower east side

    Charles Bernstein is surrounded by flowers

   I touch my lips when I see Charles Bernstein on stage

   I taste the medicine Charles Bernstein gives me for my bronchitis

   I imagine Charles Bernstein writing in my dreams

   I am the man of the house when Charles Bernstein is gone

    Charles Bernstein brainwashed me into believing that I’m a platypus

   I smell Charles Bernstein’s freshly baked cherry pies

   I wish Charles Bernstein would stop cheating off my math test

   My mother is having Charles Bernstein over for dinner

   I say that Charles Bernstein can read my thoughts

   Without Charles Bernstein, things are sour and bitter

   I hear Charles Bernstein still and silent

   Wish I could speak a little more like Charles Bernstein

   I see and remember Charles Bernstein

   I know I am the illegitimate son of Charles Bernstein

   Because of Charles Bernstein, I am a potter

   I imagine Charles Bernstein standing on snow-capped mountains

   I don’t want to think about what my life would be like without Charles Bernstein

   You say you never stopped loving me, I say there is someone else, and his name is Charles Bernstein

   I don’t love you the same way I love Charles Bernstein

   Why do I wonder so about Charles Bernstein

   I feel this wall separating me and Charles Bernstein

   I try to overcome my fear of loneliness, but without

   The almighty words of Charles Bernstein, it’s near

   Impossible I enjoy small talk and big lies shared by Charles Bernstein

   Don’t you love this mink coat Charles Bernstein bought me

   I wish I was a Buffalo, New Yorker like Charles Bernstein

   I say things no one else understands except Charles Bernstein

   Imagine Charles Bernstein wearing a pink bunny suit

   I hope Charles Bernstein will come to my house and play Yahtzee with me

   I see Charles Bernstein in the fog of Manhattan

   I wonder if Charles Bernstein knows if I will ever get married

   I see Charles Bernstein looking back at me in the mirror

Charles Bernstein invited me to stay the week at his condo in Aspen

AUNT BOBBIE IS MY FAVORITE ON MY DAD’S SIDE

Aunt Bobbie put in 16 years at Extended Care.

She gossips with her friend Elenore

on picnic benches during lunch breaks.

They say she’s doing crack again.

Sells television sets and wholesale outfits to gold tooth drug dealers.

She takes care of babies of girls who party all night 

with golden boyfriends. Aunt Bobbie doesn’t want to be found.

She doesn’t want anybody to see her this way.

Her sisters have given up, thrown up their hands like white flags.

Her brothers have had enough. 

Shawn, her only son, is ashamed and doesn’t want her for a roommate.

Aunt Earline, who creates magic in the kitchen, who makes the best jelly cake,

doesn’t want Aunt Bobbie in the house.

She gave her clothes, soap to wash her ass

and three square meals on the good plates

from her china cabinet.

Aunt Alice doesn’t have room in her heart for a drug addict grown up.

Bodies pack in every crack and crevice of a three-bedroom house.

Aunt Norris doesn’t trust her.

She could run off with my jewelry and sell it for drugs.

Anyway, my son is coming home from the army and she can’t be here.

“If only you knew how hard she worked,” mama said.

Aunt Bobbie is my favorite on my dad’s side.

Third cousins talk about her like a legend.

She used to laugh loud at family reunions.

She used to be pretty.

Will someone help her?

Help her like Uncle Howard,

like Uncle Weed falling down drunk on the living room floor.

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