VOICES FROM THE FIRE: Duane Vorhees

MALPRACTICE

Though ambulances full of years have passed

I’m dependent on drugs, crutches, and slings.

My condition continues to get worse.

I still carry some fragments of our past.

Plagued by the bad, I forget our good things.

Time was my doctor, Amnesia my nurse.

DOUBLING THROUGH

the eating and the eaten

the rower and the drowned

we play two-handed poker

under allday-breakfast sky

solar yolk and lunar white

the cosmic egg is broken

my IQ equals ice cube

while i consume my whiskey

and my packs of cigarettes

my cigarettes and whiskey

are active consuming me

ELVIS, OEDIPUS, AND AKHNATON

Three wizened kings sipped and swapped their yarns

about hound dogs, a sphinx, and the sun.

Confusions among daughters, wives, and moms

seem commonplace, they wisely agreed.

“Is fate how we see, or how we’re seen?”

“Beauty is deformity’s trophy.”

“Am I isolated by greatness?”

“Have I passed or have I failed the test?”

“Did crowd gravity make me weightless,

or did I fly up in levity?”

“By grinning against adversity,

I won’t end obese, blind, and defaced.”

“Shall music, honor, or religion

yet bridge our world’s fissures and schisms?”

“If legend persists against reason,

it matters not. Let’s down another!”

“To all our followers and lovers.”

“To all the memories we gather.”

THE MYTHIC ARCHAIC CUB, HIS MANDALAS, AND ME

I wait here still for the wise old man

and his chatter of universal traits,

how they shape my acts like hands

on a potter’s wheel (but hereditary, innate).

“Archetypes are to psychology

as instincts to biology.”

I sit in his psyche, peeling my mandarins,

and wonder, is this a proper asana?

Some tables down someone plays a red mandolin

and my self stifles respondent hosannas.

My me was always confused by the we,

and I was never the one I used to be.

I used to take my tea with cream

but now I prefer lemon.

Why do I have all these dreams

about so many different women?

Decades have passed like clouds over seas

as I searched for any available lee.

The minutes pass like birds in flight

and my shadow cowers in shadows

I interpret as monstrous daytime nights.

Mandolinist fingers dissolve into adders.

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