Life is for us to keep

Vol XII: Life Is For Us to Keep

Paul Handley spent a career as a student and a student of odd jobs.  He has an MA, an MPA, and is ABD.  He has driven a cab and sold meat door-to-door.  Paul has poems included or forthcoming in publications such as Anemone Sidecar, Boston Literary Magazine, Honey Land Review, Red Fez and others.



Monster means like all get-out.
Giving one hundred and ten percent.

Monster Mash set an early and
insurmountable bar for Dr. Demento

Monster announces itself with a gleam
and the query how should they be treated
socially, legally and medically?

Monster trucks are beloved by children,
depending on the dreams of mom
during gestation.

Monster drinks can cause caffeine rage
and cerebral asymmetry.

Monster pull-see truck above.

Monsters are misunderstood with formless souls
that are roasted molten and twisted by suspicion.

Monsters create heroes by defeat.

Monster can be innuendo.
My hoover is a monster.

Monsters are overripe on the vine.
Like old men with skin cracking and juice dribbling down bumpy chins,
hoping to cling to a tree of filial piety. 

Monsters want respectable recognition
from those they don’t have any regard and they know it.

Monster flattery-you were a monster out there.

Monster describes all people in certain criminal categories regardless
or in spite of a horrific upbringing or dashed mental status.

Monsters are Sartre’s other people,
especially a soulless conjoined twin
that wants its siblings.

Monsters are little mischievous kids
when they originate from two species
like flying fish.

If monsters can appear like us both
outside and under their skin
how can we be comfortable in ours?

Monsters are Gulliver in Lilliput.
Monsters are created by a pain in the gulliver.

Monsters are handsome people that are disfigured
by an accident or style choices.

I’m going to go monster on you or
I am afflicted by monster have yet to be defined.

Monster elite like vampires have box seats
at the theatre, while Gorgons are shunned
partly due to disbelief there are more than one.

Monsters are not aliens. 
Or are they? Perhaps,
it depends on length of residence on earth.
Let’s go with half a decade.

A monster can be a prototype of the future.
An evolution jumper that we
recognize as a present threat.



Doghouse Wanted

I have become the family dog.
The goldfish died and it is too cold
for extended leash training.

I pant, threaten tantalizingly close licks,
and spasm the opposite leg when an ear
is scratched.
My housebroken stage
exceeds my toddler daughter.

I earn money, don’t chew tripod legs,
do basic math, have my inoculations,
and protective instincts.

Spring arrives and I am traded up
for a dumb friend’s league pooch,
terms I unnecessarily resent like alien or Dick.



Yolks Like Moons or Language Dominatrix

A page blanketed with words that cannot be seen is my goal
since communication is inherently steered to have meaning for the speaker
apart from the receiver,

and any assent or dissent is leapt upon as proof
of joining the matrix of the speaker’s essence.

The blank page allows the speaker to have a say without inflicting the
power trip upon the receiver.  In turn, the receiver is allowed to
interpret what has been said and disregard the messenger.

As such, the receiver of this poem is not a passive receptacle
but may choose to read it as an ad hominem attack on the speaker.

What’s for dinner is the language of the oppressor, since
the word dinner may be encased in symbolism either on a conscious
or unconscious level for the oppressor.

The word dinner may also have a long and winding history
that may have ended with an ancestor’s subject or two twisting in the wind
if the vittles were overdone or what have you.

What’s for dinner is the language of the oppressed, since as seen above,
tradition has demonstrated that whoever is making dinner
has usually been trampled upon, unless you were Cat de Medici.

The dilemma in this poem is that poets are inherently oppressors,
firmly tamping down, as fits a poetic mien, verses onto the oppressed,

tampering, however so slightly with the attributes of words
as forged by the reader over a life of signifiers.

Particularly, if the receiver is who we think they are.
Thus, invisible ink never revealed is the answer.



Passé Iconic

You were embarrassed how the movie aged. 
A film you loved so well that you would cite
it as part of your identity of a pop culture window
to you that would not be stored in the basement
with other memorabilia.  Worst of all, another
touchstone had to be found or did it?
Would it mean I had given up,
like not even a finger-comb before going out?

It ID’ me as old.  It was only 35 years old,
how could it be a relic so soon? 
If Plato dropped in would he be dismissed
because he didn’t know the initials J.F.K.?
Become a street person for an inability to relate?

It had been chosen with care-timeless music (so far),
great performances, but people don’t get married
in their early twenties anymore and obsessive love
is now hindered with a restraining order,
blatant christian imagery reserved for orthodox auteurs.
The replacement has to be a cultural watershed.
Important without being ponderous,
not too cool or would be of the moment,
a twisted and uncomfortable tangle with mores,
or maybe I will run a marathon.



Life Is For Us To Keep

Laying on a smooth surface of
my brain is a place, where no
activity has ever been recorded by an electrode,
but when I sit at Denny’s
for a long period of time
sipping my bottomless cup,
glancing up from my scribbles
to consider a cream pie,
I haven’t tasted since I was

a temple pulse is visible from
three uniform distance tables away.
The wait staff has at times asked about
my health, eyeing my bubbling,
subterraneous eye or sir,
maybe I can get you a 7up?
I barely acknowledge them,
not because of anger, but
because of pure joy.

I have an image of
drinking Pina Coladas on a Peace Train,
from the 70’s love songs on my
Ipod.  Dismissed by music critics since
they didn’t flaunt drug use or don
glitter mascara.
Sara smile and making it with you,
all laudable goals for an idyllic Saturday afternoon,
outside Denny’s window, in the strip meadow,
between the parking lot and the highway.




Where is Uncle Cochise?
That spawn of a peyote
fired sweat hut, when Grandma
was on the res, but off the
commune.  His bio dad a
full-blooded wannabe to
wallow in the cycle of
gambling and drinking,
“they” had been forced into
over a century ago, but still
had to keep up the back to
roots routine that only went
back a couple hundred years,
like all of us or my tribe would
commemorate by pinning a
pliosaurus with a
sharpened branch to a
dirt embankment.

Cochise embezzled hundreds
of thousands.  Small time
really, to avenge his matriarchal
ancestors that were serfed
out, invaded over the ages by
nearly every nationality, or
tenuously attached group on the
continents of Europe and Asia
plus a smattering from the
remaining continents.

His soul communicated that he
had existed since all souls
were released from the guff.  This
Adam Smith apostle, that
never had a qualm about
the pension system he
bankrupted, could expound
for hours about the
conspiracy of the so-
called dark ages, wreaked upon
his folk to discourage outrunning the
plague and keep admission
prices low at the museum,
sometimes would, alone in
his corner with a tumbler
of excellent whiskey.

We feared this self-professed
old soul had gone onto
another life to escape the
prison sentence.  There
always being another one.



Pity Party

Miniscule is my misery
When placed in a deserted baseball
Stadium without hot dog vendors
To acknowledge my cash shortage,
Or having beer spilled onto my head
From a triumphant fist.

Nothing is sadder than a private
Cry that doesn’t draw an
Averted gaze, attuned to the
Shameful.  Public humiliation is a
Spectacle much more satisfying
Than keeping loose interspersed with positioning.

Would heads drop in unison like upraised fists?
Or the bitter become a kind of
Contagion not to tear up sod and
Bases, but to kick cement stairs in despair,
A seventh inning lament of Send In The Clowns,
And hugging bleacher bums tight for consolation.

The phone call from my brother
Is not tapped by the FBI.
Our father’s death seems squeezed into my ear,
And seep from tissue to blood as I move
To fill in my new apartment, to squelch echoes.


Marrow of Breath

My halitosis from the garlic
infused and crusted pesto
is compatible with the alcohol that ratchets
out of my pores in waves.
I OD’d on both.

The all night sex rumpus
that Tuesday night
causes the barista to avoid direct
touching Wednesday
as we exchange the
tools of purchase,
money, receipt, good mornings,
respectively tentative and auto.

Makes me think that basic hygiene erases
the vestiges of personality for others to
recognize and perhaps even me.
Let me wallow in my stink
for an hour or two and reminisce
of times not framed, deleted.
For presentation.