OLD CHORISTERS & Further Poems by E M Schorb

OLD CHORISTERS

Singers                                                                 Look

of our generation                                                 from

are turning up                                                      a high bridge,

dead. A serial                                                       as highway god,

killer                                                                     he drops

is injecting                                                            stones on old bones!

them                                                                     Even the sap

with corona                                                          of trees is worried

plus cancer                                                          up the trunk

heart disease                                                        as the killer

and stroke                                                            waits

This police                                                           for an autumnal

silhouette                                                             weariness of

of the killer                                                           leaves.

isn’t made                                                             I am

of his head                                                            Time’s agent

and shoulders,                                                      his tool

but of his                                                              he brags.

twisted mind,                                                       Singers

made                                                                     of our generation

of a brain                                                              think that this

to answer                                                              is a serial crime,

for his crimes                                                       but have

of torture                                                              no choice

perpetrated                                                           but to

on so many                                                           become ringers

choristers.                                                             and to pull

With a rough                                                        the ropes

cat-tongue                                                            and toll

he licked flesh                                                      the bell.

from bones

and made

the others

mercy-kill

to make

amends.

 

MY WAR WITH ROACHES

                            Pitt Street, Lower East Side

 

I looked into a half-filled beer bottle

left opened and standing out,

saw six dead roaches floating atop the stale, flat beer.

I was disappointed.

I could have drunk the stuff.

I had no aversion to warm, stale, flat beer,

and had learned to put a head on it

by dropping an Alka-Seltzer tablet into it.

But I wasn’t about to drink beer that had

six dead roaches floating in it,

bodies like boats and legs like oars raised up,

so aimlessly.

The place was filthy.

I needed order!

 

I went out, bought roach spray,

sprayed the walls, up and down,

back and forth, until billowing clouds

of poison were closing on me from every corner.

It was bitter cold out, but I knocked the

cardboard out of the windows

and let the fresh frosty air suck the poison

out from under my nose.

I blocked the windows again.

I surveyed the carnage.

Roaches of all sizes and shapes were swarming

over the walls, dropping from the cracked ceiling

with small, ticking sounds and

rocking on their curled, chitinous backs,

flicking, flailing, their feelers drooping.

 

The kitchen gas range was a stronghold,

a fortress of greasy grooves and baked-in crevices.

I lit the oven and watched until the top

of the stove glowed red.

Out they came by the swarming hundreds,

feet burned away, feelers melting

into kinky hairs. They ran over the stove

in desperation, panic, trying to find places

where they could put their feet.

Expectant mothers, their eggs in chitinous cases

at their rear ends, struggled with their hindmost legs,

as with an instinct to save their offspring,

to force or kick the cases loose.

Some had their cases dangling

by only one side when they leaped

from the top of the stove.

As they landed on the floor and tried to crawl,

with their burnt feet, their dragging, kinked feelers,

with their wings askew, and their dangling,

thread-hanging egg cases, I sprayed them madly

then trampled, kicked, jumped up and down on them,

only wanting them dead.

I saw a fat, hideous albino roach,

already like the pale ghost of its dead self,

leap from the stove.

I squashed it underfoot and swore

I could hear its white shell crack and

spray the pale muck of its insides out: squish!

When I lifted my shoe it dragged itself,

like animated pus, into a heap of glittering

brownish bodies. Thousands of crooked legs

moved sluggishly—then, here and there,

with sudden convulsive speed—

over the place where the ghost had gone.

 

On the wall was a wooden plaque

that held sets of false teeth, an exhibit,

sold by a dental supply firm to dentists.

It belonged to an artist friend who was to use it

for some arcane artistic purpose

but who had forgetfully left it here.

I grabbed the plaque from the wall

and mashed it down atop this horrible mass

of half life. Then I jumped on it, up and down,

not distinguishing the sound of the breaking teeth

from the sound of roaches snapping on the stove

like popcorn. When I looked down

there were rolling and bouncing human teeth

among the slimy dead and still crawling.

Sakyamuni says they will live again.

Needed: Sneaky Pete, pot, peyote.

 

 

Schorb’s work has appeared in Agenda (UK), The American Scholar, The Carolina Quarterly, The Hudson Review, The Southern Review, Stand (UK), The Sewanee Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, The North American Review, Poetry Salzburg Review (AU), The Yale Review, and Oxford Poetry (UK), among others.

His collection, Murderer’s Day, was awarded the Verna Emery Poetry Prize and published by Purdue University Press, and a subsequent collection, Time and Fevers, was the recipient of the Writer’s Digest International Self-Published Award for Poetry and also an Eric Hoffer Award.

Most recently, his novel R&R a Sex Comedy was awarded the Beverly Hills Book Award for Humor.

 

 

 

Robin Ouzman Hislop is Editor of Poetry Life and Times at Artvilla.com ; You may visit Aquillrelle.com/Author Robin Ouzman Hislop about author & https://poetrylifeandtimes.com See Robin performing his work Performance (University of Leeds)