Two Poems By Daniel Carter

by Mark Bibbins, Editor

A Working Bear

They say he was good at picking pockets,
especially if you were wearing pants.
It’s hard to get your jaw around, much
less your heart. So ‘less you forget,
the fighting’s to be done in the hallway,
the loving in the tub on the cedar deck.
I’ll be the pommel, you be the horse.
Be negotiable. Be kind, decline.
So many ducks walked into a bar
that the janitor had a hell of a morning.
So, a miniature duck walked into
a bar. The bartender said, “Well,
this should make the janitor happy.”

Notes and Propositions from Space

1. My age in lightyears is none.

Dear Timothy, I built it
totally twenty-first century,
but I’m afraid parabolic
curves failed to cure
blank-wall syndrome — 
please send a Hawaiian
landscape that moves.

New entry: flying fortress meets Flynt’s penthouse — 
invitations to include illustrations of spacesuit-pajamas.
Do hope you’ll come.

Games: Rings Around Saturn,
Slipping the Dry Dock,
I Missed the Tang,
Space Walk & Weld My Rivets,
My Lover’s the Moon,
Jogging in Circles,
Zero G Bingo,
One Man Recon

2. I hope we’ll always be binary.

Her airline’s lost to the refracted
supernova off my prow, and breath only
blurs the glass your lips can touch.
Still — if my favorite dream comes
knocking when I’m play-navigating
through the twinkle of Taurus’ eye,
sleep-lost and not better-able — 
I have a space-arm but lack
the heart to reach out and use it.

3. You can’t flip a coin in space.

Four haikus for the famous fall men of the stars:

Albert I: Albert, we’ve put in
your request for air — but who
takes orders from apes?

Albert II: How to avoid death
by impact: attach a chute
to a monkey’s back.

Albert III: Albert III, your death
was no accident — V2s
are built to explode.

Albert IV: Albert IV: also
dead on impact, but at least
he made it to space.

4. Hard science is a solitary pursuit.

I’m having trouble balancing
priorities — inside it’s all buttons
and dials, and outside

you ask questions my calculator
can’t answer. I made a grid
for you — you blew condensation

into improbable existence,
drew with your human
finger the outline of a heart.

5. I’m worried that you’re a space ghost with no medium.

Does the Prince of Pisces VII steal the show?
Who intervenes when the minister’s down?
“Tell Nero to can his drives and return Lady Diligent — 
surface command grows impatient.”
Three cheers for Lady Diligent — she swept
the DMZ, and the loneliness went away.

Dear mom, thinking of starting a toothpaste company.
Probably call it Rocket Fuel.

6. Relativity’s important, but I’m not moving.

Progress comes in the form
of mice-in-cages, of night-terrors, of man-
alone-in-a-tin-can. I’m taking steps to merge

astro-fluff with ether and frequencies
with astral knockings. I’m trying
to translate the conjurer’s talk, but it leaves

me cold, cold and waiting for magic.

Daniel Carter lives in Columbus, OH.

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