Scouting Reports

The mousetrap on the table between silver worn
utensils. Stir over a saucer.
A cup spills. Then two mice snapped under, gripped
between a spoiled bean. Never knew it wasn’t
cheese.
A seamstress sews them bodies to nice linens, cuts
when company comes over. Only important though.
Roaches have been tacked to the floor, just beneath a
window sill, where
frozen bug spray drips them to permanent sleep.
Lethal. Last seen leaving the movies. Took
a double taste.
For every death, 1 million sperm, strong, and a fresh
egg to hold them.
For every death, halfwords spread like sour anythings.
Anti-children are taking over. Go war during the week.
Come home on weekends.
Trade generators for prostitutes.
And ever since tripping over his 140 characters
for a final time,
the Secretary of Offense has tried to fix
his Doomsday device.
Said, “my God ate my homework”, but never mind,
there’s a riot in the Complaint Department.
This is carpentry, a darker version, rippled
sentences on wet paper. Words once written
underwater, when Mars was still alive,
when Earth was a virgin.

 

a poem’s tattoo

When love fails me, I turn to material things:
spot on home décor, proper wardrobe additions, a dash of fashion accents,
slick kitchen utensils, sleek technological gadgets, distinguished grooming gear.
Yet after 10-15 business days, the sum of which gets as close as one can get
to the whole of a half measure without becoming mathematically abstract.
Oh, but now I have a stage curtain hanging over the brick wall in my bedroom,
and diamond shaped pancakes for whenever I awake from this American dream.

When love fails me, I turn to social situations:
friends, friends of friends, associates close enough to be called friends,
some not so close, strangers close enough to be called associates.
Many of them were born in the suburbs, but not the same suburb.
Though all suburbs all the same. The only difference is what the city does to them.
The same city. Some of them are building an army. Some of them are building
an audience with the promise of real estate on abandoned M class planets.

And speaking of honest thieves on two-timing planets, here’s an ideal time to bring
up red smurfs. Though no one believes me about red smurfs, for I am not famous.
So I pretend to be famous when bringing them up. Those closest to me say with
the twang of a black/white TV show, “You sure do spout off a lot there, Johnny LongSleeves.
And ones not so close, they fix their lips to call red smurfs evil. Though they don’t know once you call red smurfs evil, that’s when they’ve got you.

And I don’t tell them that the curse of the red smurfs is much stronger than I thought. But I must be stronger than I thought, because if not, I would’ve never discovered where red smurfs come from. And I don’t say where red smurfs come from, for they might think I’m a freak. Indeed, I might be a freak, but that doesn’t mean I’ll say where red smurfs come from.

Instead, I’m off to catch the last act of a one-act play, leaving in the same manner
that the summer ended without a climax, where I got to the end of my rope,
only to find there’s more rope. I climb down just to come up from under pumpkins
that used to be people. I scrawl out the names of people who used to be poems.
And after happening together in this circumstance for so many seasons, red smurfs
believe I must be one of them. They beg me to sing, so I sing,
One day I’ll be the King of New Year’s Eve. But for now just call me Johnny LongSleeves.
And when I am the King of New Year’s Eve, just call me Johnny LongSleeves.”
And red smurfs dance a little dance atop what was once a poem’s tattoo.

 

Polished

Stars align
unashamed of the darkness
surrounding them.
Polished,
like a toddler’s wet galoshes
or politician’s personality.
Stars align.
The only sound they make
gets suffocated in the silence of light
and simmers out along with
the rays of a magnetic sun setting
in the imaginations of two lovers
who haven’t aged a day
except for the day they part.
Imagine a sad holiday,
a lullaby without softness.
When even an ant stands no better chance
in a sand lot than in does in a cat’s litter box.
There are those who take comfort in the fact
that eventually, the reset button is pressed
at the exact instance an attempt is made
to explain tomorrow to a toddler.
It’ll be difficult to make sense of it
without getting fed up or seeking
council from the niched-out hero who
personifies arpeggios.

 

Garden of Need

I have been
beyond the Gates
at the Garden of Need
and now my memories
have forgotten me.

I have been
unlocking 1100 foot doors,
crawling the floor of a purple forest,
sliding down black pyramids,
under the spell of a lost cobra.

I have been
tied to the belly of a ram,
snuck into unknown kingdoms,
where children born unto artificial darkness
find their temporal signatures,
where homosuperior toss their tiny ships at satellites.

I have been
beyond the Gates
at the Garden of Need
and now my memories
have forgotten me.

 

John Franklin Dandridge received his M.F.A. in Poetry from Columbia College Chicago. His chapbook, Further Down Rd., was published in 2010 by Fast Geek Press. He has poems published in past issues of Callaloo Journal, Rigorous Journal, New Reader Magazine, Court Green, and Former People. Franklin lives and writes near the North Pond in Chicago, where he also plays electronic music in the band, Screamship, and under the name Wolfgang Gillette.