“Absurd” by Caleb Alexander

Today, Lise and Kolleen Carney-Hoepfner explore “Absurd” by Caleb Alexander, submitted to Zoetic Press for the Viable chapbook series.

Yodeling Yogi

“What are your intentions today?”
She asks and pauses for 5 seconds,
like that’s enough time, or that there is
enough time.
What are my intentions today?
I intend to become immortal,
so that I can nap for a while.
What are my intentions for this?
Is there even a way to avoid
Deja Entendu with the answer?
And why do I care so much about
saying something original?
What are your intentions old crow?
With your medicine showing
through a glass door cabinet.
Anti-aging creams, vitamins,
a lesson in longevity,
so we can live a little longer,
keep asking questions, thinking
there is poetry hidden
in the answers.

Ode to a small South Carolina town

I could spell out your name,
maybe even a fun nickname Alex
called you on ironic afternoons spent
eating Wendy’s and watching Scorsese
movies. The easy thing to do would
be to make jokes. Point out racism,
sexism, homophobia. Instead,
I’ll conjure up an image of a group
of teenagers, laughing on a train
trestle, in a park we weren’t supposed
to be in after dark, on tracks that hadn’t
been used since the town died
with the textile mills. Cops bored
enough to look for us, tracing
the echoes of our laughter for a clue
something wasn’t right.

April Showers

Your cigarette hangs like a candle
wick beside an antique wicker
chair. Three cheers to being locked
outside on a balcony with your spring-
time sad books. I’d like to add
that nothing stoic ever hurts too bad,
but I’ve seen you weep over Seneca’s
forced suicide. Sometimes being stitched
back up is the really painful bit,
but today, galoshes sit damp in your foyer,
yesterday’s puddles pooling on linoleum.

periodic cell rotation

There’s a difference between
hoping for the best and doing nothing,
and I don’t much feel like starting,
but I hope one day I will.

There’s a difference between
who I am and who I used to be,
but I still act like Theseus is my name
when someone asks.

I wonder which cell cluster
told me to write this.

I wonder which one made me
wonder that.

Invisible Gardener Problem

I sometimes start
a sentence
before I really even know
where it might just maybe/
perhaps end up; oh there
it is. And lately I’ve been thinking
about unicorns in the sky
sprinkling sickness and health
and wondering:
if they can do both,
are they really doing anything
at all?

Fighting Flight

I’ve heard that after Jaws
was released
some people feared
the bathtub.

There are tales of sewer
gators in underground grates,
greatly exaggerated
I’m sure.

We’ve all read about
spiders, dying and birthing
in our mouths
while we sleep.

Bigfoot, mothmen,
thunderbirds, and mermaids,
krakens cracking open
wooden ships.

And with all of that said,
the thing that really fears
sure death, are the millions
of cells, that use you
for bread.

islands And men

Solipsism is the only one
thing that I can’t be bothered by
thinking too deeply about
because, you see, I am
only one
of those guys
and you are
only one
of those girls,
and I can’t yet tell if that’s a creation
or a construct or a fact.
I think I have my own
thing. But I just haven’t found it,
or maybe I gave all
of those abilities
to You.

April 28, 1998:
Golden Gate Suicide

50 and 25 go for a walk
one day through golden
Gate arches. 25 asks
if 25 more will make
much of a difference. 50
says “not in my experience.” 25
jumps into San Francisco Bay. 50
hesitates for a moment. Maybe 25
seconds or so, then follows accordingly
into the water that’s never quite as warm
as you might expect.

Dead-beat-to-death

Farewell to the fair,
well at least as far
as the well fared before
the accident that affected
your welfare.

Little Timmy trapped, Lassie
yelping to firemen, the whole
nine. And I guess you never
really recover

from these sorts of things,
you just dream about them always
when you think, “well fair is fair” and
“nothing
is
free”

Ear Drum Beat

Predictably at some point
probability says I’m going to get
the wrong cup of water
in my ear. Flesh eating
bacteria, the whole 9

yards.

(Did you know that phrase
is an epistemological
wet dream?)

I want to write poetry
like jazz. Personal truth
mixed with a universal
one,

and hope it gets l
o
s
t

in enough noise sometimes
that it sounds familiar. And hope
there’s a steady drummer
somewhere to fill
in the transitions
that don’t make

s
e
n s
e.

Anthropology

Photos at a funeral have only been
a thing for less than 200
years, photos of every street
corner for less than 20.
The corner store has been torn
down for at least 2.
But google doesn’t seem
to know.

You told me that pictures
won’t be able to lie to future
historians or statisticians,
so I showed you Bigfoot, mermaids,
Sci-fi cinemas, moon landings, moon
fakings, giants’ bones, Martha
Stewart and Bill O’Reilly, cave
paintings of hybrid hominids,
fertility statues,
emojis.

Pepe Silvia

What does it say about us
that solitary confinement drives us
insane? What does it say that half
of us remember Berenstein
and a non-redemptive Mandela?
My brain developed
to be an inventor,
but I can’t create
a way out, or proof
that overwhelms solipsistic
dream worlds. I think I’ll just take
a walk, maybe clean
the dishes.

I Feel Fine

Did any dinosaurs go extinct with their heads
looking up? A fireball screaming across
the heavens to remind us that the Earth
has never been the center of anything
besides a chaotic bullseye from time
to time.

The rodents that scurried along the forest
floor, were no longer something to ignore
they changed and grew, invented the blues,
until another meteor evens the
score.

And then at last, we’ll be the past,
the Earth will take another path,
it will repeat, beneath our feet,
until the insects learn to laugh.

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