The Shreveport Poems:
SKULL & BONES
  SONGS

by
Francis D. Grabau
(1/01/04 - 7/15/04)



SHREVEPORT

The Dead
float by on flimsy barges
drifting downstream to New Orleans.

It's time for Mardi Gras, they say, read me passages from
Huckleberry Finn. Backwards.

They're possessed of a strange humour, pose themselves in Renaissance
velvets, in lush silks of crimson and
scarlet draped on their empty bones.

Small  patches of dried skin stretch across their jaws, cling to their bare
vertebrae. Sometimes, they wave
their knuckled fingers, ornately
faceted
rubies, glowing emeralds hang there like eyeballs
fallen from a golden face. They
like to talk to me in that
old black magic
called Voodoo.

All these elegant souls hover in Shreveport.  The Dead claim
they're heading South to that great Coal Sack in the long
forgotten sky. Down to the Gulf they go, down again below
the Equator like Magellanic clouds rounding the Cape of
Good Hope, circling the Cape of Fear signaling some
Morse
code, some baroque Cajun lingo over
their Half-Haitian
brows.

They tell me shrive is a sad sounding word like guilt
seeking release. Hear how it hisses, they laugh, like
small pieces of fish sizzling in the
grease of a
Gumbo.

The Dead say this place is stagnant, a harbor full of
whoring
souls needing forgiveness, unable to
give it. Lost in
Shreveport. Tricky place, full of
gracious
postures. Posers.


Ghosts
dancing inside the Grail, wear purple over
their bones. They keep grinning, very 
French grins. Dip their fingers deep
like
ivory chips into the holy bowl:
bless you,
they click in digital
chorus. 

We never  seem real to them. They are
loose as starlight while we cling
like barnacles to our dull

bodies under
the
Voodoo
 
Moon.

Love, say the Dead, is a kind of liquid bone
burning in the currents of the heart. Who
knows
what they mean by that!

They love to spin their spirals pulling our souls toward them.  Kiss the Grail
just once, they say, and
you're dead too. Your lips taste a different
love in the green
under-light of that other
cauldron.

Drink deep of yourself where the dead
hold you, the way a picture hangs
on a wall.
  Wailing. O, the Grail is
Empty. A round frame
full of
  nothing.

Listen up, Shreveport, God
has no use for guilt, it's
just a crazy
Voodoo
riff. God told me so

herself,

Mardi Gras is coming, it's time
to love your dead, and
all
their bluesy
jazz.



SHROVE TUESDAY

Penance. Penance.
Punish yourself. 

Shrove Tuesday's here, Lent's just around the
corner,  -say the ghosts of Priests,
keys
of the Kingdom hanging from their

belts.  These guys are rock-hard
inside, don't
want to have
fun, don't believe in
that.

They're worker ghosts. Bankers, fiercely American. Don't have
bones like the real Dead, just glow the gray-green
color of
crisp dollar bills.  Poppycocks,
Will 'o the wisps.  Saying
they want
to sell me their indulgences, save my
christian soul. Junk
bonds. Think they need to
shrive me, claim Jesus
founded their Federal
Reserve, -I should welcome him warmly
into
my heart.  Internal Revenue Servants
wanting to invest
me in their
gloom.  Sickly band of sad
sinners, they play upon
my childhood fears,
my hormonal
memories…

Stop pulling on your penis this very minute, Mother
screams entering the room.  Slip those sheets up
over that thing, just what do you think
you’re doing!  God will get you
for that vile sin.  I'm telling
you,
boy, pull up your
sheets.

She thinks she's being clean, responsible -like the Federal
Communication Commission.  She's not fond of sticky
sheets,
says she's tired of washing them. 
Shreveport,

where the good old boys weave the winding sheets
boldly hanging
on the ships’ masts.  Lusty golden
cargoes
down in the boats' bowels. Hidden
like the Pirates who don’t do penance
either. Don’t
believe in it, -Ash
Wednesday or not!

Shrove Day is here and they have
the Saviour as their stowaway
hanging-out in the
hold,
fasting 40 days and 40
nights, getting ready
for his big
passion
play.  Mardi Gras

swells like a thorn in his holy head, a spear in his sacred
side.
Quick, somebody, get the grail, gather all that
gorgeous
blood  in a proper mystic cup. Cook it up
with  hotly seasoned guilt,
some sassy Cajun
crawfish!  Let it congeal. 
Slowly. Turn it into
gold,
money, - Holy
Blood Pudding. 
Look,

how our sins pervert us.  Filthy sex  everywhere.  Grinning
at us from the lips of Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, Bush.  Guilty
as charged, they crow -innocently. Their black
wings
flapping like flags in our faces. God
bless America,
they shout.  God blast

those heathen terrorists.  Smear the mark of Cain upon
their evil brows, the tell-tale dust of
uranium over their
depleted heads,  - Savage Muslims, lousy
Arabs, lazy
Caddos.  Ashes to Ashcroft, cry the Dead, dust to

Waco. The business of wanton smiles. Oily

graciousness.  Polite and
deceptively
mannered.
It's
Fat Cat


Tuesday in Louisiana, time for the King's Cakes. Dead
baby dolls baked into each bite. False Angels

singing extra low frequencies mess with the
circuits in your
brain. Don’t think about it,
Faith is all you need.  Faith in the

Corporate Trinity, the red, white,
and blue blood of the poor

saved by their suffering

flag of Jesus, sent from his Divine Father, the Godhead of the
Celestial Reserve crucified for
your Sins. These are the real
men in black
your dear Momma never told you about. 
But the Dead will:
Barksdale,

hums full of nuclear warheads buried deep in silos of cement, forcing
the Dead from their dirt.  Skulls and Bones. Jolly old Mister
Rogers. Television. Telecom.
Teleport
yourself right
out of here. 

Shreveport, wrapped in secrets, the Bay of
Pigs.  Mardi Gras, Fat
Tuesday in Cajun
French where Freedom fries fall into
the Red River
washing down to
New Orleans, Freedom fries

forming log-jambs the Dead use to build their rafts.  Captain
Henry Miller Shreve.  More Voodoo.  Mudbug 
Madness.

The Dead move inside their shells dreaming of crawfish - Magical
jumbalaya.  A Nation wrapped in sticky sheets, sweet
magnolias, mockingbirds. 

Shrove Tuesday, feast of Skull & Bones, radiation
ceremonies.  Bombs
baptized in hot perfumes
from laissez-faire
religion.  Mad people
disease.  Gallant
eels afloat in the
Southern swell of richly
gobbled
prions.  A true blue
(and bless
your little heart)

Confederacy of Dunces. Happy Mouseketeers.
Weaponeers  surfing subliminal waves of
Holy
Mass Destruction. 

Burning Crosses like
good victims
shrouded in their white sheets,
in the hidden hoodoo
of the 
racist voodoo of their
gracious Ku Klux Klan.

O yes
, Miss Scarlet,
ride
the Rapture
of the Righteous
 

Whirlwind!



CARNIVAL

You got no sense of humor, my friends like to tell me.  Always
filling your head with Dark thoughts.  Cheer up, kiddo, it's
Carnival time. My friends are

funny.  Quaint.  Downright
queer,  -if you ask me,
and I
know you
won't.  The

Dead

are my other friends.  Mockingbirds.  They
cover
the sticks of their flimsy barges in
fragments of silver and
gold, are their
own Skull & Bone Society.  Grin

as they pass on the bayou air. 
Oleanders.
 

Real Bonesmen never eat at Burger King.  Ketchup is their
idea of perfect
gloom. I give them lots of room in my
Shreveport life.  But
then, -I always have.  Born
dead, I guess, in marble-stepped
Baltimore.
Reading Edgar Allan Poe in Row houses.
Carnival
time means

farewell to meat. I drink coffee, smoke cigarettes,
instead.  Blowing second-hand smoke on the air
keeps my friends at their
much needed
distance, let's me feel whispy.  Smoke
and mirrors mark my medicine way
or, as the Dead always say,

-your poison is your path. 

Improbable masks cover the meat of our bones.  Trap us
flat
inside our flesh.  Sometimes the Dead think we're 
Zombies, see us as the Undead, ask
hard questions,
-like why do we look past them when
they have
something to say and want to play.  Kids

chanting in chorus,

Am I Ssi Ssi Pee Pee I ?

sounding by the Red
River.

The silt of their stately song flows downstream
where native
blood from Shreveport joins
the Mississippi, making
mud-bug
madness in the Mardi Gras of
New Orleans.

A macabre sense of humor creeps into me
from the crawfish, I swim in the cauldron

with the Dead. 

Low in the winter trees lining the river, Mockingbirds
sing. They
imitate sounds of Warriors biting King's
Cake in Nuclear Barksdale. The birds

in our perpetual facades warn us: it's always Carnival Time,
our poison is our only
path.  We are the Voodoo Bonesmen
crying farewell
to our meat.  The Dead

welcome this purple humor, find it toxic.  Ironic.  Call it
Hollywood, the curse of the black pearl.  Drink it
down with
stump-hole whiskey crooning
all the while:
  " feu follet "  -they say, you
are our friend   -at last!



POT-POURRI

Silver rain drops drip from arching stems outside
my window.  Wet rose branches
with
no buds in bloom. 

It's February in Fabulous Shreveport, Casino to the largest Rose
Garden in the World.  Day after day
the sunless gray
weather presses in, calls to mind
that Voodoo
gris-gris carried in a sack
around the neck. 
Gris, you know, is
Freedomless French for
good
old American Gray.  Sounds of
Confederate Glee. Gris,
the Dead
like that.

I told you how they floated by last month -just to chew
my bones, give me
the hip-hop juju of their
gris-gris !   Okay, so they say:
'The South Will Rise Again'.

Hold up some huge hypo of a mojo needle, two feet
long -if it's an inch. The glass
intricately wrought
with Arabic
letters, a vial embellished in crude
blobs of stained
light. Shades of purple, ruby,
and emerald green. A Gothic Voodoo

needle. Gleefully

they show it to me, -like grade 'B' actors in a
Frankenstein
flick. Look, they say, today we
shot-up the President, pumped him full of

gris-gris down in Old New Orleans!  They
stand tall, look skeleton proud
.

So what, says I:  -you're all too pig-foot weird for me!  I mean,
I really like your get-up, your barges, your brilliant bones,
but  ... but,

I've got work to do.  My purring computer, my perfect
poems. Can't you take your Movie elsewhere
Oh,

how the grieved Bonesmen brooded then
like low clouds wetting the night
air, -
heavy, dejected, as if they
really
were dead.

You'd think I'd broken their bony little
hearts!  Okay, I say,
let's have it;
just what's that puky looking

stuff in the vial ?

Right away,
the one they call Lafitte
throws his left
bone-arm up, defiantly. 

Where his crimson sleeve
sweeps the air
a panorama unfolds.  America, an

aerial view  -from the Western
Rockies to the
Atlantic
Shores.  Somehow
we're all

suspended there

in the keen electric air
while hypnotically
they croon to me
their Cryptic Tales,
-how

the river is a sacred gumbo,
an enchanted snake,
how run-off dances from North, West, East,
flows South
down the Mississippi through
the murky Bayous to old

New Orleans.  Carries

white toxins, ancient
debris tumbling through its
waters, swirling in the silt. Bones of Lakotas,
Arapaho.  Spirit shards from the
Kiowa, the Caddo, -tribes and
clans too numerous to name
toss in the mix. 

Geronimo stands boldly beside Lafitte. Baudelaire,
feathers from Woodpeckers, Mockingbirds,
Eagles, tremble down the sky. The Dead
say
they've stirred up this potent
Swamp-Pop, a silty
juju juice.
Shot it
through the putrid
flesh
covering Zombie
Bush. Claim it
will
make him
Visible,
seen for what
he really is. 

I
consider them seriously mad, other-worldly, not
pertinent to my life.  They get the point and

disappear.  An Email



drops down from New Orleans.  Marie Laveau laments
how the heavy traffic makes her late for work, how
the goddam President messed up her day.  I find
that
perfectly ludicrous.  Tune in the
radio:  Zombie President, suddenly
Visible, lands in Atlanta.


Bends his knee by the Dream King's Grave. News.
It's another wreath-laying gesture,
another
fake turkey stuffed like a rubber up
the
ass of Iraq. Fade to
black.  Photo -op!

A fund-raising dinner
deep in the folds of the Patriot
South. 
(Protestors line the streets) His trip to the
grave of a Nation's Black Hero marks the
seal
of anthrax on the taxpayer's
backs.  Look,  how the

Twin Towers

topple, watch
while the scapegoat
bleats.  Golly gee, says I to me, another

non-lethal gesture, another quick
double-cross.  O,
Malfaiteur!

Les enfants terribles, les enfants des Ombres! The children of shadows
are restless once more,  Orisas and Loas again are
afoot. Their
message so hauntingly plaintive  -like terrorist
cries of money,
like voices of sulphur and honey !  Must be
that giddy juju,
must be
the Voodoo of the Dead.  Down past the dark
French Quarter
where the trumpet of Sachamo blasts,
deep in the Congo Square beat the drums that
remember the past.

There where the Jazz Moon rises
Old Papa La Bas stands, carves

a cursed name backwards

on the white of a black
hen's egg: 

Egroeg M. Hsub.

O, Pot-pourri. Damballa ! Yoruba ! Here come
the Dead, again. See how they're dancing
and singing,
watch them ecstatically
sway  -while somewhere
a real rose
is blooming and it's
music is pure
mambo
magic, and it's scent is
impeccably

red.



MIDNIGHT IN THE MOCKINGBIRD GARDEN

The cryptic hand that plays the haarp
breaks the heart.

Omerta,
mocks the bird
calling from the trees. No breeze
ruffles her feathers. It's
midnight where the rains
freeze and the temperatures
drop low in
rustic Shreveport.  Cold
water

gleams in the moonlight, cracks
underfoot
where I tread
toward the Dead. 

Each Loa has her mystic pattern. Beckons
through the lacy ice, tells
where
the quick stars come down
to speak:

 -vèvè-

giving light from old to young.  Like the lines folded
in the palm of my
hand, they are the
'fait accompli' or what we
must
hold most dear. Hold

to the bones of your
dead.  They never

'passed over'. 

The Tomb at Yale yawns wide
to swallow me. Eulogia
mumbles her ivy spells,  -dumb euphemisms, false

contentions, spin decrees crying
doom:
" Tout y est faux! " 

No,

say the Dead,
listen to the mockingbird, you
souls
of Shreveport.  Hear how utterly
void of eloquence
Yale's  faux
Eulogia
is: 

Omerta  -the Scarlet curse of hollow
sound that mocks the living song.


Our Saviours are our Dead, the far

Ancestors
singing in our bones.
They urge us play, come to

Carnival, say farewell to
meat.  Eat ourselves


at stroke of Midnight here, in the
Mockingbird's garden
where
bones croon like dry doves

making music all night
long. They
do not

sing of Death, they sing

the
'coup de grace' !

" If ever I should cease to love
no shriving will suffice
to save me."





THE PASSION OF BONESMEN

Seen in the light of day the Dead seem
kinky  -sunlight shining through dry ribs, no
glow of white bone against black sky, no
pale
moonlight or moody mystique, -they just
look flat.  Somber.  Like
the Stickman
 

at the craps game when snake eyes are rolled. No bones
about it,
in Ceasar's palace the die was cast long ago. 
Miserere,
the chorus replies.

Azzah,  chant the Arabs gathering their
dead.  Fling the dice
and win the Fish
Boy's cloak.  The seamless hoax

woven by his sadist Dad,
designed to pull the
whole
house down. 

Sorry, Mister Einstein,
Big Daddy
plays craps with his chosen
boys, keeps his girls on the side
where they
swoon (dolorosa) hot and panting with precious
oils.

Kiss the feet of his only Stickman, and he'll
toss your broken spine
across the table
where he comes again and again
to judge the living and
the dead.  Ah,

consumatum est, and how was it for you.  Dies
irae, dies
illa, say the puppet faithful.  Days of
delicious
wrath spent squirming in guilt.  But 

the Dead know better.  Bare bones sharp against
bright sun, they see how
the dice are
loaded, cut from their own

hard stuff.  They say

it's tough to strike a match in falling rain, see
its spurting flame in solar glare.  All
the
burning Born-Agains
declare: strike

the Stickman, quit the Christ
and
damned if you're not
jinxed. Vile Evil
  riots in
your Soul. Satan


rattles his sulphured chains, sends the Hounds of Halliburton
stalking
your tail.  Heaven thunders.  Earth rips asunder. 
Your
interest rates rise. Your ass is fried. 

Think Eternal
  Damnation!  Think
Enronization. 
Think it out
all over again:


The Passion of The Dead

keeps their bones together, cuts the crap and casts
the dice.  They float
before me, these brave Other
Bonesmen
cavorting in carnival time, devoid of
guilt or any
meat. Slowly and slowly they
drift-  lentement, into
Lent. 

O Friends of the Dead lend me
your tongues, tell all
good
knuckleheads how crap
rolls around.  Speak
the tale
of the
Ides of March,
the Senators'
thrusts of
knives

and circus. Invoke the recall of terminal taxes.  Wait,
(I hear myself say in my head)
...

maybe these glamorous sunlit Dead
are
nothing but dumb and
conspiracy-fed

liars. 

They claim those Yankees of Skull & Bones fame
threw snake eyes down for Geronimo's brain.

Oh, Jumpin Jesus, this sure is swell, some
fool's done caught me
in a rhymed
voodoo spell ! 
But

outside my windows where the rare sunlight beams
hundreds of blackbirds swoop about in my dreams.

They fly like songs through the floating bones

warning of Tyranny's rising tones.  O,
Camelot!  Ah,
coup d'gras.  The
magic bullet

through the liberal brain, the bitter crown of piercing
lies.  That so slow turn of
the open car
on the Texas map to the Corporate
Star.

The old rugged cross to the shareholder's gain
where
tortured interest meets sweet christian
pain, and
bleeds

like wounds in the Earth's
holy rain.  Drink

from the cup, the zealots say,
buy the nail at the movies
and watch and
pray. 

Be a voyeur in some theatre's dark,
let Jesus into your sinful heart
where his suffering
hammer
can pound and pound
that sacred, numbing,

prozac sound. 

Pornography,
the street folks say, is
 
C
hrist In Action
as the CIA. 

Sweet Mother, Erzulie, please birth them away.  Thus speaketh the Dead
this rare
sunny day.


 

LAISSEZ LES BON TEMPS ROULEZ

Come on, y'all let the good times roll
right over Barksdale into your soul. 

Ignore the Bokor who stole the white house
his roots are zombie, his father's a louse! 

Two Android Bonesmen are all we have up front,
but the key to a field goal is
just a good punt.  Kick

off the blues, the terrorists and bombs… -shit, I mean
Merde!  What's happening here 

Roll out the barrels, swill down the beer,
there's a
mean Haarp bouncing off the ionosphere,
even the fish are acting real queer

having same sex marriage while they leap through the air!

Laissez les bons temps roulez, 

In America it's April Fools Day,
things just aren't going our way.
The President's a closeted gay
we can't impeach him away,
or so all the experts say,
eating their curds and whey, 

O Laissez les bon temps roulez!

The Nation's a bummer
on a barbecue roll,
corporations live cheap
on the federal dole.

Crude oil's the color of our national soul,
our flag runs up a greased black pole,
even the land we live on we stole. 
Yes,
the whole tale is incredibly droll,
but
hey, let the good times roll.

Cheap tunes bounce around in my head,
I'm thinking I'm already dead
or just
got up on the wrong
side of bed …

the would-be poet said,
filled with doggerel
dread. 

O, I hear America singing
like a jangle of tin bells ringing
to which the rich are clinging, yes
I hear America singing.

And I hear the dolphins sighing
and all the redwoods crying
to feel Muslim infants dying
while Yankees keep on lying.

But hey, I'll just reason it away
like the folks in the media say, O

laissez les bons temps roulez!

It's nothing but Born Again Voodoo,
and
tell me, just what would you do ? 

Sound the mirror, call the Hoochie Coochie
Man. 
Play the mush-mouth shuffle
all over again. What,

hold my nose and vote for you
I know
the difference between a nail and a screw;
there's no way, America, I can
vote for you.

O laissez les bons temps roulez!  Let the good times
blow you
away!  That's what the Jesus Folk pray
for Allah's kids every day. Laissez

les bons temps roulez.  But 

the Dead still relentlessly say we are throwing our flesh
away
just to map the geography, feed the
cryptocracy, dodge
the hypocrisy, bleed
at the order of
Skull &Bones.


" Gentlemen songsters off on a spree
Damned from here to eternity

Lord have mercy on such as we
Baa, baa, baa! "
from:
The Whiffenpoof Song
Yale


THE GOLD RUSH

California calls just when I'm descending
deep into New Orleans.  No time now
to get the feel of it,  -the Big Easy
sinking like America's Venice 

where the toxic Mississippi pours into the polluted
Gulf.  Swamp land.
Poisons in the fish, in the salty
oysters, in the gourmet spots
dotting the
famed
  French Quarter.

The Mother of Gothic Vampires has fled
this
Crescent City.  The X-Mayor's Son
cut a deal
dumping the bayous
full of nuclear sludge.  It

surfaces in sausages, in crawl fish artistically arranged on
immaculate
plates.  Terraced like the wrought-iron
porches, filligreed like
the wrought-iron gates. 

The Big Easy goes down for the count.  Hard
money

calls.  I turn to my pure white Toyota
to drive at the crack of dawn.  On the left
front
fender Papa Guede squats,  -clowning.  A
cigarette
dropped from his jaw bone.  Papa Legba
paces beside him:

"Hey, white boy " they call out to me,
" right
now you do (voodoo) really be
at the
Crossroads, by the eerie
Porteau Mitan
Tree. 

What you gonna do, Son, let your  petty
'ti bon ange' trick you
away from
the bayous
?

Let your greedy 'gros bon ange'  lure you away
from the Dead
? "

O, 'maitre-tet',
I stammer.  Where is
my 'higher self' I know
I'm a fool
sounding Voodoo in the mirror,
but I really do
gotta go

 -me oh, my oh-

me gotta go drive this Toyo
ta
out of these bayous.  It's California or
bust!  It's
pure white man's lust, Oh  baa, baa,
Whiffen
-poof !

Papa Guede shakes his shank, Papa
Legba rubs his crotch. Swiftly
I slip to
the driver's seat.

Together, arm-in-arm they do a wry grin, cast a
living pattern  -some
purple vèvè-  onto the
road before me.  It sings
like a fishnet
a violet song, it pulls my wheels
smoothly
along

trailing fragments of bones
and tolling gongs
fixed
to the rear
bumper. 

JUST MARRIED. 
DEAD
LOCKED.

 Eat rice, you fool, not gold!

                             VÈVÈ


GERONIMO

crops up,  -riding shotgun beside me,
says his real name's
Goyathlay,
says it rimes with 'boy at play',
but he's
not playing. 

He's one pissed-off Apache, claims the Tomb Boys up at Yale
stole his elbow
along with his skull.  Frantic to mimic his
Medicine Way.

Says they really don't know how to play,
they're all
chicken sheep afraid of the day
who sneak about at
night.  Right,

I tell him, but how come your bones so loquaciously sit
in my Toyota like
a perfect fit,
 -skull, jaw, elbows
and all ?

Why must I ride in a car next to bones
talking to me in such
pissed-off tones

What is the purpose of this, may I ask, and why
does a skeleton drink from a flask
I think
you're using your bones to mask
the true
intention of your task
with me in my
pure white
Toyota !  Well,

say what you may, says Goyathlay, but
I'm here to offer
my Medicine way.  So you
need to know the real Geronimo
since you're from
  the clan we
call Gray Bow
  -that's why

you're driving this car so slow
as if
it were night and the sky
full of snow.  Now

watch the road cuz your muffler
hangs low,
and if it falls you'll
lose both your balls or what

this Bonesmen so cryptically calls

your, …uh   -French cojones !

Okay, Shrewd Bone Man, I'll do what you ask, but
tell me, honest -what's in that flask; I mean
the one you're guzzling from -is that your
medicine or is it just rum

And by the way  -my muffler ain't my balls,
just
like a river ain't Niagra Falls.  But

Old Goyathlay claims we must solemnly pause
and give some thought to the nature of skulls.  So

I shift the car into cruise control mode
hoping to keep it aimed on the road,
 

(but somehow I think I'd  rather
not talk with this feisty cadaver).
 

O, merde, here comes more
dead bones jabber!


Geronimo's Jabber

You may say I'm just a cadaver, but really
what does that matter ?  I'm here
to teach you in tones the tale of
all my bones, for words like birds
fly away (or so we Apaches
say) but tones drum into
your bones like spells
cast by cellular
phones.

I'm the Backdoor Man named
'the one who yawns' who claims
the living are often mere pawns
caught between sunsets and
endless dawns.

I say, they run from the dead,
hide their heart inside of their head,
can't see beyond their senses.

Folks don't factually die
the way they claimed I died

due to something they called

'pneumonia'

-neither cancers nor strokes put an end to folks
they just give up their breath and die of
plain death.  Though

they're usually not seen
that still doesn't mean
they're not living on some other level. 

As flesh can't stand alone
without help of hard bone,

so the living can't live
without breath the dead give

when we turn back to earth the bones of our birth.

 I am wise Goyathlay, the fierce Geronimo
come here to tell you the story I know:

Not ten years had passed, as you Living reckon time,
from my body's death to these gravediggers' crime.

Hellbender, Barebones,
Caliban, and
Dingbat
                  -chanting three, two, and two
(now see -with that- what you can do) 

Gentlemen songsters off on a spree
up to no good but skullduggery.
They
had no love for such souls
as me,
-baa, baa, baa.

It was late in May and dark at night,
they were six army captains all tipsy and tight,
(for two more were kept out of everyone's sight)
 
fire-water burned in their veins making light
of their dumb skullduggery,  -and they kept
crooning:
We're poor little lambs who have
lost our way, -baa, baa,
baa.

Pickaxes rang on the ground hard as stone,
making sounds of earth on earth alone

till they finally dug down into my bone,

-and they kept singing:  We're little
black sheep who
have gone
astray, -baa, baa,
baa.

Dingbat, Caliban, Barebones,
and
Hellbender,
-the whiffenpoof brothers with axes that fell
while the craft of their singing cast its
Puritan spell,
 

chanting two, two, and three
they stood grinning down at
me.

And then, what the heck  -they
hacked off
my neck.

Chanting three, two, and two
they'll do the same for you. 

They're Boodle Boy songsters still off on a spree
though they're
doomed from here to eternity 
-they'll keep singing:  -baa, baa, baa.

You may say I'm just a cadaver, but really
what does that matter ?  I'm here
to teach you in tones the tale of
all my bones, for words like birds
fly away (or so we Apaches
say) but tones drum into
your bones like spells
cast by cellular
phones.


"We have done with Hope and Honour,
We are lost to Love and Truth,
   We are dropping down the ladder rung by rung,
And the measure of our torment
Is the measure of our youth.
God help us, for we knew the worst too young!"

from
-Gentlemen Rankers-
Rudyard Kipling



                                                  …to be continued; posted July 15, 2004