by Richard Fein


Soldier ants with heads made heavy by slavery,
monstrous mandibles useless except for oppression,
deadly-helpless warriors, obedient cops
relying on governesses to be fed.
Her royal majesty,
once a winged sylph sailing the winds,
now a bloated egg layer dependent
on a sea of sterile daughters.
Workers, legions of the childless,
forever milking the belly of slaves for nectar
and tirelessly waiting on their betters.
A corporate regality,
mighty mounds thrown high,
passageways penetrating deeper than tree roots,
even ingenious catch basins for rain.
But no hearts are captured here.
None raise their antennae in defiance,
and if any did to whom would they preach?
Perfect world,
where the slightest twitch of a leg has purpose.
Play is treason.
Busy soldiers excise rebels as cancers.
I above taking notes,
committing misdemeanors when no one watches,
cursing the betters of my kind for their surfeit of honey,
and commiserating with slaves of any kind.
I am blessed with a costly gift,
envy—fecund seeds that ripen into the devil’s fruit.
If I could just plant one in their nest,
gnarling their well-ordered channels by growing jealous roots.
Germinating acrimony, and yet
allowing for maybe one being below
to steal a moment for her own
to measure her state and to marvel
at the dark soil from which we all arose.


Was at the Hellenic-American cultural center,
a singles dance.
I wasn’t Greek, but I bore gifts—dollars.
The doors opened wider than the gates of Troy.
I added an opolos to my last name.
Nine babes were by the soda fountain
in old-fashioned flowing white gowns.
Cool swinger that I was, I made my move.
The nearest two were Calliope and Clio.
I went on and on about my travels through Greece
and getting diarrhea in Athens.
(Actually it was in Naples, so I lied a bit!)
Urania, the sister sitting next to them,
rolled her eyes up and stared at the ceiling.
When I offered her my greetings,
she told me where to stick it.
I asked Terpsichore to dance,
but as she got up I stepped on her toe
and fell backwards over Polyhymnia.
Thalia laughed hysterically.
Melpomene droned dolefully that my fly was open,
and I was acting like a real Trojan.
But it was Erato who had the face that launched a thousand wet dreams.
I approached her divine radiance, but she called her mother
who was their chaperone.
Her mother was Mnemo . . . something or other, I forgot.
Their father was some kind of big shot at city hall
despite numerous scandals with underage Italian girls
and some kind of perversion with a big bird.
Mother and her nine daughters huddled together.
They were talking about me.
I overheard the names Clotho, Lachesis, and most of all Atropos.
A big scissors was also mentioned.
But my fate was to be escorted toward the door,
where all ten in unison sang my dis-praises.
Their final verse was pedantic,
since I couldn’t even teach, I should write.
And if that fails, and it will, write poetry.

At the Follies

A gum-chewing stripper,
a favorite honky-tonk act.
She wears any costume you want,
or a headdress of bananas.
Ms. Life plays all roles,
from shy schoolgirl
to Mistress Wanda cracking her whip.
But she peels it all off.
She milks each minute—a vaudeville smoothy—
while voyeurs in raincoats swoon
on broken-down chairs.
Comes the time
all secrets are finally exposed.
a sweaty g-string tossed around a customer’s neck.
Your neck, stupid.

The climax is a prancing, pimply, sagging butt.
End of show.
Well schmuck, what did you expect—
a golden ass?
If you don’t like it—leave,
go drop your shorts in your bathroom,
turn your head,
and gawk in the mirror.
And if you liked it,
get the hell out anyway.
One show per customer.
There’s a long ticket-holder’s line outside.
Outta here—move.

Occam’s Razor

I’ve stropped the razor to bleeding sharpness

Two clocks are two minutes apart in adjacent stores.
No, one did not just fall behind the other, for both are digital
and all electrons proceed at the universal ultimate speed.
Both proprietors are obviously anal.
Look how precisely they’ve stacked their wares.
Look how every strand of her coiffure obeys.
Look how not even one chin hair juts from his shaven face.
These are beings who double check their settings.
One lingerie shop, one men’s apparel store,
huddle amid a vast mall,
close but light years distant.
Woman’s world, Man’s world,
with gravity’s tight fist between,
gripping light, clutching time,
crushing frames from their references,
and twisting Newton’s rubrics.
An immutable attraction held apart
like the pillars that chained Samson under a teetering heaven.
A matter of relativity,
the universal fabric creased like the cloth at one’s seat,
those folds, those curves,
that flash into existence then vanish
as legs move forward playing on the tension of the fabric.
No this chronological dichotomy
isn’t a complexity of correct clock configuration,
but merely the warping of tandem universes
orbiting around each other,
converging, turning away,
while swapping stars and galactic dust
and forever linked to a common center of gravity


©1999 Richard Fein

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