7.06 / June 2012

Five Poems

Note: These poems are made from New York Times articles published one hundred years prior to my compositions.

Human Eclipse

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A candidate made a bet with several
contesters today that he had the biggest
mouth in the crowd and to prove his
assertion, thrust a bronzed heart between his jaws.
But it fitted his mouth so well that it took
two hours’ work on the part of physicians
to remove the heart and that was accomplished
only after swearing incessantly at his red
ballooned head failed, after threatening to cut
off the head, after the cordial support
of his friends failed, only after he decided
the time had come to die. The physician
told him to force the bronzed heart
out with his tongue. It failed,
so five front teeth were removed,
then the heart, with silver forceps.

A Pleasant Reciprocity

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The doors of a brutal city are left open and will close
only when the streets are comfortably lined with ponies.

To get there, many flags will be draped in each cathedral,
battles waged on the streets.

As unthinkable as a powderless Fourth of July, a system
of peonage and graft will be used by the cowardly assassin.

This will be a wicked city, probably the wickedest
city on the continent for a long time.

The touring storytellers will write, “I am very sorry,
I cannot make it.” Only when the last dexterous thief

has got into the habit of doing things as he pleases,
will a draft horse enter the main thoroughfare.

This horse will present itself a fine spectacle in a parking space.
Scores of people will place their hands on the animal’s flanks.

The warped and cracked laws will straighten and sweeten
with each touch and the citizens, intimating a question

has been posed, will bring into record the ponies,
and a pleasant reciprocity will take place.

The Sinking

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She saw their boat upset in the river.
Acting on the impulse of the moment,
she wasted no time in getting to the crew.
They obeyed her and she swam them to shore.

“Well gentlemen, if there is to be no seal killing anymore,
then you will need new careers.
I shall endeavor to meet you never again.”

Like the sea cow that she was, she wheeled on her left palm
and resumed her dawn flight through the East River.

The men talked at length that afternoon in a luncheonette-
about the sinking, the price of their food, old systems
of government, the Tigers’ winning streak, poetic justice-
but not of the business at hand,
and they never did.

Another Star Unto the Firmament

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Since the father had passed
eight months prior, the entire
family had endeavored to
subsist on the earnings of little Tommy,
scrawny specimen Tommy.
A worse wastrel you had never seen.
Here you will expect
the obvious pneumonia in a small alley,
the black blood on the face,
if this were the plain story.
But Tommy possessed a very large
sketch having special powers,
powers that trained men not to think.
Over and over again, Tommy crept
silently away with a basket of swindled bread
and the large sketch while policemen quarreled
using baby words, or Tommy escaped
below upturned faces.
The family put faith in the efficacy of Tommy
and Tommy put faith
in the efficacy of his large sketch
and magic was attributed to least pretense of success.
So how did it work, many of you ask?
Well, I did not write this poem,
nor do I know who did.

Alderman Frank and Alderman White

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Alderman Frank and Alderman White
were barred from visiting their families for fifty years.
Their wives would eventually cover their husband’s
names like ashes over garbage.
For three months, the Aldermen fled
from the baying of hounds. “The going is awful,”
stated Alderman White in the mornings.
A blizzard handicapped their progress.
‘”Who knew nature would be so dangerous?” added White in the mornings.
Their children were prohibited from expressing
any hope as to the sight of their fathers’ returns.
The snow developed into a drenching downpour.
Even their mothers vowed never to make the mistake
to add to the population again.
Forgetting their desires, their hearts,
Frank and White took cover in a guinea woods.
“The going is awful,” stated Alderman White,
when Frank’s fist shot squarely into the jaw of White.
They slept on the ground until morning and while their heartbeats
cannot be regarded as ended, they declined by the hour.
Divine Mercy decided these two were the type of animals
to put under the hammer. So, groping their way
through a heavy fog, they met in collision with a stiff white fence.
Forty thousand miles the fence has led them
through a constant procession of relatives and friends,
each waiting to embrace them.

Born in Washington DC, Masin Persina attended the UC Davis MA in poetry and currently lives in Oakland, CA. His poems can be read at elimae; Everyday Genius; Forklift, Ohio; InDigest; Leveler; Lines and Stars; Sixth Finch and more.
7.06 / June 2012