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                               The Collected Milton Tramblebury Poems




"In the Kitchen I sing the Fascist Magnet"


Straight legs, teetering in horse chess moves squarely stamping my kitchen tiles

 now, bishop moves, no socks.

  now, horse moves again.

Where are these knights for their knight moves eh?

 Ah, I see, quintain got’m: bopped’m back on the uptake.

Now, this knightless horsey commands its horseuver, expertly bent L

    I copy.

 now, bishop moves,

  foot-flesh slides like code.

  Oh how the rind sputters

These bishops, they see the world through slanty helmet slits

Straight they move to their view.


Now, sala-meandering moves, dry squishes

   square, square, square, square…

     or, diamonds?

   Pawns, they view squares advancing, diamonds capturing.          

    [] and <> both.


Done for now, looking up from the tiles, a refrigerator magnet reads:

 Count your age by friends not years

 Count your life by smiles not tears

    my look sphincts, and just I’m not feeling it.

maybe, if I sing the magnet...

     4               3       2        1            4             5          6  


        4             3        2       1          4             5          4    


      Nope, still not feeling it.

I mean, whose ideal age matches their ideal number of friends?

    Fourth grade Facebookers?  

And yeah: I'll count my life by smiles aaaand tears, both

slants aaand straights,

squares aaand diamonds

   you , you: cheap, log cabin gift shop, dry fascist, one-way,,, clicker-sticker





"The Lake (Pelican Prancer)"


Belly-fat-losing mamas bicycle kicking the pavilion air

 a small sneezy dog follows along

  three legs walking, the other tic-toc'n

must be missing a joint, or maybe a bone, fused.


The Pelican Prancer, her ponytail waves to no one in particular

 she smiles back when you smile

  Lap the angel

Where this guy, painting Bandshells and boats

 throws his canvas in the water

and Jackson Pollocks the Joggers's Path

      he's had enough!

 He didn’t see the Pelican Prancer

  Nor the old man jogging in a ragged old white dress shirt

     And oh man I wish I was Tink,

With telephone wires I'd fly

and thread together all the dinky dinky yachts by their flagless poles

 and tie them up on yonder downtown

   I'd set them on fire for a fiesta

I'd steam the lake away, thread the lifeguard posts from shore to shore

Beach to beach and play the strings with dulcimer hammers

 and i'd smile over at the pelican prancer

    and I'd smile at the old man

Snorting like a bull, truckin’ along, sweating through his [dress] shirt pockets





"Good Hygene"


Eyebrows brush my teeth

an old sailor, I squint

 sticking out my jaw

brushing, a windshield wiper cadence:


  back & forth & back


Toenails comb my hair

calcified curly claws claw curls  

 and my leg clips out like a Ken doll’s can

  I scratch my back with it

Oh yeah…


Underarms wash, um, under arms wash…

mmmy underarms


each one, in turn, cups the cake of soap to wash the other

 The soap scum on the tile watches, astounded

It looks as though I’m hugging myself when I wash this way

pit to pit, arms wag and flap like an elderly condor, suffering from a seizure, right before he loses his grip on the branch, the branch clinging to the cliff

 It looks as though I love myself very much

   which I do

  oop! floop goes the soap, striking the plastic plate of the shower stall like a drum, reverberating across the basement floor and against the concrete walls and glass block windows





"Sonnet #6"


Why should I keep from thirsting at the gleams,

When darkness can be lit by daylight days?

How can I love what most consider dreams,

As all I've had to judge: a single gaze?

This temperament may cause me to annoy,

Pay little heed, I note not what I say;

Excuse a one who manufactures joy,

As rooster can when he espies the day.

Not half find new love that of which I speak,

And fewer still can hold it ever long;

So must I learn to stay the mountain's peak?:

I will remember dusk before the dawn.

 Love love yet do not love the love you mark,

 Until you've seen them daylight after dark.





"Black Stone Mirror Heart"

(via Rumi)


if you feel your heart

turning dark as iron

take a rag and polish it up just like a mirror

a black stone mirror heart

so that you can see

what you want to see


and i have never seen the places to which i've been

where i will wait for you (and you and you) always

I will meet you there


if you feel your mind begging time from angel

steal a plane and gut it for parts

then tape the motor to your brain

an airplane motor mind

so that you can fly

where you wanna fly


and i have never flown to the places which i've know

where i will wait for you (and you and you) always

I will meet you there


if you feel your soul take control then lose it

send it spinning on a spinning-top

then dip it in chocolate

a spinning-top chocolate soul

so that you can feel

what you wanna feel


and i have never felt the ground on which i've knelt

where i will wait for you (and you and you) always

I will meet you there





"the army of peace"


we speak in riddles, in painted tooth

they say "artists use lies to tell the truth"

but we don't, we just use'm: proof that we're still out chopping ice

and sometimes: karma, and sometimes: grace

but it’s always there in the look on your face

when someone first tells you there’s a human race,

and while you're in it y'better play nice!

so dont become the one that everyone meets

the man with a list of truths he repeats

worst of all these things is the fact that he eats where he shits

and tell me how to keep this one from going to hell? well,

it aint too hard just put your ear to a shell

snap like a star, and think like a cell - before it splits


'saw a beggarman and said "man let me teach you to fish."

'beggar said "ah baby that sounds delish

but i can't afford a pole and i dont own a dish

on which to eat a fish even if you could teach me."

there was a man who went looking for the love of a teacher

when he found'er he tried but he just couldn't reach her

in despair he went looking for the jam of a preacher whom he'd long admired

so he put his name and address on the mailing list

boarded noah's ark and sailed out through the mist

thought he saw moses looking pretty pissed, but really he was just pretty tired

he said “moses won't ya tell me whose religion is right?”

is it the muslims or the christians or the isrealites?

moses said “the chosen people is the gays and the dykes!”

the man said "really?"

moses rolled an eye and said, "no, stop asking stupid questions."

he said, "you're spendin all your money on the temples you lost

calculating the price, but not the cost

let me tell you whatever kinda rock is underneath that mosque

you can't take it with you when you die!"


still they sayingtheygotwhatyouneed to know about it at ten (10:00)

they scare you half to death a'talking "us and them"

drag you all the way to Jerusalem, and the rapture

they give you a gun and a net and a buzz

y'ask'n'm why? And they say, "just because"

then you forget who you are and what it was, you were supposed to capture

then ya meet a turtle on the street who says that God doesn't care

whether your head is covered or whether it's bare

it’s why you choose to wear what you wear, that really matters

and won't ya hold that thought and don't think too fast

don’t finish your drink, you got to make it last

and before you're done you'd better melt that glass, before it shatters


Now after all you say you wanna join the army of peace?

then give your loving every day out to the living deceased

yes, if you ever want your soul to be released: you better train for it

you better train your mind to balance on the edge of a knife

you better learn to love myth, you better learn t'love life

but you'd better couple that with a nasty cancer-licking and rife disdain for it

disdain for it

disdain for it

disdain for it







A glowing dime-shape slowly strobes, projecting on the corner of a shelf,

A shelf stocked with algae-green bottles

Why does the light strobe?




oh, I see.

my eyes catch a fan blade for a time-slice

my neck lends a tick,

But I lose it in a blink



the center: this is safer, but drifting, drifting

Ow! My focus—it’s caught,

Like a preplaced action figure hero it glides off the blade and is thrown to the wall

Like a nowhere-town neglected playground’s metal merry-go-round

It lands on sand

The sand next to the spinner's path, a path tread down to chromed dirt

Still, tough tufts of grass grow in clumps despite spinner shoe scuffs, next to my landed focus.



AHA! I squint a firm grip on the edge of a blade,

My lazy tornado spine in concert with the motion




Not again! Ow! My sight-sockets are dried soup scrapings,


Away, any patient perceptions


my nose and canine teeth shutter; they drawstring my eyelids.


I remove my glasses,

My palms, with a smear, push in the irk…



Halogen-white staples, floating in this pre-peek-a-boo dark

They relax into orange, then red staple-shapes,

Next they fix firm, like a cloud what’s been frozen with hairspray…


Floats… slow darts,

…Okay, a peak.



Strobey-spot has drifted from the shelf, a little to the up’n left


I scratch my temple

You trade a pillow, as I check the windowway…


Whip,whip,whip,whip, whup, whup, whup, whup,whip,whip,whip,whip,whip,whip





"dang old light (and water)"


dang old light

it’s so… unoriginal


shining every single dang place

shining every dang color so that there’s no color



It gets everywhere

might as well be fifty astronaut toddlers in the mist of zero-gravity-potty-training…


Hmm, water too for that matter, but at least water has a little discretion,

a little flair and finesse…


See: I'd like my beams of light snaking this way and that!

illuminating strange spaghetti segments of air in whatever darkness

like-like-like-like: whoa, whoa, whoa:

what if this…

The light rays coming through private eye office shades twisted themselves about in knots

Whether the case is taken or not, doesn’t matter

It depends on the dame

What she has to say and how she says it, through the light tangles.


See: I’d like my waters unbound by lapping ‘ups-or-nots’.        

Its surface’s flatitude—unmasked by a suicide moon tsunami,

Water-skyscrapers jutting up across Lake Harriet

the parting of the red sea?:

What a bore,

compared to the art of nature's new found physic’s fizz-eek!

 Now, orbs of water hover around these globbing Michelangeloscapes

   they courteously catch wayward fish who’ve swum into the air accidentally,

they didn’t get the memo

   they do loony-toon double-takes

 they hold signs that say "yikes", blinking twice before they fall

leaving a tiny puff of smoke, or mist perhaps

 Some of the meandering orbs break their falls

 Some don’t.

  These unfortunate fish, few, flop at the bottom of the lakebed,

and wait for a water-scraper to slide back over them like a god’s own pencil’s eraser

  A kayaker looks down on one as if it was at the bottom of a dry well built of water stones.





"When blanket fricted my hair"


I used to have a blanket

and in frozen dark of night

it’d thunderstorm and sparkle

when turned around me tight


Tented inside I'd squirm and flail

and wonder at the sparks

I'd listen to the crackle-pops

to crispy rice remarks


I'd never been to science class

and learned of static charge

I didn’t know of tiny atoms

 only things more large

I'd no idea how hair could stick

without the slightest feeling

And b'loons that held no helium

could stick up on the ceiling


Twere just some wondrous d-lights

when dryness charged the air

These thousand fizzing me-lights

When blanket fricted my hair


These days I still have blankets

And one humidifier

I turn it off from now and again

new sparkles to acquire…





"xmas day, revisited"


hopped in my canon, just to go for a ride

pointed it up to heaven, but i couldn't get there

no matter how many times i tried

right around try 23 i thought how much easier it'd be

if I had some kind of Deity helping me out

so i went down to church, to get god in my corner

at first i thought everybody'd be sitting in pews

but everyone was up in the air flying

weaving in and out of each other with their eyes closed

it was death defying

on the outside everone was looking pretty good

but on the inside i could tell everyone was just trying to remember how to weep

but no one could squeeze a drop


everyone was there running away from Xmas day

taking off west away from the dawn

and it was snowing in heaven

while down here everyone’s just trying to keep warm


Seen you riding around in your bible-car babe

Oh, the ways that you steer it

Got to be careful driving around in that bible-car a’yours

somebody might actually hear it

sounds like: "BRRRaRWWW-love yer enemy" and "FRRROOM-turn your cheek"

and: "NNRRRaWW-stop dropping bombs on people for Pete's sake!"

some of these people'll teach you about loving

some teach you about hate

but whatever you're gonna learn in your life,

don't confuse God with Fate

what’s mean by that is—don't confuse the cards you're dealt with the apples that you ate!

it ain't about the apples anymore babe

don't let'm scare you.


they're just a'running away from Xmas day

taking off west away from the dawn

and it’s snowing in heaven

and down here everybody's just trying to keep warm


I look at this country, and it moves me to tears

too many kids in the hallways, having to live beyond their years

seems like we teach'm to be afraid of the reasons for war

but we don't teach'm to be afraid of war itself!

and that’s dangerous         .                  

still, i pray for the soldiers who fight, cause they're the ones that die

but you know, i pray for the terrorists too,

well at least i try

and i pray for all the people in the world still stuck on the justice of an eye for an eye,

a tooth for a tooth,

a soul for a soul.


everyone's a’running away from Xmas day

taking off west away from the dawn

and it’s snowing in heaven

and down here everybody's just trying to keep warm


a dog'll bark at you, it’s in its nature, and a kitten purrs

i haven't lost my faith, not yet, ‘just ain't subscribing to yers,

every fish has different scales, every bird different wings,

every mammal’s got different furs

can’t y’see that it's beautiful, can't you see that it's right?

still sometimes I think it might be easier

if everyone’s God had the same name

there'd be a little less fighting and a'killing, with less people to blame


but isn’t that what we were supposed to have figured out anyway after Jesus came?


i try to remember these things

except when i'm a'running away from Xmas day

takin off west away from the dawn

it’s still snowing in heaven

and down here I'm just trying to keep warm




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