Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 2
Fall 2010

[Three Poems]

John Flynn

Neo Malibu Barbie Shares Face Time with
Sergeant Rock the Third at La Tazza

Sarge’s tough old man had an A-List of dead, too—
similar nightmares, much different war.
He needs more than a few double bourbons 
to render in detail the piled limbs caking
like charred lines of scripture in sand.
Needn’t be sloshed to explain he went to help
serve greater callings than himself.

Neo Malibu Barbie joins him at the bar.
Part of the glam illusion he agreed to defend,
she remarks to him, sounding shriller 
than he’d imagined possible,
“Think, Rock, of the numbers of dead.
This campaign, it’s all so much gnarly destruction.”

Sarge doesn’t know how to respond
to words like campaign and destruction anymore.
Nothing boggles more than silence after dark.
He tells Babs about a pepper-eyed ten-year-old,
all the firepower strapped to her tiny chest.
He hears the explosion again, 
sees zephyrs of sand, fly-addled lips
scorched into the girl’s seared skull
emblem of what it means—
if it means, at all.


X Serum of Doctor Memory

Onerous, blasted, I’m Doctor Memory today
flat-out a liar and twinkling along
behind searchlights that illuminate Nirvana. 

Off I amble up and down the edges 
of funereal skyscrapers, failing bicuspids, 
dream songs that somehow skated off.

I’m on, adored, possessed, fluid and at large 
having essayed the bilge of mindscapes and ports
into a self where I evolved by accident,

blood sponging blooms, throat a diary,
flogged now in the lungs,
flown in from ephemeral capitols.

Cars down each boulevard say lap-lap, lap-lap
and there’s no onionskin left of home.
I’ll die here on fire and leave a scar

my jawbone biblical and still muttering ire
picking scabs from complexity lesions 
aromas of Rue de L’Espoir.


Tree Song

Night birches like tungsten veins
flash through his pulsing limbs.
Denser than ash now, home, 
his commute finished,
fingers flex feline lindens, 
remembered dodges and sways,
sore maples bowing as hands 
spread the take-home on his dresser.
Each coin stinking like a snapped root.

Cedar boughs dump snow 
with the plunk of keys on desk.
Wallet like a retched gash 
purging a pine’s trunk of sap—
regrets, promises, choices.
Band of wristwatch a dangling saw-chain.
In a groove, on a stem, what is enough? 
He must contend. Can’t be too much
the oak of other men.

Breath steams bedroom mirror.
He must learn darkness again,
fight lenses, distractions
in the now-frost of winter firs, 
new grains of this century.
For his leafy affections to change
the evening, the life-tone,
he must distinguish his failures 
in the lumberyards of Babylon.

New forms of milling are required. 
Walk to job, cancel 
subscriptions to over-valued
specialist proteins. Bring 
branches up in buckets
from wells gone to seed.
Shave paws over warped dreams.
Demand file, rasp and blade
find its whittle and form.


“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury