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Once Upon a Daisy Chain. by Thomas Piekarski

The moment I’ve been waiting all these years to slide
Into my rucksack encompasses me like bent light
On the verge of avalanche. Its weight pushes against

The memory faded to a tiny ball, then loses potency
And dissipates, not to be felt again. As I dwell on this
The pan-blackened street becomes a cyclic thought,

Gives rise to character and plot, yet its only axis is
A highly faded moonbeam…An antsy salesman walks
The car lot all day long, gaining no customers, while

On cement walls high school kids spray paint symbols
That deploy a slowly hemorrhaging culture, one that
Once blossomed in the face of the almost impossible.

I imagine that culture mounted inside window frames,
Riding nude, emperor-like in a massively lit parade
Down Wall Street. In this excess the wholesome life is

Somehow passed off as a kind of millefiori ice cream,
Or like an inflated image of a man in top hat showing off
In public with fierce lion in tow. I would gladly collect

All the human bones stacked under Paris streets,
Posit them on a fully ramified flame, and applaud
Their synthesis into black powder. Amazing. Yet

Even more astonishing, and fun, we can have
The Las Vegas Cirque act—the trapeze excites
Way above a sold-out crowd. The gymnasts flip,

Chase hardtack off of cupboard shelves, hardtack
That fed thousands of doughboys in muddy trenches
As gunmetal grease ignited the damp smoky air.

How lonesome the victory, the pennant flimsy like
Bra and laced panties flapping on a clothesline.
Bodies that coated the battlefield now constitute

Vanished souls and nothing else. Slim our knowledge of       
Where these souls go, yet know the seasons pivot on them,               
The harvest hurrahs within them, and ultimately our cause                   

Is pointed at the immutable goal, quantum love. And yet
Lawlessly destructive in its haste to chastise, the back light
Of an immobile dawn takes hold, becomes assiduous deacon.

Hence little embers all aglow pelt the mid-winter snow
In Cleveland alleys where intoxicated Crane leaped
With self-indulgent joy. That’s nice. But let’s fast forward,

Because regardless of Einstein’s calculations we can only
Move forward. So it wouldn’t benefit me to position myself
Tied up and able to escape like some kind of Houdini. Still,

It’s quite sensible that I make a woodpile beside the shed
So I can warm the actors visiting from the studio whose
Silent films stand to pop and sizzle in the old projectors.

Such my mood, which could change without notice
Should the bugeyed woman with long blue hair
Leaving Starbucks with latte in her swollen hand

Attain that elusive vagina in which lay solitude
And unalloyed unification. My involvement being
My expansive skull that blankets many icy oceans

And manages collective passions. Not as in my youth
When I’d play in cow pastures between subdivisions
Filled with vague conceptions of an unmapped legacy.

To have been so vulnerable and naïve, so dumb and
Uninitiated seems excusable now, as the staunch
Headlights of an approaching van almost blind me.

These days I would pawn all the skyscrapers in L.A.
For ten minutes of Coltrane listened to on an iPod.
I would scratch my back on a spent telephone pole

If it would exhume me from the embalmment
Brought about by the soul-splitting silence I beget
As I sit cross-legged at the empty depot and wait

For the piper to employ his thick Vaselined lips.


Thomas Piekarski is a former editor of the California State Poetry Quarterly. His theater and restaurant reviews have been published in various newspapers, with poetry and interviews appearing in numerous national journals, among them Portland Review, Main Street Rag, Kestrel, Scarlet Literary Magazine, Cream City Review, Nimrod, Penny Ante Feud, New Plains Review, Poetry Quarterly, the Muse-an International Journal of Poetry, and Clockhouse Review. He has published a travel guide, Best Choices in Northern California, and Time Lines, a book of poems. He lives in Marina, California.