P & J Poetics, LLC, published MIKE ALEXANDER’s first full-length collection, RETROgrade, in 2013. His most recent chapbook, We Internet in Different Voices (Modern Metrics), was released by EXOT books. His poems have appeared in Rattle, River Styx, Borderlands, Bateau, Abridged, Measure, Shit Creek Review, Raintown Review & other journals.
The Salad Course
Single-handed, Don Miguel clears the dinner table,
sets his papers in order. The lone inkpot covers
where his wine spilled.
Fragments of a telling
grind in his mill, like giants in a bad novel.
Start where real people start:
An olla rather more beef
than mutton, a salad on most nights,
the scratching of the ink, all the missing…
There’s an aftertaste left on his tongue.
The failed Crusades.
Pirates, all the king’s
enemies, the king, all sit down to the same slop,
scraps on Saturdays, lentils on Fridays,
a pigeon or so extra on Sundays,
lunatics, all, but the heroes are the worst.
Let there be Victories, but food comes first.
Gustave, striving to put all that pretty style aside,
lingers in the shadow of a bistro, studying
how others eat, keeps inventory:
making his way across fields, drinking
milk at farms, dancing with village girls,
finding out about the harvests, carrying back
stalks of greenery in his handkerchief.
handing a lady his handkerchief, like some
gallant in an insipid romance.
While the courses
followed, poule au jus, crawfish, mushrooms,
vegetables tossed in a salad, roasted larks,
many subjects were discussed: the best system
of taxes, agricultural advances, abolition of
the death penalty –
Let the killing begin.
The Don, having finished off his meager repas,
dons his chamber pot casquette, retrieves
his antique lance from the mantelpiece –
& at length, salutes a damsel,
which no doubt smelt of yesterday’s salad,
seemed to him to diffuse an aromatic fragrance.
Many scratchings later, the Captive recounts
how he had asked for some herbs to make a salad.
Then, he affected his escape.
By such affectations,
we digest the meat of our daily ergot.
In his Dictionary of Received Notions, Gustave
defines an émigré as one who makes a living
giving guitar lessons or by making salad.
Emma, undressing, adds the dressing.
The Hottest Ticket
in the tophat
topcoat centuries it was
the thing to take
the ladies to the Specola
what they were made of the body
parts the kitchen bones utensils condiments
essences the muscle mass
after the glass eyed
hair suits of mammalian strata
the fish the flesh the foul remainders
from tape worm to madonna with child
dissected twelve ways to Sunday;
bring the smelling salts.
if she survives
the nerve net offal truth
blood batter embrace of the body
corridors of display cases latinate names
there is one
more test of your lady’s heart
in the last room (just as she thinks
you are going to collect her wrap;)
the last room
forces her to look on homunculi of dead
mothers with children of the plague
(we are civilized enough to think it
a colossal joke,
that the anonymous die in such numbers)
refuse heaps blanched white with lime,
pockets full of poesy. The dead, the dying
litter the streets like
a plague of locust-husks, while the angel
of waxwork swings his palette knife
through foetid air. The artist
of the outbreak spreading through all the cities
of Cartesian Europe to see first-hand, to show
the blotches, the scars, the tell-tale signature.
P & J Poetics, LLC, published MIKE ALEXANDER’s first full-length collection, RETROgrade, in 2013. His most recent chapbook, We Internet in Different Voices (Modern Metrics), was released by EXOT books. His poems have appeared in Rattle, River Styx, Borderlands, Bateau, Abridged, Measure, Shit Creek Review, Raintown Review, and other journals.