Poems: Brad Liening

Ex Pede

Precious crumbs devour the hours.
I take bloodshot notes until I get dizzy and black out smarting.
I wake to whimsy eking from the credit score.

Despite my best intentions my children have their own.
I perch in the rafters and brainstorm demands.
I send down notes they right away burn.

A halogenated species lifts its boredom to my lips.
A priest walks the streets with a hairy talisman.
I forget a nihilistic quip.

Old Gore

Cancellations the current zeitgeist.
A hot uniform struts its snuff
And busy worms streamline lives.
I can’t leave a place without a bleeding ring.

The internet costs you everything.
A house disappears into nothing
And the neighbors see soothing blue.
Another dream streaked in the same old gore.

Two-headed snakes fall like two-headed raindrops
Down windows made of grass.
I tie a rag across my face.
Everywhere the terrible sounds of breathing.

Self-inflicted Self

It wasn’t the cloud of eyes.
It wasn’t the blood squirting and pouring
Through every part of me
Even the parts I can’t help but despise.
It wasn’t the door slam
Then nothing.
The car starting in the night.
Not the sound of the failing liver
Or the needlepoint Last Supper.
It wasn’t the teenage homicide suspect walking down my street
Picking a yellow flower from late frost and holding it
In his tattooed hands.
It wasn’t that this really happened
Or the shots that followed
Later in the night.
It wasn’t the smashed window
Or the young man’s car with half the front missing,
Thin lines of snow collecting on the dangling wires.
Who knows what’s actually connected.
A charred century follows
A charred century.
The pink house where I lived in Berkeley.
It wasn’t that I lied
And was lied to.
We must expect that.
It wasn’t the chasm opening
Watching the man who watches my son
Try not to cry on the phone in the parking lot.
The tree in the center of the desolate roundabout.
It wasn’t the PhD program
Or the other PhD program
Or all the PhDs.
It wasn’t the dick swinging
Or the swigging from flasks
At the convention for open sores.
It wasn’t the ravenous mouth
Circling the ceiling.
It wasn’t the curling whisp
Of hope shifting
Like cigarette smoke in wind.
It wasn’t the college years.
It wasn’t the perfect circles perfectly blank
And that like a summation of all creation.
It wasn’t the elderly walking the indoor track.
It wasn’t the elderly walking
The early morning hours at the mall
Or the sour idiocy of flight.
It was maybe the snow collecting on the axe stuck in the stump.
It was maybe the snow blocking the road
And the gray ice lasting into May.
It was my cat meowing
As he was led away.
It wasn’t just the unread email from my dad
Rotting the inbox from the inside out.
It wasn’t the industrial chokehold
Flat broke and moving
Into a part-time pool of opportunity
Or the quiet Almighty.
It was maybe whatever iffy shadow joins me to you
And the scavengers singing in the night.
Every community has its seers.
Every seer has her blues.
I have arisen from slime and disappointed a friend
And returned to slime.
I have eaten a veggie wrap and lived.
From inside the great tusk I shout to you now and believe.
Brad Liening lives in Minneapolis. He is the author of Death Salad, available from gobbet press.

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