Recent Work By Michael Earl Craig

Woods and Clouds Interchangeable, Michael Earl Craig

[This is a poem from Michael Earl Craig’s new collection of poems, Woods and Clouds Interchangeable, out now from Wave Books. Order it here.]

 

 

At midnight a blinkered pony clopped up the winter road.

A single toon, weirdly amid twin rows of slippery elm.

I am called Honcho. Irrevocable have been my words.

I flick my fingertips violently, as if sprinkling a crowd.

The demitasse broods. Is alone. Is lonely.

I find I cannot go over to it.

 

The pony looked aggrieved, moved only to bossa nova

(ears perking to “Dumpling”). Flanked with trees

the road was white, and very straight. We stood

at the pie safe wanting in, some of us knocking,

while blue dream-tassels shook gently at the cuffs

of the robe of a well-meaning cad.

 

 

 

 

Bob sucked the golf ball through the garden hose, reluctantly.

Dot said she had toe-danced her entire way through college.

I had my head down, I was thinking. A hand reached casually

into my field of vision—the waiter touched my fries with his

Band-Aid. Baby chicks stepped into the clubhouse. Each one

tripped a bit on the rug’s edge. No one stopped them.

 

Bob sucked a second golf ball through in half the time.

Dot held one of her ankles beside her head like a swan song.

The season unbuttoned itself in little burps of pink and white.

They fed the racehorse pot brownies in his stall. He ate them

thoughtfully. The jockey fondled his heavy snaffle. It rained

only over Roanoke. Which I guess is why I’ve asked you here.

2001sharpie2

I am driving up a mountain pass on my tractor,
a blue plume behind me, when I spot
an abandoned car on the side of the road
with no license plates. I am just cresting
the pass, my speed has slowed; I could almost
step off this tractor, I think, and start over,
and try something totally different,
like breaking both my ankles, I think, because
stepping off a moving tractor is so different
than say stepping off your back porch,
and the car is on blocks and all the wheels are gone.

I don’t know how to behave but
I know what I believe. I believe
that if I stick my head in the oven
I won’t take it out. I believe in
corduroy couch cushions. I believe
in digging a tunnel with a small
silver spoon. I believe in tunneling
with this spoon under the city
and never giving up.
I believe in after-breakfast naps
and Russian roulette—
Russian roulette while eating ice cream
as I watch the evening news.
I believe in the evening news.
And I believe in celebrity.

I believe in those photos
on the web of Putin playing doubles
Ping-Pong, outdoors, in his Speedo.
(Find those.) I believe in haircuts
and bubble gum, and putting my face
down into a pillow or cushion,
and that when I do this I will see
the future, plus other cultures, most
of them, and I’ll get work done
that couldn’t be done another way.

I believe in tacos and mortification.
I believe that all people fall
into one of two categories: Doonesbury or Far Side.
Well, or Andy Capp. Andy Capp type people.
They’re everywhere.

Are you an ascot man, or a poncho man?

What?


Do you like butterscotch pudding?

Yes.


What is the title of your new collection of poems?

Thin Kimono.


Isn’t that a brand of condoms?

Poncho.


Is that an electrical wire poking out from beneath your haircut?

What?


When you envision a “lump in your pants” is it in the front or the back?

Poncho man.


When I swing this baseball bat past your face maybe tell us a little something about your childhood.

Dayton, Ohio.  My mother wrote sonnets on my face with a Sharpie.  My father drove a dump truck called Heidegger.


Can you say something about your feelings for me as an interviewer?

[at this point the interviewee stands up and tries to flip the desk over but can’t;
he says “poncho man” a number of times… ]


Would you say you were an “earnest” person?

What?


What?

Would you say you were an “earnest” person?


Poncho man.