Caleb Puckett










In Commerce Texas

pale August moths flit above

grey cigarette butts




Summer Games



A mass of yellow dust bursts and powders the dirty feathers

as each of the shrieking sparrows darts off and deviates

from the seething knot, dragging itself well above

the town’s old cold war armory where the boys

hunt the last glass shards of gaping windows

with rocks and bricks until lunchtime

drags them back to microwave

movie lives, glossy comics,

to mamma, maybe papa,

to a million-and-one

colorful fistfights.


Fling the weight westward until this ceremony of thin bones

breaks down the arrogant pastels of a hell-bent dawn:

laugh and fight amongst nails and plastic knives

until the ashcans in empty lots, the avenues

blackened, cast off, ambulatory, call you

all into the slipstream to be born again

by a saint’s or statesman’s thumb

with all the strain of muscle

being torn, fingertip

to shoulder, pupil

to iris to stone.


A mass of yellow dust burst, a ceremony of thin bones:

this is but one summer game, a game we always won.








You might want to try

Libeled Lady


Cosigning dotted lines

leading to an effervescing sleeve end,

a gold link to Goldwyn to gawking

while rigging up the mock lioness’

thin representation—


Promotional allure assured

through an immense poster posted

along wrought iron iris fences,

so bewitching, her stills spinning—

slattern definitions, verdigris limits—

the mutability of airbrushed lipstick,

the femme fatale winking

a dreamy lid askance—


Patent pumps and cotton duck alike

line this improbable boulevard

where eminent men spin fantastic images

through a series of eclipses

until elliptical wakes pollinate space

into shape and raise round a bouquet

of rouge constellations along its width—


This race is rent—

a bombshell emptied between mirrors,

apertures, bulbs, signatures,

which reinvent the myth

and recreate the premise

that seeded Eden’s initial sinful business—


Amidst benches, litter, graffiti, gum spots,                                                           

shop windows reflecting

ulcerous spit upon sidewalks—

how the throngs wish to witness

her devilish declamations—


So wanton they watch

weary profiteers attempt to settle

on some sense of direction,

yet grope among negligible stars                                                

for a less offensive

form of knowledge—


They cannot forget the red carpet,

contractual clauses,

mascara black tantrums

and mechanized monocle’s glint,

the matchstick fodder

that mints hothouse myths

and gardens of dispossession,

the impenetrable pretense

of thick theatre lenses

pinning down a pin up

thigh-wise through needle eye—


Jean Harlow,

fleshy harlequin,

half cup heroine,

may arrive in fantastic satin

smiling and nodding nicely

without Marilyn’s proclivity for pills,

but twice her appetite for rye—


She may reload,

she may blow a few kisses,

she may even cry—


But you,

the viewer removed,

might want to try

City Lights or Why Be Good?


Without the extemporaneous outtakes,

with the image on mute












            Miasmas remain nature’s favorite eye rhyme,

imperfect once you say them fast three times.


Rain clouds—

From atop the scenic city overlook, life resumes:

sharp light mines the moon until it’s shorn dry

while our sight refuses to deny the nightlife

of the ideal orange sun now passed by

like a starving, lovesick buffoon

with a swollen black eye.


Silt clouds—

Diving beneath the waste of harbor, life resumes:

the sunless salt encrusting the underwater

caverns keeps the dim shores above

sapped of vegetation; strafed,

broken and without shrine

like museums after riots

in a desert paradise.



            Solar, lunar, the surface sweats cirrus to grey the blue:

no matter the cycle assumed, no matter the moment.

            A murk of urchins and minnows swirls beneath us:

no matter the current kept, no matter the exceptions.

            A miasma of cityscape lies between: blunted beacons,

magic lanterns cast by amateurs to shadow substance.


Smoke clouds—

As we eye smoking trash barrels, life resumes:

the roll over contentions and sweaty searches

for sense among water worn flagstones

cinched together with wood posts,

rope and fumes of rotgut rye:

they insist, revolt, groan

out human kindnesses,

foolish insults, cries.


            Tilt the bottle at the horizon until it spins free and splinters,

dismissing the boardwalk winter with an eyeful of silence.

[step back to issue 2]