"Homage," "Testament," and "As A Citizen"


We are flooded
to our necks. Like fishing bobbers
we are floating on our backs down what,
before the storm, was Maple Street.
Full fathom five now is our neighborhood
and all that shows above the ever-rising
bilge and brine are chimney tops.
Three cheers! This ends the drought
and we say thanks for that and for
our lives which you have saved while
that of all the others in this
wanton city you have not.
We are burning
up. The drought is back, six years
without a drop. There's not the moisture
in our mouths to even spit. The woods
ignite with every lightning bolt.
Stubbled char is now where green-
and yellow-tasseled head-high
corn once stood. Ah well, we never
fancied lumbering or farming much
and now you've saved us from such work
and soon, you say, you'll bless us with
an unemployment check.
We are strong
against the bane since
we are older but we stand
here helpless, hearts rent,
mouth agape all while it ravages
our kids. What is their guilt?
What did they do to so incense you, sir?
Of decency, I ask you, have you not
an atom left?
And now we are concussed,
our cheekbone cracked, our upper right
incisor gone. (We think we swallowed it,
our tongue now probes the gap.)
You tell us
in your viscous, worldly famous
crooner's voice, that we have now
received of you your greatest gift:
your kiss.
We would kiss you
back except that you're so, how to say,
so statuesque compared to us down
in the dirt that even standing tippy-toe
and reaching to the sky we'd never touch
your lips and so as per the ancient rite
we kiss your bootblacked hobnailed feet.




did not disappoint,
Your present lives are better now
than what they were before me
to the tune of eighty-six percent.
My misdeeds, if you'd even call them misdeeds,
more like minor lapses which in time will seem
like gallant leaps of faith, were mild
and were committed with
the purest of intent.
I get teary-eyed now thinking back:
Our torch-lit midnight cavalcades
of mustering consent;
the thousand skeptics flailing
in the semi-frozen quarry mud.
Last rites!
The yowling bonfires on those
wind-burned, snow-blind,
pyromanic nights!
Our profaners bridled,
fettered, trussed while
we their last-born roasted
plum pits in the bleacher seats!
(Ah, youth.)
Those were the days, my friends,
not ever, so we thought,
to be cut short.
They were the best days
of our flimsy lives,
you must on pain of painful
this or that admit.
All right, the pain, if pain
we call it, now is mine in fact,
or will be at the moment
I'm suspended mid-air
by this hawser 'round my neck:
your gaping marionette.
It is to you
my fairest weather suppliants
that I this farewell carol dedicate.
Now this final note:
I die intestate.
That is, no doubt, a shock to all my
self-presumptive heirs and assigns
with their seats booked for the reading
of my last and latest will and testament.
Really, though, dear kids,
once you had lost your faith,
what else did you expect?
This hurts me more than you
since, as you know, I hate
to disappoint, but honestly
what right have you to disappointment
when I've cast you in the choicest roles and
placed you on the brightest stage whereon
to strut and fret the scant remainder your
little lives, star-turning every
ten or fifteen minutes in the
greatest show on earth?
And so forth.
Hangman, butcher, baker,
do your worst.



As A Citizen

swear upon the holy
twit's unholy writ,
the sacred tweetledee
and dumb and dumber
crock of shipwrecked
slaughtered sheep that
come what maybe rain
or shining sea to shining
semen say, oh, say oh,
by the early light of Donald
trumpet playing reveille
that hell or water highly
favored ladyfingered dawning
ding dong dizzy deaner
all the day that I will ride
the high line down to Filene's
bargain basic training
hippocampus cop a feel
while catching in the rye
back in the day.
cross my heartache hope to
diet, tell me truly,
whaddya Seder sitting
shiva pretty little
policemen in a row
vee wading pool of
yellow matter Custer's
standing order in the court all
rise and shout hip-hip-hoo-James-
vow wow wow to pledge
allegiance to the flack,
the pork and bellied party hack-
saw Mitch Muck Conmen
cutting Dealey Plausible
denial Grassy Nolo pleas
when doves cry please
while lambs abhor the silence
of the honeybees.
Amen, Amendment
Number Two to Tanglewould you
bend down for the bar of Ivory
soap, your buttstock loaded,
locked, and lewd, your crimson
necktie worn to bed for fear
we'll know you're deathly
scared of sleeping
in the nude?
swear my lips are
sealed, my tongue
annealed, your secret's
safe with mi fa so la
ti for two, too solid
flesh would melt-
down all the Days Inn
Comfort Sweetly Singer Sing-
Sing Sewing 'tis of thee I
sing a song of
sixpacks, Mixtecs, fast tracks,
fracking, what the Fokker, friendly
firing, furrow following free
to be just you and l'il ole
meek inherit earth-
lings take me to your
lederhosen freshly frozen
You say you've solved the
crime. What crime, I ask,
might that crime be?
You shout: The crime is thee!
I say, false modesty aside:
Who, me?




"Homage" and "Testament" will appear in the author's
forthcoming book from Shanti Arts Publishing.



Peter Maeck

Peter Maeck: "I am a writer of poetry, fiction, and stage plays. My plays and dance scenarios have been produced in New York, Europe, and Africa.  My book-length poem Remembrance of Things Present: Making Peace with Dementia (Shanti Arts Publishing 2017) recounts my father's brave, good-humored struggle with Alzheimer's Disease. I have presented Remembrance of Things Present at multiple TEDx events and international mental health conferences. I am also a photographer, with work exhibited and sold in America and abroad. I served as an American Cultural Specialist for the U.S. State Department in Tanzania and Morocco. I have an MFA in Playwriting from Brandeis University." He recommends contributing to Help Sri Lanka through its PayPal address, evanmpls@q.com.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 - 22:33