Peter Mishler‘s new work appears at Prelude, Oversound, Web Conjunctions, and Gulf Coast. He is features editor for Drunken Boat, the international journal of art and literature, and lives in Kansas City.
C E N T R A L C A S T I N G
He answered the call for Pale Christ with a Nordic Touch.
I was reading for His Jailor With the Hundred Eyes.
In the emptied banquet hall I opened the accused’s mouth wide.
Released his frozen burst of flavor crystals to the air.
Sea-water dampened the inner lining of his diadem.
How did he find his way to central casting
hauling his triple-glass cross atop his shoulders
scanning the road for traffic before the overflow hotel?
Born as he was in his Mother’s esophagus
chewing shards of her childhood’s globe in its dark
while she waited in line at the adult-sized chessboard,
a young green corn husk like a garland in her hair.
Or a flower on a distant wave.
A boatsman ferrying the jailor toward it.
He who would hunt them, mother and child.
He who would eat them beneath his curtain of blood.
The prow of the boat as it reached her body:
the shape of a pyramid mounting Snow White.
L I T T L E L O R D F A U N T L E R O Y
I failed to memorize the giant’s face.
I failed to return with a flake from his mask.
I dropped a bottle of cinnamon Glade
down the well at the mountain’s side.
In a shower stall of my old dormitory
I slaked my thirst against the dripping wall.
I did my coursework before I was ready.
I came to spitting up tricolored foam.
Please have a little modesty
dangling sword on its string above me:
stop giving me that cosmological
Little Lord Fauntleroy ’s the name:
loyal customer, rewards cardholder,
and rest assured, when I’m in my tomb
my collar will still be starched with the smoke
of the pheasant breasts served peasant-style
on our family jet scraping over the sea.
Yet I do doff my cap to the factories’ run-off.
I’m on a new medication now.
I kiss all babies and persons of interest
like a feather touching the lion’s singed mouth.
Excuse me while I adjust my crotch
on this off-white vinyl triclinium couch
before the first piped notes of my eclogue resound
and I am raised up high on a weightless cloud
to my second life on the good side of midtown
at Child of the Hushed Eraser school.
In its glass-display-case-lined hallowed halls
a great American debate has begun:
whether or not one should lie about
the Uhaul mileage (how quaint, what fun!),
and poor Calpurnia, freshman,
sulking alone in the school’s herbarium:
for each of my former life’s crimes, we split
a ring of cocktail shrimp in the sun.
S A L V A T I O N A R M Y
now that you’ve parted
the noble gasses of heaven,
evaded the worm
on our first green selves,
you are finished
with keeping the peace,
collecting its taxes,
done with the telexes
crossing your desk,
your children’s memories
twenty-four hours a day
atop the militia towers.
Done with the upperechelon
the sylvan suburbs,
the salted fields.
the embassy garden
is thronged for you
with freckled girls,
a hospital cot
of innumerable threadcount,
after dew-blighted palm.
You flip your pocket change
onto the boots
of the pockmarked
lyrist from Thrace,
and he plays
and he plays for you
and he dumbs down the sound
of your aircrafts
dropping new tennis shoes
into the mountains.