Saturday, September 3, 2022

3 Poems by Ralph Monday

The Moon Rose Red

You know how it is
when you look at the
red moon.  Without watching
the moon would not be there.

This is the same when you
walked through snow
thinking of the slow grouse
someone would hunt and roast
for Christmas dinner

not out of necessity--from
the way that definite dark
things are loved, light in the
hidden octopus, the eight
fingers tracing inky punctuation
marks in black clouds puffed
out by an attempt to say goodbye
where your hands gesture to the sky.

That same moon can be pulled from 
your red lips as though on a magician's 
string, eaten and swallowed and your name
whispered as Rose Red, where without
watching, Ursa major would not climb
down out of the sky and be the stellar
bear that you would make a prince.

You know this from all the times peering
into the morning looking glass, wet and
naked from the shower, yesterday's
pretensions peeled away, today's portents
risen from the earth as a solid fragrance
where you must leave footprints in the dew
that will never be tomorrow's same.

This is the necessity that comes from creating
the moon.  The hearth where ashes once warm
cool and you hear the embers cry out Rose Red,
Rose Red, wear the moon as a wedding dress,
silver stars as slippers.  Eat the crumbs of clouds
before the beggar's table.  Set the wine to be
shared only by the songbird, and carefully feed
it seeds that you have gathered.

Narcissus and Orpheus Hangout

An unlikely pair to become confidants,
a songbird, self-lover in reflected

For the modern age they are like gamblers
in a casino spinning the slot machine

lady luck to appear in swishing skirt
and pearl necklace.  They would prefer

smoke-filled barroom, any vacuumed
mask to hide behind, for that is their

one of underworld moments continually
running from the milk-filled sun.

they sit having a little wine, a good smoke,
reminiscence about presenting garlands

roses, sweetmeats to all the pouty-lipped
things that they entranced

they lived in the light like two geese
fluffing feathers before the long migration

Narcissus knows they are not so different,
like twin contrails following a plane 

an inevitable destination.  He says,
if we could get above ground one more

you would be like Sting or Jagger playing
the gig and oh how the groupies would

to the show.  You would be a god, man,
and use your head in more ways than

But why would I do this?  I love only
one woman that the gods decree cannot
                                         be mine.

Illusion.  That which is dead is dead.
You can never go back to that which never

For me, I seek only the hunt and those
who can find no reason not to eat from a 
                                         forbidden tree.

The Daimon Love of Cupid and Psyche

Listen up and heed the amour of Cupid and Psyche
flung into the love abyss tormenting all.
Underworld entangled they watched TV and all the loves
of the world.
This is how the story goes.
Once upon a time in a land far far away, a king and queen
had three beautiful daughters.
Psyche, the youngest, hot as a tamale off a grill sent shivering
thrills through every romance-covered lover boy.
They all wanted to make her their tow, offered her all kinds of
stuff:  roses that wilted before the delivery boy got them there,
glittering jewels pulled from a pharaoh's plundered tomb,
Victoria's Secret lingerie, watermelon, and coconuts, and 
Chinese spiny fruit, all little delectables eagerly brought out 
by myth boys.

This rerun is good, said Psyche.
Lousy gifts, Cupid said.

Now, as the saying goes, hell hath no fury like Venus scorned.
What's this! Being a Leo, the beguiled and gown adorned love
goddess shouted, they pray to that stupid girl, offer her gifts
meant for me, neglect the proper worship of mine divine beauty,
lips as red as rare roast meat, cheeks rouged cherry pink, my hair 
freshly washed from the kitchen sink.  This will not stand!

So, the evil witch having hung out with Snow White,
commissioned Cupid to do her dirty work like a mafia
hit man.

Cupid was sent flying on ratty wings, circling and diving,
flailing through the air like one of Wile E Coyote's falls,
down to earth from heaven sent, on a mission to stab
Psyche in an arrowed arse, but alas, as bumblings do,
mistook the arrow for a lollipop, lollipop,
oh my lollipop, scratched his own meddling tongue.

Now, instead of Psyche, lathered and arrowed up
falling in love with Shrek, Cupid now runs around
like a lovesick schoolboy thinking every day is Valentine's,
pining and moaning and begging Psyche for at least a touch
of her big toe.

Unmoved, as immortals are, Psyche had heard about
glorious Narcissus, but alas, in love with himself,
Psyche's curls moved him not, so he drowned kissing
his own pool-mirrored visage.

Hera, a bit jealous herself, goes to Zeus and says,
If you expect any love tonight, throne boy, give
that golden hussy over to Venus!

Zeus, remembering the scene with Leda, and being a 
swan-pecked middle-aged god-hubby threw poor Psyche
at Venus' bespeckled, sandaled feet, like tossing Cinderella
from the ball.

Now my pretty, Venus cackled.  I have three chores for you
to do (it's always three, you know).  She turned Psyche over
to Frankenstein's helpers, Worry and Sadness, in their S&M
dungeon.  Instead of bringing out the Iron Maiden, they toss a
flotsam of stuff at her to pile into heaps before dawn:
1000 Harlequin romances, all the I Love Lucy reruns, 500 golden
goose eggs, 80 eight-track tapes, and a couple of bags of
emptied rice.

Taking pity, an itsy-bitsy spider came crawling along.  Tsk tsk,
he said.  This is too much for a poor girl.  Went about blowing 
on his magic horn, and lo and behold! two French hens, three
turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree came and sorted
out the junk in a jiffy.

Venus comes stumbling in at dawn, drunk as a skunk, enraged
because Brad Pill and Gilgamesh both turned her down,
even more pissed when she sees the neat piles like wrapped
Christmas presents.

Oh, smart aleck girl, Venus slurred like a buzzed pigeon.  You
ain't done yet! You gotta go upstate New York and cross
the Hudson.  On the other side is a bunch of mad mad goats
with copper Brillo pads for fur.  Get me three bushels my sweet.
I need a new bra.

So off Psyche went, skipping like Little Red Riding Hood
at the dance.  The goats munched on tender grass and pawed
the ground like being in a Mexican bullfight, eyeing the pretty
tamale on the other side.  Just after Psyche dipped her lovely
toes, a beaver popped his head out, then two more beavers,
a score of toothy smiles each with a basket loaded down with
WalMart Brillo.

Venus, still an unsatisfied goddess lush, gave one final task,
complete and be free of her grasp.  Get thee to the underworld
vagabond girl and fetch me some pretty face cream from Persephone
so that my jowls may always be like Spring.

That's not how the story goes, Cupid said.
No, it's not, Psyche replied.  Give me the clicker.  I wanna watch
reruns of Goldilocks and the three bears.

Ralph Monday is Professor of English at Roane State Community College in Harriman, TN.  He is widely published in journals.  Books include All American Girl and Other Poems, 2014. Empty Houses and American Renditions, 2015. Narcissus the Sorcerer, 2015. Bergman's Island & Other Poems, 2021. The Book of Appalachia (forthcoming), and a humanities text, published by Kendall/Hunt, 2018. Vol. 2 of the humanities text is expected in 2022.  Twitter @RalphMonday.  Poets & Writers

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