The Rat's Nest
poetry by Mickey Cesar (Микки Сизар) e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
[updated Sunday, August 24th, 2014]
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INTRODUCTORY NOTE FOR SUNDAY, APRIL 20TH, 2014
oh, dear G-d, dear G-d…
betrayal of dreams, protest, dictators
disappearances, abductions, tortures, murders
jackboots and snow-covered truncheons
snipers on roofs, revolution
invasion, war and talk of war.
It’s been just a little bit stressful.
DITTO FOR 19 AUGUST
Except that I spent nine hectic weeks working in the Carpathians,
and have only had the space to write this past week.
So, as usual, find enclosed a few new unedited poems, with the usual caveat:
some gems, some trash.
Enjoy or don't.
Cool grey morning. In the courtyard
a raven alights, astride
the dried carcass of another.
It eats voraciously, pulling at the ribs.
Summer is ending. I missed the apples
and the apricots. I smoke cigarettes, hope
the war ends soon. No reason
to leave the apartment.
And then war came.
A shortage of coffee.
No muzzling, no pawing beneath blankets.
Muffled explosions, indecipherable voices in the distance
uniformed boys, parades, cats
unsheltered. Random bits of skin
redden and peel. Bodies swell.
Next to the washer
small dishes, lint, esoteric codes
in stray nail clippings. Every day
you wonder at the creation of cobwebs
lengthening silences and
August, days of greenhouse cats
and long silences. Between hedge and fence
lay half-buried shots, shells, photographs
and syringes. The shortness of your breath says
you expected something, yet
the air is tinny, and your fragile ribs
protect nothing. As the afternoon burns
you are reminded of Eloi, sirens
dark temples, and wish to slip
underground again. The dark-haired girl
is out of touch. Untouched, you only drift
toward the subway station, remembering
the garden’s innumerable needles, pins
and occasional whiskers.
like a thought
This will not be an ode to emptiness
no lines of the ebb of imagined happiness
no companion to such murders.
The day holds its own rebellion
and sets small fires in
dry grass. The silence is an electric detonation
in the distance
like a heartbeat.
five lines on leaving
Now is not the time to tell me
such things. This moment
cannot be undone.
In uncountable hours I will be all summer
missing you in the mountains.
If I were all the man that she is cat – if there were men like this, the world could begin.
Donetsk airport, Tuesday
Let them, the morgue.
Let them, who seed hate and destruction
be torn. May God rip them apart, let
bullets and bombs accompany them to oblivion.
Those who come into a foreign land
with another passport and a Kalashnikov in hand
wanting to die here, do. Your grave will lie unadorned.
The hands that clench
the tentacles around your chest
these make it difficult to breathe.
War in the east, blood, banditry yet
the capital has coffee. Here, the birds
murmur in Russian. Tolya and Oxana
were here. Cottonwood drift sticks to your skin
and as Sunday strolls by in sandals
and summer dresses, you, exile, refugee, wonder
at how little you’ve accomplished; two months’ salary
saved in the oven, no children
may day 2014
Quiet thunder rolls low through the city
and the skyscrapers speak
with separate voices. In the courtyard
a young mother hangs
towels to dry in the rain.
Sixty-eight days of cigarettes and dry skin
have wondered when the ground will open
to swallow the concrete, the steel, the
truncheons, the guns with a wailing
and gnashing of teeth.
“The pure present is an ungraspable advance of the past devouring the future. In truth, all sensation is already memory.” ~ Franz Kafka
discoveries and collapses
Shower, shave, dress, step out
and it begins to rain. What God
have you defied? Each passing year
seems smaller, dimmer, your flesh
falling into your bones. Some perfect
the art of severance, while others swim oceans.
You have been searching half-heartedly for
better methods, found only
the brutality you brought with you from half a world away.
Seven minutes outside the cathedral
your toes curl cold in your boots.
The morning held little more than
the previous night’s drunken culinary experiments
spoiling, the refrigerator’s hum and
the cat in the bedroom window, disappointed.
You have come for reasons inexplicable
even to yourself, maybe thinking
that one more ghost might
tip a scale somewhere, consecrate
the day, do something more noble
than just lurking corner coffeeshops
hoping some shy Vika or Nastya speaks
English beyond ‘do you want milk with that’
and sudden hymns chill the paving stones
so you walk east a ways, more toward
the drums of war, toward the coffeeshop,
toward the bar.
Quiet morning kitchen
these syllables, these words
low stools, spring-smudged windows
alone with ghosts before the stove
the color of Julia. Cold
apricot blossoms hang like fallen soldiers –
the day’s construction silent –
even “hello” begins without vowels.
Jesus, did you come back
for unloved mornings of weak coffee
and stale cigarettes? I want
to live, I want to live, and I
don’t want to die to do it.
Washed chalk, the sky is appalling
on the eve of summer snow.
The violence of winter has not yet passed.
An old man totters past the apartment towers
following a mud-streaked dog. It is still April
the heating cut weeks ago.
Just to the east, soulless beings
smuggle automatic weapons past borders
and here, hounds bay for blood.
A two-year-old coffeemaker
hot water on Tuesdays
the bathroom sink
the light switch in the hallway
the printer every other time
my heart, always.
Indeed, alone enough to absorb
every wavelength, to taste the edge of laughter
and its bloody aftermath, we have come to collect spiders.
“Human time does not turn in a circle; it runs ahead in a straight line. That is why man cannot be happy: happiness is the longing for repetition.”
~ from The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
EARLY 2014 POEMS
Near the end of the terror, the city
skyline splits a dusty sunset wherein
the traffic noise is trapped as if by plastic
sheets of the new year’s horror.
Springtime, the birds sing of war.
The same angry men mount the platforms
they mounted once before.
The blood hasn’t yet dried on the bricks.
Sparrows soar on an insensible wind.
a relationship always ends after the purchase of the first sex toy
Frame this at its naturally awkward angle
where I drink vodka, catacomb of cigarette smoke
call this a triptych, call it a postcard
from where the skin dries. It begins with
a ridiculous amount of flowers
roses, twelve red, twelve yellow, an odd
bouquet of something. It begins with
unpredictable shadows by streetlight
in the snow. Begins with slick sidewalks and
unsteady steps. With punctuated sleep.
Nausea. Alcohol. Continuous.
Opens so a new nightfall, another darkness
another’s ashes, snow, G-d’s cigarette
and a soldier’s murderous humor. You have waited
at train stations, waited
for daylight, waited
on a tardy burger with fries. Tonight
you want to feel every miserable sensation available.
It is right, it is right, and begins.
“Like all pure creatures, cats are practical.” ~ William S. Burroughs
IF I WERE ON FIRE
75 poems, with photography by Allison Richardson
was released by Spartan Press on May 12th, 2011
and is available at
Prospero's Books 1800 West 39th, Kansas City, MO
Raven Bookstore 6 East 7th Street, Lawrence, KS
and of course, Amazon if you're not lucky enough to be close to Prospero's or the Raven.
[SAMPLES FROM IIWOF]
54 poems, with artwork by Alexis Cullerton available at:
Prospero's Books 1800 West 39th, Kansas City, MO
Raven Bookstore 6 East 7th Street, Lawrence, KS
KU Bookstore 1301 Jayhawk Boulevard, Lawrence, KS
and, of course, through Amazon.com
PISS OFF NO PROPHETS: EXCERPT FROM II KINGS 2:23-25
23 And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. 24 And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them. 25 And he went from thence to Mount Carmel, and from thence he returned to Samaria.
Poetry of Matt Porubsky, author of Voyeur Poems and Fire Mobile (The Pregnancy Sonnets)
Laura Kitzmiller reading at Prospero's
Hep Cat and Fab Art-boy Andrew Jilka.
Jason Ryberg, author of Devils, Dice & Car Parts, Blunt Trama and other goodness.
Bronze Conduits poetry by Julianne Buchsbaum, author of Slowly, Slowly, Horses and A Little Night Comes
Mitzvah poems and random niftiness from Robert J. Baumann
My Favorite Barista Michaela on Lawrence.com and blogspot
OTHER MICKEY SCHTUFF:
me on Facebook
feature in Present Magazine July 2007
interview with four other soldier/poets from WarNewsRadio May 2007
interview with Bill Radke of Minnesota Public Radio Weekend America June 2007
write-up on the book release from the Lawrence Journal-World January 2005
interview with Laura Spencer of KCUR-FM Kansas City January 2005
contribution to KCUR program on the Crimean Invasion (my rambling begins at the 14:00 mark)
OLD AUDIO POEMS:
spearmint tea, tracks, and trestles
the psalms of wasps
Jazzhaus feature, March 2011
Jazzhaus February 2011
Prospero's Poetry Filibuster (setting a world's record for longest poetry reading!) June 2010
“the afterlife” at Prospero's May 2010
lindsey & the f-bomb at the Writer's Place, March 2008
natalie 3:28 Kansas City Lit Fest, June 2008
and just for fun, I'm the “star,” but have no lines: how is this possible? The Priest in the Porn Shop.
Prospero's Books used books, local poetry & events, and UnHoly Day Press
Flutter Poetry Journal
Glenda Rolle artwork
Rough Traces by Jason Wesco (review)
The artwork of C. Elisabeth Bear
Church of the Subgenius
and, of course, the amazing and talented Josie Wrath
The amazing Alexander Nevsky
(April 15th, 1999 – September 4th, 2009)
“The incorrigible sorrow of all prisoners and exiles... is to live in company with a memory that serves no purpose.”
~ Albert Camus
increscunt animi, virescit volnere virtus