5 Poems by /Dale houstman

Dale houstman

1- Where Lunatics Eat Artificial Orchids

I have never been to a lunatic zoo 

but I know these animals are sick. 

You will see many dead animals 

and people eating them 

but the animals they eat are not “natural” 

and I know these animals are sick. 

“They were starved to death”

whispers the policeman protecting the bank. 

“Left for dead and animals eat those left behind. 

The discarded.”

They do not know what to do with all the dead animals. 

I imagine how they feel 

eating all these dead animals

especially having to eat them once again 

after eating so many of them before

when they return\to be eaten once more.

Things keep coming up.

Things keep going down.

The animals in that distant and dark corner are not sick 

but the zookeepers don’t take caution with their pain 

and kill them with their steel rods and with their oven gloves.  


To scare the sicker animals away from humans 

into the forest and away from the children

into the attic 

also saving the zoo’s finances

because it is about to be declared a public shame.

Yet… If we want to go on a picnic we can buy a picnic basket in every distant and dark corner.

All natural items

such as the vegetables the animals used to live on

nuts the animals used to eat raw from the ground

dried berries 

biscuits from the hands of strangers 

then at the very beginning 

one animal died and was eaten 

although every animal said 

they could not eat anymore.

The animal realizes they must store 

all its own food in the distant and dark corner. 

A few plants however may need fresh air 

and while most of our pets 

even the sharks 

will die of starvation 

if given only parrots to eat

the snakes in the kitchen

and the amphibians approaching the writing desk

in the distant and dark corner

give solemn thanks for sleep.

There is evidence some animals will recover 

from being eaten.

A 1943 study suggests people eat artificial orchids 

(orchids artificially forced to reject their essence) 

which contain beautiful toxins 

sweet as blood in which fish swim.

Toxins are also in plants animals fungi and human cells

and lingered over in the researchable wild 

cause withering anemia in domestic arrangements.

Handsome scientists developed an experiment 

with five orchid specimens taken from around the world

and each of these five real orchids were fed fresh artificial orchids.

Additionally the insects in the five wild specimens were treated 

with various levels of toxicity and turned loose on the petals. 

One, a single sample from the five specimens

contained no toxins whatsoever.

Another from the smallest group of four (a single “natural’ orchid

containing all the chemicals of a natural orchid) 

contained 100% toxins.

One group of 12 organic samples

contained only 10% toxins.

And all tasted sweet as the blood

in which fishes swam.

(To be noted: the same number of organic samples were taken from four different orchid species.)

2- The Creature

for Mary Shelley

In respect to so little solitude

each beloved’s off-hand proposal

finger curls a hair of sutured shadow

a half-scorched catalogue 

of mal-insured countenances.

It must have semblance!

A long-planned relation

(I conjecture, safe from touch)

and, for one unbiased afternoon

that body we all endure

and also its politic gestures

twitched from the crowd

on the slave stage and shore 

alive in mindful poverty

far from any water.

The stolen fluid’s reflections

held gruesome consequence

for the innocents (what few)

& appeared—as life will—

to be a sinking fishing boat

carved many years ago

from wild willow

which (now

I reconsider) might

have interested him

if we convened as colleagues.

And yet, the current situation

we deplore and punish ourselves

arose and crashed

in a too-white assemblage, stately

neglectful intercourse.

Dale houstman

3- Chance to Utter

Loneliness maintained by a narrowness

sincere and impertinent. To know such portions

of Chinese fields and Egyptian riverbanks

as heard from the paid witnesses.

Never to sight the better roads, and yet

man will labor, as in old books they labor

to throw good fruit into all these machines

required by doubt and some few pay promises 

for servitude but dignity holds its prisoners closer.

Too green that eternal resignation

that ancestral necessity sad sprinkle of birds

belief worn system of the very distance

not belonging to the measure and the whole round

the full cup so little spent or noted

in abandonment of frontier weakness

a brutal warmth of wave surprise.

And in the coldest analogies

we rub each form

to agitate for hindrance.

To promulgate locality.

4- Desire-Matter

     Forms assumed by desire-matter: hairs of gold scars splashed across grey slate, a limb of blood-milk, veins of dew decorating leaves, smoking arteries petrified in air: these prove the shape the pluriverse wishes to  express out of pocket, as it forges its desire through an ecology of need tempered by lethargy. Cognition is weary.

     These faint meanders—a suspense of imagined canals—own up to a radical disinterest, Germanic in its rigor. Germans made petulant astronomers.

     Slums of slumber upon byways, staring at the bodies of stars captioned by the leaves.

     Desires made useful are useless.

     The urge is desire’s avant-garde in service to the nagging of the moment.

5- Each Dream So Vast

My heart is a green mist

A coffin for dew.

I dream of ice flashing

on a stone wall

as it vanishes

down the blossoming mountain.

Farther along the mindful path

a sunset bends to listen

to my old friends.

Only complaints.

Rain will someday sparkle

upon my tiny autumn shoes

where my feet hide from Spring

in the red bitter grove.

The simplest echo

is white beads falling

down through branches.

Sounds reach me

disturbing butterflies

dark green in a small doorway.

I hide behind each new flaw.

Why do stars remind me

of children’s paper boats?

Far from shore

the oldest shadows

swim through moonlight.

Red leaves are best

for a poor man’s pillow.

Old bones hold thin dreams.

Where are the forgotten footsteps

Guests who once called to one another?

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