the muse apprentice guild
--expanding the canon into the 21st century




SIX WORKS
BY KENNETH POBO

BEE BALM

Bees deserve
a flower like bee balm--
they too need to dream

of a summer
that never guarantees
a fall.

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MANY PARTS

In many parts of America,
you must order freedom fries,
not french fries. Dear France,

here, that Statue of Liberty
you gave us, take it back.
Drown her in the Seine. She's
hardly our type of woman--why
didn't she marry? Is she a dyke?

When I eat freedom fries, Iraqi
body parts rattle in the salt shaker.
War builds good malls,
fast food, fast bangs. Freedom
bombs the shit out of children.

In warm offices, leaders
sign their farts into law.
Death, they think, is thousands
of miles away. Yet,

legs crossed, Death sits
on an upholstered chair,
asks their names.

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DUCT TAPE

A woman down my street
says she knows that chemical
weapons will hit her house first,
paid 2 grand for gas masks
for her family at an army supply store.
Duct tape silvers

each window and door. She says
she once felt safe but now
it's hundreds of canned fruits
in the cellar. I used

to laugh behind her back,
but duct tape covers me,
a kind hard to see.
I'm not afraid of killer fumes.

My duct tape? A smile,
a handshake, a phony
"Good morning," a politeness
covering me like a body rash.
My doctor notices nothing,

wishes me well, turns
to the next patient, his sticky
grin the silver
of his stethoscope.

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BUDS CHIME

While TV news says that war is
new and improved
and every home should have one,
spring's gatekeepers, crocus
and winter aconites, keep alert.

Evicted, my next door neighbors
must scram in two days. Iris
reticulata stare down a hellebore.

My life is a mess--my job,
a spoonful of poison
given five days a week.
Rotted people put their knees
on my chest, make me drink.

Back home, hyacinths purple.
As early blossoms give way
to the next wave, I hear
bells in buds chime.

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PINK CALLING

Two years ago
the Baltic Sea became my strong
handsome lover. Gentle,
he took in small boats. Days

before I flew home, I found
a botanical garden,
wore my Walkman, listened
to the Sandpipers, imagined
the garden I had abandoned
in America--Germany was three
weeks behind. On a pond

covered with lily pads,
frogs sang in a watery lover's lane--
I thought of you, walked
a little further,
saw rhododendron buds,

your voice in deepening
pink calling.

================

OUT RUNNING

On one of spring's first sunny days,
I go running. The sun's
different than even a week ago:
closer, an old friend meeting me
on a busy street. I could

run on any number of streets,
but choose the usual route,
pass the same houses, see
a fence where five months ago
wind tossed blue frisbees
of the last morning glories.

So much hasn't happened yet!

Spring dawdles, dreams--
blackened leaves dwindle
into cold ground. I run and run,
fist-shaped hands try
to knock winter out cold.


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