Babbs and Clean-Willy iron together in the buff.
You can see them. Babbs’ jelly-fish figure.
Clean-Willy the same but harder and hirsute,
like a balding chimp, smoking as he sprays starch.
They are half-drunk but diligent
in their ironing uniforms for State employees.
You can tell this is what’s become of America:
Babbs and Clean-Willy are doing well. The TV
stays on for ambience for their dog is prone
to intense fits of depression. Clean-Willy
blows pot smoke into its nose. This helps.
Babbs crushes anti-depressants into its food.
That also helps Klubber, the Bulldog kept
shaven to show its tattoos of the Seven Dwarfs
along its back and rump. Clean-Willy plays
ukulele chords and sings English sea shanties
from a made-up past as a pirate hunter.
The bed is a mattress on the floor.
The lamps are the handy work
of self-pleased Babbs, violet and black shades
and long strands of glitzy beads. They rent the studio
next door and against the rules fashioned
a doorway connecting the two apartments.
Next door is a four hundred square foot
Aquarium-world lit by black lights so fish,
Orange, yellow, and zebra-striped dazzle
like flowers glowing in a field at night.
So few flights these days that the sight
of a passenger plane excites people to look up.
Miraculous, Babbs and Clean-Willy say
from their roof when hearing the engines
rumble the bones of their feet.
Comes a knock at the door now and then.
Nephew Dupree needs circus cash.
Dido needs a ten day cache of opiates.
It’s Odd to see Dido, a lean pale Bayer heroin model.
Clean-Willy knows even as a corpse she’ll
retain much of her beauty, and he tells her
how much he admires her body alive—alive,
he repeats in hope of seeing her survive
her cruel mother’s spoon and the cruel
cello master’s unforgiving lessons.
Morph sleeps for a living. He mails the Oneiric Box.
Eventually a think-tank somewhere on the Eastern
Seaboard makes intensive reports they all
used to read in small journals. Only
boredom set in. The writing was bad.
The findings lost their unintended comedy.
Morph confides in Clean-Willy his wearisome work.
They drink cognac. They speak of a different life,
which grows realer yet than actual life.
They keep talking, adding things. Lego People,
residing on No Name Road, puncturing space
and playing peek-a-boo with the universe,
their bosses being urban German blackbirds
foaming at the beak over such infidelity to physical laws,
plus the abominations of robotic leaf fish,
robotic trees, and blood tests designed to detect
potential signs of suicidal ideation in whales.
Keith Alexander lives in Cincinnati and part of the year in the Frankfurt. He has had poems published in numerous magazines, including Crazyhorse, Prairie Schooner, AGNI, Seneca Review, Salt Hill, Hanging Loose, and The Sun Magazine. At present he is finishing a collection of poems, The Book of Treatments, and collection of short stories, Hush House.1