I use “karma” a lot, though I probably don’t believe in it, or even understand it. But it comes in handy.
In my other life, I stayed
up all night, in charge of the moon
in the clearing, where the sticks
got up and
joined hands and
I had a crown of clover and baby’s breath
and sweet minions,
and I presided sitting on a soft
mushroom, drinking moonshine
from an acorn cup till dawn
when I was put to snore between the roots
of a great tree.
This went on for three hundred years,
and I died.
I woke up human, and Baptist, in Atlanta, Georgia—
which shows you what can happen
when you don’t pay attention.
It’s My Karma, and I’ll Cry If I Want To
How do people survive who
listen to those oldies stations,
the psychic whiplash of your life,
the sad, happy, sad, happy bandstand mix
of your very own album, Greatest Hits
and Misses, any year ready to pounce
and only the DJ with his dance card
knows where you’re going next?
As if a god, like Dick Clark after death,
showed you all your other lives—“(Sittin’
On) The Dock of the Bay,” “There Goes
My Baby” with someone new, “Down
in the Boondocks”— and now you know why
you’re in the song you are, that because
you fought the law and the law won,
you’re working on a “Chain Gang”
and feel a “Bad Moon Rising.”
And so we have to drink the waters of
forgetfulness, ferry cross the Mersey,
change channels, to live without memory, so
painful, so blue on blue, heartache
on heartache, that we won’t recall
we knew each other before, smiled
at each other in the same way then,
but it turned out wrong—the screaming tires,
the busting glass—or right: Hey,
hey, Paula, I want to marry you.
Hey, Paul, I want to marry you, too.
O worlds keep closing in,
They have before, they will again.
The Seven Dragons will rise
like thunderheads in the East
and come for tea, wrap the scaly
stoles of tails around their shoulders,
toast with their breath the almond
cookies and buttered bread as they
pass them. The Great Beast will crouch
in the grass and hope for crusts
or a scratch behind the ears, and the Whore
of Babylon plop her plush butt down
on the garden chair and rest
her dogs that bark from so
many nights standing beneath
the streetlamps of the sky.
At an hour till midnight, the boozy
candlelight will blur, and the Queen
of Heaven fail to suppress
a yawn so big and black
it swallows all the stars,
though from her belly another litter
is about to be born.
© 2018 William Greenway
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