Bonfire in the Canefields by M.P. Powers

When I woke up that morning, there was blood.
In the toilet, on the walls.
I felt like I’d been beaten with a catfish
pole. I staggered
to the washbasin, looked in the cracked
glass.

I forget what year it was,
but these were the days when The Raven
and the Dove was operating under a phony business
license,
and Alan Britt, living in a bungalow off Lucerne,
would drink Colt Ice out of a
tennis ball can. A couple blocks north, Michael Grover
operated out of a bomb shelter, where he’d harvest silk
worms and dry his
clothes by draping them over the bushes
in the lawn.

And of course
everyone knows about my lifelong affinity to
corn souffle, long legs, and Art
Schopenhauer, a fellow pessimist who threw a woman
down a flight of stairs for running
her cakehole in the hall. “Sleight-of-hand,” some wit said.
And it always
seems to come down to that. Swapping hyperbole
for fact, or a direct
look in the eye from a hound (human
or otherwise).
And whose to say
what’s truth or trash? A tale of a tub or a sunset
like a roasted horse.

Time was when Misti
Rainwater-Lites strangled a price-gouging garage
mechanic
with her pantyhose in Lickskillet, Alabama.
And William Taylor Jr., bleeding
a live chicken in the parking lot of Ross
Dress for Less.
“Sometimes I think it’s just easier
to make sense than poetry,” said Thunderclap
Endelfarb, a Jewish redneck
residing in the lower portions of
your Upper Imagination.

And then came Thalestris, Queen
of the Amazons, who didn’t think Alexander’s appearance
quite matched his reputation.
Yet the two of them spending the next 13 days
in bed together.

And I felt a little blood
thumping behind my ear, noted the ghost
in the mirror.
“Art is what you can get
away with.” (Warhol, 1967). Whereupon,
it had come to my attention
some 33 Cubans landed
in the cooling canals of the Turkey Point nuclear power plant
a little after dawn, Thanksgiving
Day (2009).
And quite conveniently, no one ever mentioned Howie
Good’s penchant for opening umbrellas in the back
seat of his Grand
Marquis.

Or when the red
moon drifted over the ash trees. 3 Englishmen
with bad haircuts sashaying through a Rotterdam pastry
shop, the fat one
making threats with the wax
pistol shoved in his pants
until Pris Campbell clubbed him over the head with a Rube
Goldberg-style cheesegrater.

“You know me, blow me,” said Paul Corman-Roberts.
We had been working
on an historical novel entitled Getting Your Rocks
Off: The Importance of
Prophylactics while Dry
Humping, when reports came over the radio that a madman
in hospital gown
was on the loose in the neighborhood.

I opened the medicine cabinet,
took the floss, strung it from one end of the room
to the other. Then I threw
a towel on the floor of the shower, doused it
with scalding hot water and wrapped
it around my head. I came out of there smelling
like lilacs, and the next thing I know
I’m with RD
Armstrong and three stewbums, dragging a shopping cart
through Liberty City.

We had decorated it with blue
traffic reflectors and tied a Christmas tree to the side,
and a ragdoll on the front. And Raindog standing up
in it, dressed like
Don Quixote, waving the short sword
he’d pulled from his sash, threatening
yield signs
as if they were giants.

It wasn’t long after that
we made a hoist down at Bank of Miami, (Mike Meraz
disguising
himself as Grover Cleveland),
and ended up in a canefield on the edge of the glades.
The sun
had just gone down, and we spread all the money
around
on the ground.

Then we lit it up in flames, and as we watched
it burn “all
Halloween orange and chimney red,” one of the stewbums
said to me,
he said, “That’s right, kid.
It ain’t ’bout duh money. Nevuh wuz… Dat’s duh whole
secret ta da ting. Ain’t life
grand…..”

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8 Responses to “Bonfire in the Canefields by M.P. Powers”

  1. Lynne Hayes Says:

    Hands down.. one of the best things I have read all year, and I read a helluva lot of poetry.. This soars higher than the sky.. really outstanding!!!

  2. reading this was far better than voting! for sure. wow…

  3. Good wild ride here, nice one.

  4. Thanks for the comments Lynne, Winnie &
    Mather & thanks especially goes to Scot for publishing this.
    My intent was completely good-natured;
    meant to amuse, not offend anyone (whose name was mentioned).
    Hopefully you all see that…

  5. an amalgamation of insiginifcance
    turning with each tale
    until importance
    slaps you

    and I know some of these characters
    very well

    we all do

    thank you

  6. Bomb shelter? The only place I ever lived downtown in Lake Worth was on 13th Street.

  7. I fucking love this! I love it so much I just tweeted it. 😉

  8. Charles Hayes Says:

    It falls in what the famous photographer Ralph Steiner calls
    the “Nay” kind of artist — applied to this poet.
    Its a mudslide. Go to “In Spite of Everything, Yes” edited by the photographer and his wife in the 1980s.
    It’s good for poets, good for awaking what is needed from us
    today.

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