Five poems by Paul Handley

Founding Father Advice

Moderation is the ration of
Good sense that occurs
When a delve would elicit,
A beck for restraint.  When
Asking your mistress to stay,
When imploring is what is
Demanded.  Pleasure is
Sacrificed for financial
Wherewithal, Deflecting
Distress.  The dinner chat
Of the founding fathers
Is the crux.

Let’s explore excess, not
John Adams, but mistress
Maintenance.  A balcony
Scene worthy of Romeo
And Juliet, sans the purity
Of first love, plus betrayal
Of his betrothed.  The
Stress of alibi and drum
Circle office retreats, are
Offset by reeling in sexual
Bliss.  Here, the nature of
Moderation is just short
Of enthrallment.

In another place, Spartan.
Revel in the mundane,
Admire the craft of veins,
Visible and screened,
Universe stretch, savor your
Luck, fragility of earth.
Strain until you can feel
The organs linking,
Pulsing at full speed,
Turning from a vibrato
To a strum.
Partisan Proper

He had been off in the
Capital pushing armed
Intervention for a bumper
Crop of reasons.  Went to
The embassies of other countries
To rant about their weakness,
Vulnerability to invasion and
Depletion of resources.
He preyed on racial animosities,
Real or imagined slights to
Regional honor and promised,
Cajoled, gave presentations of
Their power that would have
Made an advertising agency
Writhe with envy.

He emphasized the mutual
Benefits of taking out reviled
Leaders by overwhelming
Them with a cacophony of
Sound bites, video, printed
Word of veiled threats, hints
Of alliances and unhinged
Nationalistic impulses.
He had charts with
Accompanying voiceovers
Of compositional changes
In the electorate and
Membership in various sects
Beginning to bulge, and more.
Always more. He believed
Relentlessness was a talent.

Care had to be taken even
When the threat was recognized.
A sudden commingling of
Assets as it were on the part
Of the allies would look
Underhanded (He would
Promise to not be far behind
In the commingling), and open
Diplomacy demands compromise.
Compromise=Weakness at the
Best of times and invites
Chamberlainesque connotations
Plus associations, and to mention
Vichy.  In addition, futile
Images would be conjured of
Extended doves sated on cubed
Palm leafs to invading Vandals
And Goths.

Some would call it fear
Mongering (through a minion)
And that individual would get
Him up in their face, saying
“You are just scared,” even
Though in the next breath
He would say that “fear is
Healthy,” with a smile like
The anointed one that He
Was very close to being.

One meddled with Him
At their own peril.  A
Well-deserved reputation
As a bureaucratic full-contact
Infighter of championship
Caliber.  His beatific visage
Gained him public support
That he was smart enough
To ration.  He never
Overshadowed his superiors.
In the past, this talent had
Allowed others to underestimate
Him.  Even without elements

Of surprise, he still won.



The pigeons on the
Encircling telephone wire
Outside the barred window
Are as resistant to attempts
To dislodge them with the
Beer can shells as I am
To decamp from my abode,
Despite a petition (less than
A bill of particulars) campaign
Among the starter house
Neighbors, which I suspect
Has led to the only nongang
Affiliated graffiti in the city
And devolved on the
Imagination scale in its
Declarations of “condemned”
And degenerate sexual inclinations.

Having only taken Psych 101,
I can still see Projection as
Clearly as a spotlight, shone
From decrepit basements with
Curtained off pleasure rooms,
Even if the light must angle
Off the mirrored shards of
Wind chimes, dangling from
The house catty-corner, that
Sparkle like icicles, coating
The tips of loose limbed
Branches, that the new
Gentry pass off as art.

My blighted pigeons have
Showed me how to sidestep
And feign obtuseness.
Nature’s Lessons always seem best.


Regression Therapy

Sometimes I set aside the time
To go over my catalogue of hate.
I should have taken martial arts
To lessen my fear and improv theatre
For scathing recourse, until I recall
It’s a day and a half since my last Prozac,
And since I’m a firm follower of science,
With a physician that lay hands on my sides
That with a cough confirms my health.  I
Seek bottles with child proof caps.

I trust testing even when inconvenient,
Such as nutrition flip
Flopping (eggs bad, eggs good)
And cold reduction aids,
Inoculations, genetically produced wheat,
Water consumption, space program dollars,
Coffee, hair growth products, pumping
Iron and athletic performance,
My prescription is still followed,
Even a month past expiration date
And has become a trend lag.

I arise and realize over coffee
I want to hurt someone from my past,
Hate drifts away after ingestion
Like a draining rocket booster slipping
To the ocean, boiling soup percolates
From the friction heat touching brine.
The booster gathers itself,
Easing wizened steel into the water,
Dipping and rolling, then a sigh of relief
To have lost the unworldly heat.
Upended as if deciding to descend,
The foam from the combustion
Already knots away.

That night the capsule of my hate
Raises its head from the muck
Of my vision, barnacles skirting
Its surface looking for a stable home.
Dreams become familiar, but never routine.
Chased by carnie crews, helmed
By my landlord, I beat them over
And over with a bat, but they are
Zombielike in their perseverance.


Family Tradition

As a carnivore I am repelled by cannibalism
and self-mutilation, but I still attend
our biannual Marinsky reunion
held in Villa Park, Illinois, bordering Chicago,
in a park coned unevenly with trees
blocking the skyline of the city
and industrial complexes to the south.
Instead of like a dog cone
to prevent tonguing salve,
we like to tease cleft scabs.

Family tradition is telling horrific stories
of family history or wince inducing
periods of bad luck.  Best of all is to
hook a new member, impaired by politeness,
with cousins chortling knowingly,
confirming the details.  A coup is
embellishment that becomes embedded
in the retelling.

Traumatic events such as our pharmacist grandpa
poisoning his first two wives to death
when they became ill, because he didn’t
want to take care of anyone.
His caretaker days were over
when the youngest turned eighteen.
Or grandma on the maternal side
burning down the house to commit suicide.
The madness here is implied.
Warning, embrace with caution.
Welcome to the family.

After a couple of beers
males eyed to see if drink wine coolers
for hint of weakness.  Various levels
of the unsound.  Ice in whiskey
(the short ones).  Beer from a cup
instead of a can.  The opposite
true for females.  All related by
blood are strict adherents.
A couple of bohemian in-laws
dare to add cubes and defiantly stir
with a finger after four domestic canned beers.

No one must admit they have been drinking,
transgressions cannot be excused.
Decorum flaws cannot be indulged
by bloodstream.  Another test.

As a proponent of stem cell research
I reject cloning and synthetic foods,
yet I comply within reason by the reunion rules
created by matriarchs and patriarchs
with a unique sense of their own cosmos,
in a closed off park in Villa Park, Illinois.




Paul Handley spent a career as a student and a student of odd jobs.  He has an MA, an MPA, and is ABD.  He has driven a cab and sold meat door-to-door.  Paul has work included or forthcoming in Apollo’s LyreBoston Literary Magazine, Ophelia Street, Poesia and others.

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