Aphids savage the rosebush.
A marigold sickens and browns.
Milk sours in the refrigerator.
Roaches pick at particles of cheese.
I am told when there’s nothing to eat
they devour each other.
Ashtrays fill as if by magic,
the trash barrel is always full.
Lifting it, the garbage man buckles
as his spine twists like a snake.
He drives to the only hospital
that won’t take his insurance,
with its sawdust floors, straw beds
and spaghetti-stained nurses.
The near-sighted doctor can’t read
the overexposed X-ray
though the tech swears
it showed a death’s head smiling.
God bless chaos.
This is one of the oldest poems in the collection, written some 25 years ago. I hope it doesn't show. Its inclusion illustrates how I went through my archives to pick those poems I thought would forward the theme, instead of just those poems I thought my best. My best are, incidentally, contained in another unpublished ms.,For the Record, and were selected by Kathleen.
She recently sat down with me and decided on a division of labor. She will strive to find markets for my book-length works of prose, of which I have seven, while I will pursue a larger market for my poetry. The Net has made me lazy as I can avoid licking stamps and walking to the mail box. But the Net does not bring the recognition of print, even the best e-zines that pay. And I think I long ago cracked just about all the e-zines of reputation, though many have arisen since. It's impossible to keep up with them all.
Today's poem is perhaps the first in the series that contains a dark chuckle or two, especialy the non-authorized hospital. And the Greek angle is obvious: the world began in chaos, just as it does in the Bible. The second law of thermodynamics consistently strives to return us to that state, while life, and its high-energy requirements for order and complexity, fights against that degeneration.
I may have chosen the garbage man because I have chronic back problems which limited my ability to continue as a physician years ago. The pain is only a minor satellite in my conscious existence unless I have to do something like bend over or drive a fair distance. The only medication that allowed me to work in such pain, unfortunately, also precipitated hypomania--why I went on disability a decade ago.
The poem is really self-explanatory. I'm just speaking around it. But the surfacing of humor is a good sign and confirms we have but ten more poems to go in the depressive section before the speaker's mood can be considered normal. I'm sure you're all looking forward to that!