428 Greene Street, Key West

Before Capote got rolled here
for playing grab-ass with
the sailors,
before Hemingway tore out the urinal
and dragged it to his house
of cats,
this bar was a bordello, an icehouse,
and a morgue.

And before that a hanging tree
grew - it still
ugly and twisted
in the center of the bar,
and though dead men do not hang from
its boughs anymore
it seems to bear their sorrows
and breeds some mournful muse.

Are the ceiling fans old
circulating occult burlesques
in frames? The brassieres droop
over the gantry
like stalactites in a cave,
each one bathed in dust and neon
dread intoxication.

And the ex-con beside me with eyes
of a dung beetle - he must've
been recycled by eternity.
He plays the role of Puppet Monarch,
his mark of Cain
a small purple scepter branded
sidelong on his brow.

And when I tell him
my girlfriend just broke up with me,
there's truth in his reply: "You don't
lose your girlfriend on this island,"
he says, "you just lose your

Pan Humanity

I do not dread humanity, I dread
Pan, goat-hooved
half-man - that mythic god and shepherd I see
in everyone.

I see him in pilots plumbers
Pentecostals. I see him in murderers bunglers
buglers playing
taps cheeks puffed slender fingers sullen
agents in the song of

And in the soft
glutton and in the swollen
I equally see him.

He is the terrifyingly absurd
He is the primal caterwaul underlying
and in every riotous (big little) victory
he reigns.

He rules the courtroom coliseum and boudoir
in politics (writes its histories) this
indestructible -

And I see him I keep seeing his blossoming
image fading in time. He is nature
personified. He
nature's keenest promulgator of the lie.

M.P. Powers has been published in Nerve Cowboy, Identity Theory, Poems
Niederngasse, Ascent Aspirations, and The Dead Mule School of Southern

2007 Underground Voices