UNDERGROUND VOICES: POETRY
MICHAEL SHORB

Tipping Point Days

A planetary MS
slows things down
gums things up

it starts out grey and indecisive
reeling slowly in fog
then it occurs to you:
what if the president is crazy?
what if the market tanks?
what if a war breaks down?

9/11 a false flag
torture a modality
perversion the norm
pollution's invisible advance
a roiling juggernaut
discarded plastic islands
adrift in the sea
a thousand lost pequods
searching for their whale
while the vast ice fields
calve and shudder.

These are the tipping point days.
Nothing makes sense.
Starvation and pollution and decay
are the three reigning kings
and there is no saviour,
no manger, no light
storming from friendly,
wandering stars.


Hearing Lennon's 'Imagine' on the Wrigley
Beach North Of Mazatlan


Mexico and I were changing places.
In the timeless south I forgot
Draft cards and social security numbers,
In San Jose Del Pacifico
                                    on the mountainous
Spine of Sierra Madre below Oaxaca
I gorged on dark mushrooms packed
In jars of honey
                    relishing their cobalt blue
Dots of pure psilocybin as I watched
Sudden deep green valleys undulate
Below drooling Olmec clouds heard
The brujos whirling in oxygen-
Driven rapids of my blood
Drumming a green cascade
Event horizon
                       with no memory or name.

Three days ago I rode the comic
Pig and chicken laden local bus from
Puerto Angel up to Pochutla's market square,
Leaving behind only a rented cot
Straw room beachfront hotel on a
Blue inlet bay, only pesos spent on
Carta Blanca and ceviche, fresh red snapper
Lanced from early morning waters,
Lobsters wrapped in giant leaves, juevos
Con salsa, small bunches of thumb-shaped
Red bananas and the shrill, brain-icing pot
Grown in the back hills by the younger fishermen.

Then coastward hitched a ride on a PRI
Road repair truck loaded with expressionless
Workers and drums of bubbling asphalt.
Walked miles alone on alien road to
Escondido Beach, stopping once to
Splash naked in a small sparkling stream
Beneath a bridge.

                         A long ride from two goldmine
Dreamers from Idaho with antlers tied
To the front of their old panel truck
Took me through Acapulco,
along wetland shallows
Thick with flocks of reddish flamingos
Rising like mist, through Guadalajara and
Up jungled coast land plain
                                         to Mazatlan, where vultures

Sat on the curving light poles,
                                              to the squatter's beach
Just south of the curving bluff and coconut
Grove on the ocean side of the old Wrigley
Mansion.

A palace built by the oral fixation
Of millions seemed, after a few cigar-sized
Joints rolled in strips of newspaper and an eye-
Splitting sunset, to be the last refuge in a world
Consumed by progress and war. First morning
A group of us, two women from Toronto,
A marine hitching north with his wife,
Two former tank drivers from Danang heading
Home to somewhere east of Fairbanks
All naked, stoned in the water, slapping laughter
And traces of color from the surging froth.

Walking up the beach to gather coconuts
To mix tequila in I heard your song,
Lennon, piped from a radio porch of utter clarity.
As though I had never heard a song before
I stood there, following the dreaming flow.
If we could only stop here, stone in water
Laughing, everything stretching green
Me not returning broke to the states,
You not stretched out in awkward blood outside
Your New York street hotel, no devil of envy
Shrieking, drugging gone bad in parody
Half Capone half pathogenic Peter Pan,
The measures lacking love, bad signs,
Lines drawn across the heart.


Michael Shorb has lived in California most of his life.
His work reflects an abiding interest in myth, history,
and the lyrical form, as well as a satirical focus on
present day trends and events. His poems have appeared in
over 150 magazines and anthologies, including The Nation,
The Sun, Michigan Quarterly Review, Kansas Quarterly,
Rain City Review, Shakespeare Newsletter, Commonweal,
Religious Humanism, Shoofly, Beatitude, European Judaism,
THE DOLPHIN'S ARC (anthology), BELL RINGING IN AN EMPTY
SKY (anthology), TO BE A MAN (anthology) and NAMES IN A
JAR: 100 AMERICAN POETS (anthology).







2008 Underground Voices