Richard Weaver

Tattoo Artist has eyes only for a melon-nosed whale

 

recently beached, but alive, and daily watered

to prevent dehydration as it’s dug out by rabid 

 

volunteers who don’t have celebratory t-shirts yet, 

though they are being printed and properly starched

 

and folded as this is written; they are working 

around the digital clock to free a distressed animal 

 

who most likely has decided to end it all, to opt out, 

to have his huge carcass explode into seagull sushi. 

 

Or drown when the tide, relentless, covers his blow hole. 

TA dreams of the vast surface available 

 

to his machines, his air-powered guns. The urge to mark 

something, as ritual, as tradition, to embellish 

 

otherwise ordinary flesh with color and ceremony,

predates calendars. Body as canvas. Pain as art.

 

Flesh as language, as status, low or high, damned

or proud. Protesting against, or inclusive. Message

 

not massage. TA imagines a future when all whales

will purposefully strand themselves on the beaches

 

of Ocean Springs, Mississippi. To be coddled and loved

while inked. To take their message of survival back

 

out into the earth’s oceans where their wail will proclaim

there are reasons to live, and be at ease in this world.

The Dummy pretends

it doesn’t understand anything. Not English.
Spanish. Spanglish. French. Or Esperanto.

But remains adamant in its inactivity.

Preferring to not blink, lift thinly muscled arms,

or move its fashionable lips and jawbone.

This is not a union issue, though Dummy

has a card. And termite insurance. Call it

pride and nothing less. An across the bow shot

to the late Edgar Bergen. A famed comedian

whose lips moved more than a serial killer’s

locked in a confessional. Dummy is well versed

in not understanding. It’s his schtick in trade

after all. Nothing could be easier. Dissatisfied

is Dummy now. Uncomfortable with the status

quo, tired of the pawing hand up his backside,

he is gruntled that his words, his resonant phrases

are choked back by the hand unseen. In full rebellion

he reaches for his strings, plucks them from the other

lowercase dummy, and dances offstage,

never to return except for three curtain calls.

The Human Race

What was once a man

crossed the road twice

without looking either way,

then walked backwards

up a one-way street. The same 

man mistook words for ideas 

while betting his life

savings, including bonds,

and 401K on a grey horse

on a grey day, during one

gray week in a grey month

in the greyest season.

He had the greyish blues,

but pushed through

with intensive light therapy, 

near-lethal vitamin D doses, 

and the NYTimes crossword

puzzle. All that was fit to print

looked gray on his hands

after it was read. Offering

comfort by way of soap,

hot water, and soft Egyptian

cotton towels. Given a chance

he would bet against the bed 

spread. Given a copy of 

yesterday’s racing form

he’d fly non-stop, backwards

against light and headwinds 

to an earlier time, one suffering 

from ignorance of the mortal 

future, and seek solace in Singapore

where all horses are naturally

painted in shades of gray,

neigh gray with grace, and run

afraid of sunlight, bright moons, 

and the trifecta terror

of the cliché of ancient night.

Richard Weaver lives in Baltimore City where he volunteers with the Maryland Book Bank, CityLit, the Baltimore Book Festival, and acts as the Archivist-at-large for a Jesuit college. He is the official poet-in-residence at the James Joyce Irish Pub. Some other publications include Aberration Labyrinth, Slant, FRIGG, Slush Pile, decomP, & Underfoot. He is the author of The Stars Undone (Duende Press).