diode v9n1



The True Meaning of The True Meaning

I propose a toast to hilarity.
It yips like a scrawny little dog.
A self-identified hippie eats that toast.

Far out, man, he says. Not far enough,
says the honey that made the bee
that the hippie forgot. It stung

when he laughed.  I offered
an intervention of smokeable
expressions on invisible ink.

Meanwhile, God on the sidelines
warming up. Meanwhile,
the toasty dog whistles and sings.

The bee died. Someone had to. The hippie
got lost searching for the punch line.
No one called him hippie anymore.

Rudy was his name, and he was indeed
an asshole. It was all written inside
an extra large fortune cookie. It was toasty

in there, and I could write anything. I carved
the words on grains of rice. Steady work,
decent pay, but the checks were illegible.

The World’s Greatest Blanket

soft as the there there of a parent’s
          consolation. Large enough
to spread over a particularly particular
          naked body. Small enough
to be kicked off in the buck and surge.
          Light enough for liftoff
of dreams and moist breath and farts
          and God’s quiet hovering.
Thick enough to withstand
          the snags of small lies
and enormous betrayals.
Sewn by the hands of St. Virgin
          and St. Whore. Or woven.
Intertwined in a handed-down
          story ending with a kiss.
There. And there.

Double Nickel

At 55, smash your mirrors.
          Shred your maps.
Whittle your clock hands.
At 55, you qualify for discounts
          just when you’re ready
to pay full price. At 55, you begin
          spiraling through the rolodex
of memory, tip of the tongue bitten
          off, swallowed.
At 55, the current obscures into eddies.
At 55, you generalize, you round off,
          you crack the aquarium of your dreams
and water spills, ink runs, the dog licks up blood
          as it has always done, despite
                    the tricks you taught it.

Anger Burns Like Hell

          Kindness falls away
like cheap special effects
          and leave you standing
on a high patch of evil large enough
          for self-immolation
like it was an option at a spa
          for the angry
the prerecorded voice of betrayal
          skipping over the melted vinyl
of your one good suit
          and you open your mouth to express
the sizzle of shame, but God only sighs
          and points you to the back
of the line, where infinity ends.

Americana Tune

If this was a song, the echo of objects
in dusky light would accompany
us, low-fi. Pale flesh lit against gray.
Plaintive wails about love and love-
gone circling like a pedal-powered
disco ball. Clapping hands
to the sincere hymnal.

If this was a song,
it’d be hollow-bodied strum with callous
on the frets, and a little tongue slide.
Warm-cloud harmonica haze. Rusty hinge.
Twinge. Old lick-stamp. Fresh tang of sweat
in every crease and fold. Oh, uuuoooooh.
Oh, uuuoooh, uuuuuoooooh. And neither
God’s name nor mine could ruin it.  


Jim Daniels’s latest books are Rowing Inland (Wayne State University Press), Apology to the Moon (BatCat Press), Eight Mile High, stories )Michigan State University Press), and Birth Marks, poems. He is the writer/producer of a number of short films, including The End of Blessings. Daniels is the Thomas Stockham Baker University Professor at Carnegie Mellon University.