Is There Life on Mars?

It’s a God-awful small affair
To the girl with the mousy hair
But her mummy is yelling “No”
And her daddy has told her to go

But her friend is nowhere to be seen
Now she walks through her sunken dream
To the seat with the clearest view
And she’s hooked to the silver screen

But the film is a saddening bore
For she’s lived it ten times or more
She could spit in the eyes of fools
As they ask her to focus on

Sailors fighting in the dance hall
Oh man! Look at those cavemen go
It’s the freakiest show
Take a look at the Lawman
Beating up the wrong guy
Oh man! Wonder if he’ll ever know
He’s in the best selling show
Is there life on Mars?

It’s on America’s tortured brow
That Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow
Now the workers have struck for fame
‘Cause Lennon’s on sale again
See the mice in their million hordes
From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads
Rule Britannia is out of bounds
To my mother, my dog, and clowns
But the film is a saddening bore
‘Cause I wrote it ten times or more
It’s about to be writ again
As I ask you to focus on

Sailors fighting in the dance hall
Oh man! Look at those cavemen go
It’s the freakiest show
Take a look at the Lawman
Beating up the wrong guy
Oh man! Wonder if he’ll ever know
He’s in the best selling show
Is there life on Mars?

David Bowie

14 more gundeaths in sanbernardino

.
so that’s what it’s come down to as of now

what with 14 or more deaths in sanbernardino
which -inevitably- brings in a saint
without condemning the religion of our mad now

it’s plain it’s simple:
we’ve become an unreasoning society
in a trip off the rails
(you can hear our
mad conductors shout)

watching football will not
change that, nor will
kardhashian
—which popular approval
proves the declination
we are about

Jim

The Impossible Glamour of Istanbul

.
the narrow streets on the hill
leading from the mooring of our ship
were stepped and cobbled, or bricked.
from overhead they must have looked like laces
knitting together masonry walls
which lined those ancient spaces

greenhorn that I was (and am,
in cosmic time at least) under the luck
of many graces I walked, naive
unafraid/unbrave, and innocently unstuck, 
full of ignorance and contradiction 
as any boy who’d not yet had to grieve

with young others like myself I went learning, 
laughing up our hill with no prescriptions 
caroming off the inner walls of skulls but
singed instead by bonfire embers 
scattered in fresh imagination’s thrilling burning

we turned and faced the Bosphorus
caught in an opening between close parapets
the air was clear and undefiled for us
the sun as bright as white phosphorus
for us the place was indecipherable and new 
impossible and glamorous

a muezzin called his faith from roofs
but no one really knew if god was there
a woman paused to stare at three 
unconscious boys in sailor suits

the muezzin’s song echoing in the canyons 
of those streets was not consonant 
but to our four-part fifties
doo-wop ears was clamorous
like half an argument too resolute,
too apt to drown out other ways of love, 
the opposite of amorous avalanching 
down the slope of years
to bury new counter-thoughts
that children of the present world
hiking up their hills will 
ever be advancing
.

by Jim Culleny 
11/01/14

Xu Bing’s Phoenixes at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine

phoenix-big

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

standing under Phoenix and his lofted bride
both newly risen in the nave of a church
at a quarter of the height from floor to vault
—I am small and still beneath their static glide.

a cross in the distance where they might have perched,
is centered on choirs set on either side
as simple as the nexus of sinners’ faults
at the crux of the moment their songs might rise.

these ninety foot creatures made of sweat and steel
and of light and of industry and touch and feel
and of hoses and spades and of wire and sight
and of chain and of pipes and of silent nights
and of canisters pulleys ducts and vents
and of reason for rebirth to where innocence went
and of hope and contrition and of blood and bone
all Phoenixes together here un-alone
.

by Jim Culleny
1/4/15