A Book of Odd Poetry by John Mabry
It is unique in form, sometimes rebellious, often amusing. The surrealistic imagery paints pictures of bizarre settings, unlikely people, and confusingly abnormal behaviour. Yet behind them, lurking in the mists lie simple, direct messages and observations about ourselves, many of them frighteningly close to home. After you ve read a few, you find that they begin to make more sense, and the plain simple "realities" around you, less.
"Lemon!!!" Gertrude screamed at the pie.
The pie wisely sat and ignored her.
"You're lemon!" She screamed.
"I'm apple." The pie thought to itself.
"And you're cruel."
"I heard that!" Gertrude screamed.
Arches imply spherical ceilings.
High. Elegant. Meaningful.
Arches, proud; majestic imply beauty of another
Circular Stairways from which kings descend.
I threw the avacado sandwich to the deck in
disgust, trying to swallow without tasting.
Who is absurd enough to pack avacado and
tabasco sandwiches on a boat ride, anyway?
The cold blackness of the void.
Ages infinite, time untold.
"It sure has been a long time." He thought.
The universe blazed,
And bore witness to the birth of God.
Grenda was sorting lettuce.
"This is brown." She announced and filed it
"You can't keep everything in order." Gregg ountered.
She stiffened her lip because she knew it was true.
She'd filed "Table" under "Q" just that mor-ning.
"Mommy don't leave me now! I can't find my way out of
Berry stalked amidst the pile shag. Looking for the bathroom.
"I'll be there in a minute, honey,
I've got to get my legs out of the collander."
A bowl is a great place to be.
"You're shoes are the same colour!" The sock-man
screamed at the curtains.
"But I don't wear shoes." Replied the curtains cooly.
"Don't argue with me!" Bellowed the sockman. "Besides, it's a mute point."
''You' re right," mumbled the curtains, "I'll just hang here and molt, then, shall I?"
"Bleeding martyr." The chair said to itself, "It's as if Christ was made of cloth."
"Bad shadow! Bad!" Gerry was beating his shadow with a stick.
"Gerry," His wife stood looking on, "You can't hurt your shadow."
"I can if it's cheesecake!!!" He cried, wielding
his flaming twig.
She couldn't disagree with that so she went to wash her hair.
Darby stood in front of the window marked INFORMATION.
"Hello?" Darby inquired.
"He's gone, I'm afraid." The window re-plied. "But he should be back soon."
"I don't care." Darby stated, "You can give me the information."
"Ah, but I am afraid I cannot. You see, only the man can do that."
"Why?" Asked Darby.
"Because windows are not reknowned for their intellect or speech faculties!"
"You're doing well." Darby reasoned.
"I'm Ohio glass!" The window said proudly.
"If you don't tell me what I want to know, I'll smash you!!"
"Oh. don't do that! I'm green and much, much too friendly!"
The clay was shaping up nicely.
"What are you making?" Asked Mrs. Clayformer.
"Can't you tell?" Asked a surprised Mr. Clay-former.
"It has long legs-"
It was true. They were slim and perfect.
"It has expandable cartridges-"
"Yes. I can see that."
"And the toungue is retractable!" He announced proudly.
The object turned around and around on the potter's wheel.
"Is it a refridgerator?" She asked, finally.
"Oh, god!" He thumped his head on the wheel in exhasperation and the clay figure ate her.
"Yum." It finished, "Now I want a trumpet."
"It's hot in here." I said, mopping my forehead.
"Did you mow the lawn?" I shook my head.
"Then you have no right to sweat."
''I can't help it if it's hot."
"Serves you right for stepping into a kiln."
"Is this a kiln?'' I asked the unbodied voice.
"I thought it was a sauna."
"You can't play trumpet in a sauna."
He was right. I left and mowed the lawn.
Paper and pen
Groping for my hand
"Make Me! Make me!" They shout
And I am not so cruel as to deny them.
"I believe I'll start a new church." Said George to his friend.
"Why?" Asked Randy.
"I need something relevant. We'll worship this!!" He held up a crescent wrench.
"A wrench?" Asked Randy.
"Just look. It has a handle, like life. It has a hole
in it, like the soul of man.
It is a symbol of an instrunment of death."
George raised it high proudly, arid brought it down hard on Randy's head.
"Ow! Why did you do that?" George did it again.
"Stop it!!" Randy screamed. "Stop it! Stop it! Stop it!"
"Be a martyr!! Be a martyr!!" George bel-lowed, crushing
Randy's skull beneath the gleaming crimson crescent wrench.
"Every religion needs a martyr." George mumbled.
He then went away and formed the First Church of Randy
Barry had crawled into the cupboards.
"Why is he in there?" I asked his mother.
"Beats me," She said, kneading dough.
"He won't come out. Been in there three weeks, now."
"Really." I breathed.
"Barry, " His mother shouted, opening the cupbodrd
She stuck her thumb in his eye.
"Ow!" Screamed Barry.
"Want dessert?" She poked his temples with a pin.
A smalI trickle of blood ran from the door onto the lenolium.
Whimpers of pain hung on the air. His mother hummed as she made bread.
"You're going to kill him!" I stammered.
She stopped and faced me, an acid stare burned my skin.
"You're not an executive!" She accused. I ran away before she had a chance to lick the walls.
When I drop you off
The passenger seat seems so
Very, very empty.
A field of brown green grasses
Runs uninterrupted for miles
To the horizon.
I stand staring,
Realizing that this could be
Brazil, Australia, Spain, or Africa.
And in the middle of the field,
A sign informs me of a Carl 's Jr.
Hamburger place just a half mile away.
And suddenly, I could only be in one place.
Realizing where I am is my punishment for
I don't want to sit.
I want to leave this place.
To go and feel something.
Perhaps the depths of self-pity.
But it is better than forced thought.
Dwelling on molehills, towering.
Jeffery had a thing for yellow.
"I love yellow." He would announce.
"I love yellow."
"We heard you," said Dad.
His Dad was smoking a pipe.
His Mother was knitting.
"Why is the sky blue?" Jeffery asked his Dad.
"Because." Reasoned Mr. Cliche.
"Why can't it be yellow?"
"Don't ask silly questions, dear." Knitted Mrs. Cliche.
"I'm going top change it." Jeffery announced.
"I'm going to spend my whole allowance on paint, and I'm going to paint the sky yellow."
His eyes lit up.
Mr Cliche cocked an eyebrow at his son. He then turned his gaze to his wife.
The next morning, Mr. Cliche rose to greet a yellow dawn.
He waddled into the kitchen.
"He really did it, didn't he?"
Mrs. Cliche was standing at the window. "Uh -huh."
Jeffery had painted well over half of the sky already.
"It's not even nine-thirty yet." He said.
"He'd better hurry," She mumbled, "His pancakes are getting cold."
"It's so hot, Vern, why are you wearing that sweater?"
Mary was fanning herself.
"I guess I just need it."
But he sweat as he spoke.
The furniture is dusty,
But I dust every day.
Still, it collects.
But when I go away,
It is clean.
I must be man.
Formed of earth.
Fruit of dust.
I must be shedding.
Gerry bought a brand new car.
"It's a car." He said to his brother, Micheal.
"Looks like a coatrack." Said Micheal.
"Coatrack? Just look at that paint job!"
"So It's a blue coatrack."
"It is not!!" Gerry was getting angry.
"Look." Micheal hung his coat on the car. "A coatrack."
"Well, whaddayaknow...." Gerry thought hard.
"It'll look good in the foyer. I mean, being blue and all."
Jack Sat at his desk at the dinner table.
After dinner, he scuttled in his desk to the -
He was a silly sight: A thirty-five year
old man scooting around the house in his
"Jack," Asked his mother. "Why are you
always in that desk?"
"I 'm a student for life!" He announced.
There was this oyster named Danny.
He was born to human parents.
They dressed him up in a little blue suit and
put him on the schoolbus when he was six.
He sat on the bus, ignoring the taunting of
the cruel children. So maybe he didn't have
eyes, or arms or legs. So what!
He told them this in his squeaky voice.
"But you can't do this, either!" And he
opened his mouth and showed them a perfect white pearl.
The children were awestruck
by it's beauty, and Danny was totally helpless
when they began to tear it from his slimey
jaws. When the schoolbus took the children
home, the driver delivered the little blue suit
and the empty halves of a shell to Danny's parents.
"Oh, my." Sighed his mother. "Whatever are we to do with his tank?"
"We'll have a turtle." Decided her husband.
Jerry held up his coat.
"It's green." He said to his hamster.
But his hamster liked green
And already had a coat of his own.
Berry punched the equal sign on his calculator again.
"What's wrong, dear?" Mrs. Berry asked.
"Every time I hit EQUALS, it says 'BEWARE THE LITTLE FISH WITH FRUIT SALAD.' How odd."
Just then a fish leaped through the window and darted straight through Berry's skull.
"Hm." Thought Mrs. Berry, "There must be something wrong with this."
She banged the calculator on the table,
screaming over and over "There was no fruit salad!!"
"I'm not a freak! I'm not a freak!!" Marvin shouted.
"Yes you are, dear." His mother said sweetly,
setting a bowl of rice crispies in front of him.
"Now eat your breakfast, dear."
"How can I eat if all you ever do is tell me how terrible I am ?"
"But you are terrible. dear." She smiled and kissed him.
"And you're ugly, too."
One day I picked up Francis to go shopping.
"Hi." He said, trying to stuff a live cow into the back seat.
I didn't say anything. I just waited for him to explain.
The mall was crowded, but no one said anything about the cow.
Someone tried to sell us bells.
And shoe people licked their lips.
"Hey, son," Dad Cadaver patted Junior on the back. "How about helping me fix the car?"
"No thanks, Pop."
"Good!" He shoved Junior through the door.
He took a iool in hand, and turned to Junior. "Understand?"
"No." Junior replied.
Dad Cadaver hit Junior in the head with the tool. "Owwww!"
Dad Cadaver hit him again, twice.
"OWWWWWW!!" Junior was bleeding, and crying. too.
"Don't start crying, dammit. I'm only pun-ishing your stupidity."
Concentrating on mental darkness
A man I don't even know passes
Blowing smoke in my face
Like the world
A hateful passion builds inside my head.
I see red.
It wants to bleed through my eyes and run over
I don't want to inflict you.
"Don't pull out my hair!
I need it to keep my head warm!"
She groped frantically at her skull.
"Liar." George snapped. "You just want it to
cover your eyes."
"I can't see your face, Gerrold." Mary complained.
She yanked at the towel over his head.
"No, don't!" He yelled.
"Gerrold, you're never going to be able to
relate to people with a towel over your head."
"Lot's of people wear towels."
"Not on their heads, Gerrold."
"You're not an Arab. Now take that thing off."
"But - "
"Now." Gerrold inched off the towel, revealing a
featurless expanse of skin.
"You didn't forget you face did you Getrold?"
He bowed his boring head. "Yes."
"Where did you leave it?"
"At the club. In the bar."
"I swear, Gerrold, this is the last time I'm going to retrieve your face. Do you understand? Next time you'll just have to suffer without it." She blew air through her cheeks in exhasperation. "Good thing I sewed an address label under your lip.''
He was silent.
"I'll be back soon. And Gerrold," He raised his head.
"Don't bore any holes in your skull while
I'm gone, okay?"
Clouds rise from the smokestacks
Manufacturing substitutes for the clouds
"They are identical," states an uninformed observer.
"No," Say I, "The substance of one is Life -
" And rain fell,
for God was providing props that day.
"And the substance of the other?" He asked.
I had to explain that, because God, in his mercy,
Failed to demonstrate.
"Feed me! Feed me!"
But barker could not hear the angry cries of the infants in his head
And turned on the television for a surrogate meal.
"You lied last night!" Barker's wife said.
"I didn't lie." He defended. "I'm a fiction writer.''
"There's a difference!!" She screamed.
"I live my work." He said, arid turned the
page in order to be in Cleveland by 11:00.
What if hair was light?
You could flip a light switch and the bulb would
grow furry, and when you switched it off, all the
bulb-hair would fall to the floor, in which case
you'd have to sweep your room every morning,
when the sun comes up and brings hair to all the world.
And of course the sun is just a hamster,
although some would argue that it is a gerbil or a platypus.
Bald people always would wear glasses, because of
squinting for lack of hair to see. And people with
long hair would shine. The sixties was an enlight-ened age.
The electric company would be called Samson Power, for strength and hair.
"Comb the light sockets. Raymond, before you
go out to play. Your father wears a toupee for a flashlight."
The grey stone walls danced in the torchlight.
"But the boy's well being, Margeret..." Mr. Margeret was saying.
The boy sat at the rough-hewn table.
"My eyes hurt." He said.
"The problem is, " She said, wielding her long cigarette
"The boy doesn't know what's good for him."
"There's something wrong with my eyes...."
"Margeret, the boy says there's something wrong with his eyes - "
"Nonsense. he doesn't know what he wants."
"He's just a boy you know."
"But he should know if his own eyes hurt."
"His eyes are not the issue!!" She was livid.
The cigarette reflected the raging flames on the walls.
"The issue is his general well-being.
He has enough food, he is warm - "
"Margeret, excuse me, but the boy has removed
his eyeballs and is rolling them about on the table."
She stood still, waving her glowing wand.
"Well, It's his own fault. Foolish boy - "
She drew on the stem and released the smoke
into the grey air. "He should have told us."
"They're slimey." The boy was amused.
"Nonsense," said George, slugging his three
friends in succession, "I'm not on edge."
"Well ," started Pete.
"What he's trying to say...." and Bruce trailed
off, humming discontentedly.
"We kind of don't like pain," finished Phil.
"So what's wrong with that?" George was
rubbing his fist in preparation for another round.
"Well," started Pete.
"What he's trying to say...." Bruce hummed.
"We're afraid you're going to hurt your hand."
Phil stood like a clift, and George the winds against it.
The cigarette flickered,
An orange glow in a darkened room.
She held her glass seductively,
A forties refugee.
"You're not black and white anymore." I said to her,
My trenchcoat covering all traces of
My pink polyester shirt.
She put her head down to hide the pain.
Or maybe to block out the colour.
"It's my world," she spoke.
"No, it's your film." I hated myself for
being so cold, but I turned off the projector anyway.
She cringed when I flicked on the lights.
Celluloid strips running in rivulets form her eyes.
There was a girl wearing bright grey.
"Hi." I said nervously. "I'm Max."
I felt like such a Cliche.
I shuffled my feet.
She blinked and rocked back and forth.
"Uh, do you...know what time it is?"
She stuttured, "Do you, uh, you know, need a ride?"
Looking at my feet.
"No I've got a car. Thanks, though."
I was scared, I was sure she could hear my heartbeat
(It was louder than words).
Dave liked to provide entertainment.
"I'm going to put my head on a bridge." He said.
"So what." Replied his friends.
''It'll be fun!!"
"Sure. sure." They said.
"Just watch." They yawned as he put his head on the bridge.
Soon. a car shot around the bend,
and splattered Dave's head all over the pavement.
"Wasn't that great?" Dave pantomimed. His friends clapped.
"That was neat, Dave. but what do we do, now?"
(The Way Of The World)
Tell the designers they're doing well.
The pyramids of the world are strong and tall.
The Egypt of America is easily seen,
The Nile gives life to one and all.
The gods are safely set in stone
No variables threaten the ways of men
In the midst of millions, all alone
And where we are is where we've been
Tell the designers they're doing well.
Concrete crumbles and finally falls.
Paradise built on the ruins of Hell
Nehemiah rebuilding the wall.
Bernard was reading a very green book.
"Yuck!" Cried Bill Didlets, "That's green."
"I hate green books!"
"But, look - " Bernard unzipped his chest-flesh and
exposed his spirit membrane. "See, it's green."
"Yuck!" Cried Bill Didlets, "It's green."
And he jumped away, condemning the book and Bernard.
But Bernard kept reading, and as he did, his spirit
membrane grew greener still, for it was discovering
what it truely was.
Lightening is a rare occurance.
Like meeting people who are real
Both are just as striking.
"Ahh - " Barker opened his mouth wide
as if opening up for a doctor's toungue depressor.
"Ahh - "
"Stop that!" Mary was becoming annoyed.
"Ahh - "
"Cut that out! Why are you acting so strange?"
"It may be raining somewhere," Barker said,
"And I wait to be the first to taste it."
Nose like a ledge.
Making a face in relief more realistic.
"Your face in believable." Said the Sandpaper Man.
"It's made of dreams." Agreed the Nose man,
"and my eyes are made of wonder."
"Larry, don't eat your toungue."
His mom scolded.
But Larry had already had a taste,
And was looking up recipes.
Mary was making waves in a pool of water.
"It's an ocean." She said to her dog.
"It's a drink." Said her dog.
"It's a bath." Waddled an infant.
"It's potable liquid!" Said a camper with a hose.
"It's fun for dishes." Said Mother.
"It's death." Said lungs everywhere.
"No. It's an ocean." Mary repeated.
And the world was silent.
Monks self inflicting:
Wounds. self denyal of:
Joy. All in the name of:
Does God want wounds?
Why do monks hide?
Why don't they do more back-packing?
God bought himself a locker. Just one. Number 247.
"Why a locker?" Asked God's friend.
"Because," God replied, "The rent is low."
"True." Agreed his friend.
"And it's considerably smaller than the Universe."
"It's cheap to heat."
"That's true enough, but what'll we do if you
go off to live in a locker?"
"Well . . . you could run a tractor." God said after
Lines are designed to guide.
But some have set themselves up as line-guards,
to enforce what is not theirs.
Buildings would be horizontal if you turned them
on their sides.
Then automobiles would be street elevators
And windows would be trap doors.
"Are you taking notes?" The teacher asked.
Her grim feature shook with contempt.
Chalk white knuckles clutching a pointer;
she is as two-demensional as her subject.
"Max?" I looked up.
"Have you been paying attention?"
"Read to the class what you have."
A murmer ushered around the room.
I stood and picked up my notebook.
"Her grim features shook with contempt.
Chalk white knuckles clutching a pointer;
She is as two-demensional as her subject...."
If my throat were outside,
A visual part of me,
I could not hide a private word,
All is heard, you see?
Why must I live with emotional extremes?
I can't balance the scales.
Can't find middle ground.
Poles under them, hiding.
The poles, strong, high: Support.
But the table is ashamed.
A hole in a wall is a blemish.
A blemish is a sign of weakness.
If the hole is big enough,
You can see through it.
Rendering the wall useless.
"Why don't you ask me to fix the hole? Asks
For I am the wall, and the hole is my doing."
Eyelashes beating your eyes
Less are fatal
It never stops
Unless you close your eyes
Lashes are a punishment for sight
"Do you have a bowling ball?" Said Mr. Grapefriut
to the buffon hairdo behind the counter.
"No, sir." She said through her hair, "This is a clothing store."
"Well, do you sell bowling balls?" He insisted.
"Do you wear bowling balls?" She said hairways.
"Sometimes," he grinned, "On St. Pins Day."
Chain-linked fences wrap their arms around
Sally was bouncing her dog off the wall.
"He likes it." She smiled at her dad.
"That's nice, dear." He thumbed through the paper.
She then tied a string to the dog's leg and
swung it around and around her head.
"He likes it." She smiled.
"Good, dear," thumbed her dad.
She then took a spatula and shoved it under
it's skin. "He likes it."
"He's not a dog anymore, is he, Daddy?"
Her father turned another page.
"Woof." He said at last.
The red and blue lights warned of a pullover.
The shoulder snapped under slowing wheels.
"Crunch." And an officer's hard black boots
stopped and stood.
I got out and felt the urge to kneel.
"Do not pay homage." Said the Blue Man.
But I knew he wanted it and so I worshipped
the little blue god for a moment.
He grinned until a I stood and replaced his tie
with my own.
Suddenly his humanity hit him full force.
Cowering, he clanked back to his car.
"EMERGENCY EXIT ONLY!" Screaming door with large
Only wants you to see the beauty of outside if you're in trouble.
"And this is the kitchen." Said the tour guide.
"I didn't pay seventeen dollars to see a house!
This is supposed to be a guided tour of Europe!"
Martha screamed at the guide.
"Shush, dear," Mr. Martha warned, "We'll get to that later."
A telephone on the wall.
"Where are you?" A retort.
"Come on over!" A welcome surprise.
"Are you all right?" A concerned inquiry.
....Shake head, clear thought.
It's only plastic.
It's only a telephone.
What magic in man's creation.
Before the maker, objects unmade.
What magic in God's creation.
Without the flesh the plastic is void. How inferior the machineries of man.
The grey sky reflected the riot scene in the streets.
"Take that!" Harry got punched in the face.
The reflection felt no pain.
Marvin stood looking on, doing nothing.
He saw the violence, felt the remorse.
His reflection stood, but felt not pain.
Grapes are stomped but the wine-making
ghosts cannot hear their tiny cries.
"That's not the way it's done!" President Pete
slapped his guest, "Learn, learn, learn, I hate you!"
"But you only want to teach me to kill you."
Mr. Guest wept, and left.
"I don't need blood!" shouted Marvin at his dad,
Opening his skin-spigot and draining
His life-fluid into a plastic bag.
"My problem is I have too much! You have too
much! And I don't want to be like you!"
"But, son, with no blood, you'll grow weak."
But Marvin could not hear
For he had created a vaccuum within himself.
Silver spray of liquid light
Splashes of sun-soaked rain play on the rails
Pangs of guilt at the penetration of Paradise.
"But be of good cheer." I am reminded.
"This beauty is for your benefit."
And I sigh in wonder
Knowing now that I tread on diamonds.