Strikes and Gutters

As Walter settled in to finish his coffee, he was struck
by a phantom, peripheral visage, white as pins in flight, or bunny
white, in haze — a visit from “The Agent,” in the nominal parlance
of chemical memory, calling from a distant muddied element.
Or was it merely the milk he’d spilled in a fatuous
fit, hooking out to the Brooklyn back of his cup? All he could abide,

he put his face down in the muck, and made off for The Dude’s abode.
“These are purple times,” he thought, “when pseudo-pious cliques strike
polyester poses while jockeying for pockets. And mocking fatuous
Donny? That sweet prince, that palsied, hiccuping flake of bunny
fluff?” Not for this aggression would he stand — not for that element.
It required satisfaction, and of superior sort to parlance.

Oh, but he would have his ear! Though for this spar: lance
and blade, tooth and trigger — less to mind, and more, would he abide,
in body to this immodest plum-clad receptacle. He popped a Velemint,
and rang His Dudeness’s door. “Bolted,” Duder’s hand had struck
in ink, “Out of cream. Gone to market. 8pm practice.” His buddy
was benumbed: “Dash this dairy! You’ve become fat to us

with cordials of coffee and curds. Oh, uncareful beverage! Such fatuous
froth and foam will be your undoing!” Yet not undone, but in parlay
with his special lady, laid up in zesty enterprise, coital as bunnies,
making maudlin moan. The story is ludicrous. Though if one abides
that one must “feed one’s monkey,” in manner most gutter-struck,
and not with precious prandials, “Brie pour lui. Et pour elle, 

one can dig El Duderino’s doings. All others are cowards — elements
without sentiment, without Johnsons or ethos, foreign and fatuous,
with lingonberries on leashes, and marmot marmalades struck
onto pancakes. Neither good men nor thorough, poor in parlance
and in practice, unable to fix cable or walk on water — though may abide
it when seated, in slumber, in summer, with clouds above, as Bunny

puffs on polish. The poor woman, helpless as a frail fawn beneath
a nude sun. A trophy wife, atrophied, fallen in with the wrong element:
known pornographers; sycophants; Aimee Mann. Difficult to abide,
and not exactly lightweights, is she herself to blame for her fatuous
caprices? Her husband’s lost legs? The Dude’s stained parlor
rug — his only tether, the life and memory of it, dimmed when stricken?

Oh, the little for which we are compensated. About the size of our abidance,
and theirs: some Credence tapes; a can of ashes, released to the 
specklike Brandt, crisp and shivering. A yet-to-be-dismantled toe, Bunny’s.

More Poems by Clark Moore