five new ones
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New poems by Frank C. Praeger.


Less Than Cover


Registered, numbered, accountable,
and at all times 'eyes front'.
Charades can not be more directive;
a paper trail, penciled figurines,
a tidy, tiny end to each tale.
More, once remembered, tampered, tethered
in tandem with loose feathers -
to be so charged, dismissed as less than cover.

by permafrost and broken waterpipes.
A sky devoid of geese.
A mannered manifold of changes.

Flashlights that do not work,
candles that do not burn.
Proceeds into slush funds,
no grandeur grandly attested to.
I, too, assumed as much as anyone.


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Why Not


A last rite?
But, then, why not?
A thousand miles and some.
A cracked seashell
lets in an ocean's roar.
I who was once not close
am now hostage
to stigmata of messages and mementoes.
I am a struggle
in abeyance,
a posture freed of significance.



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Levelling with Whomever


A wasting,
starting in again,
a blah, then, a blast,
then, Lordy me, I'm wrung out,
fatigued, even fed up
with talking to myself.
Days have not changed,
the hours remain.
Anybody can call out.
Anything can accelerate,
and who can't imagine
that there's always somebody, somewhere, writing down your name.
No matter the different ways of speaking,
it's still complaining about not being,
not being heard,
indeed, not counting.
The wasting continues.
The trivial looms,
a backroom chatter interposes.
Grace in a drafty room,
syrup and almonds,
diamond bracelets and cheddar cheese
confound the obvious,
signs signifying oblivion.
And tomorrow?
Ketchup with eggs,
marmalade and toast
and foreign heroes fallen
on the morning talk shows
and an appropriate afternoon
of measured applause,
followed by a slight loosening of covert controls,
and, finally, by an evening skewed towards end.


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The View from Anywhere


Bladder campion, wild pink, sweet pea,
in a wilderness of the unnamed,
disregarded among chipped stones, diatom fossils,
outer reaches uncatalogued, dismissive gestures
in the receding railroad tracks, cross ties indistinguishable,
but thankful for vetch intertwined with a cantankerous
inexpressible sorrow,
a huge sky's descent into an aphid's garden,
a beetled world
viewed through heads of tasselled grass,
that quietness between cricket calls
that the small enlarges.
Lax Minotaurs primp at a river's edge,
congratulatory features favor the chosen.
Among crushed turtle shells
urge after urge,
hope chests, charges of mayhem,
caged panthers pacing back and forth,
one last narration in a cluster of bones,
a windy and autumnal omen from distant buttes,
the ongoing separation of this from that,

and, still,

beside a surfeit of dross,

of make belief,

of shadows and their shadowy interplay,

the interchangeable grasshoppers' clickety-clicks.



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>From What Is Left


Straight talk or random dispersal,
which, unleashed, swish, swish
the darkening purple grasses.
He lingers on that last phrase,
not a datum from his life,
nor a shepherd's return, a cougar's retreat.
Misty lights crowd into the distance,
his own self dissipating in the late summer heat,
lamb's-quarters growing out of turned over earth,
leveled land, and among rotting joists piles of masonery.
He will, will not, will
dust a gold-plated ikon,
stare down a turbulent pale vortex,
consider one self-portrait after another.
What is to be believed -
traces of colored pigments,
revelatory images of one's self?
He is at the computer, listening to Satie's gnoissienne No. 5.
He is drinking burgundy.
He is sad.
He does not know why.
His wife inquires as to his feelings.
He does not know what to say in reply.
She says, he is in a brown mood.

Enough of portrayal, of the revelatory,
of must and should and ought, cog within cog.

Now, it is a summer's evening,
sun at the edge of the sky,
shadows reaching out,
a thinning to the declining light,
not to be reconciled,
not even remembered
after a few more such evenings,

such suns,

such edges to the sky,

such shadows as there may be lying in transit,
before a swallow's precipitous, maybe, final lengthy descent.




a line, (a blue one)


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