Selected Poems

Jerry McGuire


Lives of the Loves




Before the Last Feast


Venus Transit



First the breaking of the bread and the making of the cakes, then the letting

them eat it, then the spreading crumbs among the many

animals in their lives: the rug-hugging boa, jumpy frog,

quick-tempered cooncat, deep-brained spaniel, high-flung

lovebird, pink-nosed pink-assed rat, tender adopted brown mouse

of house and hearth, last tiny voice heard among the dwindling crumbs: now,

this is living! crow the Loves. Even the littlest of the Loves knows nothing

could disrupt this life of coffee break, time-out, and DVD on PAUSE. Some of their words:

It’stoosweet! and Buymeonefthose! and Crankitup,Icantakeitifyoucan!

They are so cool with one another and crafty in their coolness, as if crafted

from above. This is true, they think, it’s as if we’re crafted from above! Nothing casual

or spastic or haphazard, everything codified like a pet, recipeed, downloaded

through a perfect virus-checker, screened like airport security, distilled like, well,

like distilled water, only holier. Youcan’thaveitall! is another of their words, by which

they mean, we’re in this together. The Loves try not to be too articulate, they know that feeling is first,

They’ve queued themselves up like a whole bunch of three bears and breathe

a nonstop reminder to each other, Stepoutofline,yougototheback! even in their sleep.

And there in their sleep they dream communal dreams of rubble. Their crumbs become

the black dust of baked clay houses picked up by mighty Hands, taken among

ferocious gnashing Teeth, spit back upon the blistered, creviced land in a

mudslide of wailing agonies islanded with bloated citizens who’d lost their way

and wandered out into the open, the wild, the world, the way the film ends, the record skipping,

the toast stuck in the toaster, the uninsured motorist, sink clogged, pet

who hanged himself in the night on his own chain, those blank accusing eyes no one wants to close.

When they wake up they holler, We’rewhoweare,takeusorleaveus! and pile upon themselvesin their bedclothes giggling, pajama-flaps open, toes and cheeks pink, smell of oatmeal in the air. Another word: Let’sskiptoday! This is what they say, but they do the right thing anyway. The Loves aren’t lost,

they’re only loitering. They’re just waiting till the kettle boils. They like to say

We’refullycapable! then flop around like wingshot ducks. Through it all, the Loves

in the middle like each other a little too much, maybe, think that no one

else could make them quite this happy. One rainy afternoon they all sat around the fire

and made their wills, which specified who gets the crockpot, who the pornographic party-

toys, who the classic lps that are perfect, and who the ones that aren’t. After this,

the myth goes on, the Loves looked at each other with suspicion and difference

evolved upon the face of the world like a blush on the cheek of a howler monkey,

and the Loves learned to live with it and as time went on became, like, Like.



A frogman in a monkey suit, sopping

in his tails, canto ferment, ochre wrist.

Oh, shaven body, oh, sleekit tim’rous

wee-wee, did you go? Show me a man

with his balls in a bag, I’ll show you

a practical golfer.


Flagellant frogman, scored and scored on.

Belly up and swill with the rest of us,

mean creatures all, basking sharks

of culture and commerce, slow rolling

and slow thinking. Wouldn’t it be

a blast to blow you up?


Fragile, fractile frogman, ever the depths

elude you. What were you thinking? Perfectly

polyelemental in your flippers and mask,

we saw you dig your hole in the mud,

we saw you lay your eggs there,

we fertilized them all for you!


Forgone but not forgotten frogman, not so

far gone, really, but getting rusty, getting,

well, a little waterlogged, tell us while we have you

by the gills of those odd-shaped things: starfish,

lobster, seahorse and –urchin, blowfish, oyster,

poisonsnake, toothy eel, remora.


Dr. Feelgood frogman, forged in muck, sprung

full-blown from giant clam, skuppered by tides

and frazzled by hammerheads, pounded silly

and delicious, dipped in batter then deepfried

till you sizzle and pop, we salute you,

man of good taste!


Frugal, faltering, frail frogman, frogman

of mists and mellow fruitfulness, carry

your generator down where you dive, sink

some marshall amps, plug in, tune out, show us

you’re soluble, how current you are, what happens when

you blow your stack




Keep one eye razored and

      your tongue on the back burner

            for your aunt with the famous

                  balloons has been given

                        a gorgeous accordion


After the plague of frogs, I want

      to see you out

            there with our best



If this starts to get dull

      we’ll shoot another Beatle

            and blow this place

                  and everyone in it


Because of the Frenchmen, she

      promised, and under

            the Dead Nude Kids issue


Where soup corkscrews longingly

      and upon green ballyards

            operating theaters glow


Videos for alcoholics. Boring

      Sex Clinic. Hiphop harpists

            need not apply.

                  Vivisection snapshots


A looseness at the crotch,

      tightness in the throat,

            and the boys at it

                  with their nailguns again



Golly, Garçon, what

      a huge bone in my

            soup. Madam, say no

                  more, I will have it



Two pert pinafores, learning to

      pluck a duck.

            So many feathers, so

                  few fingers


Can’t anybody here lay this blame?

      barks the butler. Instantly,

            a milky sun creams

                  his plants and an

                        international harvest



Three ordered to stay in their

      rooms. One plays Bach with

            a sock. One does a

                  tarantella with

                        a real spider. One

                              pricks his wrists

                                    and stencils the room


The clicking blinking hordes and

      the dolls with chest-mics.

            Whoever’s in charge of

                  lighting burnt the thing


A cordon all round, crapulous

      cops, helicopters blubbering.

            The chief inspector’s

                  got his map upside




In the woodshed with a hammer

      and a scullery-girl. The

            pig squealing, and

                  the radio plays Miss

                        Brown to You


They’ve been leaning on their hoes

      for hours. Will the parsnips

            ever get here? They are

                  dead enough to plough under


Someone’s minced the woodchuck

      in with the salad, and bits of the

            scarecrow stare

                  up from the succotash!


City Health, lady. We have

      to sniff everyone’s

            knickers before

                  you take the labels

                        off the wine




The moon and the stars

The objects on Mars . . . (Billy Eckstine, “I Want to Talk about You”)


Now it’s time to believe in

the stars again, to believe

them in, to life and all, as all

around the world tonight men

and women will sit down, after

a day of staring at the sun,

and try to say something I

am trying to say. What is it

we want to talk about? Ella

Fitzgerald, with her silk-stocking

voice, seemed to know. Billy

Eckstine, all depths of flowing

water, knew too. But we’re really

in the dark. Like me, all those

men and women may have heard:

the next lineup like this (that small

dark pill sliding—pulsing and sliding—

slow across the hot, puffy face

of the sun like a stethoscope

in search of a beat or a clot

struggling towards the heart) will be

eight years from now, the next

one after that another hundred years.

So let’s try hard this time,

friends, whatever it is that black

dot is telling us: if we miss

it now, we’ll only have one

more chance. Something we all sensed

we almost knew will be lost in transit,

not swallowed up in fire but simply drifting

out of our sight into perfect cold and dark.