Virga (excerpt)

Scott Zieher


High bells, highballs, tall trees


thumping the doozie dry



As does the tenor’s tone


so does the noodle in glasses


on the telephone at the end of the bar that curves in wallops


(Keeping us all corrupt and belly up)



With a seamless stride and trumpet and drums


(The trio ends unfinished)

as ever



Whence to stare?



(There is no wind herein)

only dust all abustle



And men who’ve painted our corner pink


(just bodega-colored now flesh-tint and garish as before )


Summer unofficially prances into prominence


(turning off the spout-bright sprinklers)



Rain falls on cicadas in Kansas City


(whence the quince tree?)


Where did he go that little ray of Idaho?


(rain falls on under-muscled orioles in Baltimore)


Old ice is replenished with new ice

 (radio plays something Spanish)



Diamond shapes erase a trace of dust on dormant doorsteps



The Detroit radio laughs again Calypso-toned



And as for today, this day

are we hearing voices

Or seeing things?



Look anew (at least) at the tallest building in view


While cocktails clank on a tenement toilet tank


(atop the porcelain pater familiar)


Mason boys mumble many strains of wheat and small-worn graces



Enter the Baron with snap white shoes and an Arizona haircut, tantrums


And thrums past good gams, heels and high hat


beer sign, bass line, solid dollop solo


(a little more in the middle)


The girls are as bare and buxom as the boys are dapper and handsome

Bald guys, big girls, everybody shivering


(goodwill in arrears)



Shanghai talks to Fredericksburg regularly


(essence of lemon)




Metropolitans drop to their concrete knees


(nothing is not not there)

That explains the static



(Olive ribbons and fruit-hung harvest boughs in antiquated corn)



All the thirsty students with Longfellow haircuts


giving language leave



Broom stick, book brick and deliberate blue ribbons



The day turns raising neck hairs and back bumps


(goose alphabets through city drizzle in sunshine)



The day is a river

refreshing—  however brown and unbecoming


However paisley green with spots of algae and mossy

Rocks on which undesireables and maidens cut their feet in fables


                                    (we swim with a fist)


And walk west


Strong brown train of a river belches as heaving cemeteries pass



Geese pass, dead as a hardware factory backside



Outside Skyline Chops

(outside Greek delirium)


Hebrew Jubileria and Louis Prima




Did there come a time whence we witnessed the warm, soft glow

Of vernal goodness encroaching across the rain-smeared macadam?

Or tasted world-famous tomato aspic with home-made mayonnaise?


(exit the Baron again)



Fluid draining down the spine, soft as feldspar



Hard knocks in slow report smeared


Beckoning bells and tropical nimbus clouds on fire across the river heavily traveled under



That platinum blast


(worthy of a ballet bullet)



Near a billion men marching north to Larchmont, Yonkers, Bronx



Here is the steel skeleton and the smell of fish oil



This is the box that makes the chest a heart


(this is the rounding that mixes up a face upstairs)


(this is the wiggly perimeter edge-wiped)



Sweat-puckered fingers clutching green quart bottles


magenta napkins flapping along the avenue



Jackpot rattling with charcoal


beats of two ton tom toms


Genuine men in Chinese tee shirts


(the pounding window pauses)


Bangles, tambourines, tangles




Cocktails or highballs, the long and short of it—



We end as fog




God bless this obnoxious country