I shall now sing you a lullyby.
It goes a little something like this:
Ahem, mi, mi, mi…
at night, when you are sleeping
and if you’re still awake
they chop your stinking head off
so go to bed now
and get yourself some rest
Wasn’t that a lovely lullyby?
Would you like to hear the second verse?
From Favorite Bedtime Stories (Salmon Poetry 2014)
Rule one is dreams, like everything, grow.
What? Did you think the rules never changed?
Well, I might bend them before your eyes.
Rules are something that I can get into.
Collections of words are my forte.
Some might come up again a little later.
But for now, by choice, I still abide.
Choice is also easily numbered.
The two choices here are delete or revise.
Then again, there is a third choice,
which is to leave things as they are. The status quo,
adoring words, and other tricks it may remember.
I listen in, and keep going over
my earlier suggestions of freckles on the Mona Lisa,
or Blue Boy in maroon.
And maybe Shakespeare should have cursed more,
mentioned it if he rented a room,
got caught with his hands full, waxing the wounds.
We could wonder if it were true.
After, he added punctuation,
recounted the number of lines per verse.
And that beginning which couldn’t be found
because it hadn’t yet occurred
wouldn’t appear until line thirty-five,
determining all before could be deleted.
Truth only lives for an instant, there’s no point in going back over it –
another idea I’ll just throw out.
Not all rules are man-made.
Many exist in nature.
In degrees of either on or off, with nothing in between.
Any time a person takes too strong a stance for good,
he’s bound to end up being the bad guy –
That’s rule two.
I mean, things either fall or they don’t,
depending upon the jurisdiction.
Who knew about the moon, for instance?
Rules of one place are broken in another.
You might do what you never could, like float.
Or take an old beginning and replace it.
Apples fell, and Jesus drank,
but what if it were so much he missed his calling?
And were rendered, say, a poet.
The poems would all be miracles, sure.
Lips to red from cyanotic blue,
water to wine, then back again, before anybody noticed.
So much for sacred too.
Rule three is write what the mind provides.
Not to do so is violation, the punishment for which is silence.
I strive to remember what is normal, or in other words, the errors.
And if there weren’t any I would have to make them up.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm believer that perfection is attainable.
It’s just that it only lasts a moment,
because rule four is all things change, and then a lot of time
is wasted trying to put things back the way they were.
The mind travels in waves.
It moves in frequencies detected by the brain.
But here is the difference between thinking and thought:
Scientists know the brain contains memories.
They’ve already probed into just the right places,
made electric currents arise to the level of moronic.
Picture wind as it blows through a tree,
or a river dipped into a cup. A river, by every other sense,
a blind man can’t confuse with the gutter.
Oh, the mind comes in waves, believe me.
Perfection disguises itself as surrender,
and the funny thing is, it’s flawed.
Plainness makes perfection seem peculiar.
But the universe runs on tiny laws that anyone can break.
Rule five is contradiction – change always remains the same.
Once, I received a compliment.
It was, after hearing you, I don’t feel so screwed up.
And I said thanks.
A step into emptiness proves the point.
I bear enough weight to crush myself,
But it takes two puffs to blow an ant away.
Did you know if you drop an ant from the Empire State Building,
within sixty seconds it learns about wings?
Feathers without birds nonetheless know how to float.
Those with minds of their own, I know, could take this the wrong way.
But with gravity as rules six through nine,
a minute’s a fucking long time to fly.
From The Mind (Salmon Poetry 2011)
John FitzGerald is a poet, writer, editor, and attorney for the disabled in Los Angeles.
A dual citizen of the U.S. and Ireland, he attended the University of West Los Angeles School of Law, where he was editor of the Law Review. He is author of Favorite Bedtime Stories (Salmon Poetry), The Mind (Salmon Poetry), Telling Time by the Shadows (Turning Point), and Spring Water (Turning Point Books Prize). Other works include Primate, a novel & screenplay, and the non-fiction Everything I Know. He has contributed to the anthologies Human and Inhuman Monstrous Poems (Everyman), Poetry: Reading it, Writing it, Publishing it (Salmon Poetry), Dogs Singing: A Tribute Anthology (Salmon Poetry), Rubicon: Words and Art inspired by Oscar Wilde's De Profundis (Sybaritic Press), and From the Four-Chambered Heart: In Tribute to Anais Nin (Sybaritic Press), and to many journals, notably The Warwick Review, World Literature Today, Mad Hatters’ Review, Barnwood Mag, and Lit Bridge.