Bernie Earley

Painted Corpse

1. Dead Highway Advisee

Killed by a church-key?
Sunk like a flooded pool sub-indigo?
It’s not enough to apply Aqua Velvet.

It’s time to dodge tarantulas
shots in the dark
go supersonic like Bond.

Yeah, you got bent at Vulture’s Cove
where the ukulele glistened.
Yeah, you’re slumming your way to Hawaii.

But even a closet swami walks the bulldog.
Even a backscratching slouch like me sits up.
Who slacks by the roadside should rev up her motorbike.

2. Zeitgeist

Topsy on Dead Man’s Curve—
not enough for your Stingray mood!?
You need a real challenge?
Look at it this way
you’ll be a torpedo in a duck pond
or a cloned Bennett Cerf reverberating on high
Destroy all Astro-men
if patrolling Astro Men see that mud on your waistcoat.

Yeah by anybody’s Doomsday Clock
it’s midnight in Salerno.
At Drums a GoGo
Omega People fans stomp and curse.
You should slip out
psyched like a pyramid
psyched like a high wave to surf
because a thing from outer space portends oblivion.

3. Horoscope

All-day hotdog-ers—gone!
Will no chrome dome crawls from a jacuzzi?
Where is Ester?
Diffused like light in the shimmering pool?

Surely someone comes and goes
with eyes that protrude
a tongue that hangs to her feet
to lap the oily beach.

Low sounds rumble from beneath.
Girders shake on schedule.
The boardwalk sways and heaves.
Cars rinse like seaweed from a plate.

You are not Peter Gunn stalking spies in Istanbul.
You are flotsam awash with tumbled busses and trucks.

4. Painted Corpse

The knotted sea
washes over
guitars sunk in sand.
A swath of bones
and choked necks
dry in the cold light.

One painted corpse
is no Jezebel.
She trembles still
the old plunk—
must be nerves.

A crowbar works
to pry out
the Ouzo bottle.
Here’s to Sputniks
burned up,
UFOs crash landed.

Past the limo
squashed like chalk
a purple sound ripples.
The tie-dye
dawns in blood.
Who listens?

Bernie Earley’s chapbooks include “Biker Poems” (1987) and “13 Poems” (2002). Online publications of poems and reviews have appeared in Moira, Home Planet News, and Otoliths. His review, “Tripping the Text Fantastic” (Amazon, 2018) critiqued the novel, The Boys of Belle Haven. He taught writing and poetry at UC Davis, Brooklyn College and SUNY Cortland; he currently teaches English online for TC3.
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