Dale Houstman

There Is Also A Monkey In The Red Sea

Claudius Aelianus (“Aelian”) [version by dmh]

There is also a monkey in the Red Sea, not as large as those seen on land,
yet not a fish but a creature of cartilage.

And this monkey in the Red Sea resembles in color the ones seen on land,
and also in the shape of its face resembles the ones seen on land.

Apart from its face, the body’s majority is girded by a sheath,
and thus resembles the tortoise more than the fish.

The monkey in the Red Sea also sports a flat nose as do the ones seen on land,
but here its torso is equally flattened, and so is much more like the electric eel.

One could describe the monkey in the Red Sea as a bird with outstretched wings;
for when it swims most strangely it is most like a flying bird.

Yet the monkey in the Red Sea differs from the ones seen on land: it is speckled,
and the flats of the neck are sanguine, as are the gills.

The monkey in the Red Sea has a large mouth at the bottom of the face,
and – in the last analysis – carries a perfectly natural kinship with the ones seen on land.

Claudius Aelianus, often known simply as “Aelian,” born at Praeneste, was a Roman author and teacher of rhetoric who flourished under Septimius Severus and probably outlived Elagabalus, who died in 222.

Jeffrey’s Hair
(A Lobster’s Buttered Tale)

That Charismatic Crawling Hand which tugged the Brazen Boats
of Aromatic Lobsters in their Porcelainic Coats
across that stitch of Ocean lacking Decent Bed and Fare
like a Train lost in the busy Rain drowning Jeffrey’s Hair
was not and shall never be
is not as far as my Eye can see.

The Aramaic lobsters with Itchy Faces sour and sweet
that the Corpulental Crawling Hand decides to excavate for Meat
on a Sub-Saharan Shuttle Train without Decent Jam and Beer
upon the Wilted Sea of Weak Milk-Tea that moistens Jeffrey’s Hair
were not and shall never be
are not as far as my Eyes can see.

The Occipital Ocean rare upon whose Steps we strode
to catch the Tenebraic Train which barricades the Road
leading to the Crawling Hand dying in the Air
like the Anorexic lobsters that often cough up Jeffrey’s Hair
was not and shall never be
is not as far as my Eye can see.

The Hippothalmic sleeping Car dines on Postman’s Glue
and nests within the Swiss Cheese Sea which obfuscates our View
of the AutoMatic lobsters in a Golf Cart in Bel-Air
with the Crawling Hand (a Girl or Man) smoothing Jeffrey’s Hair
was not and shall never be
is not as far as my Eye can see.

This AlterNautic Lobster Tail dressed and fairly Breaded
by the Corrugated Crawling Hand once beloved and now regretted
in a Transylvanian Tank Car stuffed with Scrod who care to dare
to drink the Sea that took a Fee for dampening Jeffrey’s Hair
was not and shall never be
is not as far as my Eye can see.

That Copromantic Crawling Hand which tugged the Brassiere Boats
of Anaerobic Lobsters in their Puisillanic Coats
across that stitch of Ocean lacking Decent Bed and Fare
like Train lost in the Buzzard’s Rain drowning Jeffrey’s Hair
was not and shall never be
is not as far as my Eye can see.

Tibet Draws Nearer the Sea

Tibet is a blood-spattered greenway
and we dream a man walking an unguarded perimeter
of abandoned motels
modeled on an ideal of emptiness.
All the rage.

The Captain of Amusements stares
at the distant Tibetan sea from a window
of a coastal souvenir shop
selling small plastic lighthouses
fueled with kerosene.
Because he is an lizard’s angel he gazes
into the whitest window across the whitest boulevard
to see a theater manager crying over his lost boat
taken by the morning tides.
He seems to be bewildered.
All the rage.

He resolves to be more Tibetan
as he picks up a bird’s nest fallen
to the moist earth from the lighthouse.
He returns to the ancient landing strip
beyond the one thousand fountains
and passes as a crowd of Tibetan women
who are such strange obstructions
to the red western wind
driving the morning tides.
All the rage.

He cannot remember the Seven Sweet Qualities
and says so in a common Tibetan tone of voice
lower than a paper wasp’s prayer.
His portable armchair is also from Tibet
as was his missing boat
and an opera based on all that he had forgotten
about lighthouses and opera
and wind and paper wasps.
All the rage.

The democracy here is sooty
and there is a wheezing sun beneath which
he remains cautiously impassioned.
He is walking across the wide boulevard
to see the cringing statues of the Seven Sweet Qualities.
He pauses to look at the padded machinery sunken in the sea.
Down the streets he sees shops selling birthday cakes
with tiny plastic lighthouses fueled with kerosene on top
but he considers this is more likely to be a funeral
coming around the corner on the ocean tide.

Issue 4 Table of Contents

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