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illustration by the author Reports From The Cerebral Outback
by Marcus Del Greco

Selected Pretensions 1993-1996

BlackJack Politics/ Floral Shoes (first  published in The Worcester Review)/ Papa's Okay Kitchen Dance/ Adventures of Kid Modern: Through Protein Traffic/ I Must Confess/ Sacred Cow/ A Wide Birth to Hard Labor/ This Octopus's Arms/ Our Type/ Considering California/ Wrinkled and Raisin' a Family/ That Would Be My Thigh/ Socket/ Plan/ House On My Head/ No Cherry On It/ Pasture Prime/ Pieces of Pink/ Synthetics (Test Tube Celebrities, Bloodstream Kit, and Playing the Pathological Lyre)/ Beneath the Amber Streetlight/ Drowned in Bubbles (first published in The 21st Century)/ Brother Jupiter/ Lime Dime Time/ Will You Condescend?/ While Your Hair Dries/ Ragamuffin/ The Crab of Dover/ Sugar Canis/ Proud NowA Royal Witness/ Prelude to A Royal Witnessing/ A Story Twice Occured/ Tom, A Hawk/ To Ashes, As Is Fated/ Pardon Me/ The Special Hour/ On His Own Time/ Camels Don't Care/ Stop, Drop, and Roll ('Cause You're On Fire!)/ This Kitten/ The Rhyme Debate/ Vices/ You, You, You/ Have A Cigar/ Stages of Development


Love of life
Love of women
Wanderlust and wilderness
Beastface topples Dictator
Dictator springs back up like a
Weighted doll.
"Hit me again," he says.
Beastface makes some quip
About blackjack,
Thereby revealing his Kings and Queens,
Dictator, laughing,
Splits his spleen.



FLORAL SHOES (first published in The Worcester Review)

Floral shoes--
orange blossoms
showered by laces

a thousand petal faces
smiling like candy,
walking as though they had no roots,
hugging their mother's feet.



Grape jig, wine jig,
herbal soupy love-honey bread dip,
and Mama's trip.

He cooks, she cheats,
the children sniff and salivate
for several spicy meats
he's roasting

flame high

he's never spied.

Steam is rising in musical notes
and Papa's polka keeps
his toes off the hot hot tile
of the kitchen dance floor.

The kids want more.

Dance, Papa, dance!
Do that spacy pepper disco stuff
we were born during!
Clank some pots and pans and do the
wish-bone turkey saucy shuffle!
Ruffle, feathers, ruffle!

But don't upset the fruit of Mama's womb
just 'cause she's in
another man's kitchen.


Protein traffic in everyone's veins,
slippery strings and daisy chains,
too complex for the text to explain
right now, kid.

DNA, or boa constrictor?
Wrapping us up and injecting elixir.
If the machine isn't broke, then
why do we fix her, kid?

A caterpillar of molecules,
springing forth and plopping in pools,
holding together both drunks and fools
like us, kid.

Winding through life like a freeway clover,
buckling under and tumbling over,
rushing through plasm like the beaches at Dover
as your Gramp did, kid.

Protein traffic in everyone's veins,
slippery strings and daisy chains,
too complex for the text to explain
right now, kid.


I invited her over;
I must confess.

"I'm not decent!" I cried as
she knocked at my door.

"I know that," she said,
"are you dressed?"


Golden bull, silver calf.

How Bovine!

I utter these words in prayer
for you.

Our pails are full,
your stalls in line;
we filthy farmers rise at dawn.

Quench our children,
Crop this lawn:

What shame!

We have become your only purpose.



Me, I like to give a wide berth
to hard labor.

It ain't that I'm lazy.
They got machines for that, now.

Old people, they got work ethic.
'Course... they had less machines.

Old woman so wrinkled her face like
a house full of canyons.
Lots of little canyons.

She misunderstood me.

Wide birth? she say.
Hard labor? she say.

They's one in the same.

Roy, my fourth, he come out sideways.


This Octopus's arms,
despite their suction cups and charms,
were unable to hold you.

This Octopus's arms,
with all their security and burglar alarms,
were useless to keep you from being stolen.

This Octopus's arms can cook and clean,
will always be tender and never be mean,
protect from the cruel and the soiled obscene
that will seek to run you over.

This Octopus's arms are strong, moreover.

When will eight be enough?


Let me tell you about Our Type.

(You already know what we look like.)

Dodging the jail and the railroad spike
as though they still had chain gangs;
I guess it's romance's cliff
on which we hang.

Needing blade or razor,
Our Type is only a shave away
from yours,
only inches away from the proper
shoes, from boredom...
only a shave away.

You know you're better than us
but we're just as proud;
hear us scruffy peacocks heckling loud
at your fine silk events.

When the fountain of your wealth dries up,
When the world don't see it your way,
When your life's gone by,
When your respect is spent.
When your death is ripe,
to Our Type.


Considering California.

Maybe go there next year.

Tell the surfers about the
people back home, and
how the cold makes them fear.

How the cold makes them fear.

How it smarts when Life's Principal
takes hold your ear.

Considering California.

Maybe go there next year.


Meet Wrinkled and Raisin,
a family.

Their daughter she started
too early.

Now Grandpa is Wrinkled, and
Grandma is Raisin, and
the duo is three times
as surly.

They're Wrinkled and Raisin'
a family.


He lay his hand
on a lump of something
on her chair.

(a bristling hair)
(a hitching sigh)

"Whoa," she said,
"That would be my thigh."

Between diplomats and spies
no common language
is known
no meat
no bone
just the same silent hand approaching
your fly.

"Whoa," you say,
"That would be my thigh."


Socket to me.
Charge a fortune.
Juggle sparks, and pins, and
The life of a street urchin.

Socket to the vender.
Steal the loaves that he displays.
Your hunger takes not second place
as the stomach acids sway
and sway.

No time for sympathy today.

Finger in the socket
of electric poverty.

Socialites revolted, jolted,
from their reveries.


I'll win her back with
a poem and roses
(the box of chocolates would be
too much).

It's simple and classic and
older than Moses
(tradition effective
as such).


There's a house on my head
that's so fulla people
so fulla sinners and church-goers:
domestic flowers
with petal and sepal.

There's a head in my house
which flushes eternal;
The Fountain of Uncouth
called a urinal.

There's a house on my head
with too many rooms,
too many midnights and
too many noons.

Too many lives,
too many forks and
too many spoons

and no knives.


Let's you and I share a platonic sparkler
a friendly soda
a totally neutral spritzer
a tonic
a chocolate fudge sundae with
no cherry on it.


Do you feel pasture prime?

Are you ready to graze, and
forage in fields
for days
and days?

Ready to wander retirement's
meadow, entering
the very last phase?

Do you feel pasture prime?


The lacy dress so long employed
to impress the girls
to attract the boys
is cut up now
is ripped and torn
to pieces of pink that lay on the floor.

The piggy bank so long kept safe
the chaff and change
of money I made
but now is cracked
shattered, in fact,
to pieces of pink that can't be put back.

These rose candy wrappers once covered a gift
of chocolate high
of sugar lift
but now have split and
floated adrift
as pieces of pink impossible to sift.

Your musical cheeks that used to blush
have quietly paled
grown white and hushed
the memory of which
I always adored
turned to pieces of pink that lay on the floor.


Test Tube Celebrities

Without talent's wind
nor art's breeze,
we arrive at test tube

They take a few classes
(backstage passes)
in popular chemistry.

Bloodstream Kit

Build a friend with a bloodtream kit--
she'll neither baulk nor have a fit--
she'll walk or run or jog or sit-- all to
your specifications... Plan a getaway-- a
sane vacation-- take a plane to another
nation-- you and your bloodtream kit in
total elation-- this perfect friend won't
spit in your face, and

your time won't go to waste.

Playing the Pathological Lyre

In playing
the pathological lyre,
music travels only through
only through wires and
not through
the air...
even though it belongs there.



Man meets woman
beneath the amber streetlight.

A forest grows and is killed
by blight, all during their
brief exchange.

Their voices are just out
of range.

A whisper of fog trickles out
from the night.

As man meets woman beneath the
amber streetlight.

DROWNED IN BUBBLES (first published in The 21st Century)

He put his baby to sleep that night
Sang a few notes of something old
Then entered in to the porcelain world
To add three capfuls of solution to
The ocean in his bathtub.

Like he always had before
He poured in just a tiny bit more
For good measure, as his mother had taught him.

So he watched his bubbles
Multiply and grow cancer-like in the tub
From zygote to embryo to fetus,
Thinking of his sleeping baby who would
Come of age without a father.



Brother Jupiter... sing!

We'll join for the chorus.

Your inter-planetary voice
could not begin
to bore us.

Brother Jupiter... sing!

You bulge the largest among us.

Children of the sun are we,
but observe no sibling rivalry:
our father would never
ignore us.

Brother Jupiter... sing!

Whilst we float around in orbit,
we'll assimilate, absorb it.

You'll finally give this galaxy's
bells a ring.

So, Brother Jupiter... sing!



slip into
a North Pole rhyme
a pretty package
a frozen dime
a slice of kelly lime
on the rim
of Santa's glass of wine?


If I ask a tiny kiss,
will you condescend?

We can play it hit or miss
until your heart does mend.

We can have a night of bliss
or maybe even two;
there never has to be an end:
if it's up to me, I'll keep you.

Even if I only beg
a letter of love to send...

If I ask a tiny kiss,
will you condescend?


Just stand awhile
while your hair dries
let it drip along
your thighs
as the steam clears up
your eyes
while your hair dries.

Rest a bit
during the time your hair dries,
for now ignore the
baby's cries
sit back upon the chair
and sigh
during the time your hair dries.

While your hair dries
you'll receive a vision
kiss away the little
white lies
that always betray the spies
while your hair dries.



Glamour girls don't please for nothin':
Me, I like a ragamuffin.

May her jeans be torn.
May her skirt be stained.
May her hair want slightly
of soap and rain...

May she grow like the weeds
I see through the pane.

We two can roll as one,
a weather-hewn stone,
natural and plain.

Glamour girls don't please for nothin':
Me, I like a ragamuffin.



Crab of Dover
beached and clawing
ceaseless petty jabbering,
fugue of ugly jawing.

Crab of Dover
shelled for dinner
knocked his girlfriend
on her back to
spin her.

No longer fun to win her.

Crab of Dover likes
a challenge.

Does that make him a sinner?



Sugar Canis
sweet little puppy
dog-breath spewing
platinum-collared yuppy.


PROUD NOW (A Verse on Undelayed Gratification)

Got there fast,
and ain't you proud now?

Reaped the harvest before
you ploughed.

Ate your ham and bacon, didn't you...?

Before you killed the sow.



She leaned out from the tower
in a way the prince did not expect.

Murder happens in slow motion always.

So he saw the odd, undeserved expression
of pain on her innocent face.

Her eyes so wide in agony and surprise,
she fell to her gory end,
denting a small place on the earth
below her window.

The prince wondered who the maiden had
wronged so severely, as he
witnessed the drama of her death.

And he'll never forget how she vomitted
blood before she tumbled—
how she breathed her last in
crimson damsel breath.


A pleading call from the balcony
made a statue of the fleeing prince.

He could imagine no greater desperation
in her voice, as it seared clear through
to the forest shoulder he'd been
trotting over.

So he reared his horse, and made
about-face, casting he and his royal steed
back to the place where his
chivalric heart lie.

But the sight that greeted him there
was a maiden suspended in air,
her dress all ruby red with God-knows-what,
falling to her tragic demise
from the tower balcony.



I have a lowly story to tell
not once occurred
but twice,
and even the third time round
in hearing it
is nice.

It's about a disloyalty,
a blunt betrayal,
not once occurred
but twice,
that left me like a plastic shovel
on a beach of solid ice.

In the jaws of some new enemy,
deja vu like never before.

A gnawing dark persistence
rising fog-like from the floor.

Every bite is well-internalized;
one remembers every tooth.

Once occurred may be coincidence
but twice occurred is proof.

Maybe you've a story to tell
not once occurred
but twice,
but I beg, kind fellow,
my own has well sufficed.

In the face of concrete evidence
no man remains aloof.

Once occurred may be coincidence
but twice occurred is proof.


Tom, a hawk,
cut across the canyon
spied a mouse so close
to dying
and swung around to catch it.

Found an egg,
tried to hatchet--
chopped away
a lonely day,
built a nest to
aid the display
and not a one
could match it.

Tom, a hawk,
he ax so little,
though bird and beak
played country fiddle
to build the barren nest.

Tom, a hawk,
will stop to rest
when the wood rings in his middle.



Tumble scarlet in the twilight...
Leave your body to the urn.

Do your duty and return
to ashes, as is fated.

Come now, don't look
so elated!

No nerve cell will respond
by then,
and in Hell's great fire the
world may end.

There's always a flame around the bend.

What is left to be debated?

Reduce yourself
to ashes, as is fated.

Dust will be dust,
and ashes, ashes.

You can even skip your science classes.

It's written in the books
of lore.

Where once was you, will be more created.

May your thirst for a piece
of this earth be sated.

So submit
to ashes, as is fated.



Pardon me,
but must my life be over?

Must I fry in a high-voltage recliner
while others run in clover?

Call the Governor,
relay my plea.

Ask him kindly to
pardon me.

Pardon me,
but how sure
can you be of my guilt?

The sword of
"beyond a reasonable doubt"
has been buried to the hilt.

Mercy!  Mercy!
Pull it out!

Strive to set me free.

Save me from a shameful end
and quickly
pardon me.



He found another bag to buy;
purple circle round the eye,
he filled his bowl to harvest plenty
and waited for The Special Hour.

Spirited by youth poised nice
upon an old Dutch spice ship,
he headed toward some sea's horizon
searching for The Special Hour.

Dodging barely the demon's pitchfork,
he bummed a ride to the slums of New York,
and perched upon a stoop with chickens
who clucked about The Special Hour.

In death he saw a window frosted
by the opaque days that costed him
his life, as he scraped, and clawed his way
in vain toward The Special Hour.



We don't have the right to compare
his formal to his casual wear.

This man, he dances in his prime,
so watch him succeed in the public domain
then respect what he does
on his own time.

On his own time
he'll be
the crazy man he sees
as his secret ideal, and he'll tell you.

And don't be surprised
when he drinks you with his eyes
or uses his tongue to smell you...

on his own time.

See him in his shirt and tie;
his briefcase ambles by.

Inside lives a sincere mind
which loves all humankind...

on duty, or
on his own time.



I always smoked my cigarettes
in front of you.

It wasn't long before
you smoked them, too.

I liked to watch you turn your head
and sweep your cloud through the air.

But unlike me,
whether you hold them or not,
Camels don't care.

In a moment of distraction
you drop an ash on your thigh
or with the lighter burn your hair.

But though I fear for every inch
of your smooth and loving skin,
you can't imagine the pain I'm in
to think your cigarettes will still be there
when I am not,
and Camels don't care.

You draw a breath
and the tip turns red.

I ask if you've a spare.

We both love fire
so warm yourself
within my dragon's lair.

Brace yourself and take for instance
the degree of a cigarette's indifference,
for though I am no box of twenty
I surely care about you plenty,
so take me back and to us both be fair,
cause I love to have your lips so near me
and Camels just don't care.


Take a peak behind the curtain-
If you don't look, you'll never be certain.
Light yourself first, then call me a liar...

Stop, Drop, and Roll
'cause you're on fire!

Peel the lids from your sleeping eyes.
Know what it's like to expect a surprise.
Sing your own gospel in the mind's great choir...

Stop, Drop, and Roll
'cause you're on fire!

Feel the light and darkness mingle-
A double-Truth that forms a Single.
But don't linger or wallow too long in the mire...

Stop, Drop, and Roll
'cause you're on fire!



This kitten
doesn't have an owner—

she's not a-stray
but you can't make her stay.

This kitten
will remain a loner,
but she'll always come over
to play.

What this kitten likes the most
is to hone her claws
on that scratching post.

She'll be your guest
if you'll be her host,

so to a fickle kitty
I propose this toast.



A lot of times
it's fun to rhyme;
sometimes not.

Some call it a crime
to turn a rhyme;
I call it a song.


We all have our vices.

We all have to eat, but
we add different spices.

How does your food taste?

It must be delicious;
you dine in haste.



So many of these lines are
to the second person,

You, you.

That which is not me,
the first person.

The third person, by the way,
could give a shit.

The he, she, it.

I wish to communicate with you,
but I feel so elitist
with you always second, and me always first.

What are you, anyhow... liverwerst?


Become the first.


Just a little pain,
nothing so bad as labor I am sure,
and suddenly the weight is gone.

It's a bouncing baby poem.

Stretch my walls far enough
and I will forget how
yet another pretentious metaphor
will miscarry like all the rest.

Couldn't we have avoided all this?
Where was that emotional condom
when I really needed it?

I would have put it on you,
my dear,
so the seed wouldn't get in me
and grow like a balloon,
popping out in poems.

Have a cigar!

Don't smoke it alone.


There are the dancers-
you can see them now running through
the second number.

There's a techie with a toolbelt,
armload of lumber.

There's the director,
in a stage of her own development.

Clipboard on her knees,
calls the stage manager over.

Three actors run lines by the prop table;
they think the lighting guy is cute.

A roundabout route
to the creation of a moment.

The producer's counting money in
the back of the house by the doors.

The musicians are filing in;
they've all played in the pit before.

If this moment doesn't work,
wait a moment more.

It's only a stage.

Marcus Del Greco has been writing for the page, stage, and record since 1992. He founded in 1998 and continues as editor and developer of this domain and a small network of other creative websites. He lives in Alton, New Hampshire.



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