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Parabolic Poetry by Mickey Kulp

By Mickey Kulp

The bird on the wire
The bird on the wire
watches me trapped in traffic,

I pound the steering wheel,
furious at the delay.

The bird on the wire
has a full belly
for the moment,
and that’s all that

I have places to be.
I have things to do
before I can get a full belly.

The bird on the wire
only needs to eat, make babies, and

The bird on the wire
is placid, living its life

The bird on the wire
cannot smile, but it would.
I can smile, but I don’t.


Polska Party
I’m at a party.
I really don’t belong here,
but I’m trying to enjoy it,
and they were nice to invite me.
After some food, the big drinks begin.
Polish moonshine.
Mostly vodka and a little lemon juice.
The women are young.
Their dresses are short.
The drinking is heavy
here near the end.
The women are getting warm
on the dance floor;
they want the temperature down
and the lights off.
They’re speaking mostly Polish now,
but they have the same drunk
laugh that all girls have.
I retreat from the pounding music
to join the smokers outside
under an awning in the rain.
I quit long ago, so I am immune
to their kind offers of death.
Americans are out here too.
They are talking about how much
it costs to go to Vail compared
to Whistler for skiing.
A woman alone at a picnic table
is checking her email,
smoking in furtive puffs
like she’s hiding her habit –
from whom?  Not us sinners.
As pleasant as they are,
these are not my people.
My people are already asleep now.
My people are worrying about
the mortgage, not Vail.
My people are not too drunk.
My people are living
their days slowly.
My people are hoping for more
and getting far, far less.


A Happy Poem For Once
We are a brassy bunch:
this big, noisy tribe
spread over the globe
in our rainbow shades of brown
with easy smiles that lie.

We love and hate in
random waves that
cancel and merge and surge;
a whole new bunch
of stumblers
making it up as they go
every hundred years
or so.

A few spins around the sun,
the yellow-brown people
kill the light-brown
people who kill the
dark-brown people.

Then a few more spins,
and the dark-brown
people marry the
light-brown people
and the yellow-brown
people are pals with
everyone again.

Surge and crash and
merge and slash,
yell and cry and kiss.

We’re a damned hoot-n-a-half.

I bet the butterflies
will miss us
after we’re gone.


Two Hours Down, Seventy More to Go
Addiction receptors dying.
“One more hit,” he hears them crying.
“Shit,” he growls, busting links,
tortured dendrites, burning, shrink.
“Endure,” the icy cortex scolds,
a robot voice in canyon folds.
“Scream,” the hissing shadow urges.
Rising, drowning, acid surges.
Salty sweat, gritty eyes,
shrieking brain screams out its lies.
Milk the snake and take a sip.
Let the venom, questing, slip
across the churning brine
back before, when all was fine.
Then jagged time, seventy more,
slams him to the laughing floor.
And he is falling, like before. Like back before. Back before.
There was a rainbow, there was light
shining on her skin. Then night
came soft and holy, a balm of cool
whispering heavy dreams, a still pool
of tomorrows growing wide and deep.
Endless floating sleep.
Open windows, cricket song.
Breathe it in, exhale long.
The colors in a flowered field,
crystal air where songbirds wheeled.
They sing like tinkling chimes: “Endure.”
Their distant breath, a lofty cure.
The jagged time, seventy more,
pushes on the bulging door.
He hears the tortured mind again
“You must suffer for your sin.”
But songbirds float above intone
“Endure, endure.  You’re not alone.”
Searing tears, bloodshot eyes,
screeching brain, scalding lies.
Seventy more.  God, seventy hours.
He grits and thinks of ruby flowers.
Each tick, each falling grain,
a boulder up the hill again.
Just seventy more. He’ll be better than before. Back before.

(Nicotine withdrawal symptoms usually reach their peak 2 to 3 days after you quit.  It takes at least 3 months for your brain chemistry to return to normal after you quit smoking.)                    


All the Lovely Words
I read all the lovely words
from a world-famous poet
while news pollutes my TV.
Blessedly, the sound is off.

I look up, leaving the clean,
nourishing literature
to poison my eyes with “news”
maggot-crawling in a red

band below the vacant face
of a blonde corporate shill.
“…deadly shooting…a coach fired
for inappropriate acts…”

Gut churning, I look back down.
“…the sun’s hands on my bare back…
I am thinking of winter…”
I exhale crawling toxins.

Look up: “…terrifying crash…”
Look down: “…the languorous girls…”
Up: “…shooter at the high school…”
Down: “…two boys with pails walking…”

Churn.  Exhale. Repeat.  Endless.
Like pulling petals from a
flower saying, “She loves me…”

and hoping to end without
the dreaded “…loves me not.”
I give up on the humans
reveling in the putrid.

Click.  Off. And I return to
a gentle wonderland where
blood spatters cannot mar the
roadside berries at sunrise.


Mick is a writer and father who is not allowed to buy his own clothes. His poetry has appeared in numerous literary journals and three books of poetry. He is a member of the Georgia Writers Registry, and he manages a quarterly reading series with a fundraiser for the local food co-op.

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