Good Day Mr. Ferguson
By Marc Meierkort

I. channel 187

I do not know what to think about the things I see
BEAUTY lies in rubble
rocks pelting reporters on live
and let live with blood on our hands
all of us play a part
the shame of watching
America burning as the world
stages blue burqas dotting afghan
landscapes covered like mistakes
of paint –
                    we resort to the finger
its control over opinion
its control over choice
to accept rivers of soft
money in corporate newsrooms
reporting 2-for-1, BOGO civil actions
affirmatively guarded by 2200 national boots
appear sequined in riot
gear on America’s open streets
closed for repair

II. channel 217

fire feeds the mob
and ratings go thru the roof
missing & caved-in under the substance of
burn this bitch down
as water douses flames the burn gets
down deeper –
fire feeds the mob
and aren’t we all them
despite young men shot dead
in backyards that are all our backyards
hidden behind fences that beauty decorates
us into nothing again
that ever feels so separated, so incomplete

III. channel zero

construction cones flash orange
and a young man is dead
and that is sad
young man
                    dead at the hands
that serve & protect
the need to use the weight necessary
to bring about the wanting
young men alive
every night, no echoes in alleys
or trigger parades smothered
mid-breath and that is sad
to not know what to think about the things I see

Frank O’Hara: Painter, Critic, Sometime Poet…
By Marc Meierkort

something stronger that precludes romance.

This last round is on me. You’re right,
maybe next time – I should have some money then.
Perhaps an idea, too, we could cycle around
like hors d’oeurves, sampled & nibbled for rhyme or reason.

He knows what I mean as I’m running fast after the 22
Clark Street bus, the clamor of medicine rattling in my head as would a date
book too filled with lost acquaintances.
Thanks for the drink, the love, the time spent writing those poems
for his friends, himself, whoever
would read them with a strong eye & sense
of some beauty buried in the dirt. I could show the reader
subways, bookstores – rag-tagged discarded editions of Moby Dick,
Pasternak or Mayakovsky – & graffiti, his name stitched into a platform bench.
Some think it’s the Irish Chicago mobster homage, the O’Hara gang from South Prairie Avenue.
Truth & beauty of allusion slip past like holiday parades on Dearborn or State.

River green & tiny shamrocks wind along Wacker like soldiers up for morning mess.
Watching through a bus window is a veil of see-through skin.
I see him racing through lines, eyes to the higher structures, ears to the deeper pockmarks
of cadence, until a street dime catches his sinking eye: he stops, sits, writes a new poem.
I run home to my girl with the impulse to give him a call, only to find
her note (like his matchbook poems & grocery lists & letters to illusory friends)
telling me she’s gone for air, few hours to return. Lunch is in the fridge,
but I leave it, sit down with him instead,
his hunger too much for me to ignore.
I wish I could swim forever, asking him questions, listening to his songs, answering my own
debts about high fashion & slow charm across time.

As I Save again over this file, this attached asterisk of agitated edit,
nothing seems so impulsive
as love & his music of the baroque. Don’t quote me on that.
I see him at the 10 Spot, loose a little drunk on Lady, day & night running to catch up
on the language of Russian writers, books he scribbles, notes & catechism
without fear of broken fingers, short grimaces toward saving face.

Earlier lines melted into a primer of alchemy, philosophical chatter
basking in an unknown crucible where art is made through the simple
act of living. Under every barman’s watchful ear, we drink once more to genius,
music, sweet wine, & the divine sepulchre
of daily bread. The nerve to untitle his work served Get Well memoranda, solicitations
to leave this poem alone, frankly & reluctantly condemned
by his body fresh out of The Cedar, emerging
like his body fresh out of The Cedar, late
& stumbling unsure, the next line breathing without reserve
through his plasma of words as paint dried like blood on the sidewalk.

Why was he not a painter? More than a practitioner
of Fire Island biography? All he needed was talk, the sun & a warm bed
in which to love & be loved. What impressed him
to leave notes & soft kisses of ash
knows whatsit of strength taking hold too soon, plucking daily prayers
off the vines of spoiled fruit to imprint his tendencies
toward myth-making, his bar-mates pressed into leaf & parched
lips too wet for the limitations of chalk & water.
His naked sketch graced the cover of his collected
tutelage with brush & old country sheets of lyrical fear
across every curve & nerve, posed for green-screen portraiture.
It’s easy to preach I like the movies too – not enough of the painter’s eye lives within the screen.
He penned his friends into permanence & jest, fretting inside
the assessment of self that renders him narrowly petrified.
Despite the career box office, to his own list of starlets in cloaks of mad stanzas, I would enjoin
his own luminary to history: Whitman, Crane, Williams, O’Hara.
All better than the movies.

Marc Meierkort is a life-long Chicago resident and has taught high school English for the past 19 years. He is a graduate of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (B.S.) and National-Louis University (M.A.T.) He currently lives in the western suburbs of Chicago. He has recently had poems published by Neologism Poetry Journal, Poor Yorick, Jenny, Inwood Indiana, littledeathlit, The Roanoke Review, and The Dime Show Review.