Topographical Masquerade
—a poem by Thomas Piekarski

We were stretched out on the esplanade                                                          
                Fishing poles limp hot dogs
                The carp didn’t bite there
                So came night came the stars
                That bullied the sky so we left
                Hitching Highway 1 coons
                And possums trailing winds
                Majestic along headlight
                Beams that skimmed bait
                The indolent fish refused

Unquestionably unilateral over the top daredevil

                Window washer repels slings
                So high almost out of sight
                From skyscraper 45th floor
                Underwear exposed puffs a Camel
                Swings precariously defiant
                With a smile slips loose drops

Relaxed with a bubbly he said she’d always wanted

                An erudite type not some bloke
                With porcupine skin you recognize
                Cucumber nose you’d easily mistake
                For a tsunami any time the waltz hit
                Rodeo Drive made the moment real
                Not overexposed the convivial father
                Call him paladin unfortunately
                Suffered a mild heart attack in
                An orange grove outside Riverside
                Non issue because life is limpid
                Knows elections don’t halt taxes
                Wife weaving a dress from satin thread
                Bakes cookies for the Brownie troop

On a good day he was certain to knock three times   
                Stovepipe hot and she would respond                              
                By beating a tin kettle the cat
               Texts cousin Sue sweet in Madagascar
                Ducting clear of pesky dust mites
                Thank god the glass slipper glistens
                In the sink we show great stealth
                Ascend dozens and dozens of steep
                Iron steps inside the capitol dome
                Wind way up to where pure
                Gold plated ball kisses nascent clouds
                Gaze way down the mall where
                River and Tower Bridge merge if only
                You could stop traffic on a dime now
                Arrest distance with nuclear theory
                Maybe Vanderbilt or Bach could
                Backstage Mata Hari lurks squats
                Senator you should do something
                Do something before the ice cube
                In my martini melts like a man

Stan and Ollie trailed team Chevy Chase three

                To nothing in the bottom of the ninth
                When it began to drizzle pin pricks
                We packed bananas and Pepsi cans
                Hightailed out of Frisco on the next
                Bus and buzzed into chilly Berkeley
                Like a pair of slightly juiced dolphins
                We both stomped jovially
                Up Shattock toward the Civic Center
                To find a Miloz selected someplace
                Anyplace remaindered so crazed
                At last fruition bubbled to the rim

And that was a photo to be relished while eating

                A Po Boy at the Amtrack terminal
                Jawdropping buns and jugs sat
                No man’s land across from me
                Distanced yet here a daisy showed
                There a unicorn stunning immense
                Glissandos left on the hothouse steps
                Along with nine empty milk bottles
                I swear Ted sure did cry when they
                Took his toy monkey away from him                     
                Easter was early or anyhow it seemed                                  
                With so much snow all around                                            
                But difficult to catch a flake on your
                Tongue to salvage sanity or soul

We absolutely did not want to be discovered curled

                Like a couple of snails copulating
                At the foot of Mount Ranier given
                Beautiful as Aspen is Owens Valley
                Some circumstances I would avoid
                Outright if possible not patronize
                The fashionable politics of bullets
                Kids favor these days over the pen
                Isolated from good poems perfect
                Eliot masterful Gauguin
                Messianic howl over the moon
                Turned sienna before my eyes
                In a symphony the ages descry

Ear muffs ipods cell phones phonograph afoot

                We watched Roy Rogers kick up spurs
                 Hop onto Trigger and head out for
                 Wonderland so that it would become
                 Essentially unnecessary to ask why
                 The chicken steadfastly refused to set
                 Foot on the road and why it elected
                 Not to lift its shirt and expose its navel

Thomas Piekarski is a former editor of the California State Poetry Quarterly. His poetry and interviews have appeared in Nimrod, Portland Review, Kestrel, Cream City Review, Poetry Salzburg, Boston Poetry Magazine, Gertrude, The Bacon Review, and many others.  He has published a travel guide, Best Choices In Northern California, and Time Lines, a book of poems. He lives in Marina, California.