by Lane Chasek
The Frog as Zen Riddle
You consume your own tail
without once opening your mouth.
What the hell is up with that?
Gliding through water with a ballerina’s legs,
a pug’s ugly mug and bulging billiard eyeballs,
you were created as a croaking middle finger
to the tiger’s deadly symmetry.
What drunken all-nighter of heavenly hosts
thought your mismatched parts
was a good idea? You honestly annoy the fuck
out of me, breaking the silence of an otherwise
peaceful fishing trip with your loud gurgles,
sudden splashes and endless whining
as the sun sets. Frog, why do you hate me
so much? What did I ever do to you?
Okay, so I once watched a group of redneck kids
grab some of your brethren from a pond
and shove lit firecrackers up their asses.
All I did was watch, horrified
but somehow amused by the bang,
the tearing of tissue and slimy skin,
damp earth littered with still-twitching
muscle. Alright, I could have done more,
and somehow just writing this
reminds me of all I could have done,
and maybe that’s the point,
maybe that’s my punishment
but I doubt it.
Frog, you just won’t leave, will you?
You’ve been a chaos god, a hate symbol,
an annoying meme, the pinnacle of French cooking
and everything else I could name
but am too lazy to list off. You make no
damn sense. Seriously. You even breathe
through your skin. That shit just ain’t natural.
The Roughest, Toughest Cro-Magnon in the West Addresses Mother Nature
You think I won’t last on this planet?
Listen here, little lady, I ain’t got time
to get knocked off my mammoth and not
get back on again. When life gets rough,
I pull my sorry ass up by my evolutionary bootstraps
and show that tree of life who’s boss.
‘Cause honey, this ain’t gonna get easier.
I had to hack and slash my way out of Africa,
burn down half of Australia and make North America my bitch
just to show this planet who’s at the top of the food chain
before I ever got to call myself Man.
And then I hade Asia for breakfast
with a small glass of Europe. Tasty.
This ain’t my first sabertooth hunt, missy.
I’ve seen entire species fall beneath my hand
and each time it gets a little more magical,
a little more unreal. I wasn’t the first animal to walk upright,
but I sure as hell will be the first to wear pants.
I’ll pummel the brains of any outlaw who thinks
they’re slick enough to swipe my meat. I’ll cut
the throat of anyone who crosses me.
And afterwards I’ll kick back by the fire,
pick my teeth with a Clovis point
and admire what the future has waiting for me.
Later on down the line I’ll be a legend.
Just you watch: my kin will have caves so large
they’ll be called cities. And they’ll have spears
so powerful they’ll be called machineguns. And they’ll have
machineguns so powerful they’ll be called cruise missiles.
I love that word. Cruise missiles. Sounds nice, don’t it?
You don’t think I’ll last on this planet?
Little lady, the ways things are going
I might outlive this sorry-ass planet.
Ayn Rand Inspires a Poet
I recently discovered a poet
who proudly advertises himself
as the poet of Randian Objectivism.
Sometimes he writes poems
about kissing forgotten lovers
in fields of overwrought verses
and generic daffodils, others
about the evils of socialism.
Mostly socialism, though.
He wrote one of these latter poems
in binary, suggesting socialists
are either computers
or don’t know anything about real people,
about the smiling flowers
people love to remember and write about,
about the chain-smoking Soviet woman
with rape fantasies who wrote novels
with titles suggesting that cosmic gods
shrug when learning of the common man’s
adversities and we’re somehow supposed to glory
in the idea of the Great Ones
not giving a fuck about us. Yeah,
socialists don’t know anything about that.
His last name was Faulkner,
which was amazing not because
it was fitting or even that ironic
because I don’t think the original Faulkner
would have cared enough
about generic love scenes,
flowers, or socialists to write poems,
novels or the stray
short story about them. Instead
he’d file all of that shit
under “irrelevant to the human
condition” because it’s only
humanness that counts for anything.
I like to imagine
Faulkner (the Randian poet,
not the American treasure)
listening to the monologue/climax
of Atlas Shrugged while masturbating
to prints of Robert Mapplethorpe’s flowers,
his climaxing trickle of semen
leaving a milky yellow smear
on the future of poetry. He attempts
to evoke Byron or Longfellow
but bends himself so far
his spine snaps. And Atlas laughs,
no longer shrugging.
Lane Chasek is currently living in Lincoln, Nebraska. His stories, poems, and essays have appeared in Broke Bohemian, Journey, Jokes Review, Laurus, Lincoln Underground, and elsewhere.