Selected Poems by Raymond Keen
I have this friend, Lizzie girl.
She feeds me crackers in bed,
And then we roll in the crackers.
She is a heavyweight cracker-feeder.
She is not very interested
In whether or not I like the crackers.
(I do not like the crackers.)
Lizzie was spoon-fed as a child,
And then the spoon was yanked away very early,
Yanked away with an urgency on the part of the yanker,
The spoon had been filled with honey and flies,
And when it was yanked away,
Some of the honey remained on Lizzie’s child lips.
She has never forgotten.
But I am speaking of the memories
Of her dead father
And her dead mother,
Who died too early
For her to receive
The ego benediction.
This girl is not really suicidal.
Letter to Maligulea
(Nominated by the editor of Hobo Camp Review, James Duncan,
for “2012 Best of the Net Anthology”)
It seems like
just yesterday that we spoke,
mi pequena anarchista.
from the pampas
are still eating
The food I left
at the table
didn’t excite them
much. They still
romp and play.
to sew the parachutes.
It’s taking much longer
than expected. Your suggestion
that we let our prisoners
fix their airplanes
and get themselves
out of here without taking
the still torn parachutes
was a good one
because they’ve left,
and are no longer
a worry to us.
Mi querida Maligulea,
I feel somehow strained
in turning now
to the more personal.
Your last letter convinced me
of your commitment to remain
with the mountain people.
I realize that nothing,
not even coffee or tea,
will deter you.
I cannot be objective,
but please know
what I know,
that somehow your work
will not be forgotten,
even though as I write,
it is not even recognized.
We share an affinity
for the tightrope, you know.
Attempting to “Speak in Tongues” at Quarter-Speed
Quinsot finetude porteno bonotu,
sine jee ja jee ja sine quo.
Facit decorum, “moomsa quinsit”
(“when in good company”).
Que qway alorum,
manitou proctum fecit locum:
Jee jay jingle berries.
“When the king whistles,
the crows disperse.”
Do You Think (This Poem Is Too Long)?
Do you think it is fun being human?
Do you think it is distracting being human?
Do you think it is bourgeois being human?
Do you think it is nasty being human?
Do you think it is coincidental being human?
Do you think it is marginal being human?
Do you think it is parsimonious being human?
Do you think it is credible being human?
Do you think it is “a stretch” being human?
Do you think it is pathetic being human?
Do you think it is remarkable being human?
Do you think it is something being human?
Do you think it is anything being human?
Do you think it is nothing being human?
Do you think it is worthwhile being human?
Do you think it is exciting being human?
Do you think it is “goodbye, farewell, adieu” being human?
Do you think this poem is too long? Too short? Just right?
Do you think this is really a poem? The Socratic method
Out-of-control? A childish interrogation meant to demean
The human spirit? An homage to Donald Barthelme?
A historic first attempt to allow the reader to complete a
Poetic work of art? What? You tell us. (Fill in the blank . . .