Love Poems for Cannibals

 

Love Poems for Cannibals by Raymond Keen

 

Making reference to current cultural, political and social events, Raymond Keen’s Love Poems for Cannibals can be darkly provocative, bitingly witty and serenely contemplative. Raymond writes, “I want readers to be stirred with questions about what it means to be a human being. I don’t provide answers, but I try to make clear what the stakes are. The stakes for human beings in the 21st century are very high.”

In Love Poems for Cannibals, truth and beauty, body and spirit, mind and matter, pain and pleasure admix in the following eight sections:

•    The Vietnam War is not dinky dau. (1967-1968)
•    Est Deus in Nobis. (1969-2012)
•    Mother Is On Vacation. (1974-2004)
•    mouth-honour  (1973-2003)
•    Is There Mucus in Paradise? (1973-2010)
•    Homo Homini Lupus Est. (1976-2009)
•    Final Entropy (1974-2012)
•    Prose Coda (2001-2012)

Love Poems for Cannibals is available for sale on Amazon.com and directly from the publisher, CreateSpace.

 

“Raymond Keen’s poetry flows with painful ironies of war and spiritual desolation in redemptive moments of verbal surprise, wit, and serenity. Raymond culls his work from experiences as a Navy psychologist in Vietnam and as a psychologist working in Belgium, Germany, Japan and the United States. Hauntingly beautiful, these poems are the flowers that grow in a sidewalk’s cracks, the questions we rarely pose, the love poems written for all of us cannibals.”

---  Richard Fenwick, author of Around the Sun Without a Sail  ---

 

 

 

Sample poems from each section of the book

 

I.  The Vietnam War is not dinky dau.  (1967 - 1968)

Shake ‘n’ Bake Ensign’s Short-Timer Song

The Vietnam War is
Not dinky dau,
Not number 10.
Cuz I was lucky enough
To snap beaucoup pictures
For my color-slide collection!
That first slide there, that’s me
With my Mother’s Day Medal.
Number one!  Outstanding!

Hootchgirl asks me,
“When you fini Vietnam, GI?”
I tell hootchgirl
This is my wake-up.
So how ’bout one last short-time
For this short-timer?
Cuz I am gung ho to didi mau.
Didi mau on that Freedom Bird
Back to the World.
Pan Am makes the going great!
Number one!  Outstanding!

Hootchgirl asks me,
“When you fini Vietnam, GI?”
I tell hootchgirl
This is my wake-up.
So how ’bout one last short-time
For this short-timer?
Cuz I am gung ho to didi mau.
Didi mau on that Freedom Bird
Back to the World.
Pan Am makes the going great!
Number one!  Outstanding!

The Vietnam War is
Not dinky dau,
Not number 10.
Cuz I was lucky enough
To snap beaucoup pictures
For my color-slide collection!
That first slide there, that’s me
With my Mother’s Day Medal.
Number one!  Outstanding!

 

II.  Est Deus in Nobis.  (1969 - 2012)

I Love the Traveling Christ

I saw Christ
jogging in
Wiesbaden.

I saw Christ
eating a hot dog
in New York.

I saw Christ
spitting
on a Berkeley street.

I saw Christ
disrupting the stoning of a woman
in Tehran.

I saw Christ
sleeping
in a Detroit gutter.

I saw Christ
bleeding in a no-fire zone
in Sri Lanka.

I saw Christ
teaching the children
in Burundi.

I saw Christ
feeding the starving
in Chad.

I saw Christ
standing with a man
before the tanks in Tiananmen Square.

I saw Christ
begging for food
in the slums of Zimbabwe.

I love the traveling Christ
who has no place to lay His head.
I love the traveling Christ
with no street address.

 

III.  Mother Is On Vacation.  (1974 - 2004)

A Tyrant’s Dream

You leave home.
You hate them
For not understanding.
You return, but find
You are locked
Out of the house.
Now you remember
Your mother is on vacation.

You notice
This other woman
Has more hair
On her arms than you,
But you “let that dog lie.”
Then you notice
These other women
Don’t shave their legs.
But they are weak!
You are strong!
So you climb up the tree
In their back yard.
You peer through the window.

Suddenly your path
Seems more certain.
Because you realize
That you are also weak:
All that ability,
But no authority.
Once you were
“The Favorite,”
Simply by playing
A parasitic endgame
With your chameleon host.
Now in this hell
We call heaven,
She can’t even remember your name.

You were Ahab
Trapped in the birth canal,
First-rate spirit
Waiting to be born second,
Swallowing your twin’s shit
As he was born,
Waiting, deciding.
Now you are the Robber.
Now you are the Thief.
Now you have
Blue eyes and blond hair.
Now you are utterly fearless.
Now you are Ahab
Astride the White Whale.
Now you play God with Mother.
Now you shit Truth.

 

IV.  mouth-honour  (1973 - 2003)

GREAT MEN SERIES 4:  A Personal Glimpse of Our Beloved Scientist, Albert Einstein, with Photo Slides

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.
(1st slide is a facial portrait of Albert Einstein.)
Albert Einstein was unable
to tie his own shoelaces,
or uninterested in doing so.
Yet he was the greatest physicist
who ever lived.
(2nd slide shows full body photo of Einstein,
cut off at shoulders.)
Here is a photograph of Einstein
with shoelaces untied.
(3rd slide shows view of Einstein
from ankles down.)
Here is a photograph of Einstein
with shoelaces tied. 
We don’t know
who tied them.
Although Albert Einstein
was not very practical,
he was very theoretical.
He was our greatest theoretical physicist.
Unlike many scientists today,
he did not deny
the existence of God.
Some contemporaries
have even referred to
his “metaphysical dimension.”
(4th slide shows full portrait of Einstein.)
Here is the last photo that we have
of our beloved scientist.
Notice the shoelaces.

 

V.  Is There Mucus in Paradise?  (1973 - 2010)

You Can’t Explain Goodness

Los primeros gauchos
eran criminales
que se escapaban
de las ciudades.

Goodness is
an outlaw,
always unfashionable,
always a miracle.

Meanwhile,
evil men
evil men
remain organized.

The Devil says
there are
at least two
of everything.

 

 

VI.  Homo Homini Lupus Est.  (1976 - 2009)

Going to Hell

Traveling through the frozen mud
Between cigarettes,
Teeth and bones
Suspended in the ice,
We wash the fish
When the Devil comes.
There is no singing.
There is no dancing.
It’s dark in the machine.
His name is my name too.

Returning on our bloody knees
Every Monday.
Hamburger for lunch, wiping our mouths
With paper napkins.
Or the mantis,
Eating the head
Of her mate
During intercourse.
See the pictures for yourself.
Killing is bad luck
Without an audience.

Paul’s gone.
Do you remember Joe Palooka?
With death at the end,
There is no singing.
There is no dancing.
Should we clap in love class?
We’ll talk about that tomorrow.
Wash the fish
When the Devil comes.
Bumping heads in the night wagon,
His name is your name too.

Why not kill one another?
Or the God of the Philosophers
Singing in German, “Schlafen Sie gut.”
When hope is gone
So goes the air we breathe.
I dreamed of Hiroshima.
I dreamed of Dresden.
I dreamed of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
I dreamed of My Lai.
Is that Art Linkletter?
Is it time to wake up
In this system of hate?
Swallow the bee
Before it stings your tongue.
No sign of Christ.
(Exeunt omnes.)
Tennis anyone?
Goot martze en strabo, hiba hiba
His name is our name too.

 

VII.  Final Entropy  (1974 - 2012)

How It Will End (Previously Recorded)

In the end
there will be no witnesses
as far as we know.
But there are no guarantees.
In the final entropy
of the last 400 million years,
the time it will take for the life
of all radioactive substances to expire,
the incessant yet now forsaken sound of the World Sirens,
still very loud and shrill,
undiminished really,
will be the last testament
to human technological mastery,
a manufactured sound devised so well
that it will never end
as far as we know.
But there are no guarantees.

This incessant sound of the World Sirens
will be ignored
by the centipedes, scorpions, and cockroaches
that make their own sounds
as legs and abdomens rub together
in their jostling for space
in the empty and permanent night.
This immortal sound of the World Sirens
in the absence of light
will be wasted
on this seething mass
of copulating insects
quivering with agitation
that certainly lack
any appreciation
of immortality
as far as we know.
But there are no guarantees.

 

VIII.  Prose Coda  (2001-2012)

Inside My Prose Poem Is Glory, Glory For All

Inside my prose poem is glory, glory for all.  Even the juicy parts don’t lack think material.  I have it on good authority.  My autistic Aunt says I should stop writing.  Where are the beans?  I was told in my childhood that the even-tempered succeed.  Why not?  Die for your country?  Not me, Siegfried.  Tulips bloom in Holland.  WOW! Have a Heart!  Tulips bloom in Holland.  Not me, Siegfried.  Die for your country?  Why not?  I was told in my childhood that the even-tempered succeed.  Where are the beans?  My autistic Aunt says I should stop writing.  I have it on good authority.  Even the juicy parts don’t lack think material.  Inside my prose poem is glory, glory for all.