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A Boy on a Horse

A Poetry Series by
   Dan Lukiv
   May 2003

---     Titles     ---

A Boy in Bed
Haiku 1
A Boy on a Horse
Haiku 2
Local Boys
Haiku 3
Skipping Stones
Haiku 4
The Circle
Haiku 5
Outer Limits
The Farm

eMail Author
Dan's Resume'

A cottonwood claws,
Grates my window,
My blood.

I see it--as dark as
A terrorist--through
The wrong end
Of my toy

But it's in my lungs,
Like a tumor,
And in my hair,
Like lice.

It's under the goosefeather quilt,
Finding me.

I'm awake,

Why does it want me?


Haiku 1

Wind rattles windows
While a boy pretends to sleep
In darkness.



A ghostly hand rips
The cord between
Me and the round earth.

And there I am, riding--
A pharaoh without a war,
A sailor adrift in a
Mine field of manure-scabs.

I clutch the bow,
Push back on the stern,
And dangle legs in

While they watch the sailor,
The city-sap,
Sail like a helmsman without
Arms. "Ha! Ha! Ha!"

They might as well force
Me to sing
For these buxom aunts
And boozed-up uncles.

"Do 'Old MacDonald'."
"Don't be a spoil-sport."
"Don't forget to quack, quack,
Quack, like a duck."

I hate them, these war-
Creatures of Genghis Khan.
I hate their barn-stink.
I hate these wormy reins.

And what right,
I might add,
Do they have to be big
And to jerk?

I see my parents gazing
Up, up at me, smiling
As if they've drunk
Too much beer.

Give me back me--
A new king on a
White horse:
And take me home to my


Haiku 2

A boy, in the
Grey mist on the broken dock,
Stands by his dog.



We practiced dying,
The local boys and I,
Contorting in Untouchable
Shadows, falling over board fences,
Jerking, twisting in pain on weedful
Lawns, practicing for the big contest.
"Let's find out who can
Die best!"
The Eliot Ness of 27th Avenue,
The boy with the Tommy Gun, yelled:
"Ratatatatatata!" He fired gleefully
At a "Valentine's Day" line up
Of Olivier-performers
Scattering like bats.

Sometimes I won, and that was
A great day, to die, twitching in the sun,
Better than all the other boys.


Haiku 3

A group of boys,
On a field trip at the lake,
Throw rocks at seagulls.



Across the metallic skin
The shale skips,
Wounding the gentle stream
As if a sniper shoots true.

Again and again,
The hunt continues,
.22 slugs into an
Elephant's hide--
Blood-angry it cries--
All inside the hunter's eye.

Finally, a smooth, flat rock,
As black as a beetle,
Follows a Gatling row,
Exploding the sun-fired,
Cold surface,
All the way to the other
Clam-clattered bank.

The bare-chested boy rejoices,
Glances at the sun-ball,
And smiles at the wind.


Haiku 4

"They're safe," one aunt says,
But the boy only watches
Them eat those mushrooms.



He fogs up the cool glass
With warm breath,
And then wipes a circle.

He peers out--
A submarine commander
Looking through a periscope,
Looking for something
To shoot.

But the power is fleeting,
Like a guffaw,
Or a sigh.

He would cry,
But the muscles in his neck
Are too taut,
Too painful,
And the lump in his throat
Is too hard.

He exhales again,
Harder this time,
And draws a bigger circle
To peer through.
But he will not cry,
Even if it kills him.


Haiku 5

Only two boys,
On floaties, laughing in the
Cold lake.



8:00, Friday nights, 1962,
"Outer Limits."
In bed in darkness
At 9 at 9 years of age
The giant insects that devoured
The great eyeballs that saw
Through night and
Into fear,
The box that sucked the curious
Into a white beam,
The horseshoe crab aliens
That bit and mutated
The bitten,
The time travelers that
Messed up time,
And lives,
And the energy cloud that fed
On the life force
Like an evil little boy
Eating a roast beef sandwich--

They all went to bed with me,
And horrible others came too,
Goading me, terrorizing me
From the colors of thought
Too random,
Too delineated,
Too ferocious.

I pulled arms and legs and hands
Into the covers,
Left nothing overhanging the steel rails
Of the upper bunk
That would float, and yet
Nearly plummet
Above a great precipice.

A turtle, I, drawn up,
Cursing myself from watching
That show,
Living the horror of sleeplessness
In a dark room of fiends and
Dark evil.

Saturday morning I'd awake,
Eagerly breathing in the bright air,
Smelling the opportunity to run
Like a crazed lunatic
Up and down the neighborhood,
Reveling in all the noise
My lungs could muster,

Eagerly waiting,
Impatiently waiting!,
For Friday night, 8:00,
To watch another episode of
"Outer Limits."



Death that keeps grandpa silent
In a 25-year-old coffin, rotted,
I'm sure,
Releasing neither theme
Nor river-flow,
Just echoes, from the imploding
Timbers, or perhaps from a clotted
Coordinate of my brain or mind
Or heart--

His tyrannosaurus-cherry tree
That spoke in hums and whirs and strange
Night voices that said, "Beware of
What you cannot see. Beware of
Death, little boy."

And that olfactory-raping
Chicken coop:
Why was it so big? Like the barn?
Like grandpa's bedroom and bed?
Like his temper that his mad wife
Sometimes unleashed?

The farm, and the horses,
They were big as the ocean,
Big as the whole universe.

The outhouse once-used
Remained a fly's paradise,
A terrible reminder that not everything
Turns out fine,
Like the neighbor who fell off
A horse and ended up retarded.

"Have some mushrooms," my glee-picking
Half uncles would say.
"Come on, Danny, ya city slicker."
They'd fry them--poisonous?
The kind that dissolve and
Rupture kidneys?--
Sizzled and black
In butter, with the acid smell
Of cooked onions everywhere
Like the chicken manure outside.

My jaw never opened for mushrooms,
Warts of the apple orchard.

Cow manure would get me,
Sometimes every hour,
As it squeezed into running shoe
Tread, to sleep like the bats in the attic
At day.

The monstrous wasp-whirring
In the cream separator as
I'd turn the heavy handle with all my
Skinny-armed might--
I grew drunk almost, on the huge sound
Of that mini metal beast.

"Stop that noise!" Reality always
Reminded me this was not
My universe,
Which made me wonder if I
Actually had one.

I certainly had never heard
Of the word marginalized.

A razor-sharpening belt
That could have girded
A washboard-crater-
Driveway to this wonderful, horrible
Planet called "the farm."

And the preserves,
Concealed and protected in Sheol,
Where 15-year-old cherries in dusty jars
Lay still as boredom--
Still as eggs of prehistoric fish
Embalmed in rock.

O, the theme of it all,
The rusty tractor that
Smoked and scuttled and

But it's the dungeon,
The cellar, that I see,
In the grassy hump between the house
and outhouse.
Grandpa, who baked pies like
A magician,
Who finally sent his wife to
The mental institution,
Floats in one of those jars,
Beside the cherry eyeballs,
Pickled in time,
Themeless, without the flow of
Fiction, or even non-fiction.

Grandpa, gone in the coffin
That must be going--
I loved his pies so much
I want to cry.


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