Three Works by Elizabeth I. Riseden


This herd of Gateways,
grazing in the prison’s ed. foyer
in Nevada’s boondocks.
was lab-bred by postmodern
husbandry. An electronic
minotaur with monitor
head, fornicated with a jersey
cow, whose offspring’s info-
rich milk begot the tech feeding
of the 500 million.

Yet info milk alone doesn’t fill
the belly, nor does it clarify the mind
half so satisfyingly as a good
range-broiled T-bone or a day
of branding or satiated rutting
in a spring sweet pasture.

From nostalgia’s western
shod cowboys,
trucking this new hybrid
and its milk to market,
foul criticism flows.
No yippee ty yie yo,
no Big Rock Candy Mountains
for these, breaching two worlds.

Just jobs about wanting
the range to stay, without
spread sheet hay. “Let’s
export beef,” they say
not trek to Afghan and
Iraqi pastures, leaving
good ol’ US behind.

* * *
Hide and Seek

Eggplant cushions thrown willy nilly,
dining room chairs pushed askew,
bedding drilled through, blankets clump to floor.
Pell mell they scurry, a cadre of small searchers.

Down to the basement they clamor.
To pantry’s dank spookiness,
shove spiderwebs aside, grimace, giggle, call.

Hey, marauders! Come out and face us.
Lunch is soon.
We’ll share.

House combed, they spill into the yard,
sneak around poplar, cheek-tickling beech
under porch, through sand.
Up, again, after hedge tangles.

Where are you, marauders?
C’mon. Let us find you.
Lunch. Chicken and dumplings.
Yum. We’ll share.

Voices soon turn ragged,
Come Out Now! If not
we won’t share.

Searchers stand panting:
Bad Sports! Bad sports!
Crocodile mad sports!
Aliens from Hullabaloo!
Screw You!

Back in the kitchen
lunch was devoured.
Alien mouths gobbled it.
Marauders within.

* * *
The Decline and Fall of Practically Everything

Bring in the video cam:
focus tightly
on this Lenten act---
Changing the vacuum bag
before I clean
red, white, and blue chapel
especially well for Holy Week.

Zero in on the reeking
dust cloud that envelopes altar,
pews, lights instruments,
candles, brass accouterments,
stairs, balcony, flyblown

Said cloud rages, as the bag
within the bag ruptured.
Noxious dirt, parts of tuna
sandwiches, bits of old
cookies, communion
wafers, drops of wine
compose a slurry
designed to asphyxiate this damned

In the midst of this Mephisto mess,
recall how little knee-bent
repentance said janitor
has practiced
this season.

Please light a candle
for my poor soul, covered
head to toe.