Rob Chalfen

Two Poems

Café Capers


The trouble with language as a medium for artistic production is that it is already highly colonized, fraught, riddled with clots, memes and the sedimentary layers of all that has been thought. But so it goes, you just got to grab it by the nose & run it through the hose. Thus experience, thus life. The senses giving everything the 3rd degree in the 4th dimension. Descriptive prose. Everything only happens once. You can’t get out of the river of time, we’re drowned in the now. Is time travel a thing of the past? Only time will tell.


Memory is also what’s happening
        when you open the sieve
and name-check your version of events
        in a scrawl against the gates
while all vanishes into the virtual
        leaving a fossil of analog time
an alloy of lingering amazement
        soldered into song by solitary savants
who use their memories of tomorrow
        like bottle openers to flip themselves
into drunkenness – statutory popes
                 in a strawberry arcade


lyrics honed by solitude
        erupt from the past, made
in back-seat conjugations of the subconscious
        which is substantially unconscious
                                of its own intentions

cold commerce with February
        upsetting the angle of its erudition
slipshod along the esplanades
        escaped into caped escapades
moon: wracked, side-showed, spun into shadow
        as an agent of the sun
                howls into feral daylight

apostrophes of linoleum ammonia

        (serious flicker of endings)

                                fluke of sloth

                                                                11 Oct. 2014

Ripp, A Calumny

your suave insolence confounds me, sir,
       I’ll have no succor for your rubbish
              nor your bile – pile your perfidies in a corner
and set to blazes all your infamous drivel –
       you have paid your bills with coward’s alms,
and must suffer the shades
to appall you – we shall bear no further sufferance
for your mottled wits, the wayward graces
have burthened your fell purposes –
       use your shadow for a torch
and burn a hole in the black silence
that follows you – a red warp
has inflicted a science in the air


Curl up your ears in diagonal scorn
your ships foundering on fellowship
the savages have burned your feast at the frontier
your dreams have become libraries for the dead

The sewers are wrapped in piss
even the foxglove grows restless at the diameters

Your maps are sullen, Your Grace, and the Admiral’s
clock has fleas

You may write your histories with a hound’s tooth
billet your sparrows, mackerel your cakes,
flounder your wrens, bench your civets,
barrack your prawns, arm your endeavors,
capture your saints, put a knife
to god’s throat, why don’t you,
you know you will.


In the long loquacious evenings of your borderline
dispute – the accuracy of many in the emptiness
of the few – drain your savage bromides to
forgotten music –
the chimney’s song baffles your smoke –
the fire-office has gone silent, the evening
owns its ghost

                                                                13 Oct. 2014

ROB CHALFEN: Wrote ‘The Bagel Pusher’, an Ionesco-type play at age 12 (1965) and was published in Flash Comics the same year. Edited family newsletters, high-school scandal-sheets & Cold Turkey (1970) the school literary mag, as well as errant psychedelia like Frog Motion Review & Blacklight Boogie (1971). Labored as an ink-stained wretch for Boston & Amherst newspapers. Cranked sweatshop hack for gun-toting NYC publishing gangsters of cheesy rock mags (1978). Freelance, ‘80s: “Better Proof-read than Dead”. Edited early computer manuals, land-use policy studies, god knows what else. Published Out Magazine (1985) and co-founded Small Press Alliance (1986-1988) a ‘zine scene’ publisher’s group. With Dr. Ahmed Fishmonger, co-wrote & published The Journal of the Institute for Parallel Studies (1996) itself an artifact from another dimension. Created & pubished The Zeitgeist Improbable (2002-2005), the monthly art & lit mag of Zeitgeist Gallery, Cambridge Mass. Glib Magazine (2009-present), a blog of literary miscellanea. Essay in The Battersea Review (2013).