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The Wheelchair Butterfly

O sleepy city of reeling wheelchairs
where a mouse can commit suicide if he can

concentrate long enough
on the history book of rodents
in this underground town

of electrical wheelchairs !
The girl who is always pregnant and bruised
like a pear

rides her many-stickered bicycle
backward up the staircase
of the abandoned trolleybarn.

Yesterday was warm. Today a butterfly froze
in midair; and was plucked like a grape
by a child who swore he could take care

of it. O confident city where the seeds of poppies pass for carfare,

where the ordinary hornets in a humans heart
may slumber and snore, where bifocals bulge

in an orange garage of daydreams,
we wait in our loose attics for a new season

as if for an ice-cream truck.
An Indian pony crosses the plains

whispering Sanskrit prayers to a crater of fleas.
Honeysuckle says : I thought I could swim.

The Mayor is urinating on the wrong side
of the street! A dandelion sends off sparks :
beware your hair is locked !

Beware the trumpet wants a glass of water !
Beware a velvet tabernacle !

Beware the Warden of Light has married
an old piece of string !
(James Tate)