Glen Armstrong

The New Vaudeville

Two men masquerade
as one horse.

Meat sizzles in a frying pan.
The plot is driven by hopping.
This is a rehearsal.

A redhead in a pencil
skirt chases the horse
around a bare light

bulb hanging from a cord.

This was as good as it gets
for our immigrant grandparents:

a rhapsody in undershirt and wire
nailed to plaster walls,

as if the painting
left behind its bent spine,

as if each actor were nothing more
than his armpit.

Wrong Address

In between the beginnings.
And the beginnings.
Of the ends the newsprint.
Is a means toward.
We stretch naked on a bed.
We start a rumor with our skin.
Or a movement.
The rain beats against a locked door.
We suspect.
It has the wrong address.

Now that we have talked.
I will smell what was said aloud.
In the fabric of the sofa.
In the thrift store leather jacket.
Nothing is done with smoke.
And mirrors just exasperate my parakeet.
My isolated parakeet song.
The numbers were fine.
But the directions were wrong.

The Bedside Book of Replacement Parts

The town was built on top of another town.
And most of the people

here already seem to be living
in a town yet to destroy us.

We were all built on top of our mothers.
We were all warned
not to watch

the gory movie.

We were all built from scraps
that the slasher left.

I walk through the blue light cast down
from the pharmacy’s sign.

The light seems to come
from another dimension,
but the drugs
all seem to be made

on site, right in the basement
by the pharmacist’s
socially awkward brothers
who fancy themselves druids.

Sometimes a desperate need to be perceived
as an individual
fuels the aftermarket.

Sometimes the rude part of the awakening
matters most.

Glen Armstrong holds an MFA in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and teaches writing at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. He edits a poetry journal called Cruel Garters and has three recent chapbooks: Set List (Bitchin Kitsch,) In Stone and The Most Awkward Silence of All (both Cruel Garters Press.) His work has appeared in Poetry Northwest, Conduit and Cream City Review.