The Amazing Poetry of Lightning Rod

5 03 2010


Welcome to Lightning Rod World Headquarters where you will find the secret and solitary writings of the amazing poet Lightning Rod. Please feel free to comment and to share these poems with your friends or enemies. –Lrod

Here you can read poems from Lightning Rod’s upcoming new book Cool Calm Collected.

Remember: This poetry is for entertainment purposes only. Don’t Try This At Home.

Cool Calm Collected

5 03 2010


What is the purpose of poetry? Anyone who attempts to read or write a poem has to ask this old question.

Since there has been language there has been poetry. Even sign language finds a rhythm and a meter. The most basic guttural grunt can indicate music and meaning. In fact poetry has developed hand-in-hand with our languages. Shakespeare practically invented modern English in his verse. Ancient histories were recorded in poetry. We know of Troy only because of Homer and surely countless attempts at civilization are forgotten for lack of poems. The troubadour news was spread during the Dark Ages in the poetry of songs. Every major religion is revealed and expressed in psalms and sutras and chants. Our cultural ways, our laws and values and traditions are codified and remembered in nursery rhymes and repeated poetic aphorisms. With modern advertising poetry has become rocket science. Jingles and marketing slogans and brand names are all poems.

The word poem comes from the Greek poiein–to make. Literally a poiema is anything made, anything put together or piled up. This is honest etymology. Most art is a pile of something. We pile up the evidence of our lives in landfills and poems to later be mined by archeologists and scholars and contemplators of tufts.

As you may surmise by the title of this book, it is a collection of poems. At least they are what I call poems. Many people have offered their definitions of poetry. The dictionary states it in concise if prosaic terms as:

an arrangement of words written or spoken: traditionally a rhythmical composition, sometimes rhymed, expressing experiences, ideas, or emotions in a style more concentrated, imaginative, and powerful than that of ordinary speech or prose: some poems are in meter, some in free verse.

This is a good definition, I suppose. The definitions of poetry are as numerous as the people who are asked to define it. When we refine the question to ‘what is GOOD poetry?’, the fun really starts. Defining a horse as a quadrupedal mammalian doesn’t help you understand the nature or essence of horse as well as riding a horse or even seeing one run.

If we ask poets to say what poetry is, we get a more intimate and stylized definition. Coleridge maintains that, “Poetry is the best words in their best order.” Frost says, “The figure a poem makes. It begins in delight and ends in wisdom… in a clarification of life – not necessarily a great clarification, such as sects and cults are founded on, but in a momentary stay against confusion.” And Emerson commenting on Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, calling it, “Incomparable things said incomparably well.” These tell us more about the essence of poetry, I think.

If you ask me, good poetry is an assortment of words that when read or heard cause something to happen in your mind, something noteworthy but unexplainable. Good poetry causes you to know things in a more mysterious way than by simple explanation. By means of such devices as rhythm and rhyme, meter and metaphor and by symbols used like colors or chords, a good poem is able to evoke emotion and realization. At the very least it takes you from wherever you happen to be to another place. It represents a journey of some kind, even a very short one. But in the final analysis, no matter how you try to define or intellectualize about poetry or discuss its qualities in an academic sense, good poetry is good poetry for the same reason that anything is good, because it works. And poetry works best when it is entertaining.

With this volume, my most ardent hope is to entertain. Such cerebral entertainment as poetry is lost on the majority of people. I have resigned myself to this fact. If I was after pure box-office I would try to sell more pedestrian products like Self Help books or Romance novels or some other pornography or literary confection. But I am a poet so I can only give you poetry and hope that some of it will resonate.

You will find poems in this book written in numerous styles and moods and voices ranging from the silly to the surreal. Some are epics and some are merely moments. Some are designed to be heard and some are made to be read from the page. My advice would be not to waste your time trying to understand what they mean. Real poems don’t MEAN anything, they DO something. They do something to your consciousness. I hope these poems do something for you. –Lrod, 2010.

Bar Hopping — for Lindsay Lohan

8 07 2010


At some point they will put me in prison.
All my adult life I have been pampered
By the system and it’s fawning minions.
They’ll lock me up not for what I’ve done
But for what I’ve thought. And if they knew
What I really thought they would never
Let me out.

They want to praise and worship my urine.
Track my every keystroke and list it down
My trail to oblivion goes through concrete and steel
Makes bond and resurrection on one payment plan
Life with no parole; it’s a new Slave Class
Let me out.

They have my name, picture and fingerprints
My profile and my physical marks and quirks
They know my address and my family and all
My partners in crime and the places where I lurk
They know by blood-type and where I work
They are on alert for me coast to coast in guilty digits
I’m a prisoner to mug books and computers.
Let me out.


A Society of Police

Let’s make everyone a cop. Give us
All a detective’s shield and a hotline
To the Main Computer. Password: Drop a Dime
We can turn each other in for sloppy police work.

Everyone can submit a “voluntary” monthly report
State place of residence, financial and employment status
Any change in political views, List all acquaintances and
Describe your health with hair and urine samples attached.

We can take turns doing pat downs and house
To house searches. And nothing like a Friday night
Surfing the neighborhood wiretap and eavesdrop web.
Cameras will be on every tree and building—Secure.

When we are all cops who will be the robbers? We’ll
Have to import them from abroad and every time you
Get drunk and slobber there will be a monitor there with
A swab to take your DNA sample for filing—So Secure.

Let The Whales Fix It

14 05 2010

They’ve punched a hole in the world
our globe is deflating, bleeding out
the grease of life floats like a tumor
oysters are fried and shrimps are boiled
playing with guns we’re shot in the foot
can’t plug it with money or old ideas
leaking like a hemophiliac on fire
we stand stupid in quicksand singing
songs of the deep not known to whales

derricks like waterbugs skate on the sea
exploding cold as profit on the bottom line
thar she blows spitting balls of wax
Moby Dick can fix it with a baleen smile,
a patch of excuses and a Coppertone tan
mix it with vinegar and derivatives
that’s the dressing the whales enjoy

Orcas gather like toothsome nuns
too late for transfusions, time to entube
treasures, pleasures and drastic measures
the world goes slowly flat, oozes lymph
small fishes flip on the beach frying
even the algae are obese and greasy
whales once cornered the market on oil
now they laugh at our extinction

The Himalayas hiss and sink to the Hindu Cush
like a punctured souffle shrinking flat
the world is getting soft as a warm cheese
deflating, leaking ambergris and essence
the price of gas is embarrassed in free fall
the whales swim lubricated in doom
slick as death the planet shrinks
will the whales save us with their sperm?

Death Row

23 03 2010

I’m gonna write like I’m on Death Row
the carnivores are licking their chops
smelling the fair meat of the poet
but I’m gonna write like I’m on Death Row
all my appeals bouncing through
the Universal Court System
my own mitochondria plotting against me
like every tomorrow is a lethal shot
and the groans of the damned
echo in my concrete eardrums

I’m gonna write like a daredevil suicide mission
no quarter given and none expected
no hymen-nosed pretension is safe around my telescope
I’m gonna write like TRUTHS were chasing me,
flaming demons through a nightmare
to strap my imagination to a chair
and torture themselves out of me

all the easy poems have been written
the psalms, the sonnets, the sutras
the epics and the limericks
the poems of beauty and longing
poems of storied heroes and gods
poems of lust
poems of charity
poems of clarity
kiddie poems
funny poems
nasty poems
angry poems
sweet poems
bitter poems
they’ve been written
by me or others

but I look for a poem hard as diamond
that will scratch a mirror right down to the silver
a poem that is major surgery with a ball-point pen
I look for a poem that will embarrass Aphrodite with its nakedness
a poem to make grown men weep and little children laugh with glee
I look for a poem with music makes the redwoods shivver like reeds
causes the tides to bow and ebb and the beaches to catch up their skirts
a poem with acid that eats rocks
will knock your notions out of their socks
make the Himalayas lean to listen
I want a poem terrifying in its beauty
and terrified of its beauty
with an edge that splits razors

Long I have looked for this poem
when I couldn’t find it, I tried to write it
but to write that poem
you have to write like you’re on Death Row

Song for Ancestors and Descendants

18 03 2010

Big Grandma was a medium sized woman,
the generations are radiant in their gradations
call it the past or the seeds of the future
it’s up to you which dust to trust
which lingual tradition
what grunts and whistles

Somewhere I have an ancestor, his skin is black.
He tramped in Ethiopia, lived on berries and poetry
in grunts and whistles, and straddled the Great Rift.
Big Grandma was a medium sized woman.

Then the family moved north to Germany
which didn’t exist then, and we lost the pigment
in our skin due to rugged cold weather
and the angle of the sun. Big Grandma was a medium sized woman.

We were on the run like tangled Hugenaughts
from France to Scotland to Ire
and finally to the colonies with nothing
but a blunt ax and the will to live and fire.

Next we will flee to bubbled houses
on Titan or Europa or some lonely asteroid
and camp on our convictions and science
while we invent new gods and kiss the void.

enron lemurs
barely primates
only stand upright for moments
wearing their lawsuits
like big eyed beans
and rascal underwear
Big Grandma was a medium sized woman.

when my country sat in the lotus position
on, I cannot remember when
around the time the founding fathers
were sitting around smoking pot
and cooking up our destiny.

cannabis rex
like a reptile rising
from the primate brain bewitched
not like glands released
or the bondage of ancestry

Great Grand Daddy owned half of Baltimore
or so the story goes. About the time of Poe.
The wharf district was his. And the red light.

He was a famous philanderer rascal man
had his key in every hole. An Irishman.
Great Grand Ma’am was of stern and German stock.

When he gave her the clap, she divorced him
These were the days when divorce was uncommon
and there was no penicillin.

Big Grandma was a medium sized woman
she lived to be one hundred and four
and then she started forgetting things
like the names of her children
and the attacks by Comanches she used
to tell me about. Curved by age she
still made preserves and potato salad to die for.

Shiva plays a sitar in my genes
they project into the generations
and take you along
like riding behind a big truck
or in the slip stream of a goose.

it’s no matter if I’m the engine or the caboose
as long as the train keeps rollin’
a phantom on the tracks
helium or hemoglobin
a spiral to destiny.

my machine gun seed
shot into your belly
like diamonds of the future
rapt and wiggling
the generations escape
and swim upstream
on a chance

the crow can pass for a raven
black headed and lookin slick
but the crow knows more
and talks about it

his beak in the ears of the strawman
unafraid as a gentleman bird
picking up what others drop
Big Grandma was a medium sized woman.

the ambassador bird
scratches for seed
a magpie driven
a dark parrot
with a Shakespearian accent
and an eye that misses nothing

the bird is studying
to be a dominatrix
a wit on wings
where the sun gleams
things are never
as they seem

the guitar evolved from dinosaurs
like a warbling forensic
with no eyelids

this was before electricity
when only fire existed
and music

is it the nightingale?
no, it is the lark
alas, the morning
with its responsibilities

sun ripens over san antone
covered by the cloud
of bird wings
fourteen mexicans in a car
a fiesta of angel crows

there is a beer crisis in birdland
all the fouls are blinking fast
and the referee blows his whistle
the chicken would crow
but he spent himself in the night
and once again at dawn

when a sperm whale comes
he comes in quarts, not tablespoons
his swimmers make swimmers
and singers and the
philosophy of the deep.

Big Grandma was a medium sized woman
my first guitar was a girl as well
she gently weeped and tightened
her g string a half step up to Jimi Hendrix
too soon she went to Africa
and plugged in her amp
turned it up to ten
and screamed like
a punk angel of rock
I am the father of her guitar

strung like a banjo tsunami
or a ruptured hurricane
distinct as a blue norther
and a maxed out credit card
there is a place in my back
where you can put your hand in
and operate me
like a manic mannequin

before I invented fire
I didn’t have two sticks to rub together
But Edison was on my shoulder
and I had dreams of a nuclear program

I thumped my drum and drew
right there on the cavern walls
sagas of caribou and gazelle
I wait to rape the moon with my rockets
She was medium sized.

The past, the present and the future collide
as we take the rampant karma ride
just close your eyes to know generations
deoxyribonucleic acid twisted around
a lysergic handbag of memories
Big Grandma was a medium sized woman.

my parents are visiting my children
at the point of laughing at the generations
Janus looking forward, looking back
project the future and remember the past

don’t look for the puppets
look for the strings
why do you think they call it string theory?
and chromosomes are little ropes
that tie the ancestors to the descendants.
Big Grandma was a medium sized woman.

The Perfect Taco

18 03 2010

I love to eat more than
I love to fuck
If what I’m eating
is the Right Taco

If they put tacos in catalogues
and you picked them out by sight
I’d know in a mexican sec
just which one was right
by how the edges curled around
on the folds of the tortilla
and how this part here is soft
and this part may be a
little harder if I press with
my tongue to test it
and it smells like smoky meat
and when you nest it in
lettuce all around and then
the sauce is what really makes
a taco shine with jalepeno fury
and the hotter and the pinker
the better it is to bury
your face in that Perfect Taco

The Poet’s Dirty Socks

18 03 2010

Are you READY to fall in love?
I mean are you READY?
you are not a silly young girl
at least not sillier than I require
how do you look when your hair is rolled up
and you’re pulling the poet’s socks from the dryer?

Cuz the poet’s dirty socks
are just like any other dirty socks
and we have to go through
do you snore or have the pox?
and who has keys and who has locks
list your real estate; list your stocks
what was in that little black box?
and before we cum we’re on the rocks
And I tell you it’s all because of socks
Cuz the poet’s dirty socks
are just like any other dirty socks

Circus of Dreams

18 03 2010

We came to the compound
chain-link fence industrial
circus grounds with all the
geeks sticking nails in their
cheeks and tossing knives
and swinging, juggling misfits
inspired with rock n roll
scissors clipping the air

practicing the act
practicing the act
ever practicing the ACT.

sweat of love and effort
circus people intent
on perfection in one small thing
a unicycle or trapeze; tossing
chainsaws all in joy and abandon

And wanted me to join the band
I had to know they played with
feeling so I considered it.
This is when I remembered
I could fly.
From past dreams, even to childhood
First like a fledgeling with too much effort.
could barely get off the ground
Then as my dreams progressed
and I learned the willful value of my wings
I acheived flight more easily
Now the clowns and the barkers beckoned me–
the circus was always my dream

so, I took a step and
launched into the pool of air
Viscous air
my fingers grabbed it like a liquid
and I pulled myself upward
thinking of angels doing breaststrokes
and the thickness of the atmosphere
a jellied substance pulling me up and UP
the upturned faces of the clowns
told me I was in the circus now
A post-apocalyptic Barnum & Bailey
smells of sweat and sawdust and elephants
suckers with pocketfuls of curiosity and awe

I hovered above you
took you by the eyes
You didn’t think you could do it
but I knew better and gave your hand a tug
then on tiptoes
you released the ground
flying too
flying two
Both in the
Circus of my Dreams

Complete the Form

18 03 2010

At the bottom of Federal forms they place a several paragraph section in fine print
that estimates how long it will take you to fill out this form
something like four days to read and decipher the contents
another two days to gather your information, seven hours for the calculations
four to fill out the forms, two minutes to address the envelope and three seconds to lick the stamps.

Even at Blockbusters they demand picture ID to rent a plastic disc
first they dock your paycheck and then they hit you again at the end of the year
oh yes, I know that all the money they extract is to buy a flack jacket for your son in Iraq
and a body bag if necessary. Don’t fret, it only takes eight hours to fill out this form.

The scientists in Switzerland surmise that soon it will take all of us
eighteen hours a day just to answer our email
and the postman is a crack dealer with infinite suspicion
and we pay for the privilege of civilization with an anarchy organization
breathing down every neck with auditors. regulations and documents.

I don’t count taking out the trash, mowing the lawn and feeding the dog
If I were you I would anticipate a tax on every breath you take
and next a toll on imagination if you can find time for it after
you fill out the forms required to even indulge in the vice.

fill out the forms and conform to the norms
get a blank stare, be television aware and copy your paperwork
if they audit your calculations stand you on trial for your computaions
it will only mean more forms to fill out
we estimate it will take you the rest of your life.


18 03 2010

When I was seventeen
it was a very good year (small town girls etc)
but I also got my first job
and read my first beatnik poetry
which encouraged me to nurse my foibles
and vow to never suck another man’s cock
or punch another man’s clock.

I have succeeded for fifty-five years working for myself.

Sure, there have been odd jobs and enterprises
but since I was seventeen, I’ve never Sold My Hours
For A Handful of Dimes.

The computers at Social Security will draw a blank stare
if payments are submitted under my number. Who is he?

I’ve lived by the seat of my pants for so long that they are shiny
with imrov manifestos and starvation smoking snipes
soupcans and hotplates, nigger rigged pensions
the road is paved with the best intentions but leads to hell and employment.

That’s why I write blank verse on my application
it’s for my own enjoyment and inches of penetration not for sale.
I could regale you with my antics of cunning and luck
but what the hell and what the fuck do you care about my credentials
it’s down to brass tacks, the short hairs, the essentials

If I was going to jump when the boss said “frog”
I would have signed up for a heart attack long ago
My job is a cardiac tattoo, an emblem, the logo of my dreams
Don’t ask me for a urine test. And furthermore let me stress
that my body costs more than the finest whore and more than my methods confess
I’m rich and I’m poor because I won’t sell.
My thoughts and time are mine alone but you
can have them for a song.


18 03 2010

I live on the Highway
Where gods and sinners ride.
Fellow travelers, all pedestrians
Or hitchhikers elite with clever destinations.

We are all a synthesis of our steps, whether
Barefoot, in sandals or in boots. Yet the road
Gleams and stretches, ever stretches.
Past even the Law and the Blooded Lamb.

I live on the Highway. My motel is motion.
Bring your dagger, your pistol, your thug stopper
Travel and feel the wind on your face
Monument to velocity
Solid in your arches.

Cherish your section of the Highway.
It stretches past our sight and dips
Through valleys unimagined
Ruled by trolls and inquisitions.

I am blessed by every pebble tread
The Highway is my food and breath
I will go only so far but It continues
Beyond the blink of my birth and death.