Q Is the Quick

“The quick brown fox jumps
Over the lazy dog”: It was a little bedtime story
And it was only told us if we would “be quiet.”
But quiet was a difficult thing to be.
The heart makes a jump-start sound.

Each time someone comes up the steps—
Both their feet give off the white grate of shoe leather
As it meets a stair. They wanted us also to “be happy”—
Which was even more difficult
In view of the sad fact

That happiness is part of a pair called a “smug set”;
Happiness plus some other benignly self-satisfied state.
The story, once we “deserved” it, began,  
“Shh, be quiet,”
Just as the quick baby was about to leap.

The story had various endings, each a variation
On the theme of danger that came from caution
Being thrown to the wind. Each ending was equally nefarious,
With the kit inevitably falling
Into the lazy dog’s mouth,

The rust color of one, fox, becoming one
With the cause of the other, a dog.
The idea of gore being nothing but a simple aside.
The endings were all perfect formulations, equal parts
Plaintive whine and equal parts plausible excuse.


Mystery at Manor Close

—Quickly Brenda stepped aside and tripped up the Biology Mistress.

She puts her ticking wrist to her ear and hears a house
Full of Tock from the clock that is lacking a stem.
On the face it says Mickey and Mouse.
(All of which comes from within.)

She makes a wish: that the Heather who left her
In stormy weather will find herself
In the mire of desires that cannot be easily realized.
To your health, she says, and sticks out her foot

To feel the fire in its place. Here’s to Bio—
In most of its many spheres. To the ear that hears
The clack of a gate latch. To the mouth and its legible
Little gray lies. To the brain with its hardwired fear.

And to cathexis, both far or near. Back at the manor,
There’s mystery: a van and a driver, a girl’s guide, a book.
The rescue of one in a basket about to be driven away by a crook.
The Freud finger puppet appears on stage and says, in German,

Yes, Liebchen, it’s true.
We are born to begin and to end
In infantile fury.
The girl on the couch, who is listening, doesn’t say a word.