Joseph Farley – Poetry

by Horror Sleaze Trash on May 1, 2013

Joseph Farley edited Axe Factory from 1986 to 2010. His books and chapbooks include Suckers, For the Birds, Longing for the Mother Tongue, Waltz of the Meatballs, and Her Eyes. His work has appeared in hundreds of places including Sister Ignition, Schlock, US 1 Worksheets, Painted Bride, Pearl, Gutter Eloquence, Nefarious Ballerina, Toucan, and The Hive.


The Bastards Win Again
you throw down the election results
like so many failed lottery tickets
or betting slips for horses
that should have won
but didn’t.
you can’t seem to pick a winner
no matter how hard you try.
you should have played the safe bet,
the near sure thing,
but you always take the long shot,
the man or woman
you really believe in
or who sickens you least.
they all stand at podiums
taking their victory laps.
tonight their fingers
will be in some campaign worker’s pie.
tomorrow those same fingers
will be in yours
but not in nice way
like a gynecologist
with a steel hand
bathed in ice.
I know this face
but not the name
I know this body
but not it’s origin
cranes form an arc
across the sky
a bridge I would cross
if I had wings
to reach you there
on the other side
of that great divide
of sheets and sleep.
Velvet Painting
I live in a velvet painting
where God, Satan and Death play poker
using human souls as chips.
I am in no position to know who’s bluffing.
Life’s ups and downs depend on the luck of the cards,
and the honesty of a dealer
who wears an eye patch
on both eyes.
Losses and Gains
A billionaire drops a penny
and watches it roll away
and fall down a sewer.
Someone will have to pay.
If the government won’t bail him out,
there are plenty of other people
he can squeeze.
Back at the office or factory
the walls start moving in.
As the space gets tighter,
those who can get out go.
The rest wait to be made into paste,
jelly smeared on well-worn rugs
while vacuum hoses search pockets
and purses for loose change.
Later the dead and dying
will be scraped up
and thrown in the gutter,
their personal possessions placed
in a box shoved between their knees,
separation notices clenched
between teeth.
The billionaire will gain another penny
shiny and new and loaded with luck.
He will toss it and catch it
while smoking a cigar
and sipping champagne,
and all will be well with the world
until its slips through his fingers again.
a leg wrapped
around your own
makes you think
of a wrestling move,
but this is only love,
or the prelude to it.
how bodies mingle
and join,
limbs moving
in finite ways,
only so many
possible positions
in a match
of lovemaking.
the pigs squeal
on the way to the slaughter,
fattened so long
and eager for death,
they pull out their knives
and stab here and there
watching limbs
and factory workers
fall into
the sausage machine
coins clink,
the Dow rises
and all the pigs jump
and click their heels
all the way
to pig heaven.
family life
in the future
if you want
a family,
but cannot
afford one,
you will be able
to rent one
by the hour.
there will be
“Mom” and Junior
and Babs
the teenage daughter
and even gramps
in the attic
gummy without
his teeth.
you will sit down
to dinner with them,
ask your “wife’
about her day,
ask the kids
how school was.
you will listen
to everything
that is said
and dispense
fatherly advice
puffing on a pipe.
after you have
cleared the table
and done the dishes
and argument
will occur.
Junior or Babs
or both
will make a scene
over some small
and you will seek
to impose order.
your efforts
at authority
will be met
with sass
and disrespect.
you will put
one or both
of the children
in turn
over your knee
and give them
perhaps lingering
over long
on one of
their asses,
drawing shouts
from “mom”
and colds stares
from gramps,
but you will
pull back,
restrain your
base instincts
so as not
to violate
the terms
of your contract,
and save
the whippings
for the bedroom
as you spend
the night
as man and wife,
rings upon fingers,
with this rented
only too happy
to oblige
your wildest whim
so long as you
stick around
in the morning
and make some
to the house.

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