[ poetry corner ]


The first is a poem I wrote in college as a present to a friend on his birthday. He didn't get it either.

Mariner IX

came the last and closest,
one thousand miles away,
ejecting a capsule that touched
the red planet
in 1971. The machine transmitted
for twenty seconds, then fell silent.
No malfunction was detected.

Somehow, don't ask me, I was there
and watched it land in the Elysian Field,
its galvanized fins scratching the sand.
I saw what the planet did
in the shadow of two moons;
the one empty moment you the truth
cannot be uncovered
is peaceful. You would like it.
The air was hollow with the echoes of ghosts,
coronets of wind-blown dirt to signal your arrival:
late, certainly, but not unprepared.
So forgive me if I love your alien ways.
On the day of your succession
I await the invitation
to sail the lost oceans
of Mars.


Turn the power to this unit on.
There are buzzing and whining noises (especially in the evening).
Adjust it to the appropriate position.
Change the position.
The user should not attempt to service the unit.

Avoid touching the leaked material or letting it come into contact with clothing, etc.
Use a clean, dry cloth.

The sound suddenly goes off.
Replace the batteries with new ones.

Avoid sources of humming.
The memory may be erased.

- from the owner's manual for the Yamaha RX-485/385 audio receiver, adapted by John August

This dog

This dog
asleep on my leg
is dreaming of wonderous, chaseable things:
rabbits and squirrels
and arrogant cats
who dash through his dream like curious gnats.

He runs and he barks and he bites at the air.
He drools on my jeans and scratches the chair.

I wonder sometimes if he's happier there,
a world without brushes
and leashes
and rules that fools would impose
on a great and mighty chaser of
wonderous, chaseable things.
A world without cookies
and rope
and regular meals that invoke
stupendous, fantastical squeals --

What's better, chasing or getting?
He knows but can't say.

All the same
I think he's happy being
this dog
asleep on my leg.

Copyright (c) 1996 John August
Please do not redistribute without this copyright notice.


email John August at august@primenet.com