The Troglodytes

Rob Cook

The Troglodytes

Rob Cook

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1.

South of the Millinocket paper mills
dandelions limped along 1-95;

Two haggard boys wearing ties
unloaded gravel from the sky’s rickety porch.

Every day the sun loses a thimble of light,
my nana once told me.

At a rest area I woke to rain scratching
like coyotes on the windshield.

2.

The cities were getting worse—

No man could see past his watch.

The Red Cross was choked to the river bottom
with the shot-glasses and locomotives.

Immaculate suits dangled from clotheslines.

The high school bleachers crawled over dry stretches of blueberries.

The Holiday Inn barricaded with rotary phones,
a few hairs trapped in a paperclip,

the last things breathing.

3.

In the woods north of Tarrytown
spiders handcuffed
and bayoneted
through their dimpled eyes,
their flag-fractal houses
ransacked
from the trees.

All the flesh in the world will fail us,
said my mother,
who fed twenty deer every day
for twenty years
but couldn’t stop them
from leaving her.

4.

In Paris and Connecticut
a man shook his wife at dawn
because she was turning into rain

because lymphoma was in the room

because he didn’t know her where the eyes had washed away

because her name—almost a city—was gone

and he could see the great shipwrecks caught in her ribs.

5.

In the bladders of VCRs
you can hear the troglodytes—

Almost prime time,
they’re climbing out of televisions from New Zealand
to New Providence—

every camp of algae,
every grasshopper and mourning dove,
every tick crawling on every Rottweiler.

The USA slaves night and day
building remote control suspension bridges.

Torn shirt flannel clogs the escape roads
where the first of the corporate bosses murdered my father.

6.

Across Pennsylvania the tulips hum:
Wash us down with sandstone and sloe gin—
Wash us from the void’s buffalo hide—

The great men of Bangor are drunk on the carbon
              of glaciered mastodons.
The great men in Bangor sun themselves on fluorescent beaches.

All of the houses have stopped breathing.

The globe of America is finished.

They tug airplanes down from the sky.
They burn swastikas in the middle of the ocean,
lightning and winter in their wandering throats.


Two poems by Rob Cook, including “The Troglodytes,” appear in Flock 21.

1.

South of the Millinocket paper mills
dandelions limped along 1-95;

Two haggard boys wearing ties
unloaded gravel from the sky’s rickety porch.

Every day the sun loses a thimble of light,
my nana once told me.

At a rest area I woke to rain scratching
like coyotes on the windshield.

2.

The cities were getting worse—

No man could see past his watch.

The Red Cross was choked to the river bottom
with the shot-glasses and locomotives.

Immaculate suits dangled from clotheslines.

The high school bleachers crawled over dry stretches of blueberries.

The Holiday Inn barricaded with rotary phones,
a few hairs trapped in a paperclip,

the last things breathing.

3.

In the woods north of Tarrytown
spiders handcuffed
and bayoneted
through their dimpled eyes,
their flag-fractal houses
ransacked
from the trees.

All the flesh in the world will fail us,
said my mother,
who fed twenty deer every day
for twenty years
but couldn’t stop them
from leaving her.

4.

In Paris and Connecticut
a man shook his wife at dawn
because she was turning into rain

because lymphoma was in the room

because he didn’t know her where the eyes had washed away

because her name—almost a city—was gone

and he could see the great shipwrecks caught in her ribs.

5.

In the bladders of VCRs
you can hear the troglodytes—

Almost prime time,
they’re climbing out of televisions from New Zealand
to New Providence—

every camp of algae,
every grasshopper and mourning dove,
every tick crawling on every Rottweiler.

The USA slaves night and day
building remote control suspension bridges.

Torn shirt flannel clogs the escape roads
where the first of the corporate bosses murdered my father.

6.

Across Pennsylvania the tulips hum:
Wash us down with sandstone and sloe gin—
Wash us from the void’s buffalo hide—

The great men of Bangor are drunk on the carbon
                   of glaciered mastodons.
The great men in Bangor sun themselves on fluorescent beaches.

All of the houses have stopped breathing.

The globe of America is finished.

They tug airplanes down from the sky.
They burn swastikas in the middle of the ocean,
lightning and winter in their wandering throats.

 

Two poems by Rob Cook, including “The Troglodytes,” appear in Flock 21.

Rob Cook’s most recent book is The Charnel House On Joyce Kilmer Avenue (Rain Mountain Press, 2018). Recent/ancient work appears in Under a Warm Green Linden, Sweet, Across the Margin, Epiphany, Verse, The Laurel Review, Interim, Quiet Lunch, Chattahoochee Review, Notre Dame Review, Indefinite Space, The Bitter Oleander, Midwestern Gothic, Thrice Fiction, and The Antioch Review. He is currently working on a novella.