“Apocalypse Now”, “Overlay” and “View from the Bridge Over Finch Creek”

by Jeffery Greb

Apocalypse Now

Do you smell that? Napalm, son.

Nothing else in the world smells like that.

Now when I feel

the world folding

me to stuff me into

a cardboard box

fixed with yellowed tape,

now I can see

I am not one of those

soft-handed little men

enveloped in gray suits

languishing in faceless shadow,

bladder shy pissers

sporting pajamas as they

sleep on periwinkle sheets

dreaming of every day

stifling contralto cries

into pillows reeking of flop sweat,

now I can tell

I am roughhewn oak,

splinters for tender skin,

yet resplendent –

adorned with a king’s

feast over my bulk,

now I can feel

my animal heart grown

too large gnawing

to burst forth

with fangs dripping

blood and saliva

like Polyphemus

burbling wine

and bits of man-flesh,

single eye monomaniacal

in his cave home,

iridescent glare

from the darkness

while the shipmates

rend clothes and hair,

now I know I will

not my quietus in quietude

make but yawp and bark

and drink the green

exploding round,

now I burn to ashes,

sometimes the flame,

sometimes the gasoline,

but always kinetic,

always ready to devour,

orange yellow

red blue tongued,

to eat and be eaten,

voracious and delicious.

I love the smell of napalm in the morning. . . .

It smells like victory.

Overlay

the machine humming quietly

dreaming of storms life

skies open rain down

the face weeping wet

green is forward thinking

dreams summer breathing anew

crack again dropping splashes

grass is dripping joy

the machine humming quietly

dreaming of storms life

skies open rain down

the face weeping wet

green is forward thinking

dreams summer breathing anew

crack again dropping splashes

grass is dripping joy

the green machine is humming forward quietly thinking

dreaming dreams of summer storms breathing life anew

skies crack open again rain dropping down splashes

the grass face is weeping dripping wet joy

View from the Bridge Over Finch Creek

Some move through the deeper pool

without stopping while others

pause to gather strength

for the shallows ahead.

Those that make it over

the gauntlet of stones buried

by water that would not wet

a cuff thrashing their tails

mightily making waves

further churning the cascade

and dousing the protruding faces

of the larger rocks bearing

silent judgment of the struggle.

I join the mute approbation,

a living stone of carbon and water,

as they take turns at the trial.

To my azoic friends and me,

unschooled as we are in nuance,

their successes or failures seem

mere quirks of happenstance,

the Crass Causality of Hardy’s

purblind Doomsters, unmoved

by our calculi of merit.

Some hurl headlong through

the pool attacking the shallows

with vigor and purpose

only to find themselves thwarted,

forward progress inexplicably stopped

and body pitched by the stream

back to the pool to rest

in a pocket out of the current;

others, already heavily mottled

and panting from exertion,

stare ahead disconsolate before

seeming to accept some fate

and then swim through without

trouble. No function of size

or experience (certainly not

experience – there is no

dress rehearsal for life)

can explain which will answer

the call they all hear

and which will slide sideways

to a slow death gasping

near shore tilted unnaturally

staring up at nothing.

If my friends and I could speak,

there could be no talk

of winners and losers,

no hushed murmurings

of dread and desire,

of fulfillment and failure,

since the same end awaits

all and when is now or then.

Lessons from such compact senescence,

whether of salmon or daffodils,

sadly pass largely unnoticed –

much less learned.

About the Author

Jeffery Greb

Jeffery Greb is a graduate of UCLA and former educator. He resides in the Pacific Northwest where he fills his days focused on writing and living well.