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Dean Blehert

Dean BlehertDean Blehert has had six poetry books published, most recently Please, Lord, Make Me a Famous Poet or at Least Less Fat. He also publishes his own subscription poetry letter, Deanotations, which has come out every two months since August, 1984.Deanotations has often been praised for its quirky viewpoints and slightly offbeat humor. Deanotations had readers in most of the 50 states and in Canada, England, Germany, Israel and Australia. He's had poems published or accepted for publication in New York Quarterly, Kansas Quarterly Review, Crosscurrents, Bogg, Visions, Lip Service, Gold Dust, Dark Horse, Modern Haiku, Carousel, Light, The Lyric, Krax, Orphic Lute, Brussel Sprouts, Stroker, Implosion, Haiku Headlines, Reston Review, Carousel, View From The Loft, The Listening Eye, Gyst, Plains Poetry Journal, Minimus, Potomac Review and many others. Issue 55 of New York Quarterly ran his article, "Shrink-rapt Poetry", in its State of Poetry in America series. He's been featured at readings in Calif., New York, D.C., Texas, Maryland and Virginia.

You can visit Dean at www.blehert.com for more poetry and essays.

On the Passing of Suburban Shopping Forests

The trees are gone now - they just weren't practical,
what with cereal boxes and CDs sliding off the branches,
shopping carts catching on roots and overturning, skidding
on ice, water leaking through the leaves, making a
soggy mess of the movie popcorn, shimp lo mein sliding off
root-tilted tables into customer laps, having to shake
snow off the videos to read the titles, all the books
at Borders mildewed and cobwebbed, kids vanishing
into the upper branches, poison ivy in the men's room,
birds splatting into bright-skied movie screens,
pushing faces through itchy spider threads to
reach the pharmacy, squeezing between saplings to
get green cream cheese (with ladybugs) smeared on
your bagel, branches snapping in your face as you
moved to the counter for your large hazelnut mocha
with a little green caterpillar thread-dropping
into the whipped cream, no place to park, thorns
snagging and tearing nylons and shopping bags,
all those CREATURES underfoot and overhead as if
they owned the place and not very clean either -
mangy deer nibbling the vegetables, foxes, sqirrels,
skunks, moles, woodpeckers making their messes
right in the aisles, scary rustlings
and crashings behind the canned goods,
raccoons in the bakery, snakes in the Place
for Hair, that huge moth spreading its wings
on the fresh lettuce, bees swarming the Baskin-
Robbins Pralines and Cream, just the tops
of Boston Chicken and First Columbia Bank
showing where the beaver dam submerged them,
a lightning-felled branch spilling silk scarves
and handkerchiefs, shattering a cosmetics
display case, gallons of perfume wasted
on old dead leaves, clouds of gnats
kamikazing your eyes so you can hardly read
the prices, things plopping into your soup
in all seasons - yellow leaves, branch-loads
of snow, acorns, winged whirling seedpods,
silky puffballs drifting into everything,
trying to separate your salad-bar pickings
from dead leaves and seeds in all that rush
of wind and rain, huge black wet creaky
tree trunks looming up on all sides and in
the leaves overhead a sudden crackle and WHOOSH!
as a thousand grackles swirl upwards shrieking -
HEADS UP! - yuchhh! They've been gorging
on blackberries! Oh, it's so much more
convenient now that everything is flat and
air conditioned and asphalted and concreted and
glassed and roofed in, sleek floors, straight
wide aisles, level shelves and tables, nothing
alive but us and some adorable puppies in a
window and lovebirds in cages, all we need
so easy to reach, so CLEVER! I don't know
why we didn't think of this sooner!

Fleur De Mal And The Naked Truth

There once was a teaser named Fleur de Mal
Who disappeared in the strangest fashion:
She pranced that night in the bleary hall,
Her usual thing, with her usual passion;

She twisted and turned and dangled her foot,
Shedding flower, feather, and spangled flounce
At every turn, and throwing them out
To drooling watchers with bump and bounce.

Smiling coyly, she spun herself free
Till two hands could cover all she wore,
And the crowd yelled--trying to see--

And this time she did...all of it,
And we roused ourselves to see...a girl.
But then, before one ribald wit
Could leer, with a seductive swirl

She briskly began to unzip her skin,
Shedding it over arms, legs, head--
And a fainting drunk with a fading grin
Caught what she lightly tossed and said,

"Sheesh empty!" and vomited up his meal.
Teeth smiling--how else?--and wriggling hips,
She shook her muscles and began to unpeel
Like a banana, throwing all the strips

With a twirl and a flourish to the emptying hall
(For we'd never seen such obscenity before,
And we mobbed to the door,turning only to bawl,
"You crazy broad! You two-bit whore!")

Then she plucked out her ribs, one by one,
Flicking each, with a kiss, at our growing dread;
Then, as a necklace is neatly undone,
She reached to her nape and unfastened her head

And gently threw that to one dead-drunk admirer--
Nor stopped at that: heart, lungs, liver,
And then, as if anyone could still desire her...
They? it?--with a proud, sensual quiver,

The last bones fell at break of day,
And that was the last seen of Fleur de Mal,
Who wasn't a body after all,
The stripper who went all the way.

Kill the Children

Always the truly dedicated, the pure
have known that a hundred evil seeds spring up
where one weed is uprooted, that it is
not enough to kill the vermin: You must also
poison the young in their nest, if possible
before they hatch. Always the Hitlers
and Stalins and Pol Pots have known
you must gas, bayonet, starve, kill
the children.

A civilization, dying, first consumes
it's future, then, in a dazed locust-orgy
is gobbling up its present when
the barbarians arrive to finish the job
of killing all the children.

There are so many children: We must
teach them to kill each other. Then
we will not have so many to kill.
Kill the children.
Kill the children.

In our schools, if a child acts like a child,
it is said to have a disease, and is drugged.
If a child "acts up" or daydreams or disagrees
too loudly or is confused or is sad or too
bubbly or too anything (Ah, the terrible
toos!) it is drugged by those who know
exactly how much of anything
is enough (don't all teachers, all parents
know how much of anything is enough? Isn't that
the knowledge that comes with training, in fact,
that comes with being an adult?) They are drugged
into premature stupor, that is adulthood.
If a child can avoid being noticed,
perhaps it will escape being drugged, but
to avoid being noticed, the child must be
very "mature," careful of every word and gesture,
sealed off from others without appearing to be
(just like the drugged ones), really an adult,
that is to say, a dead child. In our schools
we educate the children.
Educate the children well enough,
and we don't have to kill the children.
They kill themselves.

Teach your children well --
Kill the children. Kill the children.

Each adult on this planet
is the failure to kill a child...
or a killed child.
What are they for? They bring pain
in arriving. Then they eat up our hard-earned
substance. They produce nothing
that can be eaten or sold. They are
noisy, disruptive, sticky, stinky, snotty,
filthy. They beshit themselves, drool, break
anything fragile or artful. They ask
unanswerable questions. They are mockers,
they don't follow rules, they run out
into the street, they spill their food
and refuse to eat, their food must crammed in,
it is icky pap, their noses run, they make
ugly noises, they wet their beds, they
get sick and moan all day and, loudly,
all night, they make you work long hours
to feed and clothe and clean them, they demand
to be entertained and you must put up
with their saccharine singing dinosaurs.
Whatever one has, all the others
must have. They endanger themselves,
and you must protect them. Either
they torment tiny creatures or they
coddle them and must be consoled
endlessly when the coddled creatures die.
They say cruel things and smirk
at what they've said. Their laughter
is loud, insistent and ugly. They step
on the flowers. They put grubby fingers
into food you planned to eat. They bite
nipples and make them raw, they want
more, they will never learn, they make
you sick and tired, always tired, you
were never tired like this before (unless
you, too, were recently a child), they run
around and keep running and won't stop
and when they stop, they start again
and you have to make them stop again,
they won't go to sleep, they wake up whining
and wake you up to get them a drink
of water, they torment each other,
their crying is almost as awful to hear
as their laughter, they have dirty minds
and demand that you listen to terrible
jokes and demand that you find them funny.
They bring you bedraggled valentines and
scribbly pictures, and you are required
to OOOH and AAH! and say "How WONDERFUL!!!"
They make up stupid stories and, when challenged,
will not listen to reason.
Other people's children are too smart,
too mean, too spoiled, too much better
than your child. When your child goes out,
the whole world becomes populated
with Wrong Crowds. Far away, children
are hideous huge-eyed creatures (hardly human)
with swollen stomachs, diseased, and
there's something wrong with us if we
don't feed them, but if we try to feed them,
hordes of them tear us apart.
Because of our children,
we must vote for sleazy politicians and
pay them what's left of our substance. If not,
we are scolded for failing our children, failing
to make a world safe for our children...
and they plead (our children? or our politicians?),
first with noisy laughter, then gratingly,
then sullenly, then with screaming fits,
then with blinking and cowering and simpering,
then with big teary adoring eyes, then
with stony silence, and each pleading
is more unbearable than the one before.
We must kill the children.
Kill the children.
Kill the children.
Kill the children.
Kill the children.
Kill the children.

This is a suburb. Look out your window
now: Do you see any children? Maybe
one or two token children, riding bikes,
wearing helmets huger than their oversized heads
to protect their soft brains from shock?
"They're all in school." (4.5 million of them
on Ritalin in the United States, soon
15 million.) But it is Saturday afternoon!
Where are all the children? ("LOOK!"
says Mama to baby, her voice going UP
and DOWN like a soft logical siren: LOOK! Where
a children! Oooh! [A child, tickled,
giggles and squeals.])

When I was a child, every house,
every yard had children. We lived
in a grid of through streets, not
these cul de sacs, yet on every street,
daring the cars, waiting for the last moment
to move aside, an occupying army of
children rode their bikes in circles,
spiraled footballs, played hide and seek,
jumped rope. "They are on the playground,
watching TV, searching websites
for pornography, at the movies...".
I see so few children these days.

This is the inner city. Everywhere scuttle
shadowy dwarfs, but their faces are seamed
and sour with age. Even the sweet-faced
7-year olds are eager gofers for the 14-year-olds
and 11-year-olds who kill each other,
that is the main thing they do, trying,
I suppose, to help kill the children,
but by the time they are 11 or 14,
it is too late to kill children
by killing each other, and their pinch-faced
adulthood grows younger every year.
Soon you will have to kill a 5-year-old
to kill a child. But you will do, we all do
what needs to be done: Kill Kill Kill
the children.

A fetus is not a child, not even
a human, and if you kill it, you will have
one less child to kill. But in spite of
abortions and condoms in the schools
and family planning and morning-after pills,
the world's population increases by 80 million
every year (I hear -- though I see
no children out my window). Where
do they come from? Is it the children now
who give birth to all these children?
Is that another way (TWO ways) children kill children?

It is hard to grow and distribute crops
during a civil war. If we can keep
our quarrels festering long enough,
all the children will die. Some of the adults
will starve or become sick and die, though most
will scrape by. But the children will die.
It's like a forest fire that burns off
the suffocating underbrush so that the giant
old growth can survive. And yet,
the poorest, most war-torn Saharan hells
are the most overpopulated. What is it
about these children, these cockroaches! You
wipe them out and turn away and sneak
back in, switch on a light, and thousands
scurry into the shadows. (And how silent
they have learned to be! Well, that's
a blessing anyway.)

To make a reluctant child piss,
turn on the water in the sink.
To make a child dead, surround the child
with deadness and the dead, fill
the TV screens with dead bodies, fill
the popular music with deadness and
deathfulness, make it normal
to be dead, make it the in thing,
let dead-looking people model
underwear and stylish clothes,
zombie chic. To be dead is never
having to say you're sorry, for the dead
are not responsible for anything.
It is a great relief, no doubt,
to be dead. What do you want to be
when you grow up, Tommy?
I want to be dead.

If a child escapes into adulthood,
perhaps this is only a mask: Inside
the adult may lurk a child in hiding.
Psychiatrists and psychologists and social workers
can crack that shell to ferret out the "inner child."
Once they have uncovered the naked
shivering child, they can persuade it
that it was ravaged and destroyed
by its parents. If they are persuasive enough,
the child, convinced it has been destroyed,
will be dead...I mean a mature adult.

Once we have all agreed
to kill the children, those not yet
dead become a resource. They can pose
for obscene pictures, for, say what you will,
children have a certain charm, softness,
winsome appeal, that certain je ne sais qua.
Nothing like a blowjob from a four-year-old,
the pink puckered anus of a plump,
squirming six-year old (I assure you,
you haven't lived!), nothing like
the love of an experienced, tender mentor
to squeeze from them the last precious drops
of bright-eyed innocence (it is so brief!)
before discarding them. We are civilized:
we don't eat our children, not even
as meat byproducts in cat food. But
we are resourceful and find uses
for our children even as we kill them.

That's disgusting. Most of us, finding
such people, would kill them on the spot.
Most of us are decent people.
We do not fuck children.
We send them to school, to psychiatrists
(or to doctors who give them the pills
the psychiatrists recommend), we teach them
what they'll need to know to get ahead
in life. We give them everything, more
than WE ever had. We do everything
for our children. We work hard
for our children. It's all those
teen-age mothers of fatherless children
who are to blame. It's drug pushers and
Colombians. It's the mafia. It's lawyers and
big government and bankers and crazy people
who aren't won't take their medication. It's
lack of funding. We don't pay our teachers
enough. We don't discipline the kids.
They need tough love. We do everything
for our children. Children are so cute!
Oh!!! Is at a wittow babbums! Oook! A
babbums! Oook at a pitty babbums! Ooooh! Is
iddum babbums wanna kissywissy?! Oops! Is
iddum babbums gotta go poopoo? Where is
that fucking kid? Who do you think
ANYTHING! I MEAN IT! WHAT did you say?
WHAT? WHAT did you say? Later. Not now.
I said LATER. No. Don't bother me now.
I'm sick and tired of.... Show me
how a GOOD boy asks for more dessert!
Will you STOP THAT NOISE! Don't you EVER
EVER EVER take that tone with me!
I'll teach you to take that tone with me!
I'll TEACH you! Go to sleep NOW! Did you
hear what I said? DID - YOU - HEAR -
Not now, Mama's very tired. [Listen:

The lines above are not empty. They contain
a parent's silence while a child waits.]
These are a few of the things we say
as we kill our children.

Conflict resolution. Metal detectors
just inside the doors. Some people
would rather that children be killed
without undue mess.

Terrorists are hateful. They kill
indiscriminately, car bombs, letter bombs --
ANYone could be killed. It is so much
more efficient to concentrate on
the children. Even the very old
have grown stubborn and vocal
about death. You can't shut off
a respirator without getting your ass
sued. You can't even kill them
when they WANT to die, but
the children don't complain. It took
how many years for someone to notice
that a Mom had suffocated five children?
(Who knows how many children at Auschwitz died
of infant death syndrome?)

If we can kill off ALL the children,
that's the end of the human race,
and if we can do it fast enough,
maybe the trees will grow back
and some of the butterflies
will survive, the water and air
slowly cleanse itself, it will probably
be good for the environment, though
dogs and cats may suffer. Probably
we are a failed experiment. In our labs
when we are done with the rats,
we gas them. This is all a story,
like Hansel and Gretel, the
lost children, the candy house,
the witch, the oven. It should end
lyrically, a bluebird alighting
on a sun-gilt branch and bursting
into song, Bambi peering up...aren't you
sick of all the stories being OUR stories,
aren't you sick of making up stories
to tell to children to make them
go to sleep, aren't you sick
of trying to make up stories about
living happily ever after? Bambi
is a giant rat, tick-ridden, destroyer
of our tomatoes and our cars. Bambi-
burgers. If we kill the children,
the deer won't have to be Bambis and
baby vermin won't be cute. If we kill
the children, the world will be --
I don't know, I don't know the word
for it...REAL! The world will be real again
(the predators will not have to wear suits
and make themselves hard to understand),
free of our corrosive dreams, that
sour aftertaste of sweetness. We need
to get real. It is so real
to kill the children.

Kill the children. Kill the children
Kill the children. Kill the children.
Kill the children. Kill the children.
Kill the children. Kill the children.
Kill. Kill. Kill. Kill. Kill. Kill. Kill.
children children children children children children