R L Swihart


Wheres Waldo Now

I think I spotted him in the East Village. He was posing beneath
the awning of the Lafayette

Under the new mosaic of a resting camel

By the entrance to a brown monolith with ivory froth
and lace


Juggling three or more texts, the urge to make one whole—

Down the chute of an oneiric demise that beats the alarm by a nose

Down another chute where Waldo is Wally (where are your ashes now)

Up the ladder of dark reflection on a bright winter day


I think I spotted him at Peet’s this morning. He was sipping a latte
at the center of an Anasazi star

“Where are you off to now, Waldo? Where will I see you next?”

“I can’t say,” he said. “Raisins to stay. Raisins for moving on”


Killing Me Softly

Sure, she’s all that—and more. But her self-ululating eventually provoked a complaint:
“Too pretty, too overdone, too unreal.”

She dropped some of her silliness, but still insisted I use this image: A reclining nude (geologically impossible for her to stand) who usually doesn’t roll out of the sauna till noon. Two palms in lieu of a fig leaf.

I prodded: “What about the city below? And that distant sign?”

“Let’s say the sign is a brooch or tattoo. As far as the city goes, I really don’t care what you do with it—it’s something I’ll never wear.”

“Are you sure?”

She didn’t reply, so I was delightfully distracted by my pet superhighway (aerial view) while her silver curtain—lower than a few moments ago—revealed a new inroad the city had made on a blunted ridge.

Traffic flowed smoothly (mindlessly, with mind): up and down the trunk of the bottlebrush, over the sun-baked earth (dreaming of gardenhood), along the retainer wall.

By the time I’d sated myself on the last car—an errant ant striking out on its own—and turned around, the emerald chess board between me and the pastel sprawl was nearly set.

The traditional sides and pieces had been replaced by twenty or so black rooks. After a congress they moved into position. The game was over before it started. They dragged their staggered shadows along the ground and were gone.


R L Swihart currently lives in Long Beach, CA, and teaches secondary school mathematics in Los Angeles. His poems have appeared in various online and print journals, including Bateau, elimae, Rhino, Right Hand Pointing, 1110, and decomP. His first collection of poems, The Last Man, was published in 2012 by Desperanto Press.


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MadHat, Issue 15, Winter 2013-2014