The Fat and the Blood : By Paul Cheney

Life Plans

To know myself and to be known is all.
Love is nice, but hate will suffice.
Oh—and I’ll take a biscuit and a ball.

The Palmetto Weevil

The palmetto weevil sings the earth
is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.
God what a horror to behold.

I am heavy with death and the tragedy of words.
I slosh and sift it all through
my past and my body
in the race to build some kind of arc.

But the fullness will not be mined.
It will abound, and till me into the soil.
Not for love or meaning’s sake;
for the sake of birth and death.

The weevil knows this.
She in her crushing beauty
buzzes along the ground sniffing with her tawdry rostrum
for the soon-to-be-tits-up saw palmetto
She has no hunger for meaning.
Her life is a pile of discrepant events
that end in buried eggs and dead palmettos.

God is not mocked, or praised, or even spoken of.
And everything is torn away in the great churning.
God what a horror to behold the palmetto weevil.

To My Wife

We are both a disappointment.

But most days, it is enough for me to see a fingernail or two of yours

in clear, morning light,

and you are returned to me. My soft bipedal mammal.

Our small animal love is again larger than Plato’s soaring delusions.

On the Dollar Weed

Dear Friends,

I am concerned because we do not honor the dollar weed.

It is true, the dollar weed cannot love like us.
And the dollar weed cannot observe, or speak, or think like us.
But friends, these things do not make the dollar weed less honorable.

The dollar weed is honorable because
it is green
it lives quietly
it resists our attempts to kill it
it grows first horizontally, then vertically

But perhaps most importantly for our purpose here
the dollar weed is honorable because of its work
to open beneath the difficult sky.

It is a work which I believe is our work too.
And it is a work which I believe we are neglecting.

Admittedly friends, this is not our whole work.
But I am concerned because it is a seminal work.
One that our whole work cannot be worked without.

Now, there are various biological discrepancies that should be considered.
The main ones being language, cognition and the like.

In these, we are not like the dollar weed.
But we are no less honorable.

It is my opinion that to open like the dollar weed,
given our biology,
is to carefully name and unname
the various things of this world.

It is difficult friends, but I do not know another way.

Friends, let us honor the dollar weed
opening beneath the difficult sky.


Dear friend,
I am dying
Like everyone else
Like everyone else
I am alone
Is it us?
Or is it you?

The Cost of Living

Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life.
Isaiah 43:4

Please God
What do I cost?

My bacteria chewed by blood
My grass crushed by foot
My cows ground by gut
My knowledge quashed by brain

My oaks gnarled by concrete
My rivers dried by emission
My women raped by war
My children gored by statute

These and everything else

Please God
Let me look away.

Do not look away
Rejoice always

To My Son, Dancing Alone in the Gulf of Mexico, July 10, 2015

My son, I wish that I could break myself
into the song, the ancient one, that makes
you dance there on the continental shelf.
It rattled in the boy I was, and aches
now from the years. If I was it, not me,
then I would stay this sweet for you and free.

Like you I’ve loved Earth’s gulf-of-mexicos,
its thoraces of bug and throat of frogs,
the landings of the crane, your mother’s toes,
and all the glitz in Adam’s catalogs.
There is a music in it all. Wild, yes,
like voodoo drum, but soft as wedding dress.

Those damn red-headed ducks, I’ve even fed.
Cairina moschata, or Muscovies –
dumb birds with bloody brains outside their head.
And I have loved the salty mangrove trees,
the cedar, pine, and cypress. Loquats I
would love until their juice ran down my thigh.

But I have seen concurrently the rape
of things all sacred, full, and light. And you,
my son, will see it too. As men who ape
their fathers’ lust and greed can but construe
an earth in which to love is to devour;
an ounce of pain is just a lack of power.

Beware, my son, while dancing to refrain
of breeze, of froth, of bellowed ocean sound.
They may be watching – now – with their disdain
up on the beach – your innocence resound
and fling out what you hear to all your limbs.
Hate them. Do not take them at their grins.

The one who calls the waves to curl and crash,
amid the narrow clang of sex and cash,
calls too this always deeper, widening song.
Listen, my son, and dance against the throng.

Tell Me Resin Joseph (A Christmas Poem)

Tell me resin Joseph on your walnut mantle perch
red of duraflame® blaze beneath you
in the Christmas fire,
white of Sherwin Williams 7562 Interior above you
on the Christmas wall.

How faithful to the incarnation you seem
hell below, heaven above, Immanuel between.

But for the stockings hanging there
from finishing nails
and the bejangled plastic tree to your right,
I would think that Judean mountain night
was running itself all over me here
in this lovely trad chic living room.

So tell me blank-eyed resin Joseph,
painted by some sweaty Chinese hand
while you pour that god-boy into your vision…

How is your gut?
Is it tight with doubt?
Do you believe her?
Mother of your resin God?

Tell me of the dream Joseph.
The one that made you shit your wits.
That activated charcoal of the mind.

What did you see that night?
Was it the nitty-gritty angel Gabriel,
weighty with the particles and proteins of heaven?

Was it some discarnate palpitation?
Like the shiver at the end of a long beer piss?
Wine piss, I guess, in your case.

Was it bad fish? I’m sure you ate a lot of those
before the miracle of modern refridgeration.

Was it the yank of self-deluded passion?
A sublimation of the panic of adultery, or rape?

Tell me of the other dreams.

Tell me of the times you had to
hold her wracking sobs against your chest
after hearing the whispers at
the market of “whore” or “cunt” or “slut”
or whatever words they use for
immaculate conceptions in resin Aramaic.

Tell me of the boy, Joseph.

What did you think when you first saw
the few crowning curls washed
with running blood and amniotic fluid
pushing through her immaculate gash
ripping their way down into dust of the earth?

Did you think there could be God in all the gore?

Or after,
when you spread her legs and ripped
your own way back to where the child was
and no one else?

When you walked back to Jerusalem and
and looked for three days
just to find his ass in the Temple
with his Father.
Did you want to hit him?
Did you hit him?

Or when you closed his tiny hands
around the plane
shaping that first ox yoke he remembered
in his sermons?

Tell me resin Joseph,
of walnut mantle acclaim,

how did you carve yourself into belief?

Tell me goddamn you.

Maxforce FC Ant Bait Station

“Due to Fipronil and its accelerated domino effect kill, Maxforce Ant Bait Stations start to kill ants in just six hours. Tests show 90% population reductions in just four days for ants.” product description

I love them with a stillness like regret.
And when they enter me I gather up
the consciousness to play them minuets
that loll in the Orphean darkness. But
my loving makers made me – simply – food.
I feel the quivers of their two antennae
discover me before they cut, then chew
what I conclude is justly theirs. For me,

I’m just a useful tool to please
and give a tiny respite in the droll – no –
grave work from which the ants must find release.
Poor darlings, life must take a violent toll.
So like a lover lying on the bed
I open slowly; gently nod my head.


Dear God, I know it’s much to ask of you
but please, please make this great big bag of skittles
have lots more reds than any other color.
In fact, I’ll boldly pray in faith that you
will make them all the red kind. Be it so!
But if you don’t and choose instead in all
your mighty sovereignty to cut in me
long suffering and test my faith and make
me steadfast, please, at least give me the norm
in reds and not, to prove a point, much less.

Sea Dog

andrew wilson salty dog

Artwork by Andrew Scott Wilson

In the splintering rain
the old sheepdog sat on the dock
with hair like seaweed
He did not note
the wood as it whimpered and rose
into snarls at every wave,
the few boats rubbing the dock
struggling to dry.
If the storm had let him see those two tumbling
blues trysting on the horizon, his innards
would not have clenched a bit.
Though he smelled a thousand times:
the rain like iron pots, the salt,
the seven generations of rotting whale
the rain could not shake out,
he did not care except perhaps a little
for the whale for he was hungry
and the hand he did not bite
had left to see
what some dumb beast could not.

Apple Core

andrew wilson apple core

Artwork by Andrew Scott Wilson

Ah! nom de Dieu! qu’ont donc crié ces entrecôtes -Guillaume Apollinaire

Guillaume Apollinaire, an apple core
am I. Tell me, is this thing you have done,
your plucking of my tree away from me,
your violent “mastications,” as you call
them, is this thing so good that you could whistle
through my pulp stuck in your terrible teeth?
that you could smile, dripping juice, as youthful
bodies, riper apples than I, flit past?
Who, my friend, who could have suggested this?
Oh Holy Christ! My tree! My tree! My God!
To think she made me warm! To think! My God!
To think. That sunlight was and is no more
my food. That now, away from her, it dries
me out, prolongs the decomposing of
this core I have become. What bitter love
we had together. Oh what bitter love
we had…perhaps if I had given more…
But no. Christ nailed! The fault is yours Guillaume.
‘Twas you who ripped her branch away from me
You were the one who carved me into what
I am today and flung me in this field
Where now I have no purpose but to rot.

The Old Bitch Gets Out Of Bed In Three Parts

andrew wilson window

Artwork by Andrew Scott Wilson

For Callie


She sleeps naked every night
under just a quilt she fashioned from
her husband’s flannel shirts.
Retreating from a dream of marriage
stealing only smells away,
she warms.
Her body creaks and coaxes her awake.
She senses from underneath her quilt
that night has honed itself
and burgeoned into morning.
It’s then she feels the wrenching love
that sorrow and diffused regret have given her.
She lets herself be taken by it,
heaves the quilt away from her
and lies exposed beneath
the curling of the dust


Opening her eyes,
She watches, with devotion and a touch
of envy
her bedroom windows
fling themselves into the morning—
brazen, youthful, foolish—
as sunlight, huge and gracious,
quickly waters where they meet
and fights to keep from bursting them.
When certain of their safety,
it lunges in and crackles through the room.


She pulls the weeds
from her tomato garden
which she planted where he died.
“Something in the red,”
she used to tell the inquiries.
Now she doesn’t know.
The flowers in the creases
of her apron bloom as she unbends
and then surveys with earthy hand
the property with bitter love.

She thinks in large, inchoate thoughts
that shoot out words
inside of her like:
“swollenness” and “light”
and sees before she stoops again
a flash of evening sun in bending grass.

Fall of the Rock of Ages

Artwork by Andrew Scott Wilson

Artwork by Andrew Scott Wilson

I didn’t think too much about the sign
at first. After all, I don’t have the Faith
like a child. Mama said I don’t have faith
enough to trust in gravity. She’s wrong
I think. She didn’t know I just need proof
sometimes. That’s why I didn’t think too hard
about it when that book fell over on
its own while I was sittin’ on the couch
just looking out the window at the yard.
Just fell right over on its own right there
just sittin’ on the book-shelf. On its own,
I thought, without the child faith of course.
Before that, I was thinking pretty hard
about Martha, my wife, or Mama when
I thought, “oh man…oh man!” I thought. That book’s
been standing up since I don’t know when. “Boy!”
I said. I thought it might be ghosts at first
just like any would, I guess, but then
I knew it couldn’t be. No such a thing.
“Jesus is here.” I thought. And then I saw
the title of the book was Rock of Ages.
Now why would Jesus do a thing like that?
Books don’t just fall ‘less Jesus pushes ‘em.
But Rock of Ages? Jesus is the Rock
of Ages. Something’s wrong in that. A house
divided ‘gainst itself can’t stand. “Can’t stand…”
I thought. “Can’t stand, can’t stand, can’t stand,” I thought.
And then I saw my Martha standin’ in
the yard in just a sun dress with her back
to me. Just standin’ looking at the old
oak tree with all those tiny summer bugs
jumpin’ around her knees like they were curious
what was under that dress. I called to her.
Was then I heard the gun I bought for her
go off and Martha fell just like the book.
I never knew so many birds could live
in just one tree.

A Christian Scientist Funeral

“There is no mourning, death, or strife?”
You fools who deny death, deny life.

Well did Jesus prophesy when he said,
“leave the dead to bury their own dead.”

You are just shadows in a shadowy place.
And your funerals are a goddam disgrace.

The Sandpiper and the Fool

A sandpiper snaps
into a turn
and sprints
around the beach
Mad to find some morsel
underneath the sand.

She pushes down
her beak,


angles off
in some direction,

And pokes
the beach again.

Ah, but now—
a bit of flesh.
A spike of violence
keeps her there
a millisecond longer
to grip the meat
and eat

Then it’s back
to simple madness.

Mapping out the beach’s
colonies of unseen
sandy creatures
beak-sized chunk by
beak-sized chunk.

A man is walking by observing how
a little bird so inefficiently
explores this world.

How it could never know the way a human knows
the morning light through heavy clouds,
the beating ocean, close and menacing.

How the universe to it
is sex, and food, and danger.

But then,
blind to human rumination,
the tiny bird
snaps herself again
into a sprint
toward the waves,
she plunges
deep enough, it seems,
to be sucked out to sea.

But, instead, she saunters
back to shore
a wave nipping at her bony foot
with blank, inhuman joy.

Growing Up

A little boy, on learning from adults
about opposable thumbs

Asks the oak tree what it’s like
to live without them.

The oak tree, being wise,
gives no answer.

The little boy, a fool,
doesn’t ask again.

Bichon Frise

Consider the trash can, bichon frise,
you piss upon outside

There is no one to comfort him
No shelter from the elements (including yours)
No simple pleasure to relieve his toil.

Still, he sits in spite of this
Quietly laboring in his terrible office
taking in the waste of this world.
Keeping coffee cups from purgatory
once their fresh brewed glory is spent.
They come to him seeking an end.
And he delivers.

He is free in this. His fate is set.
Your insult is nothing.

What is your purpose bichon frise?

The Old Man: On Women

When I was your age,
Love Bugs would get so damn thick…
Anyway I hated em. So I’d
Catch me a real juicy pair
And I’d smush the big one just like that!

Ha Ha, and then I’d
Laugh and laugh…the poor little
Bastard’d try to pull himself outta
That old squished woman-bug,
Probbly pulled somethin’ else tryin’. Ha!

all posts

9Life Plans
18The Palmetto Weevil
19To My Wife

13On the Dollar Weed
27The Cost of Living

17To My Son, Dancing Alone in the Gulf of Mexico, July 10, 2015
13Tell Me Resin Joseph (A Christmas Poem)
22Maxforce FC Ant Bait Station
22Sea Dog
22Apple Core
21The Old Bitch Gets Out Of Bed In Three Parts
21Fall of the Rock of Ages

4A Christian Scientist Funeral

23The Sandpiper and the Fool
22Growing Up
22Bichon Frise
22The Old Man: On Women