Dark Lady Poetry - Jason Ryberg



Volume Two, Number One


Jason Ryberg


The Gnome in the Corner (Or, Pulling Weeds in the Garden of Earthly Delights)

Here, inside the wire-mesh margins
of the lush, over-flowing Garden Of Earthly
Delights one has to wonder, sometimes,
whether there can possibly be a more
maddeningly torturous plight (albeit,
of the more gardenly varietal type)
than finding yourself in over your head
in a little world full of burstingly ripe nymphs
and nyads, that, no matter what you say or do,
cannot hear or see or, in some other way,
get a feel for you, or, those very same
nymphs and nyads very obviously in the company
of various garden variety sorts of newly-moneyed
new world orderlies and alpha white knights
and future provider-types that, in every conceivable way,
appear to be the very antithesis of you.
And you know exactly what they'll all be
doing later don't you, you silly, little garden
gnome, you, when they've all gone home
and there's just the moon, the garden and you?
And the only thing that could possibly be
less relevant than the noxious weeds
of a garden gnome's quasi-poetic self pity
(that is, to this new world order)
is the strange, wild flower of a poem
sprouting from a crack in the head
of that very gnome, all alone in the corner.

Madame Leveaux, Fortune Teller and Police Psychic, Hands Out a Little Free Advice

To come upon a red guitar
propped in the corner of an empty room
at that exact point in the day when afternoon
is about to shift into evening
means you will soon be embroiled
in a scandal with a blue-eyed girl.

To dream of an elevator shaft
coughing up an ocean of blood is a sign
that someone close to you, maybe even family,
is plotting your downfall.

A noose swinging from a tree on a hill
means you will marry many times
before you find the right one.

A beer bottle standing in the middle
of a country crossroads means
that a decision of some importance
must soon be made.

To dream, repeatedly, of a votive candle
burning in an attic bedroom window
means you will soon change religions,
political parties or the color of your hair.

To wake from a dream of washing dishes
and find yourself washing dishes is a sign
that you are about to receive a large inheritance.

Too see a telephone pole by the side of the road
suddenly begin to shoot sparks and smoke
means that you will soon encounter temptation
you might not be able to fend off.

To see the face of your enemy
in the skin of a potato, in a bank
of clouds or looking up at you
from the coffee in your cup means
you should probably keep
a low profile for awhile.

To find an ancient map
folded up in the pages of a book
on seventeenth century French Painters
means you will soon begin a strange journey
with someone you haven’t spoken to in years.


The big secret is
that there is no big secret,
no code to break,
no great conspiracy but money and power,

and certainly no celestial shine to that
certain 1- 0.01% of very often disarmingly
charming narcissists and sociopaths
or their (most certainly charmed) lives;

everyone of us drifting, minute by minute,
closer and closer to that dreaded edge
of the cliff and its totally X-treme drop-off (dude),

out into The Big Who Knows Where or What...

The blue wind that circles the Earth?
The white light of sudden universal merger?
The total blackout of unknowable nothingness?
(by which the torments of the flesh
and the mind must surely be rendered
null and unto the void and finally
done away with for good, right?)

Or maybe there is some non-corporeal (yet
somehow cohesive and sentient) part of us
that survives the death of the body
and occupies eternity in either some
wholesome, middle-American (and otherwise
asexual) Hometown, USA,

or is, instead, tortured, mutilated and burned (forever
and ever, Amen), presumably, because we met
someone’s pre- or post facto requisites
for being a bad (or merely naughty or
disobedient) person or simply refused
(or never had the opportunity) to sign
on the dotted line at the bottom of the last
(of many) page(s) of the membership contract
to the One, True and Spiritually Correct Social Club.

Seems to me that the theory
with the highest degree of probability
is that we most likely come from
some configuration of dirt and to some
configuration of dirt we eventually return.

For so many people,
this rather innocuous meme
seems to be the icy, intrusive finger
forced rudely into the tender, pink

sphincter at the back of the mind,

the first crack in the quaint, little
Christmas snow-globe in which they live
and which, apparently, must wildly distort
the sights and sounds of the outside world,
beyond the glass, in truly frightening ways...

No, it’s not a hurricane,
it’s just a little mist.

No, I’m not going to rob you
or try to indoctrinate your children
into the homosexual lifestyle,

I’m only going to the garden
to get some tomatoes,

which, I would be
more than glad
to share with


Jason Ryberg is the author of seven books of poetry, six screenplays, a few short stories, several angry letters to various magazine and newspaper editors, and a box full of folders, notebooks and scraps of paper that could one day be (loosely) construed as a novel. He is currently an artist-in-residence at The Prospero Institute of Disquieted Poetics and an aspiring b-movie actor. His latest collection of poems is Down, Down and Away (co-authored with Josh Rizer and released by Spartan Press). He lives in Kansas City, Missouri with a rooster named Little Red and a billygoat named Giuseppe. Feel free to look up his skirt at

February, 2012


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