The Highlight Zone

I saw Don Quixote reading Truman Capote;

Captain Ahab as a boy chasing Moby-Dick

in a bathtub, giving Desdemona, his owner,

a back-rub.  Melville in hell, barely making

a living instead of a killing.  Emily Dickinson

devoid of hope, envious of Shakespeare’s

quivering feather.  Virginia Woolf looming 

along the seafloor with rocks in the pockets

of her billowing dress.


Glowing ghosts have dinner, comparing betrayals:

Jacob Marley, Banquo, Hamlet’s father,

still in armor.  Jesus sues his producers

for screwing up his story.  James Joyce

jabbers away to his secretary, Samuel

Beckett, in an elaborate language even he

can no longer understand, as if his tongue

were a fish caught in a stream of ink.


Jack Kerouac has a heart attack

as he realizes his writing is crap.

William Burroughs’ wife shoots him

and asks, “Happy now?”  Kurt Vonnegut

smokes and jokes with Mark Twain

on the insane cloud of words they’ve made,

quipping about the crippling masquerade

on parade.


Christopher Hitchens still bitches about religion

with Alfred Hitchcock, who says Norman Bates

is great to Anthony Perkins.  The furtive murderer

smiles and nibbles on a gherkin.  Adrienne Rich

recites a poem of her own to adoring Nora Ephron.

Hemingway arm-wrestles with Gertrude Stein

and loses.  Oscar Wilde feels like a child, bored

by William Faulkner, who balks at the Irishman’s

ridiculously rapid wit, preferring to bask 

in the vastness of his self-created vapor.


Buddha compares notes with his student,

Lao Tzu, who plucks a piece of parsley

from the toe of his shoe.  Chuang Tzu tells

Elvis he’s somebody else, a butterfly dreaming

he’s Herman Hesse in a physical vision

unbelievably real.  Sigmund Freud says to Groucho,

“Let me have a void with you.”  Harpo laughs out soft

and hands him a calf, reaches into his coat,

and pulls out a giraffe.


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