Poetry: Selections from Isaac Wolfe

welcome to the indigo circus

damning and complaining
and damning and complaining
damning damning and complaining
and damning and complaining,
they fire off tickets by word-of-mouth.
in grocery store checkout lines,
in rush hour traffic,
at any social gathering
admitting an audience.
at mustard-shirt-stained baseball games,
while regaining cable access,
while competing with the Joneses,
or at the office.
their indigo circus pounces,
strips the stripes off tigers,
leaves the lions yawning,
the elephants forgetful.
their indigo circus maddens the clown car
and they grill their ringleader as their first
vehicular victim.
…labors the tightrope slackened,
the ring of fire extinguished,
off-balances the acrobatics
and kills the crazed stunt artists.  
…leaves their crowds stampeding
into a mad frenzy,
turns the horrific proceedings
into their own blood orgy.
their indigo circus demands
their audience be devoured
by their blues,
while we search in lunatic panic
for any means to punch our tickets.


time ticks with the mercilessness
of a dead mouse in the mouth of
a stray cat. messy, exanimate,
and gone before you know it.
I drink to it as if overindulging
in communion. Christ sits pissed
in the audience of my mind,
but he is lucky I invited him here
in the first place. I’m not religious.
but there is only so much one can do
before he asks for forgiveness in his
chamber of nothingness, in the
hollowness of his holy thoughts.
the work week stalks quietly
upon me, grows stronger
in the husk of my hangovers, hungry
in the wake of my anxiety.
my blood is pumping …
and I run across this line as if chased
by a predator.

with a desperation as stubborn as rigor mortis

they arrive with a feeling:
like soldiers into a desperate skirmish,
like needed quarters dropped into
a homeless man’s cup,
like free beers secured on a good night out,
like intoxicating books acquiring territory
on your bookshelf,
like bonuses you didn’t expect,
like memories you are glad you lived,
like a pantry filled with groceries,
or the less-than-expected price tag
for two new wheel bearings,
like quitting your job and writing out your woes
for a living,
like money in the bank,
bills paid,
and apples in the fruit bowl,
like a good woman wanting only
half of your soul,
like thruway freedom,
a full tank,
and something blasting on the stereo,
like childhood snowstorms and no work
to drive to,
like wine drunk writing frenzies
and no orange juice blues
to suffer through,
like mundane living glorified
by Fante or Bukowski,
those good hard lines arrive.
and I try to clinch them like a priest
with a crucifix still
in his hand.


immortality delusions
during graveyard visits.
Three Olives bottles,
no food in the kitchen.
Sunday service trends
like fashion statements
to Saturday’s sluts.
Fireball bursting
in a Phoenix gas station.
miscalculated grieving
by a family accountant.
a decorated official
in an empty apartment,
drinking a neat whiskey.
tin can dreams
on a yellow brick road.
book burnings featuring
Nooks and Kindles.
a CD skipping on
Tempo Circle.
getting T-Boned while
listening to Soft Kill.
a perfect picture framed
slightly crooked.
rainbows wished upon
in oil puddles.
1984 by George Orwell,
for we certainty
couldn’t be subjected
to that sort of treatment.
American health care
the expense of everyday
the rent,
the cable,
the electric,
crusading like some
all-encompassing directive
from the National Grid
or the Spectrum Serpents,
the Landlords,  
or the Federal Government,
each wrangling in my dollars
like dizzy wild horses
and laughing at my confusion
for living.
like your rejection letter stating
“we would like to read
more from you

Isaac Wolfe is a charismatic deadbeat and occasional observer of life. If asked for enlightenment, he will point to the obituary section of the local newspaper; for knowledge, to the mechanic, carpenter, electrician, plumber, or tradesmen; for life advice, perhaps the town drunk or an overpass bum or a man who has just lost his love. His bucket list includes bar brawling with Bukowski, painting by numbers with Van Gogh, and people watching with Picasso. Train Wrecks on Polaroid, his debut chapbook, was published by Two Key Customs in 2022. His work has also been published by Laughing Ronin Press and Wild Roof Journal and is forthcoming from House Journal