portion of artwork for Dennis Mahagin's poems

Fred Thompson Is the True Anti Muse
with Portable Klieg Lights from Hades

Dennis Mahagin

His four-inch stogie had gone cold again, all chewed-up, with dried
slobber on the butt end, but he held that dead cigar like some insufferable
vicar with solid gold Parker pen, stabbing it in my general inferior
direction: “Oh, I know you,” the huge-headed lawyer said, “No, you
ain’t no brand of Scrivener … only some sorry-ass Flim Flam Man!”


I’d heard he might be well-read, that he took
a Bachelor’s in Lit from Baylor?

But maybe that stuff was all made up by the Phyllis Diller
publicist in my head … oh, poor me, with a deadline
and mouth to feed, so I end up channeling
that freak Arthur Branch instead!

“Have you thought
about the Soaps Market?” he said, “or maybe
a well-placed joke
at a local Friar’s Roast? … Even Calvin Trillin
had to work his way up, son …”

Leopard spots danced
in front of my eyes, I got
frantic, and whipped out
my pint-sized full metal
Bic; I felt drawn to the tip
of Art’s ice-cold stogie,
the way it hung slack

now, bent-back
between his lips;
and yours truly
I’m telling you
could fairly taste

failure, it was in fact
an acrid tang
of self addressed stamped
vanilla envelope paste.

Arthur Branch said: “Howz about mebbe going for broke
with a racy How To … Porn with Guns? … But a POEM?
Well, now frankly, I believe it’s beyond you, son.”

I was still flicking
that Bic, I wished
to spark a trick like
running for Laureate,
or even Senator, with
precious little experience
aside from the District
Attorney being played
in my cerebrum.

“Don’t you worry none,” Branch concluded. “There’s plenty
of time to resign … to go looking for a true calling in this world …”

The huge
head D.A. ducked
under a Stage Left balustrade,
built about six feet high for
middling talent, which gave way
upon some utterly empty
outer sanctum.

That’s when I heard
that familiar Theme Song
again, with the snappy tom
bass lick setting up some
kind of ethereal


Art was long gone, strolling
with Ed Green, Jack McCoy,
S. Epatha Merkerson
and Farina the Guido.

At last I savored
the purest existential joy
of the corporeal bard:


which incidentally
I wouldn’t wish
upon my worst

enemy, or even some extra
sadistic Riker’s Island
prison guard.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 27 | Law & Order Issue | Winter 2010