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    — for Barth Anderson

It tarantulizes my dreams,
slops without language,
following me around as I walk the dog for no
good reason.  The mudman is a clay
golem smeared to goo
by a riot policeman's hose.

The dog doesn't seem to mind the mudman, really.

It's all a matter of who I put faith in,
a 401(k) or a puddle.  A golden
parachute or a dead leaf.
This is why there's a stalking.
The mudman saunters down the alley
as if the alley's a wedding aisle.

My credit cards expired two years ago, I shout
behind me.  I have no sensible future
involving the acquisition of woodfront property.

I run faster.  The dog barks but only
at a squirrel.  You should be cited
for inciting a riot,
I say, a riot of one.

A few more blocks and I'm home.
Lock a myriad of latches.  Sit on couch.
Pull open a beer and celebrate
the evasion of my perhaps-assassin.
I'm reminded that stuff costs.
For hours,
I listen to the front window darken
with mud.  It's peeking in, but what
can the mudman see?  Tomorrow
I'll buy stamps and everything will be fine.
The dog sleeps, I watch the rain come
and dissipate the mud.
Keep in touch, I say. Already drunk.

      — Alan DeNiro