Henry Crawford is the author to two collections of poetry, American Software (2017), and the Binary Planet (2020). He won first prize in the 2019 World Food Poetry Competition. His work enjoys an extensive online presence: http://henrycrawfordpoetry.com/Home and http://thebinaryplanet.com/

Henry Crawford

The Long Walton Goodnight


Good night, John Boy
[sorry about Vietnam]
Good night Elizabeth [I
promise not to tell]
Good night, Daddy [we
know your hiding places]
Good night, Son [don’t
make me ashamed of
you] Good night, Mary
Ellen [we did it a long
time ago] Good night,
Daddy [why are you so
angry] Good night,
Mama [we were right to
take this land] Good
night Mary Ellen [it
never really happened]
Good night, Jim Bob
[please just be quiet
everyone] Good night,
Mama [forget those
days] Good night, Erin
[don’t say how lonely
you are]  Good night,
Jim Bob [you need to be
more like a man] Good
night, Ben [we wont tell
anyone] Good night,
Mary Ellen [you weren’t
even born] Good night,
everyone [Good night]


 
The Storymaker


Sick of sticking needles in her arm
she turned to stories. Kept them in her purse.
There was the one about an invisible horse
who came to the windows of children at night. 
She had one about a right-brained tax accountant
who made an enemy of a left-brained sushi chef.
She wrote them on the BART, going into Oakland.
There was the story of a leaf-consoling oak tree.
And Beowulf reimagined as a spaghetti western.
She did her makeup on the train. Praying into her
lipstick case. There was a story of twin parallel lines
fated never to meet. A mountain that could feel
its own weight and a mosquito who knew it was alive.
She worked making calls in a windowless call center.
There was a story that never got off the ground
and one that ended up in the clouds. A boy who proved
his love by tumbling all night in a washing machine.
She walked beside the Bay at lunch. Gray and moody.
There was the story of a missed bar mitzvah
and one about a telephone call at the end of a long
divorce. There was the night that never came
and the day that never followed it. She had
moths in a time of light, bats in an age of dark
and a worm who appeared before Alfred the Great.
She came home to a high-rise and a half-loved cat.
Hung her purse on a hook by the door. Labored
under the spell of a magnanimous grace
most of us will never experience.


 
Agamemnon Dead: The Oresteia as Drunk Driving Sitcom


[in his last days] [with few] [FRIENDS] [drinking sour] [M*A*S*H] [whiskey] [feeling fewer] [CHEERS] [and more like a] [3RD ROCK FROM THE SUN] [his car flipped over] [cops all around] [after] [THE BIG BANG THEORY] [this was not] [THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW] [his Clytemnestra wife] [BEWITHED] [waiting for him] [to come home] [their children] [CLUELESS] [when he left] [THE OFFICE] [for] [THE CORNER BAR] [his] [HAPPY DAYS] [almost over] [the family told] [WAIT TILL YOUR FATHER GETS HOME] [he should have taken a] [TAXI]

[it was] [ALL IN THE FAMILY] [the drinking] [the blood] [the] [ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT] [even when he was] [KING OF THE HILL] [he behaved more like a] [BACHELOR FATHER] [leading a] [MCHALE’S NAVY] [of mishaps] [and he never found] [the rooms of] [ONE DAY AT A TIME] [where someone will anonymously say] [my name is] [MR. ED] [and will share about] [WILL & GRACE] [he didn’t] [GET SMART] [but found himself up] [SCHITT'S CREEK] [car shrouded in] [BLACK-ISH] [smoke] [leaving a mess for] [PARKS AND RECREATION] [and a] [MODERN FAMILY] [to cope with] [THE FACTS OF LIFE] [when] [THE ADVENTURES OF OZZIE AND HARRIET] [took off for] [GILLIGAN’S ISLAND] [only to come home to] [THE MUNSTERS]


 
Placing an Online Order


Andy the ex-hippy and I were one-click shopping
for alligator flavored chewing gum which came
in snake skin dispensers as part of a [FREE!] offer
if we applied for a [FAMILIY SIZED] long lasting 
[CREDIT CARD] no questions asked and everything
would arrive tomorrow but then the screen
started saying that our operating system
was going to [EXPIRE] and Andy said it might
be a case of phishing and I had to confess
“I’ve never been fishing” so we clicked our way over
to sporting goods and found a [SMART] electric
fishing pole which had a thousand 5-Star reviews
and it too would [ARRIVE TOMORROW] if we agreed
to an [EXTENDED WARRANTY] which excluded use
in [pools, puddles, lakes, rivers, streams and oceans]
so we put the pole in the cart and it was shipped
from a country that allows [FREE MARKETS] but not
political [FREEDOM] which made Andy say,
“bummer, man” but we soon felt better [TRACKING]
our packages across the plastic-dappled ocean
watching them go from warehouse to warehouse
in Midwestern cities of low wage workers
bound up in overheated distribution chains
but just then the truck arrived and we opened
[THE BOX] anticipating a totally awesome
dopamine spike of shrink-wrapped [CUSTOMER
SATISFACTION] and everything was there 
waiting to be fished and chewed


 
Driving a 22nd Century Ambulance


into the tunnel comes a fleet
of self-driving flat-white 
Escalades [patched] into [light
guided] screens updating the
incoming information [HUMAN
PRIMATES] reads the status
console [homing in] with
wide-area [nuclear resonance
imaging] showing a warren of
[modern humans] in the skeletal
stages of organic starvation

they have no food
—providing sun patches

they have no water
—starting synthetic hydration

they have no clothes
—dispensing sheet wrap

[moving out] the team emerges
back into the electromagnetic
city of light waves glistening
along the pale avenues of
well-ordered particle data
Beethoven [ah, Beethoven]
on a virtual wood Steinway
[sounding] thunderously inside
the cars