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spinga History of Four-footed Beasts and Serpents (1658) cmpr 1

In the beginning there was a
small door,
but escape was
less attractive then
than forests full of
undiscovered species
like yourself, you thought.
So many things
you did not think,
things you did not hear–
monkeys for example
not so unlike you
screamed alarm
from tree to tree–
you thought such dangers
did not apply to you,
lounging on beaches
where the sea
drags pebbles out and in
and out, your mind
entangled with
the flow of things.
Back at your campsite
a god disguised
as some random someone
passing through
prepared a dish you tasted
only once
and now forever
long to taste again.
Why were you so busy dodging luck?
It took such work
to find the wrong places
and love the wrong men,
the ones you crowded,
the ones who crowded you,
the one you found
to leave you
to your solitude,
the one you found to leave.
Free of all encumbrance,
now you know
nothing burdens
like the want of love.

________________________
image: The History of Four-footed Beasts and Serpents (1658)http://publicdomainreview.org

decide this day instead

decide this one day not to mourn
abandoned places, all their giving up–
not to wonder who now occupies
instead the miscellaneous behavior
of persons inimical to the construct,
their narrows and slatternly resolutions
first the clamor, then the smear
massacres of faith like those of conquest—
bonfire, barbecue, conversion
meanwhile loss conceived of as return
somewhere out on moonbeam lane
the discovery people not like you thrive
our former gods and vast undoing–
their atomic disappearance
you remember the dress, the words
the way moonlight made everything blue
the novel system of notation
we concede, we adumbrate the same
self who showed up for the hanging
they gather up the things you let go
the long arrow of the exorcism
the long count, the unbearable air
on behalf of your half, characters
transported to a past no longer past
the usual mummy and drugstores
sassafras, soda, little flying wheels
the observations of plain sense skewed
the official bully, her nimbus and wedge
fragmented discourse for a fractious age
and from nowhere the opening of
Ben Casey: “man, woman, infinity” ooh
the fathoms of your particular, darling
and how we made the gate to make the place

Orfeo

mod detail Camille Corot Orpheus

You walk, she follows. You worry that she’s not following you.
Then you worry that she is.

This is the part where you go to get her back, you can’t live without her, you feel somehow guilty she’s gone.

You are looking for a place and a man not exactly a man–a man who’s a place, a place that’s a man. He has her, but what he really cares about is that you don’t have her.

He’s untouched by the supplications of the grieving, rather enjoys it as a matter of fact. He’s casual about it, sends a pale messenger up to pose palms out, nothing to hide, nothing to blame, the thing is done. Ooh, he tells you the one time he returns your call, a whole lotta fetchin’ women in the world for a good-lookin’ guy like you, a musician to boot, count your blessings, do your charm thing.

Nobody’s going to tell you go, don’t go, no one ever tells you anything when your heart is broken and everybody knows that worse is on its way. No one but the oracle, of course, who tells and doesn’t tell, says: find your way up to find your way down. Continue reading

He Kept His Gloves On

He kept his gloves on when he removed his 
head. I know that probably shouldn’t have been 
the thing I noticed, shouldn’t have been the 
thing that bothered me. I guess the gloves could be viewed as a formal or even 
respectful touch, but they made the act a kind of sideshow affair. They were 
cheap gloves, and dirty, and they put his head down on the coffee table with a graceless sort of thunk after which he made rude noises. “Put it 
back on,” I said. “Put it back on, put it back on” he said, as if to say I’d been whining. I looked over at his body, sitting 
with his hands held out like some robot doll. 
”You’re really in a fix now,” I said, “how are you 
going to put it back on?” “I can read your mind,” 
he said, “you think I’ll put it back on just to prove 
I can.” “It worked last time,” I said, “and I hate 
those creepy fucking gloves.”

The Fall

It was not our nakedness we didn’t know
but the allure of shoes and clothes.
Alas they came along with dearth of good–
strings of pearls and lowly hoods.
Nor was it Lucifer that gave us pause
but other beings’  fur and claws.
We’d need those later on (we quickly thought)
if our repentance came to naught.

Mostly Outside

 

How we loved the high style we wore
for vanishing occasions
though its warrants wore us down–
logic’s such a drag on
transformation—it just can’t match
the dark unwieldy charm of living
mostly outside yourself.

They later said a feeling
like a sorrowful trance
overcame them all at once–
they could not resist or run.
Mr. Billy found them
wandering his winter pasture,
called the sheriff to take them
home. Even hypnotized
they were unable to account
for the remote location
of their car.

That overgrown yard
I pass by after work–
rusty lawnmower abandoned
not even halfway through the job,
everything there already over,
everything done already undone–
how I wish I didn’t understand
all the giving up in that.

the tear that comes before the cloth

the tear that comes before the cloth
cosmic rip before expanding stars
a pulse so slow it cannot be detected
so in the trembling of our time
trying to retrace becomes
another way of standing still
nothing pressing on it from any side
one of those sloppy earthquakes
undulates through the house
you’re in a vaguely medieval city
you’re twisted up tight
that desire for forgiveness
for sins not even your own
everywhere you go the idea of doors
is driving people crazy
just the idea, not even the thing
thus we wander in his regard
light through the clouds seeping into
what we know: ignis fatuus
anything accusing carries a heavy strap
having nothing to hide
becomes something to hide
we are totally eager for an opportunity
to use the word pincers

Ectoplasm

The layman’s term for ectoplasm—that’s what
the cool girl-woman with the Audrey Hepburn hair
in the tight black dress says to the guy in the suit
who leans in close to hear her, as they glide past on
their way into the room at the party where the cool
people hang out with other cool people, wearing the
still faces of the cool, knowing, you think, things
you cannot even imagine, and never ever saying
the layman’s word for ec-to-plasm.  They look like
they’ve been imported from some exotic place where
nobody is ever surprised by anything, but what do
you know, you’re fifteen, and not the worldly person
you expected to be putting on your first pair of
stockings, like slipping into a new body, exquisite,
being loved by those stockings till you realize they
are just the first of encumbrances and bindings still
to come. These cool people don’t look, they gaze, and
when they gaze at you they make you not exist, your
college boy date knows these people, but he’s not cool,
if he was cool, he wouldn’t be here with you. Why are
you here, your reckless friend out in the car with the
other college guy doing who-knows-what, it’s like
every double date she will talk you into, and it’s only
the second date of your life, your dog wouldn’t let him
get out of his car when he showed up, then that
disappointed look from daddy when he looks at you
now and your mother wishing you’d just go away and
saying so again just yesterday, you wish you’d go
away too.  Ectoplasm, what a disappointment when
you look it up later, it’s not anything, you look up
layman too but you already know from the way the
cool girl said it that it means lowly and uncouth, in
other words you, so unlike these sleek girls in black
supernaturally untouched by this Mississippi heat,
conversing, murmuring, sipping the cool drinks of the
cool, not the sloe gin and 7-up your friend is knocking
back in the car and will be throwing up in about an
hour on some gravel road. This party starts to feel sort
of like church, which makes you want to say damn
over and over, just another place where you don’t
belong, you’d rather be dancing in your room alone or
watching Star Trek or throwing sticks for the dog.
Twenty years later, you’ve been some places, you’ve
had plenty of cool, you’re back home, it’s two a.m.,
you’re in one of those not-exactly-nightclub clubs, the
kind without a fixed address, and there’s a goddess
singing the blues, singing like there’s some enormous
feeling inside her that’s going to kill her if she doesn’t
get it out and every word is pulling that thing out of
you and all the people you’re standing with here too,
the only thing in the world is this voice kneading this
pain.  When the set ends it’s like you’ve come out on
the other side of something you thought you’d never
make it through, the whole room is hollering praise
and gratitude.  Everybody takes a break, the smell of
pot comes in from outside, somebody has put a cold
beer in your hand, now the room’s not full of sound,
you’re just looking around, and there they are, current
incarnations of the cool people from that party when
you were fifteen, arrayed around a table in the middle
of the room, performing cool but looking also a bit as if
they wonder how they arrived in this place of mortals
with our mortal inconveniences like falling in love with
the wrong people over and over again or fucking things
up when you are trying hard not to.  When you see that
skittish ethereal mist rising up from their table and
hanging in the air above them, you know what it is:
ectoplasm.

Close Enough

The nudibranch family two blocks away
answers a mighty summons from the past,
desire for love like a roof overhead, light like

light from stars long dead, like the afterlife
of your feelings now you know. There is
no god of creatures, only rocks and rain,

no thought of you in any mind, just static
and a random cat escaped from physics,
rolling in sunshine, close enough to joy.

Gulf

We were reading what we were reading
the gulf a muck a mucked up gulf
underwater every day the daily ooze
the outrage lapping washing flooding
it was all the news was was the everything
even you with your broken heart find a
mirror let me see my chest
you said I said
the scar’s not so bad, your heart and then
I couldn’t say don’t get old you said but
if you do don’t get sick
you said but if you
do hope you die
it was not funny funny
that was the way the television was all
the gulf and you were being manhandled
in your delirium you asked the nurse
to bring some tables in and chairs and
bacon and all kind of things to eat and
drink everybody’s coming you said yes
I said everybody is and everybody was
but just not then then you wondered who
those people were at the foot of the
bed that still wouldn’t go away when we
said they weren’t so the room was full
and the gulf was on tv the gulf breaking
put recovery out opened a possibility and
that was what we hoped recovering to go on
and it was raining like the devil a deluge
and everything clean then that metallic
smell that makes you think brisk that
makes you think clean open free even
with that lowering sky barred with bruise
standing at the window while you slept
there in the not too far black smoke like
a creature crawling up from earth to sky
somebody’s house on fire somebody’s life
burning up in the rain and then I thought
please let everybody live please don’t go.