Bit of a change: I just found out the North Texas Review will be publishing a piece or two of my poetry in late-spring/early-summer and thought, orderly little man that I am not, it might approach a certain standard of deductive righteousness to post the stuff I gave them. I'm a critic and a prose writer, and very emphatically not a poet, so these veer awfully close to juvenilia, but wot thee hell.
The Doctor Gets ‘Saved’
You memorized the tunings of my harps
Or had, at least, the courtesy to bend
A month of mouths into the shapes of sharps
Into the forms my tongue loves to up-end
And set them to green fires, collecting smoke
Into your pewter book of pewter bone
A disassembled skeleton, alone.
But such may be my wont on darkling spires;
That is to rearrange a gesture’s touch
Into the shapes my vanity requires
And all the forms my loathing loves too much;
I am these bags of pale choleric bile,
These arcing creatures stalking through the fields
And eyeless children saved by rusted shields.
The fingers of your certain Seljuk hair
Which sit and brood on caution-fields now killed
Now faded in the thick Ankara air
Among the cries to mark the orders filled;
I cannot hold me ignorant of this—
Perhaps my dactyls’ reach knew nothing more;
Perhaps I’ll hear you from a distant shore.
The horses of fatigue run on and on
Without respect to temperature or tense
Into a blanketed, transfigured dawn
Of upraised eyes of full-crazed audience
(I knew them once and you shall know them hence)
The inside inside the temples, so amused,
So tabernacled, neutered, and bejeweled
And birthing brains which sing best when abused
Abused in bitching raptures, fogged and fueled
(And finely tart when fever-ridiculed)
It’s then that parts the dust along the shelves
And that the angles—feigned coincidence—
Shed psoriatic skin for truer selves,
Disclose their nerves’ inscriptions, beggar sense
(Their white-hot tendril clouds of recompense)
For acid hours collected in the throat:
“The patient’s epiglottis burned right through”—
Then come the minutes supine in a boat
When eyes dilate in full to bring to view
Those subtle spheres that we dumb dogs once knew.
Four Entries from a Speculative Dictionary
Small rosepetal reversals in a two-tone apartment
No glint of wheels, no sigh of guilt,
But tense wires only.
Grasshopper steeltoed, born of glue-soaked whims and a tiny truce in the stale wind of freshly-cut grass and an overwhelming shower of of of
Grenadine taste of generals, resplendent in shining grey with crucifixes dangling from the well-worn anuses of the inferior officers who ported them to the Haçienda, cabana circumflex, slow drip of sticky saliva running up into the eye sockets, impeding nothing, warm crust with full filling. Pendulous stomach known to pull into actual mouth, at which point eternal feedback loop because fulfillment of well-understood purpose.
Halo Wet pure semi-wet also understood shaft of Caravaggio rabbit-light. No bones for me thanks but wotever fields of eyelids woz on the stove when you first wrenched open the window, smell of fried membrane in worm warm butter bath, to vomit at your favorite army.
Maps & Territories
“Embrasure? what embossment? concrete cut?”
I stuttered on the shores of man-made lakes,
All bare, all cut of caution tribute takes,
All lack of balding grass or jade-line jut—
A man-made lake of acid in the gut.
And “never, never, never” comes the cry
As always, underneath the vented suns,
As ever, Persian patch of missing ones
And twos and Fibonacci-factored eye
Which could, perhaps, be hers and yet pass by;
But I cannot pass by on speechless cliff:
Too hired by the tongues of one-ply sheiks
Too flat for ignorance, to thin for weeks,
To little like starvation in Cardiff/
North African uprising of the Riff—
The Riff Revolt? In Stalin-scented cones?
But what will be its churches and its jails,
And what Christ’s hands, so eager for the nails
That tack in place of pride his set of bones?
That swiftly will occlude his harlot-moans?
Yes yes, forecast the sediments of eyes
That might, in other times, wear different grins
Wear those of atheists or monks or djinns
Whatever tooth our texts will recognize
As having once adorned our frozen eyes.
Your Devil’s Dialect
They speak in accents that resemble yours
And walk on pins or sidling like a crab,
On thistles plucked in one unthinking grab
From column roots, from mind of kitchen floors,
From pseudopod along a copper shore
Through field of glass to field of rotting meat
And burrow there in sexual retreat
(Or wear a cautious face to burrow more)
The Other Other Other from Afar
To third degrees and Polynesian suns,
To lick the sperm from forward-mounted guns,
We restless conquests, writing at bazaar,
At booths that peddle pan-Eurasian dreams
Of class and crucible and tumor swells
(No empty cisterns, no exhausted wells)
And nowhere run the dots of febrile seams;
Oh Fibrous Lumps in all orgasmic shapes,
Oh amputation of the splitting sides,
Oh satisfaction, clean and hairless tides
Oh coming cancer, all consented rapes.
So beautiful, enough to beggar speech
And fasten prophylaxis to our wells—
The polyurethanes that reason sells—
And chain them, one another, each to each.
All flavored, scented, dressed in flowered frocks
All rigid, pulled to pieces, so demure,
All toothsome and all guaranteed (I’m sure)
To miss the rattling deaths of fighting cocks…
So stop to peck and chew the sanctioned stars,
To celebrate the chrome tongues on your hips;
But keep always (with thick syrup) on your lips:
“They speak in accents that resemble ours.”