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Your days of looking good are gone.
This really shouldn’t mark the dawn
Why had she come to me?
Who was her red-haired mother?
Was she cuddling in a blanket in a cold
October night beneath an orange sky?
Or was she huddling in a shell amid
the algae, amphibiously breathing,
at the bottom of an orange sea?
Why had she come to me?
I seemed to know a lot about her.
I knew she had a talent for calligraphy
and couldn’t stand the sound of people
chewing. She had an aptitude
for algebra: its wyes and exes
were alive to her. She laughed
at anything that moved. She had
a predilection for ignoble men. She liked
to tell you you were right, and then
say you were right again. She wasn’t
ever sure when to say when.
Why had she come to me? Why did
I sense her sigh – soft in the orange sky –
or underwater – meant she had
come to tell me that she was
my daughter? No way, my dear.
I’m gay, my dear. Yet still, it seemed,
her provenance was clear. My child?
Dreams at Halloween: more wistful,
strangely mild – than terrible, or wild.
The spirit of my violin floods in. The bow
is an affliction, vibrato an addiction.
The urge to touch it so it yields its glory
is as bluntly irredeemable as desperately
wanting to feel up a stranger’s thigh.
The difficulties make you want to cry.
Once sentient past all reckoning –
tanned, muscular, and tall,
the sentry now is nearly blind
and pink and plump and small.
It sits on ledges overlooking
nothing much at all.
Tomorrow, when you plan your daily trip
to buy another sack of onions, find
an iridescent dressy gown to walk
through town in: rouge your cheeks
and lips; peruse until you’ve picked
the right green picture hat with slinky
yellow, purple feathers, pinkish ribbons;
sport some rosy gloves; and choose
your stronger walking shoes to help you
promenade more comfortably through
more unexamined mews and avenues
than usual of your penumbral city.
Prettily take pity on the strangers whom
you wave to who behave as if the day
were not as strange as they are to each
other. Be the Universe’s mother.
Fragmented, consumed by night,
this vision doesn’t come in peace,
but pieces – radiating bands of blood
and bruising blue compete with – lose
against – a flood – immensity – of black;
it’s hard to track the pink remains of face,
whose eyes – always the eyes! –
might offer symphonies of sense,
or even grace – or be so dense
and out of place and reach, there’s little
you can think to do to breach the distance:
his mouth is almost gone: right cheek
and jaw lost to whatever creeping law
determines an obliteration – whatever
mass of an abyss seems randomly to want
to swallow this: yet still you want
to follow this: experience the final kiss.
Existence is and isn’t, was and wasn’t.
Everything persists until it doesn’t.
Lah-di-dah-di-dah-di-day. Let tubas,
tympani and violins come out to play.
The thing that kills has kindness in its eyes,
the thing that loves can hate –
Each holds its hidden regions of surprise;
the locked-up door, the open gate
are equally an option: a condition
less of choice, it seems, than chance –
the importuning of a heart’s petition
may as neatly stop as start the dance.
The creature looks at me expectantly:
I want to think I see its gaze
is touched with some wise quiet irony
beyond all blaming and all praise.
The large bald man, remembering,
forgets his glass of wine.
Your family’s long gone.
Are you the way they carry on?
Their aptitudes, inaptitudes – the parts
that promulgate their hearts
in you – in all their different ways –
have they become what frays
and weighs against your free autonomy?
Are you the final fruit, or the entire dying tree?
A dream escaped again.
Whatever it had just devolved into the mixing and the draining of –
whirling bits of algebra, illicit lust and grandma’s withheld love –
it seemed, according to its ever-unknown scheme,
to have achieved whatever it decided it should do –
quick-slipped and slicked right out of you
wherever dreams go on.
One wonders if they also undergo the dusk, deep night and dawn
they make us voyage through.
Perhaps they are a cosmic psychical contagion
passing through: infecting us
with blurry hope and rue.
Perhaps they are a kind of glue.
Perhaps without them we’d evaporate from view.
Rather like they do.
Sitting, strangely pleased with his cacophony –
as if he were the product of a sneeze –
a god’s divine, unplanned, unpalatable allergy –
a rank mistaken circumstance, unmeant
and irredeemable, but here – he found
within his weirdly colored random angles
more than ample reason to feel cheer: to be
complex without significance was almost sweet.
This Existence thing might be a treat.
Another human face
amalgamated in today
to place its yellow, pink
and black voluminousness
into white unheeding
space in front of me.
I never ask for anything
I get. But I don’t fret –
I have the prize, no matter
how disturbing are its
contours or its colors
or its size – or if it has,
like this one, more than
usually pensive inexplicably
tormented eyes: as if
it thinks I might decode,
define the strangeness
in its carnival disguise.
I hate to have to tell
this pink, black, yellow
man I never can.
Cosmos equals panic –
broken, badly reapportioned
sets of limbs and torsos,
savagely undone by sun:
color is too brutal
to be undergone. Everyone’s
an imminence, a bomb –
outfitted peculiarly –
that charge your old
and make it tremble, bulge
and steam like hell.
Someone rang the bell.
Throw the towel in.
Open up a crack. Blow
a little agency into the hole
in you and see if anything
comes back. Nothing
stops. Call the cops.
There are no cops.
She ministers to shimmering unlikelihoods,
persuading them to congregate and conjugate and play –
she gathers all-but-slaughtered colors so abused
by notions of il faut they’d long ago forgotten where to go –
she gives the great grand quantity of the ejected
some experience, not of the stodgy condescension
of respect, but of the gladder gallantry of no-holds-barred
affection – baking in the sexual contextual
expression of Imagination’s oven: seducing,
just by introducing any rank unpalatability to any other –
to permit another coalesced impossibility a swooning
entrance to the coven which, as witch, she rules.
She remonstrates against unquestioned tastes
and vindicates most fools. She wears embarrassments
like jewels. I’d like to let her loose in schools.
Sorrows bright as circuses
came up today in pieces.
Shards of feeling
in a reeling thesis –
whose premise seemed to be
that agony arises stained
with random beauties
that the heart has rained
upon it: nothing isn’t
meets the eye.
All day naughty adjectives come by!
Makes me want to cry.
“Let me show you how I’d modify –
believe me, sweetz, I qualify,”
one simpered, aiming each blue-shadowed eye
straight at the spots it knew I craved to satisfy:
the swelling blankness that afflicts my
bare nouns, naked predicates. “Add an L-Y,
honey, and I’ll be an adverb – on the sly.”
Eyed my fly. Naughty adjectives aren't shy.
Let nothing be what it had been
except when otherwise it would have had to be
what it could not have been had it been
otherwise. Do not surmise! Excise
the least impediment to understanding that which
once may have been understood
beyond the intercession of the understanding
of the thing which had obtained
before you started.
Tons and tons
of things to do!
and Fung Ku!
Egg Yung Foo!
Tons and tons
of things to do!
I blinked – and saw four
naked thoughts rush round
in flushed pursuit – to chase?
no – to escape and to erase
wherever they’d just been
as if for me to find whatever
they had trafficked in
would constitute such
monstrous sin that none of us
could possibly survive.
And then I blinked again
and they were gone – had
dived back to that packed
impenetrable dawn where
thoughts put their alarming
and transparent raiment on.
Next time you feel the urge to get up out of bed,
turn on the light, and sing, go ahead and do the thing.
Behind you, find your secret Uncle Otto, impresario! –
hungry for the chance! – song-and-dance-man
invoked to stoke you up
to boogie down: the clown who cannot wait
to set you prancing through the gate:
feel him imploring in back of you,
to crack it open, crank it up –
kick your doubt and wail it out,
whack it – with a wide vibrato.
Do it till you’re blotto.
Say good night to Uncle Otto.
Every moment is eternity,
a spot-lit instant on the podium,
a chance to seize the opportunity
to rail against the dark opprobrium
Even when it is a blitz,
Life is dear.
So what if nothing fits.
Life sits waiting
like a date
met in a chat room
on the Internet –
zaftig and opinionated,
as lead: a hook-up
whom you have to
take to bed.
Groggily ascending from a lengthy dive,
the man in you arrived today, sooty
from the smoke of the decay of your
complacency: at last released to play
in all his dangerously blue and gold array
of blunt virility. Grumpy, half-awake –
an awkward infacility – pissed at having
been ignored – he’s bored up into you:
you gasp and blink: he is the stink
of the commencement of the primal day,
with its insistence you’re alive. Be vigilant:
the man in you decided to arrive.
The spirits of unequal love
(one from below, one from above)
came down and up to me today,
entwined their warring chocolate,
strawberry flavors in a calm
complacent sort of way, resigned
to the design of their unpalatable
bond. One remembered one of them
had once desired the other more,
but neither could recall who’d played
that dreary bore. But here they
are again, much as before.
You never plan to wrangle
with yourself but sometimes
speculation strangles in your
internecine mesh of cognitive
equations and subordinating
doubts and soon you find
you lack the barest clue about
how to pursue what you had
started out by thinking you
should do, where you should
go. You rather like the tango
with the tangle, though.
She had alarming predilections: finger-painted
walls in fuller lurid tints than even her peculiar skin
evinced, with its disturbing range of violets and pinks
and blues: she was a grand mélange of coalescing
perturbations, swarming hues: visited by strangers,
labeled strumpet, grew her hair into a trumpet into which
entire souls divulged their vagrant fears: her hidden ear
took in the whole of everything: she was the creature
to confess to – to profess to – to lay out the spread,
and picnic on it with you until both of you were fed.
Let me take a soft extended moment
to alert you that the next time
you wake up and cannot quite imagine
how to talk or otherwise engage
in human intercourse of any kind,
expect to find me peering into your
and thinking it the sweetest thing.
Just sit there like a pudding while I sing.
Strange to have to make it up again,
all over, every day. Summon it from
your elaborate collaborative core:
conjugate its tensions into sense, coax
it to warm form, coalescing out of all
the jabber and the lore, sired from
desire, thick resistance to desire –
gathering what conscious strands
you can into at least the simulacrum
of a man: breathing it to sentience –
enough to get it to the bathroom, make it
pee and shave and shower and put
contact lenses in to see what manner
of a power in the mirror might today be
looking back at it. Strange to have to face
the lack in it, and steer its apparatus
towards the door, hoping that today it
might get more of what it’s hungry for.
He had to push his ardor harder,
risk extinguishing the pulse –
certain that the light of the exertion
would exhilarate. Surely there’d be
something so inimitably glorious
about effecting such a tumult,
such a burning, such a chaos,
such a spill. So what if it would kill.
Blue seeks boudoirs to beleaguer:
today, in one, it found the loveliest
mulberry-colored easy chair upon
which, backwards, it could drape its
azure indolence, turquoise despair:
it likes the way this boudoir’s filmy
pastel curtains frame its pestilence:
waits for sweethearts to return so
it can make them spurn each other:
loves pretty rooms to spread
a gloomy view. Wouldn’t you?
Sprouting slowly up in browns, dull greens
and blues and purples, stricken by
a sudden superfluity of hopelessness,
your own dark case – some base experiment
your mind had thought to wield upon itself –
from which the whole of you now can’t retreat –
odd! – goosed, released into the atmosphere
by joy – wherein you had remembered
how he’d run across a loud Manhattan street
all goofy-limbed and toothy, roaring,
soaring awkwardly when he was probably eleven,
ten – a boy: and how this vast deliciousness
had proved he’d really lived. And how
the memory had severed, sieved from
its progenitor, long dead, into the head
of someone – you – who now remembered
for him – echoing, vicarious, alone. One brother
breathes, another died. Slippery, this silent ride:
to languish in this anguish, take its measure.
The greatest secret is the pleasure.