Memory XXV

Memory XXV
times are, when the pissed and flushed out old hipster
crankster, danceinthehall man, snorts and snoozes
asleeping, tries not to recall about all those cliff-edges
precipices dancing intime to the tripping undercurrent
riptides of sad music that quiver his underbelly
stomach, filled with lead by the evil mortician
physician to “protect from those spying eyes
retinas jellied and candied over, prying
wrenching open his secrets with high-tech”
tock. tock. the clock is grinning and the sun is down
falling, inquiring about the lead-belly, the lead-girdle
belt to hold his trousers up,
“Lead-Belly, Lead-Belly: where have you gone?
I have your trousers, please put them on!”
off the rockets, awake he swirls gold vermouth and gin
crystal-poison clinking, making a hurrlycane
tornado, it’s rough as nails, sharp as clams, rusty
red-iron. he doesn’t feel alive unless he’s bleeding inside.
internal dilemmas, coughcough, he doesn’t feel vim
vigour unless he’s brooding about mrs.
ball-and-chain’s been choking new thoughts
neurochemickals raging inside. the dj puts on a record
vinyl spins and crackles: L-B taps his foot upon the floor
wood pounding meets his ‘loafers as he slides
slips to the heart of that empty pulsing
beating and musical core,
“Lead-Belly, Lead-Belly: why do you cry?
“It’s not the end; we’re all gonna die!”
life parks its fat-rump in the corner, gonna stay
linger just a moment more, wink at this goat-song
sad-faced waitress is the only one who sees
high-techs from the corner the dancer’s secrets
mysteries abound in the out-flung arms, the twisting
whirling feet and the glittering disco ball
orb’s been splintering light for all of all of time
***
Sometimes, there are conspiracies everywhere you look. Other times, it’s just people wanting to party. When I was young, I was pretty concerned about getting old, and what that meant, and who I was. Now that I’m a bit older, I don’t really fret about it. Kind of the least of my worries, these days.

Memory XXIV

Memory XXIV

wheeeeee
cries that man
he cries
on the sidewalk
pigeons putting around and around
feather stench
these old buildings fly up and up and up
what’s that?
a glimmer of sun?
nah, that’s just a dirty old street lamp
it’s on by day
off by night
the wicked old man has rabies
or dysentery
or leprosy
whatever he has, people stay away
a little girl points
he tugs on his whiskers
blinks
she cries and grabs her mommy’s leg
the wicked old man speaks
he says “harumph tubbly tubbly”
no one understands
no one is close enough to hear
he has one dirty shoe
the sole is missing
he fills his shoe with newspaper clippings
sometimes he reads his sole
today his sole says this:
DOWNTOWN CONSUMED IN FIERY INFERNO
he is downtown, downtown is still here
he rips his sole to pieces
he puts the pieces in his mouth
he chews and chews and chews like a wasp
he swallows
he lies down on the curb
he goes to sleep
he has one dream
this is how his one dream goes:

the glitterbug doorway glashes into view and the know which is alternately a duck’s bill and a pink and yellow baseball bat hums as he draws near and his mother’s winking at him and he’s been a bad boy and she has that rolling pin in her hand and her gingham apron on her waist and the sea is blue gingham and he is astride the velveteen ship which plows through the glistening sand and with a siren shriek he tumbles down and down and down and bounces from the bed of nails and three is a clock with purple numbers and cherry-red-painted hands and the hands curl at him as though he’s been naughty and he is tied to a telephone booth that rings and rings and that dear woman sings in the distance and weeping tears wrap around him with their snaky curves and he shuffles his tap shoes on the ground tapping feebly with his hammer on the scattershot roof and a scrawny old cat yawns there arching her back and in a sudden burst of fury he hurls the hammer at the feline and tumbles head over head up up and up into…

***

I don’t even know. :)

Memory XXIII

Memory XXIII

there’s nothing so nice as a shattered glass of mustard on cornflower bread with a yellowing parchment sandwich

***

All that remains of a failed flirtation long ago. I don’t know. There was something about coming up with really interesting sounding sandwiches. I was young. Email seemed exciting. Boy, those were the days!

Memory XXII

Memory XXII

what are we doing on the steppes of Calzara?
what are we playing with our mouths full of daggers?
what are we singing with our hands full of candy?
what are we dancing with our feet all a’buttered?

rusted and cranky, the gears all tumble down
chaff blows all round there and everywhere
someone sneezes in the silo
the windmill’s been tilted

why have we crawled through the loom of the furies?
why have we diced with our teeth crossed with silver?
why have we caroled with our mixed up days?
why have we waltzed with our boots stained with wine?

pushing through the door with a fist for a handle
windless light seeps in the crack at the floor
someone lights a beeswax wick
the temple’s been desecrated

***

That “all a’buttered” kills me. I think I wanted to write something that implied some kind of epic adventure, but didn’t go so far as to say it. Apart from a couple lines, I think this one did that pretty well.

Memory XXI

Memory XXI

the mirror’s been sitting in my room for ages
“shatter it, shatter it!” I ignore the darker voice
we two struggle and strive and fight and kick
for this mirror, this symbol of failure
that I didn’t want to begin with
“It’s more mine than hers”
I didn’t beg for it, plead for it, grovel for it
yet, here it is, on our doorstep
looming woodenly in the sore place
that heartbaked musty memoir
yet we can’t rid ourselves of this memento
fucking postage is too high to send it back where it belongs…

***

I had this mirror I couldn’t get rid of for a long time, because how do you get rid of a mirror? I finally managed it though.

Memory XIX(a)

Memory XIX(a)

…and she made some grandiloquent remark:
Coelacanth in the Mediterranean?
Ducks with bright copper rings tight around their necks.
They can’t swallow the fish they catch
diving from skows in the Indian or Asian sea.
They can’t eat, poor ducks, but for the very smallest of morsels,
but just you wait, you ducks, just you wait!
Soon when no one is looking, I will give you teeth!
Teeth to chew the fish into the very smallest of morsels!
Teeth to bite the hand! To bite back for freedom from tyranny
for democracy, for a full meal!
Soon those skows and dinghys and schooners and whatnot will be yours!
And toothed ducks will sail the Seven Seas.
There will be terror upon the face of the deep.
Ducks with teeth will resurrect the spectre of communism!
Skulls-and-bones will snap once more in the wind.

***

I do remember this was a chunk of XIX that I liked well enough to keep, but didn’t fit there. These ducks are based on a children’s book I read when I was a kid. That stuck with me, I guess!

Memory XIX

Memory XIX

so I was marlonbrandoing down the street,
in that way that he did—he doesn’t now.
there was a guy, a dingbat guy, who thought he could put a stop to it.
put a stop to my great mashing-hashing-blood-thumper.
thought he could put a slice in this strutting body o’ mine.
put a stop to his instead.

in her bloodblood silk dress that whisked and curled around
her body’s self like a delirious onion skin and glimpses—
buoys in the fog with their clanging bells and their quivering,
their flights of seagulls and winking, grinning otters—
scatters of her rose and sank from view and her breasts were round,
her hips were round and her eyes
were round and her lips were round
and her knocking knees were square as boxes.
that’s a geometrickal woman for you, I breathed, and the air
rose out from my lips in a great fog to conceal her from view:
I held my breath.

a loud air it was, and I—I with the broken-down hat and the
soiled-up shoes, the green-hornet pants and the garingaloo—
misperceived the truth of things, that dainty fulsome stuff
deceptified my eyes. my tongue sliced the basin of her neck:
she tasted of cinnabob and limisch and ochrey.
I stroked the twirling air around her ear with all my whispers
then—marlonbrandoing—in spite of myself,
because of myself, ripped the chain of pearls from her neck
and shoved her to the curb.
as her green mascara puddled down her face,
her boxy knees tommyknocking together,
I marlonbrandoed away, leaving her to read
yesterday’s newspaper in the gutter.

only,
she called my name:
I spun to find her long eyes blinking inches from my face…
green lines of sorrow stamped beneath her lids
and a wicked glint in her cheeks.
grabbing my ears with both her hands
she pressed her full lips and her body full to mine.
my heart betrayed me then, pearls scattered on the ground
and my green knees puddled to join them there.
She danced away forever.
I never saw her again.

that’s how I got them,
these scars that crawl dark below my eyes.

***

I’ve always been fond of this one, although now I think the tonal shift toward the end is kind of jarring. I do like turning people’s names into verbs.

Memory XVII

Memory XVII

A sweet smell of dying flesh stops us at the door.
It seems to be coming from the linen closet, but we’re not
fooled at all. Not at all. The flowers droop.

Some of us whimper at the sound of you, whirring
and sucking, curled and old in your hospital bed,
tubes and catheters and IVs running into you.

Not even chemo will keep you forever. We’re not one
to hold a grudge, after all, we were only small when
you hurt us so. Our wounds have scarred nicely.

But none of us are surprised to see these three
witches perched, hovering over your bed. After all,
it’s not like we’re concerned with your eternal soul…

The youngest of the three with bloody hands holds
a cup of water to your sucking lips; her job was finished
long ago. The spindle lies glittering in her lap.

We can barely see her as she whispers, dark
braid swaying, the story of your birth into your hungry
withered ears. We can hear your breath catch.

The second is round as life, and her tapestry is
so long that it rolls out the door. Some of us stumbled
crossing its folds and tangles on the way in.

She peers deeply into its swathes of color, thin
fingers unravel a worn grey thread from the rich
tangle of future threads. It hums in her fingers.

We see the second look long lastingly at you
as she hands her strand of grey thread from across
her loom to the crone with silver hairs upon her chin,

who is cackling over black basalt blades, crouching there
grim and furious, oh-so-ready to snip at the last
the very last inch of thread; unless she’s trying

to decide when to snip, which shuddering breath to cut
short. Moon drops are sliding from our eyes,
we promise. Feel the slime of our eyes upon your cheek,

and rejoice at our devotion. For you are no legend,
no Arthur to be shuffled off by three bright queens to Avalon.
There’s no return for you once the thread’s been cut.

Even we could decide the hour of your end.
See this length of electrical cord, plunging deep
into grids of power: one swift yank and you’re dead.

All we’re saying: if someone gave this line
a tender yank, a loving pull, a flirting tug
your dainty heart-contraption would go all sputtery,

just another broken cog in your old fleshpot.
But we’re not so unkind. We love you yet. We love
your withered and drying face, love your raspy

breathing, love your spittled lips and memories of you.
But we promise: when those witching shadows of all-night
crowd around unbroken and leave you gibbering

as you name each and every ghoul, we promise,
then you shall be utterly and truly alone.
our squeaky toys and sharp balloons and buckets

bright of daisies and pansies and violets
will all desert you. These neon or lackadaisical
lights aren’t so flattering: your face’s like pasty dough

marmalade or old sea chalk. You don’t have any fishing left in you.
Those old scissors are scraping back for a final cut,
screeching and we press our hands tight against our ears.

Oh, and now the old hag’s laughing:
those clunky slicing terminal scissors are closing
cutting close your last breath-hoard.

Quick! catch it fast in your sack—forget the hag:
she’s already wandering, wonders where her next child’s
gonna be, sawing air with blushing blades—don’t sigh.

Keep the last breath safe and soft in ashes and dust.

***

Huh. Wow. I guess I was pretty angry when I was younger.

 

Memory XVI

Memory XVI

glittering sausages are gloating through my dreams
my nightmare cites are built of glittering sausages
and sausage people: sausage men and sausage women
catch sausage taxis on the crowded sausage streets

they shout sausage words and betray their sausage meanings.
all the sausage phrases seem scripted by committees
of scratching sausage writers: pale with sausage fluorescence
as they strive for dramatic or comedic sausage.

sausage stage directions dribble off the page and sausage
thespians recite their sausage lines and drum the
sausage boards with huge bulbous sausage feet
while hunched sausage techies scurry

and cinema projectors are throwing huge sausage
images into stark relief onto pale silver sausage screens:
hushed sausage audiences inhale large pails of
sausage popcorn and red strands of sausage licorice.

***

I have no idea why sausages would be gloating, but I’m kind of glad they are. I’m a vegetarian now, so maybe I was just working through some stuff. I’ve noticed that I was playing around a lot with what happens to words when you repeat them a lot. I’m glad I worked through that particular phase. Still, I think a city of sausage-y things is pretty funny.