POE GIRL

On a train bound for a sanatorium
in some Ozark backwater you meet Poe Girl.

Pale, statuesque, her black onyx eyes
luminous as the key to the numinous door

to a dollhouse lousy with creepers, she’s distilling
a novel from her voluminous diary.

You invoke the person from Porlock to derail
her train of thought, the snailtrail purling eerie

theories in her ear. Severed hands
massage her to liquefaction & then crawl

away, fandango de mort of albino spiders
in Chinese-violet kliegshine. Poe Girl plays

in a dead-letter cemetery, her sparkler
cutting arabesques in the dark, illumining

the tusks. She sits on a stoop–the deck of a sloop–
to brood, to smoke Luckies. Her lipstick nooses

the filter. She rolls her kohl-rimmed eyes inward
to scrutinize her soul. She leads a secluded

life of shoegazing among graveyard monuments,
marble statues looming over her, lucent,

ensouled. They entrust her with riprap encrusted
with barnacles. Swathed in snazzy, battleship-grey

regalia, Poe Girl rappels down the petroglyph
on the sheer rockface, presaging the squeegeeing of

a calculator window. The lid laps
the shore of the eye. The sloop heaves to alongside

a hoodoo of blue flame; the hoodoo’s shadow
slowly lengthens across the street–a seam

running up the back of Poe Girl’s stocking,
the slipstream of a kite on a Dionysian voyage,

yawing & swooping just for kicks, with interludes
of tranquility spent sitting in a greasy spoon

on the outskirts of town, watching the nocturnal
passersby like Poe in “The Man of the Crowd.”

The jangle of leper-bells tells you the sideshow geeks
are approaching, funk-guns drawn, itching to zap

the patrons breakfasting on atrocities.
The waitress, a tattooed Poe Girl, pours them industrial-

strength coffee brewed from ground zeroes. She pours
acid on your placidity: you flake

out, flamethrower the carcass of a boozehound
chloroformed by a killing jar, jump off

a butte, hover in the grey void, the primordial
beeswax. Below, the covert is agape

to be fed a brace of Poe Girls, both of them
plumbing your soul, ethereal, empathic, solicitous

to assuage your suffering at being separated
from God. You glide gyrfalconback through the dark

night of the soul, scavenging stars. Yahrzeit candles
burgeon on your hatbrim; by their ineffable

radiance you watch with lowering gaze as carrion
in a ditch is gradually scavenged away, as a marginal note

in a library book is gradually effaced.
The pelican cadges cash, stashes it in his beak.

When inanition creeps over Poe Girl, she
beseeks the thunderheads to disgorge their loot

like one-armed bandits. She drops a cruzado in
the suckpool, shies a cat’s eye at the cauldron;

you drop a comet with one snipeshot, snapshoot
Poe Girl slipping out of a gold lamé dress.

You douse her body in the cacophony of crows.
A wave of feedback from triple Marshall stacks

coagulates into a screen for black-&-white horror flicks.
You & Poe Girl coalesce, a collage

like “Revolution 9,” which percolates
from a transistor radio you often toss in bathtubs

to electrocute the bather. “Hello, this is
Dr. Drayhorse. I’m not in right now,

but if you leave your spouse & children, I’ll
get back to you as soon as I extricate

myself from this iron maiden.” BEEP.

BACKMASKING

Often I fear I’m flipping out–secreting
black, becoming a slot machine with a jackpot
of inkblots. Où sont les étoiles pornographiques
d’antan? Their Manson-girl hair & Alabama-
crimson lips? Some are hatcheck girls,
some are witches rasping The Lord’s Prayer
backwards. I play the room backwards: it becomes
a moor. Two eggs sunny-side up blaze through
a passing Gothic-arched window in the fog:
eternally their affectless gaze impales me
like twin stalagmites. A severed head like a Droste tin:
the pupils of its eyes are severed heads;
the pupils of the eyes in those severed heads
are severed heads; & so on ad infinitum.
The eyes have it on good authority that
the skyscrapers have metamorphosed into eelgrass
on the far shore, where everybody’s Wang Chunging;
the bay is amplifying the revelry
of spectral horses maned with oil-slick blazes.
I slough off my slicker like a snake, stand naked,
afraid of discovering a blood-sucking dick in my armpit,
like Marilyn Chambers in Rabid. Moonlight melts
away the roof of the poolhall; swathed in antediluvian
feather boas, the pantywaists dally among
the gramophones embroidered in scarlet thread
on black damask. Sniffing bluegrass licks,
I no longer longed to join The Society of Fiends;
naturally, it was then that they finally admitted me
to their esoteric cult. We dug deep,
dug until we scotched the motherlode.
The bones of hippies slithered out of the ossuary;
articulated, they’re a skeleton on
a leave of presence, stalking me from afar,
nursing a hatred for my morbid self-scrutiny
as I trek from station to boarded-up gas station
of the Cross, hitch a ride on a prairie schooner
full of dromomaniacs that cuts through
the accordion-pleated fog, drifts into the hinterland,
a supernal realm of Beauty. We pull into
a drive-in theater, watch the lotus-eater’s
dream: the door of a stall in a bus station toilet
opens on a parallel universe.

When my matter upper lip smacks my antimatter
nether, an inexorable force impels me
toward the brink of the precipice. “Don’t Fear The Reaper”
always conjures up a scene in Halloween:
Nancy Loomis & Jamie Lee Curtis doing
Mary Warner–the gateway getaway–
in a catsup-colored Monte Carlo. Threading
a tuning-fork of bellbottom creeks, I moult
my zoot suit; mouldering in Saint-Lazare with the African-
masked whores, I crave a cheeseburger & French fries
in a red plastic basket–the wound we wound
up in like funnies flapping amid flotsam.
I’m just augmenting the whale dreck on the deck
of society, a misanthrope drifting into self-
induced doldrums, drinking Night Train Express
from a brown paper bag, dreaming of a slit
emitting silt. Every grave should have a zipper–
the fly on the jacket of Sticky Fingers–to facilitate
exhumation. You lick the back of your face,
stick it to the corner of the full-length mirror
like a stamp; therefore, if a sealed envelope
near your lips opens, you’re alive.

Slinkies handspring out of my tear ducts.
I seek comfort in the society of shrieking eagles;
they constellate in the hickory like words
on cigarette paper. Exegete them thus:
“You need an overdose of waking pills
in order to give birth to yourself.”

THE SAND DANCING OF WALKIE TALKIES

In the crucible of melancholy I listened
to Sinatra’s In the Wee Small Hours,
to the nightlong ululating of foghorns,
revving of wolf spiders. To the acrid cockcrow.

I wanted to burn down my past, that mosaic
of soul-destroying jobs. A shenanigator
tendered some tinder.

Yet even at my lowest ebb
I clung to the quixotic belief
that I could write poetry, that I could be a conduit
for energies from the abyss of the junk drawer.
I found solace in the thought of Chicago-
overcoated gangsters on a riverbed.

The leaves that parasoled us now lie
bedraggled on the pavement: we can see
the jackstraw moon, bootleg a cassette
of its jackal laughs, cris de coeur.
If a kaleidoscope of butterflies
flutters out of a saxophone, graft
horse heads onto them: they’ll stampede
on & on, seamless segue from dream
to seeming dream of a carousal
around a carousel, a traum of floating
in voluptuous languor on a sliding pool
of India ink: the shadow of a cloud.

The purveyor of philters was nightsticked
by hiphop; he came to in a Black Maria
that reeked like Mother Night’s chlamydial cunt,
irreconcilably divergent philosophies
percolating through his mind. Cocooned
in a cool room he’s in telepathic collusion
with a runaway whale navigating the junkyard,
emanating a corona of joie de vivre.
Meanwhile the grave-cravers commandeer
a haunted cloakroom: when a disembodied voice
declaims, a badlands scrim
drops, interposing itself between
us & the compassion-filled syringes
squirting on all sentient beings.

I can’t pick your lice unless you doff your hoodie.
I can’t caress you if you flee me down a windswept
street of bars, all of them called The Blue Parrot,
if you run a gauntlet of ephemeral dives that is
metamorphosing into a chain of paper dolls,
all of them angel-possessed, stark raving sane.

I wish you ill, my benevolence mislaid;
I see its nuclear shadow on the peg-board
in the garage. The factotum with the tree-top hairdo
conducts us by a circuitous route
to the rummage sale, where I find an old-timey phone.
I fingerfuck the rotary dial: the graveyard angels
turn black as a murder of crows.

The rift in the tombstone rives the epitaph.
Rend the veil, shuck the husk to reveal
the recurring dreamscape: a mélange of cities
through which you spoor the funky-smelling guy
to his tryst with Kali, four-armed waitress at
The International House of Pantoums, which is
mobbed with nighthawks packing knuckledusters
& zombie knives, invoking dead poets
with whom they feel a soul-affinity,
steeped in their word-hoards.

I’ve been dying of an insidious disease
since without-beginning. My only desideratum
is oblivion, to lie down on lush grass & doze
off to the sand dancing of walkie talkies.

When the sloe eye’s gaze
fascinated me I sent it careening
like a poolball into the gloaming.

If a blink is bookended by a pair of stares,
lightning is literate.


DREE YOUR WEIRD

“Why you–” she said, her nostrils flaring–cavernous
nostrils with which she hoovered transatlantic
cables of cocaine. Horse nostrils

that gained her passage through every checkpoint charlie.
Her wrists were razor-scarred, her arms
sleeved with peregrine tattoos. Her shock

of undersea weed hair luminesced
with a dream of cat-furred birds wheeling in the sky,
taking a malign interest in the diamondbacks

she secreted in an illimitable pocket.
When she says “I” she means not herself
but a supposed person–a gangster’s sleek moll, say,

a woman who freaks when she sees a spider, a woman
suffused with shock, with the gangrene of emotional
numbness. But when I say “I” I mean

me–just me & my shadow
racked by premonitions of death, out of
pocket, marooned on a traffic island, fracking

poetry from the shale of dreams in which, Big Brother
knows, I fail to conform to the prevailing mores.
My tribe’s totem is a crab; therefore, I can never

kill or eat a crab. I can’t even scratch
my bush when I get the crabs. I drag my face
across the window-glass; its luminosity

betokens a benevolent mind; it solemnly
intones a mantra over & over; I’m
transported with rapture at the infinite

regress, fractals mossed with frost. “Gorl,
jew mossed geeve me” the deadbolt swathing your neck;
stubbed cigarettes, cloudy coffee are profound

questions you no sooner propound than they
dissolve like communion quarters on the jukebox’s
tongue. At the crossroads dive I fly my freak flag,

limn my Blakean visions of a transcendent
reality, join Artaud in shitting on
the isms of our time. My interlocutors

snivel over maudlin melodies. I dree
my weird: it impels me to abdicate the toilet,
to run the gauntlet of carny barkers spieling

through megaphones, to catch out on a boxcar
numinous as a grotto. Like a pool ball
I scud to the pocket. All the dour moilers

take me for a bindlestiff, but the world is my
vast demesne; I reconnoiter it
with periscope eyes. I drink with winos, not to

placate my demons but to expand my inner
amplitude–though there is no inner or outer,
since everything is connected to everything else,

since the universe is One–is God.
God is not some celestial puppeteer.
I subsist on blimp-sized bees; they buzz in the sun,

sundered from the lovely shipwreck, the oscillating
blur I expunge the better to see
my coterie of hunchbacks dive en masse

into a cup of coffee–a dark theater
where a punk band is improvising a frenzied fantasia.
Scouring a junk shop for 45s

the vinyl freak found a mirror-written message:
“YOU’RE FUCKED.” & later that day
he died–was kite-surfing when a cat’s paw

batted him into a spinning wind-turbine.
A freak accident, apparently. After which
a menagerie of waxworks battened on him.

After which he was beatified, dream-transmuted
into the object of your ineffable longing:
a riding crop of blackstrap molasses.

A chthonic freak with a .45 blasts
windows out of an abandoned factory,
Glocks the peacock filigree, the coursing

creeks, the undulating scars, the snakes
slithering around the skulls of the long-departed.
He shoals with the other freaks, habitués

of a pissoir that’s really a Star Trek transporter:
it beams you to a city steeped in desuetude,
an abandoned, sketchy subway station. Is

the entropy I see everywhere just a projection
of my vexed interiority? Or is it really
time for us to face the mucus? Snot

for me to say. The steeple swayed, absorbing
rain like suede, the REMs of a
cyclopic eye. The Maltese foundered in

a black-&-white dream of being freaked with jet
like a zebra French bulldog. Gloom shot through
with exultation, pockets of bliss in misery.

We should consider every day lost on which
we haven’t frugged wearing a strap-on cock–
a marble cock hammered off a Greek statue,

burgled from the Vatican.

RAINY DAY LANDLADY

Only fiascos could be made from this sand, but the dolphin madrigal is sublime. The surf recedes to disclose curios–quarks you cobble together to create the medina I wander, earwig lost in a labyrinthine ear canal. Beloved, my Piper hand plies your tarmac thigh. You rove the desolate moors with Emily Brontë’s dog, contemplating the curious sublimity of being fucked with a pearl-handled revolver, preferably in a haunted greenhouse. Moby Dick attacks the Pequod–whacks her with a rusty bike chain. A dark romance with a flagellant imbues everything with obscure portent. Bees nest in our deepening eyebags. Roil the sediment of nostalgic memories: soon my thoughts are turbid with B-sides, B-movies, muzzy mid-70s flicks that induce a mood as dark as dirty bongwater. Filter my thoughts through an alembic. Engorged with black bile I’m sucked into the maelstrom of the bacchanal. Sundays people go to church; Moondays should be for revelry. O ascetic reverist, an American Spirit would spur your dopamine to a lope; a rainy day woman would tuft you with tusks. I love wildly tangential poetry. I love to play slide rainbow with Hendrix’s Zippo: crash-test dummies dance as to strident music striding from a dead-cat accordion. Like a cat I creep off by myself; soon I’m lost in the rorschach, maundering with haunted eyes, rooting around in dumpsters. I find my deepest self with a dissecting scalpel; it levitates & glides away, a luminous blue hitodama. A pareidoliac, I see faces in the moon–that of the Electric Landlady extolling the submissive paradigm, crayoning migrating flocks of crayfish on old vellum with a selvedge of char. I’m charmed by shards of darkness racing helter-skelter into space, blackscatter in a sky where owl kites scowl down on a town bristling with derelict buildings. A black Clockwork Orange derby drifts, windborne, from the blacksmith hammering Black Forest cake to the herd of kettles grazing on a lake. At the Wailing Wall grackles cackle: pour a swirl glass of the Green Fairy for every lover of the sensual. Victorian hippies put loon pants on the legs of pianos. The root of all suffering is failure to apprehend your at-oneness with the universe. Snip the hawsers & the clippership is free, incandescent with joy. A wave of ecstasy surges through me when I see a sleeping dragon of demonstrators up-rising & down-falling on dragonfly wings. Veins mullion the wings into quarrels through which I see jackals scavenging in the rain. The tears of lugubrious clouds efface what is chalked on the Wailing Wall, gobbledygook about the dialectical tension between loving & loathing; now you have a tabula rasa. Doubt propels faith the way asterisks spur a sentence to a gallop–or, failing that, the ponderous gait of an armadillo bound for crepuscular solitude. Nimbused with oilskin-yellow construction paper, the skull soliloquizes into the void, divining the future. A buzzard is brooding a clutch of liquid-paper clouds for aeromantic purposes. She keeps noodging me to kill her in some gruesome way–says she wants to be shorn of her head by a wreckingball. Says her head keeps wearing a black velvet Mad Hatter hat adorned with wildebeest horns. Says her head keeps hallucinating aerial circuses, subterranean rainbows. Says her head’s full of ideas as tenuous as the main drag zigzagging through a ghost town, dead-ending at a vast lichen tundra.

PETRICHOR

What a night for a nightdream.
What a day for smelting poetry from a sweven
& consigning the dross to the slagheap.
The junkyard is a shooting gallery: junkies
hunker around an unhinged door like hominids
around the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Maybe they’ll evolve, avoid their poignant fate.
What a day for presentiments of pinpricks
in a carbon-paper sky; they linger
in your mind like tape-looping strains of song.
What a night for a sepulchral voice to foretell
the future: a binary decision will lower
a candy-striped guard arm, closing a road.
Fog occludes gallery after gallery
gouged out by giant carpenter ants.
In the closet, in the thick funk, your shoes
queue; your clothes phosphoresce with yearning
to cling to you, to lick your keloids.
If they take umbrage from a rain cloud,
placate them with a more capacious closet.
We’re always redefining the fence to encompass
more acreage, but never planting anything.
We yearn to meander along a river
on which rain is sowing wild Os;
we yearn to be X-ed out by cracks in the sidewalk,
to be free to smoke wacky backy
& write inscrutable poetry, to sluther
across an idyllic seascape wearing crimson
bowler hats until the fog of sadness
rolls in to engulf us. What a night for Monty
Clift to slip us his cache of Vicodin:
soon we’ll feel euphoric enough to hang
upside-down with the bats in the woodstove.
The hermetically sealed room is close; open
the window, admit the hiss of diesels passing
on the rain-slick freeway. Sniff the petrichor:
it gives you a buzz– the sitar-like open-string
buzz of an electric guitar. I’ve smoked a spliff
or two, yeah, but I’ve committed no
inexpiable sins. Yearning to see Eternity
through the dome of many-colored glass
I ordered X-ray specs from a comic book ad.
What a day for brain-grey clouds to rain
ben day dots the size of ben wa balls.
You were extrapolating from the particular
to the general when I disembarked from your
train of thought to burn down a steeple as long as
a letter of provenance for the Maltese Falcon
& scatter the cremains on the cold glow
of a phosphorescent river. Rain
stippled the sidewalk: fearing a flash flood
I dashed into a chicken coop–thereby
opening the vein of bucolic nostalgia running
through my poetry. The lode lowed. Monty
was improbably portraying a backwoodsman
who spears salmon in the falls with a steeple.
Socks cured in the smokedrawer. What a night
for the poems I’ve been incubating to hatch,
open their eyes, & discern their true identity:
they’re sunflowers increasing in wisdom & stature.
When rain whispers the ineffable–rifles through
onionskin pages–my sunflowers bow their heads
as though praying. What a day for a divine mandate
to appear on the touchscreen: HEIST THE FRENCH PASTRIES
lest they soar like condors, sounding the profundity
of the sky. I don’t so much believe in religions
as yearn for their beauty–for incense
& insensibility 69-ing, rolling like a Ferris wheel
out to the old farm house. The old airedale
lazes on the swayback porch; inside, Monty
is playing a desEsseintes-like recluse who
revels in obscure poetry & recondite
knowledge. Open secrets, closed exoterica.
He whirls like a Sufi until a monster spawned
by radiation cracks his skull open
with a nightstick, grabs him by the scruff of the neck,
& hurls him in the Black Maria. He scratches
his itchy stitches until he reopens the wound.
Winters, when the garden is a moonscape,
poinsettias & carnations lure hummingbirds
to the Sea of Nectar. What a day
for a brackish fragrance to waft you back
to the maritime sojourns of childhood; what a night
for flaneuring through air like an astronaut, for incessant
peregrination. The nomad affixes himself
to the top of a butte, pellucid as an inkblot,
sclerotic as a stone angel atop
a tomb in the pitchfork-pronged rain. Monty
was dead; he lay stiff on the floor
amid sniggering bats. The spring lambing
yielded a flock of blackbirds; the door slumbrously
opened on lush greenery engendered
by rain descanting on onyx caves
up north, in an open-bordered country.
A clock-tower sniper with courtly, old-world manners
& an abiding interest in whale blubber
wanders up there in pursuit of troglodytehood.
He gazes through the oculus at cloudcastles
in the cerulean sky. What a day
for a fishwife to hijack your gaze by morphing
into a celestial beauty, a 50s pin-up
clip-clopping on stiletto heels. What a night
for her to recline on a divan, exuding
languid sensuality. The web
creaks like a hardwood floor under the spider’s
tarsussteps; he’s on a pilgrimmage
to the crag in the cooling tea. Riffraff
panhandles in my rearview mirror, though somewhere
in the rainswept desolation a coffer of doubloons

lies mouldering underground.

topsyturvy dom

Topsyturvy Dom

The gravedigger was overwhelmed with pity
for a chained-up dog, a mastiff skinny as a lightbulb

filament, as a cobra coiled in the wicker
basket of loneliness. Left bereft, his boots

stuck to the floor of a movie house, he walked
on his lobster pincers, lolloped across flat, arid

land, lugged a matchboxful of miasma
to a Greyhound depot with a vaulted ceiling.

Staring at the Catherine wheel in a liminal state
I strummed a Dobro to the bump bump WHUMP,

bump bump WHUMP & train-whistle harmonica
of a Neil Young song. O my hydra-headed loneliness

stood on its heads while I navel-gazed, navigated
a cruel world on circus stilts, toppled

into the gutter. Sleeping with trash I levitated,
drifted like sewer stench down a colonnade

of dustdevils to a faraway forest, loblollies
standing on their heads, roots grapneling clouds.

A troupe of lunatics would have dervished into
my lungs had not the shadow of a cloud

absorbed them like sweeping compound, leaving a glassy
sheen as of an unguent, as of Zamboni-

sleeked sleepers on a subway that, mirrored
in its own wake like a ship, appears to be

standing on its head. When you dance on your hands
among gravestones–back boxes of pinball machines–

the abattoir of your brain floods with blood,
the illusions you have about yourself trickle

out of your ears, & your wire-rimmed glasses dive
off the bridge of your nose; when you ride

the carousel of a slide projector round
& round, cruising your nocturnal haunts,

the dark, standing on its head, dazzles like
bejeweled spiders blooming in wild profusion.

A train emblazoned with luminous graffiti
jackknifes, as do I over the typewriter

on which I ghostwrite a column for Harpies Bizarre.
While I sleep an unkindness of black-jacketed,

Ray-Banned guys alights; & a beachcomber
steps out of a mural (fingerpainted in molten

lava) into 3-D, flourishing a dead
clock flecked with sand. When the guillotine

stands on its head, its blade hisses upward;
when I stand on my head my soul goes aloft

on my soles. But if the hiss of a cobra-coiled
radiator could peel off wallpaper, peals

of laughter could depress you into morbid
introspection; & nothing could alleviate

your depression except indulging your ghoulish kink
for being flogged with car-wash straps while you

stand on your head, your long black hair fanned out
on the ceiling of a cathedral–the floor of a skiff

stalled on a trash-clogged ocean.

poem somewhat in homage to Bill Knott

Far off, a ray of light
Spirals like a stairway down which hooded acolytes
Are bearing a virgin to a subterranean altar.

A dagger plunges like a neckline
Into the curtain of iridescence behind which
You’re cloistered in a cave stalagmited with candles.

All lightning-gerrymandered night–blowzy-
Haired, wearing an African mask that makes you
Look like a demoiselle d’Avignon–you juggle

Several psychedelic vans atop the garage.
Jettisoned from that eminence you plunge
Headlong into the chipper, which spews yr soul.

Disembodied you float thru rooms
Bereft of butterflies, flit from fragrance to fragrance,
From the evanescent scent of periwinkle blue

To that of monkeyflower orange–float thru rooms
Where the chain of gypsy moths is stretched so taut
You can rope-walk it. You can read palms, tea dregs,

Searchlight the loons & lepers là-bas
With yr luminary eyes. Thru an old bemossed wall
You can see a deep ditch brimming with mannequin limbs

That combust cats by caressing them in rooms
Where, stricken by The Plague, you see yr face
On an unwanted poster, see yr lips

Loose The Litany, where after rain you open
The shutters to sprouting mushrooms, to a spiral
Galaxy of sunflowers. Syncretic,

The chocolate walrus alchemizes disparate
Oddments into a mosaic. In rooms where you’re
Swathed only in lightning’s incandescence the glass

Bells of funktionslust knell, invoking the de Chirico-
Esque statues who are entranced by yr tattoos.
Far off, Emma Peel’s catsuit languishes

In an abbey; the overcoat whose boardinghouse reach
Exceeds its grasp shackles the incorporeal
Women who smell of cicada song, who don

Poker personae. Far off, a giant woodpecker
Hollows a chopstick in order to sip the elixir
From a cat’s dish; the sphincter is loosened, the weir

Dynamited; the music of a pipe organ
Wafts from a cathedral, snowplows the tarpaper shack
Where I laze in a cigarette haze. The apparition

Of a subterranean starfish bewitches me
In rooms where Muzak vents spew India ink–
Black flashback to a drowned wharf rat from the Dukkha

Funeral Parlor boarding a carnival train
That burrowed into a hermetic dream of eyesockets,
Asylums for spiders. In rooms where we’re safe from the lava

Creeping down the corridor, nothing but a noose
Of cigarette smoke could snap me out of the Circean
Spell of yr morose blue eyes, the gravitational

Pull exerted by yr black-hole pussy as you
Sleepwalk in dishabille in the starlit graveyard
Far off, where airplane hangars unfurl like flowers

Of corrugated steel from which droves of dwarves
Beeline down the freeway, where peepered skulls
People the firmament. After a day of moiling

I creep, torpid, to rooms where I behold
My lady fair thru skydiver-hewn fog,
Where over a cup of sludge I dream up castles

Too resplendent to be humanly wrought. Far off,
Slums beckon me; in rooms where I can crawl
Out the window to a fire escape that zigzags

Down to an alley I sound the depths of my
Unconscious for a low-ebbed memory:
The noise of Hitchcock’s The Birds wafting from

A sewer grating. In rooms where the torpor of tor
Is dunked in embalming fluid I’ll be my next
Incarnation: Eraserhead. Smothered

In the catarrh of otherness I’ll commingle
With burglars who are hoping Night will deal them
A hand of black windows: an empty house.

Nothing will come of nothing, busload
After busload of nothing; “but if the nothing is nothing,”
Heidegger says, “then beings can never founder

In the nothing” as in black milk. Far off,
The overnight bag–the black box from a crashed
Crow–blazes. From rooms where I’m outroduced

To my dotage my mind gallops away with me
On its back thru a winding hall of mirrors
To rooms where I taste music like des Esseintes.

Velvet-tipping tongues toll–steeples
Beseeching me to flee deeper into darkness
With a comet’s tail like the train of a sumptuous cloak,

To zoom into rooms where every objet d’art
Catches hellfire from a match, shines import
Into the meaning of the obsession to which

All my thoughts are circumscribed; sheriff badges
Cartwheel out of the stellar nursery, into
The icehouse where they become malleable.

In rooms where I’m Rolfed by my counterpart
From a parallel world the nuclear coffin leaks
Its radioactive counsel: noose yrself

With a feedback loop in a March-hare-brained room
Shrinking like “The Pit and the Pendulum.” Far off,
The simoom soughs; the Bridge of Sighs bifurcates;

The wine-moist lips of the garbage truck–the nexus
Of compaction–part. Under yr purple tresses
The thoughts coralled in yr skull whinny & stamp…

dark carnival

DARK CARNIVAL

Goodbye.
Forsake yr storied past
& roam the wilderness in seven-league boots.
Ride the simoom to a faraway cathedral.
Send me a sepia postcard.
Zooming past the tollbooths the ‘32 V-8 Ford
Crashes. Cracks web the windshield.
Needing a boutonniere the soliloquist
Trolls for wildflowers. He sidles down a pathway
Unwinding from a spool, snaking thru a field
Past its disuse-by date.
Drops of blood shower from a vein
Like sparks from a train rail,
Are funneled into labyrinthine hallways.
Flow of sap in a kitestring.
Neon wreathe writhing, incising a rainbow
On a headstone the size of a drive-in screen.
Some go with the flow, some without; all
End up sliding down the waterfall.
A truck driver working the graveyard shift
Is haunted by a dream of being back in high school
& realizing he’s naked except for a moonmask,
Which waxes & wanes. Despite his zigzag gashes
A Nehru jacket embraces him like a lover.
Goodbye.
Bodysurf the riptide; ride the sea turtle
Over the dry cleaners on the ocean floor.
Dog-paddle in an abyss of light.
Dream & waking life interlace
Iridescent as nacre; India ink
Oozes from the eyeholes of a mopy mask,
Seeps into The White Angel; monocle zeros
Cruise the tattooed, soon-to-be-holocausted ruins.
Sunflowers sprout from cracks in the pavement.
A lobotomy scar left by a Cheshire stiletto
Was lazing on me when I heard the church bells ring;
They sounded like a muezzin calling from his tower–
Like the cat-purr of seashells,
The murmuration of inchoate chaos,
Nocturnal moans in hotel hallways,
The dulcet tones of rain falling
On a not-unmotionless locomotive
Adorned with cryptic inscriptions.
Then I eked out a living with desultory bodysnatching;
I rifled attics for rare daguerreotypes;
I put electrodes on a bowl of Corn Flakes
& flicked the switch. I cut
Off my hand: it floated like an astronaut
In zero-g; a meandering pathway
Jetted from each fingertip,
Slithered thru skidrow.
Under black streetlights–flared nostrils–
I took a wild ride past fleabags, klaxoning everyone
Out of my way: somebody carouseling
Kaleidoscope-like, suckerpunched by a tumbleweed.
I’m dumbstruck by sea-sucked tits,
Shocked by the high-voltage kisses
Of George Romero zombies on a subway.
Goodbye.
Leave a snailtrail, ooze flummery.
Sleeprove on a serpentine pathway
Where a dead wolverine with crow-pecked eyesockets
Lies. The breakroom vending machine
Lost, fallen thru a sidewalk grating,
Sunken into oblivion like a scuttled
Freighter. A deathray riddles the spinnaker
With holes. A ship with eyelid sails
Drifts on a fathomless pool of blood.
Goodbye,
I have a rendezvous with a witch. We’ll tryst
In a field, under a harvest moon colluding
With sodium streetlights to cauterize alleyways
Shut, to trap fat rats.
The arsonist torches the boarded-up bar,
Slaking his thirst for flames.
Then he jumps on a jacket zipper–
A freight car trundling thru a maze of hallways,
Bound for the doorway to an oneiric world.
Nights when corpses of me besiege the house
I prowl with a cortège of robotic homunculi,
Rove from dark to dark–from all-night
Porno-flick theater to bar on precipice
Over ocean. In a seashell of crumpled paper
Eleanor Rigby alleviates her depression
With whiskey. Flung down an elevator shaft
She ascends to the ether–blown kiss lost
In transmigration from lips to blazing cross.
Beforethoughts pearl–streetlights in a hallway
Overgrown with forebodings, at the end
Of which a technicolor vista
Awaits you, luminous blue roses.
Vein-blue guitar strings flourish out of greyness.
My fingertips negotiate the zig-
Zagging neck of my guitar.
The timbre of a cement mixer
Clashes with the death knell of a seashell,
With the carny-bark of a scrimshaw skull,
With the Mozartian flight of fancy that floats
Up past the trembling steeples to the ether,
That embraces an interstellar sea turtle…
Goodbye.
Beneath the droopy eyelids of the streetlights

A dark carnival pulsates with evil.

eerie alley tea

EERIE ALLEY TEA

The spectral image of a black pitbull presaged my death. I bequeathed my eels to an ensouled statue & was assumed into the greenhouse: a geodesic dome like a snowshake paperweight. How many other horrible workers are woolgathering at this moment–or dreaming, sheepdoggedly pursuing the poem even in sleep, invoking the strippers who’re shagging doggy-style in the poll booths. A goon at the peephole gimlet-eyeing my foray into hitherto unexplored parts of Pussytown. Being in the netherworld afforded me a bird’s-eye view of the skyscrapers shocked in Mo-mo. Cocaine Lil cockledoodledoo’d, swathed in sky-blue cerements, luminous with a profound truth I couldn’t grasp, ravishing, inviolable. Her yetis-in-waiting pirouetted in diaphonous gowns. Our black scottie had a penchant for snouting up fallen orts, so we named him Hoover. Caught in the vortex in the rearview mirror Hoover spiraled down into nothingness. Birds of blowtorch-blue plumage rode the whorlwind; an updraft buoyed Hoover to the treehouse where I was reading an old notebook. In that phantasmagoria soundtracked by Twisted Sister a brain became a clusterfuck of bumblebees; sandpaper became a beach, sandwich paper a witchgrassy beach on which a lighthouse-keeper played Frisbee with his greyhound, flinging a temple gong.

Wearing a black eyepatch with a skull & crossbones on it, Hoover hijacked a grackle & flew it to Elysium: the town dump, a reliquary whose amplitude rivaled that of the surf’s flotsam collection. Detritus engulfed a Cynic living in a squalid hovel–no, not even a hovel, a mere hovella. Hoover scrunched up to fit in a many-stained-glass-windowed snail shell. A cloud cathedral hove in sight & hovered over the firewalker at the carnival, the neo-flaneur with the neon buzz, moire-suited but feral as a Greenlandic walrus. What if I walked the dog in public, like a Cynic–like a big-cocked Robert Crumb geek beguiled by the sumptuous ass of a passerby. Prowling in a seedy coat I ended up joining some woebegone hobos in singing, “So come with me, we’ll all go see the Big Rock Candy Mountains.” There Hoover wears a hipster beret, writes protoplasmic poems in a spiral notebook. He rummages in a stygian second-hand bookshop. The proprietor, an old woman, chainsmokes; gossamer shores up the toppling stacks of paperbacks as though you’re seeing them in ultraviolet light. Books shine as though simonized, ready to convey me through space & time like a mastiff with a martyred monk in his maw. Hang on St. Christopher, dog-headed patron of travelers: all sentient beings are crammed into a prairie schooner lumbering, though hub-deep in marl, toward a cynosure: a phosphorescent glowworm.

A snowballing beeswarm rolled down the breakdown lane of your thigh, & a fairy-tale hunchback sicced bloodhounds on the long-haired smack junkie who was reading a moth-eaten book, dirty needles strewn around him like the floor of a pine forest. Sap coursed in a space needle. After heavy rain a flash flood drowned everyone except the giraffe-necked greyhound. With his head in the ether he gobbled up poems, chimeras from the Mixmaster of the mind. & if my thought-dreams could be seen, they’d prob’ly put my head in a gillotine; but since a boomerang has craftily replaced my mustache, my head would fly back to my neck in time to drink coffee brewed from ground fog & gobble excelsior by the fistful. Slug-slow zombies drifted down the detour to a backwater in some oneiric Oklahoma. Irreality: me & Hoover zigzaged down the fire-escape to fathom the depth of the eerie alley tea. Hoover harpooned the kettle when it spouted steam. I’d rather have a pearl-diving dog, or a dog you can dissolve in coffee like a lump of sugar. A black seagull carved from onyx jimmied the door to the lightroom. I feel darkness augmenting inside me, an influx of rooks: either bring tb out of mothballs or I’ll drive off a cliff, singing “Pineola”.

Wearing a deathmask with a Kool-Aid smile you lapsed into a morose silence. Hoover scrabbled at that silence & hit a lode of infrasound. Just a hurricane’s hurl away the howling of coyotes was punctuated by the tubercular hack of the horn of scarcity. The sea cave was disemboweled of its raving. I was mad in those days: trigger-happy I shot seagulls off pilings, shat several subway slugs that severally flowered into mouthless mouths. Smokerings howled, zeros flared like nostrils. Kissing your asshole I became a portal-jumper. A sail-pale visage unfurled, hovered UFOlike above the deadfall. A numinous voice laid this riff on me: “Someday your tobacco-blackened lungs will join a murder of crows.” With rusty pliers Hoover prised my Steppenwolf out of me, my Shadow. Lovelorn in the hermitage I walked the dog, cossetted by pictures conjured from wet dreams: Renée Falconetti in a bondage suit of ectoplasm, her sleek raven hair a black mass. A gumshoe got blackjacked; a geek freaked with jet slipped you a brainrape drug. An oil-slick maligned the river. To embrace the black dog on my back I took a long draught of coffee from the eyesocket of a skull; I assimilated to the rain-darkened street. A lightning bolt is just the incandescent string of a black kite vast enough to cover the sky.

The malaise pervading society transfused even the dogs. The molten lava flooding the labyrinthine corridors congealed in blobs. The jewels sequestered, inviolable, their luster augmented by caressing. Sirius dervished in the firmament, chasing his tail–did The Dog to a jam in Pandora’s jukebox, one that conjured the iridescence of mother-of-pearl. The sizeless aggie mooned over the Cynic toasting his hands over the trash-barrel fire with the other hobos. You’re affected by the wretchedness of the lucklorn. How do you stave off the desolation of those who’re sundered from all human contact? I peddled a bicycle in outer space, got sideswiped by an astronaut floating past, trailing a severed tether, stiff limbs akimbo. The windsmacked wayfarer wafted into a rathskeller buzzing like a hornet’s nest with hangdogs & cynics, with boozehounds higher than deep-sea fish in the ether–soul-sick & forsaken all. Mothwinged, wearing the deathmask of Jo-Jo The Dog-Faced Boy, I flew in the ether, was sideswiped by a nightfreight truck. The canine wraith growled a presentiment of a flatlining EKG, the Litany seeping from the stove suffusing the frowzy tenement. You were dead, billiard-chalk-blue, limned with spectral moonwhite; the grave swallowed you the way a python swallows a dog, the way a dog gorges himself on deadbolt sausages. Working the graveyard shift at the hoarfrost factory I longed to go back to the bayou, pined for cypress laden with Spanish moss. Hoover lolled in lulls in the conversation, a whale up on blocks for dissection. No safariing into a cordoned-off Zululand evoking the mysteries of the street-lit attic, bats translucent as jellyfish hanging upside-down. Since I’m a nightowl my dreambook paddocks primordial daymares–for example, the razing of skyscrapers. The man in the wreckingball granted the rabid dog a stay of execution. By garbage-truck-orange moonlight I composed a letter in which I let monkey mind yack–or sat zazen, transfixed, wing’d stigmata alighting on me, a disembodied demon clamoring to possess me. I caromed off the door to the inner sanctum, back into my otherness. You caterpillared into a burlap sack capacious enough to drown a sumo kitten in; later you fluttered out butterfly-wing’d, too resplendent for me to embrace, to caress. I basked in your effulgence, rapt with wonderment.