coronavirus mary

CORONAVIRUS MARY
You don’t fall in love so much as resist the prevalent falling out of it. You don’t become an artist so much as continue to make art after everyone else abandons it. Van Gogh cut off his left ear & gave it to a whore; Huike cut off his left arm & gave it to Bodhidharma. A lobsterclaw proffers a candelabrum with carpet pythons hanging from its branches. Street pizza to placate the gods; outsize pancakes with the lineaments of bereavement. The dross & effluvia, the kaleidoscopic effusions, the rain effacing hermetic inscriptions, waterlogging a diary like the labyrinthine sewers under Paris. A lode of free-floating anxiety; musings cultured in the petri dish of the mind. I malaprop for the fuck of it: “Under the circumcisions you should circumvent the sinkhole.” The Geiger counter clicks, detecting, under the order, a secret disorder seething with rancor. The mirror secretes your heart’s secrets; the rain-slick street basks under the neon it reflects. I’m spread-eagled & chopstick’d down in the attic fug. My only cohorts are coffee dregs–eye-sockets in winged flight through the opulence of the stars. Being repeatedly mindfucked by outrageous art made me an oddball, transfigured me into a stack of waffles hopping like a kangaroo through a slum aswarm with comet-tailed sleepwalkers. They’re shunted to another stairway, a new faith to siphon consolation from. An outlander in this backwater, I creep through nocturnal streets, braving the enmity of the natives–stalagmite-haired freaks, for the most part. I winnow poetry from their caterwauling. I catch the witching hour movie–The Pit and the Pendulum–at the abandoned theater. I’m Coronavirus Mary, spreading a contagion–affixing swastikas to the lobsters in the lobby. I converse with both Christ & Satan; they’re inextricably bound together. Heavy-laden with inexpiable sin I founder & flounder in an abyssal owl eye. A mutant sea-creature from a B-movie drives a ‘47 Frankenstein Buick hearse to far-flung regions; I ride shotgun. What’s that in the rearview? A severed head with voluminous tresses, wearing a porkpie at a rakish tilt, wheeling in a thermal like a raptor. It plummets, impales itself on a cathedral spire. The inviolable beauty of lichened gravestones exalts me with joy.

fakir charms coil of car cigarette lighter

FAKIR CHARMS COIL OF CAR CIGARETTE LIGHTER (written in collaboration with Trilby Farthingale)

Ain’t no quadrille in Yazoo City.
Ain’t no bitches but what gobbles
up they own broods.
O baby yes baby woo baby
you broke with yr beatbox forebears & bulldozed
the faery hovel lest any sleeping loon
rose madder, a no-goodnik with the sardine
key to enlightenment, pelted with trash
garnered from gutters, with strangled cats
with severed nooses around their necks.
O voyeur with parentheses under yr eyes,
don’t expect the foghorn’s drone to lug
that luggage. Roll up Marianne Faithfull
in a rug for the Mystery Tour, load the Colt
King Cobra, spin the cylinder, pop a cap
in the cupola. Make an ellipsis
by wiping yr ass with carbon paper.
Bay at the moon thru the skylight
until the interplanetary bus obscures
the splendor of that hermitage. Indissolubly
divorced from the trawlers gawking
by torchlight you lurch from the jello quarry
to the veldt. The hellcat kicks
the Coke machine with her spidery hand.
She’s always on the lamb
lying with the lion.

jubilee

JUBILEE

Reading by my intuition, that flame sputtering but obdurately refusing to die, I intoned one word over & over like a mantra–caressed it until it was denuded of meaning. I was a rooftop stargazer bewitched by every celestial scintillation. I played the old record that invoked the ghost of the beloved: She came from outer space with an escort of motorcycles, her lapidary eyes preternaturally radiant. She came to pussyjack a smokestack, singing “Rub ‘Til It Bleeds,” her bush a bosky wood through which a clowder of calico cats was percolating. She came to plunge a core-sampling stiletto in my chest–to give me the inside skinny sotto voce. The outline of a murdered man peeled off the floor & floated up many fathoms into the earth. An augur descended in a divingbell to decrypt starfish: There she moldered on the seabed, scuppered by her several holes. The void stopped eating cars & bars; now it only eats guitars. The void engorges itself at a sumptuously set table. I, on the other hand, subsist on peanut butter & crackers. The musky fragrance of rain-moist earth suffuses my eyrie; old license plates adorn the walls. Rapt in fecund solitude I quarry poetry out of my dreams, negotiate my labyrinthine psyche. This skid-row tenement is crawling with cockroaches too big to squash under a boot. Decked out for an 18th-century masquerade they carouse until they drop stone dead. Joyriding through the misty night I have a premonition that I’m drifting toward my oblivion. My pixels are about to be reshuffled into a new permutation, a new image redolent of incense. No need to sidle crabwise into the cathedral; don the tiara that confers invisibility. Loiter amid the ikons: A migrant snowangel might sojourn a while in this burning-glass elevator. Longing for transfiguration the gargoyles weep, drowning out all cognitive dissonance. The priest swings wraiths out of his thurible; they flutter by like butterflies; they entice you toward the evermysterious, exhort you to take a quantum slump away from the replicant-infested dystopia. When soul-killing exploitation threatens to engulf me I extricate myself from the modern world by scouring a junkshop. Every oddment seems infused with portent, an oracular statement about the pandemic collapse of infrastructure. Bristling with smoke-billowing masts the city drifts away. Mary full of grace, your fingertips glissade down the keyboard like stones skipping across water. To quell anxiety hang-glide off the precipice, drift to a primordial place where children cavort around in ecstatic communion with nature. Watch the Jubilee.

***

An old favorite of mine:

gyre

GYRE (written in collaboration with Trilby Farthingale)

Exploring his inner world
the drunk motherfucker
affixed seals to the lids of
gouged-out eyes.
It was then that he remembered
the mouth of the weathered barn
quirking, yakking
into the dictaphone about what is
identical in the apparently dissimilar,
smoking Luckys in a truckstop,
the Little Bang permeating our consciousness
with the infinite variety of human beings,
some beleaguered,
some bedraggled,
most masturbating excessively
as the elfin moon drives you
berserk. You yank slats
off wooden skids & convey them
thru the nebulous mist,
affirming some disjuncts,
denying others.
The full significance of this
will not be understood until
we’re absolved from the obligation to be
wholly flummoxed by a jaw
swiveling on a cud of tobacco
said–erroneously, I believe–to
occasion lulls in the conversation between
you & your other self,
the one you reject,
the one who reeks of whiskey & weed,
the go-go dancer who resembles
Lon Chaney in He Who Gets Slapped,
who’s racked with the conviction
that fjords of unfathomable shallowness
are of ancienter device than
the corporate behemoth supposes.
The one who keeps winding the Victrola
with her prehensile tail.

kreepsville 666

KREEPSVILLE 666

“Sometimes loneliness is company enough,” I croon from the creel. Sometimes I’m immured in a porcupine-ridden skull. This enskullment was prefigured by the Holy Virgin’s Assumption into the fallout shelter. I inhale her fragrance: it’s too blue for dogs to hear. Sometimes I luxuriate more in silence than in music, am more rapt at the entr’actes than at the opera. If your tongue were a loud tie you could French-kiss an elevator shaft. Sometimes, when I’m sinking in the abyss, Svengali’s post-hypnotic suggestion buoys me: I pop up like charred toast. Sometimes, resurrected from the river of sleep like a long-lost sedan, I jot down the dregs of my dream–something about sliding backwards up the banister, say, ascending to a more rarefied reality. Sometimes I molt my malaise like a coachwhip. Am elated amid quotidian depression. Sometimes I go to the sideshow to rap with the twelve-fingered girl. She says she’s subject to nocturnal clitoral tumescence. Sleep with a stiff, wake up with wood. The gibbous klieg wanes in the skyscraper, the hard-on swathed in a condom of mirrors. Whoosh of guillotine: the Cartesian split between mind & body a gully full of scree. Sometimes I’m so engrossed in my reverie nothing could make me bestir myself, not even Technicolor adders puffing up & hissing at me. Sometimes I wield a diamond-studded derringer against some manifold threat. Throughout a spate of witch-stonings I hid in an empty trash truck, a resounding cave where gunmetal-furred bats hung in abeyance. Art incandesces into the soul, a murky mindscape wide as the Steppes, Zorro’d with a zigzag path down which fiddler crabs are marching sideways, hectored by a pterodactyl whose wings are scumbled pages from a coffeelogged novel. Sometimes I say fuck fact, its falsisimilitude; “God is a lousy novelist,” as Tolstoy said. Sometimes–hungry for ecstasy, thirsty for dissolution–I go to a Gothic cathedral, pulverize a glass eye, & snort the scintillant powder. Poetry is my secret energy source, Helium-3 I extract from lunar soil. The poet thinks he’s a pitcher of Bell’s when he’s really a catcher of Hells: strapped to the Clockwork Orange chair he’s forced to watch the getaway go pear-shaped on a real-time traffic cam. Sometimes, gliding like a hawk sans harrowing spectacles, I sheer away, just missing a shoal of anteaters passing through the penny arcade, skulking around the mutoscope peepshows. The antediluvian jukebox booming “Kreepsville 666.” Sometimes I invoke diabolical aid in divining the past. I can’t recall the gaucherie of my youth without acute embarrassment, but it’s irredeemable. & now I don’t want to write anymore, I just want to smoke. Too bad I quit smoking fifteen years ago.

giallo

GIALLO

Anxiety plagues me, clings to me like rime. Sludge slimes my beatific vision of a star-way. I can’t argue cogently before my morning cup of bee-blackened sky. What joy to glide ravenback past Mars, past its two moons like the umlaut in Blue Öyster Cult, past a clownfish-striped raincoat riddled with stares. I affirm the ancient custom of spiking sassafras tea with blackstrap molasses. Is this a coffee shop or a church? Edifying messages–exhortations to love people, for example–adorn its walls. It morphs into a morgue. It shape-shifts to the sway of cathedral bells, the tattoo of the slaughterhouse hammer. Disparate flotsam & jetsam are secreted in the attic where a laggard lives with his barking cat. Dreams roil his mind; mornings his thoughts are murky with the sediment of the subconscious. He opens the window & smells ozone, the fraught breeze. He smells the bloodfall from razored veins. The silent scream of a keloid drowns out the gasmasked seagulls. The scow slides downriver. Subterranean intuitions rudder me. A Poe story about premature burial evanesces from the page. The mohawked seahorse rustler spies on her, keeps his vigil under her bedroom window, exaltation surging through him like a current–his idea of “the gay science.” Entranced he slits an entranceway in her throat with his Bowie-knife rictus. I emerge somnambulant from the movie house & remember I have to prune the hat trees, write an obituary for the dead end of a street. Rattlesnake venom a red streak slithering up my arm like alcohol in a thermometer; drops of blood on a blade like red barges plying a steel river. Down a street staunched off by fog you drove drunk; your face spiderwebbed the windshield. Could I stay here in this attic, contemplate in reclusion your soul’s beatitude in the old coil radiator? Could I bleed the radiator with leeches? Squalor sprawls; dissonant music unfurls; poetry accretes. My asshole invokes Lenny Bruce & embarks on its routine. The secrets we disclose ricochet around the room like feral children. A dry-hump in the back of a hearse engenders the candle you carry through a well-appointed labyrinth, an eccentric route to the white dwarf orchard where I frolic with factory crones.

tenebrae

TENEBRAE

You’ve been wakeful for days. Inside your eyeballs are tiny brains that haven’t dreamed in days & consequently stink like unflushed toilets. You watch nightwalkers crawl out of crevasses like spiders with spatulate leg-tips; they beckon you out of abysmal darkness. An all-night disc jockey is playing a skronky garage band in an intimate venue. The front man steps off the stage into the mosh pit, walks on upturned palms like a waterbug on surface tension. You wander off for a troll on the treetops; you schlepp along in a hooded raincoat of movie light. Passing a cathedral you linger momently, transfixed by plangent organ music. It conjures an erotic masque where your weirdest hankerings are gratified. You mind’s-eye a slow-motion blowjob, gently torquing your cock with your thumb & forefinger as though twirling the stem of a wine glass. In elegiac moods you lament the death of days you lazed on the beach, rapt at the soaring & shrieking of seagulls–days you lay longing to caress a mane of variegate color. When you eat the witch marionette’s pussy the reindeer skeleton lurking in her skin emerges. The hope it harbors of finding some inviolate place impels it to rove from gazebo to seaside gazebo. The keeper of a lighthouse fallen into desuetude, far from the buttes & canyons of the city, can consecrate his life to this raving called poetry; inhering inside a grotto, ineffaceable as a glyph, he can heed the inspirations of the Holy Ghost. You nose ozone: the Noh play is about to begin. You trawl from the crests & troughs of your mirror weird juxtapositions of words, a congress of trepanned skulls.

I caught a glimpse of myself in a display case. Well, me with an outsize brain–a Cro-Magnon brain. I was wearing a bikini &, superimposed on that like a movie fade-in, a monk’s black caul. & then I knew some evil would befall me–that a train was careering down the hallway, raring to flatten me. & sure enough, when I was sitting pensively among the other primordial saurians at the pizza joint, zombies–supralogical thoughts regimented into sequence–shuffled in single-file, capsizing our red-&-white checkerboard table, shattering our candle-plugged wine bottle, scattering our klatch. A whale spout beguiled me by spewing black butterflies; but since nothing could dispel the air of melancholy pervading its song, the judge gaveled for silence. The surf receded, disclosing all the coexisting dissimilars, a dazzling panoply. When I caught the monk scouring the junkyard for a drive-in movie marquee, I jabbed a syringe full of strychnine in his ass. “The threescore & ten allotted us are sufficient,” he said with a beatific smile–& dropped dead. A swarm of black butterflies enveloped him.

fog wilkes booth

FOG WILKES BOOTH

‘s a cliffdweller, not meant to be mewed up
in an austere room adorned with nothing but
a spider idling in its web. There he goes
cuckoo, tattoos a cross on his forehead, slashes
his face with war paint, writhes rapturously
as a freeway tapeworms through his guts. Raven-
winged he ascends to crab apples that have fallen
upward; smoking a butt flicked in the gutter
he sidles down the curve described by a boomerang
hurled at a whirlpool looming above the rooftops.
When deChiricoesque mannequins beset him
& flick open switchblades, he morphs into a saber-
tooth tiger. Let the graveyard angel give
suck to any zombie, lavish compassion
on everyone; let the pince-nez’d scarecrow swill
thunderbird & join the roller derby
melee; Fog, for his part, will gratify
his inmost desire: dead-man’s-float across
a myriad of unsilvering mirrors into
blackness, dark knights of the soul
swarming like flies.

Rebbe

Another “one-shot” poem. If you whelp one of these wolflets every other day, some of them will be highly expendable.

Rebbe

He leads an idyllic life in an erstwhile funhouse,
his only companion a Scottie named Rebbe.
Strolling among the dump fires, the moon
tricked out in pasty clown make-up, he’s
accosted by the Slime People. He sics
Rebbe on them, slashes them with a snapped-
off car antenna: they slide helter-skelter
back to the past we lament jettisoning.
Then Rebbe gets undertowed to Sheol. Bereft,
trammeled by loneliness, he emits a plaintive
cry. It can’t be staunched; it flows past the sunflowers
that sputter on like streetlights, buzz like battered
amps; it carves “Rebbe” into a slab
of marble. A sunflower sets on Rebbe’s coffin.