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Month: May 2009

A Foursome of Interesting Traps


To keep myself on my toes I started setting traps around the house
The game is vicious yet awkward
The hard part is, partly,
-tensioning springs on the wrong side of closed doors
-leaving nails and acid in the wake of an absent-minded stroll,
and stuffing wolverines in the already overstuffed utility drawer

Great for a surprise bludgeoning or a good old fashioned
Or some life-altering scarring.
Not exactly interchangeable but
Genuine nonetheless
But it’s not just about pain
Or terror, or identity-changing scarring, it’s
the humiliation, too:
I can’t read these poems to just anyone.

9 volts



Lost, and for some time yet believed cursed, and drunk this autumn night beneath several stars and a moon, whispering the praises of Constance and a particuar liquid extract of root; fuels of different burnings but equal in the ways of mobility- that is to say outward casting.

Adrift for some time and without echo in the form of time or remembrance and no clocks plotted in his absence and if this was planned then it could also be said that no mental decay figured beyond his own arrangement and no growth in his bowels or between his toes came aboard without forethought or remained without approbation. He was tightshouldered and brutal in the workings of his own joints whether in dense bracken or pitching hills or empty coastal plain, embodying contaiment, stele birch cold and making a sound upon the movement of the earth, chalk white, calcified, a concert of spent bones caught in the midst of some complicated yet wholly incomplete undertaking.

In Vance Birthplace, North Carolina he bought sausages, tinned, in their own juice; he stole candybars, tobacco, packets of dehydrated juice, steel wool, a ninevolt battery, a package of granulated dye, blue no. 7; he stole a pair of poultry shears, a frightwig, a pair of women’s underware, white, not as lacey as he would have hoped; he stole a tin of sausages in their own juice. As he went from store to store it seemed to him that crows were alighting in odd numbers, ever increasing with his progress, upon the awnings of the stores freshly plundered. As if he were drawing attention to himself in a manner not wholly material. He sat at a busstop and rooted through his pack A woman watched him from a upper window. Above her a black belly of cloud sagged in on the mountain, the hollow. If in design but not execution there were appendages there reaching up to her brainpan and perhaps beyond, lips lapping back upon her own sugars and warmth, a myth transcending limbs allotted her, resolved out of drawing darkness and electrical storm. But he sat watching and eating sausages and remarked only on what he could see.

Hen House Blues


This week there was another message on the machine: My mother’s working name was Peg Leg Alice and there wasn’t a spot on her whole body you couldn’t hide a knife or a raccoon. They called her Four Door Saloon (not to her face) and Mother Root (only as she turned to go) and just plain Big Ass and they said that when she spread her legs you could hear the Void and that when she walked you could tell that a whole pride of young men had just gone home a little thinner, a little paler.



7:15 am.
In the corner of my eye a second head rears and considers. The head is small as heads go but large for a growth, deformed, bellshaped from its jar, floating in a magnifying rheum. It turns a fisheye, not sympathetically, upon this niche I have made in the world. If it were to speak with its small mouth not unlike an anus cinched too tight with a drawstring it might say something like More pie please or Maybe another cigarette will help. But it never speaks.

I’m easing myself back into life, ambition. But the futility you can’t leave on just any toilet seat. I’m waiting for the relief. I look for it in the company I keep. In the solace of kiddie cereals and coffee and smokes. In pool games with impossibly young adults, jackbooted and tattooed and sleepyeyed with latent social indignation. In card tables, a dope booth at Denny’s, a prostitute peculiar to the corner of Fifth and Pogue. There is excitement out there.

Meanwhile I’m too stunned to think anything of consequence. I brush my teeth up to seven times a day but the stench of my own mouth, real or imagined, prohibts me from ever using the same toothbrush twice. I cough into my armpit. I’m bronchial, from birth. My lungs are full of a wet concrete of cornmeal silked with the juice of an oyster. I write about my lungs. A coolness that began in the toe of one foot overcame my leg then my genitals. I write about my genitals. I am neither ugly nor attractive but I now am in possession of a loose calamity of expression and movement that is, I’m told, somewhat touching.


I tell my wife that next year, when the apples come, I will make wine.

She says Fantastic. But right now I’m more interested in right now.

Do I not provide?

You provide, she says. But we’re low on certain truths thought to be self-evident. Fry me some bananas.

I’m still recovering from the last batch.

So use your other head.

We’re out of bananas anyway.

She yawns. I’m dying here.

It’s true that I need more potassium. But the world wont wait for me.

It is also true that the things I truly enjoy dissemble into mere spectacle. I accessorize my vices. A blue robe for my whiskey, a scrimshaw 1916 lighter for my cigarettes, a twinkie sitting in its surreal industrial glow on my blue china.

When I get really scared I lapse into a sort of prenatal stupor, where communication can exist only in protein form.

Lefthanded poems


Clovis Ane, a lefthanded poet:

Old woman

Brush yer tooth

and get in here with me

The fire is in me.

Shoeless under a sawhorse desk with a whitewashed door and a facetglass knob, worked up in a rear bedroom away from morning sun. A draughtman’s pencil, wormwood liquor. This one finished. No one to guess what dreams in that cloudy startled eye.

The motorcade model


Croe stops by. From the kitchen sink I see him in the alley, lifting the lids off the garbage cans. He bends over and peers in, the lid held above him. He appears to breathe deeply but rising he looks neither disapproving or satisfied. He holds the lid to the sky, as if to check its roundness against known bodies heaven and earth.

Inside he shows interest in our books and albums. It occurs to me that I saw neither at his apartment. He picks out a book and holds it in both hands, appearing to judge by balance; older selections he smells. I stand by him with two cups of coffee. He uses much the same routine with the albums. He takes a series of deep breaths, directional things, aimed first at the bookshelves, then an open window, finally at the cups of coffee. He takes one. We sigh more or less in unison.
He looks at me. It’s important that I see your bedroom, he says.
I wait outside, with the door open. Listening. I hear no movement other than an occassional sip. After a while he emerges. This is good coffee.
Of course. He has a copy of my book in his hand. Suddenly frowning he says : There’s a woman sleeping outside on an abandoned mattress. It’s summer someplace hot, possibly Louisiana, there’s cicadas screaming and a small rodent tugging at her foot. She keeps sleeping. A light rain falls. She wakes, stretches. She tugs at a piece of thread on her leg and the thread grows longer and she touches her face in a gesture of charmed surprise and she keeps pulling and her legs begins to unravel and she keeps pulling and the flesh of her leg unravels in rows like a sweater and the force of her pulling exposes the weave of her flesh in augmenting rows against the glowing field of red of her muscle and she looks at me for the first time and I can only stand there and shrug and there is nothing else to do but keep pulling.
After a moment I ask, Can we go over a few things now?
Can I smoke in here?
What’s on your mind?
I’m wondering when we get to some facts. And if that’s out of the question, then can I just start making things up?
I sense some frustration.
You do, yes.
You’re making me sleepy. He opens my book and looks at the words briefly. He closes it. Let’s go shopping.
I look at him. Ok.

We go in his car. Driving is difficult for me but there seems to be no choice. Croe gets in the passenger side and slouches with the book. His car is a ‘63 Continental, with the suicide doors, a convertible, government black. The size of it bespeaks an expansiveness no longer present in urban America. Streets crowd it, light alloy imports buckle in its gravity. I feel conspicuous. Croe slouches against the door, his fingertips just in reach of the radio, his LBJ frame sunglasses a redundant irony. I should have guessed you were a Lyndon Johnson fan, I say.
He quotes When you have a mother-in-law with only one eye, and that eye is in the middle of her forehead, you dont keep her in the livingroom.
He fiddles with the radio.
Have you ever mowed a lawn?
Dozed in a hammok. Delivered the Sunday paper.
He looks at me.
I’m curious about how you happened in this country.
Not in a suburb. He gestured at the road. Try and keep it at least at an even thirty. This isn’t the motorcade model.
Let’s try some free-association.
How about you run over that old lady and I tell you what the stain reminds me of. For fucksake Wim. You drive like I watercolor. I thought you said you were from the east coast.
I havent driven in a while. Where are we going?
I dont see any coffee stands. He flattens his nose with his palm. I read your book you know. What were you thinking?
Your book.
When I was starving in New York, no matter how lovingly I made a spam sandwich, it was still a spam sandwich.
You know I got a ballot in the mail about Spam. Vote yes or no on Spam. Just a simple postcard.
Wait, I think this might tie in to your analogy. Spam is a sort of boundary, a caution flag of cultural or economic distress. Society has a way of not only marking but drawing attention to your progress within it. The ridicule Spam has endured almoist guarantees its permanence in the cosmic fugue.
You said almoist. Here, park here. I want to show you something, Cosmic Fugue.

We walk toward the LZ Gallery. Croe stops at an espresso stand and after considerable banter secures us a ten percent discount. I am impressed by the pointlessness of this. The barista is tall and attractive but the barterting isnt so much flirtatious as confrontational. There is a suggestion that she is part of a bigger problem, but he tips well. Walking away he says I believe by ‘Spam’ they mean unwanted email.

The gallery is narrow but deep and tall, on the first floor of a converted hotel, burnt pastels darkling in pools of corrected light behind huge arched windows and doors bedecked in wrought iron scrollwork. Luz is in the back room watching the unloading of her work from a professional moving van. She is sunken in an expansive couch, wrapped with blankets, nursing a whiskey, her face in the final paleness of nervous exhaustion. A Cuban danzon is playing over the house speakers, quite loud and bright, the piano expansive and intimate in the tall brick space, and I am suddenly very excited about seeing her work. She looks at me suspiciously even as I think this. Croe walks to her, bends at the waist and lays a hand mockingly on her head, like the ironic consolations of a long-time tormentor. Sweetie, he says.
Sweetie yourself. She squints up at him. In her pallor her face is alarmingly midwestern, waspish, although spared from ordinary by the enormity of her irritation. She sees the book and takes it from under his arm and starts leafing through it. Where were you?
Noe gestures at me. In the suburbs with Mr Pewty here.
I had to hire goddam movers. You’re such a horrible cunt, Billy I mean what the fuck Billy? She double swallows. Hi, Wim.
You didn’t bring Rilka?
Shit Wim. I like Rilka. She looks at me for a while but I can no more elaborate than fly. It’s plain I’m disappointing her. How do I explain that none of us had any idea about her show? As if to spare me this she looks at the book again, then at me. Shit, Wimster. You wrote a book.
Five years ago.
She smiles That doesn’t really change the fact does it?
I haven’t gotten a good conversational handle on this yet. Meaning I get really long winded or hostile and silent so careful where you take this. Often it’s a surprise even to me.
I’m like that with my crap. I wont ask you any questions if you don’t say word about anything you see here.
That is a smoking good deal.