Monday, July 30, 2012

Horse Chestnut

A large chocolate tumor.
An irregular hemisphere with bumps and concave wrinkles 
like a miniature bald head—a phrenologist's dream—
with one side of the hemisphere slightly less rounded. 
     Four-fifths of it covered with a paper-thin 
            reddish-brown rind, made shiny with 
the oil secreted from the indentation 
behind your nostrils where the nose meets the face. 
(You can grease up your forefinger by rubbing the spot 
        and then rubbing the nut, or you can just rub 
the nut in the spot, as I do.)

The final fifth, a cutaway of the shell on the lower portion 
of the flattened side—a slightly blackened, 
dullish brown surface that can't be shined—perhaps, 
    on some evolutionary 
scale, if one thinks of the nut as a brain, 
which it resembles, the area where the cerebellum, 
the medulla oblongata, and the beginning (or end) 
        of the spinal cord meet.
Called a horse chestnut because it was used somehow 
in the treatment of horses' ailments. Nowadays, 
it is useless, like so many other things. 
             Or, rather, a new use 
for it has yet to be found. (Except in this case.)
It grows on a tree and is enclosed in a spiny burr—
a porcupine golf ball that seems impregnable if it is not ready 
to open. Protection from what? Is nature so concerned 
          about an inedible nut?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Murder Machine No. 41

Copper and seared bolts, garnishees brandishing
Coke bottles with simmering caps, molten
glass, you name it, what a dollar can buy,
and right off the set, the field, the dumb-dumb
bullet shattering in the lungs, goodness, how
the brain weeps, drains, captives or morons,
no need to know, not really, need
to simplify, that's all, be vigilant and armed.
Zeus would have escaped, turned nails into fudge,
chewed his way out, yum-yum, and knocked
off a piece for good measure. Steam up the flowers,
the windows, keep your eyes on ascensions, dangerous
buggers that can come back to haunt you. Marsh plants
don't suffer from excessive moisture, nor should you.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Dog in My Dog

The sun is distracting me this morning, so are
            the hydrangeas
and the bony peach tree with
                                              its four dangling
and dehydrated peaches.
The grass is burnt brown—there's been
            no rain here for a while, and just
as well, after all I'm
                                on vacation,
why, I'm not sure—I prefer dank cellars, cities,
      where rusted nails from a lost century
                 hold the edges aligned
and the entire contraption vibrates 
        like a steam engine blowing 
              off its organs. 
Nature is brutally deceptive, all surface, 
                decrepitude, can't tape the decay, 
       only the movement, and I'm 
                    prone to ask if a rock can have 
a soul, why can't a building?
       Perhaps it's my mental
and physical misalignments. 
                I see through 
         a fifty-percent black circle that fades 
                           a few seconds after
   I open my eyes, a dangling and dehydrated  
pathology through which my art becomes 
my art,  or should, 
                   because so many artists I know 
filter out their deformities. 
Oh, they overcome them,
       even make sure you appreciate their 
particularity, but they don't paint them. 
                   It seems to me your deformity 
is what you are, all else is replication. 
    For example, if
this human bacterium I know, whose secretions
             coagulate on the walls, 
    were to depict his DNA, he could 
perhaps create an indelible monument, 
        a twisted bronze with Gehenna-like 
squiggles that could shake
us out of our pinafores.
Ah, so caustic! 
But he strives to be digestible, only to stumble
                        like a satyr, 
               even when he shovels 
                  the old lady's snow next door—
such a good neighbor, wants to make you weep—
such decency, 
                      like the poet presenting 
his National Book Award prize money to 
an antiwar group  in a
a melodramatic flourish of
  rebellion but as an lit-mag editor 
mailing insulting rejection notes to 
fledgling poets—
       Lover of Mankind, Hater of People. 
Or Cartier-Bresson
talking about his friend Bonnard: 
                   "You know, Picasso didn't
                     like Bonnard, and I 
                     can imagine why, 
                     because Picasso
                     had no tenderness.
In disease there is progression,
      or is there just disease? 
               You can doctor yourself up
          to a point and then you lash out 
                          or you fester,
but you don't produce, you stand still,
   which is what terrifies me because I'm so full of
                inaction, and
few can outwait me. 
When you hammer steel,
        it just gets harder, 
              and Kim Sun Myung ought to know,
                    spending 43 years in jail 
    because he refused 
to renounce Communism. 
And I refuse to renounce it, too—
       not because I believe in it, 
             but because others don't.
I'm going to pull the shade down 
              over this bright
      scene, neutralize it before it
              boozes me up.
This is what thinking is, not puking—
         you don't study the whiteness of a shade, 
                 you glance
at it and back off into yourself 
        where there are
             circuses performing, 
   clowns, high-wire acts,
         an old idiot who Guillaume observes 
                    wears "a blouse
          of a rose-violet that dances on the cheeks
              of certain young girls 
                      who are near death."
Disease, decrepitude, who
              knows the order of decline, 
          the exact moment you live through
 a thousand times but will not survive 
                a thousand and one?
        It's the blanching that gets me. If I
  could only go out in a blaze of 
                  comic-book color . . . 
             Big things get particularized,
                  too massive to live with
one chews, breathes, mourns, but one senses 
   the small things . . . only after . . . 
            tiny, insignificant, 
            destructive, they can dampen survival,
                       extinguish it . . .  
     The minutia, the maggots, the remarks,
            scarier than enormities,  
                 unnoticeable, they compile, 
                   one cocks his head, 
        "Did he say that? Did I hear that?"  
Maggots in my life,  you're small, 
           insignificant, but you ignite 
my survival. Small things are scary, 
           scarier than big things. 
              They're unnoticeable and can be seen 
                    only when you squint. 

Some can be stepped on, sprayed, 
     but never eliminated, constantly driven 
                    into sockets from where 
                        they peek out like rodents,
            impersonal, infectiously, crazed.