Monday, March 9, 2009

God i have been doing this for a long time

a new mexico

Dead love, angels on a roadside mystery museum
Preachers and auctioneers over a tinny P.A
Sun and dust and a foreign tongue

the Fates run a cheap concession stand
and limp banners hang in the stagnant air
the vultures circle in the empyrean

a Promethean donkey goes round and round and round
an image of Christ hangs above a sign
"No refunds, No exchanges"
the earthbound mystery

The miraculous grows tired of perfection
And soon the devil's angels
Form their choirs
drunk, and singing snatches of the dies irae,
snatching singers away to swell the ranks

Dead love changing shape,metamorphosing himself
a snake a skull a telephone
notably into a bull;

There is a little baby
he cries at the sight of the python in its cage
at "Lucky the four legged duck"at the hairless dog, the calf playful
however the Fates cut him into pieces and ate him,
partly cooked and partly raw
the smell of burning wood
we cry in the fire at the heart of the world
(the world is a burning house, the buddha says)

Athena could save only the heart,
which was still beating(which still beats)
Several familiar tunes talk
Of severed hearts, of burning
Of how the fragments of a man live on
(in it's bottle the 2 headed baby floats like Janus, god of doorways)

Dead love: the hidden dog, the god of angels ,
the god of the butchered babies
the Fates weave skeins of day glo pink wool
A leering clown head on each spindle
The smell of roasting corn
Christ's head above the sign"No refunds, No exchanges"

babies: rubber babies with eyes that blink,
butchers in tall grass,slaughtered sheep and cows and pigs on hooks, angels
a gun ,a flag, a bloodstained hole

God changes shape, metamorphoses himself, notably into a bull;
a gun, a flag ,a bloodstained hole

the fates cut meat, on a table sweet with fruit and blood and flies
baby cries and flies dart in and out of its mouth
suck at its eyelids, nostrils, lips
so the throngs of demons feast on our suffering
this golgotha stands stark against the impossible desert sky
rock and sun and sky,barren and desolate and the cries of the merchants
the violins and crucifixes
on hand woven blankets
a captive race in silver tipped boots, spurs
the trappings of spain, of a lost america
(a gun ,a flag, a bloodstained hole)
the devil's fiddles and accordians

and the endless toiling of the donkey
under the unforgiving eye of the sun
no refunds, no exchanges

the Fates consumed the child's heart
plying him with coca-cola,
with pop music and those entangling skeins
of sugared cotton

the father drunk and sifting through
box after box of old photographs,
farm implements phonograph records,
razors, tattered letters and scrawled notes,
confession, delirium, absolution...the voices of the dead.

drunk, and singing snatches of the devils songs
christ walks in silver tipped boots along the midway
changing shape, metamorphosing himself, notably into a bull;
ritually slain in the public arena
a leather belt, a photograph ,a sleeping man ,a headstone.
a snake, a skull, and his own face tattooed in blue ink on a scarred forearm
a telephone pole's endless golgotha,
notably a bull; on black velvet caught in dance,
a gun,a flag ,a bloodstained hole,a leather belt,
a photograph ,a sleeping man ,a headstone
nailed to a hand carved saint, silver hands, eyes, legs

the Fates sear flesh over flame
no refunds no exchanges

the devil got drunk, himself,
under the unforgiving eye
the donkey bears the crying child upon its back
and the man in black walks around with him
under the unforgiving sun
singing snatches of milongas in the wavering lines of heat
he seems to be changing shape, metamorphosing himself,
notably into a bull; horns attached to the hood of a chevy
hide in leather strands woven in a young girls hair
her eyes like a calf, she looks to Jesus
words are exchanged,
a knife flashed in the sun
a heavenly chorus from a transistor radio,
and a bull hits the ground in a cloud of dust

About ten years ago, i wrote this, posted it on a then emerging site called "themestream" that paid writers per hit for their content. This poem, and others like it, were the first time i was ever paid for my writing. It seems to me horribly ungainly, full of "the" full of "and" and chock full of pointless classicism,a sort of psuedo-cleverness and some absolutely unforgiveable gothy-ness. That said, it also seems to me to be filled with my obsessions and hobby horses, things that i return to in my writing again and again, the folk-devil as a character, the folklore theme of the hidden heart, clumsy christianity and a love of the grotesque, lists of broken and useless objects, angels and demons. Like most of my poems the fantastic elements are put in a real place, in this case, the swap meet in Tucson Arizona that i used to frequent around 1998 or so. There was a pickled punk gaffe on display, a four legged duck, etc. I bought an electrical typewriter there that i carried across the country in an old army backpack, and went through about three ribbons before it finally died. I think i really began writing on that beast, including this poem. I used to have a snapshot of the technicolor jesus in the gold plastic frame hanging over the "no refunds, no exchanges" sign, and kept it on my desk. A picture of myself standing in front of the "two headed baby!" sign somehow was sold with the car we traveled in, and wound up tacked to the wall in Mault's brew pub in my hometown. it was quite alarming to go in there and see that someone i did not know had hung up my picture in a bar i did not go to.

i considered this to be one of my first "real" poems. rereading it now, i am glad most of this juvenilia was destryed or lost, though god knows what else is mouldering out there in the internet's damp corners. I know that one worse than this still pops up when i vanity search myself. I used to get crap like this published all the time, now i can't get published to save my life, or as i said to my lady love in the bath last night " i can't get published in uncle fizzletits fun-time journal these days'

I performed this poem once at a music festival in an abandoned boy scout camp, in a stone picnic building in the rain with a band that covered captain beefheart songs. their old syth had tendency to catch on fire and smoke. i think there may have been about three or four people in the audience that could hear what i was saying through the racket. I also posted this on a site called "postpoems", in an attempt to drive traffic to my themestream sites., and found it today, still ensconced in all it's early web glory, while looking for a new publication that came out today, my poem "october" in spindle magazine, which can be read here

I also find it grimly amusing that, before posting this, the poem had been viewed 13 times since 2001. I am sure that at least half of those were me,also.

I ask you, am i learning anything? am i getting any better? Some days it feels like it, other days writing seems like an endless treadmill, like a tiresome conversation with yourself, like "no matter where you go, there you are"

looking at this old and ugly poem, i think, there i am, stilted and unnatural, cutting up encyclopedia entries on mythology, trying to talk about my internal life and winding up with landscapes, with scenic tracking shots without dialogue. looking at my brand spanking new publication, i see the same sins and flaws. I attempt to break out of it, but these invocatory summonings of place, these rambling postcards are what the inside of my head looks like, and when i try to break it down and just say what i mean, my friendly critics say "your poems jsut end" or "they fizzle out" or "they do not deliver what they seem to promise'

Rachel, October was written for you, out of my frustration of never being able to write you the kind of love poem you deserve, trying to write you a new song. I love you,and even if Uncle Fizzletits wants nothing to do with my poems, you always are kind enough to accept them and to inspire them. thanks for that

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