Miscellany & Poetry - On food, wine, film, lit & then some.

Yes

For this to work you need a rowboat,
someone besides you
beside you, and enough rhythm to go around—

then listen to the way
of rhyming time with space
the water has. —The waves

you can hear anytime,
you can stand amid the wrack in any spray zone
and hear the waves in droves—

currente calamo
until their fluency beleaguers you so
you can’t say no to the ocean and in you go.
But for this to work

you must will the lull
upon the fury of July, will all
that is circumfluous between calamity
and the calm of incongruous June. You can come anytime
upon

a jarring setting, a glimpse thereof

like a blow to the back of the head from the one you love—
huge colors roaming the coastline in packs.
Atop the bluff, a lone hue poised to attack.
In the wild, in large groups, little blues enter

while all around your rowed, rowed boat
jellyfish wiggle like toes being washed between,
toes scrubbed clean and rubbed dry.
Then August starts kicking a hole in July and sticking

its own sky through. In this dream about following through
with the dream and not its coming true,
about bearing the brunt of the lull, the blunt object informing the skull
of sound as all hollow, there is a moment

when your most poetic virtue turns into a flotation device

and you cling to it even as it capsizes,
surrender to surrounding
rendered fluid, between,
something that deliquesces and gels,

deliquesces and gels, deliquesces and gels,

deliquesces and gels.
And then, just as seize and cease
begin to overlap, fall circling, fin visible,
September curves all the way around.

Maybe we wake up in the hull,
stretched out together like two good days in a row.
Now mist disorients the sea,
squirming, queasy. Grays yellow, greens gray.
Blue’s nowhere to be seen. So this is

the moment. Show me your tentacles. No one can see.
This is the moment no one can see
coming—when you open your mouth
and out a story oozes,
a secretion,

based on the life of a skirmish
between green and blue,
a jellyfish emergent in the telling.
Show me your myriad self—

more lesson, less moral.
Make me a verb out of coral. Make me a noun that’s still forming
and will still be forming, foaming at the mouth.
Make me an adjective crawling, lone,

from the adjectival wreckage , black.

I’ll learn it all by rote, then not. I’ll recall as the boat lists
coveward now, now toward the spreading center, oars long gone.
Is the sea listening? It says so.

Temperamental

Let’s come up with our own diseases
and come down with them—
I’m sick of what I’ve got—

the typical afflictions, tics, growths,
seizures, puce hues of pus and pustule crusts,
sick of the -oses,

themselves out of sorts—
diagnosis with its telltale symptoms,
prognosis with its ever worse case of scenario—

Let’s develop a severe i-won’t-ness
after enduring a series of bouts
with itisitis

from coming into contact with some realia growing wild
in the field among silvery delirium and pink hysteria,
then scratching—

Let’s not and say we did, like poets.
Let us put the extra-strength in aspiration,
let’s pop time capsules

until our heads wobble and our eyes roll back so far
we develop double hindsight, 20/20/20/20,
causing us to rewrite all our poems as we go—

elegies belated odes, odes preemptive elegies,
pastorals prewritten, found poems lost,
dry haiku moist in psalm.

And let’s make lovesickness—you exert your undue
influenza over me, I’ll undo the tricky zipper of your cicatrix,
we can produce little antibodies

and then let’s really go into intensive care—
hijack en route the emergency vehicle,
our metaphor stretched out hooked up

to things, and even as we abandon it
let’s become the automobile—
jump out, leave the ideomotor running.

Self Defense

(with lines from museum placards, a menu, the dictionary, a turn-of-the-century journal, and Roland Barthes)

It is not gregarious or migratory

as much spectacular as alimentary

Bird eggs have given it a black name

Tupelo, Sour Gum, and Pepperidge

Words that are far too botanical

Squab and Foie Gras with Fingerling Potatoes and Lingonberries

Both sexes are horned

Roots, tubers and fruit but sharper, more refined

fruitiness imparted by a genuine ale

(The rosettes of the leopard are not spotted in the center.)

cheesy tubercules often in the lungs

Taste buds cannot function when they are dry

a dry capsule, not a berry

already been turned red by frost

over lime-poor, granitic rocks

in periods of remission, schizophrenics have written

dream drawings painted demons, Picassoid heads

(a moment when the animal has no contact with the ground)

Thurs. Dissected opossum all day,

minor cruelty will conclude in lace.

Sap

I shot that footage of the paratrooper
favoring my left eye.
Not to say he wasn’t swinging around the sky
like the monocle
where the general’s neck used to be
or a gay burro-shaped piñata.
How is the piñata like the monocle again?
That you could see what was inside
before you broke it—
at any rate, they’re all in some state of
suspension, every particle poised for
flight—for involvement in seemingly isolated incidents
of disturbing the penultimate peace—all particles guilty as charged
of taking their rinkydink swings at the pendulum
the world over hops with its eyes shut, screeching
higher! on the brakes of one voice.
Everybody knows the penalty
for killing time is doing it,
doing it, doing it.

So he stews in his own sky-blue juice.
I shot the whole thing in my head, mind you.
You had me on the front lines?
Sweetie.  Mars isn’t
further from my range-of-lens.
Now train your gaze on this descent.
How the parachute adjusts itself atop that tree
clinging like a beanie scalped of its propellor
to the head of the butt of the ambush.
And there’s our dumb subject,
barking his shins against a low branch.  Hold on to your hat!
I dubbed that over me shrieking Cut!
(You can’t just leave him
hanging for the sake of brevity.  Gravity won’t have it—)

Memory issues a decree.  We his subjects are summoned
wall-to-wall into the projector
room with the scroll ready to roll.
Thus upping the periscopes of our necks
we can follow along.
Light takes our eyes
on its flickery back, scrambling down
the rungs of each frame and back up
as memory repeats itself—a presence for its absent-
mindedness, insofar as it serves,
the subversive head’s ideal figurehead,
insofar as anaphora clicks.
With the page only doing, reel-to-reel, as told.
The upshot was to use a hand-held camera for your epic propaganda.

Dead of summer.  Not a flick we haven’t caught.
What’s left for us to ruin for the rest?

We were in heat in French.
It translated with a splat.
We didn’t call each other little cabbage that we didn’t hear a golden-blonde litter
of puppies whacked against a chainlink fence.
Every pet name fell flat.
Lest we confuse inhuman with diminutive.

Or there was your take
on rhetoric as the proverbial trap
the voice of a people will rise and fall
into. 1-2-3 Hitler, your father jumps in
as you begin to strap theory naked
to a pastoral backdrop of fact.

—When in fact you didn’t have to
be there.  You had to have a father telling you time
and again there was really nothing
to tell, his memory
like an 8-track donated to Goodwill, then stashed
way back in the back with the other outdated crap,
a heat-warped collection free with the record player whose
speaker’s disconnected.
A silver screen in the sense
of valuable filter, of clearing the air for awhile.
He was sent overseas to translate what
few words weren’t fighting.
Soon he spat in quotation marks.  Nor did he ever
fully regain the powers of speech once
his voice dropped out of the corps
and took up dancing
around things.
In the toe shoes of commas it went en pointe.
It stepped the stones of ellipses.
And then it just trailed off.
You never could follow.

Here’s to each of us being
the phantom limb of some faraway tree,
at the top of whose family tree
is the tree the top of ours
swung from.

Profile

Your head is the balcony
from which our heroine just flung herself!
In chiffon she is one frothy comet.
That yellow’s the plummet.
From down here one suspects the usual
trajectory—French doors, and a startled chandelier
swooping around the room
to alight with its shadow of claws in her scalp.
One is wont to trace glow back to source.

Your head is a meadow
where poetry grows wild
and she, a piebald cow,
is led to pasture. She goes in
for the flowery clumps. When she chews,
her eyes make like mud puddles.
The brown swirls around.
Her cud is truly bewildering.

But your head is all the land.
She’s the fairest in it—
hence banished,
trees being the forest’s electrified fence.
The city meanwhile’s unwalled,
the palace gates going unmanned
as the nondescript queen within
pulsates, as wish pulls the switch on command.

It’s the zoetrope of the thing that gets me.
Half of me cheers her on
as she gallops nude through the steeplechase,
steed clearing the hedgerow, the ditch:
The other half off
entertaining a host of gala ideas
as to who got this head of yours spinning.

Adaze in the infinity of passersby,
I fall for the first mathematician
I happen to zero in on, where you sought
to apply the lotion of the theory of entropy
to me, to my—still, you pass
for a hero. Or else
why do they keep your profile?
It looks dismal for us rough figures.
There falls the guillotine-
chop of dawn now!
Let’s get out of this decimal place.

Mutation, a love story

“[Evolutionary biologists shot] a few minutes of footage taken by a tiny camera affixed to the underside of a man’s penis just prior to intercourse…”—from Elle, Oct. 1996

Frontiers of a precoital era. DeCrespigny led the expedition
backed by our own S. Smooha. Cliffs sketched in, sand stretched out
like flesh forming a habit, or uninhabited skin;
oh breathtaking treachery, fresh
out of people—
A man goes Ahab
over a native
as, when Eve turned out to be a diva overnight,
Adam filled the backstage void
of a matinee in progress, hand in deep
hip pocket.
This timeline’s an incoming sinusoid.
From out of the figleaf springs the trenchcoat,
to quote the biographer’s trenchant analysis.
We would go on to chronicle
the lives of the first honeymooners.

I followed you on to the deck.
Green was just reaching
the boiling point.
As though we’d never watched it,
the green was nearly ready.
A camera so loaded the lens filmed over.
Foliage was coming in droves—
fronds moved in on the periphery—
To capture it all I had to keep moving
to a minimum. A scuffle ensued to achieve that
effect, the horizon cruising along
at sea-level, where the jungle formed angles.
Thickness by degrees. Here and there
a mango glimpsed like something nocturnal.

Then the dream of careening—
making slowly derivative love below deck
as our only hope, Renfrew and Cherry,
mutinied above—

In the long silent documentary
a minute camera is mounted
onto an ill-standing tripod—
filing gradually into the darkroom.
Soon a theory of editing develops.
We look for names in the credits
reminiscent of ours.

What can we say we have seen take place?
Vines overtook us and held fast.
Us dead at the foot of a tree
was the worst case scenario, but
first was a starry discovery. That one will last.

Infinitive: To Make a Little Something

Upsy-daisy! Come taste.
I know but this isn’t cooking.
I’m just making your favorite.
Careful of your tongue,
I may have been a little
pepper-happy. A little pepper-happy.
I think not. Let’s you and I
please go on being sweet. Anyway
I need for this to simmer. I do,
I like you lazy most of all.
You like me how, most of all?
Let’s be hungry and sleepy,
since you’re going and you do go.

I have a favorite spoon,
the institutional Thor.
To speak highly of the dish,
to wax so far from pusillanimous as damn nasty
for he would have baked beans
off our good china! I think not.
He is endearing
and the spoon I have him use is,
is yes, you said it, stainless!

A faminifesto:
Write like you could eat a horse.
A manifasto:
Write like you could
but you wouldn’t think of it.
A manifeasto:
See faminifesto.
Amenifesto:
Write like grace was said,
and the hot rolls are coming your way.

A masturbatory gesture,
a tic of the wrist—
no less definitive
v. definitive, no less—
there’s beckoning, there’s flicker
of recognition. I stir. I knead.
I toss lightly. I think not. I fold into.
And then I knead some more.

Hinge

Let’s put the hinge in thing. It’ll take some doing
but once it’s in all the world will begin, back and forth, to swing,
swing out onto the fluid and the blurred. It’ll need/require/necessitate some being
but once it’s been, all the world will take wing,

thisward, thatward,
to alight, midflight, anothered.
Birds and stars turn into stars and birds—
flocks constellating, stars in chevrons overhead, starcalls overheard.

Field stars hop around. Birds fade/dim at dawn over fields.
Starlight smears a cracked windshield.
A bird to find your way by, fixed. A star wheeling
aloft. Stars on a wire. Wishing on the first bird, a thing being, as we speak, fulfilled.

*

The elevator and the waterfall slide
past each other through the world and into place, up the shaft, down the side.
Let’s take the water to the top. Let us let it let us out on the top floor, let’s ride
the strata up and be awestruck at the sheer, the solid

drop. And when zigzag and undulation shift,
in the slippage between sea and cliff,
surf and crag, let’s hear beauty calling surface tension’s bluff.
Experiencing texture in and of flux,

*

let’s attend a fête where snacks and trinkets, buffet and display, start/begin to gel.
Silver platters circulate with raw pearls on the half-shell,
diamond chips and gold dip, (citrine squirted over) jumbo gem cocktail
(squirted with citrine), jewel skewers—cabochon kabobs with chunks of/achunk with fire opal

as the guests circulate dripping with triple strands of coral roe,
parsley(ed/-sprigged) tiara s, cherrystone cameoes—
clams attached to platinum clasps—bits of pimiento
through holes in the lobes, studded belt buckle of a softshell crab (faux).

**

Wedging the ginglymus into the rigid thing,
thrusting ginglymi upon things—resisting
is natural, bending gingerly. But once essence begins
to know range of motion, there’s no turning

back, only turning and turning each into (/)the other.
So aura becomes beam,beam aura,
until guards and guardians, angels and interro-
gators appear to us in altogether

altered/new/different lights—glare and glow,
focus and diffusion, laser and halo,
illumination’s source and course clear and unclear, shadow
and silhouette—gradation gaining the edge on edge. So

*

interior turns exterior, the furniture (geo-)phenomenon
(of geology). Let’s redo our home with the world—sofa and ottoman
a length of rock ledge and a boulder, tides/the tide rolling up and down
where once were/in place of windowblinds/shades—let’s roll around on

rugs of tan sand, send a runner of white sand
down the stairs, install wall-to-wall sand carpeting in russet and
rose, the colors of sunset over /upon dunes wind-tracked and land-
markless, the hues of pinpointing nowhere, of standing

still through the day surrounded by no sound but the animal cries
of wind. So in our bed of meadow, mattress of matted dried grasses
on soil box spring on bedrock frame, come sunrise,
lying ear to (your) chest, I am/let me be in for the daily/everyday surprise

*

of outside sounds coming from within you, bodily sounds
coming up through the window from our block/the street below, grinding, ground-
down sounds, stomachs/tummies rumbling past, (bull)dozers briefly drowning
out the neighborhood’s soft, steady pounding.

Little construction site, small(est) dilapidation. In you a fenced heart barks.
An engine starts up in you, off to work.
The occasional plane drone makes/follows an arc.
The chained heart baying near dawn, in the dark.

**

Soon the body and the soul will start to bleed
into each other like colors exceeding
the grasp of their (own) wavelengths, off on a hue spree.
The voice will run the spectrum, describing how it sees

*

the soul as the town cripple, not shuffling through the park
so much as getting caught in the scuffle
between his legs, while the look
on his face stays as sweet as a leaf, a little

detached from the petiole—as when a branch
stirs, leaves blink in the sunshine
like a glimpse of nocturnal fauna
hidden in selfsame/identical/indistinguishable flora, leaves blinking

in the breeze that blows that look across
his face, startling when the tree opens its windowblind
of branches, or at the freaks and flukes of birdcalls.
Or the soul is only one

*

among a hilltown’s crippled populace
whose tendons unravel in legs like runs
in stockings, legs like sheer pantyhose
with no legs in them—all the tender pendulums

of limbs aswing, limbs like emblems
resembling/of wings flapping on flapping flags,
limbs like needles climbing seismic registers,
indicative of (subsurface/sudden) activity,

legs caught in the trap their own knees spring,
twisting back to chew free, snapping at the knee—
the soul the body in the stairwell every step amounts to,
the body taking the stairs of its own making, flights of air—

*

the soul the body that is its own springboard into the whirlpool,
hurling itself off itself into the whorl, the loose end(s) of the loop—
turning the/its/a leap
into its/a plea, (the) movement letting out a whoop—

Come on in. The word for water is warm. TKTK
as though the relation of the body to the soul hinged
upon the answer to the question: In the sentence
injure tinge spring fringe linger impinge
“Upon reaching the site, we found the ruins in ruins,”
what are we to picture,
rubble doubling or the resurrection of the/a temple therefrom?
When the reversible and the irreversible finally blur
Ur-/remains inter

it will be for good.

Grand Entrance

Of all my beauty secrets, hurdling the railing into the courtyard of the Grand Hotel is the one I’m keeping—
I gave away floating and sprawling, crawling on all fours,
I showed which floors to get knocked to and pinned to
beneath a gleaming dress shoe in the foyer, the ballroom beyond still
tinkling, twinkling, blurred and starred—
the hostess knows—
I disclosed gliding down stairs in wraparound raw silk spitting blood—
kimono of ecru, robe of mauve and old bone, blood coming out of the mouth—

too, I divulged spurting
and bird calls
from the bird that lives inside me,
a honeycreeper, a bananaquit,
let one thing, I slurred,
make you tropical and sheer, let them
think they see through you
to the fluttering bird
that feeds on the fruit growing there—
I suggested you live like the door to the cage
were, unbeknownst
even to you, ajar—
But I kept falling

past the windows, the windows, the windows of the Grand Hotel
and there was the sun at the top of its clocktower, sunning back and forth upon the tolling of the aureole, radiating chimes—the sun too a bell
I could see as I fell
and me passing the glass elevator and hearing the bell strike the skull and the brain start ringing, applause from the mezzanine—
and the lounge act
clear the lobby of equipment—sheet-music stands and sheet music, quick—
It was farther treetops that were moving in the treetops, it was a spire rising.

I said don’t fill your diary
with entries, only entrances—

Glossolalia

Glossolalia

I

What bites is when he begs me through the gag
to stop shoving my lips down people’s throats.

I thought my lips a sleeping bag
for a kiss to unzip and get comfy in
under the stars.
I thought them the asymptote of the curve
we kiss on, a ratio fast approaching
1:1.
I thought my lips symptoms of all the beauty-
sleep I’d pissed away
in the throes—and how they’d vanish
in the puff of a kiss
at the close of a fable
about doing an about-face.
How his lips read like a warning label on the kiss—
a skull-and-crossbones of pale and thin, and mine
the only antidote known to him.
I could go on forever.

So I cooked up a little plan for the kiss.

At first our lips will act knock-kneed.
Then they’ll lock
like the knees of a gymnast
on her dismount from the beam—
the opening sequence in a dream routine.
Or they’ll lock like our tongues
were keys to red deadbolts.
Or else like our tongues were the keys
to the teen diaries of our lips,
filled with talk of knees turning to jelly.

I’ll stick to it yet.
I still think a good kiss is foolproof.

II

Here’s a list of fabrics lips would come in
if lips came in fabrics:

seersucker
lace
rawhide

If you could choose from an array
of lip-prints, which would you choose?

houndstooth
flower-strewn
camouflage

Lips to fit your every mood.
Imagine!
I think I would slip into something a little more comfortable.

To keep my shapely kiss,
I follow a daily regimen.
First I give it plenty of fresh air
and fluids.
Next I exercise it.
I monitor its snacking
and liquor intake.
Keep in mind,
when a kiss can pinch an inch
it’s liposuction time.

Grenadine for day.
A frost, Fireworks, for night.
In tiny, mirrored case,
in studded handbag,
in crystal-fixtured powder room.
Give me the works!
The whole shebang.

III

He knows
when I’m pissed—
my lips go off like a pistol.
The spit flies.
Kisses ricochet.

Some bounce right off him.
Some sing past.

Once I co-founded a lip service.
The public’s response was resounding.
A hot line had to be installed.
The night shift were laid-off ventriloquists.
Your lover doesn’t even come close,
that was our policy.

When I saw how I was taking my work home with me,
I fired myself. I mean I retired. Meanwhile,
shares in the once Mom-and-Pop operation
skyrocketed. Today it’s worth a small fortune.

What is the sound of one lip kissing?

My lips cast a shadow
on the wall of his face.
I can do bunnies and German shepherds.
I can do passing headlights,
down to the patterns they throw
as loosely as a shawl across him—

for one moment, the dark crocheted with light.
Only the kiss looms.