After: Sofonisba Anguissola, by Anthony Van Dyck
the two dimensional:
The void calls through gossamer veils and widow’s peak;
…………..Peak widows and veils gossamer through calls void.
shifty-eyed now of necessity, I lie; bone-wrapped
…………..Bone-wrapped lie I of necessity. Now, shifty-eyes,
in rosaries, black as my rheumy eyes, death speaks.
…………..speak death, eyes rheumy, mine as black as rosaries,
Uncomforted by silk laid down or velvet, role-trapped
…………..trapped, rolled in velvet or down-laid silk, uncomforted in
corseted, board stiff with age I lie. Calfskin vellum
…………..vellum calfskin, lie I. Aged, on a stiff board, corseted,
like paper peeled, bloodless gutted by the knife of man.
…………..man of knife gutted, by the bloodless, peeled, papered—
The scene is set. I shall not whimper, as do some,
…………..some do but whimper, not I. Shall I set the scene? Are
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After: “Time does not bring relief…”
Edna St. Vincent Millay and Norma Millay Ellis.
not all have
lied told me
leave bitter, old
memory never fell
*an erasure sonnet
The feral pigs of De Grey River bushwhack Aussie campers, camouflaging themselves as kangaroos. As porcine Crocodile Dundees. They slink through the woody cover and crawl commando-style through open ground to steal the campsite’s cache of beer. Old timers mumble between mouthfuls of vegemite sandwiches that swine raiders have absconded again with the goods. Six-packs of Foster’s, Bluetongue and Pure Blonde saddle-bagged on the backs of the fleeing marauders. A renegade Olde Frothingslosh smuggled into the outback by a Yank with a G.O.P. trust fund kaput. The boars rip through the cans and gnaw off the caps. Guzzle the lager until even the local heifers look like the finest Vietnamese Potbellies in the hop haze. Tourists gather in Land Rovers to watch cows chase the besotted hogs around the campfires and ransacked pup tents. Snockered pigs careen off small children. Squealing off-key porker renditions of “Tie Me Kangaroo Down.” “The…
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Hopper, I’m not another Hickok with an obituary of aces and eights. I’ve perched on this Naugahyde stool and read my horoscope in sugar packets since Methuselah undertook his nine centuries of celibacy. In the steam rising from Jake’s sad-sack coffee, I confront the shape-shifting caricatures of my solitude. A Hoosier rebel hell-bent on a “chickee run” fades into a fat buffoon named Homer who airs his butt-crack cleavage as he gorges on jelly donuts. Then Batman sobs through the mounting toll of his losses. If I ask, Jake will shuffle his glossy photos of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and deal a cel from Bull-oney or Monkey Wretches. But when he expounds upon the geography of phrenology, I turn to “Suit” in the corner seat and his red herring orations regarding John Wesley Hardin’s sojourn among the Lost Tribes. Time yawns on the empty boulevard behind us. I sip Jake’s…
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You open the door to find kittens in pajamas playing tug-of-war with a thread. A masked fish gulps for breath on a blue mat. You think this is the wrong room but onions and Christmas bulbs blow bubbles of Scherherazade smoke. Or is this an illusion cast by the wasp in the jack-o’lantern box who may or not be a ventriloquist? The genie lamp on the opposite wall floats too high for you to reach. It bounces on a spring and spouts small guitars which play Blue Moon with notes written upside down. An older guitar has grown feet, a pale giraffe neck and a yin-yang face. You have a question for the pregnant cue stick but the Cyclops eye speaks to you of unicycles. Are those angels floating toward the ceiling in this bright room with a dark star in its sky or are they mermaids swimming in an…
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Last fall, you picked the low hanging fruits before they ripened so a woman on a sangria diet could read your fortune in the freckles of persimmons. On the asymmetries of pears. Every time you ventured into town you found yourself pacing between the pawnshop, the sex toy parlor and Mad Mama Monique’s Blunderbusses and Other Seasonal Wreathes. You always returned home with empty arms. The money in your pocket replaced with postcards posted by John Dillinger. You wandered into the private lives of paintings. Loitered near telephone conversations from the days of party lines. All the possibilities of love that slipped away while you read the Irish poets. To your credit, you never said, I’ll never be caught dead. Yet you drove the getaway car and ran a pickpocket school on the West Side for thirteen years. Lately, you’ve begun to hoard photographs of Josephine Baker with her cheetah, Chiquita…
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