A Chapbook by Jake Berry
Acknowledgements: some of these poems appeared previously in eratio and The Canary, two very fine publications.
Mene Mene Tekle Upharsin* with a mondo twist death in the barracks the sin eater run amok. a cellar requiem two saints with arm bands. born from their stigmata, they hammer out deluxe packages of mercenary gysm come with me toward absolute future toward daylight and an old man in a lawn chair cleaving his supper *Daniel 5:25
3.7.04 2turbulence in the masthead
the baptist has been decapitated
on the quarter deck
you could smell the bodies
we had no idea
it would be like this
sand for a month
then rain and cold
I was sent to
search for survivors
my papers were confiscated
even those that were nothing
but blank sheets of paper
the radio blinking out
roaches in the circuitry
last night my buddy says to me
he says, "can you
remember anything before this?
3.8.04 3 thirst.
4the place was full of bankers.
Paradise I mean, even angels have their price.
the palaces and stockades were
all hive mind and avarice.
mother sits leaned against the house
in a ladder back chair
in the afternoon sun
softly singing to herself.
that is all I can remember of her now.
I pledge allegiance to the real,
but all allegiances have been broken.
and the real is a heavier fiction.
the books are covered with stains
like a sallow mattress
leaned against a tree
and the odor of it.
(for Ivan Argüelles) uroboros abattoir slaughterhouse serpent in the feedlot swimming through the feces (up to her udders in it) coiled in the killing stall asks, "What's your pleasure? antibiotics? hormones? fat injections? amphetamines?" Taste is a chemical manufactured in an off coast mill. The senses are subjects of litigation. There is no center. whirling around these fragments, these old stories the zealots unite fistula membrane drill shanty town The barber is a secret agent with vials of nitro glycerin strapped around his waist the core oracle wound tight. 3.14.03 7 Wasp in amber. Christ's palms in formaldehyde. The scribes are weeping in the ruins of their broken vocabulary. Comes a witch in Canaan can speak in pure image. The ground crawls with maggots when she speaks. Soldiers and mortar gun trucks raid the laboratories and take the parameter. They are figures in a book of prayer locked in a virus. Her left hand clutches the broach of Minerva–- The sea swells and swallows them all and the prophets with them. The grain gone sour in the monastery stores, even hallucination take its meat and breathe into the cameras and satellites Heaven is empty now except these leeches pocked in gravity's curve falling toward the Capitol collecting the populace like teeth. 3.16.04
8 (for Chris Mansell) Death days are like this. The sun rises from a brackish well and the starling's speckled feathers shimmer. His black eye twitching against a human window Death days are like this. The grand machine warped and broken and spread across a cotton field and the breaking plow and the broken wheel make you curl inside the hive and tremble and the two-faced god Melancholia-Insomnia swallows whole and bitter The raging sun The raging sun The black mass bleeding mirror 3.27.04
9 "Here, stuff this in his mouth." The arrogance of sovereignty. Orifice. Synapse. Dust blindness and lice. Wires in his teeth like squirming eels. – Some of them joyously submitted to a night in the stocks and a hot metal stave inserted in the anus. What is pleasing in God's sight? Flagellation. The Catherine wheel. What is pleasing in the eyes of the Lord? When I was delirious you woke me. When I was buried in the black & white you set the printing press on fire with seamy images lit out of nowhere. Bondage to the ziggurat urge, I am calloused nerve and the stark inclination of old suns. Burn what does not please you Lord. Burn the eyes that make you see. 4.1.04 All Fool's Day 10 Vertebrate insect mutates toward heaven. Two scars carry their message from generation to generation. Where the women sleep you can read their histories. Children of thunder, children of curses. They are devout and see no one beyond their covered brows but what the law requires. Their's is a poison that runs in the circuits, fashions the union of commerce and slaughter. Aluminum, pyrite, an arsenal of plastics: ring within ring sheep in the rain: the price of electricity devouring its mother. 4.5.04 from THE BLOOD PARODOXES
Blue smoke and its forest of antennae crawling out of old YHVH with attendant lice and frogs
“It’s a done deal.” says the hubcap man, shoving two 69 Ramblers into a brown paper bag “once you leave the yard you can’t come back.” body of a child hung with bailing wire in the tractor shed he’s still drunk three days after teeth and fingers nicotine yellow * The radio weeps The captives are freed to sand and desolation and the simian chatter of slot machines
Any hour the auricle hallows.
tragedy. every night is eloquent and cold. its teeth numb(ing beneath shocks of fluid hair. long/ago wound
into a kernel whose voice declines in the hole that remains ––. Still. Your’s is a suicide of great pleasures
from the bow & grounded before, even War. Even the war mannequin streaming out of its malleable tube 7 The starlings. Their hell siren. mocking dogtoothed atrophe. whose shadow flames into alabaster hollow figure. They mount along the stair railing and weep. Their passion is thickly invisible. The starlings. & pillage The infinite feast Back