apocryphaltext Vol. 2, No. 1
Sometimes there is a beautiful world inside the world of poetry. Sometimes the children
have nosebleed inside my ornithologies and sometimes the cheerleaders are naked inside
interrogations I keep holding to prevent myself from defacing all the posters you’ve
pasted up around my room. They inform an anxious public that there is no place for a
crowded elevator like me in an age of retrospectives and beautiful poetry about
the origins of deficient landscapes.
I want to dig my own ditch in that landscape.
I want to bury you in that ditch. I want to bury
the hatchet in the back of my poem, in your back,
I want the sheets to be depict men with nothing
left to bury. Such men don’t deserve to lie on glass.
Sometimes we leave my body inside the allegory and sometimes there are still traces of
the beach on it when we get to church. Sometimes we leave the taxidermy museums with
new concepts of liberation and defiance. Sometimes the rewards of poetry are like the
lessons of the Native American exhibit on the third floor:
Pale, decorative, slow and glorious.
Sometimes I wish it were men in there.
I want to learn how to touch you
like extinct animals.
So far, I’ve only got the panting right.
My hands still scratch too hard
still hit hard still stroke like
an animal that won’t die until
the bank of America has been depleted
of all of its beautiful secretaries.
Oh, beautiful secretaries at the Bank of America!
Meet me tonight in the taxidermy museum of your choice
and we’ll stuff the animals full,
as full as the collapsed bunker
where I built a glass bed for my girl, where I painted
the walls with fluids left over from our lovely theater
of arguments and spilled milk.
Those fluids tasted oddly like bourbon and oddly
like the aftertaste of fame.
I’m never going back to the Bahamas.
I live in a corrupted landscape: The fruits have no flavor. The girls have no odor. They
cannot break. Their language is Latinate and there are no words for hyena or thigh. I can’t
say anything without my hands and my damned hands will only hit or strike or beat.
I have been offered the job of explaining U.S. involvement in the Third World using
a puppet theater. I told the fiction writer in charge that I knew nothing about the Death
Squads or disappearances. “Just think about making love,” she said and smiled the smile
of a thousand cigarette burns.
Stockholm Syndrome is the perfect disease for me.
(A transcription of my roommate’s recordings, heard through several walls and a few rooms:)
Don’t ask me.
Unless you want to wear barbwire on you’re child’s ankles.
Unless you want to listen to music while tied to hares.
Don’t ask me to shoot the tigers.
Don’t ask me to explain asylum laws.
Don’t ask me about Bosnia.
I’m sick as the crystal nights in which we made
love like horses in a mudslide.
I’ve never wanted to meet God.
I don’t like any other children
than my sweet little pet theory
about my displacement.
The codfish is wrangling.
Will I take you to the skinny house or to the famines I’ve fabricated while trying to figure
out where to take you, where I can position myself so that I won’t escape so that we
won’t escape so that we won’t break the glass before we’ve finished the new house.
The one that doesn’t end.
The one with the blue flowers
I planted on your thighs.
Yes, that one. Yes, the pig circus. Yes, in half. Yes, every hole. Yes, ivory. Yes, bright.
Yes, nothing. Yes, that’s gasoline. No, that’s a torso.
Our Lady of the Pig Circus
The First Cut of Our Pig
The Piggie Bank, Piggie Bank
There’s no place for you in the beautiful world of poetry. Not with all these alarming
connotations of child molestation. Not with your absolute lack of symbolism. I want
to keep you in my room. I want to tie you up like a deer.
We made cuckoo love
it was cuckoo love
it was trauma to the chest
it was knock-knock-who’s-there
it was a cuckoo clock in the breakneck
harpsichord thumping against
my seal. My seal is so soft,
so soft, Elsie. Its babies have been
clubbed, Elsie, but they are so soft,
Elsie, so soft, soft as your thighs, Elsie.
The Ballad of the Pig Circus
I used to be stereotyped for my ambulance good looks
and a smile that says “I just stabbed my thigh with the sharp
end of a compass” like no other reference to the vaudeville era.
I used to tame dead horses and count cockroaches on
the gnarled arms of the downtown pretenders.
Then came the angel.
It woke me up one night poking me with a rifle
to check if I was sleeping or imitating its dead cousin.
I was imitating its dead cousin.
I was powerful as only a spoiled child can be.
The angel was spoiled as only meat can be.
It taught me to rifle through the faces of faceless victims.
But it was the Year of the Scab
and there was no room for people who act like
lawn fires when they should be modeling
the latest symptoms in remodeled scriptoriums.
That must be why the angel left me one night
and why I shattered its face when I found it the next morning
taking a nap in the neighbor’s baby crib.
I admit it wasn’t the best solution,
but what do you expect from a Hollywood of dead horses?
The Second Cut of the Pig
The birth story of our nation is short. There was some nature that needed to be cut. I hid
silverware in the tree. The first eyelids of our nation were taped open, but then we shut
them. Then we killed Indians. With knives and forks. When we opened their bodies, we
didn’t find any gold, just infected candy. Then we orchestrated another genocide but we
prefer Europe’s genocides because they’re romantic, with the trains and the silver teeth
and they take your fur at the door. Our genocides were far less artful. Someone who’s had
to wash mucus and blood off the floor of a ship is more likely to write an instructional
booklet about doll-collecting than to write a poem. We’ve made a cold and very clammy
doll in this tree. Yes, that’s still me up here but now I’m wearing the Mask of Reason.
Now I’m getting ready to jump down on your sisters window ledge and sing her a sweete
sweete melodye about the loins, the fire and the dread, the charcoal odor, the sting of gin.
I’m putting on the Mask of Treason. It itches.
Send in crackheads with clay feet
Send in ass-fucked girls
Send in tarp to cover up the sailors
Send in catatonics to cover up our television eyes
Send in archetypes of gravel
Send in grovelers and boasts
Send in fists on a silver plate
Send in cakewalks and cake shame and cake crowds
Send in the evidence of tampering
Send in the gravel empires
Send in raptures of feathers and fires
Send in laugh tracks
Send in tigers
Send in stranglers and ex girlfriends
Send in intruders and exploitation narratives
Send in pawnshop romances
Send in stalkers and forgivers
Send in breeders
Send in boom-boxes
Send in the sick sick song we sang
Send in the horselessness we sang about
Elsie your shadow Elsie your seal Elsie in my favorite sitcom your behind sits in the milk
bowl Elsie your indie bands suck your tits I want to suck I want to hurt your balloon but
it’s stuck in the telephone wire stuck to my shoulders and its mouth can’t say a word that
is not a shadow of your shapely body that is not in English and about your big tits my
milk sister my little surgeon my tied-up deer my solved problem in an abandoned vehicle.
The Motif of the Fist in Vaudeville Shows
That theater is now a dog-training facility
I know I was there I bit and I chewed
I have a cuckoo in my trauerspiel
Melville is too busy jacking off in the customs house to check the freight I’m bringing
into the country. His country is pale and the poachers need my bag of orphans for their
festivities. The festivities will take place right here. No, right here, in my torso, my pig
roast, my oink-oink-you’re-dead.
Elsie’s balloon is so cute, it’s a shame it’s a condom. It’s a shame I have to use it for its
true purpose – to break.
I’m teaching a class on the ruin of aesthetics. My class is full of girls wearing tiny athletic
shorts and tank tops. Their bodies are too well-nourished for the history of hospitals, their
faces are too round, smiling for mass grave photography. Their eyes are too blue to be
fishes. In order for this class to change their adorable little lives I must turn those pretty
blue eyes into codfish. I must catch them on my hook. I must hang myself on the
clothesline outside my mom’s house. The suburbs are made of cod skeletons hanging on
clotheslines. They jangle every time I fuck.
We built a hare throne of wonders
We used lye
I agree with Godard: In his movie about the Rolling Stones the band appears so
ridiculous in all their artistry and re-takes compared to the spontaneous beauty of juvenile
delinquents spray-painting quotes from Mao on a factory wall or the black militants
kidnapping the palest women in France. And yet here I sit with my little devil inside
some soundproof walls trying the get the drums to be just right. I want them to sound
shattered as a doll’s head.
I'm so 20th century.
I write poems about gasoline.
I paint the corridors in nail polish.
I love lips,
for they remind me that I'm alive and ticking
like a bomb in a schoolyard
or beneath a bed that hasn't been made
for almost 30 years now.
The bed is my left eye.
My right eye is the key
to the deserted circus animal.
(I wrote that poem a few months ago while working as a landscaper in New York City.)
The Fable of the Pig
I’m revising the pig circus to include both the Coco-Cola Cowboys with their religious
machines and the Queen Girl with her hundreds of strays running through the streets at
night. I’m erasing the incriminating parts in which I plan to kill Elsie’s new boyfriend.
How I plan to beat his face in, how I plan to feed him ten pounds of his own flesh.
Instead the pig circus will be full of political satire. We’ll have a white house and
amnesia. On the Fourth of July the pigs will squeal. In the dirt the pope will try to get
away from the animals. Old men shouldn’t wear such white clothes in the dirt. Old men
should hide their ears when they’re being trampled by pigs. Red. Old men should wear
red in the dirt. I’m even changing the crowd. Instead of popcorn we’ll have chicken
carcasses. That’s why the queen and her hundred strays will burst through the stands.
There won’t be a queen. She’ll be dogs. There won’t be a crowd. They’ll be readers.
(Basquiat is painting my portrait but he’s running out of rope.)
Our Lady of the Pig Circus
Everyone loses when the codfish jangles.
For Italo Calvino:
When visiting Athens, GA, don’t forget to bring some berries to Necropolis. I love
berries and so does my Egyptian dog. He loves my eyes too. He stays within striking
distance. That’s where the orphans come in, the orphans with their beautiful bright eyes
glimmering in the dark.
Prayer from an Occupation:
Send in the carpetbaggers.
Send in the armed idealists and freed slaves.
Their time is coming in my seashell.
Their time will be a cockfight, blindness.
Soak a pillow in vinegar.
You’re not a rider, said the reader to the insane asylum in Cairo. You’re a spider, Elsie.
But I came here through the desert on a gaggle horse, cried Peer Gynt into the
breathalyzer. It don’t matter whose clothes you wear, it’s how you trap the vermin that
counts, whispered the scientist into his microphone. Applause. When will they stop? Why
do my students wear such skimpy outfits? Applause. What can I tell them about the
narrative implications of racism if I keep staring at their thighs? Applause. I’m catching
figurative rats in here! Applause. I love the mole just above your hip bone. Applause. Can
I kiss that skin fold? Applause. Elise Beckman, why don’t you answer? Applaud. Have
they stuffed your little mouth full of cake? Applaud.
(Note to self: This exercise was not meant for people. It was meant for snakes and movie
The way you slipped out of your lovely little bikini as we made out in the salty water
while the German tourists lazed around on the beach and my skull burned: Oink.
My fist is nothing without you
My barnyard is nothing without
your smile. It doesn’t even burn
And the horses escape.
“Rock n’ Roll Host”
It’s so bright in Necropolis the sunlight doesn’t even twitch. I’ve painted my Egyptian
dog the color of a burned-out Chevrolet as an attempt to teach it devotion. I’m feeding it
pig meat and making it sniff your torn-up prom dress to teach it to track you down in the
woods. The problem is that it’s too hot in this high school mausoleum; the dog salivates
and this interferes with its sense of smell. This makes it tick too loudly. It leads me out on
gravel roads and minimalist color fields. Now we’re entering a stadium full of white
people singing songs about heartbreak like they were ready to round up all the strays in
town. Maybe they’ll take care of my dog. They won’t need subtitles.
You have taken everything dark in my road movie
And turned it into a corset.
You have taken a man you despise and turned him
Into a cage. I know the animals you want to keep
In there. It’s not broken enough.
We did the brilliant cuckoo with your hands tied above your head. We did the angry
cuckoo against he wall. We did the cracked cuckoo on glass. We did the leaky cuckoo.
We did the sweet cuckoo. We wanted to push the gates open for the cuckoo but now it’s
pecking at my skin. It wants back. Applause.
Bare Ruined Choir
The gypsy told me I was a ruined pilgrim, I would never amount to anything more exact
than jungle or asphalt. Applause.
If you ever marry, Talking Heads will reunite
and play “Burning Down the House” at your reception.|
I will reunite and play gravel roads with my hands
and your immortal sister.
You will probably hoola-hoop on the stage.
You know how I love it when you hoola hoop.
Especially when you’re just wearing
your pink underwear with little flowers.
Applause. The False Wedding of Elsie Beckman -- A Lurid Case History
When Elsie Beckman returned from the junkyard she abandoned all my love poems in a
‘65 Plymouth. She was a few years older, a few pounds heavier, but now she “loved” her
body and felt comfortable going to the beach in a baby-blue bikini which was a
wonderful size too small. She married the boy she told me was “pretty ugly, boring and
incredibly materialistic” because he was “the opposite of you, dependable, doesn’t fight
back.” Do you want to know what happened to me after the junkyard was over? I joined
the Fascist Party like my grandparents and spent the rest of my life stabbing the pillow
where her head used to be.
Today I noticed a strand of her hair I hadn’t seen before.
The best kind of beauty is a leaky.
The best kind of hole is the beginning of a story.
The best kind of blossom is hardening in my head.
The best kind of architecture is dorms.
The girls in this town are well-nourished and tan. I’m watching one in a café on College
Road. She has beautiful bare shoulders and she’s wearing a tight black tank top. There
are vague highlights in her brown hair. She’s reading the classified section. I wonder if
I’m in her classified section? I know I’m in the whoroscope. It says: “Johannes, look to
your right! There’s a girl with pigtails! Johannes, there are pictures of heroes on the
walls! Johannes, you will never be able to keep Candy safe. Johannes, you will never be
able to keep Candy locked in your safe because, Johannes, your safe is not a safe. It’s an
organ. Johannes, you’re the monkey.”
(The silver fever I hustle
isn’t meant as a love song for you.
It ‘s meant to explain religion
to demonstrate the significance
to pig at your thighs.)