Monday, November 13, 2006

Red Slider

Illegitimate Poems


My poems are
bastard words,
pheme things

I will admit
no Muse spouse
of mine. What’s more

what touched me
what moved

my lips like wings
disturb the air
over dying lamps

would have much
preferred egress
by dream

as did Seline
covet the sleep
of Endymion.


Eyeless little soul
you are no soul
of mine. Hardly

from a party
in a dark alley.

Nothing to start
a custody battle.
I was savaged,
ink spilled.

A back-street catch,
brook-songs from
a drainage ditch

walked on wings
when I was speechless
and you, you little

Muse-infected son
of a bitch, you thing.
Go pimp yourself

if you like. Prowl
your own back-streets.
Sing, if you like, to

the bent ear of
any poet-whore
who will stop to listen.

But don’t you dare say
I abandoned you. Muse
shoe, it’s you that
abandoned me.


Here, in the long
white of my escape

shed of all desire
save a nightly prowl

around the practices
of shape and wood fire

like the taste of dark
porter with its heavy after

lid, I reserve my gratitude
for those who don’t call,

who have no point to make,
or find it inconvenient

to journey out on nights
like this. Most of all,

the few intimates who know
I would not be awake in any case

whatever the hour, I huddle
deeper into the drift

and for no one’s sake but
the sheer nothingness

I take myself unaware. It is
the scent of melting snow

when the southeast sun trifles
too close to a tall blue spruce

that will burst in flame and paste
my face to the dawn window.

I’m awake again in the wash
of old blood dripping from the eaves

and one manic finch about the size
of a migraine pecking blacktop

through the blank crust while
my eyes blink out rhythms.


What is the point
of an oriole

or a rain-slicked
cab opening its doors
in front of Vanessa’s

when you know as well
as I, we just pass these notes
among ourselves, from one

thief to another.
Train your ear
to the sadness

leaving behind
a crumpled napkin
at the station, its

kisses in mustard
the precise

of everything unrhymed
in ZYZZYVA, its perfect
binding, blank smile

at the going price of
11:50. Your lips and the train
pulling away.


Why settle
on such old codes?

From here
to Walter’s farm
was spoken there

while innumerable
village fires
spread like nebulae

I studied stars
no dimmer
than the usual

above the simmer
of mad avenues
sprayed with amens

like gang graffiti.
&the kachung, kachung
of old machinery underfoot

had always thumped
indigenous — a fractal beat
repeated to the ear

dis-tuned by fractions
the prattle of tin cities,
the little cities within cities

where floral displays of cadence
poured over colonies of prayer.
Snowless shoes going nowhere

(ones that never moved
their original location)
over the soulless crust

they defined the ‘aboriginal’
as if to shuffle off
to beds of anonymity/
left the poet,
anxious as he is,
barefoot in the dust

and, for once,
the provocations of spring
left where they were
as if we’d never met.


If I had to say muse - death - poet - poem - thing
like incantations of old place holders, six times each
—invoked in unique space equipped for song—
watch them burn through the slow soles of my feet,
fountain in molten hues of blue-white fire tones,
it is an old leaf mold that inspires me to lay it down.

I’d muse the town through luncheon haze, down-side
down till death waves us on through this alley-thing
lined with poets crying their litanies of toe-tap tones,
their pockets stuffed in poem scraps, crumpled napkins
each more scarred than the one before, its feet
cut into paper robes and those again to May song.

Death is just a pile of dirt heaped with song
for us to chew like hardened crust and shuffle
off down the road on shoeless feet, in fused
half-eaten words or some disc-ouvre’d thing
to cover what we tossed; confused, oh yes,
a story by a muse won or lost in semi-tones.

By mouth he hears what the harp intones
by growl, by throat as a love-lipped song
reminds us of the commonplace, spread each
complaint, say of it, when broken down
to a final death-like aphasia, a whispered thing
muse-split into cords of dry, measured feet.

Muse-dragged it bleeds and howls on cruel feet,
poets dropping to their knees play those little tones
Gone, Gone! you can never get it back, poor thing,
poem bones clacking out the home boy’s song.
In haute couture it hangs its face and face down
wandering from ghost to ghost and each to each.

Muse, I’d invite the lot to a table set for each
poem serves them in domestic livery feet,
the poet wolfing that and garnish down
with wine, of all wine’s sweet unnoticed tones
they eat away until the flesh is stripped of song
&death’s remark: the poet is transparent thing.

Death by day comes to lay its shadow down
by muse-shoe wrapped in old leaf poem. Unfold each
tones abandonment, the poet is transparent thing.

Red Slider and Frances Kakugawa live and write quietly in Northern California, content and fully aware of the day when Death will have its dominion. His work has appeared in Exquisite Corpse, La Petite Zine, Milk Magazine, Lynx, Journal of Anthropology and Humanism, and elsewhere. A small sample can be found here.