flagging down

the angels

1992-1993

To Barney from Montana

 

list

 

what we remember

is a tangle of bones, hats, throats

tongues that dug deep into mouths

legs of pain, neighbors who beat kids

hot red roofs

and rain, rain rain

 

what we remember

is a bag full of nails

rooms where mothers sang to themselves

our feet in brand new shoes

spiders, broken jars

someone who slipped down all the stairs

 

what we remember

are the faces that fell

white and black statues now

bodies that became birds at night

dreaming of absolute flight

whiskey, books, shoes

hands that let lizards go

funny faces turned upright

dancing on the concrete road

 

what we remember

is a moon that shone

a dark earth that let our feet roam

green trees that dropped fruit

grass, air, human sounds

a splintered blue sky

that let the sun through burning

 

 

 

facing kafka

 

you could fit three of him

into me

Iíve grown so fat

I pull some cheese

out of my bag

and he and I

we picnic in the Prague park

kids throwing stones around us

heavy horses hammering by

princes walking in a daze

their black-clothed servants

hurrying behind them

he takes out a long stick of bread

and I put knife to the butter

how lovely your hair is!

and he touches it

we eat like pigs

smothering butter on bread

the knife gleams in the Prague sun

and shadows of nannies walk over our own

pushing their young out onto the green square

he puts his head into my lap

and we sail

lying there all afternoon

our mouths smeared with jam

 

when the light goes down

I look at him

a dreaming ghost

his eyes black as burnt toast

the lake shivers its glass beyond us

and a huge forest grows in the few minutes

we each have left

 

 

 

structure

 

God comes all dressed in a thin red suit
white shirt, black shoes
yellow socks, golden cuff links
he clears his throat
we look up
the room is spinning
his black eyes
spotted with anger
I am the first to fall
tears drop like soot on the rug
my head, a chimney, is shooting flame
God takes his hand
and pulls a water gun
from his pocket
you impossible thing
he shoots me with wet bullets
blam! blam! blam!
you idiot of idiots!
you did not do what I say!
he tells me of rivers
of forests heíll hide me in
of rocks heíll throw down onto me
of snakes who will bite me with poison
of rains that will devour
every single left emotion
god god god I cry
why me?
because youíre there
heíll say
 

 

 

 

flagging down the angels

 

you gotta try to catch them
these winged beings
as they fly over churches on Sundays
you gotta be quick
to catch these pure things
barely born and still covered with that cloak
that coat of newborn goodness
you gotta jump high to bring them down
you gotta climb to the highest step
while the minister curses you
under his breath
you gotta be quick
and kiss every hand that will help you to
where you need to be
you gotta be able to stay on the roof
all night while other guys
make love and drink beer and read verse
to their g-stringed mistresses
you gotta play the game to get there
to catch those flying angels
believe me
I caught one in a dream once
and flew all night
through bursts of violin music
and sights of strange color
that broke my heart
you gotta kneel when youíre close below them
and with the cleanest face you can muster up
you gotta gaze on them
and with pure thoughts you
gotta beg them not to pass you over

 


 

 

 

picnic

right from the beginning
the picnic is ruined
red rich ants grow on my fingers
biting the bone
the meat hangs from their lips
damn ants!
and then the sky pours down its music
rain rain rain
suffocating the flowers
who bend in their gloom
while lizards chew the pie
my dying grandmother baked
one foot in the grave
her flowered apron covering burial stains
I lick the spoon
and swallow the chocolate and flour and egg
above our heads is a moon
brightly burning that yearns
to be put out
what kind of picnic
is this?
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dream


I have a dream where you fall
from my saddle into the water
and you swallow all these fish
and your legs get bitten by passing lions
who have stopped at this pond to quench their thirst
and later a native finds you and drags you
back to his fires
his wives all glare with terror
at your white white face
and your cold hands
they have never seen a wrist with a watch on it
and they cut it off
never dreaming that the thing is to tell time with
they pray to it and pass it from one hand to the other
until you awake and beg for water
and you notice way above you the most beautiful fruit
hanging way down
near your lips
and a hand
a black hand
that drips with pure water
pauses near your lips and you drink
and feel your heart get bigger
and warmer and it is truly
getting bigger and bigger and
 

 

 

 whale

 

Listen to me. Thereís an ocean in my head. I turn my ears to the ground and eels pop out. Imagine. An entire sea pushing against the soft brain. I canít hear a thing.

Even now an octopus is strangling my memory center. I can feel it. Something like liquid salt pours into my throat. Iím tasting tuna, snails, sea horses. Spitting out sharksí teeth. I will not be able to remain a good citizen this way.

The mayor comes. Your Honor, I say, but a wave pushes itself from my mouth. His shoes ruined by the deep blue sea. Heís drowning. Calling for help. His thick moustache like wet wings against his cheek. Pump harder, I cry. Swim! Swim!

They send for the coast guard. Uh, maíam, says one. I spit up a school of mackerel. My tongue is puffy with the damn salt. Iím going to get high blood pressure. Tears splash from my eyes and tiny minnows swim in the pools.

Maíam. We got an ordinance. Sir. I got an entire ocean in my mouth. Would you have some respect? Are you curious? Could you at least pity me? I canít swim. Iím afraid of waves. I hate fish.

The police come. Guns shoot the flying fish that leap from my lips. Their blue uniforms are shiny with the wet, dark sea. Their tongues pressed hard to the roofs of their mouths. Their eyes hard, wet balls that glisten with notions of criminal laws. No fishing, they yell at the fishermen who have gathered.

An old sea captain tries to net a huge whale struggling to leave my mouth canal. It blossoms as I give birth to it. Moby Dick! This is surely my exit! I will leap on the thing which came from this dark part of me. I will speak its language and hope it will take me as its daughter. Strange daughter! Tiny and dry I hang onto its neck as it makes its plunge. O cold water! The crowd is disappearing. The huge form that I have become shudders and sinks. Into that daring, darling blue. Iím breaking even. Holding on. Gazing into the wet, wet, wet...
 

 

 

 

   

 

 

marrying the animal inside


the face can be a grizzled claw
or a cruel slash of pain
it can roar open
black animal teeth
that scream all night at the rain
it can break into a thousand living pieces
of hard white clay
or turn its self upwards
and pray to God all day
or it can
down by a thorn-covered brook
taste the taste of water dribbling down its throat
and howl for more
as birds beat their wings by
opening mouths
that are connected to hearts
that pulse in our faces
these raw grins of surprise
 

 

 

living the life


a huge soldier
sticks his foot in our faces
his boot needs shining
and we bow our heads
in the center of town
where old musicians are playing
wild, unknown songs
on the bright blue tiled grounds
a black-cloaked woman kneels
in a patch of sunlight so harsh
it cuts her throat
and the blood from her neck
streams to where the chickens peck
golden grain from the road
and their beaks red
from all this sudden liquid
makes one of us kid
the soldiers about their mission
and everything stops for a minute
one ripe fat minute
of time ticking inside clocks
that surround the village
and tell us when
we will be able to walk down the road again
 

 

a poet in his black suit


a thin poet
under a green tree
popped a Camel
from his pocket
his dirty fingernails
pushing the tobacco deeper into the paper
the French sun hitting his curly hair
his red part gleaming
from my bench I coughed
up blood
my handkerchief nicely decorated
with tiny flowers
caught the frail puddle
and I beckoned my lungs to rest
as the poet passed
 

 

sidewise on a hill in morning 


the sharp green grass
is being torn apart by animal lips
and the earth gets slowly devoured
disappearing under the stars
all this I stand and look down at
my helmet in my hand
the other hand has been shot away
and lies now clutching a silver cross
near the captainís proud tent
strange army that Iím in!
I get no recompense

but a hurried kiss
from the captainís wife
while she touches her shy apron
with the stained blue fingers
of one who picks berries
on a bright country morning
near a lane upon which a donkey travels
and I gaze at the lips unravelling
murmuring
beautiful pale lips
telling me that I have died
I have died!
in the morning
 

 

 

 

bar counter in morning


I am in a country
that stinks
with dreams
she sticks her unwashed hands
upon my head
stroking my eye
beer foamy on her lip
proud to be one of the unclean
huge words fall from her mouth
and the hot sun of morning
falls on the counter
that my head lies on.
 

 

 

 

 

                                            

landscape


the guy under the neon sign
chews his pancakes eying the joint
watching three hard-working guys with ripped shirts
in the back booth
swallow coffee
butter their bread
spread the jam
their mouths mutter things
between mouthfuls
fuck this and that
they lick their lips
when the waitress comes
and leans way down
to ask them what they want
her hard body already way past forty
hangs in tatters
and they make sucking sounds
until she flicks a finger and curses
biting her cracked pink lip
and causing the cook to come out
a hearty, red giant
stained with years of grease and coffee
hey! you guys better straighten out
or Iíll dip your lousy pancakes
into your fucking faces
so they quiet down
and then this guy with a hat who looks like
his wife must be running out on him
comes in looking down
at his new shoes
theyíre shiny and imitation leather
he speaks slowly
so the waitress can hear
I want my eggs well-done
my coffee black
my toast white
Iím going to work
and I need it now
he pulls out two envelopes of fake sugar
as she pours the coffee into his cup
and all of them without looking up
sit there for a minute frozen

from outside
the diner is the only damn light
on in this town
 

rum


we sit like old birds
him under the banyan tree
with a bottle and a gun
me with my shirt rolled up
over branch-torn arms
I see the sea in front of me
he pulls me closer
with his cane
we roll cigarettes
and punch through the rusty rum
watching in the Christmas gloom
an ancient Santa pulling up his socks
by the side of the square
where tiny children wait

 


woman in a black hat


they say we canít be dangerous
but I am
I pull my gun from my hip
and shoulder some pain
and gulp down hot whiskey
in a dirty bar

watch out!
you young men who whisper confidences
about reaching 25
about needing more reason to settle down
I have rode my horse through a million towns!
and made a million maidens
tell me the secret place
where all the gold is always kept
and I have shot down their hardest men
smack in the middle of town
with their pants down!

watch out!
Iím lowering my black hat over my black eyes
and the whiskey is taking effect
in my wrists runs a horseís blood
strong syrup youíll have to swallow
if you donít watch out!
 

 

pulling the switch  


he sat there in a shiny suit
I swear Iím telling the truth
his holy body was attached
to an elegant chair
and tiny bits of electricity
were waiting to hurry into their host
he looked at his watch
with one brown eye and one blue
angry that I still had not
pulled the switch

well?
his voice thundered
Iím waiting, sir
to gawk?
yes....yes...
I saw that his lips had turned blue
his hair falling out
his bones bent and bruised
his suit hanging loose
do it, he said
Iíve got a train to catch
and fingering the metal switch
I thought about stealing the ticket
in his vest pocket
before it all burned up


my lungs wake before I do


my lungs wake before I do
and decide to take a real breath
as I tip toe in my dreams
one of them
a grey slab of meat
heaves in the country morning
ah! finally a real breath!
and the other grey slab
encouraged, puckers up his heart-colored lips
so to speak
and takes a breath so large and fine
I wake up
hey? whatís this?
the new air startles me
I smell farmwifes starting their pancakes
I hear roosters...
I taste the dew...
what the hell is this?
a fucking breath?
I scratch my head
damn, this feels good
and inside my rebel body
where the blood, chained to its master,
crawls miserably
thick through thick walls
these two serf lungs
rejoice! before they
fall again still

 

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