Another poem by yours truly, this one also dating back to the early 90s in San Francisco. To quote poet Charles Bernstein, “if it’s in prose, there’s a good chance/it’s a real poem.” I believe this piece was influenced structurally by a Hugh Sykes Davies’ poem I posted a while back on Robert Frost’s Banjo.
This is a bit of a “dark” poetic outing—a common occurrence for me in the 90s—but hope you enjoy it.
Love Song #57
It was one of those nights the wind has lots of hands all groping for 16th notes the turntable spits out spinning off whistling black lips without any body— they sounded like a clarinet wheezing a kiss through exsanguinating teeth & it emanates from this birdcage that's in fact a wire mannequin's pelvis & there're no sleeping parakeets there, there's only a radio perched on the edge of a precipice & a pair of mirror sunglasses looking lonesome without a face;
& each hand gestured desperately like the hotel's curtains, & just as out-of-breath & as stitched at the wrists, because one night at the same time Gwendoline snatched the pentangle down through the curtains thinking eternity & the Sunday Funnies as well as I want a blue ballpoint— which is nothing if not blue blue eyeballs exsanguinating— they'd come to realize they were not so happy as everybody thought they must be;
& each hand had a few too many blue blue eyeballs bursting the seams i.e. the lifeline, the loveline, they looked like paper napkins folded into hats transformed to the Sunday Funnies folded into hats— as if some stupendous haberdashery had been turned upside-down & shaken through the curtains & then over the edge of the precipice;
& there wasn't much wine left & what there was tasted like combs & paper napkins & Gwendoline's blue blue eyeballs, it tasted like dried roses in a Mexican chapel, except it was white— & Jackson sat slumped on the edge of the bed because he'd come to realize he was not so happy as everybody thought he must be, in fact he was out-of-breath like a turntable & had had a few too many, he was a sleeping parakeet caged in a mannequin's wire pelvis & at the same time slouching without a face inside his raincoat;
& as I was saying there wasn't much wine left behind in that hotel with stupendous curtains & what there was swarmed with spongilla & ciliata & hydrozoan polyps & of course flagella enacting a tableau from this Pompeian fresco emanating halos & combs & whirling black lace personal things stitched at the wrists, or was it actually the Sunday Funnies folded into hats;
& Gwendoline sat on the edge of the bed, the bed was a turntable whirling black lace personal things on a stiffened finger, & these things were actually black lips whistling without a face, & as I was saying this turntable it was spinning 16th notes into long black hairs combed straight through teeth through an out-of-breath clarinet;
& that clarinet spit up bloody teeth, it was the kind of kiss Gwendoline recoiled from tasting, all spongilla & ciliata & hydrozoan polyps & also this exsanguinating rose halo— she thought she must have been drunk in a Mexican chapel, & she was tired already from resuscitating so many suffering bastards;
& Gwendoline wondered what she should do with her hands, they were desperate gestures stitched at the wrists— or were those actually stitches or were they pentangles Jackson's blue blue ballpoint had inked in at the same time he was thinking paper napkins or 16th notes, because he was perched on the edge of eternity like a hat;
because it was one of those nights the wind has lots of teeth, when everybody realizes they're not so happy as everybody thought they must be, i.e. they would be headless mannequins sleeping in a Mexican chapel except they're white & unresuscitated, & Jackson's wheezing drunk on the edge of the bed, he's slouched inside his raincoat & at the same time recoiling from flagella's long black lifelines & lovelines stitched into the Sunday Funnies among the suffering bastards;
& Gwendoline sat on the edge of the bed, she was a radio perched on the edge of a precipice, which was in fact as like eternity as the hotel's curtains transformed to mirrored sunglasses, or was it pentangles the black lips spit up— because at the same time she realized she was not so happy as everybody thought she must be, i.e. she could not in fact be a halo, because Jackson's folded into a hat & stitched at the wrists & she's the flagellation tableau from a Pompeian fresco which is actually the Sunday Funnies upside-down in a birdcage;
& there wasn't much wine left & what was undrunk was actually exsanguinating roses & as I was saying it got shaken out like black lace personal things when the turntable's transformed to wind amongst lots of whirling hands, except the wine was white though it tasted like a raincoat & at the same time Jackson was perched without a face on the edge of a precipice like a 16th note groping for a kiss;
& Gwendoline wondered what she should do with her hands.