HAIL SATAN! Contemporary Images and Writing from Hell
It gets wicked hot in Cincinnati in August, and the humidity makes it worse. In fact, it’s nearly unbearable—at times even infernal. So what better way to celebrate the stifling tortures of summer in the city than with an exhibition that invokes, reinvents, and calls to further action the devil and his minions (heat, evil, mischief, contradiction, etc.)? If you can’t take the heat, then you might as well jump headlong into the fire. What have you got to lose other than your soul?
In this exhibition, the final show ever (the end of the road) at Cincinnati’s CS13 Gallery, artist Ken Henson and poet Matt Hart paired up 13 (unlucky!) visual artists and poets to re-interpret visually, and channel poetically, 13 members of the devilish horde. Each artist-poet pair was assigned a particular demon to conjure, and the results were exhibited during the month of August 2011 at CS13. In addition, the opening featured a reading by some of the participants and a limited edition book of some of the poems and images from the show itself.
The continuous line drawings of excerpts of the poems, which you can see below as they appeared in the show itself, were done by AAC 2011 grad, Tanner Bowden.
Photos of Gallery and Works
Below are listed all the demons and their assigned participants.
Poem: Dean Young / Art: Ken Henson
You can read almost anything
about angels, how they bite off
the heads first, copulate with tigers,
tortured Miles Davis until he stuck
a mute in his trumpet to torture them back.
The pornographic magazines ported
into the redwoods. The sweetened breath
of the starving. The prize livestock
rolls over on her larval young,
the wooden dwarf turning in the cogs
of the clockworks. I would have
a black bra hanging from the shower rod.
I would have you up against
the refrigerator with its magnets
for insurance agents and oyster bars.
Miracles, ripped thumbnails,
everything a piece of something else,
the frolicking despair of repeating
decimals because it never comes out even.
Mostly the world is lava’s rhythm,
the impurities of darkness
sometimes called stars. Mostly
the world is assignations, divorces
conducted between rooftops. Forever
and forever the checkbook unbalanced,
the beautiful bodies bent back
like paper clips, the discharged
blandishing cardboard signs by the exits.
Coppers and silvers and radiant traces,
gold flecks from our last brush,
brushfires. Always they’re espousing
accuracy when it’s accident, the arrow
not in the aimed-for heart but throat
that has the say. There are no transitions,
Dean Young’s most recent collection of poems is Fall Higher (Copper Canyon, 2011).
Poem: Nate Pritts / Art: Sarah Hollis
In the beginning, a gossamer sheen
that just dared you to rip it, to rend
every lovely anything for the way
it made you remember all the breaks
that you are. How human. How easy
to forget that it’s better to resist
than be already perfect, to reach for
a thing you won’t catch but still reach.
Once upon a time, a list of ingredients
told me what to do but I got dull
in the boredom of that heavenly summer.
Then I forgot every quarrel & fell
into myself. I wandered through seasons,
long hallways of weather: a torrent of wind,
engulfed in the dust of some ancient winter.
Kill the thunder, feel the noise.
But the infernal spreadsheet calculated
only my unrest. Eternal & growing
& this too is better, the conflict more
vital than a harmony that whimpers.
A scream to remind us that life is passion
& sometimes it’s not pretty. Every story
we read is too much about distance
& not enough about fall, as if duration
or space could redeem my red plummet.
This was proclaimed a lesson on surprise.
Or accident. You can end up where you want,
despite rules. Give thanks to what’s beautiful
& the fact that it ends. We’re hot
with the duty to build it again.
Nate Pritts has a new book of poetry out called Sweet Nothing. Also, he runs H_NGM_N, an online journal & small press. Track him down online at www.natepritts.com.
Poem: Alexis Orgera / Art: Steve Kemple (Image Unavailable)
BELETH MEETS THE GIRL OF HIS DREAMS
Standing in line at the Whole Foods
is the hell of a generation of bored
patrons. How many mornings
will the morning arise
and wake in you? He wants
to consume the girl in the purple sundress,
he wants the trumpets
to shutthefuckup for once. He wants to know
that his coming here is worth
the eighty-five legions he gave up in hell.
How many deaths
foreshadowing the depths of another lingering
body, another tongue? The girl whose hands
won’t sit still, tick tocking
on her metal cart, her nails tick tick tick,
whose tongue clicks against her front teeth,
one two three times, then a cluck.
A demon of obsession
nested in her cortex. These are beings
he can envision still. How many devils will the morning
glorify? How many beautiful
redheads with whom to dance? Recognizing
a disease is only the prelude
to treating it. Remember Noah’s son
after the flood, a flood of mathematics
crowding his mind, whose brain had fritzed
on a boat too tight with fur and shit,
who’d counted the animals 23 hours a day,
who’d summoned him when dry land hit the ship
like an anvil to write books
on the new theories of animal-
numeral integration. Beleth the Transcriber,
secretary to another demon’s
ministrations, hundreds of texts destined
to burn in bushes. Beleth, demon
of the daft, hell-minion of the obsessed.
But he was free now! Free and shopping
and shadowing a girl
with red hair in a purple dress
who can’t stop her tongue
against her teeth. How many delinquent liars,
how many calculators of the mundane,
brainpans mucked and hellish? Stop believing
all people are good
candidates. Oh, her wild hair, her breasts flouncing,
lipstick on her teeth, wild and spent, beauty in hell’s
framework. Pill-popper, tightrope walker, stalker.
Oh, you idiot. All over the place
is where my mind takes me, he thinks,
fingering his flank
steak and organic milk. Humans stand in ophidian lines
to buy the deadest things. And the girl has noticed,
of course, because demons—even earthbound demons—
are devilishly handsome. He feels
the magnetic pulse of her, binding them
cell to cell as corporeal forms in the wind. He hears a voice
get into the space that needs you
which he is sure exists
between her breasts, between her legs, in the L
of her anklebones. He will become
her osteoarthritic node, a muscle so tight
at the base of her skull that it founds a school
of chronic pain. No more imagining
himself a king of hell, he thinks,
a king on earth is more caustic.
In the legends there’s a pale horse,
in true life he hops a subway train, girl
in the car ahead, purple dress fragrant, so many
men watching her. Oh but
she asked him with her eyes. In the galloping
subway car, millennia speed away.
Time never existed underground.
(His horse’s eyes glowed blue
at the ocean’s edge one summer.)
Speeding through space, ipod sitcoms blasting,
texting dinner plans, reading readers.
But he feels her connected to his hipbone,
speaking the language of atomic
particles. All those years ago in the dark you bade me
and left me to sulk when you saw my face.
Well here I am, stuck in your heart.
On the street, the world’s slick, all glints
of artificial light through glass,
through haze of rain.
They think it doesn’t rain in hell.
She’s up ahead, she’s talking on her cell, she’s singing
to herself, fingers twitching
all the way, playing an invisible piano,
tongue click clicking. She’s at her door, she’s counting
keys: one two three,
one two three. She’s wiping her feet
clockwise twice, once to wipe away her wiping.
He understands her demon, her cousin-
self. She’s touching her left cheek,
wiping her right hand. And Dizzie rings
through a first floor window, trumpeter
to the malformed house of gods.
Here I am redolent of trumpets.
Here I am pale horse gone, kingdom demolished.
Here I am brown paper bagged,
raspberry sorbet melting onto my Levis.
Oh thunder! Oh lighting! Welcome home!
Alexis Orgera‘s writing recently appears or is forthcoming in RealPoetik, Big Bell, Beecher’s Magazine, Parthenon West, Leveler, Barrelhouse Online, and Forklift, Ohio. She is the author of How Like Foreign Objects (H_ngm_n Bks, 2011) and two chapbooks, Illuminatrix (Forklift Ink, 2009) and Dear Friends, The Birds Were Wonderful! (Blue Hour Press, 2009). You can occasionally catch her talking shop at HTMLGiant.com and theblogpoetic.wordpress.com.
Poem: Amy Lawless / Art: Matt Dayler
RELIEVED OF THEIR GREEN (on Ba’al Zebûb)
“I said to him, ‘What are your activities?’ He replied, ‘I bring destruction by means of tyrants; I cause the demons to be worshiped alongside men; and I arouse desire in holy men and select priests. I bring about jealousies and murders in a country, and I instigate wars.” – Solomon 6:1-4
They just wanted half a dozen flies circling at all times.
Winged chaos is what comes after a fart
coalesces (fly, fly, fly) into something larger
into the Lord of the Flies.
The shape of those flies is how it appears
if slugs making love
should plop upon your window frame.
It’s important to use the conditional
when speaking of the demon.
Personally, I can think of a thousand
easier ways to get cancer.
It’s not quotidian decay like cancer.
Sure, those flies would love to sip from your cup.
A standard that deviates, and yet
Those flies enjoy all of my favorite hobbies.
They like it when I take a bath.
We follow the same blogs.
We finish each other’s sentences.
They are all actively involved in the transportation initiative
of coffee grinds from pot to the wastebasket each morning.
But the flies showed up and bat clean-up.
They shaped him—the demon.
First they hovered near the trash.
Then they traveled to my bedroom
and hung above my empty wine glass.
Each was joined by another.
As I lay,
they circled above me
like vultures double, triple, and quadruple checking
that I was dead before they entered
wearing the green productivity visor
some accountants wear
under the fluorescent lights
of the industrial park.
It changed me.
Their weird eyes saw me by thousands.
Hire a copy machine for the weekend
to approach a similar experience.
Press my flesh, bloodied and used, between a priest and a war.
I came again and again dry and wet
loved and objectified and dry and wet.
Then press the green copy button on the lower right hand
corner of the machine
one thousand times.
I come again and again.
Each time it was a different guy.
A different role went at me.
Remember that monster we watched?
The one who lived in the trashcan?
The angry one with a lot of testosterone?
The testosterone wasn’t why he was angry.
Why was he angry?
I looked to see who was next to me afterward.
Because I knew we were now at war.
And there were only two kings it could have been.
One was definitely white.
But the other pointed a finger
lazily like it wasn’t worth his time—
like he’d rather eat oreos.
And the flies did his bidding
like a honeyfucker in a plaid hooded suit
shaving volition into an insta-tornado.
I know who’s in charge.
The trees were relieved of their green.
From that day forward we no longer used the term neighbor.
Amy Lawless is author of Noctis Licentia (Black Maze Books 2008) and a four poem pamphlet from Greying Ghost Press. She has been named a 2011 New York Foundation for the Arts fellow.
Poem: Matt Hart / Art: Andy Au
What you don’t have, you want. The air
is fat and rubbery. You wake up and you are
working. You go to bed and you are not
sleeping. You are crushing the mansions
of ants with your toes. You never even notice,
their lives going luckily out of this
earth—this earth you’d even bet
against your breath for more money,
the bagworms burning black holes
in your pockets. Your children aren’t even
dead yet, sounds ominous. Some weird smoke
in your phone when business calls, or
billowing out from between the legs
of your wife, her tamarind glazed dress
hiked up around her thighs, coins flooding out
on the floor so you lick them, and somewhere
in the desert, men you have abducted
are down on their knees, hands tied
behind their backs, blindfolds made
from their t-shirts’ coming darkness,
and all of them turn their powdered wigs
to the heavens, O beautiful for spacious, unmitigated
desire. You unfurl your talons and touch them.
Matt Hart is the author of several books of poems, most recently WOLF FACE (H_NGM_N BKS, 2010) and LIGHT-HEADED (BlazeVOX, 2011). His next collection Sermons and Lectures Both Blank and Relentless will be published by Typecast Publishing in 2012. A co-founder and editor of Forklift, Ohio: A Journal of Poetry, Cooking & Light Industrial Safety, he lives in Cincinnati where he teaches at the Art Academy of Cincinnati.
Poem: Kiki Petrosino / Art: Kathryn DiMartino
HYMN FOR THE BLACK TERRIFIC ASTAROTH
With this spell, I conjur you.
I draw your lazy bullets through my head.
A little smoke, a little bone dust. My grin a kayak
It takes a kayak of blood to raise a devil.
Rotting robe of mallow stems. Belt of lion’s hair.
I’ll stand here in your magic swamp til the myrrh
dries in my mouth.
You say: Some things get denser in the dark.
I only spit & snag. Dream of ocean kayaks, crisp
as canapés. All night, your long teeth test at me.
Long nips at the ridge of my jaw. Soon, you say.
But in the woods, I comb your secret smoke
into kayak-shapes. My hands go dark with craft.
Maybe I’m your mother, pushing off from shore.
Watch me whittle, rib by rib.
I’m shelled like hell’s own crab. Bite down
to find my skin’s been salted through. So what?
Here’s a choke of sunfish, sunk in an old kayak.
We’re drifting on the dead.
Darling devil, I’ve digged you a magic kayak
with the blades of my hands. Come & roost here.
We’ll go by sips & starts. It’s full dark, my son.
Nothing good can get me off.
Here’s a nook for my black blade.
Here’s the swamp I’ve digged in my head.
Come & roost here, with your rotting robe.
You kayak-shape, you darling.
Bite down, if you want. It’s full dark.
A little smoke twists through the swamp.
I hear your old jaws snag on the stem of a grin.
Soon, you say. Teeth plated with weeds.
A swamp is a lonely billet. All night, I drift
& the starlit world goes dense with bone dust.
Are you my son? Are you my smallest rib?
It’s long since I had anything to peel.
Even my sleep goes dark & swampish.
It takes a rake of blood to raise me up.
In the disk of the woods, in the comb of the pines
I spit & jaw. I spit & jaw & call.
But no spell draws you in. No sweet word
comes near. You’re dear to me as sleep or fire.
You lion belt. You key. I’ll rake a nest for you.
Off in the swamp, by this choke of dead vines.
You’re a sunfish sleeping in a swamp of myrrh.
So many gifts, so many rooms to choke in.
Only let me nip at you with my long teeth.
Some things get denser in the dark.
In the dream of swamps, I’m a woman
with a knife. Thin belts of color on the blade.
Some things get denser here. Some scales
peel back like sequins from the eyes.
A woman is a lordly thing. Hard as belts.
Mean as cat dirt in the dark. A woman rakes
her own self down to the girders. A little air
seeps in, a little smoke & buzz.
Some say I’m a woman. Some call me so.
No matter what I do, I just get handsomer.
Count my ribs. Now count my belts of fat.
Only one of us can get off. Guess who?
You talk, mild as mallow. I must’ve built you
from a kit. So fast your teeth fit the marks
in my head. Woman, woman you say.
Maybe I’m a sunfish, conjuring in the deep.
It takes more than blood to bring me down.
Watch me press my woman’s tongue to your gullet.
You spit & jaw & call in the old meters til I’m sick
with sensing you. Open the door, darling.
It’s not love I want, but form. I’ll roost here
in your headful of sunfish. You said: a woman craves
a devil for her darling. You lion claw. Come see
what I’ve digged with the teeth of my face.
Kiki Petrosino is the author of Fort Red Border (Sarabande, 2009). She teaches creative writing at the University of Louisville. A new chapbook, The Dark is Here, was released by Forklift, Ink in 2011.
Poem: Adam Fell / Art: Carl Dimitri
THE ONLY RAPTURE THERE WILL BE
IS WHEN WE ARE ENTANGLED IN OUR BED
If archangels want to claymore-crush
and gash the sky upon us,
like infinite jets colliding at an air show,
like infinite rocket launchers,
so the fuck be it.
I’m done with the apocalypse.
I’m done with cobbling Satan corporeal
because I am scared to face myself.
If we are meant to burn,
then we will burn,
but most of us will first form a line
with our neighbors to the river.
We will summon our ancestors’
intimate knowledge of buckets,
black our eyes with glaredamp,
douse the children’s hair.
There is no fact that cannot be denied,
but, come on now,
time to put on our big boy pants.
We are not industrial-lit, nor flood-lit,
nor head-lit, nor cornered.
We are not corrugated or calloused anythings.
We are not the left behind.
No matter how you atomize him,
there is no Satan
in the smudged rednesses of panting
and prophylactic on our skins,
no Satan in our kindness wracked with motive.
There will always be an Evangelical mother
to rake at our televisions
and cry we are coiled in sin.
There will always be a jilted boy
cleaving at a bonfire with a 7-iron
as the other shit-rum’d kids make out.
So the fuck be it.
We are meant to burn.
We are meant to hold each other
one more minute than we should.
We all have bloody thoughts.
Let the healing begin.
Adam Fell is the author of I AM NOT A PIONEER, published by H_NGM_N Books. He is a graduate of UW-Madison & the Iowa Writers’ Workshop & teaches at Edgewood College in Madison, WI, where he co-curates the Monsters of Poetry reading series.
Poem: Russell Dillon / Art: Kelly Tadge
LESSER KEY TO CELLAR DOORS UNHINGING
I’d never wanted to feel this, your noticing. Please
disregard my uniform, and return to the unnatural
motion your body took to when crying. Days when
the pipes shook their rust in dull, reticent sympathy.
Days gone empty, wandered. So many days, and still
only this house, creaking, even when the family is dead.
Even when the family is dead, and you are
sitting in the basement, possessed, here, in
the darkness of nothing and its affiliates swarmed
and surrounding you. Rotting brick, and everything
you eat here tastes only of that, so what’s the point?
Beneath the ground, even the spirits of the lawn
on this long, gray morning are shocked down by rain.
It slows, stops, and continues to draw upon a space
unoccupied. Don’t waste your time with surprise,
there are angels still falling, everywhere, and they see
your breathing as a recognizable mischief. You, holding
silver all day through wind and its attachments to sky.
Strong effort it took to cop one pill to make me holy,
but still I’m surrounded by demons, their latch-keys,
insatiable and I must not lose the desire to make love
to dirt. Risking earthlessness, un-evented and tragedy
bound, grown prisoned with the song and hex-tongue
vowing never to surrender light in the little I repent for.
The little I still repent for in my resurrections, reborn
again to live as cat. Reborn again, to lumber as toad.
I disharmonize my sixty-six voices, and still am not
counted among men, fingering through a pocket full
of ash. I know I will burn everything down, as before.
In the spaces empty, left behind, I am only to split smoke
swimming through darkness. This basement, small hammer
in hand, chipping everything to its porcelain vestige. We are
coated in the dust of it, filthy, naked, begging for a new
flood, and never wondering, “Whose hammer had this been?”
before exhausting to sleep with it still gripped filthy. You’re
noticing, as the flames begin, that all you may have are endings.
Russell Dillon is the author of the chapbook Secret Damage (Forklift, Ink, 2009). He lives in San Francisco.
Poem: Brett Price / Art: Paula Menetrey
In through the eyes
out of the light
all the death you need
image sea lapping yr escapist trigger
taps no traction, felt as storm
give in to the downpour
bleats up two circles deep
crown pop-vision’s covert palm around
horns that penetrate heaven
Brett Price lives and writes in Brooklyn, NY. He currently serves as the Friday Late Night Series Coordinator at the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church.
Poem: Avril Thurman / Art: Chloë Bell, Billy Golden, Sam McCormick (Image Unavailable)
WIMPIER THAN SATAN
I had to have metal explained to me. I had to ask
another poet. The fighting-in-cages kind, the kinda guy
who will teach you to box by making you put a helmet on.
You really do hafta breathe thru yer teeth, like in the movies, when you swing.
Basically, you have to be Rambo, without the weapons. Get it?
Get mad, I mean really mad. I mean rather-disembowel-yourself-than-lose mad.
Once you got the bull-headed-colossus thing down, crocodile
yourself and no one can outrun you without zig-zagging.
Float like a turtle dove, sting like a calf’s head.
When the hot brass in your breath starts to heat you from your lower parts,
let the groin-growl fall, sort of roll into, a gaping pit.
Let it all burn together, the drums will machine gun most of it anyway.
You got your thrash, your death
your black, your blackened death.
But where does the corpsepaint come in?
If you’re living on the moon, the moon man doesn’t wear corpsepaint.
Think of a werewolf or the voice of a demon, or a blatant prick
trying to imitate the voice of what he thinks a demon might sound like.
Colder! Rawer! Antichristianicaler!
Go to blazes with your infernal dictionary.
It’s just like a jab-jab-cross, only the cross is a crucifix,
only the crucifix has real, normal naked people on it,
except picture it in Oslo. Picture a behemoth with a skull for a mouth.
Take a photo of an arson. Set that on fire.
Avril Thurman was born in a log cabin in Brown County, Indiana. She began the summer as a fellow in the Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets in exotic Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. She lives and works in Cincinnati, OH, and still does not own a copy of The Cantos.
Poem: Darcie Dennigan / Art: Christy Carr Schellhas
THE BEGINNING AND THE END OF LOVELINESS
When I was young and still living in Newfoundland, I had a lover who, poor devil, was afearer of cunts.
Oh he was brave and plunged –
but he said the word brought to his head cuttlefish— raw and recently cudgeled cuttlefish—
Vagina? I always suggested
But vagina prolonged his recoil
(oh his really was a flinch tres intellectual though—
Vagina, I could tell he was thinking, was too highfalutin—
It nearly rhymed with regina, and I could tell that he would have rather had the—power—)
All day I’ve been drooling after Herman Melville—
Beyond all that bristle on his chin, his mouth was always slightly—open—
And that ajar-ness makes me want— to— with him
1) he might’ve preferred a man and—
2) because as much as I might (by mistake!) crisscross celestial & libidinal,
a kiss is no afterlife and I think that an afterlife was what Herman was—after—
Tomorrow—Remember to decide: His mouth was slightly open not out of desire exactly but—
any of which would make me all the more want— him.
Years ago: a friend of a friend (well her husband)—
he was some kind of scientist—of fish—
and he had, in a tank the size of a honeymoon suite, a colossal squid—
and I was going to get to go swimming with it. For research purposes.
I was at the time a literary critic—
At work on a book on Tennyson’s “The Kraken”—
I had great plans for bringing out the latent— well— for sexifying that poem—
I mean, just the phrase unnumbered and enormous polypi—
–At that time I was pledged, absolutely pledged, to latent—
(latent! that word always whirlpools something in me)
Noted in waterproof notebook during swim with squid:
–while the tentacles themselves and soft & pulpy, the suckers suck and the bristles—
–baby your bald head is the last undiscovered islet
(there the notebook ends.) (I guess I was nervous.)
I kept thinking in the tank of how Satan has a three-pronged penis—
And how in a newspaper once I saw beneath a picture of a lady at a flower show the caption
“she likes crossing orchids”—
but how I had kept blinking and reading “she likes crossing orifices”—
Orchid Lady, may I introduce you to Mr. 3-prongedness?
M’am and sir, it could all be so very simultaneous!
Me? oh no thanks. I don’t—I don’t actually like—
–I would be vegetarian except that I also don’t like vegetables.
–I would be feminist except that I also don’t like females.
I kept thinking, when I was there in that tank—
here was this eight-pronged (ten if you count tentacles plus arms)—
(eleven if you count the beak)—
and I kept thinking what if
the ink ejections of this squid and the blood from my period
what if the blood and the ink merged and it was sacramental, how they made purple—
a very royal purple—
and I kept thinking
regina vagina regina vagina regina vagina
Of course these remembrances might be—
When he finishes writing Moby Dick, subtitle The Whale, Herman Melville writes to his friend—
who he was probably most definitely in love with—
not just because he dedicated a book full of seaman and spermwhaling to him—
he writes to his friend to forget the whale—
he writes that he knows of a bigger fish—
a mythical giant squid—
he writes that he knows of a bigger fish—
and then he travels to the desert to see the pyramids—
Her-man, Her-man— here—
It’s an it’s-the-fin-du-monde-and-we’re-still-around kiss
My most important lover to date is not worried about the impending apocalypse—
no he is not—
The apocalypse he says has gone it is come and has gone
We are in bed. The lightening the thunder they are, each summer, more—
The one who is to date my most important lover brings me to violets, purple and limp
with his large and balletic fingers—
But he is not—do not be—mistaken—
the sores and suck marks and the struggle at depths of several hundred fathoms—
the whale and the kraken—
For months I do not see him for he works as a high priest at the pyramids—
he inscribes to me postcards in a virulent ink
Wish you had been there the night the fin du monde was on heartbreaking display—
because now it’s all pale and sandy and afterwardy
His words in cursive—
Let us now bow our heads and say the rosary of fantasies about his large and balletic fingers
And now goodnight, with the postcard between my legs
He is my most important lover to date
When the tornadoes come—
(and ours was an attic in Nova Scotia—how did the tornadoes—)
When the tornadoes—
I write to him of the union of gases in the atmosphere
the infernal union of forces and gases and the battlefield of the final ocean—
what a terrible union we have made, I write to him about the weather.
And he writes back Not union, baby, not union but Jungian— You were dreaming—
The bad weather already happened and is over and nevermind the old oceans which are over
Then the postmarks changed—
not Egyptian but Bosnian pyramids— then Peruvian ones— then pyramids off Japan’s coast—
but of course he has to go fast to find the truth—
he has to go fast like an American, he is a fast American high priest
Are you ever coming back to our attic—
I wrote him one winter, the day the last of his suckmarks on my skin had healed
It was so cold and the glaciers were—
the glaciers are sliding on down and they say to spare the air any humid vapors so—
I am trying to live with the heat off and I am trying to breathe not very much
Baby, he wrote back—
in his strong nautical ink—
Baby he wrote—
and this was the last of our volleys though he remains to date my most important lover—
Baby we’re the feeder fish trawling the wreck—
Baby what’s important has already died out—
Did he think that I thought that humans had built the pyramids?–
because he closed with Shh now and go back to sleep and worry not at all we are not the terrible inventors
After that affair I took to bed—
I must have slept until the spring— for suddenly the algae was blooming—
Christ for his pain, Dionysus for his champagne— In a god I’ll take the shallow bowls of wine—
But in men— what I find so freaking attractive is their deep-water suffering
In retrospect I only decided to take him as a lover because—
because of the enceladic assault of his darkness
Lampish he called me—
And I do oh definitely have a chatter incandescent but at center—
I’ve a—I’m a—
a bulb a bulb of nothing—
My very first— during high school history class—the Columbus unit—passed me a note—
Nina, Pinta, & Santa Maria were C’s nicknames for his favorite whores—
After which we excused ourselves separately from class and made out before the rushing waters—
of the first floor faculty bathroom toilet that wouldn’t stop flushing
Melville wrote to the man that he was in love with—
I’ve pretty much made up my mind to be annihilated
Possible titles for when I finish my memoirs—
The Beginning and the End of Loveliness
Through Watery Prairies: My Search for Truth and Purity
Apostasy, a Memoir
Squiddish (pun on skittish—too much?)
Harpoonists I Have Known
The Dream Delta of My Vagina
The Latent Leviathan and Other Grapefruit Repressions
To the Seas to the Seas the Seas
Remember tomorrow to write down the dream—
about the firefighter using the squid tentacle as a hose to put out the fire in the city in the desert on the outskirts of the world—
remember to try and think about what the meaning was—
Darcie Dennigan is the author of two poetry collections, Corinna A-Maying the Apocalypse and Some Antics (forthcoming in 2012 from Canarium). She lives in Providence, RI.
Poem: Dorothea Laskey / Art: Katie Parker
You have sixty rabid dogs
They get out of hand
But you know
What to do with them
Eligos, God your face
Is so melted
I mean I am melting
The night is rough
And you are too
Your seal is this
Chattering chattering teeth
Head of horse with wings
Eligos, I met you Eligos
In the hidden room
Down the hidden stairs
In the hidden basement
In the house where the children
Lived and worked
Eligos, why did you not tell anyone you were there
Except me. I knew you
And you raised your serpent sword at me
I can’t forget it
The look in your eyes
You aren’t so bad, Eligos
To fight is not so bad
Because even I have lived in secret too
Lived this whole life among the geniuses
Dorothea Lasky is the author of AWE and Black Life, both out from Wave Books. She is also the author of several chapbooks, including Poetry is Not a Project (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2010). She currently lives in New York City.
Poem: Bob Hicok / Art: Ruth Wartman
I was in Québec City, in a snarl
of tourists, walking rue this and that,
they rue everything, those Québécoise, when this American
kid, couldn’t have been more than five, took my hand
under a black and white striped awning
where artists sell tedious oils, o orgasm
of jonquils, o tranquil lake
of serene mists, as if nature’s
an inconspicuous brush-stroke
of blue, he thought I was his mom,
and before he looked up, said, pointing
in the direction of the Château Frontenac,
the Funicular, the Terrasse Dufferin, “it is beautiful,
I want to go there,” when I grazed
a single lock of his hair
with a curse, no actual woman
will excite him, no job
hold his interest, no breeze
satisfy his feeling that life
is about to change, he will only crave
a moment, a place, a dream
he’ll never quite remember, never be able to name,
never arrive at as if called, as if wombed,
and finally, when he looked up at me, he saw
a beautiful woman, a woman he’ll miss
as one misses God, God, the kiss
that never arrives, a woman he’ll want
on his death bed, reaching out for me
with a boy’s hand, sure the mirage
he’s drunk and needled his way toward
has found him, and is about
to ease his way home, when I’ll show him
my horns, my beard, my daggered fingers, and I will see
that he knows what a waste it is
to be human, and I will be happy
for the eternity of a second, or some portion
of time one wouldn’t notice
without the sweetness of ruin
Bob Hicok’s cedar deck is done. His most recent book is Words for Empty And Words for Full (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010).