Sunday, 15 May 2016

from Blackwater Quartet, selection 113

Fetish Odes


The fare is ravishing, but has recently wept,
her face runny black streaks, the driver’s eyes in the rear-view
looking back to see what’s up.
She keeps her eyes on the passing streets, fingers
a man’s comb in her pocket.

Outside, people walk alone staring down at concrete,
or hold each other in goodbyes, or scream at the sky.

She tells him pull over.

She says before we go on, I’m going to tell you something,
and I don’t want you to say anything.

I started cutting myself again— the forearm first,
veins ruptured, then dragging the mirror slice
over my stomach and breasts.
It means more to do it there.
I haven’t done this shit in a year, but now it’s back
it’s such a familiar feeling, like some old, crazy friend.
I get used to it, but still appreciate it for what it is.
I have a history.

The hem of my dress was in his mouth.
There were wires
dangling where electronics were attached,
winking knick-knack lights, and I remember
a whiskey glass seemed to jump off the table
all by itself. I could hear a telephone
ringing somewhere.

My Dad worked years in the Palace of Machines.
When he came back, he was different, ages
combing his hair in the car before he’d get out,
looking at himself in shop windows.
Everybody said; it wasn’t just me.

I’ve changed my mind… No, it’s okay, keep it…
I’ll walk home over the bridge.


All used cars contain the ghosts of former owners.
Randy didn’t know that, which is why he kept bringing
his ‘93 Accord back into the shop.
Every day at 4:35, the radio dial spinning on its own,
catching just a word or two from various stations
to form the same sentence,
Don’t. Kiss. Me. On. The. Mouth.

Ramon the mechanic would shrug—
I can rewire it for you again.
It’ll cost you two-fifty like usual, but if you’d just believe....

Randy wanted no part of it.
He’d rather pay someone money
and have everything the way he thinks it should be.
So Ramon the mechanic rewires the Honda
to make the voices go away, the former owner’s,
the girl who made money
whoring, so she could learn Quark
and work in an office.

She’d hold her palms to her big belly
while they did it, saying to them
you can tell me anything— your life in a town
halfway across the country, and the promises you make
every morning over coffee—
through the alternator and bundled wires
the ghosts of everybody
always telling her what’s wrong.


In the booth, four red telephones, side by side,
each one with a pre-recorded woman’s voice
talking dirty in English, French, Spanish, and German.

Through the window in Ralph’s Lounge
a clown in full makeup, hired once
to entertain your ninth birthday party—
he was upset by something that day
and he looks pretty upset about something today.

He still works part time as a mechanic,
and used to fi x your Honda, the one you sold
when you started commuting from your wife’s place.
He has the booth by the window at Ralph’s,
and he’s shouting into the red telephones.
The highball glass, with a few drops of melted ice,
catches the light a little.

The waitress stares past him
to the camera crew, setting up outside Ralph’s.
One of them looks at his watch, the news
about someone’s famous daughter
is a tight turnaround, even with the tip-off.

The guy in the clown suit hasn’t spotted you yet,
unless he spotted you
and just didn’t want to say hi.


There are messages on my voicemail
that must never be deleted,
messages closing with the sing-song fadeout
I carry in my head.

After all, hearts cool, eyes wander, buses brake poorly,
and bank robbery shootouts sometimes
spill onto streets crowded with lunchtime shoppers.

Here’s what I need from you.
The messages about someone being dead,
keep them in my box for seven days.
I need to know whose house everyone’s at,
and I need directions,

because they all live twenty minutes from some place
I only heard about in commercials.

The last time, the taxi got lost
and I started to breathe a little heavy thinking
I’d never find the place, and I swear to God
if you even think about deleting a single one
I’ll kill your Dad.
I’m sorry, but this is the business you’ve chosen.

Here’s what I need from you:
voice pattern recognition lockout triggers.
I don’t just want the messages flagged with
Don’t Delete colour codes.
I want the upgrade, the one
exercising a degree of autonomous thought, preventing
the kind of human error that leaves me no choice
but to open up your Dad’s face.

We’re talking here
about the reason God gave you auditory senses,
to find out if a specific person who used to call
but stopped calling,
called, asking if he can stuff the money in your mouth
and cover up your nose, so you can’t breathe
unless he says.

The machine should be taught
to covet the voice on my saved messages,
not to the point forbidding me
replaying them for myself, but to understand the part
where everything
drops down to a grimy whisper, asking
who’s the birthday boy, jumping
to the fresh DJ, in the club full of trance skulls.


A big week for me.

A Carnegie Hall recital, just a day
after my first EMI release, and my
Tristan und Isolde
scheduled next month from Deutsche Grammophon.
That’s why I have mixed feelings
about the Royal Opera
dropping me from
Ariadne auf Naxos,
for me a signature role.

I sat in my dressing room
and plugged in my heated eyelash curler,
just thinking about what they’d said,
that they were really having a hard time
coming up with a visual.

They said I am Queen of Zoloft,
but no life is larger than its past.
It keeps asking more and more of me,
a chemical hidey-hole for two years now,
my eyeballs programmed to speeds slower
than the face in the mirror.

No matter what I do, the look
is still there,
and I know where it comes from, and that someone
looking too long
may see me, beyond the Xanax and Vicodin,
beyond my weekend wear.

Who is there, who are you,

I should return to use of the past tense,
the sequences retaining the immediacy
of portrayal, people living their lives.
Me in mine.

I know the past tense is a trap,
but the present tense is unnatural.
I should avoid vagueness,
and the sense of immediacy should still be there,
for instance, in one sentence writing,
‘In that autumn
I married a guy on death row.’
I could have written, ‘Reader, I married him….’

I could have relied wholly on a fl awed subjunctive,
through the miracle of juxtaposition
someone looking back, someone
I recognise from my memoirs, beyond my personal pharmacy,
last seen seeking this dark perfection.


I was seeing this guy, from Holland,
a putty mouth
but big shoulders and blonde, blonde hair
people usually call a shock.

I dressed up in black vinyl, like somebody
poured glossy black paint over me naked,
and I’d do things.
I didn’t mind really, and later, every time,
he sent me a little letter
describing every detail of what we’d done,
of what I’d done.

One day, the letter as usual, only this time
it finished with him saying
he saw absolutely no point to anything,
and had nothing left to say to me.

A day passed. Another day passed.
It occurred to me he actually meant it.

The day after the second day
it rained, and rained, and by midnight
it was still raining.
In the morning I was sitting on the porch
staring out through this coma of rain
and a letter arrived,
from him.

I opened the letter.
It read,
the lake is rain remembered.
That’s all it said.
When you scrape an instrument
against pelvic bone,
there’s a sound like nothing else.

The mind at first apprehends it
as metallic, progressing then
to stone on stone, the grinding of grit and hair,
peaking finally in the pitch of the voice.

What is the Netherlands, anyway…
Nikolausfest, damp and cold southwest wind,
tulips, Amsterdamer Grachten,
a walk on the dyke…?

I think it’s because there are no mountains
that so little can be said about the bicycle.
Nothing uphill.


There must be some unspoken rule about this.

I met him in the program
in a little see-through,
tongue and lips, moving back and forth
maybe ten minutes. I don’t know. I lost count.

The theatre was old, pre-multiplex velvet curtains,
velvet seats, cracks in the ceilings.
Shabby chic.

We sat in the back row.
After a while I was down on the floor
with sticky knees. Some old guy in front
stopped watching the screen
and watched me instead.

I pulled up my skirt
and rubbed my ass hard against the velvet seat.
He never said he wanted me to,
I just figured he expected I would.

Ladislav Zigo has just published Version 1.1
of his custom easing tool.
You can now convert motion-tweens to keyframes
with easing effects.

My best cybersex is when I slide in
my little bullet vibe
and type freely with both hands.
Sorry. I thought I explained
about the Hitachi. So nice
finding a power vibe
that doesn’t require a pillow
to shield the blows.
The attachments are soft and rubbery,
like nubby fingertips, a three-speed oscillation
from oh! to Oh. My. God.

I only bought the two attachments.
I decided the Pearls of the Orient
could wait until next time.

I spent hours thinking of a nom de plume,
and finally came up with the perfect idea:
I used your name,
knowing the world of tease and denial
is less structured
than the life you lead in your small German town.

I didn’t think you’d mind.


Who introduced forgiveness, sorrow,
the stupor of my share? I will be filled when you are also,
with courage and beautiful things.

I remember it well,
on the first evening in the one-dimensional bed.
I said to myself, here the turning,
then you approached, put yourself against me,
enabling my desire, and the night stopping,
the light disencumbered, going quickly from there.

I reassemble to reach all centres, all cherish
the interior of it with the exterior,
and on the first dimension
make it roll, slip its hand, then make it
to be put on the belly.
I withdraw, embrace it from top down,
the caress with yours raised, then removed.

I am able to reach the mouth, making it,
and apply to please you, relieving,
functioning a long moment thus,
head and calves,
therefore I insist well, and it obviously lends.

I raise you in my arms
and place you in the first dimension.
I see your glance and I can only agree
the exchange and good process.
It takes its time, and I unquiet
try to move
the dimensions of my face,
but it does not seem to include/understand/occupy
elsewhere my formal diagnostic.

With the instant I reopen my eyes,
my sex so deeply hidden in the mouth
I imagine my nipple cutting through a path, entering
the hemispheres of the brain.
I made the balances. I had a moment of emotion
while falling
on something I sought since
these last years.

In the beginning, being wary,
I do not believe in it too much.
I inspect the trick, good, and greater than in my memories.
Was it necessary to see me perched,
encircled by furies of the balances,
taken with the trap between
love and trouble, between obligations and embarrassment,
epic with the word?


It is not by desire that it arrives,
assuming a mechanical role, the wives
saying with a small smile: I shall accompany you,
the eyes of these ladies igniting.
The gods had covered their decoration
learnedly, chaotic with slapdash high seasons.
They were engulfed under pink-candy signs,
devoted to scrupulous examination
of each model presented, their upstream words.

Emerging among mine, they connect.
The spirit recovered, conversation
says to me that one should have gone
more quickly to facilitate the passage.

Your throat is spread for languages I do not remember,
a long quiet plan soaked
with the loneliness of two people.
Usual paradox: it says
it is normal for a woman making deux/trois
then emotional blackmail
of the way I know you will leave me,
but withdraw this idea
so when making love you have it,
not to go now then leaving later.

You will add, you will stress, it therefore
starts with you
to leave, the idea that I will leave you.
You hold the remote control: enough, yes.


In the cupboard— chaos.

I dream hastily in porno.
Was it necessary that I hide it?
Was it especially necessary to appear wise
in the cupboard?
It is a gift, every morning every morning, I chose it.
You would not have seized the message,
a dream which held me with its heat,
an open door towards the unknown factor.
Every morning I was beautiful,
threading with it half naked.

We live seated, eat pre-cooks,
and the camera holds us, place, glance and memory.
Tomorrow will be widespread,
a soft thing in computers with hinged jibs.
And if we keep silent ourselves?
And if we are made to be silent,
like that, one day, to test, to see?

Not the telephone, not conversations—
However, one can have the feeling
while depriving oneself brie fly of a thing,
it is only one idea, then to make the experiment of it,
tomorrow wishing silence,
if others want to be tested there, which one day,
which three hours, to take part
in this withdrawal of the words and will
and the dream posed there.

In the cupboard, chaos—
I had a dream hastily,
and it is you who put words there,
and I will come to shout to you, you
who are the other world, another species, a new kind.

I will crawl teeth and navel
until I am certain in the final analysis,
looking at you between the moon, the rain
and the hour of winter
that you forget the material world, erecting scaffolding
on the backs of comets only to regulate today,
to make platforms with the height of the lie.


Night covered all the valley
and the bell-tower sounded 17 blows.
The sex of men held up
in spite of mercury not favourable
and foreskins folded up with gales, far
from any possibility of desire. Still, the lark
felt the temperature sensual in negative figures.

Is the lark not wanting, however worthy,
looking at the sky in a call to snow,
which could finally conquer it?
The first snow manufactured houses,
or what would be its house, as long as this sun
will not appear too little, in the best years,
and the perishable habitat remains
in the long, first cold.

It had gone a good rate, singing its icy songs,
the glance towards the sky, requesting to meet it,
occurring suddenly, joined
together in boldness in snow stiffening.
This was the beginning, the beautiful,
long history to shake loose time’s losses and persevere.

I found a beach, black and sticky,
my feathers washed gently. I passed by this phase.
I was not alone in this nightmare.
It is with you, you and you that I think,
questioning, taking risks.

The heart names its torture to discover it.

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