Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2012 v11n1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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A big black bird walked me all the way
from the cooling apartments
to the bus-stand. It said, the archipelagoes
are bleeding sulfur roses
in those crime stories by the widow Mandelstam
and there is no moon. There’s a blind pond,
and if you believe,
and if you believe in such things: it reflects
the moon.

I’m selling nylons on the street
so to buy coal. Of course, Jack
Spicer thinks this is a deception
with an open can of stewed tomatoes . . . 

Of course, Jack wrote that
there is never an ocean
in all grail legend.
There is a boat.

God, too, eats spam sandwiches
with both hands. It is going
to rain by afternoon. The fountains
spilling . . . 
Peace to you old man. And soon.

Our sun is dust and grease
congealing in a flattened metal sieve
fitted to an angry fan
in the night’s soup-kitchen, exhausted
privileges in the wilderness can be
mistaken for a blonde woman
who knows how to type—       700 words
a minute, juicy fruit and blue
balls of gum
with a chipped emerald barrette.

It’s amateur night at THE CLOUD
and if you bring a brown bag
with deer inside grazing on the brains
of pumpkins, they will dispense with the cover.

A storm approaches. The handbills
are fading on the phone poles. The sun
is setting into the green sea. A millennium
of turtles grunting away on the beach. Jack,
in the tree. That guy’s

a thief, isn’t he?

There’s the bright bone-metal stipples
of trout, drowning in air.

The pope eats a lettuce and tomato sandwich
with a warm jar of beer. Jack,
I admire all the absurdity
of Jacob biting the black ankle
of the blonde angel, serial
hosannas drifting like sick white birds
down and over the greening winter desert. He lived

for those matchbook courses
in life studies
where a brown pear sat on its azure scarf
and coughed
while air from the open window
freshens the room with lost studs of aria
over a city, not twentieth-century Los Angeles.

By midnight, some very ugly and evil tetramorph rises
from the sea intending
its next intimation, making decrees
standing with a broom of black hair
in the back of an open Mercedes—

the back streets of Rome looking for the legs
on a large touring animation of pears,
up the dark stairs to Solomon’s baths.

The oculus writhing
with blue smoke in eight staves
of thracian glass—
the streets smell of asparagus and cold macaroni, it attracts
the Jackal who is awake now
with our old junctions of time,
having climbed in pink pajamas
out of a wall, up
from the dry well—     a broken clay
pot, half-smiling on the cobbled walk. Jack,
if we name this bastard
the white narcissus
will wilt under the hot piss of fawns
and we recognize him crossing the lawns
where at his feet children are coloring
in the red and orange of kites
that once fluttered
over Tehran:

the old sin-eaters
I said, stippled like trout
in the dead monk’s stew pond:

Jack is asleep in the long silver
sleeper-car. Dreaming of new metals
in Afghanistan, even before the several czars
faxed it all to their cigars.

Or Light’n Hopkins, the corpse

of dear mrs. sim neeer, hot shrimp rolls, and drought
in the Alps . . . 
the wild hosannas along the poured stone pikes. Living stone

dying in the pine-barren’s grout . . . 

the thick forest with a river of milk
for its natural moat. Or coitus . . . 

the alphabet, amour,
fisher, le sud, the mouth.

Oh, Jack, never that, never the delta,
never the mouths.

7 ( . . . the end)
The way the island is not all exaggerations
in an empty space, all lichen and avocados
with thin and vertical red clarinets—      birds lifting off
the silhouette of a sunken ship, screaming
in the noon
at the redundant living fish
who telegraph the squid
of 40 million yrs. of white trees and sunlight
admonishing the (leafs) and rust . . . 

to die in an alcoholic storm with rain making
dark nipples on the window, the wind
singing to the lambs, and Jack
we’ve forgotten the omens of the old masters’
magic lanterns—
all that smoke in the dark rooms, handbills
fading on the green and black totem pole,
its foremost bird with wings spread,

the wide black sails behind him. All of it
rinsed in cold vodka—
let’s just get past it,
the matchbook’s instructions on dying
and foreshortening in snow. Jack, shit,
the horses in the corral aren’t just being eaten
by frenchmen anymore . . .      man, the pigeons too
are holding punched tickets with the cows.

You did good, sir, surely
very dead and misunderstood. But
I read your poems aloud this morning
to the lowghost cat. She chased
her tail like a kitten
and soon was hiding under the bed.

Behind me
some asshole on the radio, in a new opera,
stabbed another in the neck;
all this taking place, of course,
in a bedroom . . .                      wingset, wingset.

Then, more alien spacecraft honking horns, with you,
Jack, giggling,
the sun rising in the West.  end

The poem’s title evokes the spirit of the poet Jack Spicer (1925-1965); see The House That Jack Built: The Collected Lectures of Jack Spicer (Wesleyan University Press, 1998), where Spicer speaks of the pun on Logos as Lowghost and on his concept of “poetry as dictation”—the poet receiving transmissions from the ghostly “Outside” when writing. —Eds.

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