gambol

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North winds: the old weathercock on the barn

spins, your window rattles. Rain soon. I read

to you until you grow drowsy. The warm

night lulls you to sleep. Tales of lust and greed

are your favorite. Even from here I smell

your wet spot spreading while your breath deepens.

Dreams of night queens and nymphs while the slow swell

between your thighs spreads, tracing your fountain’s

source. “Je suis l’amour qui tue,” the French say.

I’m the love that kills; chastity’s venom.

Let your mom sleep next door; the rain muffles

your old bed springs as your gambol and play

in your fountain while I, lewd ghost, watch dumb

small death bubble up from your genitals.

][][

Notes:

The quote, “Je suis l’amour qui tue,” comes from a fragment I found based on the life of Olympia Mancini, the Countess of Soissons; in theory used as evidence against her in the 1679 witchcraft scandal that implicated many members of Louis XIV’s court, the infamous the Affaire des Poisons. As far as I can tell there is no evidence that this was anything more than part of a salacious broadsheet sold to the public to titillate:

Ma petite abomination, j’appartenais au démon de la chair; je suis l’amour qui tue.” Chaque nuit a ce criun démon de fille sort d’une cache, s’élance sur la comtesse et se met en train de lécher ardemment son clitoris dont la pointe sortait rouge et enflammée. Infernale lubricité! Par moment, la voix de la comtesse, qui râlait la volupté, dominait cette harmonie étrange, ce concert d’orgie, cette saturnale de sang.

sick

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I’ve been chasing the septic, the abscessed,

the wild and purulent. Disease is a grand

stand-in for lustfulness these days. A quest

for what others give away free. Not bland

pornography –– Promises of what might

happen. Let them exhale. Even the most

chaste and vestal can still hack & cough. Light

me up, dead man, with fever. Some still boast

of their prowess; as if the age of swing

might go back as before. Not with these lungs.

Not with this immune system. When I pull

on your hair and say, “you’re sick,” I’m being

literal. When I start to speak in tongues

that just taint I’m spewing, by the soulful.

just

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The day done gray. “Of the gods,” Aeschylus

said, “Death alone does not crave gifts.” The rest

love their altars and praise; become jealous

and ill-tempered if crossed. For Death the blessed

and the sinner are the same and worms feed

on them all. “Death shall be Death forever,”

Sappho said; unlike us, love, with our need

to see ourselves in what we praise. Lover,

love me now before I become just dust

of ten thousand years. My gift is coaxing

of my tongue – stroking foam – sucking obscene

– tasting what you crave. Let the righteous rust

since Death won’t care if we do everything,

nothing or just hardcore bling in-between.

][][

Notes:

Aeschylus was an ancient Greek playwright, known as the, “Father of Tragedy.” Sappho, “The 10th Muse,” was master of the lyric poem. I like what Kenneth Rexroth said about her art, “There has been no other poet like this. Wherever enough words remain to form a coherent context, they give one another a unique luster, an effulgence found nowhere else. Presentational immediacy of the image, overwhelming urgency of personal involvement — in no other poet are these two prime factors of lyric poetry raised to so great a power.”

taint

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How hot? The scabs under these bandages
came loose. Ointments melted. Stench sang sultry,

turning all this loving flesh to itches
and taint. Scratched them so much I pulled out three

stitches; they dangled from the scabs like roots.
Vegas heat made me long for other lips.

This heat is ooze and sulphur that pollutes
and crusts. No bath. No A/C. Just crushed hips

and cracked ribs; just on my back trying not
to move. Even typing this stinks. I dream

of ice, clean bed sheets. A month being prone
unnerves nerves; like sutures pulling on taut

flesh gone green, gassy. So hot my bloodstream
turned sick, lugging taint through each splintered bone.

verve

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How the fuck does someone fuck in something/ as bent and broken shaft, as dried as pools

no ink flows from, as a poem? Fucking,/ even the Platonic Ideal, has rules

that we must follow. Instead follow this/ as I rise, aroused. It’s been one hundred

twenty-three days (nombre magique!) amiss,/ blissless, frantic, sick. Some cocksucka said

there’s no world soul, no anima spirit,/ no blessed words. By clits, cocks and balls, these scrawls

rise with me. This is the ideal: shortest/ distance between us——words. We, who submit

to lust’s divine plan. Recall what befalls/ cocksuckas who scorn the verve of Logos.

][][

Notes:

Logos is a Greek philosophical term that says a divine word (reason) governs the universe. Likewise, World Souland Anima (Spirit) Mundi are other concepts of Logos. Plato’s Platonic Ideal states that the idea of an act or object is, “more real,” than the object itself. In this case the concept of fucking is more real than the act itself. Finally, I love numbers that arrange themselves in patterns (12:34, etc.) Nombre magique is French for, “Magic number.” It’s good to be back 🙂

onibaba [i,i]

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SCENE I.

A semi-dark room scantily furnished. A sliding door opens and the distant chaos of a battle can be heard as two ghosts enter. The first, the soul of the legendary Hangaku Gozen, is dressed in her full samurai armor. The second, Lady Seishin, wears a kimono that might have been stylish 100 years ago and a kabuki fox mask that she never takes off. At the back of the stage is a small fire pit and a small window. Seishin stirs the embers and then stands by the window, peering anxiously out.

SEISHIN.

It is a wild night outside.

HANGAKU.

Help me off with this helmet. Is the rain still coming down?

SEISHIN.

In torrents. I cannot see the other side of the road.

HANGAKU.

That’s good.

SEISHIN.

If not being able to see someone ten feet away is good, then hai. Luck is with us. Should I put the oil wick in the window?

HANGAKU.

[Sitting down next to fire with her helmet in her hands.] Why? No. Only when we hear her order a retreat. That’s what she said.

SEISHIN.

But on a night like this she may have pulled the troop all the way back to Kyoto and we’ll never know.

HANGAKU.

Do not be so querulous, you cranky fox.

SEISHIN.

This isn’t me being cranky. Something is about to happen. Listen to the wind sobbing around the house … a lost soul that we’re refusing to let enter.

HANGAKU.

Why would we do that? The wind loves us.

SEISHIN.

The wind puts up with us. Ever since— What was that?

HANGAKU.

[Listens.] It is our message, I think. [Listens harder.] Something is coming. Douse the fire.

[The room is reduced once more to semi-darkness.]

SEISHIN.

Shouldn’t we—?

[This time the sound is heard by both women. Someone or something in groaning in the dark. They stand as the door slides open and Jiutian Xuannu enters.]

XUANNU.

Cousins, why are we wasting time here? I was going to call retreat but those stupid Takahashi samurai are milling about right over there and look so smite-able.

HANGAKU.

But who is going to do the smiting? You?

XUANNU.

You look sad, cousin. We’re shadows, azure-

eyed, made from lust and stardust and despise

blood and afterbirth. Fools fear our power

to peel off our pelts. Fools fear change, disguise,

the way floods deform and do not deform

dry earth. But, cousin, what use are nightmares

if you can wake up? Why try to transform

when we can slaughter? We don’t need more snares

fools keep slipping free from. Call Onibaba.

She’s a friend. She has farseeing vision

and short cruel knives. Fools call her, “Hag with Tusks

and Fangs Chitter-Chatting in her Vulva.”

Fools fear her carnage; her love of carrion;

how she sucks both down to their very husks.

HANGAKU.

Fetch her.

[Jiutian Xuannu exits.]

HANGAKU [cont.]

But first, let’s test her skills. Seishin, you pretend to be me.

SEISHIN.

I’m not a ghost. I think she’ll notice.

[Jiutian Xuannu, Onibaba and Kijo all enter.]

SEISHIN.

Ah, Lady Onibaba. Chrysanthemum in the Legion of Flowers. Mire in the Order of Tenacity. Chalice of Malice. Fury of the Divine Crest. It is I, your Lady Hangaku!

ONIBABA.

Xuannu, I find it odd that the, “Terror of Genpei,” would be both Jiuzhou and alive.

XUANNU.

[Aside.] That was the worst Hangaku impersonation I’ve ever seen.

HANGAKU.

Lady Onibaba, please forgive me for being cautious. Who is this?

ONIBABA.

[Indicating Kijo.] My daughter, Lady Kijo.

HANGAKU.

[Incredulous.] You had sex?

ONIBABA.

Hai.

HANGAKU.

[Skeptical.] With a mortal?

ONIBABA.

Hai.

HANGAKU.

[Scandalized.] O my, you nanty narking chuckabog.

ONIBABA.

I don’t think you brought me all this way to make snide comments about my lovers.

[A loud moaning begins from outside and the wind rattles against the hut’s walls.]

ONIBABA [cont.]

The dusk wails and you pray for Onibaba

to smite souls. It’s fitting that twilight

moans for us, glimpsing our hitodama,

our blue-green flames, as we pass in the night,

searching for the spot where we died; where our

blood touched the earth and our hubris melted

when we found out all our sweet truths were sour,

our faiths false. Who claims to know what’s sacred?

How I don’t know. But they’ll kill for it.

You want me to go out and lay the Eight

Ring Curse on those men? Men who love carnage

and their samurai bushido bullshit?

I’ll do it. Saints say hate cannot kill hate.

I say all we are is gristle and rage.

SEISHIN.

[Aside.] These mountain demons can be very tempting with their tongues.

ONIBABA.

Don’t frown, Lady Hangaku. That was you once, too: a butcher. Now you’re just dead and vague.

[The door opens and a little battlefield spirit acting as a messenger enters.]

SENJO BOZU.

[Bowing.] My sovereign. Ladies of the court. I come from the walls of Osaka. Takahashi’s soldiers have stormed our outer defenses. We are now fighting in the streets.

XUANNU.

What sort of necromancers do they have that can breach our spells?

HANGAKU.

I heard that Emagami The Blight was selling herself again, but her skills are pitiful.

XUANNU.

[To Onibaba.] My lady, do you think that we should give up on Osaka, or not?

ONIBABA.

Of course not. Only cowards and monks run away.

HANGAKU.

Yattaaaa! I agree with what she says: we’ll fight it out.

ONIBABA.

Glory is like the ripples on the water. You have given me the task of whipping the Takahashi then I will beat those waters until they froth.

HANGAKU.

Lady Onibaba, drive the living daylights out of Osaka. They says the root of suffering is attachment. I say we beat that koan home on the skulls of Takahashi and his men.

[All exit.]

][][

Notes:

Onibaba is, as her name states, is a red-skinned, white-haired Japanese ogre. She carries a kanabo (Iron war stick) slung over her shoulder.

Hangaku Gozen  was an actual warrior and fought in the Genpei War (1180-1185 AD).

Jiutian Xuannu (Dark Lady of the Nine Heavens) is a Chinese goddess of war, lust and longevity. With long Mandarin robes and her Dadao (“Big sword”) she justifies showing up in this play by saying that she is on holiday.

Seishin kitsune is one of the names used for a fox spirit.

Senjo bozu. A spirit from the battlefield.

Jiuzhou is an ancient name for China.

Hitodama are a pair of blue flames (similar to will o’ the wisps) that accompany a ghost when it manifests.

fool

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You look sad, Auntie. We’re shadows, azure-

eyed, made from lust and stardust and despise

 

blood and afterbirth. Fools fear our power

to peel off our pelts. Fools fear change, disguise,

 

the way floods deform and do not deform

dry earth. But, Auntie, what use are nightmares

 

if you can wake up? Why try to transform

when we can slaughter? We don’t need more snares

 

Fools keep slipping free from. Call Onibaba.

She’s a friend. She has farseeing vision

 

and short cruel knives. Fools call her, “Hag with Tusks

and Fangs Chitter-Chatting in her Vulva.”

 

Fools fear her carnage; her love of carrion;

how she sucks both down to their very husks.

][][

Notes:

In Japanese folklore Onibaba is a female demon.

bygone

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Not Pan, the Goat herder, the Goat fucker,

lover of Goat porn. Nothing sleeps within

 

the trees here. Those gods died with their timber

hacked from bygone groves. Still, a thing moves in

 

the dark these days. Even you, as faithless

as you are, feel it. Your limb’s lust each time

 

voluptuous Plump Rump Callipyge Venus

calls. The other old school booty. Sublime

 

curves in this cleared land. Venus spreads her cheeks

while I tease with cock and thumb. Rude, sacred

 

prayers are still out there; just not Pan, the Goat

fucker. Who’ll teach you new techniques

 

if you’ve lost your faith? Fill my head, she said,

with prayer. I’ll gag on your cock in my throat.

][][

Notes:

The Romantic poets (Shelley, Byron, etc.) spend a lot of time moaning that ancient Greece’s eden, Arcadia, is lost to us in this modern era of cynicism and technology. According to the Greek historian Plutarch, Pan (protector of shepherds, seducer of nymphs and inventor of the syrinx panpipes) is the only Greek god who actually dies (and with him, Arcadia). According to myth, a sailor on his way to Italy heard a divine voice hail him across the waves: “When you reach the harbor at Palodes, tell the world that the great god Pan is dead.” Why some myths become popular while others don’t (especially considering Lord “I’ll Fuck Anything That Moves” Byron) I have always been fond of the stories about the Callipygian Venus, who the Romans called: “Venus with the Beautiful Ass.” Hers is an Arcadia that will never be lost.

chars

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Next time you’ll count the scars. There will be more.

Grizzled, you’ll think. Frost burn. It takes time

 

for me to undress. Stitches hold my gore

in place for now. This pain isn’t sublime,

 

the sort that shamans use. It’s not De Sade’s

doomsday, either. First time I saw someone

 

tear at their clothes as they transformed gnawed

at me for weeks. I will be fifty-one

 

in less than a week. If I come back all

grizzle gray and limping will you confuse

 

me for the Moon? I can read all the scars

on her face. Can you read mine? This queer scrawl

 

that spells my fate each time these stitches ooze

fevered flames. Heat that grizzles. Heat that chars.

tell-tale

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Mischief-mad, hidden among the cushions,

you guide three fingers under your burqa,

 

biting back a tell-tale groan. Your oven’s

wet heat, stoked each night from ash to lava

 

while your husband snores near by, still tortures

you the way faith haunts your thoughts all day long.

 

When the first wet spot bleeds through your knickers;

when myrrh drips from, like honey in the Song

 

of Songs, your fingers –– then even mischief

isn’t enough. Mother-in-laws yammer

 

and whine, but you smolder: wet oven heat,

holy cum shrine. Your longing is as tough

 

as your soul’s flesh. Faith is only torture

in a world that wants you chaste and discreet.