corrupt

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And the Fever is Conquered at last,” Poe

proclaimed. Fevered bruise spreading; a blossom

cracking with canker, with necrotic glow.

Where’s the Divine in rot? It’s the problem

with a poet who ignores the mundane ––

After the membrane burst, flushed brackish wine

spewed from your leg; and, with each squeeze to drain

the blotch, rank sludge glooped out. If the Divine

rests in our soul then it’s in our corrupt

flesh as well. Poe’s Conqueror Worm knew that.

Fetid phantasma. Blight’s phosphorescent

twin. Ode to Gangrene? Cut it out. Worship

the flesh warily. See? What will erupt

in me hunkers and waits with a vile scent.

][][

Notes:

Apparently Youtube is awash in videos featuring blighters suffering from subcutaneous hematoma in one form or another, something that I find I cannot turn away from once I hit “play.”  I know, I know, “fetid phantasma,” is such a $20 phrase in a $5 sentence but it’s so much fun to say. It’s like the word, “glooped;” sure, I can use other words to describe decay but my world would be slightly duller without some good gloop in it.

profundo

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That was the year the cicadas started

in my skull. Their buzz-saw droning; the fraught

song of dust and summer, I’m told. Bleated

noise. It came with the pneumonia. I thought

it was part of the fever. If my ghost

shark can haunt me during delirium

why not raucous bugs in the innermost

depths of my ear? Soon my fever’s bedlam

faded but the sing-song did not. Even

now, love, as I write this, the din’s low groan

keeps me distraught. I wake with radio

static, thinking the dark bellowed. Listen.

Only I can hear it, that deep bass drone;

what hell’s divas call, “Basso profundo.”

][][

Notes:

In opera the lowest vocal range that a tenor can go is called basso profundo. Starting around a year ago I began developing tinnitus, a ringing in the ears like radio static that is often accompanied by hearing loss. In the last two months or so it has gone from a dull buzz that I could ignore to a much louder droning which wakes me up at night. I find the sort of disconnected musing I need, such as when I’m writing, harder now.

ten

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Later you asked, “What are you?” Your sister’s

child? “What are you?” Did you know that the Hex,

what I called these scars, had left their horrors

cut in me? Before puberty and sex

I thought you were hairless, too; but, hunkered

in the store’s bathroom, I was unprepared

as you unbuttoned your cut-up, tortured

jeans. I didn’t have hair, “down there.” I stared

as you straddled the toilet. The Hex vexed.

Yes: what was I? Neither two-heart nor queen.

Babe not mine, elves stole/ you in the moonshine.”

Stolen? I waited for my turn. Perplexed,

you glanced then gawked at the scars between

my hips; ten infernal marks meaning, “mine.”

conked

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Fury. Less than an inch. A fingertip’s

worth of savagery. With winter over

your dress lifted breezily. With your hips

laid bare, with your thigh laid on my shoulder ––

a tongue lashing. Thawed flesh; like how ghosts crash

through conked swamp roots or gods, once sour, soon calm

under stress. Under your dress spiked mustache

cacti nestled my lips. Sophomore prom.

Without relief you made jaw clenching mewls,

then phat-ass spasms. Dissolving in blood

and flux; dissolving, all rage and rumpus.

I was a clueless child … but so were you.

What was that?” you gasped as the world, viscid

and vast, slowly swam back into focus.

writhingly

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Tangled hair in foam. Desolate skin. Breasts

beaten in waves. Where will my ghost shark go

when my lung start to fill? The sea’s conquests

shall all pass overhead while terrors flow

around. Listen: even darkness can blur

in the deepening depths. Without gravestone

or bones you won’t call me your ancestor.

Child of stars and storms. Child of a sea crone

and her fishwife. Orphan of all the drowned.

What good are husky-wet lips when you won’t

kiss them? Underflow: make me writhingly

grotesque, like the Sea’s fey or Brine’s hellhound.

Once I pressed to enter you. You said, “don’t.”

We stopped. My grave lays here: in memory.

bogan

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Hard bop. Red hot Baba Yaga. Fun-sized

pain and sanguine cannibal. Her bloomin’

sick love crept through us. All who’re despised,

who are flame, who are fuses, who roll sin

on a twelve-sided die, are comin’ home.

Lucille Baba Bogan Yaga. We’re all

goin’ to get laid. Sloppy with Blues. Chrome

shaft. Gilt grotto. We strap it on; the, “mal,”

in our malcontent. “Peggin’,” they call it.

Shit. I love the monsters that the bourgeois

fear: dark skin, women, the Blues. When Bogan

sang the vamps jumped. Singin’ of cocks and clits.

Gorgon’s jargon, sister. Out like outlaws.

Cocked, suckers; as if to say, “bring it on.”

][][

Notes:

In Slavic folklore, Baba Yaga, the wild witch of the woods, helps those who seek her out, unless they piss her off and then she simply eats them. Pegging is a term Dan Savage (of Savage Love fame) made popular back in 2001: an act in which a woman has anal sex with a man by penetrating him with a strap-on dildo. Lucille Bogan was one of the Three Queens of the Blues (Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith being the other two). Her sexually explicit lyrics helped popularize the “Dirty Blues” genre. Perhaps her most famous song, Shave ’em Dry, starts off with the lyrics: “I got nipples on my titties big as my thumb/ and something between my legs that’ll make a dead man cum.” Indeed.

caked

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Discord in the backseat. Once, as a child

in Rome, I paused too long next to a parked

car at the sound of our neighbor’s voice, wild

and weird. “Leccamela tutta,” she barked.

Lick it up. Blake talked to fiery angels.

Dama Belle in black also knew secrets

but did not explain what, “finding Naples

on a map,” meant. Later, wayward spirits

would teach me how to make my own earthquakes;

but, back then, as both car and my neighbor’s

voice shook, I gawked through the fog-caked window,

baffled. “Fiery the angels rose.” Blake’s

voices were not mine. He saw holy choirs

and I saw la Dedova, the Widow.

][][

Notes:

Leccamela tutta,” is an Italian phrase that falls somewhere between, “lick it all up,” and, “lick my pussy.” In 1765, when he was only eight years old, Romantic mystic and poet William Blake is said to have had his first vision when he saw a tree full of angels in Peckham park. Naples is the third-largest city of Italy, after Milan and Rome.

bratty

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Playing Daddy. Each time I scrape a scab

my blood globs out like blackberry jelly.

Time to clot. Time to plague. Time to go stab

at my congealed crust while gangrene honeys.

Rot as nectar. November brings septic

shock; kiss me and you’ll taste canker, manhood,

fruitless patriarchy. Love curdles thick

as phlegm and grieves. Bratty be good; by “good,”

I mean, “Come embrace this toxic attempt

at a father figure that only fucks.”

Cum and December’s corrosion will make

sex-rot sexy again. Daddies might tempt

others, but we know that they’re still eunuchs

while Love consumes us like a plague’s outbreak.

mixed

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Did your mother-in-law ever once guess

that your best friend, Chava, sat in the front

seat while you and I made an unholy mess

under your niqab in the back? “My cunt

needs this,” you shivered and Chava giggled.

Love is so hard to grasp. It’s all taboo

and shame until your friends arrive. Cuckold,

they call it … though what that is in Hebrew,

I don’t know; just that under your niqab

you are flood-warning wet. Later, back home,

Chava will tongue-fuck you in the bathroom,

tasting my cum mixed with yours while you grab

the sink and quake at the touch of a tongue

so long it feels she’s licking out your womb.

cathartic

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Secrets of Primal Chaos,” the book said;

an odd find in a dour Baptist bookstore.

A gray girl with a beguiling squid head

beckoned from the cover … as if rancor

and lust were something that the gods just gave

away. I’ve snogged Set, finger-fucked Tiamat,

licked my own cum off Hades’ hands. To rave

possessed is the province of the poet.

Chaos can be chthonicly cathartic.

I took that tome home. It’s on my bookshelf.

Why read it? Turmoil is its own romance;

like how quick licks turn us into mystics.

Sex is prayer. Perhaps one day you, yourself,

will want this, too. Perhaps? Perhaps? Perhaps.

][][

Notes:

Set (Egyptian) and Tiamat (Mesopotamian) are both ancient gods of chaos. When something is Chthonic that means it is from the underworld, subterranean, infernal, much like Hades himself.