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The Exquisite Corpse - A Journal of Letters and Life
Edited by Andrei Codrescu
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the corpse reads classics letters the book of revelations and epiphanies
the making and unmaking of person
The Book of (Demotic) Revelations and (Common-sense) Epiphanies

After the War
by Jim Harrison

God wears orange and black
on Halloween. The bumblebee hummingbird
in Cuba weighs less than a penny.

I was joined by the head to this world.
No surgery was possible.
We keep doing things together.

There's almost never a stoplight
where rivers cross each other.

Congress is as fake as television sex.
The parts are off a few inches and don't actually
meet. It's in bad taste to send the heads
of children to Washington.

Just today I noticed that all truly valuable
knowledge is lost between generations. Of course
life is upsetting. What else could be upsetting?

From not very far in space I see the tiny pink
splotches of literature here and there upon
the earth about the size of dog pounds.

Reporters mostly reported themselves.
This was a new touch. They received
producer credits and directors' perks.

Tonight I smell a different kind
of darkness. The burning celluloid of news.
The Virgin strolls through Washington D.C.
with an ice pick shoved in her ear.

What does it mean, "enjoy yourself it's later
than you think"? At birth it was later
than we thought. The baby's unseen grey hairs.

Who is taking this time machine from the present
into the present? I grab for drugs. Now that I'm
older a single Motrin will do.

One of the oldest stories: dead dicks playing
with death toys. Plato said war is always greed.
Red blood turns brown in the heat. It's only
the liquid shit of slaves.

Un mundo raro. The angel is decidedly female.
She weighs her weight in flowers.
She has no talent for our discourse
which she said was a septic tank burble.

Of the 100 billion galaxies a few are bad
apples, especially a fusion of male stars
not unlike galactic gay sex. Washington
is concerned, and the Pope is stressed.

Earth gags on a vast river of photons
not the less real for being invisible. The young
soldier shot in the head leaks his memories
from his mouth. He tastes his blind memories.

All over America people appear to be drinking
small bottles of water. Fill them with French
red wine and shoot out the street lights.

As a long lived interior astronaut
it was mostly just space. The void
was my home in which I invented
the undescribed earth.

This is Rome. There are no Christians
so we throw Muslims to the lions of war.
We have the world in the dentist's chair.

I pray daily for seven mortally ill women,
not to say that life is a mortal illness.
It's always been a matter of timing.
Lives are as hard to track as flying birds.

To understand the news is to drag a dead dog
behind you with a paper leash.
Once you loved the dog.

Try to remember all of the birds
you've heard but didn't see.
This is called grace.

I was living far too high in my mind
and started fishing like the autistic child
they found the next morning still fishing.
The war became x-rated. No American bodies.

During these times many of us
would have been far happier as fish making
occasional little jumps up above the water's
surface for a view of the new century.

It seems that everything is a matter
of time from cooking to dropping dead.
Just moments earlier the dead soldier
drank warm orange juice, scratched his ass
and thought about the Chicago Cubs.

Mrs. America is smothering the world
in her new pair of enormous fake tits.
She's the purgatorial mother
who can't stop eating children.

Rose was struck twice by a rattler
in the yard, a fang broken off in her eyeball.
Now old dog and old master each
have an eye full of bloody milk.

The end of the war was announced
by the Leader in a uniform from the deck
of an aircraft carrier, one of those deluxe
cruise ships that never actually touches
the lands that they visit.

A girl of a different color kissed me once.
I think it was in Brazil. Celestial buttocks.
Honeysuckle dawn. Imanja rose from the sea,
her head buried in a red sun.

Hot August night, a forty day heat wave.
Thousands of the tiniest bugs possible
are dying in this old ranch house. Like humans
they are easily attracted to the wrong light.

Tonight the moon is an orange ceiling globe
from a forest fire across the river. In the dark
animals run, stumble, run, stumble.

I stopped three feet from the top
of Everest. Fuck it, I'm not going
a single inch further.

We need a poetry of fishscales, coxcombs,
soot, dried moss, the heated aortas of whales,
to respond to the vulpine sniggers of the gods.

Throughout history soldiers want to go to war
and when they get there straightaway wish
to go home.

Change the lens on this vast picture show.
See the mosquito's slender beak penetrate
the baby's ass. A touch of evil.

I read the unshakable dreams of the hundred
year old lesbian, life shorn of the perfection
of the pork chop. Everyone lacks inevitability.

Michael and Joseph never truly returned
home because they weren't the same people
they were when they left home.

My dog Rose can't stop chasing curlews
who lead her a mile this way and that.
I have to catch her before she dies of exhaustion.
This is a metaphor of nothing but itself.

The motives were somewhat imaginary but people
died in earnest. Some were
shoveled up like flattened roadkill.

During World War II my brother John
and I would holler "bombs over Tokyo"
when we pooped. A different kind of war.

She kicked her red sandal at the sun
but it landed in a parking lot mud puddle.
"We're de-haired chimps," she said
finishing her pistachio ice cream cone.

Osama won really big I heard on a game
show. We changed our institutions,
the surge toward a fascist Disneyland.

I wish I had danced more said the old man
drawing nearer his death bedstead in a foot
of grass in the back forty. Where's my teddy bear?

Of late on television we are threatened
by crocodiles, snakes and bears
in full frontal nudity. Politicians are clothed.

My childhood Jesus has become an oil guy
but then he's from the area. Seek and ye shall
find an oil well. The daughter of murder is murder.

Nothing can be understood clearly. A second into
death we'll ask "what's happening?" Viola said
that there's an invisible world out there and we're
living within it. Rose dreams of ghost snakes.

Of late politicians remind me of teen prostitutes
the way they sell their asses cheap, the swagger
and confusion, the girlish resolutions. They can't go
home because everyone there is embarrassed.

I nearly collapsed yesterday but couldn't find
an appropriate place. Our pieces are anchored
a thousand miles deep in molten rock. A spider
web draws us an equal distance toward the heavens.

The Leader is confident that Jesus and the Apostles
are his invisible SWAT team. His God
is a chatterbox full of martial instructions.

I worry about the soul life of these thousands
of the tiniest bugs that die on the midnight coffee
table. It's literally here today, gone tomorrow,
but then in cosmic time we live a single second.

Once a year all world leaders should be put
in an Olympic swimming pool full of rotten
human blood to let them dog paddle in their creation.
The lifeguard is a blind child playing a video war game.

Men look at women's tits and flip out.
This is the mystery of life, but then they have a line
of coke, some meth, a few beers, beat up or rape
or shoot someone. They make movies about this.
We must adore our fatal savagery. The child
thrown naked into the snowbank for peeing the bed
then kills the neighbor's cat, etc. etc. The midget
dreamt he grew two feet. Between the Virgin
and the garrison the flower becomes a knife.

My how our government strains us
through it's filthy sheets. We're drawn
from birth through the sucking vortex
of greed. It all looked good on paper.

To change Rhys, God is a doormat in a world
full of hob-nailed boots. Proud of his feet
the Leader is common change. He's everywhere.

I've been looking closely at my smaller
mythologies the better to love them, those colorful
fibs and false conclusions, the mire
of my private galaxies that kept
ancient man on earth and me alive.




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diaries and memoirs translation and her retinue
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the making and unmaking of person the corpse reads classics letters

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