Exquisite Corpse - Issue 3
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by Jenni Olin


Billie Holiday

It's April 1st and I'm still a fool
to want you,
bang my head against the ice machine
in this season of perennial faintings.
the giant amaryllis   a mess on the floor
& so  we are cheated out of some fabulous dying thing:
"Alice, said the Hare, you are a girl."
Mean irony! It's awful to be two things at once.
for example, as in Rudy Burkhardt, Swiss & disillusioned
(shows photo Times Square Building, 1947)
"Well, what I love about New York is that it just grew up wildly."
amidst slender cast iron columns  & dreadful posturings
that snapshot of Lady
in the studio holding
her scotch and rocks
the fragile saffron neck--
"she looked simply grand and not at all..."
it was impeccably contrived
and the Furies?
only birds at icy altitudes
in her last recordings, in the achy 5 o'clock New York rain
unsteady on the sidewalk. She meant to be so frail but
only gained in constancy.
sad truth: a burnt piano key

"Harry Kept Saying Primo Levi Was An Accident"

Harry kept saying Primo Levi was an accident
& "about as scary as a glass of orange juice"
Orange Jews he kept saying, when I asked for a raise, high
& seedy love to be gathered & dispersed
like diaphanous monks or politics
I never wanted to fight the war against m.s.
I am trying to live with myself in critical care
in Chelsea room #406 minus the bladder control of brownies
Did a dog fall out that window I sorta understand
child leashes on Manhattan streets
like bravura brushstroke, one little dash right here
& it's all over I defend blindly whatever
brings me money. Well there's nothing
wonderful in that I really should stop
with the queer diction it's 1999 but I got laid
in heaven & must rage on as such
against the dying of the light, etc.


Clean & Jerk Attempt

naked & unerring,
              I come from Madagascar
                           a wrestler says,
hair a gavotte
             of wispy tangles
                          in the neon arena.
what furious & accepted monster is this,
             trembling like Katharine Hepburn
                         or a malaria patient
coming down the blue
             sluice of morning,
I felt gorgeous & linear yesterday
             our hero type gasps,
                          and yesterday
& the spotlight is advancing
                           on his white buttocks
(stark mad, falls down)
              tragically flawed
                           like a crippled Rothschild
in a room
             of swift nudes
                          & it's highway robbery
how he signs over
             his days, fist in mouth:
                          Crap. Foiled.
he thinks, victory
             an erratic bloom
                          on sheer yesterday
(years roll suggestively by)
              "time is nutting you just shit,
                          get old, sick, crazy, fucked-out."


Sometimes I look at people & think Jesus what happened here.
Race turns to me & speak its rage & I
Am dark with it.  Like the troubled teen life
Of Farrah Fawcett or an orphanage saved
By a bikini car wash or Harry
pissing in the elevator, my Affair to Remember.
The original Thomas Crown Affair was much better
Than the mascara-streaked Russo pummeling Pierce
Brosnan's impervious chest.
The Heart's Filthy Lesson we call it.
An Infinity begins and backfires.
A stately bang against the universe
Crude and seminal like the special olympics.
Or the heroine's false sense of invincibility I just
Want to grab her by her anorexic shoulders & moan
I know, I know, but  Snow White she seems so easy
One kiss & she really "came to life." Slut.
I guess I was expecting rain, suspecting
Harry when he was being so good.


Welcome Back, Welcome Back

Checking the seasons someone says fall
or I've mistaken a trust in the vernacular

Checking the seasons someone says fall and I drop like hell

thinking, what fresh hell is this? I'm burning
Toast black you know
like Eileen Myles.            I cannot live a hot & depressed life, etc.

                         It's like dots of sweat
                         trembling on Maria Callas's mustache. Call that
                                                    -- pastiche. Healthy living.

            You know like vegetables & dope
            or I've mistaken a trust in the vernacular

            Churlish. treading water
            having left the left
            I always steep when left behind

                                                                               on the Verrazzano Bridge
                                                    Welling, backing down. . .Lydia's lover said

                            "I really identified with Epstein as a Puerto-Rican Jew.

As a Puerto-Rican Jew with a routine latrine job. "
                                                                  The slaughterhouse,
                                                          a smoky dot in Europe.


Vanishing Point

Depressed like cabin air & passing out
peach-tinted hygiene manuals
              on westside highway I lead men on
like the virgil of the garment district:

Now this lovely structure on your right
is Harry's jeans & a struggling pyramid of girls & oh
Well I understand his orphans with my gun like cinema verite

shot through with lower-functioning inmates--
             with the "inkings of Scandinavian malaise" & whatnot
I go see art & feel priceless but to be a good sport you have to lose
              & lose value like junk bonds he likes to "sit back & watch 'em grow..."

The Met stuffed with alabaster tits I left alone, sexy & mightily unDutch

Mastered, set fire to a batik picture
              of  Mother Chelsea the Pitiless who wasn't sickle-
              Cell white & incontinent & Dia-funded

I stood in his cloud shirt by myself

Cursed to stalk the night through all eternity & original so on
Through the small ballet company of stocking runs & upset

Nuns down Sixth Avenue, John Wieners,
the Americas breaking apart so I can feel this sinuous & partial wind
             like lyme disease with a drip in the arm & the sky is falling.


The Shark Wrangler Goes to Church

Because Americans love seafood I can
Be invited inside the national chain of my choice
But today all the chains are failing & the weather's crushing
On all the hotties in the Chelsea district I wish
We were all dead & tight & cleanly risen like scabs
Or a smart Lord & Taylor window even less attractive
The more you scrub, the closer you get to the super-hero inside
a.k.a. The Spiderwoman is our queer version
of The Chocolate Wars. What I wouldn't do for Sam
Cooke. Laying eggs for me & nobody else. But here the man's trouble.
He's been to my house. Milk protein straight from the subway midday on a Sunday.
The Turks are not with me now & this thing keeps breaking open.


Like Beatrix Potter,

Wittgenstein held a sweaty mother once too
             with an armature lines
Oh god yes & didn't he feel that like a kid

playfully moved by a tornado
& plopped down into a watered-down cotillion,
              truant semester of brain nerves & deviled eggs

              & so we are awful little people with awful little dreams...

Well, don't get in a fuck about it
thinks Beatrix crapped out on a diagonal,
with car swerves & mad-cap shooting
             at the height of a person's heart

Anyway the glamour & crash of Wittgenstein without blood
or Black Russians

Delineates the helixes of Beatrix
              "my speedy dessert season"
              An armistice wrested from the dying bunnies
& splayed like the fourth of July

Her old bean primed for love & petrified
like spring girls in weight rooms at 14
Hold on pussy hold on
             There you go. Now you're fine.

Beatrix's affections return tenacious
& slow like spanked kids or continental drift
All this & she is blind


The Sleeping Form

The Asian Century wasn't supposed to start like this.
I fucked myself senseless in cut-offs with Astroglide
& Doc Johnson multi-speed . I hope everyone out there
In Viewerland understands what I mean by that.
I put down rebellion with good ketchup violence,
In what became a ruptured aneurysm, a grande dame honored at lunch.
Nasdaq fell & I'm at home with the kids, my beautiful Ramone Dee Dee
& my shy mother Sandy.  A mother's love is so special.
Hey Mama my heart belongs to you... & The Sherry Netherlands also
But the bellboy at The Sherry Netherlands is tough love
& smarts with a Chinese visibility like hats. A dream & I was sketching
In this heinous poem, I cried Harry, that I was failing
Gorgeously. He stuck a thumb in my ass said "sleep it off kid."


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