Exquisite Corpse - Issue 4
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by Claudia K. Grinnell
Discourse on Form

In the darkness of the hive
is useless-dozens of other bees
crawl across the dancer's body

[an image already itself
      a cliché]

to feed
and taste her: "dissolve with a few drops
whatever excludes"*      
      without aim
and bite off this last
      touching of death-plenus poderes.
The foot, the foot
is not yet a foot, it's the wing
of a Paleolithic bird and before that
      a marvelous manifesto.
and all that. And on the matter of form:
Will you take tea
? and In long nights
I dread most
and The lepers of Madurai-
and it's all such a jumble, and o, for a moment
not to think, to be
      at the center
      of this marvelous stillness
      can you hear it--?
      no sound

*Rilke, The Sonnets to Orpheus

Language Lessons

A word has meaning
only if it excludes something: a dog
      [is not] a cat [is not]
a triangle
of birds heading south, light
[is not]
dark, even though
it appears like that sometimes.
Speak: Say you want to be
      a nightwatchman.
Say it with authority:
any man
in Eden
is already trespassing. Kick the dog
      [which is not]
tongue-tied with sorrow: it wails.
You compose a thank-you note:
For witnessing what has become
      of me since the fall.
      I am learning--
      I am learning, how to say
apple and how it falls
into my hand like a woman's breast.


I drink away every Sunday
while I should be in church
I burn holes in my socks
with my crackpipe
I play on every g-ddamn
cliché you can think of

for you see:

      don't we all want a piece
of that cute fascist? The one with the white skin
and blonde hair? The one who let's you smell
who is master
and who
      down on your knees, boy, down!
is slave.

The Collapse of the Wave Function

Five arrows into stupid Cupid's nightly limit of ten,
he lights a cigarette and points and says to no one in particular

shall we their fond pageant see
? His remaining tobacco-stainedarrow heads
quiver, nodding up and down in agreement. Yes. Yes. Yes.

We are with you! [they are easily excited]. Shoot him˜shoot!
That motherfuckingcunteatingsnotsuckingbastard! Himhimhim!

They are out for blood now. Action, my man! Not at a distance, but here
in that dank, warm neon flesh of possibility: my father is a movie star,

my mother, an Austrian waltz-estimons les ecchymoses desEsquimaux aux
exquis! And Pepsi, the drink of the new generation. The flaneurs duParis

walk in this sweet evening, surrounded by glass-roofed, marblepassages.
lets another one fly, misses Monsieur Duchamp's heart by abicycle wheel,

creates a useful hole at the top of his cranium, a window ofopportunity, so
      to speak
to make a man or woman madly dote upon the next live creaturethat he

Cupid is now interested in a young woman with unnaturally red hair
whose tongue probes Monsieur Duchamp's hole. An odd scene, surely,

and a passing mother speeds up, dragging her boy by his lengthening arm.
The red woman's tongue touches brain, and a second later, anarrow hits

her in the elbow. Convinced of God's presence, of imminentrapture,
she begins referring to herself in the third person, and the air

is suddenly abuzz with flies and a moon trying to find his way home..
A small chaos ensues. Cupid is well pleased and decides to call it anight.

Write What You Know

I know my foot,
the right one, the unlucky one,
the one broken once while skiing:
a mismatch between slope
and talent. The one broken again
when a door fell on it. The one
nibbled at, peed on, and licked
by a blind, asthmatic dog.
I know my hand, the sinister one,
the one willing to hold the knife,
the one thin like fog, early in March,
the one doubting its own existence,
even when held against the light.
I know my eyes, more northernly
than my mouth, and always ready
to believe in a moon: how romantic,
how sensible, how beautiful,
how useful. This moon, a lantern,
hanging (how poetic) from a tall pine,
just for me, lighting my way.
A moment comes
when I forget: the places
where I am mortal.
What do I know.

Links: http://www.ulm.edu/~grinnell/homepage.htm

Email: Grinnell@spock.ulm.edu

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