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Exquisite Corpse - A Journal of Letters and Life
Seven Poems
by Claudia Grinnell
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A Kind of Permanence

The man walks.
He had a bad dream.
He walks bent
at the waist.
His hands drag
across the gravel.
He walks.
His forehead fell
on his shoes.
Before him
his head rolls.
His head recites:
I lived with worms;
my dream
was bad. He walks
bent into the day.


©Lynne Douglass

About Face

Not this time, not like this, not like the man
in the moon-but just my head before the mirror:
early, morning, alone, hair combed from the roots--
not coming
to a conclusion, not coming
for to carry me home, not holy, not guilty
of sin--but bare
cold feet and a hand that can do
anything and one that can do nothing
about leaky faucets.

Fa cade face up fa cet inyourface
fa ceto fa ce makeAf ace facial an gle
lue face pl ate fac e c a r d facedown

If a woman speaks out against her man,
her mouth shall be crushed with a hot brick.
--First Mesopotamian written law code, ca 2350 BC

Now tell me, when I am lying sleepless
next to you, what is your name? Between
night and morning, several people will jump
from high buildings, a bird flies into the windshield
of a speeding car, a bored whore gives one more
blowjob, at the bottom of things
are more things. A theory of light pulses
from every stop sign. I've neglected my obligation
to reassemble decayed corpses, to scrape
the dirt off green nails, to bring water
to shameful places. Instead, I am lying
here, waiting to get up, waiting
for the invention of mirrors without
reflection, waiting for one part
form and two parts some thing else.
Digestion Happens in the Alimentary Canal

Men compliment her, but she does not find pleasure
in their words. She should have written down every word

To be a typist. The pursuit of lust as machine--but they want
their fun. Yes, that's what they want. She wants
to understand the etymology of the word lust
or lune or--to be eager! She wants to understand lust.
He finds it pleasurable to flatter her: she reacts
with her whole body, draws into it everything that fits
her and lunges--every nerve ending exposed--into his skin.
It Is Not Necessary for Counsel to Enter Objections

The sounds of in-line skates baffle my head, whir past, scramble
this unfinished meal, colder now, less appealing than at first--when I was hungry.
I leave this dollar, this unfinished puzzle and this space
where my smile once affected people
I hardly knew, people whose faces I could only imagine fully made-up
or not at all, not whole, at least. Maybe an eye, or an ear, here and there--a nose
and a lip--hers, for example! She comes toward me, with tired steps,
tired as if walking out of eternity, tired as if she saw herself
coming toward herself, tired because of speech: the incessant
slaughter and sacrifice in her mouth. She leaps at words
before they have a chance to look at her with their questioning
eyes. I don't ask how she's doing. She does not have eyes.
Further Carelessness Will Not Go Unremarked

Every thing M. needs
to believe
is spread before him
on a black lacquer table:
a handful of dried sargassum
(sticky, salty),
a magnifying glass,
cognac, old papers (from before
the war). He reads the words
under the magnifying glass,
one at a time--peace, heavy,
--and the verbs too-
go, make, be
. He cuts
the paper with nail scissors
into letters--g, m, p, l--
makes a new language,
one without catastrophes.
He believes in himself.
M. decides to spend the summer
at the beach (again)--
waves plop into the beach,
trustworthy as a re-read book.
He changes the direction
of the wind, pushes a button:
silence. He lets sun
shine all day. He buys
a boat, christens it Sylvia
and with patience and care,
with red paint and his own hand
paints the letters.
In the morning, after tea
he begins, before beer he stops,
completely forgetting his daily swim.
Then he goes fishing
for an entire week and makes
several girls fall in love with him.

A child cries, he hears
it: all children pass through
him with their broken toys
and dirty faces

Fewer cherries, so much
we know (so far)
about the coming
summer and because a trip
will not occur and because
a movie deal will fail,
we dip into canned peaches,
look at yellowed maps,
and shuffle through
old photos: nobody will know
how we live, how we watch
light crawl along a chair's
leg, how we smooth
crumpled paper, how
we consider: why not
that the water is frozen
and someone's hoping
to skate (to dance, to turn)
without fear. That would
be something, wouldn't it,
to get used
to the idea of hanging
by a thread, to look at the sky,
the hook, the rope--and dangle,
timeless, thinking--
Buddha Mind Limerick

There once was a girl from Lou-e-z-ana
who never before had heard of prajna
"I will enlighten your mind
and treat you nothing but kind"
offered the well-hung and loose-limbed rhaja.

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