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Exquisite Corpse - A Journal of Letters and Life
Eight Poems
by Aaron Petrovich
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As we held each other there, you said that's the way the cookie crumbles and I said yeah you know that's the way the pin pricks and you said that's the way the ball bounces and I said well ain't it just like shit to stink but you thought to yourself but that's the way my heart breaks and I thought to myself but that's the way my soul sinks so I said you're the cat's meow you know and I meant every word and you said you're my knight in shining armor and I said you're my damsel in distress and you said you're my prince someday would come and I said I'm that kiss awakens you and you said I'm that tear upon your cheek and I said wait a minute I think I've got it I'm a horse and you're my saddle and we rode that horse for a moment into a setting sun. Yeah we rode that horse for a moment into an infinite horizon where the ball don't roll unless you push it because even time stands still but then I said of course it's not a goddamned clock if it doesn't fucking tick and you said you've got a point you know you can't keep the wheel from turning and I said that's the way the thunder claps and you said that's the way the fire burns and we sat for a moment before that fire. Yeah we sat for a moment before that fire where the flames embraced every possibility and the bright red embers at the fire's core described a delightful landscape that we one day would call our home because they were our dreams that danced with the shadows and kissed the licking flames so I asked if this was the highway to the promised land and you asked would I blaze for you the path to glory and I asked would you direct me to the stairway to heaven but then I confessed you know that I never really liked that damn band anyway and I was imprisoned for a moment by the seventh grade. Yeah I was imprisoned for a moment in the seventh grade when gym class meant an inevitable incidental erection because even my jockeys were a caress so I cried out that I am locked and you're the key but you cried set me free. Set me free you said so I kind of said with my tongue in my cheek if you love someone but you said hold your horses there partner this parade is canceled due to rain so I said with my self in my eyes I can only love you free. I can only love you free I said and you said and that's a pretty good love and I said sho' 'nuff and you said you're that lighthouse on my shore and I said you're that wave that swallows me and you said you're that moon that turns my tide and I said with a smile I'm the man on the moon and we stood for a moment on that moon. Yeah we were hand in hand for a moment on that amber ashen landscape until we took gentle flight from the surface of our realities and found oxygen even in that impossible air but then I said Ground Control to Major Tom and you said Houston, we have a problem, and I said danger Will Robinson danger and to put an end to that I said like tears in the rain and you said no like spit in the rain and I said no like piss in the rain - and we had a good laugh over that one - so are the days of our lives. So are our lives.
     Like shit, you said, in mud.

The Tree of Life

What we've got is context. We've got circumstance like a disease. I've got bad timing of the heart and complications of the soul. I've got eczema also but I don't think it's related. My doctors tell me that I've got a malignant relationship in my prostate that needs to be eradicated, immediately. Well, they're gonna radiate my indifference and reassemble my ironic detachment with prosthetic parts and with the excess flesh from my already embattled apathy. I'm experiencing in the meantime artificial disappointment. I've been placed on a steady diet of catholic guilt and I'm supposed to call my mother every day. I've got tooth decay. Also unrelated. My entire mouth is a cavity in every possible way. Parasites abound in the meantime in the bowels of my intellectual ennui. I'm on a laxative for my co-dependence and for my inability to articulate in social situations. I'm experiencing an aneurysm of love affairs. I'm struck dumb by a stroke of unethical justifications for real or imagined adulteries. I'm no longer certain if I have imagined you or if you are real. I've lost my place. I'm out of the hunt.
     I think I fell out of the tree of life.
     And hit every goddamned branch on the way down.


     Mercury is in retrograde, answered my mother.
     I can't recall the question.

The Fountain of Youth

Mother, drinking of the waters of the fountain of youth. She is dismayed to discover that, while the waters have failed to make her younger, they have, however, succeeded in making her smaller. About four feet smaller.
     "Your waters," she cries, "have made me small!"
     The purveyor of the waters of the fountain of youth, a new science Pharmer and an opportunist, directs her to the offices of HUD, recognizing in his waters the future of urban renewal. "Imagine all the tiny high-rises," he says.
     "Imagination," she says, "is no longer a socially viable phenomenon."
     "I'm afraid I haven't followed you." He's leaning over her and speaking at her like a child.
     "Imagination," she tells him, "is organic." That strikes a bone. He tries to kick her. She parries left and bights his big toe through his Birkenstocks. He shakes her off. Her flight is the arc of a rainbow. She falls with a splash into the waters of the fountain of youth, where she is reduced to the cosmic particle of creation. She is The Possible from which all life one day will come. She floats in the waters, waiting for the lightning.
     She imagines lightning.
     It strikes.


Mother at swim in the static seas of creation. She makes friends of micro-organisms and develops an implicit understanding of genomes, genetic engineering, nanotechnology, Cultural Darwinism, Corporate Anthropology. She accelerates effortlessly over complex and intersecting, concentric tides of life. She experiences entire life-cycles in seconds. She cannot distinguish any longer between the meaning of growth and the meaning of decay. She expands and contracts. She announces apocalyptic prophesies at single cell communities, who haven't the opposable thumbs to make of her a Supreme Being. They make of her instead a mystery.
     She can hear the distant thunder roll.
     A single and powerful heartbeat - her heartbeat - claps across the three dimensions, and into the fourth.
     I come from the womb.
     I scream.

If to Scream

     Yes, Tom. What is it, Tom?
     I don't like doors.
     What is it, Tom, about a door, that is not to be liked?
     The door is the mouth of the house. The house opens its mouth the door as if to scream.
     If to scream.
     When one opens the door the mouth of the house, one expects it to scream, or, at the very least, one expects things to come pouring through it.
     What kinds of things?
     Things like people.
     Like me? Things like me?
     Just like.

Hasn't the Sofa?

My goodness, said the door, someone has mistook my penis for a handle. Someone is turning my penis and someone is pulling on my penis. Someone is inserting a key into my penis, which he has taken for a door knob.
     Help me, said the door, for someone has taken my penis for a door knob and is inserting a key into my penis, and I am open.
     Am I open now? Now, am I open?
     I am open and now someone is putting his hand on my ass and I am closing. Now I am closed and someone has put his person upon the sofa. Someone has taken my dear sofa for a sofa and is sitting upon the sofa.
     Won't the sofa please take my penis for a handle? Why won't the sofa take my penis for a handle?
     Hasn't the sofa any keys?

Repression is Under-appreciated

We think it's in his best interest if you don't drop in on him. Or call on him. Peter. May I come in? Or call him, even.
     Who are you?
     That smells fantastic.
     It's the balsamic.
     My father loved risotto. Filled him up more quickly than he could eat it. Reason, I believe, for his slightness of build.
     You're his therapist?
     He complained of gas. My father. Which is ironic. Don't you think?
     I'm afraid I haven't followed you.
     By which I mean to say, I've lost your train of thought.
     Well he was an attendant, wasn't he? At a gas station.
     Your father?
     Who are we talking about?
     I thought, maybe, that you came here to talk about Peter.
     He spent a lot of time between cars, you know, working the pumps. This is the irony: He would come home complaining, and smelling, of gas. Kind of struck a bone, in a way.
     Would you like some? Risotto?
     Might trigger unwelcome memories.
     Repression is under-appreciated.
     Don't let that get out. Great tepinade, by the way.
     I use nori, actually.
     My father spent a lot of time in the oceans. Swimming. He even shaved his legs for better - what -
     Don't complete my sentences. Aerodynamics.
     In the water?
     You know what I mean.
     You mean acceleration.
     Precisely. In any case, when I eat nori, I can't help believing that I am eating my father. He joined a cult you know.
     Do they let you speak to him?
     Your father.
     What's he got to do with it?
     I understand that they sometimes don't allow contact. With family.
     He's your brother.
     You need me to tell you that?
     It's Peter that's in the cult?
     This explains a lot.
     I thought we were still on your father.
     You're not very bright, are you.
     Well, I guess it makes sense, now that I think about it.
     Poor Peter. He was obviously lacking a sense of family.
     He was paranoid.
     This explains a lot.
     I never really had much patience for cults. Nor for the people who join cults. Fraternities, also. Also therapists.
     Offense taken.
     Offense intended.
     He made an attempt on his life. Peter.
     I have visions - well, nightmares, really - sort of satirical nightmares - or fantasies - of therapeutic cults. Can you imagine a better marriage? Therapists and Gurus:
     Peter is suffering a farting disorder.
     People Who Meddle.
     Monthly checks forthcoming.
     Iago would have made an accomplished therapist. Shit. I've burnt the sweet potato cakes.
     Sweet potato cakes.
     I've burnt them.
     My father used to call me sweet potato cakes.
     There's another classic - Oedipus. You'd want to reverse the genders of course -
     What kind of wine is that?
     Amarone. Like some?
     Don't mind if I do.

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