Hoodwinked and slammed to the mat again
they wanted to keep me in pennies not heaven
but I came off the ropes like Archie Moore
or Archimedes leaping from his bathtub
yelling “Eureka” and “what is?” and
somebody else say well what is, and you say omigod
am I here and all alone? Then you recover your bearings
and strap your balls back on like Stravinsky
going the distance with the Ballets Russes
as it grows dark in Bryant Park where
I am discovered mounting Gertrude Stein
from behind, absorbing her grassy knowledge,
lifting the skirts that surround this
great bronze cake on the green sward.
The day gone down to zero, snow in the air,
winter storms moving in from the Midwest.
Across the street a meticulous student traces out
a pattern at the drawing board, working in
solitude on a Friday afternoon. I envy his diligence.
The cake bakes the bell rings the year runs out.
Need music here, not the small bells of regret
rung by cheap chimes from some stall in Chinatown.
Give me clarity or give me meth,
turning dreck into cake
feeding the multitudes refined chocolata.
So much depends on pure intention,
the way wind carries music, weightless,
a spear tipped with leaves, harmless as angel food
emerging fragrant from the stove.
Double indemnity dual identity, layers
of cake in my head threaten every working space,
thin mind remembers nothing,
narcolepsy urging me from solid chair
to the swansdown of the couch
oven bleeps at 400 degrees
“Sleep, sleep” the voice says like
the children in Blake’s poem
who sweep and weep.
On Canal Street the fake cakes fly
off the shelves explosive projectiles erupting
like swords from the swallower’s throat.
Lines of the hand tracing syllabic blood
the triangle in my palm already fully
formed in Kenny’s languid portrait
from thirty years ago. A long lean dope fiend
without a brain in his head poor sweaty stinking kid.
Belly to belly we have laid, the words continue
twining and untwining, snake swallowing tail
rooster shaking tailfeather, wily coyote
owning the highway wolfing down
lemon chiffon, babka, foamy meringue.
Fresh American morning all music and guns,
no hogwash or cereal added.
Icy streets invite sudden demise before you can
sip your first demitasse how simple
to slip beneath the wheels of the Tom Cat
breadtruck or be struck by
a laundry van in Paris like the French philosopher
whose name post mortem evades me,
though I recall the location;
he cashed out in Place de la République
while shopping for croissants.
That ruffian death hovers like a guilty
bystander, filthy fingers in the thinker’s pockets
before his face hit the pavement.
Strip mouth down for emergency only
hard words soften at the edges
to form a curve that moves
to the next line and binds it into the last.
Lingo bangs around the page
like rain clunking on a roof, or bats
colliding with a wall in a storm,
their echolocation washed out by weather.
Children in cornfields unafraid
of what came out of the dark waved
long sticks tied with rags and
the bats arrived like Messerschmitts
examining the shaken air everything
benevolent even when the dog
disappeared or a neighbor died
on his first motorcycle and the wreck
stood in his parents’ yard for months,
bent chrome gleaming in winter sunlight.
Bataille writing through phlegm,
reeling with debauch, tongue
hanging out, sick, tubercular, the sanatorium
a crèche of lust and heavy breathing,
couples coughing their pink lungs up as they
jacked it hard. Outside the window
the Jura mountains in their glory,
lower reaches strewn with wildflowers.
-MAX BLAGG NYC 2010