Sunday, September 11, 2005

Joyelle McSweeney

First Poem for the Catastrophe

Today, a woman crusted in salt. A cape, a carapace, it could be cracked away. The flesh now falling like running down a road. Dead luscious. Lemon eyes. Look of blind bike wheels. A cut out slim image on a screen of pain, eye in the palm of her hand. (Do you see another world in this word.) It’s a trick eye; blame her. She spent too much time in the mine.

Salt-carts remain an exact perfect for carting tourists through the mine. Awl punch. Blind tickets. The guide describes the view. In this chamber, an exact replica of the surface: sidewalk, workstop. This is the front of your first home, balcony. This is a view from the car. Here are hundreds of indistinguishable classrooms, parking lots. And here the flora before the people arrived, the margin of marsh ground. Marshy with time.

The handcarts hauled by women through the Peopled Wilderness. Like

after me, the foam cooler. Inside: the working body

through the tide. Suitcase rifts from one hand. Terrible angle of the baby is the angle of history, tugged towards the shelter raking its eyes over the gulf-green sky.

Does anyone know where the Mine’s gone does anyone know how long the mine’s been gone

The dead shrimp reprieved from the docks, grey veins splitting white, like the seeing fingers of the blind into the floodrush. What sights do they palpate spectacular, split pinwheel rooves of the merry-go-round, diamond hustlers, six-foot bivalves of the shell Oil signs, snaking pump-depths of our shallow signatures. dead hands and back. dead feat.

If you get in that bathhouse before me
Wait in the tub
I’ll be creeping past the watchtower
Tuh give you the rub
If you get in the tub before me
Save me some gin
I’ll be waiting in the district
For that ship to come in

We come blind up out of the mine light into lye-light. Soap white. I can’t see for the white, I can’t stomach more than a t-shirt in this heat, and now I’ll wear these plastic sandals into the afterlife and you’ll know me by my sweat feet/bloodprints.

Where is the see-with-disks. Where are the see-through-tubes. The towers and the satellites The heights and distances that permit vision. Make a pinprick on the map and draw the light. Collect the blood that runs out and mix it with rain water in the full of the moon. (The water is white with lead.). Tie a yarn to your needle and sweep it round. This represents the safezone in the sweep sweep of the tide.

Don’t go inside.

Take no action.
Take no action til the full of the moon.

Can you wait for it. Can you make a caul or a cowl for it. How wide can you cut this cloth. How high can you sweep the rug. Sweet rushes for my bodybag. Wonderbread. Goodyear tires. The throttle neck of the six cans. Glad bags. Glad. Lord it’s glad and it’s good.

And if my left hand don’t know what my right hand knows
My left hand don’t know what my right hand knows
My left hand can’t clap without my right hand, Lord

My right hand will raise up without me. The thumb and first finger in the shape of the eye, three stiff fingers, a crown of flight feathers.

Second Poem for the Catastrophe

She’s got a whorl in her hand where she grabbed for it, now she’s marked with it.
That’s how you’ll know her if you find her [out].
Whorl in her hand like: God’s eye, weather eye.
Currently piled with pink soap in the ladies
Water is no longer shuttling down the drain. The drain does not apply.
It does not apply [itself]/She does not apply [herself] [to] for
“indifferent first to school and then to her job, her person, the persons of her two minor children”
first person, second person, and then the two third persons
Scuttling of strange trees above the peaked Bible roofs
The thicket of unPeopled Wilderness this is lostness
Leave to let go into the scarf of foam (the scarf of form—time to learn it’s planless, long thing, shape of lemon on your tongue, punching the face closed)
Abed in the barracks
The scrub pine of individualism twisting on the beach
needled hand that holds nothing, at least not tonight
Marked for life, marked out for [a] life [of].
At night the stars take the shape of geese and arrows
All signs point away
billions served in a light year ten thousands applied for

All babies like a flashlight
Here’s mine with a light in her hand, she presses her fingers over it and her hand turns red.
That’s the truth of it, baby. Vessels of red.
One game day I saw a baby reach for a lighter and start to spark
‘That’s not a flashlight, baby, that’s not a flashlight.’ his daddy said.
But what was it, he didn’t say.
Some people are careless. I’m made of cares.
What do you think I want for my child.
I thought I’d take him out in onehundred degree heat and press him up against a chainlink.
I thought I’d stand for three hours in a line to buy a gun to guard our house and car against these ugly people.
I thought I’d sit him on a couch to watch the dilating flood push up more and more needy people.
I thought I’d take him to watch the President fan his white hand over the crowd
Out swimming with the silverfish all tail and no body.
Enough sardines to fill a can
When Popeye squeeze the spinach out I get the extra bite
I get to gulp the righteous sweatdrop leaping from his brow
As he prepares his sacrifice. As his brace of trumpets blares
As the President’s mother says, it’s working out quite well for [me.]
As the First Lady says, it’s just what [I’d] expect.

I don’t know what heaven will be like
But I’ve got a sense that the world undersea
Is all carefully ordered, colorful ranks of seahorses
Pulling teacup chariots in which the white king sits.
His hair spread out like a storm front.
Yes, the man got there first.
Even there, even there.
To man the coral reef and witch cave and the cool sand castles.
To hang his picture in all the frames.
His Palais de Art is really something
Small enough to fit on your dresser-top
Where are the real fish
pounded flat with both eyes on one side of their head
Can’t talk but out of the one side now
They’re blessed, they got the stroke of honesty
Lifeless on the frozen belt
Open in surprise

Third Poem for the Catastrophe

melting rainbow that embrace this roof
persistent covenant
hangs around
giving us nothing, leaves its muck in the water
expects us to be knocked out by its fine colors
weren’t you nothing too, weren’t you
sea bottom
crunched down into fuel.
and when that eggshell roof busts through
mama’s gonna buy you
a rainbow ride for free
an illumination, an inflammation
hyperion flame headdress
dream pins in the fuel
balloons of Koolaid burst down to cool
the sticky baby’s head
plus a credit card a glock a new bible
a princess dress
a mermaid princess dress
so you’ll be twice submerged
or an erased Indian princess
pajama set now go to sleep

Fourth Poem for the Catastrophe

In another place an insectoid mask of math vision split a gridded mouth piece mesh for ears a sifting in and a silting out communication a shifting of fluids from station to station to cup a drawing of power that stymies us

well that cup has certainly runneth over.
send the bulldozers in.

it travels through the air it travels through wires on the surface of the highway on the sides of boats it blossoms like cancer on the faces on billboards now chindeep and tilting a whooping crane wringing through the air with a cancer on its leg a seagull with virus colors on its shoulders everything corrodes and collapses communication exchange reciprocity help

the bureaucrat is now the most famous man in America thousands died for him
to secure a job in consulting

the walnut table is hard as a coffin
the oak sideboard is basso profundo
the sheen is thick and removable at extra cost
the dark in the room is a houndog layer
sealed into storm light like a raft on water
there’s a picture of his wife in a dog spit chair
she folds her hands on the heads of her grandchildren
if you criticize this child you’ll get an earful from me
who cares about the earful rip my whole ear off
you dogs if it’ll make this [you] all change

if you withdraw from it you have to pay into it
what you subtract from it you’ll add back into it
did the damage come from the ears or from the rain
the bodies busted at the middle to sit at the table
the winds come out one end and go right back in the other the wires
the emblem stitched onto the sportshirt breast
some mother sewed right through her thumb
and the scar’s embossed with this
emblem of state
orders are fuzzing out above the city
a manmade cloud ceiling stuck up with flame
fire at the cord bank! the fiber optic dangling chains
baked now
should be buried in the bank if we could find the edge
of the neighborhood
or the body or the city.

if there’s a silver lining to this now it’s
if the people can see the problems in the nation now
if starting over will mean a brand new order then

spread out the problem and get in lines.
what solve everything is time and tide
time and tide
leave no man behind