Issue 12: Steve McCaffery
ALONE WITH THE ANIMALS
Night made everything illegible
but Kimberley Madison was her name
and her faucets were the toast
of the town until
the toaster burned the neighbour’s baby
thinking in its cot.
Don’t be silly
asked the children,
why don’t you visit my family
in Bosnia and sing a song for them
in Pig Latin? He’s over there
skyped in behind the selected works
of several fisheries employees
arguing on the picket-line
that we need a couple more granades
to make a baker’s dozen.
I’m sure glad we’re not thinking in our century
nor the ones before that
when the hectares were more
uniformly unpleasant than trying to explain
the recent spot of genocide to a school bus full
of trans-gendered boy scouts
wishing they were girls again before
going to sleep in their Spring semesters.
Did you hear the one about the botched
Iraqi transplant during the water-boarding
That was a christening not to be constitutional about
I wouldn’t take no for an answer
if I were you from that weird apparatus
vibrating in the waiting room.
It all depends on the nature of
the proper expediency
tripping blind guide dogs for example
in the night I mentioned earlier.
Everyone around here wants to be Russian
or same-sex survivors in
the servant’s sector of the neutral zone
whistling the anthem of a man I knew.
Nobody has time to change
into oxymorons when everyone’s asking
for a glass of reference before each meal
and the headlamp starts to vanish
e’en to disappear . . .
the national flag decided to become neo-liberal
in the precise sense of something else
blowing in the tunnel of love or elsewhere
before the fuel parade of the human fossils.
The trilobites are coming! The trilobites are coming
out of Father Christmas’
false teeth & beard
they are victorious over other entities
dressed up in the skins of animals
being punished for their flatulence
it’s not unlike crop rotation
for the masses
and when it wasn’t the crippled acrobat’s turn
to replace the hole in the cease-fire
it all turned into snarls of
in the local massage parlour
whistling an epistle to the disused
side-walk as the bulb comes up
to screw in a light bulb?
nobody asks the car bomb specialist to change
his underwear three times a year
while posing for flash photography
THE NEURAL PROTOCOL
after checking the cranial indices
one enters the cave of Plato
behind the key retinue
burnt ochre pedagogies disappear into
the curved stone matrices of bishops
Stone Age Xanthippe remonstrates
the futurist runes deposited
by two disinterested integrity scientists:
Bob and Bing
the scab halitosis
elastoplast the girn
to heroic adolescents
in a Japanese manga
Across a green Sahara
the Neuter staggers to embarrassing enormity
tired of obedience to
the Martian anarchists’ hermeticism
syncretic complexities relax into
the efficacy of transit
Ruben Dario is with it, Parnassian poet of Nicaragua
transitive in his casual nod to the long white beard
manipulating the molecular new words
in an architect’s space.
Like tiny Oscar Wildes child traders hedge
their family traits by intelligent sequencing
vague, at first, through a Lenin fog
until their wounds no longer irritate
Darwinian operatives in the monkey penthouse
police the inside.
Rot reads itself
the galaxy contaminates its particle origin
a further index fragments what I cannot name
as Wolf Lip.
A clipped card might promulgate a limbo of reticence
in the final hum before dead air on her birthday
so kick the carcasses, get
catharsis from catastrophe.
Steve McCaffery is author of over 35 volumes of poetry and criticism. His new book Dark Ladies will be appearing through Chax Press later this year. A member of the Canadian Sound Poetry ensemble Four Horsemen, and a founding theorist of Language Writing, he is David Gray Professor of Poetry and Letters at the University at Buffalo.