2 Poems: “Eve of the Carnival” & “Gunpowder Mask”
Eve of the Carnival
It’s the old song: the-sky-is-falling.
It’s the old saw (same as the new
saw), that builds the new tower
to the old sky: there’s-always-tomorrow
but there’s always yesterday too,
which is tomorrow. Where can I go
then, with a new face, another name,
if the body is a temple I
have too many gods. I owe
too many favors that only
I will recall. Quick:
unleaf this sapling, lift this mountain’s
snow, which traps it, which could
melt to the stream below & dilute
its bright poison. Though the fish
still boil in their lake, no one dies
of hunger in three days’ time, no
climate stops devouring for pen
or sword, not over a weekend.
Come, join the party dressed
for your marriage, slip
a name on like a veil, you will know
only waiting your whole life (there
will be fireworks!), here is a face
that looks like a lover’s
face (the clock tower’ll open
its ball peen tongue) frozen
before you. A moment
of completion is oblivion—
How wonderful that the carnival
will never come! Better the moments
before than the day itself, of course
a letdown, wholeness an iron thing
in the gut that sinks you, the masks
all peeled off under the new light, the Oh-
it-was-only-you, & I-knew-it-was-you-
under-there, & Who-are-you?
Let’s meet the new dawn same
as the old dawn, where the white dog
tramples the town square & the postman
is still running but once more
with something to deliver.
The dog has not fled, so why should you?
Tomorrow is the carnival, tomorrow
is three days ‘til the carnival,
every day we reach closer for the sky
& the sky reaches back.
Listen: in heaven
there is a tree
& it is the same tree
& the only tree—
there is also the dog, who yips
& pisses on the one tree
& nips at your heels
to say I remember this,
I know this.
There is a cliff inside the body the body
leans over. I map the drop, the edges
with vibration, hold the chord until I shake
out here, here, here I am. Mark that spot.
X in ink, drop the needle onto skin,
on the vinyl, into skin, here. Teeth press down
and the blood says no, runs, relief and the blood
says yes, scorches the barrier, beats at the wall.
Guitar held like a weapon, palm of my body,
the sound weaves back to the self, the language
of which is vibration, which is my atoms
quietly losing their shit. They talk to other
atoms, wind atoms, light atoms
bending down toward earth, cotton atoms
and pockets of death atoms, they buzz un-
intelligibly, a sonarlingus. I am thus tuning
my frame to their frequency. Screws and hooks
on my brow, septum, overhang of lip,
labret, cheekbone, Monroe, tragus,
industrial, catch of helix: carefully plotted
shrapnel. Were I a ghost they would clink
to the floor or else continue to fly through me.
I am the only thing that will fly through myself.
Watch me throw my shadow like a voice,
watch the plunge headfirst, the whole Grand
Canyon on fire. I think, therefore am I
an electrified being, tuning fork, a bolt of song.