Ferryboat Delayed While Waiting For Instructions
Love, when popped, stains something awful. Love secreted with skill is “milked” for ink, anti-venom. Ideally, love prepares a feast. In the morning, a fragrant white beard exclaims he’s your bedfellow. Or were those crab-nebulae and quasars pounding inside your skull? Love, written in a font like pigeons or busted huaraches. The Two met at a flea market. The ferryboat was delayed. Islands everywhere, and metaphor equals sea-fare, or death, and sometimes desire. Friday means T-shirts as well, a cold beer and warding off the impending famine. He and They had 253 dollars together, and some matches. Both paid no attention to the women shrieking and pulling empty cans from the trash bin. Both had forgotten the odor of the sea. Both possessed an oven in their gaze. Sometimes a couple bakes bread. Sticks together, eggshell to yolk. Sometimes, they part. One demonstrates mourning with spoonful of aspic.
If you wish for strife in your neighbor’s home, tie a red string around a fork and leave it in your pantry for seven days. Bury it beside the pink oleanders. That is, if you seek strife, for no other motive than to hear his children weep, his wife shriek. If you wish to shame your son or daughter, despite their tawny limbs and white smiles, cover your bedroom mirror with a black cloth, turn counterclockwise seven times, uncover the mirror and repeat the word Bone-drip five times. Laugh when you regard the one laughing at you. If you wish to shame your son or daughter, just because. If you baptized Fire as Dentures; Cucumber as Shoe-Horn; Hemorrhoids as Morning Glory, and Jellyfish as Slash-and-burn farming, your sandals tread the path towards mastery. If you wish to win the lottery and share nothing, boil a live possum. If you wish to bear false witness: Cut your thumb, and press your blood on the rear interior of soiled underwear. No one in this den judges you. It all starts with love. If you wish to lure your mistress when you’re dying: have the nurse trap a moth in a mason jar and place it beneath your cot. Lover will arrive weeping and shearing her tresses. Sit up in bed. Sweating and breathless, point at her. Long hairs grow from her eyeballs.
I hear a geography in my breathing, jungle beneath each fingernail, vacant lot tart with dust and sunlight, due to the strong odor of ink and syntax, so foundational, like milk or gladioli. Verb Oh Verb, no more jeremiads about shipwrecks and fallen towers; the odor of semen from old tomes alliterates with dark gardens and fertilizes the feverish sleep of virgins. Verb is growing roots. Strophe ovulates. Couplet perks her breasts. Because my lungs, a landscape. Because my eyes, two lagoons. Because my limbs, a tarantula.
It is good to shave off your hair once. To shine the shoes of those amputated from beneath the knees. To whisper sweet little nothings in the ear of a deaf man, or to sit in the back seat of a junked sedan and await your chauffeur. A can of sardines past its expiration date or the first cockroach returning days since your last fumigation, and the Tragedian waxes his mustache. Thus, place burnt matches, clean underwear and socks in your knapsack. Bring a flashlight. The alphabet is dark and deep, and you’ll need to bend beneath the stalactites. Surely beyond the traversal there’s a clean and well-lit pub. You’ll convince yourself to down an ale and swallow some shepherd’s pie. If no starched tablecloth flutters after the crossing, rest assured there’s a phantom, somewhere, awaiting your arrival. Look! There, perched on the branch of the black tree, the tremolo of five fingers waving, greeting you, deep within the torched orchards.
Mother and Crow
Mother doesn’t wish to hear the voice of her dead son. Or her dead mother. Mother must, mother will. At night, the mountain lions and coyotes descend, sniffing fish fried with olive oil in heavy pans, the red chambers of lust, trash cans full of love notes and grease bags of French-fries. Mother sweats asleep. In her sleep, she locks herself inside a room containing nothing but a chair painted blue and gold-fish in bowl atop a coffee table. The room turns black. Mother doesn’t wish to hear weeping. She wants her anguish back and to stuff it inside her purse. But mother must, and mother will listen to the carpenter nailing fresh wood. Mother weeps, trees shiver. Cats retreat, rain commences. Crows strut on night grass, long beaks picking peanut shells, candy wrappers. Now the clouds caw.
My wristwatch fills with rain. A sarcophagus and tsunami walk together holding hands. Sometimes a fern can grow from the toilet, or a Verb can plunge into the gutter and then reach the sea. I never tasted honey until I was fifteen, and by then I thought cinnamon was poison. With engineering so faulty, I will never know the exact hour. So I have decided to pump gasoline into my heart and ingest a lit match. That means I will reach you within an instant. The black dog with a blue leash tied to a street-lamp will run around it, run and run around it, until the leash gets entangled or snaps. Obscure are the currents that reach my ears after midnight. I am drowning but discover I breathe with the ease of a dream cleansed of murder.
Why Moon Rhymes With Spoon
If you nick your neck while shaving, you will encounter a gold coin among the wreckage in your top desk drawer. If you smell vanilla spreading over the city, someone’s father has died. This happens often, like nasal congestion or dinosaurs. You will sleep better that night, knowing you still can rip meat when it’s snatched fresh from the grill. If you discover a can of sardines in your pantry, a year past expiration date, bury it beside the pink oleanders. This means your child will become a baker. If you decide to shave off your hair, or cover a mirror, you will find you have much in common with the red woods or the sea sponge. They are regarded as nature’s best survivors. If you still care why moon rhymes with spoon, or with June, moon also rhymes with forty, mortgaged, gunpowder, lemon, or ink. The white gulls in the wind surge, and they shiver.
Anthony Seidman (Los Angeles, 1973) is a poet and translator who has lived for significant stretches of time in Ciudad Juarez and Mexicali. His most recent collection of poetry is Cosmic Weather (Spuyten Duyvil). His translations include For Love of the Dollar: A Portrait of the Artist as an Undocumented Immigrant (Unnamed Press) by Mexican “Gonzo-journalist” J.M. Servin; A Stab in the Dark (LARB Classics) by Facundo Bernal, and Smooth-Talking Dog: Poems by Roberto Castillo Udiarte (Phoneme Media). Later this year, Cardboard House Press will publish his translation of Rodolfo Hinostroza’s Contra Natura. Seidman was a contributing editor for Dispatches from the Poetry Wars. His work has appeared in journals and anthologies like New American Writing, Latin American Literature Today, World Literature Today, Poetry International, Huizache, Rattle, The Black Herald, Nimrod, The Ecopoetry Anthology, and in Latin American journals like Critica (University of Puebla), Generacion Alternativa (Mexico City), and Aerea (Chile).