from Black Moss Press, 1977

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Sample Poem from The Expanding Room

Absinthe Letters


Dear Doctor,
               From the first letter
               due to its condition
               we may read only the following:

                         as to yr queries
attend yr reading
               cadences which are
no voice
          compact exact
                         but obsessed
favourite composer when
                    Pigolesi (sic)
     feeding on the brain

               And then:

                    Have you not thought
of safer opium. I know
it doesn’t align close enough
but doesn’t
          doesn’t this body?

And the other day I saw
those hogs rooting again
in the refuse (somehow they’d gotten loose).
They were tearing at something
that was no simple heap of tubers.


I have not seen you in five days
you attend yr meetings, or are locked in yr room

someone plays a whitened
a bleached music while I write this

the page gets more intense
as I scratch at it
but you know all about that:
the sections obliterated
enact angles, parabolas:
the signs of a semi-literate person

It drinks up the ink
the negative of the nights
we spend together


Not only long-necked
glass, a delicate stem
on the table
you never finish
at first you thought flamingo

this letter a warning
x the doctor explains
my hallucinations are sympathetic
sympathy is a head tax

a warning he who devours the pig
is devoured by its images
finds it whole in his head
going straight there
do not sit at that table get up

squealing through nipple fornix
and nozzle cells cells of political
agitation words in a pig-latin syntax

it carves the knuckles
(actually I think it starts there)
the spiked ear the brain fume
drawn out in its ribbon
the parabolas of the wormwood grain
it snouts          it snouts
          you               you

the aesthete at the table
the dumb food of words
anyways Rimbaud took up a trade

               yr sister
ps I will not be coming to dinner
there will be nothing left of you



Jan. 13
          this bed: not asylum enough
          do not worry, it is empty
          my life has been simplified

          the hospital they keep you in
          has white walls, do not worry
          you live with permanent ghosts

          the letters occupy you like bad tenants
          in moments of lucidity you may read

          yr mind a supernova
          connections permanently fused
          will you recognize me this time?

          Artemisia, you miss her
          she left you               children



you tell me
          (seed under rind)
a crystal grows in your brain
you still love me

when someone looks through a facet
trees, breasts, open, their minds
display before them
                    the world
twisted into light
that is something

but yr body has disappeared
and you tell me
you want no more books


dear idiot brother
they tell me you are not eating

(you should have listened to me)

where are yr politics now?
you have not written a poem in months
you say they are alive
                    in yr head

you may grow divine
but I grow old
I am not paying for another day of this
I am looking for another lover

          (say hello to the angels)