Friday, October 21, 2005

Poem Six

Sad fact: All my photos from my trip a few years back are sitting in a box. I've
managed to label most of them, but haven't made time to put them in order. So disarray, and blah blah: I couldn't find the photo that inspired this one. You'll just need to trust me that the sign looked like it said "POOP Milk," and be satisfied with this lovely picture of a Kathakali dancer (which I didn't take).


Cochin, India

Shame's blush, he can guess Freud's
analysis for his impulse to snap a photo of
this open-front tin grocery shack's warped
sign advertising POOP milk.

Toilet humor flashback:
Kindergarten crack-ups, staticky
Chinese restaurant TV ads and
that glass of

hee hee, pee, please
one would certainly burst to not order
with their pu-pu platter.
And it doesn't matter, closer inspection,
the O's in POOP prove

actually D's
rounded by English's being
third of the sign painter's languages:

just lacks
that brightly smartass commentary demanded
by his pump dispenser of antibacterial
hand gel. Zoom lens, the shopkeeper's

face shifts in shadows
of sweltering bananas
he as a vegetarian
would never think to say resemble

sick hornets swarming
butchered chickens. Porous secrets:
Is everyone constantly,
unwittingly posed next to signage in a language

they can't even recognize
as a language?
Could the eight year old Iowan boy's
Spider Man birthday cake's frosting

blurt the crudest spider slur
for the female spider's sexual organ?

Yesterday in Johannesburg
wedding chapel incense
dirty plumes unfurled
a banner emblazoned with Holy Ghost for whore.

How our very own blemishes
sell us out
as good camping for cancers, billboards
doctors couldn't see with binoculars.

That 1970s book Body Language,
declarations of an earlobe's
furtive tug, the inverse relationship
between lies and lifted toes.

Last night's demonstration at a cultural center
revealed how every facial muscle is under
the Kathakali dancer's
full control.

Apprenticeship for years
to roll each eye in the opposite direction
of the other, eyebrows that can pass through walls.
How each twist of lip, wink of nostril, every

suggestion of
a shadow of some premonition of a wrinkle gains

meaning from the next
as in a quiz book Cryptogram,

each, over the ceremonial night's
hot course, revealed
as a balletic enunciation of a single
crystal syllable of

that epic tale of the air
in which we all turn to light.
The epic we don't sleep to keep telling each other,
unnoticed odors and subconscious slights.

secret communication as
we wonder why we seize up so often
with the nausea of restless suspense.


At 8:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pete, that is fucking GREAT. And I read it over and over to see if anything were unclear or I wished anything the smallest bit anything else. And nothing was and I didn't. I love that poem.

At 10:52 PM, Anonymous dbd said...

pete! i've been away for a while, so i've been a bit off my blog game, but i'm back now, and this poem was a sweet way to get back into it. i really like it--i feel dizzy by the end, in a good, color-blurred-spinning sort of way. my only suggestion is that i, personally, felt that the first 4 stanzas might be tightened up a bit...but other than that, i just sat back and eyes feel like they're going in different directions...

At 8:54 AM, Anonymous JJS said...


I like this poem. It puts great pictures in my mind! Certainly nothing PDDPY about it!

At 12:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A fine, intricate work. Two comments:

First, I personally would consider breaking it up into numbered sections, to sip those dense packs of imagery and ideas in measured doses.

Second, the intriguing line: "Could the eight year old lowan boy's / Spider Man birthday cake frosting / blurt the crudest spider slur / for the female spider's sexual organ?"

--"female spider" in 'Spider Woman' I assume (or an 8 year old analogue thereof...)? Can't *quite* tell from the words. May just be my webby brain....


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