Robinson, the reverend daughter—flesh of her turned ash ankles pegged into the middle aged tonsures of a pattern balding lot—scrubs her two owned ox calves in the skin temperature socket of a blue plastic blow-up pool. Its waist bilges with the juice of freshly tanked sheep's blood. Clusters of rust, like bog wet cranberry fruit, scale four unripe flanks—they spur into tangled chortles of mane as ornamental bulbs. Still young curds hemorrhage small under the gut bloat of a dead Pegasus. The hobbled urban sun is a stuck kite, its strewn straw hospice an 800 sq. ft. dirt church.
Previously published half writing on Sudden Denouement, belonging to the stratum ‘thingamawhatsit.’
Had they, at that time, yet mined the rock salt from
the rich, wide ducts of your fugitive tears? In that far
afternoon, you sat curled around the rim of your ringed
fast food cup, dragging its lame hockey puck with its
tepid three inches of black ocean across the mournful,
textured tabletop—assembled with man-age mortar to
linger, disconsolate and amputated, five hundred years
past the white, mute February of the last human bone.
Where, then, to deposit the porous clay figures of our
talks? We spoke keen rondels, shaped to pry apart the
floor planks of passion and the pathology of degenerative
arthritic knee joints. In the vacant, beige tote that
is a dawn without thumbs, hunger gnaws, and similes,
out which French doors exit all the stories? And when
the unwinded flute of your face cannoned out the big
picture window, over the dishwater lake, sinking deep
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Bend down your tired sunflower in this small space behind the bleached ribs of an unconsecrated whale— at another intersection named for a deciduous tree, near the second- hand sock of an Asian nail salon. Fold your nylon sleeping bag's triangle flap a sigh's width under the ritual blade of your jaws. A wet morning eye will cense your mouth's benediction, even as the idling musk from last night's pole- cats reminds the pink canopy of your gums.
In the lay night hours that buffer the first glare from all the stuttering Plexiglas, I entreat the thin scab of sleep, in sympathy, to crochet a scarf for the soul of a bruised liver—here, puffed out like a bean. In my brisk slurping of the confections, cake frosted entremets to the venom of a stillborn, ubiquitous debate, I have eaten too much. I ate too much. Last night. But I also, for luck, spread a wrinkled skin of cellophane over your dead grandmother's flat Willow dish for leftovers. When the auld dome glows like a hot wire and I have raked my mouth with soap and scissor blades, could you set out the sporks and two ounces each of bile in the good chilled apéritif glasses?
My first fragment up at Sudden Denouement, published last month. I’m grateful to be included.
A Drift of Dead Comics
by N. Ian McCarthy
You lay, balanced flat across the colonnade of my fingers. A lower-left corner wags with the intervallic oscillation of a floor fan—the limb of a cotton bed sheet, straddling a clotheswire in the wind. You are almost a breathing thing: the impulse of a contracting diaphragm. You are the sucking gill of an angled fish, one who cannot oxygenate without water. My wax lips strain around the vowels of an invented dialect, during the seventh minute of my resistance to pick at the flat-folded staples that run up the split of your faulted spine. Do I engender a quake that will defoliate your season of autumn? Can I scatter your sheets like loose cedar shavings, as mulch for the bed of my own Silk Road?
I am the yellow-eyed cat, lean and starved, who ladles the spoon of his tongue…
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I might scuff out onto the promontory later, scoop up a few sandy apples of stones and deposit them like longing billiard balls into the salt caves of my hip pockets. Eternity is a second cousin to gray, rushing water—at least, a thing near. I imagine the note of a split, wet fruit spilling its seeds upon the knuckle of a slick river rock. To resonate in three low vibrations—I coalesce into the cloud of an improbably distant future. I align, for a few moments, with the hymn of gravity.
Lately, I am the pearl of a mouth-blown soap bubble—a thinning pane of glass—brittle from the freezer. So, I sit under a Christmas moon and bide. My inert car is a space capsule; from a place within, hydraulics collude to distend the ripe tomato of my bladder. A tomcat, slow, like a smooth electric current, sidles up to spray a spit-clean Porsche's silver bumper, and after, drips the plump smudge of its body into the ditch by a strip of chain link fence—it melts into the night noise of popcorn fireworks and churchyard caws from all the roped dogs, leashed—as am I—to thick, uncomfortable tree trunks. Up an obscured drive, the nomadic snail of an ice cream truck plays speaker ditties— modern music box remixes in concentric circles, near the corner convenience store's pale dead lights where, three weeks earlier, a vexed driver spilled a bullet into the indelible pillow of a man's chest. And I can't help but think of Beauty now, absent any aesthetic, in terms of something like a boiling puddle of pig iron slithering into a dirt mold. It's the wrecking ball cough in my lungs as I flame through another cigarette. It's the heft of a bone splinter I hew from the shins of better, dead men.
Marquetry was born during a dearth of chessboards, chest hatches, and ornamental tabletops. That's entirely untrue—more likely, parquetry fertilized the chess-board vogue, as they abide by squared precepts. Modern interpretations of the game would imply a male monarch who limps sciatic, eluding all potential suitors out of impotent fear. He, a wayward dudicle in regaled polka dot fur collars, ejects his prearranged queen outward to force all significant maneuvers alone, unaided—she wrestles existential and unrealized desires: earning her PhD in bio- chemistry, for instance. The rooks, once firm, their flanking parapets have long collapsed—grown green over with the hyper-sensitive moss of cultural gravitation. Cardinals, per- functorily dutiful, approach only obliquely, bedecked in ordained blue jeans, and purposefully diminish whichever unarticulated innuendos might be inferred by the appearance of their blush phallic caps, full crimson and stiffly starched. All the pawns got lost in a digital booze mist of virtually realized pixels, and today march directly from their slaughtering fields into haphazard columns toward white beanbag cubicles, dark rubber gogg- les dangling below their sockets. So, questioning the aptness of current gender roles, all previously plumed, pleat-pantalooned knights have, in protest, declared themselves voluptuous court ladies and ceased further horseback and/or sword- brandishing acts in favor of burlesque theater, rouge red, and sequins, relinquishing their brushed felt bases for courageous stiletto heels. The French-branded art of fitting bits of animal carcass like tortoiseshell into slots of beech wood remains omni-relevant.
Consider this swelling loaf, browning on our oven's steel grate: it expands under yeast power, all its continents skating apart, bidding brief adieus tectonically, like night trains scudding absently toward opposing suburbs. I can unfold—by the solipsistic streaks rappelling from your lashes—your inward crease. Not intoxicated by baking, but by the tent pins that stake down a widening morass of neural umbrae into the loose, damp loam of your conscious; your tin fingers yawn limply—thin, unshut jaws like two vagrant pitcher plants. You depart my platform, a dusky engine dissipating into muffled remoteness.
A minor experiment in syllabic structure, this poem has been kicking around my keyboard just a bit too long for comfort. It’s a made-up form consisting of eight seven-syllable lines, followed by two eleven-syllable lines, repeating. Visionary, right? It helps if you have a penchant for locomotives and/or a flair for the act of kneading dough.
There are no circles on the Wall,
no trapezoids, icosa- or dodecahedra
either on the Wall, because the
Wall has achieved Nirvana. Owing
no apology, and professing no dialectic
or dogma, the Wall lacks all significant
tattoos. Nail holes plugged by globs of
drywall mud are the sheared tops of
desert rock plateaus, viewed closely,
sideways, and at a ninety or two-
seventy degree turn from rightwise
up. I have marked time on it, the Wall.
Somebody’s mother or grandmother
has marked the heights of the tops of
children’s skulls on the Wall—in hash
scars deep and bold, and in light
scratches from dull, disinterested
hands. Michael grew one point five
inches in nineteen ninety-five. The
Wall is the perimeter of a gift box inside
which I perspire away from viscid looks.
It’s bound with a wide, flat ribbon bow
and will remain obscured until arrives
the red-marked date on an uncatalogued
calendar. No measure of time exists but
Wall time, and is naturally incompre-
hensible to all and any non-walls.
I rest the dimple between my cheek
and jawbone against it, sanding the
fibers of my stubble into its skin with
shuttered eyes. The Wall is my numb
horror and my unrequiting lover—it
precedes and proceeds all felt things
that rattle like stray sewing pins trailing
with my bloat and wheeze. I am undone
against the Wall’s stiff, inconstant pavise.
I have only ball-tipped pens, no pencil
to etch a leaning line at the top of my own
head. I chip with a jaundiced right thumb-
nail, but my height remains unchanged.