They brought the cufflinks, one after the other, and still I counted to twenty-nine.
I remembered the Manchurian ponies slaughtered in bites of South Pole wind.
When I paid no special warning, I remained in strict voice time.
Confused colleagues threw power horses into my real or imagined candidacy.
Before daybreak I heard whispers of hurricanes fried in mud slosh and butter.
I could not imagine the usual pan, only the recitation of prayers.
One after the other, my thoughts kept pinning me to myself, myself to I.
So much human strain remained at the rim of an untongued button hole.
At least once the auguries prefigured our weather of false praise.
Earnestly, our bedclothes were consistently creased, as if we’d never lived outside the body’s reach.
Let me say it this way. Wasps worked the length of testicular longing.
They knew the secret fluids, the sacral hive, from whence this stinging came.
FIJI FRIGHT WIG
Yesterday I had to eat my curiosity beneath a blank drudgery.
Who has died in the magnificent magnolia? Who is it who stinks?
No trace of volcanic lapse cruels my chest.
Sure, I wept for the killed horse, for the froth of bees’ blood in the left ear.
Everything was singing me—singing me singing it.
Every word was a time-strict saltshaker of Brahms.
And so my life is the silence of a horse chestnut spring.
It is a very long walk from Hikmet to Ritsos, and even further from Breton to Vallejo.
Guide me as I step into your brain.
Help me negotiate the erotic fires of my sadness.
One bone propped in my hand makes me an accomplice.
I must accommodate the stare of your hair. It resembles the widow’s peak of a Fiji fright wig.
Make my mouth bleed. Kiss me, my darling, where it hurts.
That shouldn’t be hard since most days it hurts all over.
SEVEN MINUTES TWENTY-THREE SECONDS
I stood there, that life, weeping for lack of a good pocket hanky and any compassionate glance.
They’d disemboweled me in the courtyard, made me watch them burn my own entrails, there, before I died.
I do not exaggerate. I am not the mouth of a louse.
I wore a wig, I recall, like a newly shouldered barrister.
You say that’s one reason I cannot easily make decisions this time?
You imagine me a judge, not a barrister, complicating their court?
Throw that in with having been a photographer at the burn of an Algerian century, with serving toast, cleaning latrines
in Bombay and Tashkent.
Somehow, the smell belonged to me.
No, I don’t recall every birth.
My coffee voice is too numerous to equalize the waitress’s sad glance.
That’s one reason I imagine making love to just about every emotionally bruised woman I meet.
I remember what it was like to watch my insides burn for the longest seven minutes twenty-three seconds of my life.
LESS THAN OR EQUAL TO
Please, do not look sad. Do not sumac-stem my brow.
Truly, such incarnate salt implicates the tired of my name.
Because I don’t fully rain, some pungent bean curd is fierce.
Of the six lingering warmths, the seventh and eighth are most qualm.
On a precise pear leaf, fresh forms of water bucket my mouth.
Look at the brown tiles of the moon as an enormous hereditary belief.
When my grandfather broke water, he gave birth to a revolver.
Because I have wondered about the gas lamp, he has stayed dead a long time.
Once, I planted sunflower seeds in the chest of a percent stranger.
She was mathematically part woman, part other. I was torn between three halves and did this through self-hypnosis.
I heard I spoke possum while everyone else slept.
A marsupial nervous system is, perhaps, more advanced than the aqueducts of a plant.
Behind the owl-toped ridge, a sapphire of bloated noon burns.
Do not look, please. Do not my sad. The word strange is somehow less than or equal to an enabler of huge sufferings.
For far too long I tamed tapeworms, taught them a steady path of lambs.
I stood in the doorframe of an owl and welcomed my loss of a loving throat.
Someone gave birth to an egg. From its center sprang an epistolary braid.
I wrote my shame over and over in the lust I had for a certain young woman.
All kinds of sea creatures direct my age.
She wore a dirndl, the tight blue bodice cruel as a crupper.
A charmable puff of smoke formed directly in the connective tissue of gnats.
We passed the membrane bone and inhaled deeply thereof.
Honor thy honey badger and thy hookah, it is inscribed, slantwise, in the thorax.
Forsake all manner of snug settlings and seek to inherit a yurt.
Tent-like, I covered my mouth with a moist path of hands.
Some ached, some strained my secret name, and some contained shreds of rich green staph.
When her bodice was vault-feces blue, the color was cured.
We discussed the relative merits of salt pork and hands.
For far too long, I have raised tapeworms, distributed them as redemptive—if not disturbing—seeds.
They helped each person eat him- or herself clear through, from inside out.
GEORGE KALAMARAS has published six books of poetry and six chapbooks. Recent titles are Kingdom of Throat-Stuck Luck (Elixir Press, 2012), winner of the Elixir Press Poetry Prize, Your Own Ox-Head Mask as Proof (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2010), and The Recumbent Galaxy (C & R Press, 2010), co-authored with Alvaro Cardona-Hine and winner of the C & R Press Open Competition. He is a Professor of English at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, where he has taught since 1990.