Unusual Woods

Gene Tanta

BlazeVOX [books]
Buffalo, New York

Unusual Woods by Gene Tanta Copyright © 2010 Published by BlazeVOX [books] All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced without the publisher’s written permission, except for brief quotations in reviews. “Someone Shuffles” from THE WORLD DOESN’T END: PROSE POEMS, copyright © 1989 by Charles Simic, reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Printed in the United States of America Book design by Geoffrey Gatza First Edition ISBN: 978-1-60964-022-4 Library of Congress Control Number 2010908301 BlazeVOX [books] 303 Bedford Ave Buffalo, NY 14216 Editor@blazevox.org

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History has a few words for you. History’s boyfriend used to wear a handlebar mustache but then he joined the police force. He’s shaved it off since. Father figures come and go like spring chickens in the yard but soap stings in your eyes. Stalin had a bigger one than Hitler. His bald barber must have had to trim it with a steady hand. Hitler had a shattering falsetto. His barber had a mustache too. They both sang while they bathed; opera mainly. Not together, not in the same bathtub.


My light bulb has gone out against the dark and the family cow won't know to come home, chewing bluegrass. I like to watch her piss in a bowl chirping away the long afternoons. The flower of hearing tucked behind your ear ... my Dutch chanteuse, sometimes the squeaky wheel gets the hammer.


Demure as a switchblade, I retract nothing in the two-way mirror of my twitching eyeball. We'll talk over my footnotes until the pretty flowers bring flowers. One morning, the dream crawled out from the attic into a great scroll of smoke because a historian has got to eat, write history, and eat again. Nodding off at the edge of his deathbed, lit by the lamp, he'd like to go upstairs and shoot you with an antiquated pistol by mistake.


In the time of nasty royalty, I was a sugar-cube at your feet. But in the meantime, poison lingers, it runs down your forearm. I too want to fully conjugate the human heart. In the darkroom without a net, all my wild horses have run away. Fierce clouds take the house. We burn historians for a living. They scream. Fog has a way of looking down at its own feet, saying: I am contiguous like bad news and good news.


You listen politely like the dead, bareheaded at the cemetery. I slip on the rope-ladder in the second-hand moonlight, tho I am far away on a sunken ship. So that’s why the spy limps. Black and white portraits of industry captains line the hallway: Some nights even unmoored streets find their way back. My pulsebeat still listens for yours, a ghost just leafing thru the library books of your body.


My hair blown back by hope and teased by failure, I want to do math the way bricks do math. I want to hold up mirrors to gods by the baker's dozen. Knowledge becomes a layer, means a look, a seesaw to better, to finish for a kiss, to lean on the fall of your hair my thumb and forefinger; like the rain pooling gain by plurality.


A secular cantata on how the moon is aging makes the tyrant weep. It is so hard to tell few from fewer. A peril digging in the cellar dark ices my window and settles in the cleft. A nightmare haunches beneath the icicles, king-size over the chapel tower, goes thunk in the wishing hour. Birds peck off the violet at first light. Come easy, martyr easy. I swab my ammunition pouch to steady the hand: Echo to shell, echo to soak, echo to speaker. I am pious as the keep on a winter's night, o lord, when it is cold and when it is dark.


Sometimes, I climb the ladder … Sometimes, I press my forehead against the sky and wait. Sometimes, I am to blame in the dream-life of horses for our trouble with the border hounds. Sometimes, we step on a sunken grave. Sometimes, we blink slowly like a manifestation falling off the bone. Sometimes, the spanking river passes. Sometimes, the river wears a hat. Sometimes, in the hand-holding light, we pile the gutted corpses high.


I am the ghost-wail under the black waters of squat night already one centimeter out of lantern light. You lean over the railing to wail, to launder your two-way eyes at the bottom of the stairwell … I sign my last autograph under your skin. Still, the bones stick out of the poor and someone's heels are silhouetted there. Come, my pearl of irregular shape, your dovetail joints will dry faster on deck. I’ll tuck you in at night, said the captain full of stars.


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