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Jacket 15 — December 2001   |   # 15  Contents   |   Homepage   |   Catalog   |

Chris Tysh

Dead Letters

We are quite simply dealing with a letter which has been diverted from its path; one  whose course has been prolonged, or, to revert to the language of the post office, a dead letter.

— Jacques Lacan

Dear X

The faux intimacy of the you. Insistent, that thin line of saliva
during sleep. As if you were a doctor, blotting this descent
with writing paper or sand.

Arcade or slaughterhouse dream?

The alms of the night dole out a riddle. Sadistic in origin,
The word passes sentence, up and over, swallows chronology.
Rising from the sandbox, the dreamer takes account of the middle
window, pulls at the handle, three in the back two in the head.

Dear X

You must have known she’d miss the train, forget
to look at lit up signal. Hair slicked back, narrow
pied-de-poule skirt, not yet the noir cliché of punk.

I suspect lapping hierarchy, a long take subject to proxies.

On the prowl underground ripped out of my mind:
you hold the plain cup of denunciation like a glossy
proof or blowup. In truth you’ve scanned the wrong text again.

Les colmateuses du système (ideological sealers).
Sewer rats and talking heads, the revenge fantasy that slam
dancing grants us, pinning those bitches against the frame.

Dear X

So what if Jacques said a letter arrives, etc.?
Two dykes in a dinghy or the post crunch of hidden vantage
point? Let us assume yours is bigger than mine, as if container
for thing contained could mute this line of escape.

In the last instance, a man jumps ship. He will learn
to dribble, maddened by dead heat, the terror that precedes it.
Los hombres:  placeless place for castration. A horse opera
held outdoors goes to pieces in direct proportion with
slanted terrain.

Someone keeps it inside his body for a record time, you write later,
neither admiring nor---.

Dear X

Give it to me!  To sing blackmail squeal, Die Sprache
Der Mutter, under the law of repetition, foreign and blind
to itself like a fake coin in beggar’s hand. Make yourself ugly,
you say, so men on the street won’t ---. I palm off the rest,
not in the mouth and counting to a hundred.

The viola of habit sounds its blue note, two of a kind,
baring the self. Intact milk factory.

There is no end to small talk in the wee hours.

Dear X

At night I cross the ratty park to tamper my nerves.
Always already the mean alleluia of slumped bodies,
citational protocol: those in favor nod aye, turncoats

their asses above ground level as if self-variance were a vogue,
marquee approval at last.

You and I do nothing without corresponding anatomy in place:
his clit here, my guess ---. We cake the ice and leak
the files in a fit of pique with split infinitive, bullwhip
pronouns on the hoof.

Dear X

Do you remember my falling period? This, then, is an orphan frame
of reference like the all-girl band on the hit parade, pencil-slim
rail in case they head downward, nylons and slide guitar deep in the eye.

To repeat the madhouse effect without leaning on daddy, (firearm
discharged in quick succession) I faint and will myself to suffer
a brief absence from the vamping room.

La folie du jour (madness of the day) returns with models
and pins. You wash your hands of any possible identification.
In the john, I nag. The Slits open for Vertical Pillows .

Dear X

Sounds like an invitation. Without giving to think
you’ve made the cut. Blipped breasts stall letterbox
appeal. If there is any, it follows partial objects home.
I have a great desire to strip these specular zones down
to craft. The materiality of Y gets in the way.

That would be career day: bring your daughters to court.

Trim nails and skip town just as the proverbial pang
of regret goes off the air. Speaking through the grid,
I opt for a tall blond with caved-in chest, déjà vu
drag shading into blue.

Dear X

Hold on!  Let’s talk about the one who goes out at night. A ritual
of sorts. In my dream I push the envelope of captivity as if
I’d written it myself:  “Dear X, don’t let this informal address
trump you...”

Why is it you’ve dressed this compound sentence for discredit?
Have you forgotten restrictions on trains and buses are on the rise?
A better subtitle would stray from browbeating the reader.

Precisely. When yellow and white stripes fan out in the distance,
I boot up:  like in a flipbook, a man with a loaf of bread appears
on the screen. Scroll, click, you’re dead. There’s the street
of crocodiles cordoned off at each end.

Dear X

That’s why the slum series neither flattens nor puffs up.
A single prompt and they will seize its lack of fiction
as if crossing a traffic island. Having been there done that,
the cafeteria girl skims 10% off the top.

She is in the zone now with reps and a double-dip charge.
Strictly speaking, a set of mug shots lies between her score
and quitting time: eye pushed to the front insofar
as X implies Y. Endocrine problem nonobstant.

When the shit hits the fan, who will be crushed or pinked
with holes in the do-wop morning?

Dear X

I have trouble with the standard notion of agency.
Which comes down to an all-purpose cramp on my second shift:
skid (off) snuff (out) pitfall as the phrase goes.

How’s my driving? I mean writing? I do have license
to shoulder oblivion. Implacable medallion on the rack,
escalating rhetoric in the long run. It won’t keep me
from panic around the edges.

Admit it!  The least one can say your manner is negative
as if canceling out a word resists momentary death,
sticking a landing deep in the hole.

To keep under wraps, the vanity of the apparatus.
What do we want? PUSSY!  When do we want it? ---!
Tout the ticket:  (enter password) that suspends the loss.

Dear X

Face it!  You haven’t ---. in ages.
The deadbeat dad calls out for sushi & beer
while I go out on a limb. Tomorrow

we memorize colloquial expressions having to do
with sex, in the strict sense, scum, lily pads
nipped in the bud. A mob becomes part of a current

that sucks them in and how could the prohibition
not apply here, within an inch of her life, pass through
the noose, comme une lettre à la poste ?

Dear X

Aren’t we ready yet? Framing device, portapak?
pratfall possibility of forgetting? We pluck
coins from the eyes of the dead for all to see
this forged precision we make like an empty
hospital bed: material tears

now lap dissolve apology, wide-angle pink sample
cued to kissing. Fuck the part!

Who’ll walk the dog behind sexpot reservoir
where the package stands to die for?

Dear X

I could’ve told you it would end like this: breakass romp
through town with dogs out of their depths. Escalator en panne .
A kind of X that is not Y, prior to losing your head.

Malevolent eye-candy (one roll per envelope) on account of old
chestnut about repeating history, black rations and thug
vocabulary throwing her to the ground. Splatter footage
misses the point: hit rewind to search for dough.

Do not drill me about the function of collage: she hated
the sordid alignment of tenement windows, sitting on her hands
at halftime as if the live crowd might delete her own sound
screen out dumb trick in taxicab while you hum a few bars.

Dear X

Nor is it all. After replacement therapy he stands
on his dignity while she shoots off her mouth an edge
to her voice like some kind of abattoir about to collapse

human vitrine large glass a file

the minute you divine its wraparound structure you begin
your descent in the chatty anonymity toward the cut
boarded up for now by fake interiors and steel brackets.

Unversed in the dialectic of the hole you call it rupture
of desire indiscreet gap open to view as if any old sewers
were conduit enough into the city’s black lung heart
wolfman at a pauper’s grave

Dear X

Speaking of slander, your clandestine bid did not go
unnoticed. In the double driveway the queen’s laughter
singles me out, like a hand-held camera, I approach the bar:

Pink ribbons, banister, odor di femina

“I’ll bring my little girl for a swim!”

Sweet daisy wheel pounds at the abhorrence.

Should you remain without news of me holed up in the morass,
it would not do to film behind the pier. See the rope, absolute
drag, that loop in the river. Someone’s dying to lop it off
as if he were a doctor or land surveyor inverting the flow,
remapping the lot.

As if gender’s corset had not been hung to dry.

From Chris Tysh, Continuity Girl, United Artists Books, 112 Milton Street, Brooklyn NY 11222, USA; ISBN0-935992-10-3, available through Amazon.

You can read Chris Tysh's review of Marjorie Welish: The Annotated “Here” and Selected Poems in this issue of Jacket.

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