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Jacket 16 — March 2002   |   # 16  Contents   |   Homepage   |  Catalog   |    

Overland magazine feature

Alice Notley

The Myth

First death, remember that.
they haven’t been telling
the story right and we aren’t the right forms.
In the beginning in death
and I was once death
The métro platform lined with souls
two-color gas flames cooking the food
of the body
they eat the vegetation that grows from me
because I’m not providing the right
information.  in their offices  
These forms are wrongly filled out.  
In the beginning was death
that stillness after.  In the beginning was after,
the future’s the past.
Delicately balanced legalities.  They will
tell you you don’t know your own name
now that he’s dead it’s his.  That’s
one of the ways a widow’s dead and punished.
too in our offices
Someone’s brought over a large book
depicts the dissection and skinning the
disembodiment of a being.  hands it to the poet
he is disgusted by it, he is I the ranch is outside
the fences beneath all sky
I see you again and lose.
Wound get out
and wound get out
that it can’t be dissected out and that being can’t be dissected, so
I’m a pilot in a blue cockpit and break the time barrier
see you again and lose.  the cadences must not be right
he the tough older poet, was very adamant about the book with its photographs
of the dissection of the body/being, while the cattle ranch was displayed, through the window, the plains the sky.  his own books of poetry (mine) nearby.  That is what they did to my love they cut him to make him well
they changed his chemical composition with pills and also surgery
they were trying to heal him but they knew they couldn’t and to change a
body so, to destroy it can’t be to heal.  I don’t know if that,
my thoughts, I’ve trained them to be unstable, and fragile enough
to allow in truth.  holes for a possible other world.  a velocity for breaking the time barrier.  He cried because he learned how
or is it a different barrier or screen.  an autopsy’s being performed
in the trash book I’m reading, the little girl’s body
decomposing in its two trash bags the crime is gruesome
for the reader’s pleasure.  My love could no longer contemplate
the violation of flesh by weapons or scientific blades.  was no longer part of the mass fascination with autopsies violent crimes splicing the cutting of beings into their smallest pieces in order to discover them wholely and satisfy the need to think there’s nothing non-material
slabs of meat shown in coverage of la vache folle.  A man who is death.
I knew he was death he offered to fuck me.  was going to fuck an old woman but
he said urgently, in low tones as if to seduce
it might have been me.  A man who is death skillful and civilized
Death said something about tortoises a trick
to make me think I’m avoiding something, avoiding his stupid power
bound up with the need to eat, to eat the tubers which grow from the widow’s body
My love’s body beautiful radiant white with a tapering from shoulder down  
darkness in eyes and silver hair that in the past is black creating
darkness still as an aura
thus there is nothing to remember.     I know your form in its entirety
see it all here.  green and brown eyeglints of the exceedingly handsome voice and its, the face’s troubles, the moral one that is your beauty
The need to eat.  the need to take more, Death must be fat.  No, he was just another man.  He plays by the rules of men.  My love, ill, ate when told to there was no taste
Death was eating his pleasure but not his transubstantial light
couldn’t be eaten, ask anyone.  as the black hair remains in the all-gray
Death is not the real death.  the man Death is not,
death is the beginning the transubstantial light or dark,
which men have appropriated but cannot.  in these offices designed to feed them, tubers growing from the right forms

Jacket 16 — March 2002  Contents page
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