Jacket 21 — February 2003   |   # 21  Contents   |   Homepage   |  Catalog   |



Nicole Mauro

Ode (To Edwin Denby)




The Usual Graffiti



I

The secret of life is leaking
Into my penis (Homeric and chapped, yes a little)
Sperm in a vase, figure of speaking
Uplifting, inconceivable
Lead of a pencil used to describe
It’s been quite a day, twenty-four times
Happy, insane compulsion — love’s flesh is alive
But disfigured. An hour or I go by
As a minute goes night. The secret of life is
Enough. What
Hideous trauma to be this
Body of saga, firm as dust.
At something o’clock, or sunrise
I saw cavemen have faith, artificial light.


II

Even the sun, that thing, is a thing I’m
Not really seeing, not having lips
With which to say sun, as I seem
To of. What if all that I seem is transparent, is
Dust. How I hate to mention death
Machines stimulated by the cliched drubbing
Of hearts, of splendid breasts
Beating in hens and the beasts petting them, of speaking
Of of, generally. Every fifteen minutes
The sun alone at dawn shone as an
Edifice of language erected by the mammals of prettiness
More frightening than
A mongrel dog is to a line of thought
Wherein three or four voices have interlocked.


III

A steer at a farmless trough, I
Talked of machines seeing then saw no strange
machinery. That’s the gas of being a mind —
my approximate cartilage. When I prayed for déjà  
Vu it grew schizophrenia and —
O it is savage — assumed what I had was déjà vu. Skulls bob
Backward. There is noon over sand
Behooving our heads to think we have to have thoughts
In order to believe goof
Forms are the erected ruins of grammar
And gibberish. A papyrus looming
Oceanic is evidence of the disappearance of appearance —
Yes, I have the affidavit —
that seems (kuthump, kuthump, kuthump) to of vanished.



Author note: ‘The Usual Graffiti’ was written in the vein of, and to honor, the urbane lyricism of Edwin Denby. Certain lines from his The Complete Poems (consisting, mostly, of sonnets) have been indefinitely borrowed. I thank you, Mr. Denby, for letting me take them and, more importantly, for writing them in the first place.






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