773 Readings



Captain Nazret, helped the Communists overthrow Haile 
               Selassie and when
he discovered his wife’s infidelities sewed her into bed 
               as she slept

and moved his children to the Isle of Man, where he retired 
               and began losing
his mind, so that one Allhallows he pasted a mustache 
               onto the pastor’s

sorrel mare and rode it through the cobbled streets of Cregneash 
               saying to the costumed
children, “Come pet comrade Stalin.” Children loved the old 
               syphilitic because

he’d show them his stomach’s gnarled track of surgery scars, because 
               of the violet-backed
sunbird he kept until the neighbor’s cat, with wet green eyes 
               reached a paw

through the cage bars, and snagged the bird on one hooked claw 
               so that a crosshatch
of feathers and blood tattooed the tile floor. That night kids drugged 
               the Siamese

with cough medicine and stapled it by the scruff to its owner’s 
               picket fence.

~~~ ~~~

On a Siberian expedition, Nikolai Bryukhanov brought the wrong 
               food for the sledge-
dogs, so they had to be killed. But not by the squeamish Commissar. 
               On the third day

of Nikolai Bryukhanov’s trial, Stalin sent a note with accompanying 
               illustration that read:
“To the members of the Politburo, For all the sins, past and present, hang 
               B. by the balls. If they

hold out consider him acquitted by trial. If they don’t hold, drown him 
               in the river”

~~~ ~~~

Here sits Queen Anne at Hockley Hole, London 
               for the dog and bull
show. A rope is tied ‘round the root of the bull’s horns and fastened 
               to an iron stake,

its slobbery gray nose blown full of pepper to enrage it before 
               it’s baited. Meanwhile,
men hold their dogs by the ears. The goal for the dog is to hold for all 
               hell to the bull’s

snout—the most sensitive spot other than the genitals – “If a bull had balls
               hanging from its face
they’d be attached to his snout”—so pinning it. Now, either the dog remains 
               fixed, or is thrown

tearing out the flesh he has laid teeth on. The bull, a skeptic in dialogue 
               with hope, works
to slide a horn under the cur’s belly, and throw it, so that a dog’s side 
               is often ripped open

entrails protruding like wet sausage – “Yes, it provides much joy 
               for the community,
and the animals certainly gain a sense of dignity in achievement”

~~~ ~~~

Goya’s “Portrait of the Family of Charles IV”: intermarriage preserved 
                the family’s wealth
and the compact features of mongoloids. Deformed by a hunting accident, 
               Charles, subsidiary

to his wife, his mouth full of gravel, spent his power slowly collecting 
               watches and wrestling
with grooms in the stables—like male otters, they bite each other’s necks, 
               drawing blood, but

thick layers of fat prevent serious injury. We see only the profile of Doña 
               Carlota Joaquina,
the King’s eldest daughter, more oversexed than even her mother, whose 
               “chief renown was for a readiness

that kept her in a state of tropical humidity as would grow orchids 
               in her drawers
in January” (“My mouth may be scalded but I’m still noticeably wet,” 
               she wrote a lover.)

~~~ ~~~

Tennessee Williams had a little black dog named Bibbles whom 
               he kept as a minotaur
keeps his women – he set to kicking her one day because the creature 
                   seemed to him

too promiscuous, too “Whitmanesque” in its affections. Seventy-one 
               and choking
on the cap of a medicine bottle – nothing like the brass bit in a horse’s spit-
               foamed mouth, nothing

like the rough-trade neck-ties that had gagged him. Tell us a joke; tell us a 
               story to make us all
laugh. The cops: If that’s aspirin on your dresser, what’s the needle for? 
               Him: I can’t stand the taste

of the stuff. Tennessee – the eternal that is ever-present in our midst. 
               Sexually incontinent. Panic
insomnia, tooth-rot, green liquid pouring from the bowels. Still 
               he has a physical

presence. You could imagine him hitting someone. “I don’t think it’s sex 
               I want. There’s no great
hankering for that. It’s the quiet, humdrum dread of coming up alone to 
               this little room at night, to that

emptiness where God would be if God were available. And going to bed 
          and turning my face to the wall.”
Posted 07/30/11
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