"Mother, Get My Ax!"

I. We Made a Deal with That Mysterious Man and Lost the Cow

Then the poet comes in—
rubs his feet along the floor, cosmic sloth
in fashionably cheap pants—ascendingly,
up toward the podium microphone,
eyes turn like a sonnet—
the iambic gait, lamed
hop-and-drag limp, his eyes
deeper than worlds, crappy with despair,
and his shoulders from the catalog of Atlas,
hunched forward, gargoyling over the pages
a tremble in his hands,
sprinkling loose a salt of verbs
that bear him.

Up. Forward.
A coiled sestina, a dragon
ushered upon his own precious
useless dainty exquisite golden things—
humanesque. Reeking of nightingales,
whiskey, and whiteout.
A coagulation of nuances
metaphorizing into
a bulk, a giant,
something immense that can walk into a room
of empty ears waiting to buzz for words
like it’s a kitchen
and he’s an exhausted man coming home from work
past supper.

No. Not nuances. Hungers.

The voice is a bison—
shagged, matted, abundant.
Hairy words: Fee Fi Fo Fum—
those original hairiest of words.
Pre-language of scent and taste,
the first invisibles on the tongue.

Now, what we’ve been doing is building,
small taps of a drum roll laid down—
our hearts, kidneys, colons,
bricks of a tower rising,
our livers, snaking intestines, stomachs piled,
groping upward like an arm out of a grave’s new soil.

Some towers invade the sky
poised to trip low flying planes,
maiden towers hoping to catch the air’s verse.
Somewhere there is the Word
elusively soaring, a murmur:
love . . . ?

He looks out at all the motionless sitting bodies.
“This is called ‘Mother, Get My Ax!’”

Frees his verse,

free, free.

II. The Birth of the New Redestructionism

Let’s call the empty space between us,
where the sound of the words means nothing to the air—

Let’s say our anticipation disappeared into the wilderness
like a fractal fades into its private micro-cosmos of formulations,
still existing but cached away by infinity,
the way matter in the mouth of a black hole
becomes impossibly dense and loses
its relationship to light,
and the slope of sound like the slide of a fly
down the throat of a pitcher plant
shatters the one tongue.

Our stalk of organs planted and growing
as prayers grow—out of some wrongful state of death
with a vegetal uncertainty, an acquiescence,
toward heaven, holding out their sun-spoon leaves,
hopeful for that everlasting communion with light . . .
but the words hit at the base of the trunk, a thud,
and our tower starts to topple—
prayers falling everywhere, crockery crashing
against the hard hearth floor.

There will be no more hiding in the ovens
of strangers’ kitchens
waiting for Mother to rook him over,
no more love cries from the hooded prince,
no more pawing of his steed, snorts into the mist,
incessant combing of the hair, recombing,
no more nights spent tending the long-burning
Promethean fire.

We clap, stand, and leave,
each with his golden stolen phrase,
his gold-laying goose, his jabbering harp
all golden and grafted into his nerves now
like a catch reflex.
Our shadows step forth to cast back the flesh of our bodies,
a last glimpse that condemns us to return
to that sound collapsing in our chests, that physical comedy,
vaudevillian slip, that greatest performance
by that perfect performance artist.

Then to touch ourselves in the dark, bitterly,
where the great tower once grew up thick
into the clouds from that magic bean.
Oh, for the belief in magic beans!
Now the massive impact crater
filled with beard, bone, and tooth fossilizing.
Our hands chafed with the shaft of the tool.

The downed stalk browning into a paste
discarded through the village,
a massive shed snakeskin hacked with doorways,
passageways, throughways
for the necessities of commerce.

When we woke the morning after,
there it was, leaning up against our nightstands:
the ax, like an unopened gift
from someone who never really knew us—
our inheritance.

Yes, it was a most devastating reading.
We will wear it like a hide forever
and limp through our days in honor
of all that has fallen before us, all that falls and will fall,
and cries out from its death pit to warn Jack
that he is no longer a boy.

[See Note On This Poem]