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Thursday, October 1, 2009

New Poem: "Labyrinthine Heads"


Labyrinthine Heads

by Sam Graham

-

A skeleton dangles from a hanger
down the hall a young boy cries for his mother
and crawls on red carpet.

in a maze of corridors
separated by doors

A young man wandering through
lets his fingers trail along the shadowy walls,
glide over the rough pink paint.
A tuba bleats as he rounds the corner:

There stands a darkened shadowy figure
staring at him in a wavering cloud
-instantaneously red thought-beams pulse out at him from the figure
like lasers.

He wakes up under thick pounds of embroidered covers
in a hot sweat
His hand reaches out and grabs at nothing in the air.

His cool eyes are bloodshot.
With a haze of green seeming to float over them.

In the other room, a pink kitchen (which the sounds emanating from it indicate)
are noises of pots clanging, a stove-top burning, the shuffling of feet, a refrigerator door opening and closing, lids being removed from jars and put back on again, and things being put down on a tile counter

Back in his room, fan blades swish through the air, high above his bed.
Now they seem lower: cutting into his head.

“Bread. Bread!” he says.
“What’s that, Dear?” says a voice from the kitchen.
“I need bread!”
“Here you go, honey” she walks into the room with a bowl of hot bread, steam rising off of it.
“Do you want to have sex now?”
“Oh! Would I ever! -Eat your bread! I thought you wanted it.”
“You’re an empath. You didn’t even hear me when I asked for bread, but you brought it to me already hot.”
“I know, my dear. Your thoughts fly into my head like a honey bee brings pollen to a hive.”
“Aren’t you sweet.”
“Comb your hair, dear.”
“When I get up, I will. When I go out. This door. -Take off your bra.”
“Do you want to grope me?”
“I always want to grope you.”
“With your hands?”
“Yes: I want to wash them.”
“Why is that?”
“Because they are supple, I want to see them glisten.”
“In the sun?”
“Under multiple light sources.”
“What a fun idea. You must be very bright.”
“I like to think so. Perhaps I’m enlightened.”
“That’s why I married you.”
“Why?”
“When I first saw you, there was a halo around you. Then I said to myself, ‘this must be the man I will spend the rest of my day with.’ And here we are now, and it’s already 12 o’clock!”
“Well, despite what they say, miracles really do happen!”

“Yellow consequences...yellow, green, and gold -consequences...”
“I don’t follow.”
“When you read to me aloud from your workbook, you showed me a whole new side of yourself.”
“Back on the homestead?”
“Yes.”
“Yes, those were writings from when I was little. Because I wrote them when I was little.”
“I figured as much.”
“Grey horned owls, gooses, ganders, lovebirds, tortoises, gilded parakeet, frothing antler horns, mangy dog-ear necklaces, and tulip grins. These were the objects of my youth.”
“Fancy that.”
“Yes, fancy that. Can you imagine me playing in the bushes all the time, my hands tied behind my back, the young boy across the street playing hooky, and watching me rot.”
“His name was...?”
“James. He had a wicked grin on his face all the time. His blood had a high nickel content.”
“Probably from drinking all of those orange peels.”
“He really liked the bitter part of the fruit.”
“Everyone enjoys a different aspect of nature.”

“I love you, don’t you know that?”
“I’ve always known that. Ever since I was a little girl, I heard your voice calling to me like a trumpet from the forest, behind bushes, out of the water hose...”
“I was always great to you, wasn’t I?”
“The greatest! I can’t tell you how many times I cried over you, cried that I didn’t know you yet.”
“How crass. That this world would throw us apart for so many years, even though we already knew each other. How could such cruelty exist?”
“Cruelty is the nature of this place. Cruel and hard. Our bare feet step on nothing but rocks. We slip on slime and crack our skulls on them. Our bones and our backs break. Our torment is never-ceasing. Our solace is each other.”

“When the earth breathes, I hear you screaming. You yell my name from your dirty corner. The red syllables stretch out of your mouth and crash down into mine, filling my mouth with your blood. I swallow your cries and feel them crashing against my chest. Cymbals and timpanis.”
“This world is grey. Grey-eyed and densely packed with nutrients. Our families have long lost us. We are mortal fairies stuck on this island to die and try to procreate.”
“Our descendants will curse us for creating them. They would have rather been mute, incalculable, dust. Unconscious as earth.”
“Their cries reach us now, although they haven’t been birthed yet.”
“We must do something to stop their pain. They far outnumber us. The sky blackens with their tears.”
“Orange fetal dust, crumbling out of a meteor, glistening with silver satin, gristle dripping off and staining a very white carpet.”
“In this new apartment building, everything must go/grow.”

“Naked men in tractors bulldozing us.”
“Their masculinity drops like a thermometer in the cold.”
“Insincere doubt.”
“Leftover pain.”
“Cretins tossing and turning in a frying pan.”
“Their flat-handed gloves are talcum powdered. They’re older, and treatment injected into their veins.”
“Veterinarians could have never been so proud of us. We single-handedly solved the crisis facing the dog and cat litters endangered in the streets. Their flesh hangs loosely off of their faces. Their yells can be heard echoing off of the flat brick walls and out into the sea. Our faces are covered in crust and cornmeal.”
“Bed time for us, but we must detach ourselves from each other so that we can resume our separate lives and account for our missteps along the way.”
“There is a bad dragon in our midst and we must fight it or we will perish along with our hosts.”
“Okay. We will leave then. Leave for the city-town.”

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