after the surrealist, Hans Bellmer
He cross-dresses to merge
with his creations,
a language that savors
desire’s aggressive fingers,
hangs a doll from a tree,
dumps a doll on stairs,
arranges a meat-rack doll
from his real-life lover’s form.
he names it:
wood, flax, and plaster.
He adds nuts and rods,
molds mask-like faces
to build life-sized monster dolls
with breasts, genitals.
Oscar Kokoschka’s obsession,
and the cold shadow
of his fascist father’s harshness
Each imperfect body
is an abused,
fleshy love object
with articulated ball joints.
Like his doll in white socks,
black patent Mary Janes,
an artificial girl,
a shattered fetish.
A SWEET-TALKING GUY
over his words.
I did, swept
into his pillow talk,
his double talk,
Stay away from him,
is good advice.
A sweet-talking guy
has enough slide
in his voice to sound
like he’ll deliver dreams.
Lied my jeans off.
I didn’t think
this was where I was going,
but, without a map,
it’s where I got.
A sweet-talking guy
didn’t make me
cry; I did that
all by myself,
slicking my mascara
like I was born a fool,
to become one.
THE EXTRACTION OF THE STONE OF MADNESS
We were supposed to be in Spain now,
but that’s not said as a complaint.
It’s just that I miss waiting on the free-
admission line nightly at the Prado to stare
at The Extraction of the Stone of Madness
by Bosch. In the painting, a man
leans back as another in a funnel
hat pulls a flower bulb from a hole
cut in the sick man’s skull. Does Lubbert
in the calligraphy border really refer to
a castrated dachshund, as one critic wrote?
Is the surgeon in the painting a charlatan?
These new days of crazy, who isn’t
a charlatan? Stones were once thought
to make one ill or stupid, if they lodged
in the body. Now it’s the news
that’s like a stone, numbing the brain
so that numbers barely mean people,
and crowds amass to demonstrate for
the freedom to risk illness and Covid death,
or, at least, to have others die for them.
I wish I were in Madrid—the one
that existed before anyone became sick
of this—sharing a pitcher of sangria,
pontificating about art. The madness
of the art world: now that was a folly
worth a non-trepanned stone in the brain.
Water deity in the form
of a shark: where is your gold,
your snake, your long black hair?
While I snorkel, looking
for parrotfish iridescence,
you track me. Do you wonder
if I’m worth troubling?
Yesterday, I swam with sea lion pups
in the rocky shallows where
they could avoid you; a baby,
curious, got close and I stroked
its fat belly.
As I grey, I crave what you take
for granted—ocean waves,
the taste of blood and flesh,
enough of life’s vibrations
to dance myself into a trance.
If you really are a disguised goddess,
shape-shift. Abduct me
and increase my luck.
I might grow extra rows of teeth.
I could be prettier, wealthier. I could
rise like a tornado.