Mine own heart’s master,
you who bids it beat, and bides
the silence when it beats not,
who circulates the news of news
to my major and minor organs,
who forces breath through my pipes,
who lets it be known when the skin
should flush or the flesh should goose,
who rouse and flood me, who builds
my pressure up in this the body’s
barometer from fair to storm
only later to kill the weather
and his man, who, who, who
boxes a moment up and stores it
in some deep place, who on occasion
makes me tick just like a bomb
but loudly and almost in public,
who exposes my thin roof and tin
chimney, who suffers me and makes
me suffer. Now you drag the chain
and anchor. Now release.
You who who. Who are you?
In a clutch of dark the heart grows a bone, the body a knife
for a hand. There’s the jabberman alone with his virus
and muse, gumming the fist of the goose-girl, who goes grind
in the night. Ridden and sudden, she’s a knot at the end
of a noose. You choose: joint or sinew; dredge versus
bleach; pit or vex. You can’t refuse the guillotine, its smooth
discovery, dis-easing you into a world of tremble and surge.
The truth is tourniquet, a trick of the light, and terror is your master.
Your company is called Boredom and Disaster. Ask the moon,
that cold vault, if his eye hasn’t shriveled from a forever of isolation.
The ice-age has only just begun and already fog everywhere.
Never mind. It doesn’t matter. What intervenes is not urgent,
just mean. Your ear has grown a cage and in your mouth
that automatic machine gun? That’s what’s become of your tongue.
SELF-PORTRAIT IN GOLD LEAF
Ah varnish. Gilt. And foil.
Green eyes fully flecked.
What of the new year’s
glitter flocks you not?
My circus peacock all decked
out in hat and tails. Top
of the morning to you
Minister! Tip of my cap.
Doesn’t the wind want a lady
like you to wink at?
to whirligig? Where’s my
mini-ostrich, my little
electric chair? Choose me.
Chose me. Choked me
full of ruby and sassafras.
Do you know where I’m
going with this—ass-
hole, friend, or reader?
Straight down the drain,
the gold frame, mirror.