THE LIVING WAX MUSEUM OF THE HUMANLY GROTESQUE
The living wax museum of the humanly grotesque,
the affable mutants, the butterfly minds
armoured by their innocence against their deaths,
bells of fat that responded to everything they were asked
like jocular coffins at ease with their catastrophes,
and the tough made shy by the nemetic streets
and the city roses that came in different shades of lipstick
and chirped about the brutality of their boyfriends
celebrating their psychotic jealousy like a badge of love
as the snake they tried to domesticate by kissing it
on the locket of its head as a sign of respect for death,
the lingham in the yoni, struck them repeatedly in the jugular
like the tinfoil shaktis of black and blue working girls
if they so much as looked at another man
for anything more than money could buy for half an hour,
one ray of light awry, and back to the end of the line.
And the scorpions who administered justice to the poor
as if the law were just a special form of betrayal.
And the commissars of good who stepped
on other people’s hearts to reheel their boots
in the name of their militant ethics slumming
for a photo-op among the peasants they recruited
to sacrifice their lives on the altars
that fattened them up awhile to send their alien gods
a loveletter like a rose of blood from an abattoir.
And those who suffered the afflictions of Job
quietly in the corners out of earshot of the violent ones
away from the shadows that sought them out
like spiders with compound eyes and ice-pick fangs
blooding their colours in gangs of arachnids
that came up on you from behind under cover
of a moonrise that violated the sanctity of your asylum
with the pellucid integrity of a rabid syringe
anaesthetizing you with fear like an ice-age
afraid of water. And the daughters who slipped
through the labial tent flaps of the surrealistic circuses
where they tried to ride the snake like ballerinas
on horseback, but wound up being trivialized
by ringmasters with whips and hoops of fire
they jumped through like caged tigresses
for the amusement of their terrorized kids.
Old men like potatoes who’d worked hard all their lives
watching their lives leak out like the waterclocks of urine
they couldn’t hold back like time anymore
without wetting their pants on the porch
as if they were chronically afraid of something.
And the snowbirds and dandelions gone to seed,
old women worn out like looms, crone phases of the moon,
embroidering their pillowcases trying to
surgically stitch up their inoperable dreams
with threads of fate too weak to heal their wounds anymore.
They’re all still here in my mind staggering
under the heavy lift and load of humanity they shouldered
like the bearers of burdens and drawers of water,
slave nations in the ungrateful lotteries of the chosen ones
that buried them like the Burgess Shale
in the Cambrian depths of my mountainous past,
broken, lost, rejected, bent, predatory, victimized,
used, abused, forgotten and mocked like the spiritual duff
and social detritus of last year’s effluvial autumn.
The indelible shadows of a darkness I couldn’t shake off
however many books I read, or languages I mastered
to baffle what whispered in my exiled heart
in the towering shadow of Babel, or poems I wrote
in pursuit of an earthly excellence I could lavish
like my aristocratic poverty on the esoteric beauty of the stars
as I laboured to squander my genius on mystic insights
that kept me from soiling my lunar flightfeathers
in the tarpits and sticky eclipses of starmud that clung to the past.
Freaks, pariahs, outcasts, the insensibly crude,
boisterously loud about their garish bodily functions,
the mad visionaries whose febrile skin always smelled
like mildewed rags however many baths
they took in their graves like compromised shamans
still trying to get their spirits to come clean
with the animal world long after it had gone extinct.
How far, how long it is from childhood that it’s taken me
all these labyrinths of lightyears in a leper colony
trying to grow a new head on a hydra to replace
the prophetic skull that could speak of a future
in the ancestral tongues of the dead that up until now
excluded you from the graveyards of my occlusive heart
like the sacred syllables of creosote and crows
caught in my throat as if my voice cherry-picked
spiritual vowels from the bruised windfalls
of my earth bound consonants grubby with life
shaken from the green boughs of the tree I sang in
above the damaged roots of the humans I sprang from
like a sapling from the heartwood of a decaying stump.
And embrace you, I do. At last. Deservedly or not.
As a sign of self-respect. I celebrate the lustre of the ore,
the flawed jewel, the rusty cankers on the sword,
the missing links in the foodchain of toothless carnivores,
the luckless wishbones that broke like the bull harps
of private Babylons buried in the deserts of the moon
where there is no wind and the sterility of the silence
has never carried a sound like a waterbird
disappearing like a song waning into the distance.
In a prodigal flashflood of compassionate insight
I flow into the dry creekbeds and stagnant tidal pools
of your disembodied lives, the hollow carapaces
of your false dawns gouged out like eyes of loaded dice.
Scorned, humiliated, alcoholic hierarchies of feudal squalor,
I observe the fragility of your baronial protocols
so as not to begrudge you a shadow of the splendour
of your belated normalcy, your upgraded mundanity,
the under rated privilege of being overlooked
like everyone else in the greater scheme of things.
Excruciating agonies of isolation en masse. Status, at last.