EATING THE BABY [Christmas Day 1988]

Love is a covert operation
like the skillful manipulation of phallic symbols

in television advertisements,
a postulate for the subconscious, the red-painted nail

on the female hand, suggestion of the tactile,
the smooth reflective surfaces of the car’s body,

its dark interior.

And the body’s body grows bigger than ordinarily possible
giving you the surprise

of mistaken identity.

The body is a surprise party, inviting its friends around
for the night and breaking your heart

as it leaps into the arms of the man
who stopped her screaming by placing his hand over her mouth,

lucky man, whom you’ve never met,
and falling on the floor in disarray

and a state of undress.

The corridors of power contract
when love enters with conspiratorial ease…

And the frankness of the politician’s lie, is it a mystery
how it engenders the suspension of disbelief?

now the appurtenances of the physical manifest prejudices
over which we have no control,

when our sympathy lies with the enemies of good sense,
with the Enemy, detractor, atheist,

subterranean, the gangster, escaped convict, terrorist & Liberal,
underdog and nihilist, apostate, democrat and existentialist,

or at least vacillates towards the minority, black guy, bad guy,
man with a womb, the junky and the suicide,

when we love the artist? …

And the object multiplies
according the arousal of desire for possession,

Desire that hath its seat in the Mind
and consumeth all Things which the act of generation

gives forth, eating the baby,
born of the camera or the mirror, born of desire itself,

and the image of the object itself proliferates;
all things from the self re-appropriated to the self

by the secret signs of possession,
like the signs of the supermarket and the sure-handedness

of the check-out girl
and the availability of all items on the shopping-list,

(her pleasant smile,
her sales-pitch, her uninhibited sexual provocation)

delivering receipt and satisfaction
in the marketplace of sensation, manipulating the signs

in the charged sphere of holinesse
and the gaze met with sweet hysteria that is the language

of the magic of Heaven.

Sex is inherently metaphysical (which is why the nubile
must shop around),

integrity of to be, am, passes into relinquishment of same
for the mutuality of genders,

sharing the Cork screw and Piece of Meat that signify
the persistence and the progress,

accumulating on the earth’s crust perpetually,
with facial variations and mass consciousness,

forward into wind of time of eternity, violating each other,
swallowed up by so many relations and statistical awareness…

Feminists have cause to fear the turning of the key
inside the lock,

the invasion of the privacy of the empty room, its population
by a man smoking a pipe,

gaudy wallpaper, the installation of a wing-back chair,
because the situation

involves compromise, meeting halfway on a darkened street,
looking for a weapon in the darkness.

Let him know about accountability, try leather, it is a short
step from here to every major American city,

submission and enterprise go hand on head, go hard in, and
endeavour to personalise the object

of your caresses, call him by name, by the names you would
have called unto yourself,

the embroidered monogram is your sign; and you, let her know
you respect the person of her womanhood

and respect the identity of her identikit, remember her number–
many couples today

are learning about animal by-products, take the stopovers
suggested by your travel-brochures,

don’t stint on the purchases she would have you make,
on the feelings you would have felt,

our preferences are constitutive of our personalities,
your appearance is the next best thing,

and your umbilical cord lies coiled in her handbag, or nap-sack
if she is a jogger or Swiss.

Incest can only occur between human beings, etcetera
capitalist democracy does not preclude

the possibility of mutual consent and rewards
taking advantage of the status quo:

eight to eleven year olds standing in a line, whose testimonies
will be remunerated at the state’s expense,

that is, those denouncing immediate family will receive
additional bonuses,

duck and cover, show and tell, lay and betray, your bodies
are your own,

like brand new toys from which the packaging
has not yet been removed

and the red zones must not be touched, and the blue zones
covered always,

the pudenda of little girls cannot be used
to sell cigarettes

and choruses of small boys with unbroken voices
shall not sing soprano

in advertising material for insurance companies;
eleven to thirteen year olds

hands up if you are your own operator… and when the system
screws you

make it pay, like everybody else–
illiteracy and ignorance are a good self-defense,

may the teevee dreams of childhood and annihilation
protect you and forfend

against any incursion on your rights,
your genitals belong to the state

once you have filled out a tax form. And pornography
can only improve within the free market system,

which is an adventure (like love
and a covert operation) leading the faithful into the future

which is a desert, and we will meet ourselves on the way back
shot full of arrows, victims of melanoma and immune

deficiency syndrome. Perhaps children are the best martyrs
because they are smaller, their icons smaller,

and their suffering increases in inverse proportion
to their size,

so that the torture of children represents an economic paradigm
which we can demonstrate and repeat,

making it scientific, upon which we may elaborate
an entire philosophy of human nature,

soaking the cloths in urine, removing the eyeball
with the heel of an Italian stilletto,

amateur histrionics are inappropriate at this time
and metaphors of violence have been monopolised,

if not exhausted, by the business community and the battle
between the sexes. What recourse but to lie?

Guilt is normal, hereditary, in phase with the moon,
staining the bedsheets

that lead this procession, like flags, hung on sticks,
accompanied by military bands,

the Germans realised how guilt motivates a nation
and capitalised on it, the urge to make babies, likewise,

is inspired by the guilt of failed lives:
the dream of fulfillment is established in the dust of remorse

and the perpetuation of the race perpetuates
the endless convalescence of an incurable love…

Observe how the baby grows from the body, is severed,
desiring only to cleave back to the void,

that is its mother; how in the several ages of its infantile,
pubescent and adult existence, its development

into the ripeness of personhood, the desire to consume
and to be consumed remains consistent; how

it is never loosed from this bondage and when it loves best
in union seeking the terminal abyss whence it came,

with always the rumour of success–a distant tympanum–,
release through the senses into the glory of the light

named God (or the swan transfixed mid-flight in an opera)
which light and epiphany is as a pit

that obliterates identity; how to the last
as the organism enters its nadir it clings ever more desperately

to the promise of a salvation it can no longer see, touch, or hear
and in its feebleness can’t reach,

as it were situated in a high place,
by the primitive reflex of faith

or the long arthritic finger of grace,
yet it stretches out its arms

and with its last strength
tries to articulate the word that out of fear

and paralysis of reason
it hopes in vain is the right word, the word made Manifest,

the word embracing death
and consummation that the infant screams or the lover cries out,

and the word issues
as the sigh of the final respiration….

(These memories I hold dear, my love, I entrust to thee
the seven golden platitudes.)

(Now it’s time, ladies and gentlemen, to cash in
your life insurance, to fit the beauty of the corpse

with a diamond tiara and a satin sash.)

Lying puts on rubber gloves for the operation, out of love,
to leave no fingerprints, to remain anonymous, and wears

a surgical mask also, to guard against bacterial infection.

There is no scar,
and nothing need have changed hands,

because nothing ends with death
except identity, which was always an enigma,

whose loss no one regrets, or even notices, and which
is forsaken

with the lubricated ease
of immediate and narcissistic