L’Enfance du Christ [Christmas Day 1989]

calling penetration the overlapping of surfaces

A knife in the flesh
splits the sheaf and the leaves fall
open, at a fresh page,

Is to say, because the body does not burst
its sac, but clings within its circumference –
and hides out in a saloon or brothel
waving the red flag or the white flag or both at once –
I am the sum of all my skin,

the fine skin of the vesicles
and the coarse palp of my fingertips, that is,
inasmuch as every contour
relies on contrast and touch,

How the limb bifurcates and vertebrae kiss
and the soft traffic and stream of corpuscles
shakes the fabric of air in the ear’s tinnitus,

The infinite play of surfaces,
of sheath upon sheath.

telling the rapist
he has witnessed the bather
drawing the ceaseless stocking
from the wave’s structuration,

A snake in the carpark
oiled its back,
spilt seed on a flat soil, and found purchase
for its hooked head
in a geometric and a slippery place,

Is to brag that she is inviolable,
she is unpuncturable like the sea,
the bullet’s round face laughs in her bathwater

and cigars roll from her dark thighs
as Mary doth arise,

she is inseminated with foam or with smoke,
because her womb echoes and is the City of God

there is no insinuation,
or comparison, or conquest,
for it is no fortress, nor mouth except toothless,
nor home,

and the cursing voice returns modulated
from the answering, unquestioning cave,
and the singing voice from the minaret’s lost
in the endless tesselations
of its civic architecture,

The witness
turns to stone before the Medusa
and the muezzin praises
the fundamental and the transmogrified

Glory to the rosette
and political fraternity, glory to the curse
and embryonic capitalism, glory to the curtain
and transparent community, glory to the head
and the state’s penetralia, to the dawn, the news,
the curled moon and the coil
unfolding its red legs on the spiderweb, glory,
the popular consensus, and to the want of love,
loving supplication, to Birth and Scissors, glory,
and so forth.

How unlike the snake
she sloughs her skin inside her,
how unlike her insides are these rococo recesses,
these famous fountains, Quiet:

the old men of the republic
whisper in the confessionals,
in the ears of the inserted foetus,
and on the mouth of the unborn
the dead place their lips,

How natural
government in the ancient world and wise and elevated
the noise of the marketplace, the Infant is educed
from the smell of breadovens and, perhaps,
the taste of napalm
roots the unused tongue in the soil
of the moon on earth

that the crater talk like Caesar or the wound
speak like communism like pollution

from the photograph of a youngboy
carrying the corpse of his sister,

because the milk of soldiers
ticks like an ormolu wafer
in the unsmothered breast.

despite oneself,

A barb on the lash,

Twist at the joint,

Hammer on the bone,

and failure of a local anaesthetic, the point
shrills in the gum, nerve impacts
with a blunt instrument, rhythm
throbs in the cut and one is ripped
along the meridian, with upright thighs

and the thrill of an entrance or an ejection,
crossing the threshold in the arms of the redeemer,

as if He were a beast, as if she who cries out
behind my teeth were immaculate and an Angel –
I avow I am pursued by angels in my spiritual
envelope, their suffering is unspeakable
and their wings are useless -,

interacting without body, tumbling without hurt,
bearing one aloft without touching,

Because the soul is dainty
and inalienable, if you like, wrapped
close about one like a shroud,

torn at by the claws of cancer and the teeth
of solitude

where I would reveal myself
serene and implacable as a machine of war –
except that there are no wars -, it is a
juridicopolitical excess, if you will, and unable
to be distinguished from my transience
of personality, Yea, for in the manner of her sex

she has lost her boyhood,
it is the boy beside her, the charm
I pretend to, the humour incline to and the faint
elizabethan residue that comes between our legs,

between the mechanics of desire and the organs
of the state; and since the black maze

of the pain trap doth descend, angels
are its guardians and the lace darkens
under the axe: in the labyrinth

of its many skins, its many anuses, say
what lips could enter those lips? and what past

would they describe? but the history
of the heart’s muscle, how the organic
is interchangeable, the individual
a wing’d horn’d apparition

fleeing in both directions – master of the slain,
mistress of laughter – and meeting in the division
of its elastic monstrosity, after the construction

and the reconstruction, the unmasking
and the investment,

and what continuous music
reiterate? but the wind of confession

they pipe through its holes
that forces the valves
open, in the cathedral,

staining the glass and eliciting
the architecture from the harmonious scaffold,

the spire from the block,
and from the hand
of the god, the just sword, axe or hammer,
of the execution.

sleeping on the bosom of the car’s bonnet,
the noise of dolphins thrumming,
or on the lover’s bosom

A gate of perfume shut
on the broken garden, behind the shattered beach,

As if to reaffirm
that in the residence of the nice hostess
there is no departure from the coast,
there is no retreat from the city,

That their impermanence is
after the fashion of drowning
in the skirts of the empire – where it is true

civilisation cannot long hold sway over cannibals -,
and in the manner of a loss of the founding document,
of the sacred book – which are points of anchorage
for sales’ strategies -,

Not a matter of thuribles, obedience and prayers
and igniting a taper, but a Repossession
of the empty rooms in the kingdom of Heaven;

Yet there is the Body also,
empty and set free to circulate
among faces and surfaces in the gulag,

And, indeed, as if the Secret of power
were a palace of Dreams, it disappears,
down the hallways of the archipelago

muttering, tyrannicide, behind the arras
or palmfrond.