The Jivin' Ladybug

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Clayton Eshleman



head filled with fetal eyes.

eyes sharing lips.

head helmeted with eyes.

head as a geography of pores erupting, waves surrounding eyes.

there is no part of the head that does not see.

heads with no non-eye relief.


eyes appearing as the only peers, the peerage in things.

eyed & seek, the rills in the face

layered with bird heads, with ferned serpent ends.

with eye vaginal almond floats.

stay! is to girdle as eye bands are to the shuffle of the molting head.

granular disintegration of the tufted fabric of the head.

larval organs dissolving into cream.

say, has that eye apple been spayed?


congeries of eye lines shrubbing into insectile-feelered dark.

thong throng tong-drawn trowel of eyes.

art is to burgeon on its own stem beholden only to

the stamina of its lines.

mine composed of off-shoot eye shafts through which I twist,

accelerating through Unica’s fractal beetle,

seemingly designed as a Mandelbrot-set zoom sequence,

in which I re-encounter infinitely what I have just left.


if genes had faces and bodies would they twist like these?

am gripping am, can’t go on will go on,

without centerpole or central pull,

tendril limbs straying into a vanishing varnish roam.

the human configured as part of

the threadwork of

a spontaneous robe of devolving wraiths.


creation as fission. schizogenetic genesis.

no representational nexus.

dyadic primacy of the oldest gods.

gossamer nets to entangle them

so that they ferment, fructify as fruit flies, buried wasp queens,

millipedal elves moving away from each other

yet still attached by saliva strings, lacy scaled vapors

exposing the white, the gleam of never, into which

no one steps twice.


sense of a living midden.  

soul as the self buried and mixed with a living Other,

fauna flora particles of an ongoing sentence:

fullness is infinite fracture.

totems playfully wavering, as if about to shift

into double helix, to swim into the White,

to perceive, finally, the White Image.




Munch Dissolves


Something is always congealing,   seeking

group strata,   full wet skirt,

Gaudi in the cornerless sense of it,

Munch’s benders,   released of starch, but   of fixation,

opening the locks on

      afterlife    death    this life

pooling,   deboning the polarities,

            poling with Charon in

            blood azure


“I came into the world as a sick being—in sick surroundings.

My youth was spent in a sickbed; life was a brightly lit window.”


César Vallejo: “I was born on a day when God was sick,



The moon’s testicular tube-reflection

transfiguring night’s indigo carmine lake.


Waltz with me, lung to lung. O darling, look!

                                               Next to us, a green

larva is vampirizing his slumped booty!


Sister Inger’s speckled dress, splotches roving. 


Clasped hands form an oyster-gray vulva before her dead gown.


Moonlight, holed up in pickets, passes through

                    a woman’s face whose eyes for an instant

escape its gangrene drench.


A road boas by a clump of girls on a pier.

                            Down through brown arboreal

reflection they stare into the Munchflow.


And what is the Munchflow?  The fetal thrashing of

              those forever unfully born.


 A kiss! Her face, consumed, becomes his beak.


Showing through their fused bodies: cobweb-thin cocoons..


                             O anima emanating separation!

Away from him she glides toward the shore,

her long hair a telephone wire that cannot be cut.


“People’s souls are like planets. Like a star that rises from the darkness

—and meets another star—only to disappear again into darkness—it is the

same when a man and woman meet—drift apart—light up in love—burn up

—and disappear each in their own direction.”


The devil’s footprints on the bedroom ceiling. Ghosts of the utter  

    failure of prayer.


A slimy, soft-horned snail, carrying a brothel on its back.


Pitch-rust river encircling Millie, then Dagny, under Munch.

                                                     Who called this woman Madonna?

She has elsewhere eyes, a menstrual halo, cum-smeared breasts!


“Without anxiety and illness, I am a ship without a rudder.”


Stopped on the road

 in darkness oleaginous as treacle:

      a car with blood-red eyes.


Adam’s mahogany groin by a tree husk radiating fire,

                                               whose root metabolism

suckles skulls, crocodilian mulch.

                                               Pregnant Eve.

Tree once with its fetal wick a burning-bush.


Along  Snow Avenue, asparagus trees, blackening,

    swirled in the caul of a wind

                        boozy with throttled

        valves, aortic hives.


Sister Laura sits locked in perpetual, unanswered, large-eyed pleading.

Before her, a blood flower sucks nourishment from a circular table

      whose blood-red patterned cloth

                  resembles sections of her brain.


O-shock of a fresh dead man discovering the beyond

is this world oozing through all its pores

like streaks of sky seeping through the path

upon which this shocked O holds his head and screams

arched by a sky coldly boiling with the blood of all

who have lived

                               O-scream discovering each

scream is intelligible, the slaughterhouse screams,

the insane scream, your sex opens wide,

a rugged candle refueling on gusts,

articulate flame in the trench of your sex,

flame shaped like a live woman holding

her earless head, her face ocellated with screams,

in each scream the screwdriver of the mind

attempting to loosen the bolt

God sank into it like a pitiless dry well.


                            April—August,  2006





Octavio's Labyrinth



   A dream tonight of coupled images

whirling in the circus of an empty eye,

hurling themselves against themselves to become

a forest of magnetic needles under my lids.


                           Everything is a door:

elephantiasis with its violet legs,

bougainvillaea’s thousand magenta stars.


I opened to the pot-headed, lordly and deathless hybrids:



           animals and gods.

     O the breeze between! The shiver of

     organs lifted out! The blind, lip-clenched

           stable of the body to be filled

        with solidified light!


All the gods yet to be discovered are to be found

in the downward-growing tree of the mother of life.

Her night side is the black dragon of mindless unification.

Straddling both,

        a sleepwalking sewer of a seer,

I descend, to where the wind

                              mangles eagles

     and an albino bat studies

                   an octopus clock’s

                tentacle-tentative time.


                       The hour rests

on a chasm of charities.

No one ends at himself.


(Ideas ate the deities

                                  the deities

became ideas

                       great bladders full of bile—


                                    the sanctuary was a dung heap

the dung heap a nursery

                                           armed ideas sprouted

                               ideas idiotic as deities)


We have caught up to Whitman. His hand in ours,

                                   a Sudanese infant claw.


There is no freedom.

There is only the intensification of  the instant

so that one senses forever as one lives now.





To slit open sin, to discover face-before-birth,

bog puss being, leather plumbing


in the nexus of a Her so stratigraphic

limestone and Mars pile into this vocabulary.


Tough as cross hide, the Christ script, conducted

by an iced and antlered Satan.


I lifted my face-before-birth out of its vaginal coffin,

the back of its head rich in salamander pigtails,

asphalt worms, cutthroat

eels, tubeworms that once vibrated in methane seeps.


Then I stepped into the soul pouch

as if into a uniform of water—

Sweet pea appeared, Veronica and Archie,

a flood of Toons writhing like liquid termites.


To wear oneself as other is to hybridize

a single destiny into one multifoliate, larded with aperture,

a siphon through which drips a serpent rainbow

whose center stripe is the menstrual

icing that celebrates our break with estrus.


Ah, uroboric earth linkage,

bloodstream felt as exterior congruence,

no me and nature, no you and X,

rather meanother, an Olmec infant colossus of

symbiotic meaning cutting through

the representation shellac.


Like yaw in roll with yaw, the poem now

tintinnabulates into auto-yabyum,

happy in its vulvic cap, a six-eyed imp,

madre succulent, Sweet Pea nosy, pater free.



Prayer for Will Alexander


As those doctors invade your belly with

their fortress of scythes and registers, with

their light raining into you sterility & recompense,

I pray your body responds to all

they dig at in you, I pray

the succubus can be removed,

that enigmatic louse with eighty claws that

has terrorized your constitution.

I pray your ocean responds, your stern,

your oars, the whole vessel of you,

I pray that vessel & current move on,

move in, regeneration of your interior,

of your whale & cuspidor, of

the light in your speech lattice, your

dawn glory meter rise of life

in the poem & ongoing love.





The Jivin' Ladybug- A Skewered Journal of the Arts
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