The Jivin' Ladybug

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Anthony Seidman

COSMIC WEATHER
 
The Red Hurricane on Jupiter
first stirred before a man learned how to strike flint in those caves
where sweat tasted the dark sun of sacrifice and gristle.
The Red Hurricane
began its churning before the hammering of bronze, the usage of bitumen
to pave streets lined with citadels of glazed brick, while a bald scribe
stylus-tallied an inventory of wheat, clay pots of mead, gold ingots,
and slaves.
Mornings, dusks on Earth, tides pregnant with the moon, harvest of
olives, birth of stones, and honing of birds' song from noise to the
grammar of a great thirst,
while the Red Hurricane gyre'd, ammonia shrapnel & Richters of methane.

The Red Hurricane:
crimson gouged eyeball of Cyclopes, skinned testis of a black bull
pierced by a hundred  banderillas while, here, on earth, tribe decimated
tribe, and Baal smoked on the plains of murder.
And later,
when a priest officiated before a snake goddess clutching serpents in
her fists, breasts jutted, her dress frilled with jabots of combustion,
the Red Hurricane began to spin in an atmospheric pressure so dense a
square inch would vaporize that faience idol.
And much later,
when the farmer of Hellas recited hexameters of benched ships and
betrayal, the hurricane would rotate up into one hemisphere, then down
again, sweeping distances, rotations lasting hundreds of years.
Generation begot generation, fields were cleared, corpses were burned,
and galleons embarked, flotillas treasured with lice and smallpox,
argosies oozing dysentery, ships circumnavigating the globe, while
mace'd fists bore wax-sealed papacies, distopias, new Zions, quetzal
feathers, ash, and the Red Hurricane, all thrust and compression,
persisted.
Tenochtitlan fell,
yet the Red Hurricane persisted.
Lisbon shook,
Catholic marble bludgeoned rosaries, and the hurricane persisted.
Monsoons and drought, locust swarms,
yet the Red Hurricane thrusted, a bloody yolk waxing.
And when the 20th century opened, with the sky now harnessed, and New
Mexico sand was smelted into glass in the furnace of a split atom, the
Red Hurricane spun, and swelled.
Weather on Jupiter remained—by terrestrial standards—, apocalyptic:
gas clouds bled electricity into radiation tsunamis, atoms sweated
electrons, and the air hardened to a metal at its core.
Because that hurricane had not settled nor will it for hundreds of
years, when slowly,
very slowly, at the velocity of tectonic plates ripping a continent in
two, sprouting granite mountains, the clouds will seal, and the storm
will dilute, samite sheets of hydrogen, ripcurls of electricity,
while on earth,
entered above a strata of crustaceans and vanished fern, a strata of
reptiles, one of mammals with bones as delicate as violin strings, to
the litter of arrowheads, re-bar and oil,
man and woman will be imprints in sandstone,--a species crusted in
rock, petrified and
buried beneath a barren steppe of absence and heat.
 
 
ON WHY I STICK MY ARM INTO THE EARTH
 
Because the Ant Queen is my mother;
the Ant Queen is my wife;
                               I praise
the Ant Queen
                               I loathe
the Ant Queen
                               because
I adore her the way
I adore what bloats with putrefaction,
what smells of milk, what sucks
marrow from boilt-bone, what
blooms under the butcher’s fingernail,
what pierces, what lays
a brown egg onto the lapel of delectation,
what is buried, then dug up, and shaven with a black tongue,
what gestates in the belly round with quivering meat; because
the Ant Queen is amniotic fluid I gargled, is yellowness oozing from a
fork’d yolk,
plasma erupting from a deep burn,
               the Ant Queen
is ripped skin, the bleeding, and twilight of brain;
               the Ant Queen
is the basement stuffed with eyes,
                                       & she waits,
nests beneath dry Californian soil color of parched hickory chips, or
corn-kernel-flecked turd;
               the Ant Queen
whose mandibles crunch open & shut, sounding like heavy scissors
cutting a stack of matte-paper;
               the Ant Queen,
whose eggs   eggs   egg      eggs dribble from her gaster, larvae white
as
a callus after one has swam for an hour;
She, whose legs can rip in two the exoskeleton of a beetle, yet whose
gait is as soft as the letter H in    Castilian;
She, whose eyes are a multitudinous rattle of sparks that shake in the
fist of the gambler;
She, whose cardiovascular system is a tree of electricity, a torch of
hydrogen, a gravitational tug between such disparate nouns as parachute
and shoe-polish;
               the Ant Queen
who is my whetting-nurse,
and my purse & curse,
my minstrel and mistress of my nemesis, she reigns
from her mud-roof tunnel, she reigns,
cushioned atop her pyramidal hoard of eggs;
the workers mill, antennae knitting into antennae, like the
hand-shaking of small business
owners at a convention, of frat brothers at an all-nite kegger;
the workers mandible-haul the inch of pizza crust, a pill bug curled
into crescent, mute agony of
       centipede, legs scintillating pathetically, ketchup-smeared
scrap of napkin from
       Grease-Spoon, raisin, toothpick speckled with diced coleslaw,
cornbread
       crumbs, pencil shavings;
the workers delighting in human debris, the backwash of what man
squeezes dry, the discarded,
       excreted, puckering black eye of ass, and pipes.
               All for the Ant Queen,
who is my wife and left me for a free union with Andre the Giant,
who is my left toe when I break Matzoh,
who is my molar crumbling communion’s cookie of panic attack,
who is my skin when shattered against the hammer of hyperbole,
who simply is
the logos at 5 o’clock when all the bulls have stained the sand
crimson,
when man doesn’t hunger the Chinoiserie of spiral jellyfish
but the pulmonations of stud, leaf-storm, ant swarm at the zenith of
summer,
while She pisses
her runny rice-ooze of eggs eggs   egg    eggs
while she hisses,
aroused & incubating her load, bubble bursting in the rupture of every
egg,
with the paroxysm of
hot blade into labium, lightning slicing a tree,
with the word,
with the lips that are slit open to burp a wider decibel
and resound in their meaty walls the needles of the moon,
the bloodbath of syncretism,
the scream cauterized.
 
 
MOTORO

Yet nothing happens, no,
only this extravagant dream.
Jose Gorostiza, Death Without End, (trans: Laura Villasenor).
Love has terrible
purple hounds,
but also its harvests,
also its birds.
Jose Gorostiza, (Trans: Laura Villasenor)

**
MOTORO IS A UNIT OF MEASUREMENT
vaster than the distance
encompassed in a light-year.
Motoro turns brown in the banana
peel left on the counter,
and its glucose fattens bacteria.
Motoro, the thud
of a liver into a coroner’s stainless steel pail.
Motoro, the continent
I hold in my right palm,
and the constellation in my left.
Motoro, the stock market quotations.
Motoro, the river running between
two clouds the color of a peach.
Motoro, the seismic waves Celeste
elongates when wearing a skirt.
All hail Motoro,
arbiter of how many needles
it takes to find a haystack,
and the speed necessary to re-
wind Zeno’s arrow.

**
AH, MOTORO, THE HANGOVER!
When after the vomit is squeezed
like milk
from breasts pendant,
when the dried orange is
thrown in trash bin, and the peels
have sizzled though
the digestive system of a possum,
when two buckets of nausea are meted
out for every third beer,
Motoro takes up residence
in your stomach acids.
Never again
you say, never
again the moon hanging on a thread,
the bridge rising between spit & cockroach,
wet bread coughing vinegar,
and the train rattling,
its boxcars hauling Faith & Hygiene.
Because Motoro is hunger
for every syllable fermented,
for the swamp-miles of cholera
and the rust tang of blood.
Motoro is a leap from a skyscraper
into a shot of tequila,
lime still burns your lips,
salt scrapes your final breath,
and the room is spinning,
and when you ask which way is up,
I clutch my stomach
and say
               Motoro.
**
BUT MOTORO IS ALSO A TODDLER
boy who has found a blue
crayon beneath the kitchen table,
and he runs with it in hand
to the vast
whiteness of his bedroom where
at first slowly
and then with inspiritus
crackling cobalt blue
he whorls & glazes
his sigil on the walls.
**
AND WHEN YOU CAN’T FIND
a parking spot, or your navel,
and hate & money-gripes
belch from their smokestacks,
fuck off the waiter who spat in your soup,
fuck off your boss who
according to Catullus
has teeth so white he must
have brushed them with mule piss,
and scream from the open window,
fuck off night trembling beneath the bed sheets,
bash the skull of silence and
press in his eyes with your thumbs,
fuck whichever shade your piss curdles,
for only then the roses,
the bloody roses, will not
stain our summers.
**
I GROW WITH THE CORN
I bend wrist-thin bough
and spring off it before
splashing into a pool of tar.
I snore between stratum of mud &
dung, feldspar & fossil,
I fall into the pit reaching the sky, and
am sucked up with magistrate & wizard via
the vulva of clouds gloaming violet.
And I find a way to fit
all the squares & bolts into
the humming engine of a lifetime.
**
I SAW YOU
between columns of smoke
I saw you among bubbles in abeyance
I saw you mounted on a motorcycle
with a tattoo on your breath which
mapped the freeway exits of a metaphor
I saw you
Celeste of two waters for each salt grain
Celeste with a constellation in each eye and
a talent for stitching puppets of meat
Celeste who awakens into thirst
with a trout peering from out her mouth
Celeste with fingers the shape of bougainvillea
fingers that dip into a bucket of black paint
to chart the canals of fallopian tubes on canvas
Celeste who dredges a maize of syllables through
a canopy of quetzal feathers
Celeste who stands up like a river and offers
to lick me yet
leaves my skin as burning
Celeste who is a dream that doesn’t dissolve in light
but is she who draws in the net
proffers the largest fish and
guides me through the forest of illegible stars

**
BLESS ME, SUPERHERO,
who, in cape & yellow tights,
digests bullets, leaps
canyons, and digs tunnels
in the air.  And bless me Motoro
more fabulous than the woman
with eyes the color of egg yolk,
more noble than the boy
with a tin cup full of leaves.
All the flowers have withered,
and old women are dying from the heat.
The ice caps are melting,
and the rivers stink of turpentine;
everyone’s irritable, and no one
believes in eating meat.  Come Motoro,
we need you to bang
our brains back into working order,
to show which key fits into lock,
to pave a smaller interstate,
(one with more cacti and fewer motels).
We don’t need
a fire-eater or
weightlifter;
just you, a man
with two hands,
and eleven fingers.
**
I’D LIKE TO TELL YOU MORE ABOUT MYSELF:
I am a man with no ambitions
other than tasting the mezcal that once
sizzled in the spit of a Zapotec boy
losing his virginity to a muxe with a silver tooth.
She wiped her ass with a dish rag while
the boy looked away and pulled up his briefs.
I walk toward another village
dazed in summer when the children
come out at evening to eat chips on the porches or
pelt iguanas and salamanders with stones.
Always a ball rolling down a further alley,
always a hammock rocking in a blue room.
I want papaya from a bay where
I never sat beneath whirring ceiling fans.
You might know the joke about the toad
fucking the skeleton, but I will only
listen when you have stepped out
the front door into oncoming traffic so that
curtains will shape breasts
surfacing in the milky dreams of that boy; so,
thank you, thank you so
much for leaving this window open.
**
BY TAPPING INTO MOTORO
I excel in the purest necromancy...putrefaction:
smelling dull teeth of larvae chewing sludge
inside out from an onion blossoming
into blue-emerald of mold.
When commuting on bus or sipping coffee
a crow who picks and pecks at
possums sheeted on asphalt
pours into my ears the vinegar
of carrion eaters, and informs me
there no reins
short enough to control rot,
that verbs masticate action
into bolus, then spit gristle,
while all Imagination wishes to offer
is her dress let fall
from tattooed shoulders,
and two pips popping
inside the intolerable weight
of a Great-Dane’s testicles.
**
USING MOTORO AS LUBRICANT FOR CELESTE IS QUITE SIMPLE:
retrieve the apricot from her palm;
she was lost in an ash-heap,
searching for the orchid of red seasons,
tropical jackhammers and the Venus-singed sea.
Harvest the bees in her hair,
and monopolize summer; bake loaves
of black bread, mash stars & garlic
with mortar & pestle, moisten
crumbs with your spit and
feed them to the chirping beaks of her nipples,
then slide between her thighs
the color of August.  Somehow,
despite corrosive cleaning agents and money,
the sex of Celeste will soften;
once constricted as canned heat,
it will now explode.
**
MOTORO
to put it bluntly,
is a twist of trope, a twirl
of cane, a torque,
a code, the never
deciphered Minoan script,
everything suffocating inside a zero.
And Motoro is also
five minutes spent in a
freezing gas station bathroom,
falling asleep at the ballet;
or a handsome transvestite and his
trick at the Pink Motel,
window’s view framing smoke
stacks and railroad tracks, and
Motoro drives by in the wind and long cloud.
**
AND WHEN AS A CHILD
seated in the back of the station wagon,
you’d ask
Mom is the moon
following me?
As it jumped above trees,
above hills and was
always there where-
ever your father turned...
Ah, Motoro, how could you
have known that it was
following you and
never straying?
 
 

WHEN THE FIRES REACH ME

 

(San Fernando Valley, during the summer brush fires of 2008)

 

I will breathe the black wind pummeling this planet;

 

I will be a kosmos revolving in a kosmos whose center is my chest, whose spiral

arms are mine, whose radiation is the spray of my breath, foam of my sperm, the scent of a faded rose whose center is the combustion of helium.

 

I will be the clacking wood, the blackening stucco; a suction-gust will funnel the sheets

fluttering like kerchiefs from a departing ocean liner; the ceiling will burst like a lung inhaling water; the television, the walls will rupture,

 

yet I will remain floating, supine, in abeyance,--

 

pouring against the flight of sparks & fumes

a dark fire will churn and crackle into the room, a fire

casting no light, yet scalding, combusting

my bones, rills of liquid fire, despite

 

the consumed timber and

zero gravity, despite

anoxia.

 

 

 

NIGHTMARE OF BAR LAS PLAYAS

 

I sit at the counter, a crushed High Life before me, and a piss-warm can in my fist.  I look to my left: the aging bar-maid is dressed in a black mini-skirt.  Her ungainly hips hump forward, as she pushes the mop.  A stench of ammonia sours the air.  Outside, a big-rig roars past, and its breaks squeal, puncturing the silence that resumes so that I hear my breathing, the occasional splash of the mop dipped into a bucket, and then the slap of the mop against the tiles. Sunlight squeaks through the iron screen-door, casting brown light against posters of 1980’s beer models.  Two workers, hunkered in a shadow, sit by the entrance.  They whisper, heads nearly touching, and erupt in laughter, before taking swigs from their bottles.  When I look to my right, I notice that the Bone Lord is seated on the neighboring stool.  Rather, when I look to my right I remember that he has been seated next to me, stiff and silent.  Before him, the dark bottle that he hasn’t touched.  His tinted sunglasses are reflected in the mirror above the racks cluttered with chips, peanuts and pork cracklings.  I noticed the vein on his temple that throbs slowly; it is a faint, jade color, and it extends from above his eye brow to where a hairline would start if he were not bald.  I stare at that vein and his profile, yet he doesn’t acknowledge me; the only movement made apart from the pulsing vein is a constant slow grinding of his jaw. It’s been days since I have spoken, and my voice cracks like an adolescent’s when I slur about the rusted steel in the junkyard behind the motel, the boy locked outside his mother’s room, the boy whom others ignore when they play soccer in the parking-lot; the shape of certain words, like that of chaparral, when I scrawl in my notebook; the pointed breasts and brooding demeanor of the waitress at the pupusería, and the men who badger her for her name, her day off; the pungency of ash in the air and the brushfires on the foothills. I pause… his ear has started to secrete a thread of blood.  Viscous and pinky-thick, it slowly winds out of his ear until it reaches the black leather of his jacket.  I look over my shoulder; the barmaid is nowhere to be seen, and the two men who were drinking have left, leaving several bottles on their corner table.  The Bone Lord continues grinding his jaw, saying nothing; I pull once on the thread, and it leaves a gelatinous and rosy stain on my thumb and forefinger.  I tug again until there is a slight resistance, and then the thread comes out along with its root: a walnut-sized bolus of gristle and fat. I bolt to my feet and it plops on the floor, a coil of blood and pulp.  When I look up, I see the Bone Lord’s jaw has opened.  A thick, slug-like appendage oozes from his open mouth.  Crimson and vein-webbed, it inches into the brown light of the bar.  As in some zombie slasher flick, I back away with my eye-balls peeled to their edges.  The appendage continues to throb its way out his mouth.  By the time I feel the door behind me, five, six inches have excreted from his slack jaw, yet the Bone Lord doesn’t move; the silence is excruciating. Outside, I pause, my left hand shaking.  It is now twilight; the Santa Ana winds have whiskered the air with ash, and I feel strangely vivid.            

 

 

 

GEOPHAGY

 

I fall asleep around dawn, and wake up past noon.  Dryness in my mouth, and a taste of dirt and carrion whiffed in a sluggish breeze.  I unpeel my lips and inhale dry heat.   It is only when I look in the mirror that I realize I have slept for days; my face has tightened over my skull, and my eyes are sunken, like the deep-set stare of an addict.  In the kitchenette, the bananas are brown, their sweet stink excessive and nauseating.  When I open the fridge, I wretch from the carton of leftover Chow-mein, the opened tin of malt liquor.  A hungering gnaws at my stomach, and I step outside, pass the burning parking-lot, and walk into the vacant lot behind the motel.  Stillness among the bushes; then, a dry rustle of lizard or mouse from sage-brush.   On my knees, I start scooping the dust, and shove a handful past my teeth, chewing the stray kernel or pip, savoring my filth. 

 

 

 

ARS POETICA

 

A pothole, flooded. The water trembles as delivery trucks lumber past; it splashes and is refilled with backwash from the gutter.  In the evening, a streetlight is mirrored in its jagged circle; the desert night-gusts are scalding.  When a man stares into it, after the train has thundered by, after the police-helicopter flickers overhead, and the streetlight has clicked, he tastes the ash in the Santa Ana winds, and hears the black flames crackling, the voice of an insomniac from behind his locked red door.   

 

 

 

A MURDER OF

 

I’m fed up with being a man.   We’re boxed in at the corner pupusería where no one eats the fried cassava or tortillas stuffed with pork rinds; instead, we drink beer, our paunches pregnant with ulcers, cirrhosis, and unpaid debts.  I look at them as they enter dressed in their work uniforms, eyes bleared from the previous night, hands blackened, callused from changing tires, setting cinder-blocks, washing dishes spotted with grease of steak dinners.  Besides the ten or twelve hours of eating shit, no one rinses his mouth with water.  The one waitress doesn’t look me in the eye, and she walks from table to table, setting down bottles, retrieving empty ones.   Brooding and dark, her breasts have swelled these past weeks; she seems disgusted with the whole affair.  The men laugh, offer to trim her bush, give her a lube-job, they praise her asset, so she retreats to the kitchen where the chat with her mother-in-law is an escape from the clicking billiard balls, the men bragging and gesticulating at the soccer match on the television.  I get up to piss and, teetering above the urinal, I stare at my prick as it spurts a warm gush; it’s nothing formidable, and I wonder what it would be like to have an aperture into the heat of me, to bleed or weigh the heaviness inside, while the men careen on their commute to minimum wages.   What would it be like to stuff the notepad into my apron and walk back into the kitchen? What would it be like to look another woman in the eye, far from the men drinking and discussing important trifles?   

 

 

 

ADVENT

 

Thundercloud crackles above the motel.  Crimson smoke roils.  We, the tenants of these asbestos cages, stand in the parking lot and stare at the apparition.  We cover our mouths, while children hop up and down shrieking, and a truck on the boulevard re-ends a police cruiser that has screeched to a stop.  Then a lull, as the portent dissipates; in such moments I’m kindest to myself, and forget my debts, insomnia, tedium of thinning hair.  Some tenants lose interest and walk back to televisions or beer; I’m last to realize it’s a mere cloud dissolving, salt into water. Yet an afterimage remains, like my fingerprints when I study the crabs crowded in the fish-tank at the Mariscos, see the claws which I presume are beckoning me, though I wouldn’t reach in, for fear of being pinched.

The Jivin' Ladybug- A Skewered Journal of the Arts
 
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