The Jivin' Ladybug

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J.J. Blickstein

Poem in search of a levee


Black bone with a magic tension

Strips sound from a dream as if

Anything uttered would eliminate

What the eyes covet as a presence.

Nothing by mouth in a nighttime city

In the shape of an ear

Water appears as aggression

Covering the dream with a fine,

Fine mist.


        A bed too small for lovers

The lack of color lays you down

In a notion of beauty as alms for erasure.

Permanent red in the subtext,

That love calls out as an arrow

From a haunted tree birthing darkness

As an animal with no skin—

Nothing goes to it but you follow

Keeping all your pieces from static,

To bridge the nine songs

To the horses painted all over the body.


Fire for a diamond, a storm in the sun,

A city becomes a moon with the shadow of a man

Scars up and down the horizon

Straddling the edges for a common myth—

Disease in an iron cord

The rain will never end

A bird as a mask pecking at the little ribs

For a home.






Rat springs from a corpse as a god with a fortune of little vices and gestures as small as rice. A dream made of gold is submersed in milk as a blessing. Rat dances on a pool of honey playing a little flute with a dirty song for the intellect to thread a needle with the body as a red prayer. Rat feeds on darkness with lost language and a blind image until death passes through as a shadow without its memory because there is too much color and celebration for it to be part of the economy. No place to hide, the body becomes an orchard to feed thy neighbors with a crown of desire and a feminine noun with a coup of tiny black seeds as wise as a lover. A private assassin sleeps for gravity when you steal the veil between lifetimes and drink that water as a mythological feat with an unlimited body capturing the primal echo in the fingertips to share with anything that wants it and spirals inward until it burns the sand right to where the bridge to the belly kneels. A fly floats as a satellite to blemish paradise.




I love you with my Ford


                                                            for Jen


I love you stretched out over the hood of the car.

Freedom with hard bones and small magic drawn on the skin,

You lay down in a dream, face cubed with a narrow shadow

As if you were under water, skin blushing against the lily—I am

The summer with no place to live. Blue nape and all that percussion

Designed for organs that don’t yet exist live in a blue addiction to

Speed where that red engine is a prisoner to appetites with a short,

Short future. I held your throat tight to a muse in the radio—

White noise as a pill against all that stimuli dropping pennies into a well

Of black water and oil. It’s a junkyard pulling the blood from the lips;

It’s just like drowning. But the belly is warm and contracts its arsenal

With a fire of little maladies. There is no way to be quiet enough

So we move faster into things to do, separating the self into tidy ideas

With their widows prone and hair as long as violence. Eating a fine meal

Without hands, winking at a cave inside of a bottle as an end

To context, I keep pulling off your clothes to hear that horse run

Across your shadow in a blur of pigment. Pure water in an excited mind

Failing to attain anything supernatural outside of decay, you scream

“Go faster!” until something breaks and I’ve never seen you happier.






                                                            for Thomas Bernhard


In the park two people engage in a conversation beyond either’s innate capabilitiesa realm where there is nothing to sell or purchase, therefore all that is at stake is who to persecute.  At first the dumber man attacks the pigeons and blames them for spreading disease. He canes at them with such vigor that his colleague becomes jealous of his fatigue. A few people gawk and then go about their way, although one man takes pictures as if he were gathering evidence. The other man, with no theater left in which to empty himself, attacks a boy chasing a squirrel. He hits the boy for making too much noise; he hits him again for chasing the animal. They sit next to each other quietly, but not for a long time. Both agree that the city is a failure, but there is no better place to go.


Schopenhauer said "all music is entirely independent also of the phenomenal world, ignores it altogether, and could to a certain extent exist if there were no world at all."


Led into a room to empty in order to be led into an empty room; It’s all borrowed, one betrayal after another, so sing-a-long until distinction of anything plausible rests alone from the melody. Say “I can no longer recognize myself.” So little to say and so much to ask, one gets weak producing an ending where ambition tries to get ahead as a word outside of mere function and stupidity but the past is right where it belongs, dysfunctional, distorted ambiguous, lost, not just a lie but an error… It gets bigger when left alone.




Black crown


The primary and most beautiful of Nature's qualities is motion, which agitates her at all times, but this motion is simply a perpetual consequence of crimes, she conserves it by means of crimes only.
 Marquis de Sade


Roaches march a side of beef across the street. Rain as fine as a hooker’s moan, jackdaws, and grackles deciding the orders for departure as memoir for stain and war. Love in one hand death in the other, dying to shred emptiness into a black crown or a cloth as vulnerable and infinite as the impossible. Tatters and voters and strands of hair for a feast—a knife made of hair, one made of sand, one made of grass, one a vice of water. And then there is the red skin for a dancer as sin of fire, all those virtues to separate a bone from the invisible, but it’s all just prayer from a happy desire, a tongue across a flute carved from a feminine bone as if it were a star or diamond plumed and pulled out the sky for dark weather. One song to connect all life to a flicker in a shadow, great power on its knees as a lover, the tongue in and out of the hush like fleas in a fire. One has to follow smoke to where fire never follows. Wake up in a wing or on a fingertip, blood for an echo with no origin, a flutter for a lullaby drones for a homily and wanes for capture.








                                                for Max Beckmann                                     



A rape that springs from inside the mechanisms of a watch,

A man composed of earth with a natural crown pulls her open,

Her shoes a prison where he is barefoot and indecipherable,

Long afternoon with fingers as long as birth, thighs thick

In the brown stockings, he removes only what is necessary as

Darkness creeps in from the left but she can’t close her eyes

And in turn the head transforms into a little girl. Highlight

The world with little bits of red as grain inside the longing,

Inside the echo of resistance where a hierarchy of gestures

Fails at the little shoes. Somehow, there is nothing wrong

With the world, a vice for every room, a street for blood, street

For pretending, for sin, for violation in paint without words,

Plants bleed in a still life with action to an oracle of lust.

No water for the clean clothes, you have to take your time

As it’s all theater for silence. The earth king all about that tame

Skin becomes a symbol when attacking her breast one sketch

At a time. Perfume inside a vault covered with plaster lit up by

Tunnel light moves the shadows like a moth in a chemical twitter.

Bend when you talk to the paper. Tigers on your backdrop,

Rock for a bed, more red inside, some decorative linen gets torn,

Opens a spiritual insight where there are no straight lines,

Nature wins in a minor stain and words fault equality,

Memory after memory, a dream inside the little mouth,

Call it war or a little creek where a bottle falls from a cloud

In a fairytale and breaks over and over again...

No appetite in a stomach full of gold. All but the color is deaf.



Ashes and Pause


Beckett was a fraud.


No style.

Know nothing.

No nourishment.

No company. No tenants. No money.

No obligation. No art. No mention. No hero.

No No.


No defense from shadow as an ally

By calling a bomb darkness or Blake

Or an impulse

Soot as imprint and blood

You shit on the floor

Because it takes your mumbling

Causeway to a cracked tooth

When you wander or sleep in an agenda

That door opening and closing in the dark

Without fingers or wind

Again and again

Anger in light

Scratched record in the dance music

Old voice in acetate

Scratched dissolution

…A knife… A knife… A knife…

A butcher in the radius

An attack by a ghost whose entire body is also a fraud

Can become anything it wants to

When its skin comes off

Written in the language of bread as if it were a bed

Gathering evil as a shimmer in the static—


You were upset long before meeting Joyce.


Inappropriate laughter beneath the floor

A little tremor with a sailboat

And a clean wound

Read the history backwards

As an unfamiliar culture

Until it is interior in pieces

Back before embracing failure and sketch

To where Dublin was impervious

And could only be attacked by its preservation.


Tripwire in the imaginary sand with contempt

Breaking all those bones in a lion

As if it were a metaphor inside ambition


No hero. No woman could wait that long.

No way back. Say goodbye.

Perfect tits

Cannibal in a mirage in Braille

Erasing one bullet at time

As a prayer to a target

Ashes in what takes too long to escape a mouth

Small coffin with big nails

It’s all mist longing for magic



Goya’s Dog


When there is nothing left to bury, just before hunger sets in to exaggerate the animal into more than it should be, the head appears, as a target, to crush the faith in nature’s indifference—all that awe (a simple fortress against process) and breath is shoved back into the mouth as a hard bruise on the verge of dust to arouse a sense of humor more cruel than inquisition, erasure, possession, the clumsy heart like a fool in a rampage, or the desire to cling to representation because of a failure of imagination to liberate a culture from its authenticity. A dog is not humble humanity, lonely in all its filth, but disease without friendship combing a battlefield for its own echo where language builds a dream in a future that cannot be attended, a dream where endurance maintains a map of everything vulnerable so that it can continue to exist. Curiosity before and after defeat the sky is also a prisoner when there is no sleep to name it or innocent mind to set it on fire.





A wound that smells like a dead dog commits endurance to a bed in three worlds. Understanding and its little infidelities like a mural in the common speech carves the bones into tiny horses as messengers for a spirit world—moving awkwardly in the breath of the dream in the ground—it’s not death but it is the future, too deep to be a mistake when the soul is cut into pieces as smaller treasures or pulled into black clouds as long as reality to counsel abstraction, darkness and will. A remarkable definition of fatality in a middle world as outlaw with no opposition, anticipating something infinite in being vulnerable but the skin is still anger about being interrogated and banished and wants more than the thin meat on the leftovers.






Rub it off

on the edge of the table

& like a child imagine it

falling from a great height

as if into a canyon

like a lonely cartoon.


You call this unity?

Empty as an old tin can—

Mom & the moon had big shoulders

Oh the effect of war on Mom.


Naked in a room with static

in black and white with a laugh track

& dancers outside of the field of vision

the moon comes closer

& there’s nothing to see

But a wake in translation.


Three dogs asleep inside of something

obsolete waiting to feed on something

alien and un-witnessed.  Nothing

falling from the sky any time soon

so stop praying. Nature disappears

inside of all the cheap talk & copyright

so say goodbye to weather.


I’m not looking for anyone

in particular, just someone

to fill with all the stuff I don’t want

—I do my own stunts.


Tell a lie but tell it well.


Thunder is just an idea

ringing a bell twice

to beat a horse dead

until the light comes as messenger

after the fact.



The Suicide of Dorothy Hale, 1938-1939. Oil on masonite with decorated wooden frame.


                                                                        for Frida Kahlo



The angel was the first lie to be erased. A portrait for mommy, and all that shame where the clouds swarm out of the mouths of the living as money and art use anything beautiful to feed what is glorious in vanity or truth. Of course it’s murder, a woman keeps dying over and over as if the paint never dried; Dust all over the privilege that gives nothing back except to itself—Art can never lie. Daylight forbidden in a yellow corsage, the blood all over the street and the frame is imaginary as she was dead long before the fall. Frida in an empty room like rain in a cold country with a monkey in her breath—a drunken ghost charging at those black eyes like a bull with the heart of the common people. Dorothy without Kansas in the form of a feather wrought from cocaine looks back into 16th floor wondering what kind of revenge she could take on her friends if she had had more talent; so she jumps again; Celebrity itself a form of suicide. Frida, always an opportunist, also paints ascension and a weapon of revolution in a black dress, (the one Noguchi gifted,) but there is no where to go as a broke socialite, so the soul is imprisoned in a portrait of a body with nothing left inside. Money has no eyes, and pretending to be justice, licks its fingers before taking family away first, so a woman can die without memories while helping to hide the perfection of an era, protecting dropped names from falling, with her, into the decadence of their afterlife. Commission in a long draw of a cigarette the smoke moves across New York like a showgirl without shackles. O, the first time is for love, but neither of you could recover…What is success? Mortmain hiding in philanthropy as if it were a career, consumption without end trying to remain intact as if Superman could really fly—Did you fall for love or because you were too greedy to be ordinary? 13, 8, 5, 3, 2, 1, 1, Golden zero—Dead three times, her foot casting a shadow over her own name, for symmetry.



                                                                                    To be defined under the foot of man will never happen to you but you look back twice from two different dreams, to increase the unnatural speed—grateful for the warning—you let her rest in the borderland for judgment.



Dream Monk eats the Middle Ages or

One hand for each Harlem. One heart for Nellie.                       for J.


                                                                                                “We have two kids, my wife and myself."



Nellie with me in the future we etched with two chairs and a bed surrounded by all the corrections inflicted upon melody and the imaginary beasts in the notes where hesitation is uneven in order to consider the repercussions in an intelligent pause. Come with me, Nellie.


Music, well dressed and as dark as the universe, Saturn discovers your face from a special vantage point where it folds space with a suitable but infected harmony with its human sense of play informed by a melody with a cartoon riot and too much reality and pain to be less important that the sun;


The sounds from the street attacking the building in which the piano lives, like villagers   with torches, to get to you because you begged it to, as an act of mercy, to die in an embarrassment of riches, a sailor lost forever in the sea, invention being more than any courage could contain. Hold my hand forever, Nellie.


Disfigurement you can dance to until a rare chord drops its cane and staggers down the stairs with all that astonishment and awe upon realizing what its been living with all that time is suddenly forced to switch bodies and relive its urgency with another face and another tempo in the same song until the maker, satisfied with the development of its character, ceases to believe in anything again; It’s a stickup in the eighth bar, a love song for a sunrise.


O rhythm, hard fists, hard face, big heart, a special ring and a magic hat to make it all universal, the air screams when you assault the keys as anesthesia—prelude to a sunset with footprints as constellations of you and her, every lifespan simultaneous in the lynx you wear as a robe, until you forget your own name entrusted to the rhythm section hauling that weird light you pulled in from that door no one ever entered, remains unknown and mysterious as the blues.



By the hair, the moon in the skin


                                                                        for Hans Bellmer


Dirty little doll with no capacity to erase hypnosis is bound by haunted rope and dirtied in a black field on the edge of turning red for a sunrise of broken glass and weeping bones, creeps where the skin flickers as map—it’s a universe, dangerous with a chilly myth in wet tension envious of true silence. A black pool with a silver chalk bound by little vices as a vehicle for something held together by sketch, scratches, pins, blood and smoke is too pragmatic to be sophisticated and too primal to be ignorant, makes you reconsider your memories as they always mean more later. An approximate rose opens at night, delicate fetus and final as the metal bones in torn paper—beauty is only what you want it to be and demands that you do things to it and for it to invent a dragon as a perfect little torso rearranging subtlety as something to be taken by force, with the things you can’t know, as a devotion to correspondence and substance. Shackles by the hair, the moon in the skin, she splits my animal until everybody wakes up more porous, in knots.



Girl with a Death-Mask, 1938. Oil on Metal.


                                                                        for Frida Kahlo



Little girl, little girl,

Bone and sugar and stone

Little girl, little girl,

Mountains powdered

Into dead skin—

Flour for bread,

Little girl, little girl,

Four years old,

A little brown dumpling

For a death-mask

With a sweet tooth,


And blood

On his tongue—

A village disappears,

One at time,

In a sugar skull.


Yellow petals

Not yet violated

By the tiny fingers

Heckles the bones

That must be broken

Into dirt for calumny—

The dead wet with liquor and bloodlust

Argue against the horizon

Stretching language into a long dagger with an invisible mirror

Carving a mesquite stump

Into a tiger’s head

With an appetite as precious as gold.


Little girl, little girl,

Of course she’s uneasy,

Bare feet, dirty as bronze

In a burial swamp

Say a prayer for a hammer and nail

When all that envy turns the clouds

Into mustard gas and emerald—

O, she understands,

The gold tooth in dream with no entrance,

A short sentence,

A little verb

With one subject

Clawing her real face for all the tomorrows,

Impeccable and impatient as an orphan face

Kissed by too many lovers—


Fade it all into desert.


La Casa Azul


                                                                for Frida Kahlo


Your father exhausted himself into your mother and you were born. The blue house is there and the dirt at the foot of the door from the street pregnant with headache, heartache and bone. There is nothing special about 1907, or any other year, or the bullets, or the wind. Nothing special about being born, or polio, rage, or people learning to crawl after learning to walk, or the monkeys, drunk on fermented fruit, in the trees above the raw sewage from the market spilling into the jungle.


The bus collided with the streetcar, and every bone in your body, in ’25, ending the possibility of becoming anything like your mother, your sisters, a woman, or your name. You were invented, again, from meaninglessness, from collective memory where we fall down and gain enormous power by understanding, not expiration, but insignificance.


It’s hot. The bed is wet. A crow’s shadow across your lips makes them part and there is nothing in your mouth but thirst and a number of days in the shape of a strangled tongue. Incredulous, you open and close your eyes and find no angel, no mercy, no ghost, just your body screaming and twisted without your consent, terrified, peaceful, and committed, you becoming your own family in a village with only one season, where everyone looks just like you, and you embrace yourself because no one else can. Eventually, you hear your sister calling your name, because she does not know what to do, so you smile and she says something stupid. You say “Yes,” and she dresses you like a doll and you begin.


What is there left to become when you are forced to be conscious and terribly human with pure will and no possibility or desire for the simple life?— A nation, an idea, a politic or a function as pure as lightning, a mother, a knife, a lie? Art is born from subtraction.


You listen to the water in the mirror and keep painting yourself but there is nothing in the mirror but props, ashes and heat. It’s funny, I didn’t find or see anything there either, just the sad gifts of everything that put us here in the first place—stop the music, here comes the wind.





A different war

lovely wither


where quilted wheels

are beasts pausing


nostrils pawing the air

to record the grapes

the romans left to wilt in france



the friction is

when the hat moves through the air


lands like a 2 x 4 in the water

you land simultaneous

fall to the ground


no one is there but the camera

the lovely contusion

and the skull behind the ear


denying the grass its desire to absorb

and the landscape its contrast


you throw yourself to the ground

because you can get up


distance isn’t in the equation

everything’s born in the exhale


the minotaur sleeps miniature

in your ear


you reach for the hat

ridiculous in the field

the field contains the camera

and nothing else


inside you throw stones

at the water

to diminish the horizon

because everything moves

here we are again

without soldiers

or people

to begin again


gravity is a breast

she’s got no milk

but she’s got milk

you want to touch her


you’ve outgrown your clothing

you voice synchronicity

to the dilating excrement that is between stars

named before you were

by no one

no words—


erotic the wood floats


nothing falls from above

but the sleep

the waters rise

in the dream

where everything is numbered

and belongs to the past


there is no need for appliances

nothing is made


there is no sleep

nothing rests


you draw her to you

there are no habits


beasts hunt

animals love

chemical release in the blood

moths move to the light


you put a nail in the wood

lovely environment    floating


undressing again

you call her to you

you fall right into her bed




                        for J.


Bellmer’s Paris torsos in your mind like the galaxy they were meant to invert—

riddle of light, a plague of stars in the half empty room where you stretch

out your skin to covet the tan map you inherited—


There’s no one left in the underworld

no wolf to slaughter the moon

& the absence of the voice in the dark

has become a fly in the mirror—

a rose made of bone

the insects gnawing at the door to your light


I want to pummel your flesh—the light in your sex,

to pull the feathers from the angel,

to demean us, to dampen that drum in the womb,

to wound & take down that language in your mouth

spitting matchsticks at the empire of surrender in the floating world


I want you to exist

to wrestle my sweat, my night

to lift your tongue from the soil & the damaged clock

to shit out the gassed butterfly in the holocaust


to scream at the terror in the imagination until the snow turns black—

to fuck you until we pause creation to observe—

& here the corpses & impossible names are fatigued into ghost, into water,

into sublime love & the skeletal frailty where we are at last alone & bloated 

with the immense & disobedient nothingness, crawling like a snake the alleys, corridors, & puddles for rats & cats & mice.


I want you to stop analyzing what is torn—

to abandon implication, its culture, its cities,

to open the scabbed delta, to seduce vanishing & the sugared ants—


bruise my mouth, open me


to the humanity we have not yet become & the fire-pit beneath your breast



still life with young girl, oil on wood  (1942)


                                    after Balthus



young girl draws a curtain back exposing the room to what was already witnessed

still life as cautionary ghost

of fetish & culture

apples (pretty bait)

as artificial a signifier as a garden or description

cannot be eaten or torn

just like her

or the cut bread with the dull blade

a half glass of white wine makes a trinity


the image is a prison

the color of tobacco & champagne

her face a plague of attenuation

she is theft

rape of knowledge

wraps her sleeper with an enormous bandage the size of departure

& music


the dream is between her legs


she pulls the curtain away perpetual

awkward in the posture

the hands force you to imagine the shoes you know are beyond the plane


her little breath falls like a solar system

onto the offering

she contains her appetite in order to keep her autonomy

to avoid the cruelty in her mouth

what she acknowledges becomes part of her hammer & hypnosis

the carcass falling away from the memory


she counts backward from 10 to 0

as if it were a game

but there is nowhere to go

except erasure


her gaze circles definition like humidity

passing over & over the peculiar sliver through which one passes from perfection

to stain

it’s the adolescent genius

where there is no wilt in a dream

only rouge & bloom

with its inheritance of clothing, of fleeting & affectation

embracing all her nether and ontology with the curl of the open petal

affection & habit an experimental forest with a crisis

& fondle

girl as covet

of premonition

erotic moth

Timaeus & spring

she is a repetition


filament & bridle

her future:

an erasure of the maker & his longing

 (the egg in the intent)

& the staged magnetics

to be accomplished

to become funnel, syllable, echo, legume

& every daughter

without stutter, soot or entrance

an envelope full of dust





I mispronounce everything with authority. Radio comforts with the punctuated talk of California fires burning down the dry hills, flames moving horizontal as if led by their own gravity; the war, the other war, its financiers, the casualties, doubt. It’s almost soothing, this campaign against evolution, imagination, change; a catalog of errors with its own religion. This anger toward life that we are born into; this jealousy of the intangible that animates us; this need to damage the donor for its generosity and the gift itself as if its water were not enough. There are names we are forbidden to pronounce, to produce, that would shred a mouth, that bring us to the awful sleep, to dream, to fire, when we abandon them. I cut my hair from time to time to ignore them all. The red leaves fall as if embers from an enormous fire, dictates my age and what must be forgotten; a climate in me deepens, a perfect red. It’s no longer restlessness that scars but stillness.


Crows and turkeys litter the woods with asymmetry, their sounds cut across my skin with thick black ink as if I were a crude map, or a vice; coyotes paw the wet road.  My son is small in his bed, screams out the names of colors that disturb his night: first green, then blue. I imagine a small red cloud falling out of his mouth. His body is a trigger. He sleeps for me.

I build things in myself from ash where the wind is terribly strong¾faces, vacant towns¾nothing pleads to speak. She is bleeding in her sleep, her scent: blood and cinnamon, elderberry, lavender, earth¾warm on me as the moon and its math crawls up my feet, blunt like a spoon, across the solar system of the bloated orange fruit of the miniature Panamanian tree in the other room, where I bend time when alone, where I can’t hurt them, and empty myself of everything but this.

The Jivin' Ladybug- A Skewered Journal of the Arts
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