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In the Jaws of the Mastiff a Bright Bone

... so that the world and space seemed to be the mirror one of the other both minutely storied in hieroglyphs and ideograms, and each of them could equally well be a sign: a calcareous concretion on basalt, a ridge raised by the wind on the coagulated sand of the desert, the arrangement of the eyes in the feathers of the peacock...

            —Italo Calvino, Cosmicomics (trans. William Weaver)


* * *


Everyone's Mobilized
Rebecca Wolff


Everyone's invited! "If your whirlpool
has ceased to pull its weight,
it is enough to enter the Grand Park
and reclaim a louche point
on its perimeter. You know
it is circular and there is no corner,
hence this cannot be a story
of redemption or deep failure."
A blood-letting, by any
stretch of the imagination.

The brunt—the thrust—as though a character,
three dimensional as a caramel
reclaimed a mobile horse off of a left-
over carousel.

Indulge the horse: nostrils flared above a mouth that
sneers without rancor, only with fervor and the pulling bit.
Above it all we have rolling eyes, stationary intent,
inside on the outside, something
finally fully present in the moment,
however wooden, however painted.


      * * *


Lamb, Willow: An Arch Dolefulness Has Taken Me This Far
Rebecca Wolff


If you like Chance
and you think you might live forever
listen: They say death comes to us all.
They say: Tuesday Death comes to everybody.

Then if you really think about it,
it starts to seem unlikely,

dust the most forgiving
of all elements. Rinsed clean, I am, I say, through
no particular effort.

Once more I am in the right place but with the wrong feelings.
Festival of mysteries, Carnival of Absolute Purchasing Power.

Damp-earth smell rises up
from the rigid enclosure,
terraced zone of eternal rest. I brought myself here
for one whole day; I bought an all-day
pass. Flash-bulb pops off in the exclusive crypt:

you said you wanted to see . . .

Here is a machine that kills
cancer. By liquefying
cells and freezing them and then cracking the bad cells
into a million pieces and vacuuming them up with a tiny
nozzle. It's so effective, we are all
living long lives.

You made your living as a nurse in the old country.
Only the knowledge that I had done it before

allowed me to think that I could possibly
do it again. The demystification of meantime
into a magic circle—it is, essentially,
mine: my job to make it smarter, a dog
and puppy show. Illimitless

deep pathos of the infant cosmology;
amusement park of abbreviation.
More important the unlimited freefall
in the spot you bury your demon:
it goes down,
while you grow up, and last the centuries
as a lamb or willow

Lamb or willow,
wherever you go,

fear
the living and the dead
inertial and nocturnal
energies a winding shroud

(I was born
with a yellow brain
and cannot make up stories)

it can be as short as you want it
it can be as long as you want it.
That's not your temperature, that's
a homemade contaminant.

Spacious Sity of Eternal Rest
of rectangular shape wherein I will find

coagulate.

Rinsed clean, I am, I say, and
it hardly matters

Spring, Summer, Winter

From the land, the water
from the water, the land

instrument to medium in the meantime

stuck out here in the devastation in the forest
in the middle of fucking nowhere
between landmass and incontinence

camp and derangement, the more song-like
the further we row
from our figmented shore


      * * *


Life of Sorts
Rebecca Wolff


Stopping under the speaking tree

tracing the lines of my own face
with well-lubricated fingertips

I am not now
nor ever have I been

free with myself,
and you know why that is.

If I could only learn to make the perfect skirt
I would never work again.

My own line. "To what do you attribute
your success?" Talent and genius.

A talent for genius: crows paired up in the black tree
lift off metonymically,

two feathers ride an invincible,
blooded draft. My life

as an activist
begins.


      * * *


Devil Dog
Rebecca Wolff


It remains a good source
of information. No more than six
to my no-more-than four, she thought
she could scare me
with a surprise-face, a mouth
open and full of snack-cake
gnashed into crumbs and creme,
our class pet in the jaws of a mastiff.

                    *

And now it's what makes me think
I can get inside
his brain—he has
a dream exploring
the warm relationship that exists
between the paid
dominatrix and her willing slave; with what fondness
she inflicts pain on familiar globes.
With what affection she inspects
his pallid fingernails, finds them wanting
in some previously agreed-upon fashion.

There is a smorgasbord
awaiting her—she is fresh
from her exertions. A side-board
laid with heavy potables,
portables. She steals
a silver bowl. She has shoved it
beneath some leather
on her leather-clad person.

                    *


Dog or devil? Ecstatically
dead by the road-side stationed
at a pylon, maw open wide, full of
frothy gray matter, stuff of inside, shocked
into coming out.




She hid it in her face
face turned away
where we played,
seated side-by-side on the cold
radiator. When I leapt up in nightmare
there would be marks left behind.


                    *


A fetishistic appreciation of what's inside.
Toes oppressing leather soft
as a baby's bottom...

      makes we wish to introduce
      a foreign object
      in a new spirit: devotion—and let
      the skin grow over in a new direction.
      Perversion—a project


...and if the shoe fits
you will most likely be too busy
with your construct, after that point.
A parlor trick, miming
humiliation. Once more you've caught me
recalling something banal,
awesome in its simplicity,
and relevant universally.
And there you are, dear friend of my youth,
dead beside me.

 





Issue No. 15 Copyright © 2001 The Transcendental Friend. All rights revert to the authors upon publication.