Pig's Head Blues
There comes a break in the wall of secrecy
where the maggoty off-white of past pokes out
its head, a stain on the nation’s teeth.
It’s Mr. Minister’s gilt-rust tongue, his mid-life
wasted youth. It’s how I can’t be all about
the first or last straw, how I tell myself to eat
it up, stare them down, hard as a salt-pillar wife.
The future smoking like a signal. He made my eyes pop out,
my skin fluoresce, my body write itself into a punchline.
At first it made me beautiful, but I digress.
These days the cameras follow me round town,
drunk on disgrace. My husband lies and says it’s fine.
He says he’d never burn a fifty, never smoke dope
in a shuttered bathroom, never persecute. He says
I mustn’t confess to anything; it’s for the best, babe,
that they don’t find out. He’d never cut off all our
life support; he’d never ruin a restaurant with champagne.
A Map to Your Madness
Converse sneakers, red like a bloodstain
against grey gravel,
pace under the bridge.
Follow the handprints of wolves
in the bone dust to the vultures
on yawning car hoods.
Smell malice in the air like a sea breeze
speckled with the salt of sweat and the copper of blood.
Watch the freckled face of a rabid man
squirm with violence. Connect the dots
on your own face. In broken side view mirrors,
search for a map to your madness.
Trace the cracks until your fingertips bleed.
See nothing – only hear the squelch of your heart like a countdown.
Duh dah, duh dah, duh dah
after The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and Alcuin’s letter to Higbald of 793
First sighted from the chare, a prow
like a crozier rises from the sea.
A brother drops his honey, runs
to the chapterhouse.
On an island
like this, you watch them long
before landing. Watch them
joke with their brothers, warm up
their calves in the boats. These
are their weapons: broken-back
seax, hooked spears. You give
true report to the abbot: “armed
to the teeth.”
that boomed under plainchant;
a dragon dropped out of the sky;
famine. So omens give true report.
This is the beginning of a great
suffering, Alcuin in his wisdom
wrote. The nave’s fallen
and the sacristy gapes.
Among their plunder, gospels
they cannot read: looted
for leather, for looking precious.
In Northumbria’s wombs
homunculi of heathens
scream and kick their legs.
How the Lord’s people suffer...
Word cannot recreate.
First sighted on this island,
terror rises up from the north.