Charles Farrell   © 2010 All Rights Reserved

Ars Poetica As Butoh

I have been pretending with tools
of comb, of bath, to appear
here. In the world.
Have been diligently
shoring the personal arctic
of my gracious husk.
I have presented.

            I can sit in here, donít doubt it.
            I can sit in here without telling a story.
            I can uncustodian myself from my own museum.

I offered (palm up, head down)
a drink from my corn-fed, cut throat
(it was only a letter opener, it was in front of you,
it was not violent, it was for artís sake)
as if it was a spring.
But I had to paint the life on.
The black lilies ringing my neck:
arranged silk, not rooted
and flush with candor.

            They were arranged by the one who is speaking now.
            I would like her to be silent.
            Someone under the brown bag of her voice may be in there.

Whatís urgent is to slip out of your brain-house
and walk yourself out of yourself.

            I want to give something honest.
            (Is it possible. Is risk essential.)
            To reach inside the box
            in a box in a box of psyche
            and excise something new.

I could say
            I now see a blade of grass
            like it was under a microscope.
            Corridors of green water.

            That forgetting the sunís habit of setting
            makes night a gold scrim, hunting.

            That night is full of eyes and only eyes.
            Every moment a scrap. Unlinked.
            That story is a coward.

It is. I see how I wanted my heart
to be a headlight. Like a child.
Wanted everybody corralled to safety.

Now: about-face into the deep end.
I admit making the wild a rigorous catalogue
I could navigate. I admit it guts the worth.

There is no wheel to steer with
on paper or otherwise
that does not cheat.

Only the pedal. Pressed in.



Mother, what nests in your throat?
Mother, a rat. Your fist: a treble clef.

Strike me again off the high chair.
Father, your beard

is dull with sorrow.
You are all gristle.

We play fetch and catís cradle.
My hunger, insistent as an alarm.

Our pantry, jarred from end to end.
In them: moths, or,

less tender, sidewinder.
The afterlife is about

culling the luminous
from our lived silence.

When we go, we go in tandem.
Have left written instructions.

When our breath secedes
for better residence, split

our ribs with bolt cutters
for the handfuls of pearls

that will spill from our bodies.

Turned, with spit,

over swallowed particulates.
Turned on the lathe of the heart.


Laurel Bastian
Copyright © 2010  

Laurel Bastian has work in Margie, Cream City Review, Anderbo, Nimrod and other publications, and is the 2010-2011 recipient of the Halls Emerging Artist Fellowship from the Wisconsin Institute of Creative Writing. She runs a creative writing program in a menís correctional facility near Madison, Wisconsin.

Table of Contents            Next Poem            Guidelines