Historic Flaws

I am going to the mountains
where the alternating universe of autumn
descends over you at an erotic squat. Out of that blank
and meaningless Play-Doh of my psychic flesh
I am moving on. I am a pupil of fading antiquity.
Sprawled across the table, in a lament about healthcare
and the ineptitude of The System.
Nothing burns quite like The System. It comes at you
when you ask for help, displaying its super-talons
around a clutch of arrows, saying No.

“What deeds could man ever have done
if he had not been enveloped in the dust-cloud
of the unhistorical?” Nietzsche asks this morning
from a small pamphlet on my lap, issued in 1949
in New York City, which I am leaving now,
like a wife from her distant husband
who will not stop to ask her why she is weeping
while she slices apart his silk ties on the floor of the closet.
 

More by Bianca Stone

Making Apple Sauce with My Dead Grandmother

I dig her up and plop her down in a wicker chair.
She’s going to make apple sauce and I’m going to get drunk. 
She’s cutting worms out of the small green apples from the back yard 
and I’m opening up a bottle. It erects like a tower 
in the city of my mouth.

The way she makes apple sauce it has ragged 
strips of skin and spreads thickly over toast.
It’s infamous; eating it is as close to God as I’m going to get,
but I don’t tell her. There’s a dishtowel wrapped around her head
to keep her jaw from falling slack—

Everything hurts. 
But I don’t tell her that either. I have to stand at the callbox
and see what words I can squeeze in. I’m getting worried.
If I dig her up and put her down in the wicker chair
I’d better be ready for the rest of the family 

to make a fuss. I better bring her back right. 
The whole house smells of cinnamon and dust. 
We don’t speak. She’s piling the worms up in a bowl
and throwing them back into the yard. 

I Saw the Devil with His Needlework

The air was like a bullet made out of silk
I saw him at the curb
on old upholstery  
saw him with his counted-thread-point
and tent-stitch, bent over an embroidery hoop
the trees lifted their drunk limbs and leaves
while the evening
looked through a succession of windows
into other people’s rooms
the evening was a powerful gun
the evening had an Uzi
broad evening
in a neighborhood full of translucent teens
sucking on one another’s backpacks
filling up the trains with their heat
their intelligence pouring out into the street, sobbing—
I saw the devil with his sewing threads
making something special for me
and it wasn’t thunder
it was perfect clouds
I saw the devil with his stitching techniques
textiles and shadow
saw his hands that never stopped
the clean amp of his forehead
tight intervals of flowers in his teeth
bright as an earing in the drain
and I made a force field with the wilderness in my face
and a fortune-teller’s neon sign
that glowed a painted light onto the street
and I said his name
and his crimes
three times against a curse
and found a coin on the ground and read the tiny date
and blessed a bag of weed
and a wild bore
I left my bones and my scars
and went out
like a poltergeist
totally empty

Practicing Vigilance

Every day try and write down one terrible thing.
One terrible thing—I’m filled with them,
carry each one
like an organ locked in a Coleman cooler.

Add a little color for emphasis.

I say my father’s surname to a migration of crows.
His name like a figure jumping out of an aerodynamic object

through a burning hoop
into a glass of still water.

 

*

 

My history is comprised of the inappropriate.
I look into the mirror and see disturbed human qualities,

my face like grass in a summer essay
like a senator stepping into an empty room

to hate his speech,

the almost symmetrical science of it.

Trying to feel something.
Covering rented light with a curtain.

 

*

 

Today make nothing happen very slowly.

I can see through the atmosphere’s silk chemise

        all the way to the faint constellation in the southern sky
and it’s making me want to shake my head

and ask a question
to the clairvoyant 8-Ball in my hands—ask

if we are among those left in a dark forest

        with our flare guns pointed at the ground

or among those loved by our parents’ parents
on the paternal side we never see.

Hell If I know, the 8-Ball says
drunk in its dark blue alcohol.

 

*

 

Winter breathed out all language.
My father appeared
and began taking my hair
one follicle at a time.
He worked his way to the neural tissue
threw himself down
in a tantrum.
I listen attentively to the wind
and cannot compute this.
I sell my letter to the sentimentalists
leaving behind a trail of fuck you
crumbs the largest of birds cannot tear.

 

*

 

Despite the parables I keep close
I won’t be mythologized by my father
who moves like an incoherent, boozing breeze
through my life’s antechambers.
I won’t admire the west vestibule of the Frick with him
not with this roast on a spit in my chest
the mind like a database of rage-expressions
the mind like a bottle of loose glitter—

so shadowy, my people, you begin
to see the blueprints in all things
        until you can’t hold a book without
blowing on it to see if it will scatter
or laying on a bed, waiting to fall through
into the particle-laden apartment below—
to each his own until it ruins pleasure.

 

*

 

Where is the rain
when I am feeling this
reckless?

I went to a doctor and she said
There’s a little you in there who feels
hideous—

the little me fell
like a grand piano into my lap

 

*

 

Visualize a knock-knock joke with yourself
in a white noise somewhere
on the Upper West Side
a box of Kleenex in your hand.

memory swam through the grotesque
with its spoon paddle.

My dreams always fell flat.

The doctor said:
Start with finding out where your hands go
when you say your father’s name.

 

*

 

I say his name and I can see him.
He squats in the corner computing Zeno’s paradox.
He fills another glass and pukes,

starts in again about the illusion of motion—

If I’m coming toward you on the street
I will never reach you, he raves.
I’ll go half way and there will be another half and another half and another half.

He stands in infinite points on the distance
assuring with his ancient terrible glee
that I am going to go out and get a drink with him.

Deep within some cell
the  nucleus grows unstable

 

*

 

I used to put a miniature rosebush 
in the ground each year
to counteract my squalor.
Don’t tell me that definition of madness,
doing the same thing over again etcetera.
The definition of madness
is a certain enthusiasm, then there has
to be another person there
to not share in it—who is oppressed by it
who can only stare into it.
Tell it to the bluebird rustling over my head.
Tell it to a satellite orbiting in its delusion of being a moon.

I’m coaxing the black bull out of my mouth
with a red flag and a beer. I’m constructing
out of my faulty genes,
my last sentence, my last thing
which addresses the dilemma obliquely:

we will perceive our own pain in others.
And we will know if we are capable of loving them.

Related Poems

Our Bed Is Also Green

Please speak to meonly of the present
            or if you must            bring up the past
bring up only thatwhich you and I
            don't share. I know            this is a selfish
thing to ask. Yes, as Ihave often
            remarked, shore lunch            at hanging rock
was lovely. Yourhair and mine
            stayed put. Later on            we didn't, as we
do now, pull it fromeach other's clothes
            as if for final proof            that we've been
sleeping witheach other. In the glorious
            picnics of the past            we simply knew
such things. The rockupon which
            we sat, ran beneath            the lake, and was
the same rock wewere both looking
            over to the other            side at. I almost
felt, believe me,as if we were
            two people. Person,            I nearly could
have said, hold on.Instead, I used
            the name we had            agreed upon. Not
your fault. A nameis useful, it helps
            with the blankness            I am sometimes
feeling in regardsto you. I apologize
            for saying this            out loud. You are not
the blanknessI am speaking
            of. Plug your thought            or daydream
into me, and theyor I will often
            fail to light. You are            beginning to see
what I mean aboutthe past, how I,
            despite my facility            with pliers, and eye
for detail, may notbe suitable. What was
            your name? I am            not kidding. What comes
will run us throughfrom the front, we
            pull our way            down its length
if only to see, at lastwhat has ahold
            of the spear-grip.            Therefore, the future,
as a topic, is sadlyalso out. Instead, let's
            cast the deep side            of the weedbed
together. The lakeis black, like slate
            we scrape across            with paddles toward
the weedtops,sticking up, like alien
            flags, above            the invisible
settlements, the castleyou've dropped
            your hooks            inside of. I love
how destructiveyou are with the fishes,
            so go ahead            and bring your war
against them, Ramona,against the duck,
            against time,            against any things
that swim. Our fiber-glass canoe is of
            burnt orange;            our shapely hooks
of shining gold;our giant rock, also
            somewhere in the lake            beneath us, is
the bottom, towardwhich the minnow,
            lip-hooked, dives            after the lead,
its weight a thingthe minnow seems
            to follow, as if            we sent it dropping
both for what we hadto give away and still
            we didn't want            the lake to have.