Obscurity and Selfhood

- 1949-2016

Not far
from a college.
Nevertheless.
A man
living by himself

kept his fighting cocks in plain sight. Each had its own tether and
miniature shed and dish with embossed sobriquet. Their domestication
reserved for battle before the table. Gallus gallus domesticus. A young
male, a cockerel, my husband's patronymic before the adoption. Some hens
are disposed to poach another's egg. Once there were teeth. Given certain
conditions they could come back. If not a full set. Even now a breathing hole
has to be pipped for the offspring to break out. This is done with an egg tooth.
Not a true tooth. Love among the chickens involves a circle dance. He is
a wonderful dancer. It goes straight to her brain. Before and after they prefer
to wash off in dust. Ashes will work if no dust. If they aren't forced into shedding
one another's blood, they can live until their heart gives out.
The cock
the man
could not
resist
loving.
He withdrew
from
the ring.
Yet
relinquished.
To settle
an unforgiven
debt.

My question is this:
Would you describe yourself
as a wanderer, a friend of the court, amicus curiae, falsely construed as a snitch, a blue yodeler,
   an apostate, a lost cause, a bird in the house, a biter, a common blogger, a contender, a purse
   snatcher, a false witness, a palterer, a silkie, a backyarder, channeler
for malevolent spirits, girt in the loins, figure on a shard of black pottery, moderately active, a fog
   machine, a visionary miserabilist, a chook or a cuckold, a roundhead, a little seditious, a slow-wave
   sleeper, a dead mule, a gongorist, honey on the comb, half goat half god, a white throwback, crossed
   with a mongrel, a genesis, a retired fighting
cock,
a doll
named
Memphis.

More by C. D. Wright

Tours

A girl on the stairs listens to her father
Beat up her mother.
Doors bang.
She comes down in her nightgown.

The piano stands there in the dark 
Like a boy with an orchid.

She plays what she can
Then she turns the lamp on.

Her mother's music is spread out
On the floor like brochures.

She hears her father
Running through the leaves.

The last black key
She presses stays down, makes no sound
Someone putting their tongue where their tooth had been.

Personals

Some nights I sleep with my dress on. My teeth
are small and even. I don't get headaches.
Since 1971 or before, I have hunted a bench
where I could eat my pimento cheese in peace.
If this were Tennessee and across that river, Arkansas,
I'd meet you in West Memphis tonight. We could
have a big time. Danger, shoulder soft.
Do not lie or lean on me. I'm still trying to find a job
for which a simple machine isn't better suited.
I've seen people die of money. Look at Admiral Benbow. I wish
like certain fishes, we came equipped with light organs.
Which reminds me of a little known fact:
if we were going the speed of light, this dome
would be shrinking while we were gaining weight.
Isn't the road crooked and steep.
In this humidity, I make repairs by night. I'm not one
among millions who saw Monroe's face
in the moon. I go blank looking at that face.
If I could afford it I'd live in hotels. I won awards
in spelling and the Australian crawl. Long long ago.
Grandmother married a man named Ivan. The men called him
Eve. Stranger, to tell the truth, in dog years I am up there.

One With Others [Not the mental lethargy in which the days enveloped her]

       Not the mental lethargy in which the days enveloped her

       Nor the depleted breasts not the hand that never knew

       tenderness nor eyes that glistened

       Not the people dragging canvas bags

       through the ragged fields

       Not the high mean whine of mosquitoes

       Not another year of shoe-top cotton

       No more white buck shoes for Henry

       No peaches this year on the Ridge, and no other elevation

       around to coast another mile out of the tank

       No eel in L'Anguille

       Not the aphrodisiac of crossing over

       Not the hole in the muffler circling the house

       Not a shot of whiskey before a piece of bread

       Not to live anymore as a distended beast

       Not the lying-in again

       Not the suicide of the goldfish

       Not the father's D.T's

       Not the map of no-name islands in the river

       Not the car burning in the parking lot

       Not the sound but the shape of the sound

       Not the clouds rucked up over the clothesline

       The copperhead in the coleus

       Not the air hung with malathion

       Not the boomerang of bad feelings

       Not stacks of poetry, long-playing albums, the visions of Goya and friends

       Not to be resuscitated

       and absolutely no priests, up on her elbows, the priests confound you

and then they confound you again. They only come clear when you're on your

deathbed. We must speak by the card or equivocation will undo us.




       Look into the dark heart and you will see what the dark eats other than

your heart




       The world is not ineluctably finished




       though the watchfires have been doused




       more walls have come down




       more walls are being built




       Sound of the future, uncanny how close




       to the sound of the old




       At Daddy's Eyes




       "Pusherman" still on the jukebox




       Everybody's past redacted

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