Anselm Berrigan

The pursuit 

I answer horn first time
For weeks from can & say
"In the study with a leadpipe"
To Graham & ask him if he's feeling
Flexible.  I am feeling Shelley
& an outline. Red lines over black
On foots, red lines over white 
On hips. Torso equals Hollywood
Elena asked Wednesday
If I could be erotic in April when
Mortal anemones waggle in tanks
I went to Westchester
& brought back sixteen Logs
In a warm chamber 
Of my heart there is a foxhole 
Mom & Dad, it's two a.m.
Do you know where your children are?
Grading a paper doll, Orgasm 
Addict in ear. Sloth, 
Disjunction, & the local
Square-balled geek came by
On reindeers today to collect
A payment of intellect 
From my liver sausage
Sandwich. Eternal licentiousness?
Last night Willow & Tamarind
Communicated some pictures
Of exploding bikinis in Berkeley.
Willow said bootiful weeping
Silver I wore & who knew?
Charles' birthday brood-swings
Mean Bomb the Suburbs.
I wish I had some brandy
To counter the effects of my
Opium addiction. I wish William
Hadn't been so mean, and wrong
About me. I wish Shelley had
Stopped by. I wish Dorothy wasn't 
so offended by my figure. I wonder
Why people think I copped 
It all from the Germans. I put 
A bird in my eye in my poem
After the burning milk boiled
My leg. I want you autonomy
In the conservatory with a candlestick
Where I will be just and mild 
and free and wise. 


Kissy kiss

Yes'm sayeth the firs
Busting outta the lathe

Never no more
The deep dark dungeon


Pictures for Private Devotion

What I thought was a headless bird was really a bodyless leg

The other day I killed ten thousand Philistines with the jawbone of a daffodil

There's no room in my life for a sign

I stepped inside a flying saucer & abducted an alien

It was a tedious experience

Left an opinion in another man's shirt that night

The voices I hear politely make space for each other

I took off the west & put on the slightly less west

Keeping a rendevouz with the passout

Mom shuts her eyes & sees pterodactyls

Neither keen naturalist nor general reader am I fine fringes & velvety  pile

There is always an animal giving grateful thanks

For my own strength would never suffice unaided by strength out of dark

A rock, I mean, has content

Burning the mouth splendidly

I had never before seen blood in his hands except in the teeming seas

Wherever I go a host of wild & not so wild life tags on behind

A few degrees of tilt to make the view pretty 

The forest owlet seems to have disappeared from the habitat where it had always been rare

Three hundred bodies from the commune in the artificial lake

My confidants include the falling apart coat & the untied boot

With respect & love I got lost leaving your apartment

Suddenly lizards had feathers & I left my room & happily nothing

Fight the bar downstairs

To sneeze in a vacuum & fuck off at work

A pixel with meaning

Is it a mirage I want to reject or is something too painfully happening

A present of baffled weather & theoretical jealousy

I read all their works, I read all yours too

There will never be any more suspicion than there is now

I'll never have to breathe in you more than I do now

He woke up happy having never really slept

& borrowed a couple thou from the first available human

As a theory I was always on the verge

As a cheeseburger I was prepared

I began in a failed society

According to several private polls 

I can occasionally unscrew something

This poem is a substitute for my arms

Texas never whispers

Accused by the landlord of taking unruly showers 

The ATM machine asked "can you continue?" 

Yes you can because it's the only thing to do 

As insignificant a dissolution as I could cherish

I apologize for being so mean in your dream

I heard voice-mail messages in my dream

Sweet pea speak to me

Then lies my house upon my nose 

There's a softness to refusing all of you in yours & me in mine

My a purty outhouse

If it's explainable it can't be a miracle but I can't explain anything so everything's a miracle

I blew the president I didn't inhale

Never again the horseface, never again the dew

Success is the lowest art

There are cameras in the branches but the trees are the dealers

Roommates with balloon

What I admired
Was what happened
On their way 
To the end:  Pop!


A true account of talking to myself on the #4 line 

                 Was I born or just made available?

                           My mother's poems answer that question in the strict sense

                                 but I say both, some choices
                                                                 are better unmade; dip
           brain from sink
                                                                                         standing under a skyway
                                                                        which don't move at all
                                                        like a subway, sucker

                                                                                                    You buy this?
                                                                                                                    For coherence?
                                                                                                     For convention?
        All my life has gathered
                         to reach this point

                                                                & this one                         & this one too

Lines torn out & placed
                                                       further into the work....

                           "Well this is fascinating."  Myself's here. 
                                                                            As if this ride wasn't dull enough.

                           "Shouldn't you be talking to me & not yourself?
                                  This posture is gratuitous why don't you call this     poem something else? Or get some medication
                                                      something else or get some medication
                                                            if you can't get it together. You were born
                                                you're available fabulous so's anyone else
                                                                                                  &  we've work to do."


"This autobiographic drivel you've started
           in your own special sweetheart's 
                    idiom you dope 
                              you vain child."

                                                                                    Stop it. Idiom's 
                                                                                               a magazine we worked on
                                                                                             in San Francisco.
                                                                                                  It looks nice but

                                                                          "Who sees it who cares?
                                                         It's there isn't it?"

                                                                      Now don't you feel better?"

        Yeah, thanks.

                                      "Good. Here, try this:

                                                            I was born, moved on, I could never be
                                                                        quiet so I clamped shut like a god
                                                  when the millions arrived
                                                                in our Lower East Side salon:
                                                                             the roaches the poets the crackpots
                                                the genius pillheads of the running mouth...."

 That was'nt my life.

                                                           "It was happening 
                                                                   you were inside all of it
                                                                         chirping with your brother
                                                            like birds in a two-bunk nest. 
                                                                    You might have washed
                                                                           your face more often.
                                                                                How do you write
                                                                    your life these days?"

        Can I read you something from my journal?


                                  Treachery rebounds, gaze at your jungle;
                                  are we jungles? You're getting very creepy
                                  I guess you're creepy in those invisible
                                  corners. Jack's plan runneth into freeze,
                                  whoever reigned over a word? The rally
                                  grounds shiver. Difficult inside trying
                                  to be true.

    "Will that turn out? I like the last line....'difficult inside trying to be true'..."

               I stole that one.

                        "Of course. From who?"

       You know.

               "I hear Kevin, Bernadette, Alice, Jack & some rock singer

                                                                                in there somewhere

               but not much you."

                                 I didn't feel very unique that day.

"It might be interesting, you're no Mayakovsky tho'."

                            Of course not.
             & you're no sun.


                                                       Must we despise one another?

          "Yes. I'm over it, for now."

                                                                                    Good. We have to transfer 
                                                                                            so the poem's finished.
         "Alas, let us transfer.
                   Let's merge too."

                                                          Are you sure? We haven't totally reconciled
                                                                     & merging now might seem like unity
                                                                             which I'm generally against.

                               "You can use some unity, so can I. 
                                         We'll split later as you well know
                                                  & this poem deserves a bit of artifice.
                                               Other than your lazy sense of fashion.
                                         Plus the L is likely to be crowded so there'll be
                                           a need for space."

        Fine, let's go. I don't want to miss this stop, gentrified as it might be. 

"I tell you what, I need to go uptown & meet Greg. You go home & I'll meet you later."

                                        Just as well. I'll type up the poem. Bring home dinner.

"Serve yourself tonight." 

Exit self.
Exit me.

   "Now you're just being silly."



   Ode to the paranoid

                                                                                          No one is talking about you