Landscape of a Vomiting Multitude
(Dusk at Coney Island)
The fat lady came first,
pulling out roots and moistening drumskins.
The fat lady
who turns dying octopuses inside out.
The fat lady, the moon's adversary,
was running through the streets and abandoned buildings
and leaving tiny pigeon skulls in the corners
and raising the furies of last centuries' feasts
and calling the bread demon through the sky's clean hills
and filtering a longing for light into subterranean halls.
The bone yards, of course, the bone yards
and the sorrow of kitchens buried in sand.
The dead, pheasants and apples of another time,
pushing into our throat.
Murmurs came from the jungle of vomit
with the empty women, with children of hot wax,
with fermented trees and tireless waiters
who serve platters of salt beneath harps of saliva.
There's no cure, my son, barf it up! There's no other way.
It's not the vomit of hussars on the tits of their whores,
nor the puke of cats that swallowed frogs by mistake.
It's the dead who scratch with clay hands
on flint doors where clouds and pastries rot.
The fat lady came first
with crowds from ships and taverns and parks.
Vomit was delicately shaking its drums
among some girls of blood
who were begging the moon for protection.
Oh fuck me!
The look on my face was me, but now it's not me,
that naked look trembling for alcohol
and launching incredible ships
through the anemones of the piers.
I protect myself with this look
that flows from waves where no dawn would go,
I, armless poet, lost
in the vomiting multitude,
with no effusive horse to shear
thick moss from my temples.
But the fat lady went first
and the crowd kept looking for the drug store
where the bitter tropics could be found.
Only when a flag went up and the first dogs came
did the entire city charge to the rails of the boardwalk.