I walked six days--a ghost in a ring of black woods, my stomach full of radiator fluid. & I saw John Berryman—the space his death had made of him.
I remember the faces of six pale men I thought were staring back at me—broken thoughts of wild stain glass hair shooting from their scalps like St Elmo’s fire—the collective mind of the 20th C.
But how could I trust this? I thought everything I thought could be viewed on a screen, on a TV bigger than life in the glitz of Time Square.
& that people could see all of my thoughts. & that I knew this despite what people told me to the contrary.
My visions were flaming red snails. My shadow was a girl’s shadow, 16 yrs old, & cast in a ball of darkness on the floor. But I was a man, this stain of ink on the sunrise of my couch.
& I realized a dark stain of water on a dry rock wasn’t a dark stain of water on a real rock at all. & that metaphors only confused the situation.
& when I saw my own name—Henry Flowers—on the side of a mail box, I grew agitated. It was all wrong—Watusi is my real name & nothing can stop me!
Once these little plaster moons adorned my good shoes—my uncle called them officious of me to wear. I was not a fascist. I walked in snow in them. I walked all summer in them with feet written like music the state couldn’t control. & no one told me it was forbidden. No one told me that holding onto the past, like someone with a grudge, would always prove pointless.
I was the boy in the white shirt pleading for his life. I specialized in deformed absolutes. I was reaching for my dad’s violin, one hand tied behind my back. I saw Warsaw kissing the grey water it called robin’s blood—& the gleam of death on the huge brass bell of the world & the way light fluttered in & out of the doomed kitchen windows of Antwerp.
& sitting in a blanket of white fog, death was something like the body & the mind of all the wrong words showing up at my school, telling me my father had died, & that my mother had sent them. It was like something smoldered in a bright field of memorized fish but I couldn’t remember what exactly.
& if I spoke—a boy fingered by shadows & walking a strange road… & if I reveled in the saw dust of a night covered in cypress, the dogs seemed monsters wheeling their giant heads around, licking the mad anal sex of my poems. They called me the boy with blue marrow. They called me kibble the dogs vomit up.
My voice was just a flowery grenade. I tossed it like my own name into a field of brilliant, red poppies—black dog turds aglow in the absurd blackness of the black things my art transforms. & people—drowsing in the narthex of an old church—half-sank in the dark film noir movies of my eyes. Incense still rises from their popcorn like a cry from my bed.