Monday, December 10, 2007

Poetry by Daniel Crocker

The Unclean
by Daniel Crocker

Hath there come upon man (ever)
any period of time in which he
was a thing unremembered.
The Koran


the night the earth howled
in birth
at the very fiery core
of pregnancy
i was alone

and the fire poured
from the sky
in long tongues

jeffry itched
a scab
an open wound
a pustule
or blotch

he was getting thin by then

the earth howled
i said
and twisted metal smoked

lord he was getting thin

and the flames roared
and the smoke ran like rivers of blood
chasing screams through the streets
where they were lost
in glass jars

momma used to stack
end on end
like bricks
full of pig's feet
brain of lamb
pickled in brine

and dear god was my boy thin

it was 1982
and the earth howled

it was 2001
and the earth howled

and dear god
there was death in the air


my lover comes to me
hands me a drink
whiskey and coke

her hands cold and wet
from beads of sweat
dead on the glass

she smiles and i'm lost somewhere
and i'm not exactly sure
how to get back
but it has something to do with a road
and a light

how are you feeling
on tv the world is ending
you need to flick your ash
on tv the wagons circle around a camp fire
it's winter
and the cowboys are soaking
blankets in death
you're going to burn yourself
on tv no man stands alone
and all i can think of
is what to wear to the bar tonight

i like to be watched
the hungry gaze of men
lust dripping from their mouths
like cancer on leather

there's a sense of power
in the tight body
between youth and middle-age

have you eaten today
on tv my ash falls to the floor
a still smoldering cherry
eats into the cheap fibers of carpet
and it smells somewhere between
burning hair and boiling flesh


jeffry the powder
isn't working

what are you talking about

the powder isn't working
i can still see them

even from there

sucking wounds

jeffry cries
he lost his job today
it's 1982
his dick hasn't been hard in months
and his asshole is raw from wiping

bring me a male without blemish
he says
and tries to laugh

pray with me
he ask

i light a cigarette
his dick hasn't been hard in months
on the television
there is a gnashing of teeth
jeffry touches my cheek
his flesh on fire
it's the new cancer
that's eating him
and jerry falwell

gawd hath unlaid
his protective hand
from sodom

the television

i said gawd
hath unlaid
his protective hand
from a modern day

he hath unlaid
his hand you see
and hell hath
broken forth
through fertile earth
through concrete
through glass
through steel
and gawd hath unlaid
his protective hand
dear gawd, son, you are thin
the make-up isn't healthy
and our lord hath unlaid
his protective hand
can't you see
and i have come across a vision
and it has been revealed unto me
that your dick has not been hard in months
and that your ass is hamburger meat
sizzling blood oozes
you see, boy, gawd hath unlaid
his protective hand
can you hear the snap of grease
that is fire, son


my mother used to
fix me hamburgers
two at a time
after a double shift
her eyes tired
were clots
she had nothing else for me

two hamburgers
every night religiously
no matter what
i had fixed myself for supper
i ate them
it was better than rabbit or squirrel
which i had also eaten
and which my grandmother had
cast as unclean

two hamburgers
a diet coke
it wasn't until i'd
learned the good use
of my two front fingers
that the lard had left me

are you ok
i wake up to static
the lingering smell of
my mother's neck
makes me hungry

and i lay my wife down
dick hard
fucking away
whatever it was
i'd seen on the television
sparkling on the television
before sleep

and i'm burning
where my hole is soft and wet and on fire
and somewhere inside
mr. bones is lost
and he isn't sure how to get back
but it has something to do with a light and a road


they took us down there as kids
and showed us where the dead bodies were found
a boy and a girl
decapitated and genitals mangled
somewhere between the ages of 14 and 17
no one could tell for sure
but chad swore
he could still see stains of blood
baked into the rock

this was in april
and still it was cold
and the mono-myth
just wasn't working anymore

this was after i'd sucked chad off
and he'd convinced himself
we were still sane
'cause we were young
and we were cousins

there's a panther in a zoo in a cage
and sometimes i can still taste him
thick as hamburger
and at church the smell of rotten
apples clung to the linen
draped red at the alter

what do we do when the metaphors fail
and the analogies beg us to leave them alone
and all those dead greeks are dead for good

momma my boy is thin
his sores are like mouths
hungry for flesh
his dick hasn't been hard in months
and his ass is raw hamburger meat

and there's this guy on television
you see

and the earth is howling
struck blind and dumb
by some fool on television

and the blood's still in the river
chad's there as well
his dick hard and his mind sane
and there's a panther in a cage
and there's lamb brains in a jar
dear god
i'd gone down to the river to pray

and the faceless dead
marched like wraiths out of the waters
away from the shores
and into the city to burn

the city

i have a friend
who writes me from there
not afraid to open his mail
he may come visit in april
if he can get out

i'm going to show him how to hunt
the power of a lithe body
in blue jeans
somewhere in missouri
where they continue to dance
chewing their lips
into blood
it's 1960
and the draft
has called him up

he had a brother in 'nam
who let him die
who let him die
who could have saved him
and who let him die
he had a brother in 'nam
who let him die

there's a dead man on the television
who has let him die
fuck metaphor
ronald reagan is on television
and he has let his brothers die


was baptized
7 or 8 times
as a kid
hoping it would eventually

oh death
there is a war a ragin'
oh death
there is a war

i was groomed
as the next family preacher
oh death
where the lilacs had fallen
where the oil had spilt
oh death
athen isn't coming home
and his touch won't find me
and the healing we'd prayed for
just won't come


dave and i walk into a bar
insert your own punch line here
the second guy ducked
the bartender said but you're a gorilla
the priest eats nun on fridays
after he's flossed his teeth with cock
you fuck her
to get to the other side
two wongs don't make a white
it's a start
you put a welfare check in the glove box
you role a nickel down the street
it stands for got aids yet
and the other guy said
i didn't know it was a smorgasbord
yippee eye aye cowboy

and the old guy at the bar
he says
yep, the old guy at the bar says
underneath his straw hat
he could have been my father
and he says
to his friends
he only has two teeth, you see
two rotten teeth
two black buck teeth
charred in smoke
and he says
he says to his buddies
niggers and faggots fellas
niggers and faggots
this town's bein' overrun
by niggers and faggots

and the other guy says
my god it's burning up in here
i'm burning up
it feels like my blood is boiling
turn off the tv and pray with me
my cock hasn't been hard in months
my wounds won't heal
and my ass is dripping mad cow disease
and he says kiss me
are you afraid
are my lips that scary
i was having this
it's hot in here
i remember my little brother
before he drowned
and this red ball he had
and how we used to bounce it
and dear god i was only going there to pray
outside next to the pool
and the cowboy says
no thanks, mam,
back home we like
the girls who sing soprano
one towel head says to the other towel head
you shall not eat that which is unclean
you should have seen how he laughed
when i'd pretend that balloon was something too big for me
that its weight had crushed me to the earth
and i'd only went down to the river to pray

did you ever eat squirrel, i asked
no, he answered
it taste like the dark meat of chicken after it's been left on the counter a few days
sounds yummy, he said he would try to make me laugh like that sometimes even after the disease had taken the better part of him
he'd take his limp lesioned dick and make it talk
death to the infidels
it would say
and he says
niggers and faggots brothers niggers and faggots
and gawd hath unlaid his hand

what did the faggot do after the nigger raped him
he turned the other cheek


it's 1957
my father is 16 years old
the earth has stopped to howl
god is dead
and dad's dropped out of school
to take care of my great-grandmother

he is not yet married
but flesh isn't new to him
his son has yet to die
america is strong
and a man needs nothing
but strong hands
to work

his cock bulges
against a faded blue
silhouette on his jeans
work is good
and the lay-off
won't come until
he's old with three children

i used to hunt rabbits with a stick
i'd follow their shit balls
and tracks
without a gun
i'd break their skulls with
the stick i'd found
take them home
covered in red snow
for momma
to skin and fry
a few stray rabbit hairs
popping maniacally in grease

it's like chicken
really cute chicken
that you'd broken open
with a stick

and i wondered
what was going into the jar

dad's nine years old
and he's at the river
there's a boy with him
and they'd never before kissed

their poles bending
under the moon
half-full and red
just above venus


a girl at school shows my daughter a newspaper
that reads invisible killer loose in america
she doesn't want to trick or treat this year
there's death in the air
decay in october
and my wife says you never know
what someone might put in the candy
and the television says
and the guy i've been having cyber-sex with says
stay away from the malls

there's a silent killer loose in america
i'd seen him
a shadow in the woods
when i was a boy
and i'd went down to the river to pray

they never found out who did it
but i had an idea
he was wearing a nixon mask
or something
and he was somebody's father
i'd seen when i was sleeping
and there was a crash
and the flames ate god
and the river was low
with draught


my father is dead
and my father's father
and my lover's smoking
malboro lights in the next room
with the television on
the flames are eating god
you see
you can turn down the volume
but the screams still come
you see
my dick hasn't been hard in months
snot is flowing a river from my nose
my eyes are the color of death
and dear god when did i get so thin

my daughters didn't trick or treat this year
and my wife left me when she found out
oh sister, let's go down
down in the river the pray


nobody's coming back
they were lost
drowned in flame
that won't rise again

they were brave
it is always brave to die
just ask them
you can hear them on the wind
through the trees
and on the dark undercurrent
of the river


i stopped to pick up a stone
smooth in my hand as flesh
damp and cool
it's where my father was found
i'd went to see the bodies
but they were gone
washed away
in dark waves of plastic
timmy said
they cut their stuff up, man
cut that guys dick up and that girls pussy out
left nothin' but black holes of nothin'
you could see up in 'em, man
and it was black
it was black and guts and stink


my father had fished there as a child
and his father had left him without a word
and never returned
of course you couldn't eat anything out of there now
too much junk in the water
but he'd stopped his family from going hungry more than once
with nothing but a ramshackle pole
he'd made himself

the last time i saw him
he was surrounded by flowers
his face was swollen as a catcher's mitt
his hair smelled of ash
his hands looked as if they'd been soaked in brine
his wedding ring was missing
but this was just in a dream i'd seen on television
dear god
this was just a dream
dear god
i only saw it in a dream

he called me yesterday
i wasn't home
and he didn't leave a message
but i can recognize his silence anywhere


could hardly speak
his eye sight gone
and all i wanted to do was touch him
but i was afraid
even his own mother was afraid
there were these people on television
it was 1984 and god was killing faggots
one red blood cell at a time
and jeffry had turned brown
like a fern in a fire
one white blood cell at a time
i'd gone hysterical
he'd gone blank
kiss me kiss me kiss me kiss me kiss me
i can't i just fuckin' can't all right
it was all i could do to keep from throwing him into the
goddamned river

it was an abomination
frankenstein's monster
the leper
on television
jack benny in drag
his wrist limp
it's hilarious
the audience can't control themselves

the river

my father had cut the throat
of his first deer there
the blood had spilled smooth onto the rock
he'd gutted it
from neck to nuts
and threw the intestines into the river
where they floated away
becoming part of the great nothing
he'd left the coat and head and testicles for the flies
they laid their babies in the soft down of its eyes
until the maggots burst from eyes to nose to mouth
the meat was taken home and eaten


i'd spent my first halloween as a dead deer
and last night we had a party
my house full of masks and strange scents
my wife had come as chrysanthemums
most had come as demons
or fun-house mirrors
and there i was
the flame of a candle
reflected a thousand thousand times
slobbering demons peering over my shoulder
growing short and fat
tall and thin
jeffry had come as a skeleton
six years after he had died
my father had come as a hunter
my mother had disappeared somewhere
in the pop of hamburger grease
and i knelt down to pray
dear jesus
i'd only gone to the river to pray
gawd hath unlaid his protective hand
i'd only gone to the river to pray oh death
gawd hath struck with fire
brothers let's go down to the river to pray
gawd hath smited and laughed
i'd only
went down
went down
jesus to the river to pray
to the river to pray

i was seven years old
my brother had a red ball
i'd been across the street with timmy conway
we'd found a dead snake
its scales once diamonds
oh death
had grown brown in the heat of the sun
oh death
we picked at its insides with sticks
my father had been down at the river
looking for my cousin and me
you boys better not be doing what i think you're doing
his dick hadn't been hard in months
my mother was making hamburgers
she'd burnt her wrist with grease
dear god her boy was thin

Author bio:

Daniel Crocker's books include Do Not Look Directly Into me, People Everyday and Other poems, and The Cornstalk Man. His work has appeared in a hundred or so zines, journals and the like.

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