THE NIGHTMARE COLLECTOR

September 21, 2016

nightmare

Each night he calls you
for the leading role
in his gallery
of ancestral tableaus
that trails back
through the Pleistocene
to the red primeval.

From the endless slashes
in his voluminous greatcoat
you can feel the heat
of captured bodies
invade your rumpled bed
with delirium and fever,
you can smell a brassy
sediment of tears.

From the hollow blackness
of his flapping sleeves
you can hear the pulse
and thump of unborn shadows,
a dense hysteric fugue
winding up and down
the bones of your sleep.

The nightmare collector
waits on the landing
in the unlit hall
where the instruments
of ablation are arranged
on cold leather pallets,
where the dreamer’s
balustrade of terror
rushes across landscapes
of a darkening retina,
where snakes coil about
your arms and ankles
and draw you down
bodily into a forest
of bloodstained hair.

Bruce Boston

The Purpose of Ritual

September 21, 2016

moon

When you fled I disappeared
into the abscesses of my brain.
We are both impulsive humans
and perhaps my disappearance
was premature. To reappear
I had to grow younger. I began
consuming images of boys
at a very rapid speed, never
their bodies just reflections.
I distorted all the mirrors
in mucus, oil and blood.
When I say that I consumed
I do not mean that I ate the mirrors,
only that I stood beside the boys,
dowsed the glass and incanted.
I chanted you love me you love me
to 3000 boys but none said yes.
What does it mean to be so sick
with want that you create rituals
which lead nowhere? Only to be
human, I think, and less ok
than animals. I don’t want
to be human anymore
so I have covered the mirrors
in blankets. You returned to me
but never uncovered them.

Melissa Broder

Melissa Broder’s fourth collection of poetry is published by Tin House and titled LAST SEXT. Her previous collections are: SCARECRONE, MEAT HEART, WHEN YOU SAY ONE THING BUT MEAN YOUR MOTHER. She is also the author of the essay collection, SO SAD TODAY (Grand Central, March 2016)

weeping-willow

In her well-known poem, “Poetry,” Miss Moore begins, “I too, dislike it.” This line has been interpreted as ironic, as an attempt to disarm, or as evidence that she practices her art only half-seriously. Quite obviously, however, her reasoning is serious. She refers to a kind of poetry that is neither honest nor sincere but that has found fashionable approval by virtue of its very obscurity.

“Poetry” has had several incarnations. The last version, appearing in the Complete Poems of 1967, is four lines long, having been cut from a poem of thirty-eight lines that appeared in the Selected Poems of 1935 and the Collected Poems of 1951. This longer version, in turn, grew out of the original thirteen lines printed in Observations. The last revision was, I think, a mistake. For one thing, the poem of four lines is so brief that it invites misinterpretation. The words “dislike” and “contempt” overshadow the idea that poetry has also a place for the genuine and, without knowing the earlier versions, a reader might very well feel confused. What poetry is she referring to? All poetry? Some particular kind? It isn’t clear in the short version. In this case the concision itself results in a kind of obscurity.

The middle version is the one I like best. The thirteen lines in Observations are thin by comparison to the longer poem of 1935. The Observations version makes clear that Miss Moore is denigrating a particular kind of modern poetry in which intellectualization has led to incomprehensibility, but it does not, as the longer version does, seek to define what poetry ought to be. The longer 1935 version does this. It defines poems using Miss Moore’s well-known phrase “’imaginary gardens with real toads in them’” and poets as “’literalists of the imagination.’” Imagination is placed in opposition to intellection. The raw material for poetry abounds, it is everywhere, is anything, but it must be imaginatively grasped.

Imagination proceeds from a deeper source than intellection. When, in “Melanchthon,” Miss Moore speaks of the “beautiful element of unreason” underlying the poet’s tough hide, I think she is talking about the place where imagination grows. The “element” is genuine because it cannot be otherwise, its source mysterious, hidden under layers of the rational mind. Poetry, then, when it is genuine, is a collision of this private vision with the outside world. It is an imaginary garden full of real toads. This is thought that needs emphasis; I miss it in the four-line poem.

Perhaps Miss Moore felt that she was following her own advice on compression. One is reminded of the words “‘compression is the first grace of style’” that Miss Moore quotes from Democritus in her poem, “To a Snail.” “Contractility is a virtue” she says. What we find valuable in style is “the principle that is hid. The snail, because of its particular physical attributes, has its own “‘method of conclusions,’” its own “‘knowledge of principles’” just as the individual poet has a style determined by his own particularities determined especially by the hidden principle of his imagination. But in the final version of “Poetry” the virtue of compression has been carried too far. The hidden principle has been too well hidden.

Donald Hall
Marianne Moore: The Cage and the Animal

spell-casting

Take four ounces of the blood of a black dog, two ounces each of pig blood and brains, and one ounce of donkey brains. Mix all this together until well blended. When you give this medicine to someone in food or drink, he will hate you.

(Peedeel comment: I’m most certain he or she will hate you after consuming that little lot!)

Anon
Ghāyat al-Ḥakīm,
(The Goal of the Wise)

a stream of black curses…

September 21, 2016

hands-of-strangler

It took him ten minutes to choke the life out of the old crone. It would have been quicker if she hadn’t put up such a superhuman struggle; but then, he’d expected that of her. Witches don’t die without a fight.

When he placed his thumbs over her windpipe she immediately began to lash out, kicking at his shins until they were bruised black and bleeding, scratching at his neck and face with her long, scarlet fingernails, leaving a set of four deep gouges in each cheek, her legacy of hate tattooed indelibly on his skin. She’d have taken his eyes if he hadn’t bitten off both her thumbs in the fight.

Micawber, her cat, appeared at one point during the struggle, and for a moment Henry thought it would come to her aid. But it only hissed at him and vanished from sight.

In the end she was left with just her voice, but he knew from past experience that this was her most powerful weapon. She let out a stream of black curses, promising him vengeance from beyond the grave. But as her eyes rolled up into her head, and her face turned deathly white, he felt oddly calm. There was nothing she could threaten him with that would be worse than the lifetime of wretchedness she had already subjected him to. She had kept him under her malign spell for forty years and now it was going to be over. As she breathed her last, his eyes filled with tears – tears of physical and mental relief.

Then she went still.

He checked her pulse.

The witch was dead.

Lee Moan
The Witch is Dead

steps-in-snow

“Hello there!” he shouted.

Startling him, the shape suddenly started to run away from him, and he could tell it was a man. He knew that for certain as he caught the vague impressions of out-jutting arms and legs as the figure clumsily clambered across the snow.

“Wait!” Peter bellowed. “Don’t run away! I’m lost! Can you help me?”

But for all the good it did he might as well have cracked a whip at the man’s heels. Couldn’t he understand what he was shouting to him?

“Wait!” Peter called out again, but the cold seemed to splinter in his throat as he set off in pursuit, and he had to stop running to cough. He wiped tears from his eyes with the back of his hand. This was no good, he knew it. He couldn’t run in this stuff. He was exhausted.

David Riley
Terror on the moors