BARD OF THE BURNT-OVER DISTRICT...
Poet Th. Metzger has lived his entire life in the Burnt Over District of Western New York State. He is the author of
three novels, Big Gurl, Shock Totem, and
Drowning in Fire; three works of nonfiction:Blood and Volts: Edison, Tesla and the Electric Chair; The Birth of Heroin; and Select Strange and Sacred Sites: the Ziggurat Guide to Western New York; and one book of short fiction and poetry: This is Your Final Warning. (Photo: Th. Metzger at monument commemorating the birth of Spiritualism.)
HYDROGEN SLEEP AND SPEED. A Verse Tale of Rommel, Egypt, Angry Gods, Dr. Caligari and Amphetamines by Th. METZGER. From the author of the startling novel Shock Totem, and underground classic poems like "Devil in a Dead Man's Underwear" comes what promises to be the weirdest book ever published by The Poet's Press (excepting perhaps Hakim Bey's landmark chapbook Chaos). This riveting poem cycle mines little-known aspects of World War II history into a melange of African invasions, angry Egyptian gods, rampant Mormon warriors, and the lord of sleepwalkers, Dr. Caligari, presiding over the Nazi obsession with not sleeping, ever, until the ultimate triumph (hence, the advent of mass-produced amphetamines). Brett Rutherford has illustrated this book with digital-art montages from The Egyptian Book of the Dead, Mormon histories, silent film stills and other historical sources (even Zeppelins bombing American truck stops). Published April 2011. ISBN 0-922558-57-4. 6 x 9, paperback, $16.95. Or download the PDF ebook for $4.99.
Her womb is not for human offspring
but for bringing bright jewels to fruition
a secret purse, an alembic
where germ plasm is converted
to pearls and quaint teardrops
a hollow hole full of wet glitter
ripening in her inner darkness.
Chalcedony, agate, jasper and carnelian
emerald and lapis lazuli.
Her mouth is not for mere girl prattling
for songs in praise of idiot love
for trading gossip or praying to no one
Her lips are for holding secrets
the upper gateway
whence breath comes in and goes out
whence the soul-stiff, divine Ka
can, at the proper moment
be released to the world.
Her eyes are not for seeing
but to be seen
cold and black
inky deep, shining with lower light.
Her eyes are not doorways
beacons, nor emblems of anything
but to be seen
by other, truer, eyes.
Her hands are not for touching
nor to be touched
nor for keys of a piano
flowers to be arranged, or even
to comb her copper-sheen hair
but simply to rest there
painted with the light of a nameless star.
Steamed prongs and glossy red talons
refined by fiery aesthetics.
The trace of the beast and showgirl glitz.
The old hint of primitive.
Horns jutting through the perfect coif
high heels, the ghost of a goat foot.
Cloven hoof dainty as a stiletto
as she stamps on his throat
and leaves the double-mark.
The royal crimson squeeze
swollen up like an artery.
Ah yes — Miss Throbbing Aorta
yes! — Miss Turgid Jugular.
Blood fattened, she tastes the air
with glistering tongue
with flickering inguinal whipette.
Tight wire spangles catch the spotlights.
Main attraction at the Circus of Obscenity
and Hovering Mutant Love.
Caged heat and caged meat
high-wire rope dancer
casts off shadows
casts off gloves and stockings
her too-red, crotch-tight playsuit
sleek scarlet satin.
Demonette at the launderette
clean infernal aerial girleen.
Bring forth the soldering iron
lurid as a Florida orange.
Touch it to her lips
for a sweet jet of pain
and instant blister.
She tastes the rosin leaking
from the core of the soft solder coil.
Flux to promote metallic fusion.
Flux to scour the surfaces
making naked, making free
of dirt and oxides
pure as fire.
There is something old in her face.
Not old like a housewife who’s had too many kids too fast.
Not old like a grandmother
who spent her last ten years full of speed
and downs, courtesy of her brother, the drug company rep.
No, she is old like Bonnie Parker, who killed ten men
with a Thompson submachine gun.
She is old like Emily Dickinson, self-imprisoned in her cobweb tower.
Or Susan B. Anthony, thin-lipped and gray-haired
forever denied the vote and the bride-bed.
Or Edgar Allan Poe’s childwife, dying of consumption.
Or Frances Maria Cowper, who wrote these words:
So comforted and so sustained with dark events I strove
And found them rightly understood, all messengers of love.
With silent and submissive awe adored the chast’ning God
revered the terrors of his law and humbly kissed the rod.
She is probably not even thirty years old yet
but seems twice that age
or three times, five times
old as brass, or ditch weeds rattling in the October wind
old as the swaybacked skeleton of a chicken house
outside of Seven Stars, PA.
Old as the Quakeress who hid seven black men in her corn crib
while slave-catchers ransacked her house
barns and shed and went away
swearing they’d be back with dogs.
Or the full moon ringed with all the colors of a week-old bruise.
Or old as Lady Macbeth, rubbing at her hands
to expunge the figments of blood.
Or even the Queen of Sheba, Jezebel or Lilith herself
damned to nowhere.
“Yeah, sure, I killt him,” she said.
She pronounced “killt” with a T
though later on her English is pretty close to perfect.
“I killt him with a claw hammer and a cold chisel
and I’m not ashamed or afraid to say it.”
The blessed voyeur
the greasy little man, genuflects
and kneels before
her secret keyhole.
A litany of questions
Where? With whom?
How could that possibly be?
What did it feel like?
She remains indecipherable
her code uncracked.
Cloaked, embedded, shrouded.
She eats nothing today
other than cold toast, watery tea
a few almonds stale in their parti-colored
Pink. Baby blue. Lavender.
Vermillion. Amber. Incarnadine.
Celedon. Auburn. Glacuous.
“What kind of candy is this?
What kind of medicine?
Poison? Does my voyeur
want me dead? Or spread?”
Or only dissected
on the table? “Please, a little farther apart.”
Pulled back and pinned
like quaking beetle wings.
When it’s over, what does he find?
The ghost of spermatozoa. Evidence of the night
sea journey through the X-ray channel.
Viewer, do indeed adjust your dials
bring the image closer, clearer.
Yes, there it is: Say ahh, please, and open wide.
Behold: the hole in her heart.
A square hole for a square peg
for the carnival savant who guesses her age
then drives the spike right in
ringing her bell with his sledge-blow.
Bulging eyes and muscles, hammer and the chime
the red strobing prize-light. The kewpie doll
grinning like a neon idiot
the pretty little thing.
O shining ovum
O greasy little seminarian
O voyeur, one eye glued to the secret hole
O yes, this is her body.
Broken for you.
Read more Th. Metzger online:
Shock Totem and Buried Alive, from Invisible Books