Distant Healing

Trigonometry of Healing

1

started this morning;

no, maybe last night,

my memory fails easily

when it comes to this

growing of the seed;

its sprout stabbing me,

who, happily, being blind

didn’t begin to feel

the long planted germs;

never suspected

till the first bloom

of nightmare strangulation

the loss of a limb

a belief

can be a shattering time;

so while waiting

for the pieces

flying off the handle

to smash against the wall

I raged

as the needlessness of it all

I’ve been longing

for a knife across the face,

now, suddenly here it is.

my very wish come true

watch your wishes well

for any one might come true

2

a factory of timid death

sends tip-toeing whisperers 

to my heaving bed,

like me, that think

that I am aware

of how there is

an end of sorts

to the longness

of this road

blood & veins

muscle & organs

skin & bones;

cogs in a tired carriage 

hurtling over a cliff

I am aware

if the time it takes

to devise confusion,

to separate give from take –

give me

take me

one is for sale

the other is for free

3

how to take the poison out

without amputating the limb

has become more of a problem

than the vile poison itself

still, there is no use

in calling for a doctor,

for even if he came

the limb would be in hiding;

as it keeps in hiding from me

the reasoning of the poisoners

4

found straw in my pocket,

it’s been a long time 

since anyone’s been that close;

I get the feeling

that I’m catching up

with my primitive sacrifices,

revelling in my artifices

where pagan dancers

celebrate being outside

the ruins of my past,

as pipers play blue tunes

I rolled about

in flesh-cut wheat

stuffing my pockets

with broken glass;

till it was late night

when the gleaming bastard’s song

hung hateful in the air

steaming in the lamplight;

“make another mistake,”

his choking voice sang

“the time is ripe

your grass is green”

5

taking the potency of fear

from their talk of forward

I think of backward suicide;

scarfing attention for silence

feeling silent containment

makes deeper wounds 

in the palms of my hands

which is better

their small circles

or my brutal ending?

6

now that I’ve invented

a balance for the mastery

of give & take;

I wonder how much it takes

to sooth the pain it gives

to mop the butcher’s floor?

cut out my heart!

cut out my eyes!

package them in plastic;

make the product pure

make the crying laugh

make the sun moon;

I am for sale!

buy me

buy me

abuse me

use me

try me

please don’t turn your back,

for I’ll slip away,

which is the lasting I want

7

slashing once,

down my chest

then again

across my ribs;

leaving a bleeding crucifix

exasperated with

nervous expectations

of the next snail slow blow

what next?

neck?

genitals?

his halting

bumblings

scalpel dropping

make me want to grab the knife

and direct the blade more correctly,

smooth over these jagged ends,

fold the skin over the stumps

so healing leaves neat scars

in obtuse triangles & stars 

where my feet done dangled

where my hands once clapped

he doesn’t want my advice

for he cuts by proxy

working in another room

where I have no say or sight,

besides his eyes perceive

much better than mine can

8

the butcher boy

poisons the meat

with his very touch;

he loves to feel

his hands know

more correctness 

than any others

seeing me ready, as last,

for finally being sold

while in the same motion

being whisked

out of his reach

he fanatically makes the rounds

of all my prime cutters,

smearing them

with grimy hands

9

the damage done,

knowing he has had his share,

I still feel he’s after more;

but I am safe

until we meet

face to face;

so spread me thin

as fast as you can

for I am for sale

but so unsure

Aug 73

You can credit T. S. Eliot for my love of long, meandering, numbered section poems. Here the section numbers included the degree sign after each  but WP editing suite finds that difficult to render & I’m too lazy to figure how to make it obey. Such is life. Such is the march of time too, so with some of these pieces, from nearly 50 years ago my memory is unclear.

I have a vague recollection of writing this as a single piece over the space of about a week. It, unlike some of my writing then, isn’t stitched together with various scraps. I can’t say if I wrote it in the order it appears here – though it does have definite progression. It deliberately references other poems in the book – for example ‘nightmare strangulation’ is a nod to the hangman; ‘straw in my pocket’ to Waltz.

I also play with cliché ‘flying of the handle’ ‘give & take’ ‘the damage done’ – recasting them in ironic contexts or leading them to unexpected conclusions. ‘pagan dancers’ is a reference to my paintings of the time (link) – also the dancer on the cover of the chapbook.

Reading this now I see it as another poem about coming out, about the confines of cultural butcher-boy definitions of gender, creativity, productivity. At the time I wrote this I wasn’t aware that ‘the seed’ was those various elements. Many lgbtq people create themselves from parts of the world around them – our sense of self is the result of our inner Dr. Frankenstein creating from fresh. Not that heterosexuals don’t have to do some of this but they have clearer role-models to work with. It was like being give ten model kits of various planes cars boats that had been opened up & dumped into one pile without instructions.

What parts of me have to be cut out to get to the core? I also sense this use of violence, of bloody butchery as a way to appear more masculine. Being a teenage poet is not as butch as being a teenage football star. 

It also alludes to the fact that I was a cutter. Wounds that no one could see but myself. A self who also had an awareness of his suicidal thinking, which was buried in this piece. I don’t recall anyone, who read this piece or who heard me perform it, ever asking me if I was serious. I guess they thought it was a part of the poet’s pose. Artifice as opposed to a serious mental issue. 

The last lines echo a favorite song if mine – ‘How can I be sure, in a world that constantly changes?’ Today I’m not afraid of being unsure – that’s one of the things that makes me human. 

I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via the paypal above along with where to send it. paypal.me/TOpoet 

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