Under John Wayne’s Hat

Stalin and John Wayne play mancala and eat fish with each other as much as time allows, but they prefer to call the game Mangala, the eternal being of the Mande speakers in Southern Mali, Africa. They can’t personally remember if they were present at their own creation, but both unanimously agree that the stretching, tearing, and eventual consumption of membranes must be involved because the auditory and sensory effects of such an entrance are the most satisfying, depending on the accuracy of the current simulations. John Wayne moves a rock and comments, “Perhaps after Adam named his roving and non-roving environment, he had the honor of helping to remove the membranes to see if his names were right . . . uh . . . pardner.” “What is this thing you call Adam?” Stalin asks and eats a rock. Stalin and John Wayne never express their curiosity of creation tales in obvious ways, but when John Wayne calls Stalin The Duke and Stalin calls John Wayne Koba, they know that the interchangeability of their names implies oneness and that the familiarity of using nicknames produces vulnerability and the inevitability of more nicknames. Such oneness and vulnerability near a frying pan of frying fish leads Stalin and John Wayne to lovingly admit—through direct rock tweaking—that they are not afraid to know exactly how they or the fish began. Mangala is the word of choice for Stalin and John Wayne because this eternal being used an egg in the creation process and mancala rocks are the best eggs Stalin ever tasted. Mangala created life by placing seeds in an egg-womb until he had eight sets of twins who worked together to become innocent fish. They were harmonious brothers and sisters of glowing numbered scales, Mangala knew and was. The fish’s innocent potential soon turned into jealous, ugly ambition, perhaps in an effort to gain distance and distinction Mangala could and could not ever understand. Stalin and John Wayne are disappointed in the fish and agree to only think of creation in terms of the day Mangala created himself and his desire for others. Their game ends with Stalin’s stomach and colon full of rocks and fish, John Wayne’s stomach full of fish and colons, and their inevitable retreat to the couch that they rip of all its plastic covering, only to find they are right—it is Mangala just like their new nicknames, which are easy enough to distinguish. After several hours of contentment, they are hungry and sick of Mangala. The Cold War begins again like it always has, and when Americans see themselves under John Wayne’s hat,

it’s such a relief.


Watching Our Other Selves from Afar and Influencing Their Course of Action by Touching Each Other for the First Time Here

-From The First Days of Spring (1929) – Salvador Dalí

There we are. 

I dissolve my hands into a bucket
for you

until what’s left
looks like pinchers. 

You’re not alarmed. 

You know the thick
liquid is still connected to me and has feeling. 

I didn’t even consider
I could absorb the essence
of the bucket. 

The bucket’s been the witness
to many murders.

It likes to be filled with skeptics
and dismantled
wallpaper pasting machines.

It wonders how it can make its surface
feel like toast. 

I can survive as long as the bucket
isn’t moved too far from my body. 

I can’t stop the bucket
from being moved too far from my body.       

You squat to hold me up. 

The way your shirt wraps around you
without any buttons   
reminds me:

Are the crows taking away
and returning your Aztec
for my benefit?

Those boots must be projecting you. 

Two crickets reproduce
below the underage
flapper girl tattoo
on a non-resisting man’s
partially shaved head.

This excites you.

You bite the elastic band
holding my face,

you draw me closer with your legs
as if you don’t have fingers either. 

My drippings become tubers;
the framed baby wants to understand. 

Any second now a tuber could be stolen,
and I’d die,

but no one prepared me
for what would happen
when I stopped holding my knees,

Yes, yes
for you.     

You’re also the little girl
holding out her paper bag

Everyone says no,
and your shadow
reveals you’re holding nothing,

not even your arms. 

I make the monk ask you:
Why don’t people tabulate
every lack of profit
so the mark becomes one?    

Everyone else’s shadow is the suited man,
straddling the other suited man

who’s lying on top of a skeleton,

watching and wanting

and wanting
your every move. 


Thorns to Rescue Their Bodies

Today she ate water in the hose after he came and he want to ate water but she is girl so stop going to hose but he want to ate water so go to hose.  Now please God my mom and my dad is kiss and proud of him please.

Because they hear what is most fun they were dirty boy.  It sounded like “sop.”  Suddenly one of the girls knew blood in the bowl.  The way she looked as if she played “Salut d’Amour” for people.  If true, she had clap from everyone.  I want to swim in the bowl.  I want to read a book about bowls. 

In the white room I see her red apple growing in the bowl.  It is a little bit green.  He punches it.  It changes to the evil.  This is a strange apple.  I said he hits it.  It changes to his evil and the rainbow cider.  A mouse in the corner wants her apple.  The mouse is a rodent of food.  People is rodent too.  I won’t ever give my apple.  I chew cakes where I am, but I don’t put flour in the cakes.  If apples of people had thorns it would be to rescue their bodies.  I put the flour all over my body to hide.

Today my mom get sick.  My dad put a piece of meat into my mom’s mouth.  I was happy.  Even then I remember my baby fish is dead.  Dad gave it to adult fishes because dead fish can be food for adult fish.  Dead fish are six.  I don’t know why they are die.  I look at adult fish, and then I look at Mom’s sick mouth and Dad always, always putting something.   


Orbs Whose Collective Sum Signifies My Age

Think of everything that has lead to my seeing tadpoles eat strings of eggs from their mother in a captive breeding program. 

I want to touch my face over and over again.  To take you with me so we can rub ourselves with fungus and lie between cracks in rocks, waiting for smoke to emerge from a bottle. 

To finally get our wish.  To be that smoke.  

I sewed my sexual fantasies onto leaves (the fantasies that involve my scrambling to reinsert all the orbs spilling out from my chest—all the orbs whose collective sum signifies my age);

ripped them up, along with the fabric softener you pulled out from inside your sweater (only to find a bee); and scattered the pieces near every notable meteorite on display I could find. 

Now the mother in a captive breeding program has to use her hind legs to push away the tadpoles eating strings of her unfertilized eggs.  The tadpoles writhing in her reproductive foam need a chance at the eggs too. 

All I could think to do was tape a string of pearls onto the mouth of a Freud action figure, put it in a box labeled neurotic, and place it on your doorstep.          

You remind me of an alternative:  the ant infected with a fungus that drives it up to the highest point it can find so that when its head explodes, spores are disseminated to the widest extent.

I left a note in the box:  While looking for fresh produce boxes to stow away into, a chicken frog stepped in my trail of leaves and thread and brought back the disease to his species. 

When this trail touches you,
you will roll over enough for me to see your bare skin,

enough skin for me to squeeze a small drop of water onto,

to acquire your nervous system,

to weave it with fibers growing around us
that ask for nothing but our promise

to stop thinking of ourselves as human
in any way. 

When I call you a host,
stroke your chin for psychoactive venom,

search you out and collect you again,
only to release you,
only to worry about
and change your gender with pesticides

can you stop yourself from mounting
the resulting manifestation?

You write down my chemical signature so I won’t forget. 
It says: You come from outside. 

I feel myself kick. 


Inside a Hand Basket in the Burlesque Theater

As you may
already be aware,

the Burlesque Theater is upon us,
and the granite-encased monoliths of your muscular legs
drilled to the sides of the stage

are as tall
as you are

tall between them.  

They are
your legs after all,
and Victorian women know it,
and advanced
syphilis knows it,
and the shining temples of the man rubbing pistachios
on        his        suspenders
know it’s impossible to avoid the thought of steam beer
and a cast-iron stove to read by
whenever they are easily distracted. 

You have never been
more happier
to be
more astonished
that those are

and those are people too
who know your legs

more than two people of Moorish personages
peopled through twin Moroccan peepholes. 

Those               are                   your                 legs,

and all it took was a little foresight
to realize
you couldn’t stay
an Extravaganza

where performers only act
as if they’re acting,
they only think
to use French obstetrical atlases
for all kinds
of padding,

and they only use their hands and eyes
to convey the limits of one’s scope
at arm’s length.         

But you,
in your hand basket,

use your hands and eyes
as if you are signaling in
the great conversion

from stage lights

to sun

to lizard skin

able to keep what it needs from its past
to independently use
all of itself

until the crowd feels this potential
of crests and spines
as their own,

even in the dark.           

who are flanked by your
old legs
that all agree
are the only lines
you’ll ever need,

scream about marble statues
and how they should never come to life
because they’ll never enjoy it
unless they can have it

and your song is witchery
in aurora bands of sequestered dusk
for this night only
and tomorrow too.

But the big difference is
there is a purpose,

the mesmeric pull
of leg and leg and basket

commanding all,
seducing all,
until all comes together
in grand separateness,

and no pantomime had to translate
how it felt the first time
didn’t feel
outside yourself,

perfect and imperfect;

the crowd clapping singly

with the drollest hearts
and limbs
of leg.     

Copyright ©2010 Annie Christain, All rights reserved.