Clefts of the rock, p.1
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       Clefts of the Rock, p.1

           Fowlpox Press
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Clefts of the Rock

  Clefts of the Rock

  Nathaniel S. Rounds

  Fowlpox Press

  ©MMXII Nathaniel S. Rounds

  All Rights Reserved

  ISBN: 978-0-9879561-1-8


  One inflatable globe plugging a tug boat’s hole

  And some apple cider vinegar to kill fleas the dog brought home

  And a red telephone for calling your therapist’s therapist

  Portrait Meets Background

  Mother of blue, Russia leather

  With a silphium seed in her middle

  And notes to self as henna tattoos

  Escaped the tarantula telegraphist

  And his street car strut

  Periwinkle sea shells marking the pages

  Of her memory in a lamp black smoke’s

  Diminution of her engagement with the everyday

  Picture plates of tranquil scenes

  Jarred from their wall by trains and oil refinery

  Explosions of fire mirrored in septic sea

  Fingers searching fingers for comfort


  When we were in special ed

  We listened to The Doors

  When we were in special ed

  We codified The Doors

  This was a minute deconstruction and obfuscation

  Of the guy who wore his hair like a cheap dirty wig

  And who

  Sang in a satirically dour tone over poetic ashes

  Like a Catskills singer gone into 2 a.m. daze

  Trying to scare away the summer regulars

  Who just wanted to hang onto to dance time

  And this note-for-note breakdown of worn-out tape

  Paused and repeated into time without end

  Like a bicycle wheel that comes free from its fork

  And dares to roll beyond the horizon line

  Would start at lunch hour and leak into shower room laughter

  But it was a shared meal for the mind and heart

  And even the kids with the crash helmets got it

  And they would close their eyes and nod their amen

  Rain on Rain

  For the good Phil

  (You know who you are)

  (This being

  A stochastic psychobiography of a village of free stinkers

  Condensed into two prototypes)

  So in the movie

  Gabino Ezeiza Pastilla

  Aka E-man

  Born in East Harlem and

  Self-appointed king of the Saldana Enterprises mailroom

  Has a thing about blue-eyed girls

  Only it seems platonic or idyllic

  He likes to paint their likenesses on silk neckties

  And gives them to their fathers

  He also has atypical bronchitis

  Which manifests itself as a pair of dress pants with matching belt

  When fibre from his trouser pocket is discreetly submitted for

  Chemical analysis

  The words

  Your ensign will never leave you, E-man

  Can be clearly discerned

  And there’s a heart-breaking instrumental

  Some arpeggio thing on a cuatro

  You start to cry at this point

  Which surprises you

  When you look up from your pretzels

  You see the E-man

  Stumbling  around the mean streets

  Mourning like a dove and roaring like a bear

  Stumbling near-death into Desolation Row

  Eating eggs of the viper and the cockatrice

  And throwing bread and money at Gregory of Nyssa

  While absently crossing the street he

  Narrowly escapes being hit by a commuter bus

  Then this girl with eyes like headlights

  And a body simply draped in a summer dress

  And feet free of sandals

  Pulls him by the arm

  Back to the safety of the sidewalk

  This heroine

  A checkout girl named Penny Zippo

  Sets him up in a neglected first aid room

  In the department store where she works

  She mothers him at break time

  And spoon feeds him

  Apple sauce and bacteriostatic antibiotics

  And some crazy controlled stuff called Avelox

  Which has to be taken with a gallon of water

  You see the meds in close up

  And on the video you can freeze it

  And follow the links to your pharmacist


  between pants that steadily shrink and wheezing

  The E-man holds a magnifying glass to his knee

  He freaks out when he reads this:

  Bloaters disintegrate

  Bested great art in oils

  Dante Gabriel Rossetti

  Regards, Theo Klutz

  It’s never explained or expanded upon

  Maybe they deleted another scene

  So as not to offend Germans

  All he can do is shake his head and say:

  Esto apesta, man

  That’s the twisted junk that’s killing me

  And Penny

  Beautiful, simple Penny

  Starts crying as she notices

  His pants shrink from a size 36-34

  To a 32-30

  And the lady in softlines tries to assure her

  That 32-30s are much cheaper and easier to find

  And this is where you pause the movie

  Because you are crying with Penny

  And you reach for some tissue

  But it’s all reduced to clumpy wet piles at your feet

  So you open a window

  And look out at snow that has turned dirty from sand

  And little grey row houses

  It’s all very depressing

  You grab a Valium and a glass of wine

  And advance to the end

  E-man is standing over a dead Penny

  Who died in that scene you hate

  Where she polishes off the out-of-date cheese dip

  He’s managed to tear off his dress pants at the knees

  He looks like he’s wearing shorts for postal clerks

  And he’s lifting her limp body under rosemary and lemon blossoms

  There in the outdoor garden centre while it rains

  And the camera lens gathers rain drops one-by-one

  As E-man holds Penny closer and closer

  And there is no sound but the rain

  The rain in the movie

  The rain outside your window

  The rain you feel your eyes make as your head hits the sofa armrest

  And you sleep dull sleep into evening

  Judas with Honours

  I’m no working class hero

  I have no gift with small talk

  I work part time as a working class hero

  You know

  Working my way through college and all


  When I graduate

  I’ll drown all the working class heroes

  In their insipid small talk

  And eat them

  Devil Pinned

  Let’s discuss evil

  By annotating features

  Playing the game

  Is sometimes warming the bleachers

  Feeding stolen apples

  To miscreant teachers

  Warming your feet

  With the king’s

  Adjunct sock puppets

  Released from tomb/womb-like wormholes

  By the annotated drawer-full

  Until the stink they bear is undeniable

  Denying this young wolf drink

  Until its thirst cannot be quenched

  Your blood-stained hands part waters

  Of ambiguity and definable hate of skin

  Opposite yours

  And soon

  You shall lose your station

  Like an elderly captain

  Playing ring toss on a sinking ship

  Lenny: Music Producer and Sound Pioneer

  After years of frustration making progressive jazz albums

  That never sold

  Lenny added a significant tool to his arsenal

  That would greatly improve production:

  A room

  His subsequent albums would include the addition

  Of a second technological breakthrough:

  The microphone

  In 1978 he began to dabble in using musicians

  With instruments

  But sudden death interrupted what would have been

  His greatest achievement: the use of songs

  Piano and Trumpet

  There’s an old elephant

  Wheezing song like a gummed-up harmonica

  Outside the GUNS and PIANOS


  They call him Mephibosheth

  Used to perform in a small circus

  He was injured in transit

  Made him nervous from chronic pain

  He had already been a teenage hypochondriac

  He read medical journals with a flashlight

  Under the covers

  Came across a lovely article about

  Behavioural Management of Hypochondriasis

  And it stuck with him

  Like everything did

  After the transport truck hit his left side

  He tried to divert himself by listening to Dmitri

  Shostakovich but

  The man was incomprehensible

  So he listened to his music instead

  They sat there in the Brattleboro retreat

  Feet sharing tub water with torpedo fish

  A phonograph playing a nice little waltz

  In a Yiddish style

  Simmering on the turntable like mother’s soup

  Ladled out with equal amount of love and passive aggression

  Mephibosheth and Dmitri had this conversation

  The music was their interpreter

  They would sneak into the retreat tower

  With a keyboard and Mephibo’s trunk-as-trump’

  Play some American-Russian patchwork of


  Against the rants written on the stone walls

  Piano and trumpet weeping and laughing

  Against and in harmony with:

  Teachers are anointed censors and controllers

  Dispensers of secular catechism

  Turning bright minds into toiling hands

  Drawing the blind on God’s infinite sunshine

  Upon their discharge

  They zigzagged around the country side

  The Connecticut River their companion

  Windows rolled down as the autumn leaves fell

  Like confetti over them




  And orange like a sunset

  And you may say that Dmitri was never there

  But his thoughts and his music are invested

  In the old elephant’s memory

  And he blows them out

  And draws them back in

  Drawing the curious from passersby

  A Rich, Satirical Blow

  You are not a show dog

  You are not an acrobat

  You are not a stylist

  You are not a hare

  You are not a Taoist

  You are not an emancipator

  You are not a Barcalounger

  You are a Holy See sick host

  You are a reptilian third-eye cognisance

  Mother-of-Judas child killer

  Choking on a burnt scone

  You are a false projection of Mary Magdalene

  Made from hatred prayers

  Spoken by devils

  You are inescapable mustard gas



  And my child cannot run to safety


  I sold the television

  I sold the car

  I purchased train tickets

  That won’t take us far

  I bundled our baby

  I hid him quite well

  From a certain ring master

  Nobody will tell

  I took you to Cairo

  And sang you a song

  I’ll keep with you always

  And when I am gone

  There will be signs in the heavens

  And colours in the sea

  A heart beats your love, dear

  While searching the depths

  Of the portrait we’ve left


  Of you

  And me

  Between Job(e)s

  My cash flow runs so slow

  It’s backed up beyond stopping

  Because of me

  We have no history

  Except minuses and

  A lonely dog left behind

  He has grown accustomed to waiting

  We have steadily become


  No comfort

  No furniture

  No words left even to argue

  We’ve ceased to search out

  Money or food or worn-out phrases

  I’ve left you crying in a box behind a low rent apartment courtyard

  There in the North End

  I’ve walked well past both the Pharisee and the tax collector

  I’ve sought out the valley of Hinnom and been refused entry

  And the birds that cry at daybreak sound like rebukes from my own children

  And the sun heaps blisters on my skin

  Even if I wanted to take back years of bitter words and misunderstandings and

  Gross mismanagement of time and propriety

  It’s no longer mine to atone for

  Even if I wanted to take my own life

  It’s not mine to take

  My middling middle life is spent one foot ahead of stopping


  One eye envying the dead


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