January 25, 2009


                    The enemy will continue to infiltrate Literature.
                              —Comrade Stavsky (head of the Soviet writers’ union), 1937

The muse strikes

back, but doesn’t walk off the job
for a cost-of-living increase
and insurance.
and insurance.  Empire’s the thing
that totters forward with its mouse
ears on, paterfamilias
of so many little feet become a constant
perfume.  And yet: no praise,
no blame. The grass is still
green to the cheek. And we are heirs

to grace which made the tummler
stay at his Borscht Belt post

and dance. Alack, alas. What say you
soldiers of the lyre, we wait
for some o’clock and then stop
singing? Oh I would stop, oh yes

and let the feckless meadow fill
with xylophones and snow, the striped

tail of the muse slap in her burrow.

—Rachel Loden
from the book, Hotel Imperium (Georgia).

Posted by dwaber at 05:16 PM

January 24, 2009


First, thrust a Quill into his brain from above, or else
slit his throat, as is done in Jerusalem. Cut his skin

neatly from his Tongue unto his Rump and pull it off.
Then sever his Head with the skin and legs

and keep it. Roast the Poet on a spit. His body
may be stuffed with sweet Herbs, his breast stuck

with Cloves, and his neck wrapped in a white linen
cloth. Baste him vigorously until he crackles.

When the Poet is almost cooked, take him down
and redress him in his skin, whose inside

you have coated with spices, salt and cinnamon.
Then, when you have put his skin back on

get an apparatus of Iron and shove this through
his spine and legs so it cannot be seen; in this way

the Poet will stand so that he will seem to be living.
Take the neck of your Poet and bind it at one end

and load it with quicksilver and ground sulfur,
pressing until it is roughly half full; then bind

the other end, but do not seal. When it is quite hot,
and the mixture bubbles, Air that is trying to escape

will make the Poet sing. If he doesn't cry
loudly enough, tie the two ends more tightly.

—Rachel Loden
forthcoming in Dick of the Dead (Ahsahta Press)

Posted by dwaber at 05:09 PM

January 23, 2009


No one can quite

get over it. It is summer and revenge
lies sweetly in the fields
with her legs open,
with her legs open,   her Bo Peep
petticoats in ribbons.
petticoats in ribbons.  Et tu,

far away, alternate worlds
queue up
to be auditioned,
to be auditioned,  chatting
despairingly among themselves,

but nobody's called back. Revenge,

our wretched darling, shakes the straw
out of her hair
out of her hair  and shines herself
into the reddest apple
on the highest bough.
on the highest bough.  Hanging tough
through hundreds of such afternoons,
worried into life
worried into life  by lightning’s play
on elemental soup, her stalwart heart

will rise again, slough off
loose brilliance
loose brilliance  like a firecracker,
and pack more melodies than Mozart.

Love, revenge, remaindering . . .
is this the end?
is this the end?  —The world pumps on,
with all its gently pitiless muzak.

— Rachel Loden
from the book, Hotel Imperium (Georgia)

Posted by dwaber at 03:51 PM

January 22, 2009


          Little lamb, who made thee?
          Dost thou know who made thee?
          —William Blake

Another blue stretch
in the Black Eye Galaxy—

it might have been
if groggy lamblets one, two, three

were not spilling out
into the secret world I share

with George Costanza;
George and I are met upon a klieg-lit plain

and I have on my Little Bo Peep costume
while George leans on his shepherd’s crook

and lambs as soft as heaps of sugar-dust
as light as new spring snow

are romping in the heavenly bright
till all I know

all that I ever need to know
is herding lambs with George Costanza.


George Costanza’s lambs
are plump as macaroons

and mine, as whorls
of white meringue.

Let those who never
gamboled with a lamb

suck on sweet bones,
make wicked plans;

I’m off now
herding lambs

with George Costanza.


Word to the cynics, you who laugh
so sure no codswallop with lambs

could ever make you weep;
that George Costanza’s nothing

but a sham, and I perhaps a wolf
sent out among the sheep

to shear their souls: but I say No,
and I am half-asleep, with all

the strange authority conferred
on sleepers. So you believe

that it is good and meet we met
and flew our stuttering craft

out of the Black Eye Galaxy
into a universe so daft

that you and I and all
the syncopating lambs

are one, are one at last!
With George Costanza.

—Rachel Loden
forthcoming in Dick of the Dead (Ahsahta Press)

Posted by dwaber at 01:33 PM

January 21, 2009


Second fitting with tutu, sequined crown, pink parasol. Tightrope
across the laboratory. Singing: Les Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal.

Small contretemps. Ambulance to the Med Zentrum in Bad Ragaz.
Subject tearing at bandages.

Sits up in bed at last, stares blankly at the Alps. Disconsolate.

Says only “All the kittens are still blind.” Meaning?

No change. Tear vials: one centiliter.

Can she see me behind the two-way mirror?

Subject spends day at Rosenklinik belting out the Volga Boat Song.
Then shyly asks to see “Monsieur Jolie.” God help me.

Subject belligerent, attempts to provoke fisticuffs. Nightdress torn in
brief struggle. Experiment halted till noon.

Must not let on that my feelings are increasingly inappropriate.

Cake flickering with candles on subject’s “birthday.” Trembles wildly,
refuses to make a wish. Cake wheeled away. Repeat Tues-Fri.

Subject will not speak. Working furiously on crayoned “manifesto.”

Manifesto found in the Krankenhaus torn to ribbons. O my soul.

Demonstrators wrap the Institute in banners. Almost pretty. Subject
oblivious, reading Heidi and talking disjointedly about goats and pie.

Police everywhere, but funding doubled! Subject relocated to the
Advanced Laboratories, where we will continue our confidential work.

—Rachel Loden
forthcoming in Dick of the Dead (Ahsahta Press)

Posted by dwaber at 01:07 PM

January 20, 2009


Rendezvous with dweeby Philip in the shower:
“Aubade” taped up on pale blue tile;
I can hear him grumbling through the falling water.
Uncurling steam is scented with a trace of bile,
And I’m as grateful as a thankless child can be.
Someone has been here in this night with me,
Someone whose bitterness, I want to say,
Is even more impressive than my own.
Talking with Larkin on the great white telephone
I let the night be washed out into day

Until it’s safe enough to go lie down
And dream of my librarian, my bride.
Perhaps he sits and watches in his dressing gown;
I know he won’t be coming to my side
For fumblings and words he simply can’t get out.
That stuff was never what it was about
When he would wake at four o’clock to piss
And part the curtains, let the moon go on
With all the things worth doing, and not done,
The things that others do instead of this.

—Rachel Loden
from her book, Hotel Imperium (Georgia)

Posted by dwaber at 01:52 PM

January 19, 2009


                                        The god of Abraham is a true God. Now
                                        we gonna do “Rip It Up.”
                                        —Reverend Richard Penniman

Nothing is talking to you
in the numbers, in the leaves.
No mambo mambo on the wind.
No colored streamers in the skies.
No one has pasted little notes
to you, like kisses.
No Fred, no Ginger,
no sudden bursting
into Stone Age languages.
No angels clustered in the rafters.
No giants sacked out on the stove.

On a day like this,
without the music
of appearances, creatures
could land and you
would not be able to explain
anything to them, not
the fearless industry
of beavers, or why dust bunnies
prefer the dark, not even
how Little Richard
himself came into being.

—Rachel Loden
from her book, Hotel Imperium (Georgia)

Posted by dwaber at 01:43 PM