Aunt Asleep and Dreaming (after Ensor)
Aunt is sleeping, sitting up, but the chair is missing;
her arms are folded above the flawed material of a dress:
pear colored skin, waffled throat, shell-shaped ears—
magnificent dreams steam over the yellowed paper and chafe
against its permutations.
Snorts of the curling, wrinkled pug rest at her feet,
vomit of her iridescent breath—in imprecision, the jumbled
monsters, arrange in a ring: googol-eyed, mustachioed, frogfaced,
tongueless beauty in the freedom of rough, essential harm:
the shepherd clawed, the hand transformed but lingering—
Aunt sleeps on, neglecting our selves; her rustic
devils furnish us with sorrow.
He stumbles as he gets off the train, clothes corroded with acid
from the cakes of dirt he will alchemize.
He has the jagged profile of the draftsman’s toothless shepherd.
And, when he speaks, it is as though gravel rolls along his tongue—
always with a plume of smoke floating above his aura—
The fusion of metal in this old coin is nothing
to that alloy of pulverized charcoal and aniseed.
Swarming the angel’s hair which is substanceless
and from his body to the seams of his mesh clothes,
the lice crawl to the bladder of his genitals
and up past his womanly mouth.
He has that dazed look, half-opportunist, half-lamb,
of all the other angels.
And while the lice travel back and forth, but so lightly,
along his wax hand, they drink from the ghost.
This is the recirculation of love
and the lice taste it, carry it along.