Renounce the vestibule of non-vital vitals.
Confess the gallbladder,
the glandular wallflowers,
the objectionable oblong spleen.
Not a notch but a note.
An ode to the duodenum.
A song of fortitude in twelve intestinal fingerbreadths.
A madrigal of freely moveable joints.
The murky abdominal cavity.
The crowd groping viscera.
Slopworks. The slippery dark.
What is boil-lancing? What is bone-setting? What is the music of hands-on manipulation? The internal apparatus a rhythm section for canopic jars and humor-decanting Tupperware. Tell no lies and do no harm. Remove funny bone. Induce vomiting. Cup to skin. Scalpel to vein. Drain drain drain
drop by drop the vital spirit. Cantabilious. Melodious venesection. Through wintry rising and setting of the sun, through summery rising and setting of the sun, the seasons a singable digestion. Absorptional alchemy. Air and water and place.
Cauterize the river of cold phlegm. Phlebotomize the air of hot bile. What is stanch the earth and coagulate the appetites? What is reason the stars and placate the passions?
Corpse-candle the worthless remains. The graphicacy of the cadaver. A scythe-scaped city of anatomical incorrection. A morbid skyline.
Condo bloodlets. Cold-blooded morgue jokes. Ribbing EMSers scrape the fatty dregs off the pavement. (How’s the job going? Picking up. Arr-arr.)
Heat-wavering. The no longer walking pedestrians a mess of stinklines and polluting balloons. Utterance is angioplastic. Gurgle Gurgle Pop goes the stenotic highway.
The book of what’s left an atlas of sutury and minutiae. (Creeping steriletypy.) Soft tissue sidebars. Arterial digressions. Tweaking
in perpetuity. The non-speaking head a relic of crossbeam and fossa. At a loss … uh … at a loss.
(with Hippocratic orphans)
The heart shaped as a pyramid. Crimson. Pulsar. A deep thirst
falls unslakingly from star to footprint. Give an animal a drink of water stained red ochre; give an animal a drink of water dyed blue copper carbonate. While it drinks, cut its throat. The ground at its feet the color of red ochre; the ground at its feet a pool of blue copper carbonate … the heart pulsing in its entirety …
Cut off the ears and remove the head from the heart. Cut clean
the apex of the heart and expose the auricles and atria. Sunset to sunset glaciers a red runoff rinse all the voluntary muscles. Sunrise to sunrise drink fluid and fire from the lungs and the air. In situ the heart a pyramid … ears inflate and collapse …
NOTE: in the Hippocratic text, “ears” is used interchangeably with “auricles” (part of the atrium of the heart)
Heat flows from the mother city, the cold and gluey metropolis.
Light a fire inside a room with no wind. Air flabby with butcher breath, the greasy sky billowing cheeks in a propitiatory prophesy.
The wind of self-fulfillment blows a room with no fire to a sweat. Questionably fleshed. Lungs
the destination of all things in multiples of two pilgrimage. Kidney by kidney; a dextra, a sinistra … Ham-footed the dance
to the unholy body. Within or without
a complicated riddle of meat.
These poems are from Sylvia Legris’s new project, The Hideous Hidden. Other poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in The Capilano Review, New American Writing, and Cerise Press. Her poetry collection Pneumatic antiphonal will be published by New Directions, while Nerve Squall (Coach House Books) won both the 2006 Griffin Poetry Prize and the 2006 Pat Lowther Memorial Award.