Conjunctions:32 Eye to Eye

Three Peter Lorre Poems
An additional Peter Lorre poem and three additional drawings can be found in the print issue of Conjunctions:32.

Peter Lorre Speaks to the Spirit of Edgar Allan Poe during a Seance

Back then which is anywhere in back of now
I was pretending to be a practicing mendicant,

a mower of smaller children, a moratorium in a tuxedo,
while you were acting like a hopeless sponge.

a photograph of a convict whose mind
isn’t quite made up, but it is.

Later, I draped the last of my outer garments
over my jockey shorts, and left town in a cab.

I told the man whose shiny head
reminded me of a bottle of wine

Deliver me to the suburban rodeos of
Piccadilly or Paradise

a harbor of idle tugboats
an island of glass huts

wherever smoke hasn’t started
charting its progress across a torn sky

Thus, the journal of our journey
began with the opening of faucets;

tear ducts; syrupy vittles; Arctic ice storms;
bowler hats above long thick sleeves;

white haired gymnasts and their smelly pets.
The detectives came later,

examples of their tarnished industriousness
tucked beneath their tongues.

Did you know that I was never called upon
by those who would have known

what I meant
when I said

I was a star,
a stage of deterioration,

a page upon which
someone has drawn

the seven shapes of my name,
their skeletal facades

pressing against deserted streets.
The rest of me—the part you know

as it is also you—
is sitting inside,

watching television,
waiting for further instructions on how

I might dig myself out of the roles
blind biographers have stuck me in 


Peter Lorre Records His Favorite Walt Whitman Poem for Posterity

I am an indigestible vapor rising from the dictionary
you sweep under your embroidered pillow

My only offer: A kidnapped dog in exchange for your thirst
Call me Zanzibar Sam, Bulging Pharoah, Narcoleptic Swill

Custom labyrinths made to order, purveyor of mid-sized jungles
a gravedigger counting shoes in a candlelit saloon

A miracle erupted from a reunion of mouse and sow, horse and hubby
Son became bagged contraband penetrating ring of nibbled pyres

Me criminal puss no longer muzzled and mugged by snoring camera
Me signaled pasty or patsy, but donned smooth glacial twitches

Mere slip in a sequined slapper, lolling whimper of purring grape,
not just smoothed flotsam bulk and hankering moss

Inside me dwells a nude drummer toy, all pomade and fancy,
while the outer me, the bun you tufted, was heavy-lipped

reflection of uncanny twittering admists gnawed leaves

John Yau has published many books of poetry, including Borrowed Love Poems (Penguin), and several works of prose, as well as monographs on the work of Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, and A. R. Penck. His most recent book is a selection of essays, Foreign Sounds or Sounds Foreign (MadHat, 2020). He has a book of poems, Genghis Chan on Drums, forthcoming from Omnidawn in 2021.
Trevor Winkfield has collaborated with many poets and friends from the New York School, including John Ashbery and Ron Padgett. His work is in the collections of the Berkeley Art Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art. In 2002, he was made a Chevalier in l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government. He exhibits his work at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York.