Clayton Eshleman- “A Yuan Master”

University of Michigan Museum


Rocks rounded, lozenge-

contoured, coiled

as if roped,

dropped out of paradise’s asshole,

huddling, caterpillar-lank loops,

plop of a rock,

thrasher-alive, fist-sure, as if

shit could swell

with pride


Is that spirit,

or inscape’s abscess?

Traces of the god whose eyes are testicles in

the coiling whips of rivers?

As if Diana of Ephesus, bored with her platoon of breasts

gave birth to

a cactus

with breast-mimicking spines.


Clayton Eshleman- “Munch Dissolves”

Munch Dissolves

Something is always congealing,   seeking

group strata,   full wet skirt,

Gaudi in the cornerless sense of it,

Munch’s benders,   released of starch, but   of fixation,

opening the locks on

      afterlife    death    this life

pooling,   deboning the polarities,

            poling with Charon in

            blood azure

“I came into the world as a sick being—in sick surroundings.

My youth was spent in a sickbed; life was a brightly lit window.”

César Vallejo: “I was born on a day when God was sick,


The moon’s testicular tube-reflection

transfiguring night’s indigo carmine lake.

Waltz with me, lung to lung. O darling, look!

                                               Next to us, a green

larva is vampirizing his slumped booty!

Sister Inger’s speckled dress, splotches roving. 

Clasped hands form an oyster-gray vulva before her dead gown.

Moonlight, holed up in pickets, passes through

                    a woman’s face whose eyes for an instant

escape its gangrene drench.

A road boas by a clump of girls on a pier.

                            Down through brown arboreal

reflection they stare into the Munchflow.

And what is the Munchflow?  The fetal thrashing of

              those forever unfully born.

 A kiss! Her face, consumed, becomes his beak.

Showing through their fused bodies: cobweb-thin cocoons..

                             O anima emanating separation!

Away from him she glides toward the shore,

her long hair a telephone wire that cannot be cut.

“People’s souls are like planets. Like a star that rises from the darkness

—and meets another star—only to disappear again into darkness—it is the

same when a man and woman meet—drift apart—light up in love—burn up

—and disappear each in their own direction.”

The devil’s footprints on the bedroom ceiling. Ghosts of the utter 

    failure of prayer.

A slimy, soft-horned snail, carrying a brothel on its back.

Pitch-rust river encircling Millie, then Dagny, under Munch.

                                                     Who called this woman Madonna?

She has elsewhere eyes, a menstrual halo, cum-smeared breasts!

“Without anxiety and illness, I am a ship without a rudder.”

Stopped on the road

 in darkness oleaginous as treacle:

      a car with blood-red eyes.

Adam’s mahogany groin by a tree husk radiating fire,

                                               whose root metabolism

suckles skulls, crocodilian mulch.

                                               Pregnant Eve.

Tree once with its fetal wick a burning-bush.

Along  Snow Avenue, asparagus trees, blackening,

    swirled in the caul of a wind

                        boozy with throttled

        valves, aortic hives.

Sister Laura sits locked in perpetual, unanswered, large-eyed pleading.

Before her, a blood flower sucks nourishment from a circular table

      whose blood-red patterned cloth

                  resembles sections of her brain.

O-shock of a fresh dead man discovering the beyond

is this world oozing through all its pores

like streaks of sky seeping through the path

upon which this shocked O holds his head and screams

arched by a sky coldly boiling with the blood of all

who have lived

                               O-scream discovering each

scream is intelligible, the slaughterhouse screams,

the insane scream, your sex opens wide,

a rugged candle refueling on gusts,

articulate flame in the trench of your sex,

flame shaped like a live woman holding

her earless head, her face ocellated with screams,

in each scream the screwdriver of the mind

attempting to loosen the bolt

God sank into it like a pitiless dry well.

                            April—August,  2006

Aimé Césaire- “Horse”


 For Pierre Loeb

My horse stumbles over skulls hopscotched in rust

my horse rears in a storm of clouds which are putrefactions of shipwrecked flesh

my horse neighs in the fine rain of roses and sentiments that my blood creates in the

scenery of the street fairs

my horse stumbles over the clumps of cacti that are the entangled vipers of my torments

my horse stumbles neighs and stumbles toward the curtain of blood of my blood pulled

down on all the pimps shooting craps for my blood

my horse stumbles before the impossible flame of the barrier howled at by

the vesicles of my blood

my horse rears before the great pillar of hyacinth perfectly pure that rises to the glory of

the lord and descends to the depths of the shit of my blood

my horse rears before a beryl lamp made from fireflies peddled by my blood

I saw too a great horse of ardent peace that dashed forward pawing the ground from a

season of rains of mollusks of an anger of hair of a harangue of pyramids of a camisole of old

corks of a confusion of mushroom spittle

great horse my blood to be spilled in public squares

my blood in which from time to time a woman in solar perfection shoots out all her

tuberous stems and vanishes in a tornado born on the far side of the world

my blood for a foot freshly repainted as a gibbet

my blood that no canonization has ever soiled

my blood the wine of a drunkard’s vomit

my blood that no paid off judge has ever heard

I give it to you great horse

I give you my ears to be made into nostrils capable of quivering

my hair to be made into a mane as wild as they come

my tongue to be made into mustang hooves

I give them to you

great horse

so that you approach at the extreme limit of brotherhood

the men of elsewhere and of tomorrow

on your back a child of the furrow with barely moving lips

who for you

will disarm

the chlorophyllian crumb of the vast ravens of the future.

Translated by Clayton Eshleman and A. James Arnold

Clayton Eshleman- “Zurn Heads”




head filled with fetal eyes.

eyes sharing lips.

head helmeted with eyes.

head as a geography of pores erupting, waves surrounding eyes.

there is no part of the head that does not see.

heads with no non-eye relief.


eyes appearing as the only peers, the peerage in things.

eyed & seek, the rills in the face

layered with bird heads, with ferned serpent ends.

with eye vaginal almond floats.

stay! is to girdle as eye bands are to the shuffle of the molting head.

granular disintegration of the tufted fabric of the head.

larval organs dissolving into cream.

say, has that eye apple been spayed?


congeries of eye lines shrubbing into insectile-feelered dark.

thong throng tong-drawn trowel of eyes.

art is to burgeon on its own stem beholden only to

the stamina of its lines.

mine composed of off-shoot eye shafts through which I twist,

accelerating through Unica’s fractal beetle,

seemingly designed as a Mandelbrot-set zoom sequence,

in which I re-encounter infinitely what I have just left.


if genes had faces and bodies would they twist like these?

am gripping am, can’t go on will go on,

without centerpole or central pull,

tendril limbs straying into a vanishing varnish roam.

the human configured as part of

the threadwork of

a spontaneous robe of devolving wraiths.


creation as fission. schizogenetic genesis.

no representational nexus.

dyadic primacy of the oldest gods.

gossamer nets to entangle them

so that they ferment, fructify as fruit flies, buried wasp queens,

millipedal elves moving away from each other

yet still attached by saliva strings, lacy scaled vapors

exposing the white, the gleam of never, into which

no one steps twice.


sense of a living midden.  

soul as the self buried and mixed with a living Other,

fauna flora particles of an ongoing sentence:

fullness is infinite fracture.

totems playfully wavering, as if about to shift

into double helix, to swim into the White,

to perceive, finally, the White Image.