Sharon Mesmer
8 poems
My Juice
I Wanted to Compose a Canticle of Exaltation and Praise
Why You Came Back
Dream on the Occasion of Turning Forty
at the Age of Forty-Two
“On Vous Embrasse”
Stupid University Job
The Virgin Formica
My Juice
I’m holding my juice,
holding my cleanliness,
I’m holding my juice in my cleanliness
               with my spiders
                                 my release
                                 my virginity
                                 and forgiveness.
I’m covering you with love
in the guise of my juice,
while cowering in the face
of so much confusion.
My cleanlinesss becomes a contusion,
and now I’m withholding my juice,
withholding my contusion,
I’m withholding my juice in my contusion
               with my starlight
                                my dark ages
                                my dust ruffles and Bibles
                                and vicious bird foibles
                                              in my crawlspace
In the absence of juice, a crowd of consorts
stinks up my crawlspace
and I feel my way blindly
toward the Holy of Holies:
an old plastic bag wound ‘round a branch
torn and tattered like an old coccoon
where I receive communion
in the form of my juice.
And now I’m upholding my juice,
upholding my communion,
upholding my juice in my communion,
avoiding the brightly lit palaces
for the twilit interstices
               between Venus and Lucifer
               in the coalescence of debris
that made the moon
to touch with my most febrile feeler
my most precious and at the same time insecure
I Wanted to Compose a Canticle of Exaltation and Praise
Thank you for asking me to submit to your magazine,
Dead Fluffy Coyote,
but I haven’t been writing much poetry lately.
I’ve been rockin’.
Or, I should say, rockin’ again.
Because I used to rock.
I started rockin’ at the age of ten,
me and my sister sitting with Dad in the Rambler,
watching the planes take off and land.
In fact, that’s where I first rocked:
in that Rambler, with a transistor radio pressed to my ear.
And I rocked for a long time.
A pretty long fuckin’ time!
But then somebody came along and made me self-conscious about rockin’.
Somebody said my rockin’ was “anti-intellectual.”
They said I’d never get a tenure-track job teaching creative writing at 
a university
if I didn’t stop rockin’.
So I stopped rockin’.
What was I thinking?
Didn’t I understand that, yes,
the heavy bombardment was a hellish environment
but also the natural condition of creation?
Oh, you brilliant neurotics, syphilitics, and hyperpriapic lead 
guitarists — you knew.
Proust knew in his cork-lined room
that rockin’ arises afresh daily from every afflicted attitude,
and even not rockin’
forms a bridge between forgotten continents.
I may have epilepsy, brain atrophy, “milk leg,” bottleflies infesting 
my eyes,
and the belief that my legs and arms are angry clowns,
but I’m rockin’ like a cross between Anna Akhmatova and Dolly Parton,
like broken post-Bolshevik teacups and flea markets.
Oh, too late came I to love you,
rockin’ so ancient and so new!
Oh Lucifer, light-bringer,
singer of our hymns to failure,
cut us loose from our tribal pieties,
our forebodings at what this new age means,
for we shall be known by new names.
And if our decency is fatigued
let us eat its meat with similar spoons.
Who knows the secrets of the universe,
whether Marilyn Monroe had 11 toes?
Rockin’ knows.
Like the bone at the beginning of “2001”,
what befell the beginning keeps befalling,
and something old and mostly forgotten
can rock the marginalized 50 million.
We’re always being asked to do the impossible,
and so now I’m asking you to rock.
I’m begging you to rock.
I have no doubts about your faults.
But your faults give birth to a dancing star.
Sure, harsh carcasses are criss-crossing the pit,
souls fluttering up the rotunda like confetti
but joy lurks there.
I know ‘cause I’ve been there.
It’s hard to get back what’s been forgotten.
But it’s easy to start rockin’.
Why You Came Back
For the jeers of the young drunks outside the Ting-A-Ling Lounge
for the dog with the chopped-off tail,
the familiar crinkle of plastic after group sex on the pool table,
and the ensuing construction of ornamental snowmen,
for the grand cans and bad-ass mudflaps,
the local Jewish homerun king, so at home among the Eurotrash,
the warring gangs sending messages to each other via setting your 
garage on fire,
and Kenny the cab driver who always asks,
"So what are the blacks like in your neck o' the woods?"
For the cock ring displays by family members behind Lulu's little blue 
trailer, where ma buys                   her lotto, cigarettes and 
scandal sheets,
for the weekly dragging of the Sherman Park lagoon for a dead 
and the official World War II civil defense flares
with which you declaim your indifference in the alley
after giving out sausage samples all day
in the meat aisle of the Certified
on your fiftieth birthday.
For the goddamn screaming children.
Dream on the Occasion of Turning Forty
at the Age of Forty-Two
Jostled by fresh-obsessed yentas
who came to watch Henry Miller christen the warship Atalanta,
a.k.a. “the Mighty A,”
I sneered audibly.
MC Max Backhoe agreed with me:
“It’s neither the speed with which one writes,” he opined,
“nor the brilliance, but the neatness.”
Fat Johnny appeared with papers,
and we devoured the headlines:
“Earthflower Program Honors Eisenhower”
“Miami Relatives Store Weeds for Winter”
“Whose Eyes Aren’t Oval?”
After cocktails I was made to insinuate a meadow,
and lights on the lake in the shapes of swans.
Later I maintained, for the sake of argument,
that happiness occurs in trouble and astonishment,
in the beauty that accrues from just showing up,
the movement from “he loves me” to “he loves me not,”
the length and breadth of an Abyssinian head,
the bald, brilliant sun of New Brunswick,
docile camels,
a happy new year.
Some amusing, intricate rules came later,
and I was the instigator in those matters,
having the power to reincarnate
without the inconvenience of dying.
  “On Vous Embrasse”
Embraces radically deployed —
Multiple sorties of embraces —
And all the while the surface scale of mediocrity remains
Always and forever unadjusted.
The headache I woke up with
Negates the spectre of materiality
Which is merely the source of all mortality
That winks mockingly from the brightwork of the bridge that spans
The filthy Raritan.
The unquantifiable colors of the sunset over Jersey
Reinforce the feeling of reading
Mystical intentionality into every action:
Like my anxiety at leaving the bedroom for the bathroom
Becoming tethered to Aunt Lily’s lobotomy,
Which is then connected to an accidental manslaughter in my family,
And thus becomes comparable in coincidental magnitude
To Marilyn Monroe’s mother working as a film cutter.
And so tenured to a yearning indwelling and dwindling,
Embarrassment begins its journey of eternal recurring
The minute I wake from a sexy dream
Of a mockingbird mocking a car alarm.
And what you see here
Is the result of my spending all last night and all this morning
Creating a system for cataloging
The contradictions and paradoxes inherent in the search for
An unwavering, constantly reverberating, state of ineffable grace.
Thus far I’ve gotten this far.
               for Charles Borkhuis
as in “ugly,”
as in French.
But why ugly
when outside the kitchen window
an apple tree blooms in profusion,
and inside a black cat on a red formica table
chews a daffodil?
Last night you said,
“How do the French understand our poems?
  They’re just lists of non-sequiturs.”
At the poetry reading the door was open
to let in the breeze.
At eight o’clock it was eighty degrees.
The mighty City beckoned,
yet we remained.
We listened, our brows furrowed,
we looked like we had migraines,
we left before we had the chance
to not get invited out afterward.
The lack of light illuminated
no one scribbling in notebooks,
no one stealing anyone’s lines.
Does anyone remember ordinary beauty?
Does no one honor Mnemosyne?
On another Spring day,
back in seventh grade,
Eddie Jozefiak came up to my desk at recess to say
“Mesmer, you’re so ugly!”
That was thirty years ago.
But I remember it
like it was today.
Stupid University Job
Your loveliest of sway-backs;
of mine I was once ashamed,
and my uni-brow and crooked teeth,
and red hair my mother never let me wash
all winter,
afraid I’d catch a draft.
She wouldn’t let me bathe, either,
which made gym class a horror.
I thought I had it bad
until I met that handsome Scottish man
whose parents tried to make him spontaneously combust
by feeding him haggis laced with gunpowder
and making him sleep in the stove.
Instead of an ear, he had a shiny, snail-shaped ridge.
I guess we all have our tragic flaw.
Mine is like that of the naked man
who holds up a sign that says “I’m naked,”
and runs screaming through the park.
My handlers say I’m difficult,
but don’t you believe it.
My soul still radiates a luminous intensity
despite this stupid university job.
* * * * * * * * *
The Virgin Formica
               -- a Fibonacci sequence
“How long?”
“And with whom?”
“And — by the way — why?”
The answer: back then, we just behaved badly.
But are you still a good person if you’ve done some “bad” things?
And how do you evaluate you who are now in relation to who you were 
then, if change is, yes, permanence?
In those days we were stars, shiny as new dimes on the virgin formica, 
fucking in a bank after hours under merciful levelors, our n0-moon, 
void-of-course moods barely anticipating history’s mighty sea-change in 
We burst forth in daylight, as living spirits, and the place of our 
hearts’ desires was among the lands of the living forever.  We 
celebrated even Ember Day with vigils, ritual sacrifices, our flats 
resplendent with the colors of our lady butchers, while a plague of 
snakes raged in banality on the great maternal estates.
But then things went, as our great comedian said, from back strap to 
liverwurst, fast forward through time in a sad, comic pantomime of 
mongoloidism, in dreams of screen doors slamming, in the crash and burn 
of anticipation, into pools of quietude, until the only outlets for our 
imperfections were creative collusions with menstruation.  We became 
obsessed with suspension and quirky alternatives to Saturn’s 
stranglehold on our fates.  Like pious monks at the Chinese gates we 
waited, hands folded, penniless in the depths of our memories of 
cigarette roses.
Then, one by one, we were reduced in our numbers, slipping into absence 
like sleepwalkers, like gnats among pleasure seekers.  We’d known 
Nature had kept something hidden from us — maybe everything — but 
nature had always seemed so quaint, so violable.  Who could forget the 
wide, calm bay, the brisk night breakers, and homely Queen Pia of 
Serbia, presiding over the competition for the prettiest hands in 
France?  Petrus the Lycanthrope with his scented beard at the opening 
night orgy of the Carnival and Plague?  Rickety kitchens turned into 
impromptu nightclubs?  The sweet apple party sausages we consumed with 
so much gusto among the sanctimoniously stricken, and then the pleasure 
of being forgiven? The simple picture postcards of antique toilet water 
bottles that swept us back to the shores of reality?  When those things 
vanished, or were taken from us, I simply retreated into memories.
Now, when I’m drunk or high, I go in the toilet and close my eyes and 
there’s a whole other world on the other side of the wall, a world of 
light from another place, and crazed as a satyr with the purity of that 
light I barrel again into dawn’s wet hedges with the power of a 
thousand spirochetes, soothed by the coolness across the moisture at 
the small of my back, to flutter up a rotunda on the wave of ambience I 
once created with my purse.
And the things I hear that give me pleasure are another measure of all 
that’s changed.  Once I loved a sequence of shrieks emanating from a 
poisonous mouth,  protestations ad infinitum, the sad, strange, syrupy 
strains of the “Song of the Voiding of Bones.”  Otherwordly sounds, 
they brought me closer to the probity of nightmare.
Now it’s the sound of a knife in a mayonnaise jar on a summer night in 
the country as we sit down at a table under a bug light to play a board 
Images of contemplation have changed as well.  Gone are the 
photogravure views of prostitutes and newspaper photos of slain society 
Now it’s the apricot-colored late afternoon sun on snow that reveals 
the Mystery.
But does the Mystery still pertain to me?
Can it realign my needs?
Reconfigure lost pleasure?
And then . . .



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