by Jacob Smullyan


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Poetry. Jacob Smullyan's DRIBBLE, a cycle of 144 poems written in 1983, sets itself the task of exploring a peculiar, seemingly unpromising corner of poetic space. Its apparent subject matter is the grotesque obscenity of physicality: excrement, innards, foodstuffs, the reek of loss and sexuality, the pancake-like weight of words and representation. But what emerges is quite different from what its monstrous image repertoire might suggest: an extended meditation on the inner forces of creation and destruction. DRIBBLE's surreal mechanisms, by which the derangement of sense becomes ordinary, reveals new paths through experience, and in this new world, discredited matter, impelled by a powerful transcendental yearning, takes on new meaning and form; soul arises from the mire with cathartic impact and an unexpected tenderness.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780986144530
Publisher: Sagging Meniscus Press
Publication date: 10/15/2015
Pages: 162

About the Author

Jacob Smullyan, a classical pianist, writer, artist, and composer, is also the Senior Editor of Sagging Meniscus Press, a Senior Fellow of the Institute of Krinst Studies, and a Senior Software Engineer at Google. In his spare time he admires the relative immobility of demolished things and lives outside New York City.

Read an Excerpt


A Poem

By Jacob Smullyan

Sagging Meniscus Press

Copyright © 2015 Jacob Smullyan
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-9861445-3-0



    Dribble. Whatsoever unceasingly,
    current fish. No submerged statuary
    hath prominence among ye. Green
    luxuries grapple frondulent candles
    and walk off perturbed, their digits
    scorched, their foreheads bent by the
    age-old light.


    Mystery fowl alight upon
    massive eternities feigning
    myopia. No talons can
    touch through the subtle skin of Death!
    I lick it, unmoved. Some
    membrane, an ominous incantation,
    rustles under my tongue;
    and I resort to unscalded cocoa.


    A solar concentration inhabits my kitchen,
    frowning on kettles with brilliance
    as if to bake metal like meat,
    like acts of creation unsustained. I spill.
    No tremor shakes the floor; no tiles
    beguile their linoleum and froth blackberry.
    The old student with his spouse's frock
    found nitro's advent with his arse up-aired.
    Raise not the dark side to the sun.


    There is a green dust of this planet
    far from the moon's green cheese;
    there is a species of rot we cannot reach
    though we sweep with drooping members,
    mustachioed retirees of old, useless battles.
    Methinks some brand of bug might scamper through,
    a translucent purplish beetle in fey attire, hawking,
    "I am the beast; grab an oar." And in his rags
    his dirty smile.


    The corner of the mouth
    is a wall-eyed spider, whose
    gaze droops off-color and dim
    through tissues of frozen piss.
    The Eskimo relieves himself to die,
    impaled on the spear of his effluence;
    and still-warm residues of smooches, oaths, and lies
    spread a cobwebbed hammock from ear to ear.


    An origin is filth aground, a turd
    between lovers. In sleep they wobble
    apart, tired tops, and bouncing brains
    fart forth early morning deliveries.
    The truck. How do they know what they
    may carry, between their axles?


    Portentous, unread Talmud, on the high
    shelf, untouched since Alkan. This space
    I suspect tensegritous; this bulk
    a gesture for the fragility of my skull;
    this light, the hatred of the setting sun.
    Does the scholar laugh when dead priests
    vomit seed into his open dusk's window,
    their billowing corpses exposed and enlarged,
    their jaws wrapped with miraculous newspaper?
    Or does he reach into some recess for an acorn
    prophylactery, only to pluck forth a recondite balloon?
    His eyeballs sag like Camembert until the final
    drop is extinguished.


    Curled horns of amber 'fore
    a gnarled glimmer kneel and
    bask their toesies, sudding.
    Great barks of ambergris pace
    on borrowed legs, their attenuate limbs
    shorn from grasshoppers hanging
    adherent to their sunken temples.


    Men bent at gloaming over their sandwiches,
    their hand wenches. Leafy parks keep eyes
    in back, beneath fronds of shame. The workmen
    rise infertile for the homesome honeybuns,
    the laundresses.


    Hideous! The blossoms,
    bloated by the breath of arthropods,
    congregate near shrivelled
    sprinters' legs, their teats
    dug deep into soiled green blankets,
    stretching away with sore red tongues
    from the fangs which ensnare them.


    Sun-candles unfixed, in swarms
    like aluminum scrap, begloomed
    by lurid labels. A twilit
    flicker, an open invitation
    or a gratuitous confine;
    a red-horned finger turned up
    to the sun's deserted throne.


    Between sheaths of sightless grasses
    squats most of a rabbit, silent
    for dread. A tan archway leads
    past tender halitosis to
    mama's marination. Here,
    stewed with thistle, locust,
    carrot, and grasshopper,
    a horsefly crawls in its ear.
    Its immobile globes are halved;
    pearly ringlets to grace
    piratical physiognomies.


    Jelly and ritual; the syllable
    hopping like whiskers on the asthmatic
    wheeze of methylated spirit,
    the retiring gaze of a codfish.
    Life on a plate. The great old men
    in aspic, my fork, tantalized
    like spaghetti, shies away from
    the altar of its imprecations.


    A crystal glass of sputum
    is refrigerated, to pour lead
    over dredged sea life. The
    connoisseur's whoreson takes
    the mards from his mouth,
    scraping his teeth
    with bubos like sandpaper.
    Down the narrow paths
    through his father's nose
    rolls a fossilized skull
    from the kitchen floor
    of a Japanese restaurant;
    between his nostrils, an
    immobile flank of cannons
    and bowling balls, stacked tight
    against sneezes and the light green fluids
    who have frothed there.


    A midget iguana crawls back to sea,
    to emulate the smoking mounds
    of blubber, pure or malign, who
    romanticize the horizon. Along
    stony banks he swims until his elder's rock.
    In fright his tail, a humiliate rudder,
    clings like lichen, like moss to Rotunda;
    naught resembles it more than a snared, canned sardine.


    Beneath the rapids in suspension
    within an aerated ooze are
    heavy bubbles, sores of deuterious air,
    and trout like cutlasses.
    Through their snouts they curdle
    the marmalade, spewing out
    a hopeless residue behind their gills,
    a weighty dripping overflow like
    a bunch of white grapes.


    Heady wombs approach the ravine,
    snorting sooty incense, possessed
    by galvanized sunglasses. Upon
    his head a triangular protractor
    is glued, a Stetson in the clouds
    perpendicular to the red shift's cries.
    The toupée is attached with a stake and
    mallet to the breast of his eagle Ferrari.
    Chip, chip. Like the sneeze in my dream,
    the cabbie's outlet on the Verazzano,
    his hot snot is hurled, suicidal eagerness for


    The glare of twenty-six preens in inverse proportion
    my dullish greenery where the rabbi drinks soda
    and burps, constricting his lineage with burnt
    hempen cords and long intervals. Bad for his eyes,
    he constructs without effort a marmalade of
    ambiotic aspic with cream cheese, a cervical
    drunkenness where his touch has no priority
    over magnetic repulsion, a receptable for
    scorched retinas and wandering children.
    Beneath his eyes hang two jellyfish,
    squirming in tiny nets; when the chiropractor
    tugs on his spine they are pulled up to his ducts
    and vanish hungrily into his skull. It is then
    that he begins to type.


    The tinned sardine is a headless whore,
    whose innards nourish through spitting.
    Robert's sandwich bristles with tails;
    his bench reeks of oil and gluttony.
    Unconsumed, upon a towel he drops a leftover,
    and torches his brains in the wind.


    A vast chart hangs from a purple clotted cloud
    unable to dissipate, a pressurized boil with its
    flag unfurled, its trumpet cauterized by figures.
    In weeny processed print the message reads:
    "Interviews between seven and nine; grocery
    from eight to ten; wounds from nine to eleven;
    Oedipus at noon." You call the vet, he produces
    black dirt from his sock and worse from his trousers;
    when he explodes, a single drop of colored rain
    falls to scald his rented car. Go home.


    A crumbling binding upon a hill startles
    the nestling raven, whose red extracted flesh
    he offers meekly upon a found sacrarium.
    Upon the text he drops from his beak a black
    artery, pulled from his breast like a
    parachute cord; with this, he has no
    recourse but to burst in censorious flame
    and fly yapping into the cave.


    The color of scissors, scissors who
    snip little folds of enraged flesh,
    bleeds down the forehead, soaking
    the dinner napkins. Men at the table
    pocket their watches and glance
    erectly at each other's postures,
    their right hands encroaching upon
    their neighbors' goblets. Beneath the presidium
    crawls a masked mohel, furtively snatching
    the garnish of State.


    A high harness rests on the hillside,
    too mute to gnash its chrysanthemums
    with richly deserved spores, sundried
    roe, its skins hydraulically taut.
    Robert lowers his hind upon the tubercle,
    twisting his spine until its reads
    Help Wanted in script. Around him
    swim the bloated ova, vapid caviar blasted
    from the pressurized depths, mocking vagrants
    taunting the aspiring poacher, and a vast horse
    charges forth, bony yet inspired, crushing
    and mangling what fundaments are met.


    A soul is laid out for stew, configured
    like chicken parts. The task of the cook –
    to bury his snout into the underwing and
    soil his teeth with feathery floss –
    is my green archaic fish, dimly descried
    as indentation on the plastic rear panel
    of a leased refrigerator. With every fading hour
    some rib of this shoots its pate and another
    shred of scrawn confounds my crucial choice.


    At the secret signal the lizard-skinned forearm
    sets out, growing fibers along its banks for
    corporate reinvestment. With a nod I censure
    its twitch, and autist fingers, the forgotten
    residue of ancient prunings, start forth from the shadows
    to slither across the tiles and be blinded
    by mousetraps, G-forced scaffolding.


    The sun on the grass kneads forth prudish lumps
    of tears, incandescent insects like wet kisses.
    They roll on their shiny tanks, confident
    of the ventilation of legs like nosehair
    and the receding, sunken pools monsters
    call their hearts. Hard nits flog the air,
    scrapnel abounding for textural contentment,
    pitiless knots provoking in meek, cellular flesh
    a futile, painterly rage.


    Death is in squirrels or encased in what
    even under blankets radiates a sickly green
    reflection, the cold thick eyeglasses of
    an ichthyologist along the roadway, shedding
    hopeless pelts over the puddles of wastrels,
    the jar where like a mythic hand-me-down
    seedy round berries are jammed, no longer
    self-contained, but an ether
    for the damned and the needy,
    a sweetened bile which the electrified
    muscle accepts with sweating submission,
    the gut's corrosive weeping.


    White, grey, and green, the mucus of
    long reflection is brought to trial,
    escorted from its lair by men of conscience,
    and led to the chamber of rumination,
    whose discords pass as wisdom for those
    who cannot taste the revelatory stools
    whose bloody crapping overturns its justice.


    In the garden where feckless resins
    coagulate beneath shadowy petals, the
    bones of the eight children are enervated
    of calcium, and the white schoolmarm's
    chalky poker violates their medullae oblongatae
    with a ticklish needle, risen red
    like the secret eye. Pricked, the green brains
    fold like Western towns, vivisected model students.


    Noodles strung in shit reach
    for my eyeballs, clamoring for
    inviolate space in the sun. Repeatedly
    I nail a palm to my forehead,
    driven by a thirsty gale, but
    faith in intrinsic values is
    a depersonalized Olympian,
    whose balls of fire like spotty turds
    fall random and scorch the base
    of divinity with persistent excrement,
    the malign graffito of nature.


    The sun threatens my house, claiming
    natural rights of force. Giving them
    full credit I cannot respect them, and
    with a classic green candle I thrust
    tawdry smoke at the ozone, warping my
    human demise with an encompassing death
    in self-molesting flames.


    Gummed labels of another year
    hang browning from recalcitrance,
    a cloud of null statement. Silent,
    Robert regards his arm, a torturous branch
    like a fried noodle, member
    of the lackadaisical, will-less
    even to fulfill its apathy
    in violent soy sauce.


    Like a green path of air
    hornets symbolize their minks,
    casting fruitless vegetables upon
    priests and their aspersions. Witches
    subsist in bubbles, groping for
    breathing room; in swarms a conflagration
    of vital lungs crawls like an
    academic germinate back
    to the source, the stung furnuncle
    of the stage.


    I cannot relate what feeds upon bodies,
    chewing the forgotten cud of corpses
    from their now gaping dry mouths; my glands
    are splenetic like honeycombs, spongy
    like the wrath of an abstraction. But
    the wet depressions of their attentions
    lie fetid about us like sunken lightships.


    The sun busies himself with another quarter,
    and we escape notice, . Bereft
    of sense we stumble, gore-eyed chaperones,
    leaning on the upraised limbs of men
    buried under the sun. We cauterize our brows
    with lemon juice and coat our blood-gorged parts
    with an ice-cream not even night keeps chill.
    Above the hamper four dwarves tap the bowls of spoons
    with unseen impatience.


    Without wings the runner
    flees his perch, fingering his cerebrum
    with elongated toothpicks and pincers
    lately palmed. The sweetmeat nestles
    snugly within his hollow pawn and, the castle unfolded,
    removed organs clog the streets,
    a traffic in formaldehyde
    thus obscuring the grounds of crosswords.


    Rescinded like a man crossing the street,
    glancing with anxiety at his spats,
    the horse raises his lip like a stage curtain
    for Toulouse-Lautrec, and drops into the
    lap twenty white-legged dancing-girls,
    plump, warm, and reeking of flesh,
    twenty crumbs of pure incandescent manure
    around our ankles.


Excerpted from Dribble by Jacob Smullyan. Copyright © 2015 Jacob Smullyan. Excerpted by permission of Sagging Meniscus Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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