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.
|Publisher:||Sagging Meniscus Press|
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.
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By Jacob Smullyan
Sagging Meniscus PressCopyright © 2015 Jacob Smullyan
All rights reserved.
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
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,
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
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.
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Table of Contents
Index of First Lines,