INCANTATION AGAINST AN EMPIRE
I took days to move.
Inside the new house we built a new house.
This was your task:
wash the flanks of a stranger
until he says no.
Now I move the iceberg into position.
The fat comes off in strips.
We boil water
for days. Nothing means
the men in briefs will come back.
Smoke signals cover
the roofs of distant houses.
My life as a highwayman: lonely
punctuated by color.
Pots melt in the sun and when
your fly unzips
and your pants fall around your ankles
I feel tired.
I had most of this with a corpse in the room.
The judgers come clean.
We open doors
for the sound of opening and doors, and not
Now take my fingernails
and eat them, I know you can't stomach
my eyelashes this late.
I want you to change into something less thin.
This spirit takes me bodily
for its bride. My shower
is the culmination of thousands of years of thought.
It is full of mildew.
Nothing makes magic like the loss
of television. Take too much
feathery quiet breathing and try to tell me stories
about last night.
Last night: the opera full of dead birds.
Most things move
without meaning to. And when you are tossed into black
garbage bags and dragged down a hill
recall the bedroom summit
and its kids.
My corpse stays in the bedroom.
Nothing means barbeque like hail.
The great thunderclouds of unmitigated and flabby thighs
roll down our chins
like drool. I know my hands won't shake.
Our plaid shirts mean everything
when the executions begin.
The iceberg means nothing.
I want to spread
the fat of your body across the table.
The iceberg smells like
a shower after years of sleeping in a mouth.
The iceberg won't move
without my hands pressed against its shoulders.
I know the iceberg
slides across the chest of sleeping women at night.
Crazy little girls jump from roofs.
We catch them in ponds, cut their hair, weave their limbs
into nets. I want fish
in endless quantities stacked under my bed.
We're too drunk to move.
It's Sunday. We need more work.
It's Sunday and we're too drunk to move.
The dog unrolled its dick and we all watched.
The world is a basement
full of bodies
grinding like machines against machines.
I have loose skin
hanging from my arms like parents.
We can walk you off the cliff like a husband.
Sleeping women in all their ill-meaning stupor won't
drown in the pool, won't
undress me with care.
I am a part of the things that we see.
I am apart from the things that we see.
The sleeping women are
a part of the things we see and the things we don't and each other.
We can wake them up by burning down their house.
I have a mouth full of grass.
The sky opens,
your mouth opens, the girls screaming
open, the boys in
tight pants and brake-less bikes move across
town and I'm still here.
Leaving with all loneliness and piss, the time
when the temperature changes
into the cold bodies of the sleeping women.
The sidewalks smell like sperm
I come into the room and downshift into awkward.
Through great rocks smashed
into car windshields
everything gathers, we are all there in the street.
I am in love with one version of the world
stuck in my head.
The sleeping girls stuck inside my head breathe
nothing 'and the news
is nothing.' We can't stand the levels.
I am not the same
all over, my parts are all rotting
and cheese, the lights
go on until they stop, and a quiet man
sits in a folding chair outside of a brown and vacant
building for days.
Nothing gets the move to matter.
We are not children, our balls
are waxed, we are the sleeping women and the vats
of boiled pasteurized beer.
The tokens of that loss come with more loss.
The open window
lets extinct bees into our glasses.
The sleeping girls can't perform exorcisms
without spitting into our mouths.
I scream for the ghost
of the ghost of Jeb Stuart to protect me.
When the lights light on
several stars fail to appear:
the places where brains become
At the outset lines create order.
We can become those
that plant dead fish in their neighbor's yards for the smell.
We can become those that won't swim.
The lines degrade
into limitations on our nudity.
I am one from whom fluid can mean nothing and becomes
the air the sleeping women breathe.
We must feel good
or suffer the dismemberment we all dream of: ears floating
in a kiddy-pool, fingernails
lost under a couch.
I propose a mass suicide in the sea!
I propose ice breakers.
When you left me in the room I knew it was the best room.
I can take no more breaks
The tables without chairs create motion sickness.
You are strange and in your strange
you bury babies like trees.
Sometimes our roots get tangled and our memory goes green.
This is when you take off your shirt
and walk out of the room.
I can take
the body apart with wrenches. I wait for most things.
I can take your teeth from your skull.
I can take your tax evasions, your passive aggressive urination,
your tea-time stomach aches and your violence.
Rain starts, the pavement
smells like dirt, the pavement feels like dirt against
the broken lower half of your shoes.
I have hands of bread.
Today a bushel will become the beginning
Something can come
from nothing. The tree line
then a ghoul. My fluffy hands
then your eyes.
I turn down a street to turn down a street:
nothing comes from jaundice.
Nothing comes from my basement after
hours, after days.
The corner then a horse tied to a tractor.
The content love becomes nothing.
The discrete series of my failures: subway stops,
apartment appliances, buzzing
televisions screaming on an otherwise loud night.
Because I take off my pants, because the cars
won't slow down when I take off my pants, because the fire
keeps eating my pants
I can't leave the city if I wanted.
We have hands
but no methods for castration, long lines
but nothing to buy.
The sleeping girls are my phobias, the subway stops, the Divine
Lorraine in shambles, the boards over
the windows of an empty house, the new black paint
on a door, my feet, the sidewalk
Drew Kalbach lives in Philadelphia. He is the author of the chapbook THE ZEN OF CHAINSAWS AND ENORMOUS CLIPPERS (Achilles Chapbook Series 2008) and of the e-chapbook THEATER (Scantily Clad Press 2009).