WHAT’S INSIDE A GIRAFFE
My friend Raul, for one. I mean, he wasn’t eaten by a giraffe or anything, that’d be freakish, but he was on safari and it was cold and he didn’t bring enough sweaters. I wish you could have read the letter he wrote me from that giraffe, so filled with heartache and suffering, but I mistakenly set it on fire in my kitchen sink. I couldn’t help it. My kitchen was so cold and I didn’t bring enough sweaters. I’d just lost a quarter of a million dollars playing pool with Antonio McDyess. In his letter, Raul said he was dying out there, that even halfway around the world he couldn’t stop thinking of her. As the sun set over the plain or whatever it is they have in Africa, it reminded him of how her head used to dip below the horizon in the exact same way every evening, full of corn. And then darkness, like the inside of a giraffe. Once, I covered my sleeping bag with blood and wax to see what it was like, to imagine how my friend Raul felt, alone, cold, inside a giraffe. I dreamt I was playing pool with Antonio McDyess, who, when I found myself a quarter of a million dollars in the hole, told me of his own safari in central Africa, how he’d run there after the only woman he’d ever loved, his mother, told him she never wanted to see him again. It was cold and he didn’t bring enough sweaters. That night, from the inside of a giraffe, he wrote a letter home to Raul, but it was so covered with blood and tears that Raul couldn’t read it, himself too covered with blood and tears. I awoke early that morning, before dawn, covered with blood and tears. O Raul, where did you go after you wrote that letter four years ago? I imagine you in a nearby village, in love, at a feast following the circumcision of young boys. The sun is setting over the plain like that of your beloved, covered with hair and teeth and no longer pained, like the inside of a giraffe.
VAL KILMER IS MAJESTIC AS JOHN HOLMES
Almost I rushed home from the rubik’s cube factory to tell you this: rubik’s cubes are totally awesome. Friends, should we perish amongst the red and black wolves of the revolution, always know that your fellowship has meant the world to me, like the diamond cup from which I drink human blood, says Superman in the opening of the new Justice League film. Now, let us unite and defeat that crazy guy with hands all over his body! Almost I rushed home from the orphanage to tell you this: I have brought you a son. Oliver. He’s a second cousin actually. Isn’t he cute? Should he perish amongst the red and black wolves of the revolution, we will drink his blood from our diamond cup. Rubik’s Cube is majestic as Cubeman. This afternoon, I shall attempt to jump the red and black wolves of the revolution on my snowboard. Will you and Oliver be so kind as to join me? I’m trying to save us, I’m trying to save this world, laments Superman in the new Justice League film. When I was a child, I spent the summers under the angry red and black suns of whatever planet I’m from detasseling corn for my gym teacher, who in turn told the other detasselers I was gay. Vengeance is finally mine. Rubik’s cubes are totally awesome. Tonight, after we have defeated our enemy, removing the crazy hand guy and placing him in a safe zone where he’ll receive adequate psychological treatment for a difficult childhood that has negatively impacted his contributing role to society as an adult, we shall feast upon human blood. I will regale one and all with childhood stories of detasseling corn under the red and black suns of my home planet. Oliver, my gay little scamp, will regale us with stories of his own childhood under the white sun of his own planet, where he spent his summers drowning, drowning in a red and black pool of wolves night after night after night.
WHEEL OF FORTUNE
After a night of bewitchery, I awake lying
on top of a moving fan with many
excruciating owies across my back.
I find a note tattooed under my left arm.
St. John of the Cross, a second grader
from Bolivia, has learned cursive, he is happy
I received his note. When I was a child,
I would wake and find words written in blood
under my left arm—love, death.
One night, the government hurried us away,
flooded my town to build a reservoir.
They said that our existence was suffering,
that when we became aware of this, we
would no longer feel pain. I think
of this while bandaging one of my many
excruciating owies. At the reservoir, yellow
leaves blanket the black water, green
lights ascend into the night sky. They say
that Herzog once ate a shoe. I never
imagined it would end this way. Me, standing
at the edge of a country club swimming pool,
holding a frisbee. You, walking away
in a red dress, never ever looking back.
THE FACTS ABOUT TURQUOISE
Almost I rushed home from the country club to tell you this: golf is totally awesome. Developed by aliens circa 3000, early versions were played between chimeras and asps, the winner sacrificed in the name of Osiris. Few will forget the legendary golf pun in the Sermon on the Mount: golf is for those who like to stroke it. It is totally awesome. Following the Crusades, Benedict and Martin Luther christened the most beautiful golf course in America Pebble Beach. I’m in the woods so much I can tell you which plants are edible and an asp is a venomous snake, said Lee Trevino. A blood sunset, a white iris. Golf is the most fun I’ve ever had with my clothes on except for that time a chimera ripped off my clothes near the hole nine water hazard at Chimera Creek. By Jah, that was a fun day. An asp had bitten Brian on the neck, Raul and I took an oath of brotherhood near the hole three chimera hazard. A blood sunset, a white iris. Golf is totally awesome. Technological advancements improved it circa 1700 in the form of no more torturing the unclean or games of erotic intrigue and aspersion. King William proclaimed it the hero’s testicle in 1800 and the hero’s other testicle shortly thereafter. Chimeras and asps are totally awesome. During the year of blood sunsets, I lost my virginity on the hole seven sand trap at Asp Woods. Gary Player was there, lifeguarding. Later, the Honorable Elijah Muhammed would become the first black man to double birdie hole seven during one of the darkest blood sunsets in history. Raul and I had just taken an oath of brotherhood in front of a chimera, an asp had bitten Brian on the neck. A blood sunset, a white iris. One night, a week or so later, I woke up near the hole six fire hazard, crying. Far across the mercury, the last remaining chimera was quietly swallowing itself into one, tiny, white pyramid.
ELEGY FOR SONG
My favorite part of Paradise Lost is the part where Dante goes to a rock concert for one of his favorite bands, The Rabbit as King of the Ghosts, and the lead singer comes out wearing this huge parka and he starts jumping around, screaming and so forth to the songs, and at about song three he starts to get pretty sweaty, so he takes the parka off, and underneath he’s wearing a winter coat, and he dances around some more and hides behind a curtain, yelling for a while, and then after a few songs he’s starting to get really hot, so he takes his winter coat off and underneath that he’s wearing a spring jacket with epaulets, and they play more songs, which really rock the shit out of this place and Dante’s really into this performance, because, you know, who wouldn’t be, right?, and the lead singer is really getting sweaty, so he takes the spring jacket off and it turns out that underneath he’s wearing a turtleneck and a green Christmas sweater with white reindeer all over it, which is just awesome, but he keeps getting more and more sweaty because he’s so full of emotion up there, so finally he has to take the green Christmas sweater and turtleneck off, and underneath that he’s wearing a short sleeve t-shirt that says I like it on it, and he’s just still really sweating, and it really looks quite unpleasant, so he takes the t-shirt off and underneath he’s wearing a vest, and at this point he jumps onto an amp that’s really high up and frankly looks kind of scary to Dante, but whatever because this is all amazing, and he’s up there screaming and, well, not always screaming but more like doing a lot of brooding up there, then a lot of screaming, and he’s still super sweaty, so he lathers up his face and shaves his beard, only he shaves it off in sections, so like, by the end of one song he’s got a goatee, and by the end of the next song just a soul patch, but he’s still really hot, you know?, so finally during the big send up at the end, while the band is really rocking like no other, he rips off his vest and underneath where his chest should be is pure white light, which shoots out and bathes the audience, and the whole world dissolves into white and feedback, so loud and bright that Dante thinks his body will explode, and then the show just ends and everything goes away and Dante is standing in the venue all alone.
Jason Bredle is the author of Standing in Line for the Beast, winner of the 2006 New Issues Poetry Prize, and A Twelve Step Guide, winner of the 2004 New Michigan Press Chapbook Contest. He lives in Chicago. (knifemachine.com)