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From “more flinching”

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i
came
close to his
WET dog’s eye
& a FAT tear shared
animal PAIN sloshed &
seeped in between us —
“darling I’m sorry you
were born a dog &
people notice it”
,


2 COME ON IN, WE’VE BEEN EXPECTING YOU

like a clue
we found PEOPLE
in the KITCHEN
in the SUICIDE VEST
with the KALASHNIKOV

such beautiful, desperate weapons
their faces

had to be covered
so we didn’t fall in love
piteously
with the self-same wretchedness
we see in mirrors

a worryingly familiar scene
we’ve lived in will live in
the carnage
going on
behind closed doors

being told, regurgitatingly, “you only get one shot!”

but is it true
you only get one shot
when you get a loaded magazine
& plenty more
where that came from
in the MUNITIONS DEPOT
which I picture in Arizona, right
beside a render farm
and to the left
THE CLOUD
that backs up
and up and up
up
to where
are there edges, Bobby?

INTELLIGENCE tells us
to test the power of names
by naming things, for one thing
to name is to guarantee the end
like a starting pistol
BANG


            you name
                            it         it’s




                         !


                 smithereens


4

I am so indifferent
to the limits
of feelings
I can’t tell the difference
every time someone lifts my flap
the unwashed salad
the unheated leftovers
the sanitary products are standard
but bear no relation
to what I expected
to feel overlaid
with various forms of filth
don’t you sometimes feel
like getting wrapped in a dog towel
and buried in the hardening ground
under the Canadian maple? Do dogs
need to approach death
and back away from it
like I did when the vet injected
deep pentobarbital & his bowels
ejected across the floor tiles
I was there
to inhale his fur and weep
for my benefit
I am not independent
of my feelings this way
of talking about feelings
has fooled each one of us
                             I’d rather be given CBT
                             by a border collie
when there are fewer words around
my arms around
his only
adored and stinking
neck 
dead
up my nostrils
throw me in there with him everything is
in the cold
awful and I’m not OK
and without good reason
still here and
 
 
 




 
 
 
feelings
 
 
 

6 JUST A GENTLE REMINDER

A LOT OF WORK
goes into making sex alluring sex
is just this and that
but it seemed, for a moment, that a new
climax had been won when
even the sky fingered me
with a slobbery insistence when
we were retching with so much desire
we created a whole new atmosphere
grabbing at sex things /
using the sick bag to be actually sick in
now the shower curtain is transparent
it’s a way of saying, “I want you too
to have this experience
so that we are more alike
like a sign that life struck once
in a slippy-bits marathon
that began when our eyes were magnets
yanked to each other’s fully-charged
crotches at a picnic
when it was essential
to make every enhancement
to our ‘connection’ by getting seriously indecent
beside the Bluetooth wireless speaker system
until even the trees had to dash inside
to pour ice in their underpants”
while I choked up playing the scene, as we lived it,
united by our pursuit of arrhythmia or
satisfying itches to that
catchy bridge section in Chopin
(I couldn’t wait to come
with Chopin through his melancholic meadow
(not that I approve of background music
(I prefer to foreground the piano
by massaging it loud and all over
until the top layer comes off in my hand
and the pedal squeaks for humanity
(I like to FEEL a piano as an instrument
of interruption and consciousness
(though I also like to take light swims, to get away
from what I FEEL (today I felt
jelly beans resemble kidneys))))))
which throbs like everyone grieving
 
 

 
 
7 HERE, HAVE A NEW PUPPY

said the Russians to the French
to soften the dog-loss
but mostly the dog’s image the image
is the greater likeness
except we never seem to run out of images
sometimes something in an image
runs through me and that is very common
as is reading about something
that’s happening to someone outside of me
until I know someone outside of me
without any knowledge
it is a test for my knowledge
to hang around until morning
practically all mornings are news to me
practically all knowledge is news to me
practically all news is images
going very fast around the world
so we have to guzzle them
like wrapped food
— hot and on the run —
in one end and squitted out the other
[pics or it didn’t happen]
until I’m fat with implications
and containing not a sausage
 

9

I love a good weepy
dog-meme as much as the next crybaby
and nauseate irregularly
when the gifs load automatically
his hairy body
into my hairy body

unfairly the dog
becomes the shape of 2:13 p.m.
in me on a Tuesday

if we accept the world as totally fucked
there’s a lot worse coming
than dog hairs in macaroni cheese dog hairs on pillows dog hairs in rented flats in bathtubs in my hair in my dog’s hair in your short & curlies between my teeth in coagulant soap bars

some people are revolted
by dogs and dogs
are not up for revolting
I am revolted
when dogs are lacking

what if he did lick my cheeks
by which I mean “buttocks”
which were coated in whipped shea butter and
heavily comestible

it’s obvious he’s related to a father
he never knew
because we found all his needs
and perverted them
into a kind of inter-species loyalty
or the usual master-slave hierarchy

before laying down the crisp breakfast bowl
of the rest of his days
which gave us carte blanche to rush in anytime
and smother him with kisses
without getting socked in the eye
(unlike when I tried the same on Johnny (who spat my tongue out
      (& no one blamed him)))
when maybe all he wants is
just to go on
being less and less
subtle and alive
the way life becomes
very well known after its termination
 
 
12
If rigor mortis sets in
it means there’s somebody who needs it.
It means that somebody
is drained and not awake
and deems any speckles of life unusable
and he is dead and dead
all dead in the humus
of trashed bodies shoved down there
dressed in made-up relationships.

What’s your favorite part?
Mine’s every part
with a maggot in it. Maggots
mean that life’s still leaking.

It’s like magic
when his dead voice
is nauseating
and I can’t see him
so he might as well be invisible.
It’s like magic when he isn’t
and doesn’t have anything to say
and I can’t bear to listen anyway
so I just recognize my fingers / all
the injuries they’ve inflicted
while my skin drops off.

What’s worse than a maggot
in the EAT ME
GLOVE-BOX DATES?
Does the 5-second rule apply
to something that drops dead?
Is it true he might come back
and crack open a piñata
blue alcopops, bombay mix, karaoke, and a pint of nostalgia
which is like thinking in another language,
I mean, how it feels, not what it means.

Half a maggot, the memory of
mange marching across his fur
describes a lot of other feelings
the feeling that someone else is taking up the whole room
the feeling that no one could help me now
or ever whether I was on several edges
my hot core and noggin facing this hammering world
of brainlessness and sweetbreads
was always a favorite word.
I don’t know what it tastes like but I know it’s terrible.

a:ldskjfa:lkdgjsa
meaning
I’m so overcharged
that all I can do is literally slam
my hands / head / breasts against the keyboard.

Wherever there are
corpses there are maggots.
If we dig him up will he be wearing a jacket?
LOOK OUT
for the milkier, gentler solaces
which for all we know                   for all we know
could be the wind
or Chopin’s noise (still hammering the background) —
who’s seen it? Only its aftermath
is visible what’s not visible
is the aftermath of my screaming
 
 
20

you can catch me on the

     FLOOR / DOG / SYRINGE

periphery of the dying
and dead scene

     FACE (FEMALE)

maybe my whole life
carting sensations to the center
mopping shit up with towels

     SKULL / COFFIN

(there are feelings for these things)
while public petting

     CAR / PLANE / ROCKET

bodies leak it’s no surprise what I give away

     ONE DROPLET

you can have when the vet twirls off to deal
with some bloody business in a kitchen

     KNIFE / GUN

the hug-a-corpse scene gets deep in
the hold of what I am

     PARTY POPPER / WASTEBIN

is what I’ve not yet been
 
 
30

Who concocts the smell
of dogs which smells like
an extreme close-up
of the world oozing
in at the edges.
Full as an ice cube is full of liquid.
I mistook it for solidity.

The world is too full of smells.
Though it’s impossible
to see the top of it
they crawl between my legs
in the shimmering fuzz
on top of the plant
stickers of evenings
tongues held out
pocket-friendly air fresheners
strikes on our nostrils.
They come at me streaming.

Why the dog? Why not
the dog? Was it only a dream
of soil heating held
and stimulated
for his unique aroma.
It’s not a way in
but it places you somewhere
that smells strong
and looks strong leaving
behind us. Hi.
Source: Poetry (June 2016)

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This poem originally appeared in the June 2016 issue of Poetry magazine

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From “more flinching”

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  • Poet and artist Heather Phillipson grew up in London and rural Pembrokeshire County, in southwestern Wales. She was classically trained on the piano and violin and utilizes musical compositions, images, and texts for her video work. The medium of video, Phillipson has said, “allowed me to be all the things I wanted to be.” Phillipson also works with installation and sculptural environments; her practice extends across many media, including music, text, and performance. As a poet, Phillipson draws on techniques from film editing—notably montage and cutting. In an interview with Rhizome, Phillipson described how her processes intersect and overlap: “whether it's video editing or writing or walking between things in space, it's about the rhythm between the bits. And the bits are always colliding with or repelling or rubbing all over each other, synaesthetically. Structurally, the sculptural installations might be like arriving in the middle of a poem, not knowing what's going...

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