Stride Magazine -



An obscure alley              in the heart
of blaring
Naples.              My mother found
the church finally.              She'd dragged us
miles for this              in baking heat:
in two adjacent              glass display cases
husband and lover              stood long dead
and gone but              for blood vessels
clotted solid, preserved              forever. No-one has
recreated the poison               his wife concocted
to wreak this                revenge, stopped blood,
her poetic answer              to incontinent passions.
The vessels hinted              wireframe human outlines
from fingertips to              penis, immaculate, fleshless.
This way immortality              can be achieved.

Her father taught              speaking in tongues,
hit her because              a household needs
authority and control.              She had to
speak the Word              in Pentecostal meetings
but when hit              she said nothing,
she wouldn't surrender              a single sound.
Mute like a              beast under dominion
but escaping, born              again into veganism,
not scriptural, not              her steak stuffed
father's loveless duties.              You can think
like an animal.              And I came,
her stray lurcher,              to protect her
from her father's               laws and inanimate
thought and I'll              try killing him.

Fat on lard              cake, the baking
that his mother              always keeps flowing,
stretch marks where              his belly overawes
lazy trousers, nevertheless              his mind is
monkish on metaphysics              and illuminated manuscripts.
Mother thinks appetite              will help him
off this obsession              they call schizophrenia.
Feed him back              into her conspiracy.
Neuroleptics, dripping and              his rosary beads,
empty signs left              where he was.
It spirals beyond              measure, dizzy hermeneutics
and therapy take              their toll on
enlightenment. Fatten him              like a pig
for a celebration              of motherly slaughter.

It's well known              that Albertus Magnus,
theologian and sorcerer,              spent thirty years
creating a curious              speaking iron man
that answered questions              infallibly. Planets dictated
the unknown elements              in its construction.
Aquinas destroyed it              out of jealousy
I think. But              did you know
also that Magnus              had a pet
snake he was              awfully fond of?
And that this               android ate it,
every last shred               of its skin?
The android required              a constant diet
of snake meat              and when archaeologists
found it recently              it was pot-bellied.

Mountains, lake, lemons:              Torbole, here Goethe
fell in love.              Through honeymoon dripped
satellite channels, news              of the
's massacre in              the ice-cream Alps.
Goethe the romantic              under olive trees
drinking wine with              a new Margareta
(not the pizza)              would be bored
by their eternity.              It comes from
long roasted winters              of Rosicrucian mysticism.
Basil's an anti-depressant:              in an
still at home              with pagan masques,
and British poets              eternity seems unnecessary.
We liked
Verona              but flew back
after a week              to forensic details.

In this hell              I can't have
you. I can't               have you. You
are the quintessence              of all loves
I can't have.              There's nothing else
I want. Wanting              is the process
of consuming you.              This is hell
ruled by you.              The process of
becoming you from               the inside out,
of you reciprocally    sp;         eating me from
the core until              all that's left
is my ghost,              pale and plainly
in this hell              still where I
can't have you.              There's nothing else
to say. Wanting              you I want.

Andrew Nightingale 2002