Cleaving james merrill

The Ouijaist

“The poet thinks
continuously of
stratagems, of
how he can
win out against
the poem”
—Jack Spicer,
“A Textbook of Poetry”

my favorite—fortune cookie
the extent of my—famed occultism
to see into the future—to forget the past
let me unravel it—it’s in my billfold
i remember the night—so very well
at the hong kong—bar and grill
since torn down—for the light rail
up there—on martin luther king way
when i snapped—that fortune cookie
just for me—and what’s his name

a chinese sage—wandering in
did a little pirouette—on the table
it really did—surprise me a lot
i almost choked to death—like isodora
strangled by a much too—long silk scarf
whine of a distant—high-pitched cuisinart
it was james merrill—in the backroom
getting ready to—entertain the guests
sharpening up—his dreadful planchette
getting ready to—read my beads

candlelight—and skittish dead queens
always made me—somewhat nervous
one never knows—who’ll show up
miss auden—marinating in his grief
hating everything—remotely greek
while chester—always managed to
show up with—the latest ouzo apollo
i shan’t go down the list—it’s shameless
under the jelly lid—always a rubber
the parthenon—full of prophylactics

the ouija board is guarded—by spirits
spine-tingling—young gargoyles in heat
throbbing impatiently—in the wainscoting
a roach clip, a martini—a busy night
the dead of course—never giving up
the deader they were—the more they talk
schmoozing thru time—the great beyond
priests of king tut—dishing the décor
bored stage hands—moiling in the wings
zip of a zipper—unzipping the stiffs

communing with—the living dead
is so hollywood—so very decadent
the screams coming—from down there
in the palace bathroom—of the bijou
it’s victor mature—getting robbed of
his manly strength—and curly pubes
by hedy lamarr—the vindictive delilah
with her giant scissors—so very sharp
while george sanders—sara of gaza
and russ tamblyn—fight over it…

vulgarity—comes and goes like LA
each night—a night of the living dead
the ouija board—always very busy
full of sunset boulevard—has been’s
looking for their—great comebacks
gloria swanson—her swimming pool
mulholland drive—doppelganger bingo
even bosie—shows up again sulking
and pouty—looking for a bit-part in
tacky—lady windermere’s fan…

i suppose things—could be worse
lon chaney junior—son of dracula
putting the make—on louise allbritton
there in the swamps—of louisiana
along with—the scream queen
of horror movies—evelyn ankers
dark oaks plantation—how he glides
so smoothly—thru the swamp gas
from his crypt—and bayou coffin
looking for a little—delta action

wishing you were here—dear ones
moiling in the magnolias—ratting
around in the—humid honeysuckle
lana turner—getting beat up again
by her favorite—las vegas hood
lex barker—sexy tarzan millionaire
getting it on—with her daughter
bored bette davis—sizing up the
séance room—“what a dump!!!”
she says—smoking her cigarette

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