Cleaving spicer


Southern Vowels

“When Rimbaud
was sixteen he never
dreamed of Africa”
—Jack Spicer, The Heads
of the Town Up to the Aether

A Alabama—E Ethiopia
I Ivory Coast—O Okavango
U Uganda—Southern vowels…

Someday I will—recount your
Latent births—sleek black
African kid—in Seward Park
Overhead— savage gulls
Young truant—drop-out
Bored—skipping school

Black gold—quivering
Polynesian-African American

Poètes maudits

“I mean that the reader
of this novel is a ghost.
Involved. Involved in
the lives of Rimbaud.”
—Jack Spicer, The Heads
of the Town Up to the Aether

Streaming—in the moonlight…
The young sullen—voyant…
Reluctant to—give him away
But I had to—send him back briefly
To dismal boring Holy Park…
I had to—get serious
About finances—and security
Poètes maudits—accoutrements…

In the face—of Mathilde
Her Family—abandoning me
Because of him…
Nothing—sucks more
Than destitute littérateurs…
Dead-broke—with no money
His lips—huge Zimba prick
Thai take-out thighs—laid bare
Hiding his face—in the pillow
All night long—so shy
My Rainier Beach—boyfriend
Sushi—octopus lips!!!

The Young Fools (Les Ingénues)

"The Word puts on flesh
when he becomes sixteen,
seventeen, eighteen. The
Word before Whom all of
us are witless”
—Jack Spicer, The Heads
of the Town Up to the Aether

Miss High Heels—struggling
With his full-length—dress in
All that wind—beneath frightful
Arcades Palais-Royal—there
On—rue Martin Luther King…
So shocking—my dear
Yet a delicate—feast for young
Fool’s hearts—suddenly seeing
Dark pubes—flashing beneath
Billowing blown—petticoats…
Miss High Heels—falls down
Young Rimbaud—lying there…
Whispering—in his low voice
What he—always whispers—
What a little—male whore…
In the evening—when
Foolishness—reigns in
Café an Deltá—and The Rat Mort…
That’s when—Rimbaud plays
Hide and seek—with me…
Arthur Rimbaud—
Nothing can be—more alluring…
Than a young stud—in drag
Doing burlesque—his way
That’s more—Fem than Venus…

Seward Park

“Imagine, those of us who
are poets, a good poet.
Name to yourselves his
possible attributes. He
would have to be mmmm,
& nnnnn, & ooooo, & ppppp,
but he would have to exist”
—Jack Spicer, The Heads
of the Town Up to the Aether

What do you—want of me?
Seattle’s—scudding clouds…
Ardennais glare—red sky
Puget Sound—Elliott Bay
We were—alone
Walking thru—Seward Park
The lake breeze—blowing thru
His kinky hair—in braids
Dripping ebony—behind him…
Suddenly—Arthur stopped
Looked at me—and asked me
“Your loveliest day?”—out of
Nowhere—in that angelic tone
That always—meant trouble…

Slave Trade

“To love is not to
continue with the
Zanzibar slave trade.”
—Jack Spicer, The Heads
of the Town Up to the Aether

Before he—could ruin it
Like he always—tried to do…
I bend down—and kissed his
Chocolate ass—with the most
Sincere devotion—possible…
And looked up—at his face
Those Polynesian eyes—and his
Haughty—African cheekbones
A stranger—more than lover…
An interloper—from Hades…
It was summer—back then
And the woods—were different…
And the sky—and air and the
Seagulls flying—overhead
Around us—were different…
My cute—infernal bridegroom
He gave me—the usual answer
Sullen gaze—and querulous
Voice with—the usual shrug
Leaning back—against a tree…

Martin Luther King Way

“What Rimbaud knew
or someone else knew
is not incidental. Sentiment
is not to the point. These
dead poets knew what
was coming to them”
—Jack Spicer, The Heads
of the Town Up to the Aether

The fish hatchery—stank
As we sat there—near the lake
After we—made love…
I couldn’t—really blame him—
For wanting to leave…
All these—years later
Nothing has—really changed
The poplars—still leaning
There in—the quiet sunshine…
Telling me—to be silent…
I couldn’t—help myself
But that—was always my
Problem—not being able
To say no—to myself when
It came to—being indiscrete…

A Novel

“I, the author of the
novel, the dupe—the
danger any reader takes
reading these words”
—Jack Spicer, The Heads
of the Town Up to the Aether

I’d leave—him alone
It was wrong—of me to
Call him—all the time at
Home—wanting to see him…
Laying—my trip on him
Silent—African nocturne
I had my chance—with the
Young sullen—Congolese god…
And I failed him—and myself
What more—can I say?
He got—tired of me
Always hanging—around him…
He was more—into basketball
And running off—to the gym
He never—took showers…

The River

“What is the reason
For this novel? Why does
It go on so long? Why
Doesn’t it give me a lover?
“On the page,” Rimbaud said.
Why is the river? “I is the
River,” the ghost said.”
—Jack Spicer, The Heads
of the Town Up to the Aether

Lanky—kinky-haired ones
Entrancing me—always
Give me a cute—teenage African thug…
Languid liquid—sunshine oozing
Down thru—Venetian blinds…
My solitary soul—gets heart-sick
Strangled by—that dinge ennui
That never goes away—they say
Once you’ve gone black—there’s
No turning back—it’s true…
Who knows—more about love…
Than Mapplethorpe—his portrait
“Man in Polyester Suit”—pretty
much says it all—about why
Don’t ask—don’t tell is so true…
His mother—won’t talk to me…
Other than—she prays for me
Her son—going to the Devil…
If she only knew—how good he is
My Negro—Season in Hell

The Other Half of the Story

“Rimbaud is now fifteen”
—Jack Spicer, The Heads
of the Town Up to the Aether

These gay—anecdotes
Quickie koan—sketches tell
The story better than me…
About my newfound freedom
and sudden slavery…
Monsieur de Maute—
My bourgeois—father-in-law
Threw me out—and wasn’t
Very pleased—with me
Finding out—I was faggy…

Estranged Mathilde

“The signs of his youth
and his poetry. The way
he looked at things as
if they were the last
things to be alive.”
—Jack Spicer, The Heads
of the Town Up to the Aether

My lovely wife—Mathilde
Simply hated—young Rimbaud
With his kinky hair—and ethnic
Appearance—his tight pants
His deep low—African patois…
She was—jealous
His brown eyes—so handsome
And much—too knowing
For a teenager—fit more for
A rough-trade—hustler…

Young Poetry Animal

“He thought that poetry
didn’t have to do with
cages (which is didn’t)”
—Jack Spicer, The Heads
of the Town Up to the Aether

They nicknamed—him
“Boy Baptist”—at Chez Baltur…
The Rat Mort—Café an Deltá
Café an Gaz—Café an Suíde
God, poetry—and absinthe…
His artless—chickenhood
His smooth—uncouthness
Big hands—and big feet
His lack of—Innocence…
And his—clairvoyance
So animal—so exquisitely
Depraved—knowing that
I craved him—and his
Dirty—adolescent ways…

Rabelaisian Pleasures

“There is a zoo of pleasures to
Rabelais. To Rimbaud—but I am
too old to remember. It would
be wrong to say that the zoo
was a jungle, but the animals
did not seem to have cages”
—Jack Spicer, The Heads
of the Town Up to the Aether

His voice—just changing
Breaking now—and then
From boyish joking—to violent
Manly swearing—nostrils
Erect—and quivering…
He sought—to displease
A reverse—method that
Worked on me—forcing
Me to be—his slave trade
Forbidden—male moments
Tacky—Holy Park barracks
Before the light rail—ran thru
The ghetto—there on Othello
Their dumpy—duplex shack
Across from—the Safeway

African-American Poet

“They said he was nineteen;
he had been kissed so many
times his face was frozen closed.
His eyes would watch the lovers
Walking past, his lips would sing
And nothing else would move”
—Jack Spicer, The Heads
of the Town Up to the Aether

The musical—Cats
Hadn’t we—put our arms
Around each—other in bravado
With me gazing—like a bride
Into his catty—panther eyes?
Showing him off—the Paramount
Handsome—Afro-Samoan kid…
To Velade—Aicard and Merat
Jean Forain—Camille Pelletan
My poetic partners—in crime…
A longtime—gossipy friend
Edmund Lepelleter—wrote in
Le Peuple souverain—that
I was mincing—around Seattle
With a cute—Black Mademoiselle…
I brought him—to Banville—
Had him read—Le Bateau ivre…
But when—the master
have—a boat talk?
Rimbaud said—“Old Fart!”

The Blue Moon

“Yes. Yesterday is a lover.
If he turns around he will
see them—beckoning him
to some far off gymnasium”
—Jack Spicer, The Heads
of the Town Up to the Aether

He bullied me—I loved it
Took advantage—of my
And need—for sex since
Matilda—was pregnant…
I was proud—of Rimbaud
He was—my discovery
Seattle was—alive with gossip
About our—gauche friendship
And the way—we flaunted it
It didn’t go—well tho with
The Parnassian professors…
They were—prissy queens who
Saw poetry as—chatting with
Other boring—campus queens…
Valains Bonshommes—
Meeting at the Hôtel Camonsë
Or Les Mille-Colonnes under
Arcades of Palais-Royal
On rue Montpensier…

An Embarrassing Reading

“No way to turn except
upward. Rimbaud will turn
sixteen, invent a more
usable concept of sex and
poetry—a machine to
catch ghosts”
—Jack Spicer, The Heads
of the Town Up to the Aether

Léon Valade—aghast
“Verlaine’s—latest protégé
A most—outrageous poet…
Barely 18—with big hands
Big feet—and big whatever…”
“This kinky—kid a Terror
Teenage—John the Baptist of
The Left Bank—full of obscene
Unheard of powers—and evil
Strange—smutty corruptions…”
"He’s either—a young god
The incarnation—of some
Chicken Orpheus—or he’s
Just a strange—ragamuffin
A harbinger—of doom…”

More Gossip

“Folksinging says that
the youth of a hero is
nasty, short, will forever
contain one coffin”
—Jack Spicer, The Heads
of the Town Up to the Aether

The august—Francois Coppér“
He’s an illusionist—con-artist
smooth hustler—failed
Romantic—skilled amateur
Full of rackets—daydreams.”
Mallarmé’s—gay recollection
Obsessed with—the boy’s huge
Hands—fragments fallen from
Some Orphic statue—proudly
Foully—sprouting into view…
Huge red—rough hands—
Enormous—doltish feet…
More animal—than amiable
Locus of youthful—indiscretions
And dubious—innocence…
But more—than that
Proudly sullenly—sprouting
From—Rimbaud’s loins
Poetics—a terrible responsibility…

Capitol Hill

“Rimbaud offered himself
up to Africa. But he was
sixteen and a love object
when we eventually heard
of him”
—Jack Spicer, The Heads
of the Town Up to the Aether

I got Arthur—a place
To stay—for awhile with
Charles Cros—the poet…
In his—Capitol Hill studio
There at—13 rue Séguiler…
But Cros—too bourgeois—
For my young—misanthrope
Master-poet—who used
Cros’ copies—of L’Artise
For mere—toilet paper…
Cabanes—was different
Composing—songs for Arthur…
“Le Sonnet des sept nombres”
Refrains like—“Black Angel
What are you—doing on Earth?”

Album zutique

“Literature suffered
whenever he breathed.
Literature could hear
his chest moving. Great
armies of sign painters
came to carry him away”
—Jack Spicer, The Heads
of the Town Up to the Aether

Album zutique—
There at—Hôtel des Etrangers
The Zutistes—episodic camp
Like future—Dadaists…
Thighs, hands—pimples
And more than—a thimble
When it came to—satin-smooth
Oozing pale—opal jazz…
His asshole—was different
The heavy—praline carnal
Crack spread-apart—revealing
What his buttocks—concealed…
A manly—a sullen hole…

City Without Tears

“Shouts by the bamboo.
Birds woke him up. They
built houses on him while
He lay dreaming. There
Was a raft floating by
(a black raft, a black raft)”
—Jack Spicer, The Heads
of the Town Up to the Aether

Seattle rains—and rains
More rain—than the rains
of Ranchipur—Lana has this
Languorous—gentle hurt
Aching—sound of rain…
That pierces—her heart
A faithless—lover’s lie?
Gentle the—sound of rain—
Rainier Beach—roofs dripping
Enough rain—for a deluge…

Jet City

“I do not proclaim a new age.
That I am fifteen God only knows.
I keep the numbers in my head.
When I am dead
I will fall into a rage
And bite off all my toes.”
—Jack Spicer, The Heads
of the Town Up to the Aether

Raining—in Jet City
The city—without tears…
How it rains—and rains
All the time—when Arthur
Isn’t next—to me…

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