Cleaving Ouija

The Planchette

“Sylvia Plath’s voice
is powerful because
it succeeds in
not negating—
vital contradictions”
—Mary Lynn Broe,
“Enigmatical Shifting
My Clarities,” Ariel

The Ouija board—is dead
It doesn’t talk—it’s cardboard
The Planchette—lives tho

You know—that by now
It’s midnight—séance time
It’s how—the dead speak

One night—in New Orleans
Mardi Gras—high as a kite
Deep in the—French Quarter

I met an—old voodoo witch
Who showed me—how it works
Her Planchette—and Talking Board

Automatic writing—is an Artform
Like—everything else Ouija
It triggers images—charms words

Her Planchette—was old
Ancient—and Chirico-esque
Disquieting muses—grumbled

Vieux Carré—descended
Over me—like a Bell Jar
There on—Royal & St. Peter

I ended up—staring out
Through elaborate—ironwork
Balcony galleries—into Night

I became—an unborn fetus
That’s what—a séance is like
A formaldehyde—hangover later

Mississippi—Delta muse
Francophone creole—iconographies
I heard voices—from Jackson Square

I bought—Madame Zimba’s
Black ivory—jixed planchette
For a steal—$10,000

It rattled—in an old shoebox
All the way—back home
Back to—Baton Rouge

According to—The Times Picayunne
Witch Sacorax—died that night
Peopled wanted—that Planchette

So I dropped—out of college
That semester—Bad Boy Bayou
Just to play—the Ouija Board

There’s a place—deep inside
The Swamp—called Zero Zone
It’s Cyclops eye—Midnight sun

Cypresses—moonlit cemetery
Rows of—shadowy headstones
Like Sylvia’s—Court Green

Voodoo Hoodoo—Ariel-esque
Mississippi levee—close by
Long before Katrina—arrived

Each night—the Planchette
Guided me—across the Board
Mardi Gras high—Lost mon amour

Japan—had its Hiroshima
Europe—had its Auschwitch
Katrina would be—our killer bitch

But that was—in the future
All mixed up—in magnolia time
I parked my MG—and listened

I could hear—the cane fields
South of campus—growing
Waxy smooth—in the moonlight

I was deep—into mulatto love
A kid—who smelled like sugar-cane
Nude—sweaty, sharp machete

I picked him up—after work
His skin was—pecan brown
His eyes—alligator gar green

I let him drive—fast at night
My Huey P. Long—Deep South
Decadent—Camelot romance

I lied to my—trusting parents
I skipped classes—kept an empty
Room in Balmer Hall—so what?

That’s what—it took to die
To speak—with the Living Dead
Rotting palms—my mildewy lips

The dead—aren’t doppelgangers
They ride—Streetcars Named
Desire—they dance at Lafitte’s

Ouija—is a night journey
Across—dark Lake Ponchatrain
To Walker Percy’s—gone cabana

Percy knows—all about it
Moviegoing—thru old movie
Houses—moving thru time

Initial readings—(re)write
Texts play—subversive games

(See—Michael Riffaterre
Modern Ouija—Textualities
Baton Rouge: LSU Press 1978)

Readings—as textual entities
More dream-state—than awake

Like Medusa—many-headed
Serpentine bouffant—coiling
Uncoiling—snakey insouciance

Making a deal—with the ennui
Dead—and the peanut-eaters

(If I were—an intellectual
I’d call it—publish or perish

Like with—Ted and Sylvia
Their genteel—divagations
Were pastiches—parodies

Like a—broken record the
Same old—palimpsest jive

Apparently—the dead
Well, they’re just as bored
As we are—the living dead

Is there really—any difference
Once you start—playing the
Textual entity—poetics game?

Beyond—rhyme and reason
Word-craft—surreal seasons
Only spontaneity—cures?

My Planchette—originally Creole
Clairvoyant—now Anglo-Saxon
In vogue—Jambalaya Love

(Re)reading—my (re)writings
Oozing closer—to Ouija Lit
The story—of my voyeur life

Years later—when things go
Bump in the night—it’s the
View Carre—speaking thru me

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