Dear Ra — Johannes Göransson
Birds are dank today. I bet that fucker George W. will be our next president. I bet he'll deport my lazy immigrant ass. I have an active skin. I was expelled twice. The only reason they let me back in the army was because I could recite every dimple on your buttocks. My name is Junior. My crime is a cow. I wish I was still cuddled and huddled, petting my knife, drinking ginger ale. You plucked me out of a mayhem - nickel by nickel, pound by hazardous pound - and dropped me off like a wounded bird. That is you were like a bird and I was like a wound. You feel like a lock that won't click shut. Unless that's a monkey lost in my vents. There are no monkeys in Seattle except in the zoo and I'm not a zoo anymore. I'm naked as a shelf. My turkey is torn. My gorge is still gaping. My tangle is blown. I shouldn't start smoking again, but the world has grown boggy and my brain has gone cold. My friend hisses that his crown was once made of kisses. He wants me to teach him to lie. "All that stuff about this so-called "Ra" - You actually had me there for a while." I tell him, the key is fooling yourself. I learned that from you. You heard it at birth. It's hard to tell if you're knickknack or a celebrity dragged through the dirt. You sound like a train that won't stop at this station. Have you ever listened to carpets? Have you heard fur issue its edicts? Where were you when you heard Kurt Cobain had shot a bullet through his head? I was making out with K. Minneapolis will always sound like that in my mouth.
If I'm not a zoo anymore, why are rabbits still gnawing on my crib? Why are Catholics nailing up posters all over my bathroom? They don't approve of my new study of women. I wrote: "Gold is at hand. The snitch is a snatch. We've drilled her, we've thrilled her, now lets travel her tombs." Did you know that before I I fixed engines, I burned myself with cigarettes? My crimes were committed to a worn-down dance hall. I lay on my bed and couldn't sleep and smoked and smoked.
I wish I was wearing a suit sown during a looting spree. I wish my name was Mohammed. My future looks blue. I better wear shades of the flu. My name is Johannes. My toys are sick, but I'm gonna make something out of my life. Something that will tear apart places and pound in your halls. Something no orphanage could dream up, not even during a fire drill, not even when the children discover that the doors are locked and the alarm is real. Send me clues. Yammer and stammer. You know how I love it when you don't make sense. But most of all I love the way you whimper when your pants are down.
So much for Petrarch. He was born in Italy. I was born with a sick sound in my head. So much for poetry. I'm writing this with a hard-on.
The only man who truly can read the writing on the wall left town yesterday to pursue a career as a gold rush. The bereaved child wants to paint snatches all over your photograph, but I only have one photograph of you left and I want to keep it clean for my official history of stares. You probably wish I said "stairs" because you like that song by Modest Mouse that goes: "My heart belongs to stairs." My heart belongs to a drive-by shooting. Your heart belongs to something less melodramatic, such as a cockfight in an alleyway or a hotel where beautiful women get ready to attend a concert where the main instrument will be a cockfight. Your sleep belongs to a ship being salvaged out of the icy Baltic Sea.
My sleep has crumbs in it and sometimes it makes me dream about fascist insects, and sometimes it makes me dream about you. Just last night I woke up from a clumsy dream and wrote a poem for you. Unfortunately I wrote it in gibbered Swedish and it's hard to translate. I address you as "snapphane," a kind of guerrilla soldier in my home province in southern Sweden who continued fighting the Swedish army after it had stolen the province from Denmark. I wrote that my brain felt "hafsig." According to the dictionary this means something done in a hurry, a sloppy job, but to me it sounds more like a book with pages falling out or a shirt with the stitches coming undone.
This place is full of stitches. Somebody told the landlord I haven't been picking up my dogs' crap in the backyard. Somebody told her I watch TV all night. So far no complaints about my loud thoughts concerning “the true self” and other grotesque dance-moves invented in suburbia. Right now my brain is a dog chasing its own mouth. Right now we're toys in a game played by children who don't wash their hands. I worked as a whisper in the Santiago Stadium. I worked like a Saint in a conundrum with spokes. The tick inside my ear should be pulled out with tweezers! I blame it all on that little fellow. I tried to camp out in Death Valley but the Indians are bad this year. I blame it all on the Indians! The Indians and the ticks and the tramps and the lambs! I've forgotten how to pull the trigger!
I don't know why I'm telling you these secrets. If this is an opera the pearled ladies and shaven men will never get the smell out of their clothes. This opera has a moral about hygiene: You're it.
Little of this has anything to do with you. It's even starting to have little to do with me, and more to do with "dressed in divine hunger" and other phrases I've misheard in Bruce Springsteen songs while driving across country in a noisy truck:
I'm heading back
to the winter palace,
where we learned
a garbled dance.
it reminded you
I said something
about your fingers.
compared them to mice.
Pretty is as pretty poisons. You know that saying from your teenage nights at the gas station. Blackmail is too dirty for a girl with such white fingers. Fraud is too tame for a man with hoards hidden inside his pajamas, a man who's made idolatry a way of life, pork a state of mind, and mush into a marketing scheme. It wasn't the right crime unless we were willing to do the time inside some sacked palace of Rome or a house without furniture. My hands evolved from monkeys, your mind evolved from sand. The bar on my block was named after a judge who outlawed language. Now we just guzzle and snort. A peddler has packed a bag of screws. He wants me to join him on a ride to Hanukkah. It's snowing. It's the year of the squealing pig.
Iconophilia is not a disease, but it's taking over. It's not a chest but it's hinges are hard and its ribs brilliant. It's not a joke but I'm laughing at a lawn fire. It's not a break but I'm touching its edges. I could turn it into a cathedral for you but it's already a house and it's impossible to figure out who you are because I'm locked in the basement. Again.
The land I come from is cozy.
I was an omen of
the coming of vulgar
comedy shows and rap music.
It was the shape of my cranium
that tipped them off.
It was the shadows in the yard
that cemented my reputation.
Anti-sickness sounds narrow on my wilted radio. Futility companies barge through my doors. Grisly events make up this mutilated Age of Symbolism. Symbolic moments. Symbolic masses. Symbolic tits. Symbolic bridges. Do you know anybody to symbolically sue? What do your posters symbolize? A symbolic innocence? Do you know me? Do you know my real name? My symbolic name? I do, I do. His symbolic name is Mr. Scrape.
Contrary to rumors, we're very different. You're skinny. I'm skin. Contrary to rumor, I didn't kill poetry. Chairs are made for heaven, hell is made of grass. Questions don't need answers to be true. Tractors don't need women to get stuck. My friends all tell me I forfeited my game of thickets. The hammering in the ceiling tells me they're right, or that the upstairs neighbors are building something with many nails. I never knew the rules. I never even learned what piece was my throat, when it was my turn to move. You had to spell it out to me in what could have been sign-language or an attempt to swat a fly.
I want my skin back. Of course I mean that metaphorically. Contrary to rumors, I've never been tortured. I can tape feathers to my torso, but it won't change your choice. I was selected as a missionary to the sub-blurbs because of my knowledge of crawling. I've built a career from falling out of tree-houses. Christmas is slow this year - child retarded, star jaded. The bang has been brutalized. Some officers were suspended. Drinks were on the house. Now they're on my forehead. Let me out of this concussion. Let me drink from your sink. Don't let me leave for Graceland without a guide who understands my torso. Ra, you're the tricky sound that thrills me, a fork in the socket, sand in my eyes. Me? You don't know me, but you owe me a hand. Or at least a finger. I like Ghostface Killah because he rhymes cereal brands with diseases that make animals' eyes goopy. Your name rhyme with stuffed bra and candelabra, but I'm not a rapper. My name is Meme the Mongrel. My job is to steal from my hands and give to my mouth.
Welcome to the cringe game!
Your turn to talk to the devil!
Your turn to invade
Mongolia on a rickety horse!
You sound like a secretary at an abortion clinic. Very pleasant and understanding. I sound like a protest raging outside. Who's scared that this snappy rodeo won't last through the night? Not me, Miss Typewriter. I use an organic deodorant. I don't smoke anymore. I don't even drink. Odds are I won't wake up on a lawn without my glasses again. Odds are I won't wake up in your bed. Still I can't sleep. Must be the coffee. Could be the carp. The world is such a quick place.
Why did you ask me to star in your musical about overpopulation? Why did you cram the whole orchestra into my pit when all you wanted them to do was swallow their violins? Nobody wants to hear songs about panicking fingers or infected mouths. People just want to be told that they're good and that everything else is a conspiracy theory. I want to be good, but I may be a conspiracy. Once upon a time I had a smile, now I have a grin.
I'm waiting for my gun to tell me where I should move. Should I travel to the city of obscure film festivals? The crammed city? Sold City? Should I start calling myself Jesse? Should I collect shoe boxes? Should I give up on the Minnesota Vikings? Unfortunately I don't have a gun. Unfortunately my gun doesn't think I'm joking. Unfortunately my gun is lost in a tantrum. Unfortunately, this bed used to be an arrest. This criminal used to receive letters from girls. This foot used to break when I kicked it into couches.
Was it the eels that scared you? Or because my eyes look like fists? Did you think the cops would suspect you were a terrorist? Are you a terrorist? How would I know? I'm just a lurid lawyer stuck in a library shelf, but I am going to become the President of the United States of America. I'm going to walk to the corner store and buy some ginger ale!
I did and now I'm back! Now I have a big plastic bottle to suck on! Now I speak with the renewed enthusiasm of a child star whose career has been revived in a hilarious new comedy about child stars! Outside my corner store journalists are trying to invent a childhood that sounds strangely like a paralyzed man trying to get up in the morning.
My throat feels like a worn whip. There are spots on my skin that didn't used to be there. Poor me. What if the house burns down? What if Seattle blows up? What if I'm accused of being a cowardly madman who never killed anybody glamorous? What will I do tomorrow? The future is a woman wearing a tight skirt, and it's sliding up her thighs. Too bad my binoculars are fuzzy. I was invented by a nomad couple. My car is loaded. My neighbor is laughing.
If Petrarch is all about the longing for transcendence, then this poem is about shellshock. If Sir Philip Sydney's Astrophil and Stella is about masturbation, then this poem is about imperialism. If your name is an alternative spelling for raw, then mine is an alternative to rabies.