Punish me offwards. Illiterated and miniscular,
creaturely and grieving, I will twist my spine till thin
as branching chandeliers, hardly now trunk enough
for your hatchet to splinter free a Sycorax, ax prying
at entrails so detailed fornication’s hundred forms
seem curiously limited, insufficiently dental, glottal,
larynxed. Invagine me yonwards, soldier that you are,
Christ’s man and glad of it. November vents its wyverns,
wind scissors through my very boots, opens me cleaner
than your majuscules, your descant, antiphon and mass.
Ding-Dong Bell, blaming me weakly for God’s forgotten
knowledge; deafen me; act openly. Legs outstretched,
mare-backed; give into me, pour your wax. Pendicular son
of Mother Church, kiss me, seal me, please. Tell me,
is there, was there, ever, starveling Father, any graver
whimsy than was mine, ever a more choral thanksgiving
than was yours towards this crustulum? To you I yield.
Deep-gripping ward of my threshold, be twice a pestilence
and twice a cupping glass, scalding and bleeding to heal me
with horrendous sores, bittercold draughts, underwater cures.
Brood over my waves, that break and flood and freeze
within me daily, and number them, like sparrows, hairs,
or any fallen thing. Preach me your whole ghastly quadrivium.



Ostensive, twenty-fingered, awful tower teetering, lost
in virginity, in arcadia ensnared; I live stunted. Infancy
was already noose to me, already ruthless. I brooded in
my lair, each lesion on me hurting, worsening, having
known neither nurse nor name. Ice wand I nestled in
whichever hand, the palm of it, with hardly any color
left to pale. Owlet eyes have hardly known Arcturus
anymore. Newer minds than mine can scarce believe stars
ever burned or shined, refuse to. Vesper has somewhere
always else to fly. Summer never utterly arrived, sun-
rise never truthfully risen, sky glares back at me. I take
no air. Words on my lips now scarce, I heed no call.
Frost raises always now the same reproaches: Your hair
is ragged weed, your stammer a mere act; your blanket
needs repairing. Your stride now but a stagger, one limb
ever lags behind. You have written scarcely twenty lines
in two and twenty moons. Do tell me, concealing nothing,
what do you do all year? Would you be heard? Then answer
every question, though all itches in your ear. I burn
inscriptions, tune unfingerable instruments, collect unmatching
pairs of mittens, as if cold could ever press its dullest thorn
through me. I read backwards, lists of items I had thought
to hoard against the prune of hunger. Too full of ire am I
now to eat even a rindless fruit. Dark masses barely look akin
to moss, sheeting nothing, hardly ample as a handful of sedge
grass. I know them all, I tell you, the ivies, pines and lichens,
their greenest issues. Snow epoch, come again, I say. I will
bear it. Who will welcome white with me? Who will be buried?


How Captain Beardfoot Tamed The Octopods

Deck scrubbers will eat no barley bread unless
they kiss his physic sack, vacant adversary, demon
in adjutorium. All kneel, center helm—midships!—
force strong infusions, Sandwiched fore and aft, sloughway
almost gobbling potions, wormwood, salt shards sharp
as minster glass. Sharp noses swab here not!—or prow
be lopped! Sodomy, be thou now Eunomia to me; star-
board be my port! Swearing, flatulent, beery; he storms.
Yeses of a whore perplexed threading endlessly from each
end of him, nautiloids breach forth, bird-beaked and tentacled,
offering what dyes they have in store. Of such moans
are chorales made. Oxen-skin, his scalp hosts gnats, pink
sutures, saber wounds. Pricked words of raconteurs
and alchemists horn round the nape of him, circumscribe
boreal ears. Afflicted with dog skin, peduncles flashing,
snow-helmeted and red, he cares nothing for obligates,
caul creeping headward, calkward, bearding him over, whale-
faced enemy of all; he blows wind. Eyes staring, swollen
as with larval wasps; who shall find sleep when he sails?
Nor can poly-fingered mollusk scrape across sea floor,
crenellated basement of the world, and not awaken him.
Beardfoot hears creation out, even the icy stars. Storms reeling
round the poles his organ music, he swells this ruined earth.
Oh, do not ask how Beardfoot can! He is bold, colder than death.