Thoughtography

Thoughtography

 

For a long time, I’ve been fascinated by the way people use notebooks to collect fragmentary thoughts, bits of dreams, deja vu. Several years ago, I saw an exhibit on the Spiritualist Movement, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. An entire room was devoted to photographs made by Ted Serios, an American bellhop who was alleged to have the psychokinetic ability to project his thoughts on film. (The scientists who tested this ability called it “thoughtography”; one photo was supposed to be of Jupiter’s moon Ganymede.) I began to think of  “notebook poetry” in these terms: as projections, experiments, postcards of places one has been and one has never been. A cross between magic and fraud.

 

*

Current dream address:

elbow-shaped corridor,

from terminal to plane—

residue of a _____,

ribbon pinned on the _____.

*

The unidentified baby in the family album. Somebody’s planted him on the photographed lawn. He’s alone. The photographed world made by the camera. My mother’s family is too large and an album can’t contain all of them. All of us. I’m in the tree with them too, but somehow a tree’s the wrong figure—maybe it’s always wrong. The family is the boundary, the cutting-off point. In the wrong hands we can all be identified.

*

Lost receipt for iceberg,

adopted a highway.

Might be taxed,

maybe eunuched?

Too I-driven

for steering committees.

In the pawnshop

I became the pawns.

The sea minded its business,

as the sea does—

*

Never

should neon be black and white.

Wear casual

but know biohazard’s better.

*

Advice from Hitchcock to a fan:

If baths and showers scare your wife,

take her to the cleaners.

*

Fate

lacks gold,

is no raiment.

I hope it was the trio of weavers

planned me.

Mildewy tarp, who made you?

*

the train between France and Italy

only in the tunnel

does the face come

together

in the glass

 

La mer

gradually becoming il mare

*

The boy from Nepal. The nosebleed waitresses.

The view of frozen lakes glinting like tinfoil,

the Celtic coils of river. The mysterious circles—

alien visitors, farmland, meth labs.

*

White

picket

family’s

glass

bottle

hanging

upside

down—

in honey

wasps

congealing.

*

I teach at the magnet school.

I am a magnet, the students my pins.

I am a magnet made of a body.

Pinpricked by laughter blood a cousin to metal.

The students drift and break into pieces.

The magnet lets us go.

*

January Itinerary

February Obituary

March Mage

April Acryllic

May Might

June Djinn

July Jellyeye

August Locust

September Number

October Disrober

November Knavember

December Dustchamber

*

Factotum

breezeway

widow’s walk

fishladder

fiddlehead

deadfall

proscenium

*

Lady carrying balloons with pills

into the prison

Babies filling ambulances

Couples waving to solos

A smile the rose,

The eye a thorn

*

I live in subdivision with mother,

she paints porch pomegranate red

her age her afflictions she curses them

my Judas friend drops message

I have something important of his,

but when did I take this?

my hands open and smile against

torn catmint, shattered ficus

*

My phone photographs darkness in my pocket

When I run out of hands, I put the mouth where my money is

*

She works at the dummy corporation

manufacturing dummies

At night her oiled hands

soothe the voices of hinges

*

Strolling like two figures

in Chekhov, or idling,

like movie characters who must

            spend the whole movie

waiting for the husband to show up,

            and the husband is Death

 

*

Cottageporchpantry

rakingboyhere

louveredpanelsslatsburlmarlmapledriveway

withoutvehicle oilcloth

mildewneedlebrokenonturntable

turncoat flatleaver

 

*

Only the wrong numbers find me—

on the payphone

 

*

Blizzard & the street openings

I can’t see, first-communion-

white, a mother attaching the baby

to the slide, the Jacob’s ladder

of first memory, everything deaf,

as if sound were power we

paid for like electric—

*

Green the flow

ers

in comas

red the predators

mauled by the

yellow god-sun

Black steel flowers

pistils and stamens

on bldg tops

wintersummer

bildungsroman

*

To inhabit a language

where I think

can mean uncertainty—as in

I think this will reach you—

*

The girl in the Bond movie has to die.

No beauty can be around for a second movie.

Only M survives—such an efficiently meanfaced

taskmaster: little icicles of hair,

mouth the color of scrapple.

 

*

Unwrapped the New Year.

Looked for a sex but found none.

 

It will have to learn to be April, be October.

Little formless one.

Even before you bleed you need bandages.

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