Kurt Cline is Associate Professor of English and World Comparative Literature, National Taipei University of Technology. His full-length book of poetry, Voyage to the Sun, was published by Boston Poet Press in 2008. Poems and stories have appeared, most recently, in BlazeVOX; Danse Macabre; Mission at 10th; Wilderness House Literary Review; HuesoLoco; Apocrypha and Abstractions; Black Scat; and Clockwise Cat. Scholarly articles have appeared in Glimpse; Anthropology of Consciousness; Concentric; Beatdom Literary Journal; and Comparative Civilizations and Cultures. Cline is also a performance artist, theatrical magician and singer-songwriter. His original album Alien Shoe was produced by 12 Studio in 2013.
THANK YOU NOTE
Thank you for never letting me go
Thank you for deserting me when I needed you the most
Thanks for being the only home I’ve ever known
Thanks for leaving me under this streetlamp all alone
The book the bookmark swizzlestick & fiddle
the hat the phonecall the riddle
thanks for these & the anchor-chain
round my middle the ample warning
the full knowledge
waiting for the card to turn
torn out torn down undone undoing
the forgetting the foregoing
of coming into town where we were to rendezvous
& remembering to smash me over the head with it
this excursion to the hinterland
by the seat of my pants
the futurity the futility
searching for the one in the many
Thanks for the luncheon you cooked me
in the eye of the hurricane thanks for
hello & goodbye
the meeting me
in the alleyway
the secret we shared
in the wind tunnel
the silence of the new moon
the lion in the sun
the everything that was
& still has to be
altho’ past forever in the stars.
Thank you for the possibility.
God forgive me!
Heaven help thee!
never’ve gotten mad.
I had taken precautions against Lunar New Year
to such an extent that Christmas Day was spent mostly in bed
& managed to work late & delicately disengage myself
from a dinner invitation that would not seem to take ‘no’ for answer
so great the pauses on the telephone--& ridden home in the cab cradling my head
in my arms & intoning “boy oh boy” over and over
it’s Christmas Eve a midsummer night’s dream
Bastille Day this year falls on Friday the Thirteenth
Thanksgiving the day of my execution
awaiting on the sideboard my customary brandy
& codeine cough syrup having run out’ve sleeping pills some evenings before
& so no friend could penetrate the curtain of loneliness except for one mad girl
It’d been years since we’d spoken. She used to sit in on literature classes of mine
though she wasn’t officially registered & had no family of which to speak
as her mother was dead & her father a Buddhist priest. So, she became,
as was my mother before her, a bit schizophrenic. We’d spent an entire
summer together reading Coleridge’s The Ancient Mariner
in its entirety—line by line—you understand
her native language was Mandarin—
in a bookstore café piling up transparent cups
of an imaginary tea party finding at the end
oh my friend connections between everything
beyond even poem to the loneliness of life
which was not to fully penetrate until the daylight
of that infernal January 1st. El Dio de el Muerte
Cinco de Mayo Fouth of July Tomb-Sweeping Day--all these
I recognized as April Fool’s Day
by the color of my jherkin
screaming in the silence—someplace
called heaven phanstasm among mirrors
from previous existances at the center of all
piped-in monster-movie music deeper & deeper
underriver giver of forgetfulness roman candles shooting
fountains of flame or is that the orchestra? The day
the silence really hits—with all the force
of a realization—something
out of Hemingway
not quite Fitzgerald
perhaps a bit Faulkner
a snake a question mark
or is that only a snake?
No definitely Fitzgerald.
Anyway the transparent cocktail shaker
Raymond Chandler gaging from the
bullet-hole in my breastbone & I’d ‘ve lit a cigarette
if only I smoked. Blackout drunk
stuttering on the phone. Glass ashtray.
It’s Soupy Sales; a child’s Christmas in Wales.
She keeps changing her mind. A stranger
in the mirror in the counter-clockwise waterspout
a good place for an unmarked grave
a good place to let it be known
no one ever helps a gravedigger.
In the wrist-watch factory
Engineered by yours truly
In the padded cell made to order
In the lunatic asylum of my own device
Unchangeable shakes the nest
& that’s how they’ll find me
Nesting together sprockets & screws
The invisible elephant
Just ran off with a rather meek bottle of Bordeaux
Egos arm-wrestle one another
Under the table. Just below
Subconscious level. Black Ghost
In the back row, far right corner
Of the haunted garden
Once sprung with such pretty posies
Sez let’s put on a play by Shakespeare
Such a thing’d be “IMPOSSIBLE” announces Dr. Invisible
Being the closest thing to the new Number Two
In this entire tropical hotdog night.
Is all we can do wonder and wait? Listener more
Than rubbernecker I lay inside. But what happens to me
When I wake? Books whose titles outstrip their content
Such as The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyeveski.
The novel of my dream is so engaging.
What happens when I wake up?
Maybe it’ll almost be time to go back to bed again.
Those guys knocked me nutty, Monsignor, I must confess
Like dice tumbling in the glass bird-cage of green centuries
Shadow-Man tumbles out of me
Born from an egg
Emerging inside the Great Sleeping Mother
And that Christmas Eve it was A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Quasars radiate ten thousand Buddhas
Circle past as though propelled by a magnetic field
The following enigmatic love affair
May well border on the limits of incoherency
Suddenly caught sight
When they drew near
Creaking objects riding
In the place of birth
Varied sounds emitted by
Neighing horses to mournful verses
But the name of the young lady
Is a million-trillion cubic light years distant.
Two vortices annihilate one another;
In any case another mystery lapses into a black hole
The turquoise sky to mend
Full many a year I wend.
Only one vanishing survivor to carry
Stones for the repair of heaven
Each pair consisting of
Circling night & day
Each the opposite end of a cylinder
They prepare thousands of years
For another cosmic block
Of worthless stone an unknown
Spot where it would fall. Earth:
Let it move on. Attend
The spectacular cavalcade the whirr
Of its concealed engines
It had originally been devoid
Of brass bands playing military marches
Various family trifles
Fashion blocks of myth
So deeply embedded
One can hardly hear
The clackity-click of messengers
From Night’s Plutonian shore
Obstacle is no more
Death disappears down the cool road forever.
Imagine a gigantic Ferris wheel
More than a hundred –thousand light years across
Cars would pass by, rooms full of rooms made of doors
Colorful flags, electric miniature explosive charges
Carrying thousands of beings in tombs & religious icons
Picture too the ominous mood as some of the cars
Pass into a massive trench in the earth
A galaxy rotating in a current flowing toward its center
Necks off into a plasmoid filament
Only one or two microns in radius.
Whence the story begins
Reader can you suggest?
Circuit high beneath the surface.
Infradimensional filaments of dreams
Constitute my central argument.
An opportunity soon arose, at least indirectly.
You who are daughter of the flood
Can you spare a meal for a knife-sharpener by trade?
Fortune hasn’t always been so unkind.
Once-upon-a-time advertising signs advertising nothing.
Soon became melancholy meaninglessness. Construction crews
Are rumbling down the alleyway in the morning
So I guess it’s time to say goodnight, my darling, sleep well.
Soon jackhammers will jackhammer the pavement to pieces
& other pieces of heavy machinery will reassemble it all again.
I scrawled a note: “The final love affair of my life, however brief
Breathes in every poem I write—or will have written
Afloat in a moment of timelessness.” Getting used to
Blending into mossy bricks & concrete. Disappearing behind
Gigantic sunglasses like she used to when we walked together.
THOSE MISCHIEVOUS MAGPIES
I grow disenchanted with misery. When will she? The particularly jolting page of my
journal to which she turned was quite open and unaware of being observed, much less
dreamt of. She and I were engaged in mutual detective work, floating past the Isle of
the Dead in a Spanish galleon
Her deceased father was there, drinking and laughing with friends from the province he
always remembered at home, but to which he’d never been able to return. He waved
from afar. She’d made her way—carrying her child—down 17 unlit flights of stairs
during the great earthquake of ’01. She was happy to see her father so happy
Then drives up the Taxmobile
Pirated by Brian Dragon
Who tries to warn me off the case
& informs me I am wise to inquire
If I can purchase any of the cheap
Plastic crap he’s peddling
But his girlfriend Claire
Forgives me nevertheless
Whereas those mischievous magpies
Send a seven-pointed star around
In between sleeping pills
When everything looks alike
Went under them—them under us—
She remembers the exact date and everything. But none of this comes through in the
isolated snapshot of a single day’s diary entry. Those mischievous magpies again!
Can’t disentangle them from of my hair! My money situation so close a razor couldn’t