Clive Matson writes from an itch in his body
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ARE THEY ONLY WORDS

(Black Rock Desert poem for Diane di Prima)

Clive intends to honor Diane di Prima by knocking on her door and reading this poem to her.

Are they only words? Skittering and jig-
sawing in patterns like pretty
shells and pebbles in a child’s fingers?

“The sidewalk is
crumbling into diamonds.”
On the playa
nylon tents rustle in the breeze, pale dust
rises in alkali whirlwinds
and those words kick up a cyclone.

Take inventory. Take inventory.

I’m so alone. The playa’s so alone,
the half moon: so alone. Dust: so alone.

We fell through the crumbling sidewalk
into limitlessness.
Diamond chips glisten
in constellations, Taurus overruns tiny sparklets
of our innate wisdom the Seven Sisters.
Ten-dollar bills drip from the Bull’s horns.

Exact words tunnel through to what’s real,
spread micro-thin
over everything and hold
that skin of the world in place.

Take inventory. Take inventory.

Reach down and pull up what our bones
already know.
Persephone came for six months
and now her visits repeat year-round.

She rises through my body with seeds
and thumb-rubbed gems in her fingers,
dissolves into Sisyphus
who returns as Persephone
who dissolves again. Precious seeds morph
into the boulder
Sisyphus pushes again and again.

“The sidewalk is
crumbling into diamonds
and in the sky a mouth is opening
to take you finally in.”

Are those only words and you dance
coolly on, lips turned
up in porcelain wit?
Words in the wind to you and to us a portal
we fell through into sacred space.

Take inventory. Take inventory.

I’m so lost. The playa’s so lost,
the half moon: so lost. Dust: so lost.

The dry lake’s straw-colored silt
extends
to flat horizons 360 degrees around.
Sight’s unhindered through empty air.

Everything is sacred space.

Overhead in the sidewalk gapes
the mouth that took us in.
Our ultimate muse uses your voice
for a few perfect words.

YOU DON’T KNOW HOW MUCH YOU’RE LOVED

You don’t know how much you’re loved!
You don’t know
                      how every cell stokes this fire
and pours out slow heat, how my thoughts
round the corners of yours, how without thinking
these mouth muscles
                            shape your words with you.

You don’t know how much you’re loved.

That hummingbird poised at its hydrangea,
flitting curiously,
                      the cat at your feet,
how it follows your legs’ motion
and times its leap into your lap,

I look through their eyes.
See with their hearts.

I sneak spies on invisible paws
into feathery currents. My soul
infiltrates the air
                      along dirt tracks
and under rooftops and through doorway cracks.

Am I jealous of your pen
in hand?
           Jealous of your salad pine nuts
and jalapeno chicken?

That cumin spice and nutty flavor
I’ve savored already with my raptor tongue.
I level the crunch with my teeth.

I stretch so much I sense
how your fingers grasp the fork
and how steel caresses your fingers.

You don’t know how much you’re loved.

Do hinges know how much
they’re loved by the door?
Does the wall know how much
it’s adored by rafters?
If sky didn’t have earth, it would be
atoms scattered through space!

I wake and warm to your recent words.
Match their temperature and step buoyant
to the window. My reply
goes out through the pane.

Cool zephyrs wend around trucks
and sooted buildings and greet you,
“Hello, how are you?” “Hello, I’m here.”

You don’t know how much I love you.

This parallel frosting, this goopy vibration
would be too much
                              if you did, these eyes
looking into your air pedestal
from all sides!
                      Far too much.

Turn down the volume?
Slow the telepathic flood?
                                      No way.
                              Not possible to dam
the cistern that unleashes a frothy tsunami
that demolishes walls of the love house
                      and envelops everything
in sudden balmy oxygen.

Aromic haze fractals out my fingers
up from the one pregnant touch
                              of inside labia
and skin under foreskin.

You stand and stretch and I
                      sigh and sway, bounce
and smile at your feet with joy
while the underworld riots.

You don’t know but the breeze
                                            knows
and exults with every twist and glint.
The air carries prints of my heart
                as accurate as fresh snow.
This is its job.

Excerpts from Mainline to the Heart

Teardrop In My Eye

Fuck you, Huncke.
                           Leave me
         hung up for junk, waiting

alone in a dark room candles
you lit burn down in.
                           They unwind curls of smoke
like incense I remember we offered
weeks ago.
                  It is Nostalgia.

         I treat you mean
and I get what’s coming
down on Lonely Street.
I walk amid cold winds,
                           leaves
                       rustle
         while I blow.
No one to hold my hand.

                           Tompkins Park ~
a violet night sky looms,
one icy star in it. Is it
                           Venus?
     And on 3 sides
                       fountains I see thru squinty eyes
squirt white geysers like cocks:
streetlamps seen thru tears.

                  Wish you were here
& cruise empty benches
for the familiar body.
                           What’s the use.

                  Turn a corner, God
I’m relieved! Gone the terror.
No more hairy lump between thighs or
     mornings he slunk away
thru dawn’s pale blue light as
as I reach long arms
                       for hugging.
& grasp a rumpled blanket.

     I hoped for joy.
                           Why did he go?
This affair started with a smile that
opened caverns in his skull
When he gave me a blue china bowl.
                                    For weeks after

                           we took off

together jiving our way along
                           for outer space as
only we can. Will we
space out once more.

                  Have I got heart for it,
Now I’m free I can
go to Chatham Square a vulture,

     follow the fading rumors he left
behind with me. & these memories
     I would live again.

My Love Returned

                  The Moon rises
ass heavy: on the wane.
                           Wish it was full.

                                    I dream &
a huge bat wing arcs over skeleton buildings
and dips to touch ruby pinprick traffic lights
on the street’s horizon in mute salute,

                           when I take in another block
the black wing blacks out the lights
and I know it is the Vampire,
                           my love returned
in the city calling me to bed
with faint irresistible siren
over the cool line of telepathic desire
or echoing “could be” to my need

broadcast live out dewy eyes, glib tongue
and come-on slouch for months.

                  How does she know? How the seasons change
and my veins hold new blood for her to suck now,
new blood I can bleed

                  over the white & untried bed
and my teeth are white and sharp to eat with.
Now I brim over with come to shoot in her,
                                    I flap my jaw
and smile goofy at strangers
in the fullness of it.
                  Glad I’ll kill myself
& build a life with her. Glad
I’ll gaze into the wide blue eyes
                           I cannot fathom.

                  Not Christine not Huncke
not Martha could take her place.
I loved each and let each loose
the beautiful face no matter or
how strong my yearning ache,
                           Cut off
at dangerously hot by a circuit breaker
or fanned to blistering flame so
she turned cold shoulders in disgust,

         Useless to give my all when it’s already given
to end lying anguished mornings on the same wrinkled sheet,
some yellow belly demon inside calculating
to save me for the One
                           or can I love at all?

Hear dark silence for the answer
& I’ve torn up the map, all highways
lead to the same dead end where
                                    I see no exit
away from the Horror,
                           why not embrace it.

                                    Love is possession
and we possess each other on a bone level
I don’t understand but we keep
a dim promise of happiness alive
                  or magic descends from the ceiling
& days light up now and then like sparkling incense,

                  I do what I want with her
as nuptial joy lifts toward bliss
that can not come true
                           and will carry me
thru boredom, fighting, anguish
the same scene repeated endlessly
                                    1966, 1969, 1975 as
                           over the years
Time binds us tighter together
in orbit around our asteroid or lovely room
where we are each other’s parasite
and no friend in sight,
                           where we’ll die
within the same few seasons fatally wounded
our better half destroyed

                  or God insert the drug, body, faith
can bridge to the old dream she devours
         & I love a spirit of the Dead.

Excerpts from Squish Boots

Molecule Daisy

Mostly empty space, this molecule,
and I am standing on it.

A skeleton on the median,
fleshless and clean. Its support:
one molecule at pelvis, one at heel,
one at skull. A spray of grass
pokes through the ribcage.

I am doing one good thing,
balance check: going shopping.
A dollar in my pocket.

On a thin sidewalk of yellow leaves
people walk by, not looking.
Maybe if I smile at this one.
Maybe if I look away.

Any twig, flower or bit of dust
could fall out of the sky and
scrunch! I’m one bug squashed
through earth. Sieved by a sieve.

Roam the body: legs move,
insides work, back flat,
balance check. Float on a
miniscus of good feeling.

A gutter-grate rattles: bony
fingers twist at the bars.
A skeleton tries to climb up
from below, with a brown
string and three tomatoes.

Here comes a thought! Kick it
before it pulls me down.
Torn duct tape, holding flat
a printed yellow sign ~ away.
The bank and office building tilt.
Is this a backflip into the street?
Turn head to an angle. There.
Level stays level.

The world’s skin is one molecule
thick and I’ve got it
between my toes. Don’t trip.
Molecule meets molecule.

An upside-down world underneath the street,
balance check. Cherry pits, a working
elbow, burp, old carrot smell. Garbage
eats itself because it feels bad.

Dismembered daisies clutter sidewalks.
He loves me, she loves me not,
she loves me, he loves me not.
The world’s skin is a thin
scatter of yellow petals.

Air goes in the lungs gently.
Don’t breathe it out your back.

Keep below the asphalt! You cemetary
crawling with spiders and bones,
one molecule away. Balance check.

Mosquitos come from the river
with probosci extended. Molecules slurp.
Maybe if I smile at the next
face. Maybe if I say “Hello.”

One toe on the sidewalk, balance
check. One toe on a molecule.
A dollar in my pocket,
going to the market.

Walking on a daisy petal bridge
above a boneyard. Don’t fall in.

Shadow Traffic

Animals and trucks
move around in my body.

You don’t know what they are.
I don’t know what they are.

A gorilla with peaked head,
ship’s anchor with barnacled chains,
yards of cowshit on a flatbed,
a snake ball, getting fuzzy.

Fuzzier. If they were clear
I could shoot bull’s eyes,
or direct traffic over-under
at the cloverleafs.

Shadows rumble through bottom
groin and center chest. They move
through each other without pain.

Each one carries a load.

I don’t know what they are.
You don’t know what they are.

Clear and I could ride
a hayload into the meadow.
Clang out a cherry-red shovel
on the portable anvil.
No one could match the speed.

“We are finding that emotions
at some level enter into most
of what happens during the day.”

I’m walking in a wool and pigment
forest or maybe the city dump,
or a mall getting landscaped.

I don’t know. You don’t know.

Knee deep then neck high
in gray water, from the roof?
Peptides flowing over the top
of the expanding liver?

You don’t know. I don’t know.

I am a clear glass pane
with thoughts and actions
written so clearly
they are not written at all.

Can you see your next act?
You think your next thought
without looking. Without looking
I do my next act.

Animals and trucks
move around in my body.