Indulgences

              She said now I'm going to teach you what I
              learned in Paris one summer.  I put a fish in
              her mouth, and tied her up to the cutting table
              and told her I was going to show her what
              I learned in Vietnam one year.

                                                                                   Frank Stanford, “They Were Society People”
 

We've been watching, and I sure hope you don't mind me saying
                           We're flattered you finished it all so completely.  I'm talking
The way that you dabbed up the last of the blood
                                                                                        With your bread,
                           How the shrimp were left mired in the wine like you hoped
They'd get desperate for air, and then in rush
                                                                                        Its flavors, more flavors.  It's clear
Now to me and my cook you're a man who can handle the menu
                           We don't show the others:
                                                                                        Might I recommend
The Iidako enlivened by salt and swollen with clicking Palmetto bugs
                           Lodged in the throat of a hedgehog,
                                                                                        Dequilled, of course, trussed up
In the still-sweating heart of... But this part could ruin us, rat'ling off
                           Each ingredient.  Still, so exciting…Alright, an
Artichoke heart, the largest you'll find anywhere. 
                                                                                        God, we can hardly believe
That you're doing it all with eyes open; it's as if you've, somewhere,
                           Had better.  I'd better peek into the kitchen to see
If we can't step it up with a glaze of pure silver, adorning the skin
                                                                                        Of an eagle, the kind
God stopped crafting outside of captivity.  Where from?  A zoo, I'd imagine,
                           Or someplace like one; there were cages,
                                                                                        Were feathers and blood. 
                           Oh, but now's not the time to slow down.  Understand:
Injected into the bird's core is a wafer-thin mint of white phosphorous.
                                                                                        Bet you the bill
You could knock it all back long before oxygen has its way
                           With the stone.  And you have!  When we look at you, me
And my cook are reminded of children like bundles of sticks in the televised ads,
                                                                                        Ones, like some beautiful ex,
With teeth small enough to strip elephants down to their skeletons in only minutes,
               Or moments, for who needs precision:  Bones, then, begetting,
With meat as their currency, bones;
                                                                                        Quite a transaction,
               Much like the odorless handshake the rice on your plate
Shared with Le Agent Orange (a glory it basked in),
                                                                                        The garnish's French
Curl tic'ling the mustard which crumbles inside you; some sulfur dioxide
               That dusted it tangles its tongues about ethylene
Pricked in the condiment's seeds:  Blood diamonds, all,
                                                                                        Fine as Pompeian dust.
               We insist you maintain a professional face;
We are all, after all, connoisseurs, only sampling Russian brûlée:
               An Eastern-spiced cousin with fingers (tines, really) skewered deep
                                                                                        In roulette.

 


To Witnesses, Amid the Blurbs

Priceless voices for the voiceless; I've heard so many voiceless they've begun to sound like him.
Have you read the new one on the 15 dead boys, all of them my father, to be honest/precise/fair. 
[I] wield the witness' gaze like a laparoscopic abstract noun,drilling "Daddy" into every grave.

And they come trickling back, the one we meant all this time, softly.  Not the boy whose parents
Let area children fill his mouth with dirt, but the personal cramp we meant while inking. So,
Earth remains unbroken, as our father(s) neither died, nor tasted like the flavors we designed;

Gluttony for tattling, a defiant indictment of concepts and unfashionable corpses, gluttons all
Beset by one thousand fathers, the real mean kind, though not one would stand to see us chained
To another who is chained to an armoire, resigned to watch the line of children form before us.

Boy:  Your choking has brought the only peace the peaceable have ever known.  Yet, no sooner
Have I scrawled this than I have somewhat accrued a heart which transforms despair, as would
The head chef at a high-end cat food factory, into joy.  There is no malignancy left in language

But for wishes:  That the victim speak, as clearly and coldly as the melancholy, though, with this,
A curse for balance:  That his voice leave our mouths full, descend as a procession of kids dumb
And zealous, as a movement generous and gritty.  But that isn't fair.  You see, but that isn't fair.

 

 


Christopher Munde's poetry has appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Blackbird, The Literary Review, Massachusetts Review, Third Coast, and elsewhere. He completed his MFA at the University of Houston in 2008, and received an Academy of American Poets Prize in the same year. He lives and teaches in western New York.

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