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Exquisite Corpse - A Journal of Letters and Life

Three Poems
by Youssef Alaoui ||
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First Leftennant M L: Mlle R.R. May Be Aware Of Communications

Dear Sir Leggett,

I remind you that Mademoiselle in question might occasionally peruse subject titles on the email server as she has permitted herself to use my internet account and passwords to access the web. She therefore has every opportunity to scan my personal communications.

Have we anything to hide? I say not.

That being said, life in the trenches is absorbing to the worst degree;
with the daily crossfire, a normal occurrence,
taking on my utmost and yet unnecessary considerations,
especially when I am apart from such pesky interferences.

I mean to say that an episode may happen, and pass,
and even after an appropriate reaction,
such an unending spell of reflection is cast on the incident
that even the smallest perturbances
might awake me in the middle of the night
from the most meditative slumber
with a chest full of beating heart and the sweats.

To one degree, it is well within my nature;
that such considerations are of genetic or chemical origin.
To a second degree, these reactions move in phasic episodes,
each building, gathering, the total becoming vitally consuming
and then all ebbs into background noise. To a third degree,
and perhaps the more interesting,

is that there may be a cosmic rationale:
on waking at odd hours of the morning, I have perceived the lights of my neighbors illumined-- they may have had adequate cause
to wrest themselves from their bedcovers
and seek solace on the cool kitchen floor.

Although I had not heard sounds emanating from neighboring apartments,
they were indicatively stricken with a similar stress
and woke just before me
- which brings me to the question - does insomnia travel in a cloud over the city, lumbering from block to block, house to house,
quietly sucking up Morpheus' gems like a cosmic slug?
Despite my interest in the aforementioned ideas,
I find the whole thing derouting and unnecessary.

I conceive of the writings lost and the projects
yet unplanned or unassembled due to my continual
confoundment over simple situations or personal affrontments.
Were it not that pride sits so big in my priorities
that I feel I have more to share with the world than it will currently permit.

A tour of these foxholes would reveal to you
soldiers caught up in their own images cast on mudpuddles,
soldiers barking blindly into the air; ululating surnames of their ranking officers
and dead compatriots;
bumbling in circles
with a dozen or so rifles tied like wood and
cast upon one shoulder.

The War is endless, Sir Leggett.

My better soldiers fire repeatedly into the chin of daylight.
Their bullets catch fire in the blaze of the sun
on their voyage to whomsoever may conjoin their path
- be they enemy or wanton fellow freedom-fighter.

My sharpshooters fire into the belly of the dark.
Their bullets strike targets like icicles and drag in stars from
the sky; shaping the sky into massive concentric cones
aimed into the torso of individuals lucky enough
to be nullified at the mercy of those so fine as my delivering soldiers.

The shapes made by the stars slanted from the night sky
as our army's bullets pass through it
form the letter V over and over, for Victoire
which is the goddess at whose breast
every last one of us would love to suckle.

Or they are Zs for Zarathustra who promised us all
diminishment in life and a brutal ungodly end in the afterlife.
Lastly they become Ws for "why?"
as in "whyfore" or "whycome" or "why stop?"

And my people continually disappoint me.
And so does my self. And the tears will not
yet come, though I call them silently
as I prostrate myself to the exquisite powers every evening
before I make my next attempt at s l e e p .

So I propose finally, that if God is smiling,
is this base existence all there was ever meant to be?
Is it all just THIS?

Or, if God is INTENDING to smile,
then where can we, as reasonable men and women,
auspiciously place ourselves and which are the acts
that we are to perform in order to ENTICE God to smile upon us?

I await your concise answer along with the supplies I have ordered.
It remains unseasonably chilly here at the front.

Best Regards,
Group Captain Y

Asassa Berberia;
Woman Who Married the Mexican Carpenter

Take care, sweet one,
for the rings of riches
have a blood ruby punched into every one.

They fall continuously
ruisellets on the black mountain face
of human pain.

As with your hair.
Black at its heart
with red gold tints
hilighting a woven pattern

from years of work outdoors
with your hair plaited and uncovered.

But do take care
for you are a naked child in life.
One whose skin is pale
but blackened by the mountains above.

Your husband calls
from the next room and you arrive.
"¡Can't you make me a spell
where the Patrón falls dead
and when his body stiffens
we get to bust it like a piñata
and all the jewels
fall out over the countryside
enough for us, enough for
everyone here!"

is not bad...
it is dark and dusty inside.
your walls come straight up out of the dirt.

Your forefathers built massive cities
out of the mud of the Rif and Atlas ranges.
They crouch unchanged to this day.
Your ancestors also helped
the Arabs to navigate.

Today, Insh'allah,
you will help your husband
to be rid
of his boss.

Love At Sea With John Reed; May 1916:

Damnable oceans erupt and swallow
entire schooners; leaving not a sign of them.
Shrouding black-blue canyons trimmed by thick froth
form biting teeth as I have witnessed immense
vessels overwhelmed--
Grander is the purveyance of your lips upon my body.

Dour and convoluted skies bearing loads of rain, vaulting
ten furlongs, tread the water's surface
on flashing spindly legs of molten iron; the seas'
snow-tipped caps are drawn upward a fathom at a time
urging to caress the belly of ruptured bleating clouds.
Such commotion only pushes us closer against one another.

From obliterating voluminous leagues stretch blind
wavering tentacles, bleached luminescent, grasping
at skimming hulls to nourish on the human life putty.
I am less than I was; more than I will become.
You are effete yet vital.

Last night I cried to God
and God cried back over his steaming tisane
of licorice spiked with mescal.
I wailed at him in pain for having cast me upon
these 'scapes
and he slid the ship's planks from my feet and
across my back and cracked my head against the mainmast.
Such unforgiving dialogue!
But I will not ungive the parlance of your body against mine!

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