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Exquisite Corpse - A Journal of Letters and Life

Five Poems
by Claudia Grinnell ||
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Hunting, fishing, harvests from the ample growth -
one may imagine those to have been times of plenty

Then farmer Cain slays herdsman Abel, an act
which first appears strange. Yet, border and war

are ancient cousins and the farmer is more true
to borders than the cattle-driving herdsman.

In the book of history, this story is kept,
fossilized, pressed, and recorded on stone sheets

in all colors. However much one entrusts the present
with photographs -- images seen, not felt -- snapshots

filled with blurred faces. Even the church cannot give more
than she has. To ask for more, possibly a miracle,

possibly to ward off a picture
of the dying: the empress in a new dress.

Fall's a quick painter, she falls too, too slow
to understand. In galleries, we admire this miracle

of beautiful death. The tribe is gone.
When the old one died, a shortsighted gypsy threw stones

at blue eyes, a few leaves flew up.
I like to think she wanted to charm the crowd.

Leaves float by my window, blood red.
My hands are clean. I hold only the camera.


Would Be

Test and all.

Fastens the guitar.
Rummages about
just so. Yells.

women have--

Father would be envious,

(beer and women) both gratuitous,
mother would be
making do.

And he,
he would be(come)
(holy shit!) back

beat. In the cold,
he is allowed
one shiver.
Inside I

I've gone there: damn big area.
Furnished humbly. Windows
with a view. Others covered.

A few centimeters of carpet
over cement. Dust-colored. Musty.
Over-painted pictures by--

Also forgeries? Who knows--
A TV with small black-white pictures.
Programs from the 50's.

A grandfather clock, a varnished door.
Behind it, a tumble-toilet
with newspapers

for wipes. People?
Yes, certainly. Deep into conversation
over topic number one.


The Stages of Periodontal Disease

Early Periodontitis: gums may begin to pull away from the teeth

In old books, the lovers went insane because of love. Her hair turned gray,
her skin wrinkled, her head emptied itself--because of love, it is said.
I also read that no one ever went insane for the lack he could not feel.
Therefore, lack sometimes is a good thing.

Moderate Periodontitis: gum boils or abscesses may develop

This man, let's call him B, brought terrible disorder to her life. Her ashtrays
ran over, all her linen were stained, all her clocks ran fast or slow. For weeks
she smiled and danced and kissed the moon. In daylight her love withered
and withered and shrank. Soon she locked it into a shoebox with keys
to cars she no longer owned. When the man called, she wished to be dumb.
When he called again, she was deaf.

Advanced Periodontisis: teeth may become mobile or loose

Revolution--you alone are worthy of mankind. Here, words bloom
on blue lips, and a woman prepares a feast: with a few shy potatoes
that waited for her steps in the dark of a cellar, all the while sweetening
and ripening. She finds rewards in simplicity; in her oven, her pan without
butter, without oil, the potato halves fry--they can easily substitute
the entrée, the cake, the cheese or the icecream.

How The Body Dies

Willingly, at first, willingly, and a bit restless,
a traveler weary at endless delays and distracted
gate agents. An amputated leg: now we are getting
somewhere! Progress is being made! The body lives
for revenge--a lung biopsy--one lung is better
than none. The heart pumps blood through
ever-tightening arteries, several need to be by-
passed. The signs are everywhere: clips, sutures,
inflatable bags. There is still much left
to be done--a dotted line where the rotten appendix
exited. Sign here. Around the corner, a flesh moon,
buckling and oozing: a failing kidney. No one lives
on that moon; someone is still holding on for dear life.

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