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The Exquisite Corpse - A Journal of Letters and Life
Edited by Andrei Codrescu
ec chair poetick kultur anti-amthropomorphism
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new economics of late capitalism
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the corpse reads classics letters the book of revelations and epiphanies
the making and unmaking of person
Working Class Sweat & The DTs (best band of the oughts)

Two Stories
by Doren Robbins

At Polly's Famous Patio

Everything burning my eyes for a change. Couldn't taste a thing, only textures. I thought I was just going to unwind in the patio of Polly's Famous Pies, but ended up wanting to shake the couple next to me. Chatty astrological categorization vomit that morning after a night of migraine insomnia--made me want to reach for something plunge-able. Is it possible to have this little tolerance? this much post-migraine morning fury? I don't think my senses double-talk, even in their lowest impulses. Do women ever feel this murdering impulse for astrologer-valiumizers? Irrational assassins! brothers! we are the famous ones! We demand even this prestige.
     I feel more like who I am when I eat in the sense that I am closer to the better--at least saner--side of myself when Polly's Famous Tuna Melt touches my tongue. And dogs are efficient and delirious when they eat, and children are--if you let them.
     I remember that flat little wooden spoon made of #1 clear pine, a miniature anti-tongue depressor that used to be given before plastic when I took ice cream out in a cup from the Good Humor ice-cream truck. The first utensil I remember eating with. The ice cream man, white-uniformed, white hat, white visor, and always smoking, dangling a Lucky Strike. A little dirty moisture seeping the skin where the black eye-patch rim touched the cheekbone. All of us always racing to lick the lid where the chocolate syrup stuck. Idiosyncratic lick. Waste not even a transparent drop of pleasure. I tried to be efficient about that at least. That's what I speak to now. But I always did. Pale where less remains for the mouth now, where some juice fell from the wood spoon rim, the short pine, all the pleasure, it is the one thing.
     That's the reason the fly used to be one of my totems. The fly known for its concentrated, thorough, and shameless eating habits. And when I compare totems other than the fly, I'd say the ochre sea star was a little bit more of the primal one for me, because I'd like to have those five legs, five stomach pouches, five eyespots, and five sexual organs. The main thing I like about my totem the ochre sea star is that nothing works for either of us: not enough stomachs, too many hours traveling, and too great distance for him-too many barnacles, too much force of the tide, not enough sex organs for me.


"The mind crested with ascensions." What a phrase to copy down on a napkin from somewhere I don't remember and found it inside the drawer picking around for a stamp. I don't even believe in that language anymore. I was probably doing something like remembering staring at rivulets in mud or at L. in a transparent bra. The mind crested with those ascensions. Or I was remembering boiled chicken feet, as I am thinking of them now in that unduplicated soup I'm still mourning that Anna G. made every Friday for us for her God for her own fat layers for another meal she was sick of preparing, but did.
     First the middle then the first, that's how I live;
     The downstairs neighbor yelling, "say it again, say it again and I'll tear off your ass and feed it to your face..."
     That other totem, that ochre sea star, is all teeth and spines. They cling to rocks or their equivalent. They just eat anything. That's the sea urchin life.
     And if I had a totemic life I didn't want to return to it was that sea urchin life. The peculiar feature about sea urchins--the rotten thing is--their mouths are on the bottom and their assholes are at the top of their bodies, so when they excrete (excrete they say), debris falls on them (debris they call it), and they say Nature has provided for this by giving sea urchins little tube feet designed specifically to remove the waste (as they refer to it). I have seen my equivalent so-called "little tube feet" and the so-called "provision" working ineffectually in my symbolic sea-urchin life on and off since at least 1991.
     Really, I just let everything come up: boiled chicken feet, the unseen spoke, a white watermelon seed in a boot I hadn't worn for a month--everything: the fart that woke me, the table that serves without legs. I'm always facing a catalogue of the excluded: the uncooked bone, Jerome of Worms, Fats of Waller, everything the Master did not speak of. Mae West saying, "I used to be Snow White, but I drifted." My job tearing out dry rot, my 109 bosses. Fresh Dover Sole fish heads black where they shouldn't be--23 men murdered at a factory by a band of men wanting the same job: $2.77 an hour making aluminum wheels in Johannesburg: black where they shouldn't be.
     We get everything: 973 & 15/16's newspapers and cable stations and it's the same will to deafness, the same endless commercial tits that wouldn't nurture a bug.
     Everything: the man up all night next to his wife in the hospital bed, Henry James with his portrait of a partial lady, Marshall McCluhan and his medium message, The Bride of Frankenstein with her argument for lesbianism, my last dog and thirteen cats all up in the ionosphere, what the twilight does with its dim glass, what the mine does with its underground brain, pickled beef tongue, rules for the discipline insomnia taught me, uptight Dorn and down-home Dorn, death's quintuplets waiting for me and the others eating our constipation pies there in Polly's patio right alongside blossoming jasmine tails.
     I really just write down what's permitted: watercress flowering in the shoals, her cunt wet up over her mound, artichokes, bomb triggers, the fear that I would ever see the real Lobster Boy after seeing him in a comic book when I was five--whale-bone buttons, the digital button, the spills the infant makes from the stroller.
     Nothing's incidental, circumstantial, hypothetical without correspondences.
     I'm really just trying to find my lost totemic connection, so as to avoid the habits of the ochre sea star. I'm really just trying to keep my piece of lint of a foot in the door.

Palsied World

That one place I ended up for a while, a fifteen year old-three-year old cerebral palsy beast cried out in his sleep 3:00AM for the third time that week. What was he dreaming? Nothing of the little there is in it, in it for him. And how much comes through with any intensity, pleasure, rawness in the first place even with a pair of good legs, a stout dick, and a tongue that isn't crushed? Think of that, Mr. D. Not much. Maybe food's the thing for him. But what's the point if you can't run in and take a good crap, can't fuck the cook, can't wash your fucked or unfucked face, let alone not hold a fork?
     Man, I had to get up and go to work in the morning. Banged on the floor so his Mother Theresa mother saint nurse mother would get in there to sooth him, change his diaper, replace his brain. Next day she's at the door to talk about it. I was feeling bad, but mostly I didn't feel it for her, no, I felt it for her, couldn't imagine it for her. Or him. And she was mostly appealing: wide hips, deep white throat, 18th century English Lit. Professor at the State University. But the palsy night terrors victim sent me over any edge to meet her beyond the door, which wouldn't've always been the case. But her "God's will" whatever it was led her into a broken permanent cut down to a creature routine home care for this life-- distanced me on the spot. I'll say it: mostly I wanted her to move out: don't torment me or anyone I pity within night-scream range again. She needed Madonna's, or Michael Jackson's, she needed Phil Knight's, or one of the Rockefeller's, or one of the Kennedy's, or one of the Bush's, she could've used one of the last Beatle's, or one of the Reagan's, or one of Calvin Klein's, or one of the Pentagon's, or any number of the DuPont's, the Union Carbide's, the Soney's, the Ford's, or one of the Rolling Stones, or one of the Krupps' any of the Krupps', or King Perot's, or one the Cheney's, or one of the Rumsfield's, or one of the Gore's any of the Gore's, or one of the other 2, 979,000 other millionaires'/billionaires' chateaus. And what do they need more of after getting everything?
     Unluckiest lives always near you more than you think. Worse than anything on my puny chart. Pope scholar remorse saint mother. "Mercy" they call this. For some it is. What's there to argue? Alex Pope's humped frame odd satiric genius mouth: guardian angel, to her.
     Palsied wordless fifteen year old without a drop of cum beast. Mercy. I just hope it wasn't a mercy avoidable situation. That would make all involved compassionate sadists. Is that it? "Abortion's a sin." Mercy. It gets that mixed up.
     The priest and the parents telling the pregnant sixteen year old with German measles nothing about guaranteed cleft lip mute autistic crapping all over her self schizophrenic child she'll have...twenty year old mother hostess Debbie Seymor I worked with in a steak house in Santa Monica said, "They didn't tell me shit." I remember being there once and the five-year-old girl, Tara, made a dash for the cat's water dish and started to lick from it before Debbie grabbed her up. "Silly little girl," she said.
     How the hell should I know what happened to the Pope scholar? Could've been one of those problems with the blood type and they didn't transfuse the baby's blood in time, causing jaundice, causing cerebral palsy. That's what happened to my younger brother in law, Ziggy, Aftecia's son 44 years. And that doctor who didn't know to do the transfusion disappeared into the Army, to serve his country overseas. No malpractice case. Everything so unbelievably mixed up. I don't know what happened to my neighbor. I believe in her dear shit stained diapering hands, which are Aftecia's mirrors. All the merciful ones, this palsied world, neglected muses, conflict-regret-confusion seeing the fingers twist against themselves and the crooked neck, and the knees turned away from each other, and the eyes that look sweet, locked, rolling in their deaf lids, and the nest broken in the mouth, and knowing I couldn't--I couldn't handle that. Just can't handle it. And the child development student who worked down there, pushed him up the walkway, and spoke low, reassuring, gentle measured tone to him. And then spoke something in whispers, bent over the specialized headrest of the chair.




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diaries and memoirs translation and her retinue
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the making and unmaking of person the corpse reads classics letters

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