Exquisite Corpse - Issue 3
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by Sharon Mesmer


What Becomes Us

People don't swallow bullshit wholesale like they used to.
People don't break into song.
People don't strike things from the record.
Nobody joins the circus.
Nobody orders Chinese take-out, opens a bottle of chianti,
      and calls that a party.
Who chews Juicy Fruit?
Who swabs the decks of poop?
Who still believes that every great love is in some measure a terrible mistake?
Who still carries within their bodily frames the indelible stamp
      of their lowly origins?
Do women bear stones now instead of children?
Do people still see the significance of moonlight through a frosted
      airshaft window? Vaseline on stained glass?
Do people still sit cross-legged on curbs fashioning mental movies
      of the stories of their lives?
Does anyone burn with a hard, jewel-like flame?
Does anyone let all things happen -- beauty and terror alike -- unto them?
Does anyone suddenly, in a private hour, in the middle of vacation,
      challenge the totality of existence with a figure of maternal endurance?
Does the sensation of an insufficient lunch still prove worthy of poetry?
Does anyone renounce their cake and eat it too?
Where are the moral hedonists?
Where is the noble purpose? the patient energy required for completion?
the resolution undaunted by opposition?
What is the consensus nowadays on becoming a grotesque mirror
      of one's own mother?
Is the experience of puberty still an insult to any intelligent, sensitive person?
Is nothingness still the ultimate simplicity?
Is anyone becoming a hero or heroine of their own imaginations?
Is laughter still the best medicine?
Are stern angels now unrequired to hear our pleas?
Why are people overlooking expulsion and retention as important
      to the alchemical process?
Why isn't anyone doing the Blue Corn Dropsy under the flower moon?
Or dancing like Spaniards with an ox?
Why aren't they fucking in the furrows?
Why aren't they celebrating the sunflower hour with a moment
      of duck blood soup?
Has anyone ever thought of embracing the rugged industrialist
      of the secretarial sciences?
And if not, why not?
Does anyone ever get out of work early on a snowy day and look forward
to going home and masturbating?
No one sees the moon then becomes the moon.
And so the moon, sadly, becomes no one.
People don't wear plastic bags, directing traffic.
Who's giving it away on Seventh Avenue?
Hello hello -- is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me.
      Is there anyone at home?
Does anyone see the young, well-built excrement collector
      descending the mountain at dusk, reappearing shortly thereafter
            in a narrow street clogged by a shrine borne by boys,
                  and finally gaining fame in the ranks of a family
                        of Frankish tenors and Confucian tutors?
That's because no one ever feels shitty, oh so shitty,
      neither shitty nor gritty nor gray.
No one realizes that all the time spent going from room to room, tidying up,
      could be better spent sitting in the same chair for three hours
                  doing nothing.
That's because no one knows to kill the Buddha when they meet the Buddha.
A yellow gorilla is often the voice of reason.
And who among you can correctly answer the Seventh Riddle of Existence:
      what is the nature and purpose of cotto salami?

Lonely Tylenol

It always falls most heavily on the person least able to deal with it
falling heavily on.
In fact, it falls cats and dogs.
Like the night you walked toward me on Eighth Street out of fog
and said you were getting married.
Life could be so pleasant, I decided as we parted, if each of us fucked
according to our abilities.
Two weeks later I discovered Nature loses interest after sixty-five gingersnaps
      up your ass, and then your uterus falls, followed by the broken bottleneck
to the linoleum floor.
After they put me back together I had scars on my tongue and my pants were unbuttoned,
and I was nostalgic for something as simple as your final rejection       on the bench in the square fashioned to resemble old Andalusia in summer.
Remember me at midnight screaming at you from the prairie?
Because of you I got a bluejay tattoo. It got infected. Twice.
I know I told you you had a beautiful cock, but that was because I was drunk,
and we were fucking on the floor of an empty office
diamond-high above Manhattan.
Above us loomed platters of untouched seafood, and you said,
"I'm gonna make you scream."
Nipples did not stand at attention. No one spurted to kingdom come.
Rather, in the fine cracklings of plaster that fell from the couvade,
you spread my thighs with your knees and whispered,
"The elephant is in the diamond, and the diamond is in the lotus."
It was your winsome view of the universe.
But I was neither famous nor popular, neither pretty nor influential.
All I could promise was to acquiesce, like Boris Yeltsin in the Lincoln bedroom.
I had been waiting for you for so long, waiting in the car, waiting to lick & kiss & love you,
but when you're alone like that in your car the car itself
can make you feel that way.
If women bought cars for sex, like they want to, men might start cooperating.
Anyway, my breasts were resting in your hands like small dogs,
and my irrational desires pinnacled globally, from the loftiest spreading tree
to the humblest agnes cactus.
I was like the giver of life in the temple of the four seasons,
a nocturnal lagoon oozing voluptuous nectars from every diameter.
You were like a team of puppet lovers and midgets, safe houses and teacups,
all rolled into one.
Bugs and fluids were gathering, forming a Calgon bath in negative space.
Then came the fisting, the clubbing, and the flaying.
Finally, the mute twirling and the sputtering.
"Corn?" you said, "when did I eat corn?"
What my circumstances were you knew, you to whom the gods had given
ample appetites.
I had a humbler station in life; I still had a lot to earn.
"If you're lucky," you said, "your solitary fantasies might one day transform

one million realities."
"Anything heretofore neglected," I said looking out at a blurry view of Jersey,
"only needs that mad housewife edge."
You called me your cross Dolores; you were my youthless Andalusian.
I knew someday we'd be in Paris for the lighting of the lamps.
But after that night, no more. Nothing more.
Only long days on a mossy stained mattress with a bee sting lingering,
and red shoes tumbling through space in a dream.
I dread seeing you again, on the avenue.
Every blurry view of Jersey reminds me of you.
Is this what it means to walk naked through the world?

Cadavar Exquisito
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