Sandy Florian


The Muffles of Dolls


I admire it. It's like the common fountain whose silver drops flow out. Like the disease that spreads on government. Like the chance of a poisoned apple. Of a bullet in Russian Roulette. Corruption is the presumption of what I ought to do.


You still haunt me, ghost. You who wears a slighted towel for a slighted shirt. After the fashion of the mantles. Slighted, the same way black-birds fatten in hard weather. Some say you were possessed by the devil. But I know that you’ve possessed the devil and made him yours.


Like plum trees that grow crooked over crooked pools, I hang on your ears, praying you to leave. I cannot rely on your advances and so spread myself miserably on my dependence. So, tell me. Are we expecting tomorrow? So, tell me. Are we expecting the century? There is a reward for me the same way there are rewards for hawks and for dogs. While you live with a kinder geometry. Soft in the unpinned future.


I hang fairly in a pair of slings. Your love is like a bed in a hospital. I sleep immoderately, lower and lower in the gallows. In a tent like a child of Israel. The goodness of my melancholy is like a moth, hurt for the want of wearing, falling into the wayside war by way of gravity.


You tell me to laugh at your willy-nilly wit but I can laugh only at your fool, your small and wrinkled foot. Making faces, he fails to abide you where you sit. Head propped against the wall, like a mathematical instrument all out of true.


There's a duke, a perverse and turbulent duke. There's a deputy, a base, offensive deputy. There's a captain all full of wounds and a wife that endures the fighting. I will call upon you to take my fire. To fit me with the wrinkle of your mechanical wisdom.


For form, I hang superficially from the leashes, worse off for the plot endured by Hercules. Honesty is all out of fashion, so we go on speaking in each other's tongues. Like men in suits, offended by the questions, entangled by the snares that feed. Like men in suits climbing the stationary escalator. The upside-down elevator. Like men in suits who tuck their envelope ends inside their gross and welting belts. These, their second best belts.


Stains. Time past. Lights come to come. The invisible devil candies all of our sin. Great men with great lives live inside the cedar tree fastened at the root.


Scatter the tempest. Let these words be mine. Let my violence untwine the mountains. Like the flesh of the dead president equivocating in his passions.


This is the marriage of heaven and hell. This is the marriage of melancholy. Hear me chatter like a starling, flattering with progress. I am speaking of that deviled fruit divided by the steeple. That naked sword blushing in the unblue sky. That you would have begged me now. That you would have loved me so multiplied by the doubles.


I am that figure cut in alabaster wooing at the tomb. I am that widow with the spotted liver hanging fairly in a pair of slings. The hourglass gives a funeral sermon and we both end together. Diamonds pass through jeweler's nests, and, will you listen? Hypocrisy makes the regular man walk crab-wise into marriage. Marriage is. I remember. My eyes are bloodshot for the wedding ring.


. . .


You come from a painting. There is a rough cast to your plastic. You twirl the strings of your beard and set them in a sentence. Then you hum three or four times to recover your memory because it gives you good stomach to quarrel. You become the merry president when you smile upon your prisoner hanging fallow in the gallows. So I will trick you into knowing me. I will trick you into giving me the lying thing here in my dying.


Observe my meditation. If nature loves a lamb, a colt, a fawn, a fox, a bear, a toad, a goat, a swine, a wolf, or any limb, man stands amazed at his deformity. In our flesh, we bear diseases hidden richly inside our tissue. Then we regard the rotting body with delight and with fear. Terror is our best physician. Terror until we have no teeth.


See, I do understand your insides. My mind rides faster than a horse in gallop. So troubled is the mother so great with child.


Observe my meditation. Grafting is a pretty art. A bettering of nature. Tissues are encouraged to fuse and cultivate into newer buds. To grow an apple upon a crab. To grow a plum upon a leprechaun. To grow a boy inside a belly, cutting capers. The orange tree bears the greener fruit that blossoms as it swells.


I know the tricks of the false and rusty watch. And so, with a pistol, I search for cod. With a needle, I inject myself with salts of gold. I throw myself a stumble over my latent shoulder and reconstruct the piebald horse.


There's a poison in the halls of my hospital. A Spanish fig. Traitors are convenient for the sake of discovery. Safety is a false steward, a saucy slave. We pull it by the roots and bugger it into bigger bits. If I were superstitious, I would begin to count my accidents, one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, but instead I take your order and make it flower, seeking shameful ways to avoid my shame.


I birth a son between the clocks. You take the accordion by the meridian make the happy discovery of music. Mars is the human sign grafted to the Dragon's tail that man might strive to make glass malleable.


Like a tame elephant, you think I thank you, fingering the lute. My woe is your mirth, and you command me to speak lower. Speak lower. Then you hand me the handkerchief, and I wonder. Am I to cup the mother’s wounds? Am I to eclipse my moony side? I may be thinking about my palsy or I may be thinking about my sister. I may be weeping. Here. Where the rhubarb grows upon the sponge.


. . .


I birth another and then another and then I do implore. Let me but sleep. Let me fall inside the cage of your ribs, of candy-sticks and sugar-coats, I think I read this yesterday. This hospital is all haunted, but I read it only now. Let me but sleep inside your pocket, pestilent with intelligence. Let me grow into your ghost and wind my splintered tongue around your splintered heart. Like a splintered skein of unspilled silk. I swear I am in love. And laboring men count the hours most often.


I admire it. It's like the common flower whose disease flows out. It's like the chance of a rocket. Or the quicksand of clocks. Corruption is the presumption of what ought to become. Like men in suits who take to flying. Like men in suits who ignite the skies. These, the sidereal skies. Like the men in suits who parade these halls, tucking the envelope ends of my poly-cotton sheets, like the men in suits who parade these walls, tucking the end of the body into bed. This, their second best bed.


Venus has two soft doves. I read how Daphne is shaped into a bay-tree. I read how syntax turns an empty foot into an empty reed frozen in the marble. How syntax turns high flying airplanes into high flying spades.


When I am married, I am shaped into an olive, an apricot, a fig, a plum, a peach, a pear, a pomegranate, a mulberry. I become the canopy over the tower of the stones. Articulate the word that paints the piebald sky. All of this is such vain poetry. So I look upon your face and say, now, tell me, now, what is it now? Then I plant my soul inside my ears and hear, Did you ever know a worser painter?


Pour your paper-bullets into my paper bosom and fill it with your paper fire. Everything here is written to the spectacle. I'll earn my cicatrix. Then I'll keep to divers times. Inside my skin, I'll shine the reflection of greener fields. Because when I wax gray, I'll have the whole world in stitches. When I wax grey, I'll make my own stone bed and, there, you'll find me napping, having had the chance to loose my tongue.


The wolf howls. The screech owl. The rhubarb on the sponge prays lamely for the revolution. A brother wants you for business. A patriarch for politic. Small things draws small minds, like ashes to ashes, dust to dust.


The wolf howls. The screech owl. Dumber things like the paraquito. A salmon meets a dog-fish who responds with some rough language. I live in the shallow river, silly for the smelt. See? I live in no deep valley near no great hill, and nature, here, is withering.


. . .


The English mastiff grows fierce with tying, while the rabid tree, fiercer, swings the rope in mere ovals. You discern the shape of my adverse loveliness, my more perfect tears than my perfect smiles. With a finger on your cheek, you muse for hours about my silence. Then, you poison me with gilded pills as a comfort to your grace. You kiss my hand, then take the lights because the darkness suits me well.


You say that I am sick, and so I perceive that I am sick, like a mouse that takes lodging in a cat's inner ear. Like a loon, I sleep with my eyes open. Like the figure cut in alabaster. Like the reverend monument, made proper by the pity. The fool of the cruel physician. A box of worm seed. A salvatory mummy. My body is weaker than, this, your paper prison.


Here is my hand. Take my hand. Let me take your hand. Give me the dead man's hand. Take my hand into the fire to warm you. Shake my hand for the reputation. Then, lead me by my hand toward this marriage bed and put the ring on my dead finger. Heaven has a hand in it. Hell presents our spectacle. And the otherwise curious artist slumbers by the small and fusty watch.


Take the dead man's dream fashioned out of wax and bury it in the dunghill under the lifeless tree, while I revive the more dead example of the loving wife by execution.


Despair, the stars shine still. Despair, this vain sorrow. You persuade the body on the bed to have its bones set in a new configuration. Then you persuade the fleshy lump to live long, live longer, only to be hanged from the beams of your impossible hospital.


I have a dream. A song is sung to a dismal tune. Doomsday fails at the date. Unfurls the world on fire. Hell makes a melancholy madhouse where the devil blows up my soul.


The greater doctor presents me with myriads of maddened men. Like men in suits collecting pulses. Like men in suits who bottle bootlegs of my blood. Like men in suits who siphon the body from the body. Making alums from my pee.


You tell me to run mad. Run mad. Then you drain the body from the body and sing lullabies through my eye-holes. You lead the bee to sting my hand, then you play me with your saxophone. This you do under my poly-cotton sheets. This you do with your poly-cotton reverence. Because you've already achieved that radiant soul, having already had the chance to chisel yourself into indifference, having already had the chance to distill yourself out of existence, while I still sleep with a litter of porcupines, puzzling over unspilled milk.


I have a dream about the dilated diamond. Let me explain. I grow fantastical in my bed because the wayside war disturbs my mind. A coffin. A cord. A bell. Here comes the executioner's wit. Here comes my more perfect peace.


This is the painted hour. Death awaits me with ten thousand doors hung from its geometrical hinges. So pull me now. Pull me more me strongly for my lingering life. Pull all of heaven upside-down upon me. My body flies up and up so that your wolf can sleep inside my shadow. This is the dream that turns diamonds into pearls.


. . .


The pedestrian asks if he can visit your patient. You give him a salary for his lust and instruct him, for better fall, for better falling, to dig the dead man up and throw the leg over the blunter shoulder.


See? Only eagles fly alone. Crows, jackdaws, and starlings all flock together. Look at what follows me in my pallid direction. Good gifts make for good ways make for more worser prisons. I hang fairly in from a pair of clouds.


I am studying art. Driving six big snails from this town to that town. Six big bulls I elect for president. Watch the wives in the wilting wings. An empty submarine shatters the stage. Why, the patientest man in the world must match me for experiment.


Let me saw off your beard. Let me your head, your hands, your inner ears. Let me fill your brows with brown civility. I see well with my oyster eyes. I see well that I could wind a fine fellow, a fathead, a sappyhead around my little finger. Never mind. You'll be more sorry when the whole thing dawns.


See, physicians are like kings. Wish the sick prince a small nobility. This is a brook of no contradiction. Forty days are filled with forty nights. Forty urinals with roses. To fetch or to frisk. To let him go. To let me think. So that I can speak. That I can love you in this, my misshaped shape.


You know me now that I am a blunter soldier. Now that my doors are fast. My kingdom come. So listen now. Restyle your memory of me after the rogues. Then follow me toward the blacker mass so that I may fashion my refashion.


Strangle all my children. See that they all get hanged. Tell my echo a pretty excuse. Like men in suits. The first fist argues folly. The second fist for revenge. I imagine it all. I imagine that I have committed the crime. Like the tied and the untied knot.


But I still haunt you, ghost. Here, inside your cubbyhole cabinet. Here, inside your hollow and dismal heart. The hourglass is singing a funeral elegy and all things end together. Seasons, diseases, punishments. So, I'll forgive your foolish poison. I'll forgive its fair and marble purpose.


I see, I see, I steal a diamond. I am quick with my more certain wishes. Quiet now. More quiet still. Watch the winter on my tongue now turn to spring.


Because I still haunt you, ghost. Tedious in you guilty garden. Tedious in your green sublimity. But I am hap. But I am happy. But I am happy, here, above the pinnacles, above the domes, above the spires. But I am happy here above the mountaintops. Above the clouds, above the stars. But I am happy, here, where I reside. But I am happy, here, above the height.