Gene Tanta: New Work
The Lesson Planner
That most severe of shocks
engulfed her suddenly
like the pink of wolves.
She imagined herself
running across the moonlit
field—patchwork history, it
catching her by her waist, it
leaving her to shudder for more, it
leaving her to relish in the snow.
Hell is a parking lot on a rainy day—
paradise is around the corner.
Teachers know what goes behind
enemy lines. Love is
the dirty word they forgot
to teach you in school. It.
Alaskan Mask, Lower Detail
Tears Fall Down Your Cheeks Toward
Your old man wears a
He twitches in the corner. To relieve himself,
he barricades his eyes against the sequence of
midnights at the Come Hither Motel.
He feels like a gazebo at the end of a dead-end street.
Early morning he counts himself lucky—eggshell white,
arrowroot dry—here's sappy morning in your eyes.
What's on the menus,
having a look-see . . .
There must have been some
fatigue to his logic
because nothing bobbed in the waters of his celebrity.
No hero hosed-up in white, no Napoleon showed up at Berezina:
nope, this is my offspring—my immorality incarnate—
fingering your eyes like yolky sharks and calling it Romance.
They look so nice
together steaming in the snow.
They'll think me on sabbatical for good!
Mascara made a run for
it, down your cheeks . . .
The old man spread his
alabaster wings and sprang.
He let the wind drag him up, he let the wind fail him,
stall and truncate him midair-falling or dreaming—and
waking just in time to hear screaming he didn't know.
Seeing Things, Detail
From the train window
on my to work this morning I noticed
the cemetery dumpster full
of dead wreaths and used bouquets
of lilies and carnations—
the warmest day in the last 6 months.
I see a crow wild and silent
with a dirty double-dare in its eye
step on your grave.
The crow tells jokes
to any one fool enough to stoop to listen—
three pronged one-liners that sink into
the moist ground
in search of something—punch-lines.
Your face melts like a wax dildo.
An egg-yolk passed mouth to mouth.
When has our mourning ever ceased?
Did the bones of the dead rattle
deep and buried in their graves?
Did my train roll by to work
this morning—10 days to Spring?
Did you do donuts
on the graveyard lawn? Did some other you?
Did you leave tire-tracks
on the winter grass like foot-traffic of loved ones?
Did you leave dead flowers
for the dead to smell
and fondle when and if they woke?
Did you leave your foibles
to nourish on what remains?
What of the doilies of sunlight
pinched off in the corneas of your eyes?
Did you forget your self enough
in the end to end all ends?
The eye of the crow
has shot over your grave-site
more times that I care to recount.
The birch branches talk to themselves
about winter and good take-out.
Cross and Character Series, 1
A fireman beside a
twisted girder, an anonymous
woman, her head on folded
arms—her life snuffed out
like fire. Eyewitnesses erupt.
A woman leaps to her
death, an amateur wins
the Pulitzer for photo.
Suspended above her
death for eternity—1/2 second.
Not much face left,
tattered by the blast,
hurled by the force.
The dead were administered
to a temporary morgue.
fires wracked, doors blown
from their hinges.
Searing burns swept the
ship, one drowned awhile.
Pound on doors with a
fire hose nozzle, found
couples in every position.
Last embrace, human remains—
between scorched mattresses.
Frantic scores of last rites.
A doctor, his clothes blackened.
Wire fence, workers & onlookers.
Acetylene torches rush-hour
on Babylon express. Rubbish.
Tornado debris, blinding rainstorm,
patrolman ordeal, full brunt.
"I saw it dip down in town."
500 miles-per-hour—the devil wind
with nuclear ferocity howls.
House set afire, fuselage
on a pile of snow not far off.
Irate, unruly fans at bay
gas grenades and a guard dog—
the body of his son gone.
Miners in the rains, pit waste
coal waste, most of them children
toil in the black chilling mist.
The Booty Pageant Runner-up
You caught me pasting catnip on my clit
to give my pussycat a treat to lick.
My husband was out of town, you see.
I was naked and in bed (it was late and I was dead)
just churning my own beeswax
waiting for sleep to fall when instead
the cable man called again
to inform me of what he was wearing
—or rather of what he wasn't wearing,
to be more precise—
nothing but a frown, he admitted he was down.
Well Sir, that's when my good-will
hit the fan and I started breathing heavy.
Not only did I lose the lottery drawing
earlier that very evening,
but now I had to be party to this depravity.
"Why don't you admit that you're a pervert, Sir,
and stop while you're ahead?";
I demanded of him and set to waiting breathlessly
for his reply?
Woman, Lower Detail
Gods of Four Letters, Series 1
Far From Rome
This street is my world, I don't pretend
to go up-town and be anything fancy.
—Charles Manson before the Parole Board
Center stage USA, a linguistic hostage
is forced to speak the following:
"Dating is a less honest manifestation
than outright whoring."
All of the alarms are going insane
in the future—like a bad hair day
in Charles Manson's head.
We were waiting for the Pope to address us
in the Vatican courtyard, I recall.
I was young, I thought
I witnessed a shimmer or was it a glimmer?
Anyway, light swinging off a windowpane—it's
not him, my father tells us—it's
the Pope's double—the assassin's decoy.