Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Outsider Poetry By Glenn Halak

It's been a lot of fun reading all the great poetry coming in to Zombie Logic Review.


In old age, her tormenter long since dead,
she made the mistake of telling one last story
about a hole in the middle of the night
so dark even the stars couldn’t see
the least bit in front of their faces.
She thought she’d found the hole by accident
first inside herself, during that captivity
when death tattooed her from head to toe
and her skin itched
with each and every needled prick,
and then quite literally when she fell into it,
right in the middle of her cell
where it couldn’t have fit, being quite large,
and she’d expected to die,
falling forever, an irony,
since she’d had only one more story to tell,
but it had buoyed her up, anti-gravity maybe.
Perhaps she’d grown demented and it was all fantasy.
She been raped by her captor every night,
his penis as scratchy as the doormat to hell,
and that would have given anyone psychotic visions.
But what was there to do but persist
and she did what she’d learned to do,
opening herself as if she was infinity
looking at possibility,
for that’s where the stories came from,
not from her.
Instead of retiring, unburdening herself of her predicament
with a reputable therapist,
she became obsessed with the secrets of the hole.
It took decades for her to arrive at the understanding
the hole had always been the heart
of her captivity, the shah only a shadow of its darkness.
So what was to be the very, very last of her tales,
a long meditated confession of culpability
and a refusal to be defeated by terror,
was achieved through an enormous sacrifice:
she pretended to be an open sore darker than night
festering emptiness into a world hungry for life.
more stories than anyone could count
started to crawl out of the hole,
beginnings and endings all set to go,
like little soft baby fingers writhing almost immediately
into wrinkled old people stumps,
where the rim of light met dark,
as if time was the moistened lip of creation’s giant gullet
in a hurry to be over and done,
eating birth and old age in a single gulp.
At what point she became aware all the worlds were listening
to her words, she didn’t remember.
How could it matter? You couldn’t tell them apart.
What mattered was that if she stopped
those worlds would vanish
and the hole would win
and she couldn’t abide that.
So the one last story turned out to be just the opposite.
Stories poured out, helter-skelter.
The stars brightened
until they were visible in the middle of the day,
not wanting to miss anything.
The hole, not surprisingly, got bigger and bigger,
unwilling to concede defeat to a storyteller.

El Hallaj

Those people who come back like popcorn
in an empty sky
or glowing banners
from the dark of the barn
are usually not appreciated in their lifetimes.
Obviously you don’t go pounding on your guru’s door
proclaiming intimacy with God.
Technically Hallaj didn’t say he was God,
rather the truth of God.
Either way it was disgusting.
Who knows what foul habits
the neighbors like to hide under their prayer rugs.
Neighbors could not be God, nor could Hallaj.
The value in the idea of God was to maintain some respectability,
something inviolate, some distance so vast,
no ecstasy or revelation or enlightenment
would threaten the delicate balance
that kept human life possible.
And certainly nothing so vile as some bodily reality.
After all you don’t want God to come knocking
with dinner on the table and the kids screaming
and the mother-in-law sharpening her scissors.
You wait for Paradise and pray it’s a long time coming.
The judges gave Hallaj years to come to his senses,
not that his execution would have been cancelled,
but he could at least have acted with some compassion
toward the social order.
He didn’t.
So finally, wise in their ways,
they cut him to pieces,
he who had been such a miraculous whole.

The Beauty Queen

She was one of those people in love with love,
believing love would make her happy
as a plate believes a fork is satisfaction,
or a tractor believes the corn needs it to grow,
or the skyscraper believes the clouds are just out of reach
or any of the other almosts and not quites
that make it possible to go on.
After she won the contest and nothing important happened
she married the most damaged man she could find,
incapacitated enough he would understand the idea of love
but be frightened by it enough to strike out at her
and who would also still make her look good.
“Life’s a wishing tree,” she said,
that morning before she lay down in her bed of scars
and never woke up.
“And isn’t it wonderful we always wish
for what will most thoroughly destroy us
and it gives it to us, wrapped in ribbons and bows.
What further proof of a soul could one want?”
It was wise of her to be enamored of the appearance of love
and not commit to beauty or loving,
much more difficult and damaging,
not that she didn’t suffer but her face remained intact
even when dead.
Her skin had the pale translucency
not uncommon among psychics
and she prophesized that after she died
she would visit Europe as a ghost,
seeing beauty everywhere.
Once when entertaining friends with her skills at the Ouija board
something pounded at all the walls
wanting to be let out.
“It’s little by little we find out who we are,” she said
when hubby was carted off to jail
for staining the kitchen walls with her blood
and she was wrapped in bandages, except for her face,
She whispered: “I came as close to love as I dared,
and that has proven so painful I wouldn’t do it again.”
When they found her dead,
her skin had become so transparent
it was possible to see how everything goes wrong.
A crate from America was damaged that day,
falling off the forklift, a painting of a tractor in a cornfield,
the Empire State Building in a snowstorm,
a dinner at the White House.
A curator from the Louvre was sent to assess the damage
and declared them mediocre at best.
No one heard the pounding on the museum walls,
late that night, in a room filled with disfigured martyrs.

The Sex Addict

He admitted to a failure of imagination,
unable to see beyond the mounds of breasts
and hillocks of desire.
Proponents of the strict Copenhagen interpretation
tried to convince him there were only patterns
of collapse and resurgence
but he got that pinched look on his face
and excited went to practice
quantum mechanics on his own.
He never did understand his tragedy,
that it is impossible to feel another body,
or one’s own, for that matter,
only electricity happens,
fingertips of fiery foam surging,
Horsehead nebulae of the micro-cosmos.
That he felt compelled to achieve contact
and failed every time never occurred to him,
nor that he was a pawn of irresistible forces
desperate for love.
Why would anyone want to settle for one
when there was always more?
The quantum scientists kept their secrets
and didn’t interfere in his plight.
They lived off of government grants, after all.
They knew how pornographic the substrates were,
always fucking on the first date
and then never returning any calls,
little non-entities compelled to be entities,
and never satisfied. Ooh baby, baby!
He watched her undress, slowly,
while he sat on the edge of the bed.
Mosquitoes thronged at the screen door
and sparks filled the clouds with brilliant light,
hoping this time they could finally burn down the sky.
Ticks left a trail of little black shit on the pillows,
an old iron bridge arched over a still, green river.
She pressed her hands down on his chest
and her black hair flew up to the moon
and it became night and then day and then night
flapping like two moth wings multiplying infinities,
clouds of star dust remembered their past lives,
and silver fish swam up streams of light.
“More,” he groaned, “More!’

Glenn Halak I started writing poetry and painting very early, inspired by my great-grandmother's poetry and painting. I love images that carry me up into the dark. I get writing and paintings out into the world but it’s the process of interaction with what’s real, surreal, unreal and unimagined that keeps me going.

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