Arsenic Lobster poetry journal
Issue Twenty-four
Winter 2010
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Issue Twenty-four,  Winter 2010
becaUSE after a while Sorrow is a tasty Meat

beCAUSE we can’t see ourselves Gnawing, Chewing
BEcause there is nothing New and nothing not New, Known
beCause we like to call ourselves WE and stand Together
beCause that allows ME to separate out from this sown this mown this
           cowering Crowd
and say onto you: i am Loud in your Sickness
you are Gnashing my Teeth
in Vain
                      ~from o great slacker by olena kalytiak davis

YOUR HAT SHOULD GNASH o great slacker

YOu—if your hat doesn’t eat you, you’re not wearing a very good hat. You should get a very good hat. You should spend the time to find the most painful hat possible, otherwise, your head will feel nothing. And rings too. They should hurt otherwise you’ll be consumed by your hat and it will mean nothing. Lay your fingers flat by the fire or nothing. What best do I have to offer a teeth grinding hat or a hand eating ring other than our Pushcart nominees? None other— than what is linkable: 2010 Pushcart Nominees.

THANKFUL HERE TOO for ArsenLob reader on the out: Clarissa Jakobsons whose hat is eating her like crazy and WELCOME Dolly Lemke—Fresh TASTY MEAT.

ALSO I could never thank OUR GUEST EDITOR Steve Davenport enough. Thank you for letting ME BE a great slacker and for reminding ME that I need to keep wearing a hat that eats me…
Susan Yount
Editor & Publisher, Arsenic Lobster Poetry Journal

Installations of Lobster

Buzz, buzz, buzz goes the world. Sssshhh. Upstate my pal Tweedledee’s sleeping off a long semester and a hard night at the Poetry Brothel. Midsummer she emailed me, Tweedledum, to ask if I would step in and introduce the Winter Lobster. You have months, she said, to prepare. I will become The Lobster, I promised. You’ll be Guest Editor, she said. With Popeye forearms and Prufrock claws, I will leave my Arsenic mark on the ocean floor. I spat. You’ll write an introduction, she said.

It begins as clouds at the back of the brain. It‘s late August, late morning, a beautiful Saturday. One minute I'm happily walking to the van with my family after a daughter's successful cross country race; the next I'm falling into aphasia. It begins as clouds. Over the next two hours, most of it in the emergency room, I slide further and further away from language. I reach for the sides. Everything on my desk & in my skull/ Is chaos. Or becoming so.

Mrs. Tweedledum, the doctor says, your husband is in the middle of a stroke.

In the chest of a nightingale too weak to sing,/ air holds its breath. John Lennon sings like a nightingale, but he is The Walrus, strong and tricky. In the poem Tweedledee and I like to recite, The Walrus and The Carpenter disturb a bed of young oysters to make dinner of them. I didn’t ask for this, this one they feed on/ seems to want me to say. Here’s what I want to say each time we reach the end of the poem. I pity the poor oysters, but I root for the dumb Carpenter. I wish him Brain of Lobster. I wish him Cojones of Lobster.

In the E.R., I am a sick nightingale. I have four young daughters in the waiting room, their grandmother on the way, and my wife’s here reciting my daughters’ names, first and middle, because I don’t want to lose them. But I do. They drop through the holes in my brain like paper keys, like passwords I won’t recover. I sit quietly. I close my eyes. I do nothing to disturb the universe. I arrange the mothballs around/ my nerve impulse. I apologize. My breathing is slow, measured, shallow. I tumble slowly in a soft bin. In my skull. I hold.

Le Chapeau des Langoustines Jumelles by Elizabeth Ocean
Le Chapeau des Langoustines Jumelles by Elizabeth Ocean
About the Artist
I fold myself close. We are all/ so tiny in our own tiny lives/ that it‘s hard to say/ anything. I do not know my wife’s name. I have trouble forming sentences. Your husband, the doctor says. Or making sense of the questions people are asking me. You consume me in detours. Your husband. I wish myself a better. I am no lobster making marks. Brain. Cojones in detours. A better. I wish myself. Ingots sliced from rods/ melt and flower/ as they are blown. Like bits of me exploding, extinguished. Your husband. A pattern disassembling. A poem losing its way. Breaking. Your husband is I am in the middle disappearing. Apart. I apologize.

Then it happens. I catch the fever. In a hall outside a room where a CT scan waits to slice my brain in photographic slides to find the bleed that’s spreading or disappearing me, I return. I burn and blow, melt and flower. I reassemble. There in the hall on a gurney pushed up against a wall, I hear my doctor. He’s around the corner past my feet. We need to get him in there, he says. What’s taking so long? Buzz, buzz, buzz goes the world. We have five minutes. Five. I look to my right and see that I’m pushed up against a bulletin board. I read a word. And then another aloud.

We are pattern-creating and -seeking animals. I keep reading aloud. The options are open, and, basically, they are good. I hear the nurse past my feet. Doctor, he’s back, she says. He’s reading. It’s a miracle. Okay, god, cut me. I want my due. My lobster claw raised to the sky, shaking like an ancient fist at the receding clouds, I want to say You owe me, God. But I don’t believe in you and I’m not angry. I am back, though, and what I want second most I’m quietly chanting, the names of my daughters and my wife, as I’m moved into place for the CT scan that will prove there is no bleed, the first of many tests that will find no cause, my stroke read finally as cryptogenic, a mystery.

What else am I owed? What I want third most: a fighting chance to create a pattern worthy of Tweedledee and the poems in this, her latest crazy-hipped iteration of Arsenic Lobster. Let this introduction, my carpentry, which borrows from the work of the skilled carpenters within, pay down that debt. Everyone knew the words to the songs. Songs of Patterns Lost, Patterns Regained. Here’s a short one. Arms, I have to return to what I do. To what I wanted most when I was falling away, what I want most now that I’m returned. My Tweedledums.

Steve Davenport
Guest Editor

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