When Blackstone the magician cut a woman in half in the Branford theater
next door to my father's office in already part way down the chute Newark,
he used a gigantic buzz saw, and the woman let out a shriek that out-shrieked
the whirling blade and drilled directly into the void of our little boy crotches.
That must be when we learned that real men were supposed to hurt women,
make them cry then leave them, because we saw the blade go in, right in,
her waist was barelook!and so, in her silvery garlanded bra, shining,
were her breasts, oh round, silvery garlanded tops of breasts shining.
Which must be when we went insane, and were sent to drive our culture insane...
"Show me your breasts, please. Shame on you, hide your breasts: shame."
Nothing else mattered, just silvery garlanded breasts, and still she shrieked,
the blade was still going in, under her breasts, and nothing else mattered.
Oh Branford theater, with your scabby plaster and threadbare scrim,
you didn't matter, and Newark, your tax-base oozing away to the suburbs,
you didn't matter, nor your government by corruption, nor swelling slums
you were invisible now, those breasts had made you before our eyes vanish,
as Blackstone would make doves then a horse before our eyes vanish,
as at the end factories and businesses from our vanquished city would vanish.
Oh Blackstone, gesturing, conjuring, with your looming, brilliant, piercing glare.
Oh gleaming, hurtling blade, oh drawn-out scream, oh perfect, thrilling arc of pain.
C. K. Williams
C. K. Williams has a new book of poems out at the end of 2009 and a book of essays in 2010. His other books include Flesh and Blood, A Vigil, Collected Poems, and a prose memoir, Misgivings.