Monday, December 27, 2010



Delta Haiku

“Faulkner said that the writer
wanted to distill human experience
into fourteen words”—Joseph Blotner,
“From the World To Jefferson,”
Faulkner: International Perspectives,
Yoknapatawpha Conference 1982

Darl Bundren’s words—
His haunting ruminations
Printed as free verse.

Darl & Faulkner—
Both exiled, cunning poets
Precise points of view.

Each pristine chapter—
I Lay Dying opens up
Yoknapatawpha again.

Fifteen narrators—
Fifty-nine quick short chapters
Faulkner’s tour-de-force.

Mississippi Basho

Lost exiled angels—
Scornful, graceless seraphim
Urgent tragedy.

Each haiku chapter—
Going by at a fast clip
No time to get bored.

Interior talk—
Apocryphal pulp fiction

Delta modernist—
Stream of consciousness time
Time itself fractured.

There is this low ridge—
Beyond Seminary Hill
The Jefferson World.

Suzerain alone—
His solitary domain

His ramshackle past—
Pity, honor, sin & pride
Ambition, fear, lust.

Hopes & disasters—
Abnegation & pity
A dreamless slumber.

All bound together—
Yoknapathawpha County
Mapped-out with haiku.



“In the very essence
of poetry there is
something indecent”
—Czeslaw Milosz,
Ars Poetica

Addie Bundren

”She’s gone,” Cash says.
—William Faulkner,
As I Lay Dying

”jewel, I say to him—
overhead the day drives gray
the rain coming down.”

“hiding the sun with—
a flight of gray spears above
yellow mud below.”

“my coffin slides off—
tilting into the river
the wagon drowns too.”

“heavy, water-soaked—
my coffin gleams dull yellow
both mules drown deep.”

“the shattered spokes flee—
the flooded waters weep tears
I am dissolving.”

“turning green with rot—
neither of earth or blue sky
help me, jewel, I say.”

Addie Bundren

“Dewy Dell
does not move.”
—William Faulkner,
As I Lay Dying

“listen to me now—
dewy dell my dear daughter
I speak from darkness.”

“you’ll stop fanning now—
going to where peabody
is waiting for you.”

“standing in twilight—
feeling your eyes & turning
to you telling you.”

“don’t let it grieve you—
she was old & very sick
suffering badly.”

“you better go now—
and fix some dinner for us
don’t have to be much.”

“we’ll need to eat tho—
vardaman’s getting big now
all of them need you.”

“you could do so much—
for her if you only knew
now she’d tell you so.”

“I am I, now then—
and you are you dear daughter
nobody else knows.”


“I could lie with my
shirt-tail up, feeling
myself without touching
myself, wondering if
he in the darkness
was doing it too”
—William Faulkner,
As I Lay Dying

“I make love to jewel—
out there in the horse stable
in the ruined barn.”

“although I’m fifteen—
and he’s much younger than me,
he’s more well-endowed.”

“his skin high-yellow—
almost albino white boy
I love/hate jewel bad.”

“he leans in the dark—
when the family’s all sleeping
letting me do him.”

“staring straight ahead—
closed eyes set in wooden face
letting me love him.”

“rigid and stoic—
cigar store wood indian
uncut ten inches.”

“patched coveralls off—
enduring his so-called life
from the hips on down.”

“I kneel & he squints—
lowering my needy lips
I’m a cocksucker.”

“he couldn’t find a—
better one than me for sure
I go down on him.”


“The sun, an hour
above the horizon,
is poised like a bloody
egg upon a crest of
—William Faulkner,
As I Lay Dying

“so darl gets me off—
in the evening sometimes twice
he loves young chicken.”

“I play possum dead—
beneath addie’s big thick quilt
my big snake down there”

“a good breeder boy—
a good breed of hogs & cows
pay in the long run.”

“darl bundren does me—
my bedroom eyes get dark rings
down in the gutter.”

“darl goes down on me—
fingers my family jewels
jealous of my dick.”

“I say “okay, darl—
when I lose it all the way
my eyes going blank.”


“He has pussel-
gutted himself.”
—William Faulkner,
As I Lay Dying

“I wait until night—
I can hear them all sleeping
thinking about jewel.”

I’d lie there in bed—
with my shirt-tail up touching
myself in the dark.”

Wondering if jewel—
Is doing it too like me
There in the stable.”

“I’d get up & see—
jewel down there horse barn
fooling with that horse.”

“both of them snorting—
stiff-legged & eyes rolling
cocky & alert.”

“boy and stallion—
two figures carved out for dark
curved sacred tableau.”

“fleshy limberness—
jewel’s snaky lips smirk at me
knowing what I want.”

“sullen, caressing—
loving his obscene equus
groveling for it.”

“jewel, leech-like riding—
my pussy-glutted thick lips
okay, take it darl.”


“Darl almost begged
them on his knees”
—William Faulkner,
As I Lay Dying

“It’s because I live—
down here in the horse stables
in stalls full of hay.”

“bare feet in horseshit—
the big red barn full of dung
squeezing thru my toes.”

“it’s because I’m hung—
always hanging around me
like a damn buzzard.”

“I never wash up—
I don’t wanna feel real clean
let me be dirty.”

“darl likes to lick me—
after he sucks me off good
my cheesy smegma.”

“darl is so hard up—
stutters, cringes, begs for it
gets down on his knees.”

“darl, you’re fuckin’ sick—
I wanna tell my brother
shaking my sad head.”

“he can’t help himself—
each time makes it worse next time
darl always wants more.”


“I knew she was
partial to him.”
—William Faulkner,
As I Lay Dying

“I watch jewel each time—
he doesn’t ever ask me
are you ready, darl?”

“he spurts his big wad—
obscenely deliberate
all over my face.”

“he goes to the pail—
drinks again from the cedar
sweet dark orifice.”

“he spits on my face—
says shut-up darl, take it,
he’s so hot-blooded.”

“he’s a head taller—
than me, naked in the stable
standing in horseshit.”

“faint peach-fuzz stubble—
giving his young teenage face
the look of a man.”

“I like it private—
knowing he’s her favorite
addie’s sullen son.”

“this is my way of—
getting even for her love
I make him shameful.”

“I gum his to death—
making him whimper & groan
bending his weak knees.”

“no guy wants it queer—
that’s why I beg for it bad
him feeling guilty.”


“Come on,
Jewel says.”
—William Faulkner,
As I Lay Dying

jewel’s the sweetest thing—
when he shoots his awful wad
dying in my arms.”

“dying just for me—
all of his vulnerable
young sexy manhood.”

“so well-endowed by—
generous mother nature
almost fainting dead.”

“holding him tightly—
my dying dinge kid brother
my heart full of words.”

“despite his sulking—
pouty temper tantrum fits
losing it real bad.”

“shooting his brains out—
the sound of all that jizzy
male fury & cum.”

“getting that last load—
cherishing jewel each last time
oozing last wiggle.”

“his down-right ugly—
sullen goodbye dying kiss
going spaz on me.”

getting my secret—
selfish, stone-hearted, evil
wish to feel him die.”

“as I lay dying—
jewel’s death-bed last runny squirt
dying in my arms.”

Dewey Dell

“Jewel glances back.”
—William Faulkner,
As I Lay Dying

“dewy dell’s like him—
jewel my badboy kid brother
he’s midnight jet-black.”

“down there where it counts—
his mandingo ten inches
his dinge dick all mine.”

“but not really mine—
I’m nothing but his dick-slave
he’s african king.”

“his jet-black penis—
compared t his high yellow
smooth complexion.”

“his lovely jizz-jet—
douching me with seminally
obscene facials.”

“squirting up my nose—
smattering, smearing my lips
so shamelessly rude.”

“dewy dell asks me—
is that why you’re doing jewel?
you wanna be him?”

“what could I say then—
rubbing my poor callused knees
nodding yes to her?”

“if dewy dell could—
only see the awful things
I do to young jewel!”

“squeezing his nutsac—
pealing back his black foreskin
getting his pink head.”


“’Taint no rush, I say.”
—William Faulkner,
As I Lay Dying

“no man dislikes it—
worse than me, tull tells me then,
but there’s no harm done.”

“a guy’s gotta guess—
ahead now & then, you know,
so get him off now.”

a long ways off & a long
time ago back then.”

“just burying her—
a day’s hard ride to die for
and getting back’s worse.”

“jewel says he’s gonna—
be goin’ & leavin’ you
his mind’s set on it.”

”I hope so tull says—
sooner or later that boy’s
gonna be a man.”

“he carries a grudge—
durn nigh as long as he is,
full of resentment.”

“I’ve seen it, myself—
down under the yazoo bridge
swimming nude & all.”

“no use cryin’ though—
with you all goo-goo eyed &
gap-mouthed for the kid.”

“with you mooning it—
a-straddle it all the time
he’ll never marry.”


“Down there fooling
with that horse.”
—William Faulkner,
As I Lay Dying

“damn that jewel brother—
I can still see him standing
nude in the stable.”

“smirking down at me—
making me feel perverted
for wanting him bad.”

“my second-sight sees—
him just like he used to be
arrogant, erect.”

“tull tells him stories—
about wise-ass chicks needing
to be shut-up good.”

“tells me to grab them—
my harley handle-bell ears
and fuck their face good.”

“shutting them up nice—
once & for all that’s for sure
make them your dick-slave.”

“I didn’t tell tull—
I got down on my belly
longways like a snake.”

“begged jewel to fuck me—
like I was his cute girlfriend
down & dirty bad.”

“that sounds silly, darl—
it’s not your tight asshole that
that needs to be shut up.”

“jewel shuts me up good—
he almost chokes me to death
his dick down my throat.”

“then I wash my mouth—
with soap & water real good
feeling like a whore.”


“Jewel whistles again,
the horse comes”
—William Faulkner,
As I Lay Dying

“jewel’s tool is jet-black—
the rest of him dinge-yellow
kinky bright orange pubes.”

“he takes after our—
dead redhead mommy dearest
he’s her love-child boy.”

“after her divorce—
the whole sordid dinge story
comes out in the light.”

“adopted back then—
in the willows home for lost
unwed mother’s kids.”

“it takes two people—
to make you who you are, girl,
one person to die.”

“jewel won’t say it’s true—
he won’t say it even now,
he knows it’s true though.”

“jewel feels so ashamed—
he just wants to call it quits,
his secret dinge dick.”

“jewel just wants to die—
so I slowly kill him nice
strangling it to death.”

“he’s worth dying for—
jewel’s licorice-dark black penis
his uncut pink head.”


“I feel like a wet
seed wild in the
hot blind earth”
—William Faulkner,
As I Lay Dying

the sky lies flat down—
the slope onto the secret
stertorous dark earth.

the dead air shapes the—
dead darkness, beyond the
hills of the dead earth.

it lies dead & warm—
touching me naked thru my
damp clothes, silhouettes.

I feel my body—
my bones & flesh listening
coffin’s broken planks.




“Are you going to
nail her up in it?”
—William Faulkner,
As I Lay Dying

when cash finishes it—
they’ll put her in the coffin
for a long, long time.

I couldn’t say it—
but I saw the dark dead stand
up & whirl away.

I got shut up once—
the crib door trapped me in there
I couldn’t get out.

and I couldn’t breathe—
cause the rats were breathing up
all the air in there.

they’re gonna put her—
in the coffin, nail it up
for who knows how long?

pa walks around blind—
his shadow follows him around
the planks are bleeding.

the saw sounds asleep—
snoring away in the wood
then they’ll nail her in.

it’s not her laying—
dying under the quilt in
her old bedroom bed.

it’s not her laying—
dying now in the coffin
there in the wagon.


“I be durn if it
didn’t give me
the creeps.”
—William Faulkner,
As I Lay Dying

“it was raining hard—
cats & dogs, buckets of it
addie bundren’s gone.”

“peabody’s mule team—
all lathered up, neck-yokes broke
addie bundren’s gone.”

“probably midnight—
storm out there comin’ down hard
addie bundren’s gone.”

“somebody knocking—
knocking at the door real late
addie bundren’s gone.”

“it’s the bundren boy—
little drowned rat vardaman
addie bundren’s gone.”

“lucky I’m married—
such a christian woman
addie bundren’s gone.”

“hitch up the team, tull—
I reckon cora’s right ‘bout
addie bundren’s gone.”

“the boy looks at me—
like an owl with big round eyes
addie bundren’s gone.”

“cora takes off his—
wet clothes by the nice warm stove
addie bundren’s gone.”

“cora dries him off—
the poor little naked boy
addie bundren’s gone.”

“he rides between us—
under her shawl, umbrella
addie bundren’s gone.”

“ain’t right but durn it—
cora makes it right i guess
addie bundren’s gone.”

“ain’t nailed her in yet—
by the time we get up there
addie bundren’s gone.”

“the lord has decreed—
something to us i guess so
addie bundren’s gone.”

“anse stands there waitin’—
gaunt, scary like a scarecrow
addie bundren’s gone.”

“cash himself half-dead—
laying asleep on the floor
addie bundren’s gone.”

“I guess all of us—
suffer like little children
addie bundren’s gone.”

“our only burden—
putting up with our sad-selves
addie bundren’s gone.”


“The lantern sits
on a stump.”
—William Faulkner,
As I Lay Dying

“smeared, smudged & sultry—
the lantern light sheds feeble
light on the darkness.”

“the dark coffin planks—
long smooth black trestles torn out
from the bridge of death.”

“clattering loudly—
sawing away, addie ain’t
goin’ out easy.”

“gimme that plank there—
anse’s aimless silhouette
totally useless.”

“no, the other one—
puts the saw down, comes over
sweeping pa away.”

“air smells like sulphur—
the shadowy plane of death
congealing around.”

“sheet-lightening slumbers—
the motionless trees swell-up
pregnant with young twigs.”

“it begins to rain—
against the hissing lantern
pa looks up slack-mouthed.”

“rushing thru the leaves—
the raindrops big as buckshot
tries to snuff it out.”

“cash shields the lantern—
sending pa inside to find
some kind of cover.”

“comes back with raincoats—
stands there blinking, face streaming
looks up at the sky.”

“dumb & brooding look—
outraged yet resigned to worse
gaunt expectations.”

“vernon tull’s there now—
cash tells pa to leave them now
don’t begrudge the rain.”

“pa’s face a carved mask—
savage caricaturist’s
monstrous burlesque grief.”


“How often have
I lain beneath rain
on a strange roof,
thinking of home.”
—William Faulkner,
As I Lay Dying

“here i am trying—
to go to sleep in a
strange house tonight.”

“but first i gotta—
empty myself so i can
get to sleep tonight.”

“you gotta empty—
yourself & try to become
the person you’re not.”

“and when i’m sleeping—
i never was or will be
don’t know what i am.”

“don’t know who i am—
don’t know if i’m here or not
knowing ain’t easy.”

“jewel knows who he is—
cause he doesn’t know whether
he is or is not.”

“beyond these dark walls—
i can hear the rain shaping
the wagon out there.”

“the wagon that’s theirs—
the coffin that’s ours not theirs
addie laying there.”

“the rain shapes itself—
for jewel, me & everyone
that are not asleep.”

“since sleep is is-not—
and the rain & wind are was
all of it is-not.”

“yet the wagon is—
because tull’s wagon is-was
addie bundren ain’t.”

“jewel is so much is—
that it hurts to say it’s so
so addie is too?”

“can’t empty myself—
beneath rain on a strange roof
thinking about home.”

“can’t empty myself—
so i’m stuck with who i am
rain on a strange roof.”


“Motionless, the tall
buzzards hang in
soaring circles”
—William Faulkner,
As I Lay Dying

“high above the house—
against the quick thick dark sky
hanging in circles.”

“no more than black specks—
implacable, patient
portentous death.”

“come on, jewel” I say—
“it’s not your horse that’s done dead
it’s addie bundren.”

“goddamn you, darl,”—
jewel says to me his brother
for guilting him bad.”


“We go on, with a motion
so soporific, so dreamlike
as though time and not
space were decreasing
between us & it”
—William Faulkner,
As I Lay Dying

Jewel comes down road—
Fast with the mud flying from
The drive of the hoofs.

It minces thru mud—
Passing us fast with a light
High-kneed driving gait.

Jewel riding the horse—
Sitting motionless, erect
Lightly poised upright.

The proud horse arch-necked—
Reined back to swift singlefoot
Rakish-angled hat.

While the rest of us—
Plod along in the wagon
Sullen with coffin.

He passes swiftly—
Without looking back at us
Hooves hissing in mud.

Backflinging some mud—
A blob plops onto coffin
Cash leans, wipes it off.


“But now I can
get them teeth”
—William Faulkner,
As I Lay Dying

The world ain’t easy—
Yoknapatawpha County
Outta the Lord’s Earth.

Myself a minor—
Insignificant sweaty
Piece of God’s acre.

Just a postage stamp—
Mississippi delta grief

Addie hated me—
Yes, I knew that way back when
When she married me.

A New England girl—
Abolitionist woman
Hated the Deep South.

Hated Slavery—
Hated poor white trash like me
Livin’ in the sticks.

Hated teaching here—
Only enjoyed it when she
Was switching their ass.

Hated her offspring—
Except Jewel her secret cute
Whitfield love-child boy.

I knew about it—
But what could I do back then
I wanted more kids.

So Addie gave me—
Cash, Darl, Jewel, Dewey Dell,
Little Vardaman.

He doth loveth me—
He chastiseth me too
But I’ll be durn tho.

If he don’t take some—
Curious ways to show it
It seems like to me.




“But then poets—
almost always wrong
about the facts.”
—William Faulkner,
“Gavin Stevens,”
The Town

“I guess i missed it—
the facts instead of the truth
right before my eyes.”

“I’m a poet—
without saying anything
everyone senses it.”

“it isn’t until—
as I lay dying got used
and rough trade got laid.”

“camptown races and—
all those short quick vignettes
as I lay dying.”


“Because he missed it.
He missed it completely”
—William Faulkner,
“Gavin Stevens,”
The Town

“they ain’t no poets—
down here in mississippi
not that i know of.”

“maybe i was one—
that wild look in my eyes
am i done crazy?”

“young vardaman’s one—
he thinks addie is a fish
the kid’s real crazy.”

“all the bundren boyz—
are matter of a fact mad.
takes one to know one.”

“jewel’s different tho—
his real father is whitfield
sweet & bible-tongued.

“addie deceived us—
whether outta sheer boredom
or maybe revenge.”

“jewel is the result—
the love child of jesus christ
and addie bundren.”

“all of us know it—
he doesn’t look at all like
addie bundren does he?”

“when jewel bought the horse—
wild texas spotted pony
working all night long.”

“deceiving us all—
cash who thought jewel was rutting
with some young girlfriend.”

“then later thinkin’—
it was a married woman
bored & needing it.”

“a woman with lots—
of staying power for sex
jewel fucking her good.”

“no wonder jewel was—
always falling asleep then
dreaming all the time.”

“working all night long—
for mister quick to pay for
flem’s spotted pony.”


“a kind of telepathic
agreement of admitted fear”
—William Faulkner,
As I Lay Dying

“the way addie looked—
so sadly each day at me
crying her heart out.”

“knowing that deceit—
was running thru both our veins
I’d fooled even her.”

“full of motherly—
worry & concern for me
burning midnight oil.”

“thinking I was sick—
something bad was wrong with me
sitting by my bed.”

“crying in the night—
quietly so she wouldn’t
wake me up at all.”

“darl kept laughing—
thinking I had a girlfriend
draining me each night.”

“something he wanted—
actually wanting it bad
getting me off too.”

“when I was fifteen—
that’s what he did every night
pulling my quilt back.”

“getting his thin lips—
on my holy-roller dick
whitfield’s big penis.

”he knew addie lied—
tried to deceive all of us
I was her love-child.”

“I was different—
than cash or darl down there
gnarled family tree.”

“the good reverend—
whitfield let himself he had
addie got her thrills.”

“whitfield wasn’t so—
holy like the bible sayz
his flock was deceived.”

“he had tainted blood—
from his octoroon mother,
golden vocal cords.”

“his winning sermons—
his swaying hymns praising god.
god was mulatto.”

“but then everyone—
down there in mississippi
had some negro blood.”

“that’s what the book said—
original sin was ours
mandingohood ruled.”

”others weren’t deceived—
the ladies of whitfield’s flock,
addie knew the truth.”

“darl not deceived—
wanting to see it each night
going down on me.”

“wishing he possessed—
my thick black rod of aaron,
seed of abraham.”

“the ecstatic surge—
of african negro kings
dinge mandingo dick.”

“so when I came home—
riding nude bareback one night
on my wild pony.”

“with a rope bridle—
and no had on my bare head,
I’d earned my money.”

“oh jewel!” darl whispered—
me riding bareback & nude,
flashing mane & tale.”

“down in the stables—
showing myself off so proud
darl was so jealous.”


“deceit ran along
quiet and monotonous,
all of us let ourselves
be deceived, since all
people are cowards”
—William Faulkner,
As I Lay Dying

“Let me ride,” he said—
Young Vardaman standing there
The rest of us.”

“let me ride,” he said—
sounding like a small cricket,
tiny little one.”

“cash simply nodded—
told anse what really happened
buying it from quick.”

“old man anse was pissed—
but what else could he fuckin’
do, it was my money.”

“well, naturally—
I sure was disappointed,

“kinda like dirty—
sexual disappointed
not getting’ any.”

“from then on jewel slept—
in the horse stable at night
with his wild pony.”

“jewel & his pony—
both of them wild & crazy
just like the snopes boyz.”


“Now is the truth.”
—William Faulkner,
As I Lay Dying

“I knew it back then—
the way deceit was coming
back to haunt me bad.”

“my beloved jewel—
guilt finally coming home,
my own cowardness.”

“a telepathic—
agreement telling me his
deceit had deep roots.”

“they ran quietly—
and monotonously thru
our family tree.”

“something had happened—
something had happened to jewel
I’d let it happen”

“it’s easy to do—
I was full of cowardness,
preferred it that way.”

“jewel was my love-child—
whitfield & I knew the truth,
his brother darl too.”

“darl threw back the quilt—
jewel laying nude there in bed,
bolt-upright, naked.”

“jewel’s mandingo meat—
licorice-black & uncut,
with a big pink head.”

“from then on incest—
joined with my adultery
cain, abel & eve.”

“my admitted fear—
miscegenational love
came back to haunt me.”

“I cried for dayz and—
long sleepless nights about him,
relieved yet haunted.”


“so you don’t mind
admitting then to folks
that are worrying about
the same thing that aint
worth the worry that
you are yourself”
—William Faulkner,
As I Lay Dying

“I gave her my word’—
anse standing by the river
rain-swollen & wild.”

“I looked at poor anse—
whatta sack of bananas,
what a fool, I thought.”

“bound & determined—
stubborn child-idiot man
he’d never grown up.”

“addie was getting—
even with the clod-hopper
bitter yankee wife.”

“addie ought to have—
stayed an old-maid school teacher

mississippi folks—
they’ll never change their old ways
cotton, slavery.”

“why’d she even try—
but maybe that’s why whitfield
gave her a love-child.”

“jewel the only way—
she could make up for the south
mississippi guilt.”

“jewel her mixed-blood son—
making up for slavery
those three hundred years.”

Saturday, December 25, 2010



“star-spawn and hieroglyph,
the fierce white dying rose,
then gradual speeding up
and into slack-flood’s coronal
of nympholept noon”—William
Faulkner, “The Long Summer,”
The Hamlet


The Poker Game
Weasel and Pretty Boy Snopes
Snake Lips
Ike Snopes
Huckleberry Finn Snopes
Adonis Snopes
Carnivàle Snopes
New Orleans Snopes
Creole Snopes
Young Popeye


The Poker Game

faulkner ain’t got no—
secrets about nobody
he tells everything.

faulkner’s got no sense—
no sense about reticence
he ain’t shy about things.

he’s got no instinct—
for being gentlemanly
polite & discrete.

each time he tells it—
the stories get more & more
tres touché risqué.

flem snopes & his gang—
those boyz gots lots more finesse
for keeping secrets.

it’s kinda sorta—
like playin’ a poker game
on a riverboat.

lotsa chic card-sharks—
with cool staid poker faces
smart bluffing gamblers.

they know how to play—
never revealing their hands
their poker faces.

faulkner’s pretty good—
playin’ the reader game too
he’s nobody’s fool.

each story’s a game—
all of them believable
all seemingly true.

mississippi nights—
the delta queen riverboat
antebellum times.

Weasel and Pretty Boy Snopes

“How long does it take
you to write a book?
Only a hack, Faulkner
replied, can answer
that question.”
—Ernest V. Trueblood,
Delta Days and Delta Nights,
Jackson: University of
Mississippi Press, 2007

Weasel Snopes is precocious—same with his twin brother Pretty Boy Snopes—they both take after their child-idiot father Ike Snopes—the infamous Ike Snopes of The Hamlet—the gimpy, harelipped child-idiot problem-boy of Yoknapatawpha County—Ike this problem-boy everybody knew about—but nobody much wanted to talk about it—Weasel just shrugs—he doesn’t care—neither does Pretty Boy—both of them are pretty normal most of the time—except for one thing…

The Snopes boys hang around Rowan Oaks—they do odd jobs for Mister Bill—they get the best whiskey for him—they take trips up to Memphis every month or so—they’re both kinda like Virgil and Fonzo Snopes—those crazy well-known pair of boys in Miss Reba’s whorehouse outta Faulkner’s Sanctuary—way back when Popeye and Red—were having a good time with Temple Drake in bed.

Weasel Snopes’ twin brother Pretty Boy Snopes—he’s the prettiest boy in Yoknapatawpha County & he knows it too—he’s a vain little cocky showoff—just like his twin brother Weasel—he’s got slick jet-black hair—carefully greased back into a sexy ducktail—looks kinda like a cute sixteen-year-old Elvis Presley—with those same wiggly, sexy Elvis the Pelvis hips—plus a thin wasp-like waist—and a nice muscular physique that sure does catch the ogling eyeballs of all the Memphis whores—and the Big Easy queens during Mardi Gras too.

Weasel Snopes is just the opposite—an ugly ratty dishpan-blonde with pale white skin—almost as pale as an albino snake—the spitting image of his father Ike—right down to every inch of his big touchy Tallahatchie you-know-what—which just won’t quit once it gets going—both boys so very intense and nervous—like all the young Snopesian spawn and slacker badboyz down there in delta country…

That’s the only time I get to see them—is late at night when Mister Bill and me are working in the study—going over some drafts and typing manuscripts—while his Mississippi mastermind muse—full of Pascagoula Gulf breeze calm and whiskey coolness—gently opines away in the delta night—that’s when things really get going good at Rowan Oaks—about midnight when he gets juiced—and begins to commune with the Living Dead…

Some people say he communes too much—but that’s alright—who’s to say how much is too much—maybe too much still ain’t good enough if you know what I mean—that’s where the Snopes boyz came in—Weasel and Pretty Boy know better than anybody how much of a good thing isn’t enough…

Some say Faulkner is a dirty old man—but that’s alright—all the young dirty white boys in Jefferson think the same way—at least Weasel and Pretty Boy think that way most of time—they’re both avid devotees of Mr. Bill’s imaginative stories—they don’t read much and for all I know they don’t even know how to read—they’re just your typical trailer-trash dirty white boys—sitting around bored watching TV a lot—and driving around in their beat-up Camero—up to Memphis & back again every once in awhile.

They come by once or twice a week—with the best whiskey money can buy—and something to smoke—to keep Mr. Bill’s imagination going the way it gets going—it kinda takes some time to get used to it—the way the three of them have this delta repertoire amongst themselves—they love to get him started and get him in the mood—it’s awfully hard trying to keep up him—but I do the best we can—typing away into the night—his storytelling so intense once it gets going—like the Snopes boyz & everything else…

Faulkner sayz he doesn’t “see or read” anything anymore—he just “listens” to the Voice of Yoknapatawpha late at night—the Voice tells him stories that come into his head—I sit there typing away—I’m a pretty good dictation queen by now—while Weasel & Pretty Boy kick back & listen—laughing & saying something funny now & then—egging Mr. Bill on & keeping the storyline moving at a fast clip—you gotta be fast tho to get it down quick.

The Snopes boyz are kinda kinky like their dad Ike—they’re both in love with themselves like all the Snopes—a couple of young moody Mississippi boyz—right outta rural youngmale antebellum times—the new breed of Snopes taking over from the plantation planter aristocrats—the old dying delta bourbon ruling class—they both live with girlfriends down there in the Yazoo Trailer Court—each with a couple of kids already—common law marriages being the deal around here—all of Yoknapatawpha County’s that way—one vast Snake Pit of seething Snopesian misspent desires & bored young people hanging around in the humid delta night.

Both boyz are deadbeat dads—and like all the Snopes males, they’re extremely prolific and seminal at it—pushing the population of Jefferson into one big breeder Snopesville USA—full of the usual murder, mayhem & depravity stories making the headlines in The Times-Picayune—it’s a real gridlock down here of broken hearts and desultory desires—underneath the same old Spanish moss and gnarled old magnolias—all that young male energy being squandered and going to waste…

At least that’s what I think—but who am I to say—I’m just a naïve college kid intruder—a naïve young interloper skulking down here in the background of the decadent depths of the delta—Yoknapatawpha ruled by a secretive Big Black Anaconda Snake—a writhing Snopesian Creature From the Black Lagoon—“Snake Lips” the Mississippi writer from the world of the past—much older than the one I’m used to over there at Ole Miss—a strange primeval world of ancient, gnarly cypress stumps & moody whiskey nights—older than the dark Snake-Eye touch of old swampy Voodoo Queens—older than just about anything I know about—except the way Faulkner looks at me sometimes—when he pauses & gives me a second to catch up with his story…

Snake Lips

“Relations with his father
grew steadily more difficult
as Billy reached adolescence.
Murray called him “Snake Lips,”
a dig at his Butler features”
—Nicholas Fargnoili & Michael
Golay, William Faulkner

murry sneered at him—
didn’t much like his own son
called him “Snake Lips.”

biographers say—
that’s cause bill had his mother’s
butler slim features.

he was short & slight—
not like jack his young brother
who looked like his dad.

jack had that “falkner”—
tall, bulky & florid build
butch & masculine.

murry was rough neck—
liked to hunt, fish, get drunk,
his wife hated it.

he was a failure—
an inebriate loser,
bumbling dumb gambler.

loved western novels—
adventure stories, bird dogs,
hunting, fishing, guns.

bluff, liquorish, livid—
mississippi outdoorsman,
the young colonel’s son.

maud butler his wife—
just the opposite person
despised his drinking.

but that’s not really—
the whole story to be told
it’s lots more “snaky.”

she loved reading books—
billy her dear favorite,
sensed his genius.

tolerated it—
his strange eccentricities,
his writerly ways

she sensed someday that—
he’d be a well-known writer,
which is what happened.

the family tree—
violent propensities,
anger, listlessness.

but his father sensed—
there was something queer about
his young snaky son.

it wasn’t just his—
“snaky lips” that raised eyebrows
he spooked the horses.

the livery stable—
his black “falkner” cousins &
shadow family knew.

the lure of horses—
young snopesian horse-trading,
that his father knew.

faulkner’s snaky lips—
pensively perverse &
strangely seductive.

like quentin compson’s—
moody, pouty, petulant,
lovely caddy lips.

dalton ames knew it—
philip avery stone knew
and so did spratling.

sherwood anderson—
tennessee williams &
shegog sensed it too.

faulkner’s snaky lips—
right outta eden’s garden
adam & eve knew.

the nervous, snaky—
trembling, shameless, snaky lips
cain & able knew.

incestuous lips—
forbidden, east of eden
queenly sutpen lips.

faulkner’s forked-tongue lips—
snaky, genital “snake lips,”
sulky, southern lips.

lips of a writer—
pursed on the verge of despair,
piqued by paradise.

black & blue bruised lips—
insolent dixie hot lips,
snively, snotty lips.

tight, thin, cruel lips—
puffy, pouty, protruding
ingenious lips.

literary lips—
it ran in the family
on his mother’s side.

Ike Snopes

“Ike Snopes was simply
an interesting human being
with man’s normal natural
feelings, his baseness
which man fights against…”
—William Faulkner,
Faulkner in the University,
ed. Blotner-Gwynn,
Charlottesville: University
of Virginia Press, 1995

Ike Snopes—bovine beauty boy—ultimate other—ultimate outsider even to himself—outside of time—outside of Mississippi—way out there somewhere—Ike not struggling very hard—to get back home either—outside all the way and never coming back—outside of pathos—beyond lovely verisimilitudes of character, plot, denouement—inarticulate zoophilic boy—zip-a-dee-doo-dah happy kid—lacking critical insight and routine literary cool—no political agenda—jettisoned by Faulkner into nothingness—Sartre’s “I’m outside time” no help at all—that’s for rubes and suckers of American Lit—no feverish imagination or lecherous desires—no need to luxuriate in Time—no need for narrative power or thrilling escape to freedom—no need for any Slavocracy to ego-gratification—no future to be ruined—voiceless-cipher perfect youth—not vindictive whimsical scheming—no need for deranged performances or adolescent shame—his adult manhood would never arrive—Ike would remain in teenage pulp fiction paradise forever—no need to turn pages or watch movies—the equation of himself and how he was—silenced, acquiescent, muzzled—no prefaces, no epilogues, no high school reunions—the only reunion he’ll ever know—stage-managed by Faulkner as a joke in a barn—no need to escape illness, decay, confinement, anonymity—inhabiting a body with hands and feet going nowhere fast—no need for fabulation—no need for family or wife—his sole source of love—a cow…

Huckleberry Finn Snopes

“But then I stopped
reading as a reader
and began to read
as a writer”—Toni
Morrison, Playing in
the Dark: Whiteness &
the Literary Imagination

Huckleberry Finn Snopes was fond of showing off to the tourists—there at the Mark Twain Tourist Center on the banks of the muddy Mississippi River—celebrating his savvy innocence and youngmale beauty—by pulling down his pants and saying—“This here is my Slave Jim—isn’t he nice, big, black and beautiful?”—Well, it wasn’t exactly your typical tourist trap routine—not exactly what your usual Mark Twain fan would expect—but the tourist families and kids got the point pretty quick—rushing off to the tour bus to escape as fast as they could—voicing polite tittering embarrassments—about Mark Twain the great writer—and that young cute innocent teenage Huck Finn—with that huge Jurassic joint down between Jim’s carnival sideshow legs—Huck Finn the Boy and Jim the Man—comic satirical street-smart Twain critique—quickly dispelling bourgeois yearnings for any whitey forgiveness—any guilt-feelings about slavery and antebellum jive—Jim changing the direction of the narrative completely—no need to enter the mouth of the Ohio River—no need to pass into Freedom Land anymore—just one look at “Jim” told the whole story—“Come on, Huck honey, get back on the raft,” lily-white half-wit Huckleberry Finn Snopes with his mulatto yardstick meat of black power—signed, sealed and delivered Mandingo Message from the African gods—truant Huck Finn shrug and Tom Sawyer smirk—Jim subjected to endless humiliation, torment, persecution—only to respond with boundless love and limitless compassion—Huck and Jim two sides of the same coin—one side Jim the specter of enslavement—the other Huck anodyne American witness—how can there be one without the other?

Adonis Snopes

“Does Faulkner’s Absalom,
Absalom after its protracted
search for telling African blood,
leave us with a image of snow
and the eradication of race?
Not quite.”—Toni Morrison,
Playing in the Dark: Whiteness
and the Literary Imagination

Adonis Snopes—young black Adonis freshman—editor on the Delta—one of the first African-American students on campus—totally alive and wired—inheritor of the blood of African kings—while I was cold aloof as “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”—blinded by prejudice Hemingway butch—blinded by impenetrable inarticulate whiteness—worse than Henry Sutpen at Ole Miss—Allen Hall and American Lit in the middle of Whiteyville—my English classes and all that “othering” mindset—Adonis Snopes freshman outsider—black kid in a Whiteyville deep south university—English Department all white and no blacks—surrounded by estranging whitey Literature—whitey poetry in the library stacks—fetishizing seething sixties Academe—he was a Black Adonis English major—there in the heart of the Whiteyville USA—no Langston Hughes, Richard Bruce Nugent, Countee Cullen, Zora Neal Hurston—no Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Amiri Baraka, Ishmael Reed, Charles Johnson, Maya Angelou, August Wilson, Richard Wright, Wanda Coleman—young Adonis Snopes knocking on my dormitory door—that night both of us arriving at an understanding—about Harlem Renaissance and a few other things…

Carnivàle Snopes
—for Karl Van Vechten

I was watching Carnivàle the other night—one of those first episodes—when Ben Hawkins the young runaway clairvoyant kid—wakes up in Professor Lodz's trailer—stumbling down the stairs—wearing the Bearded Lady's kimono—suddenly finding himself in another world—the world of Carnivàle on the road back in the '30s—magic realism dished out slowly episode after episode—his weird Great Depression bildungsroman on a weekly basis—full of Dust Bowl gritty romance—occult struggle between good evil and all that—thinking to myself—Carnivàle never made it down South—but then I realized that Carnivàle was already down there—and had been down there for a long time—while HBO's Carnivàle had been filmed in Santa Clarita and other CA locations—a fictitious Midwestern Thirties landscape—funny how magic realism pops up in American places all over the country back then—especially during rough times or before Lent in New Orleans—as if fabulation were the only way out—or maybe just the opposite—fabulation as the "once upon a time" imaginative way-back-in?

New Orleans Snopes

“The concept of freedom
did not emerge as a vacuum.
Nothing highlighted freedom—
if it did not in fact create it—
like slavery.”—Toni Morrison,
Playing in the Dark: Whiteness
and the Literary Imagination

New Orleans Snopes—he was like New Orleans the Big Easy—potpourri playground for the Creole imagination—fabricated brew of darkness, otherness, alarm and desire—Louisiana counterpoint to freedom—suppressed repressed slavery darkness—mirrored, exorcised, reified Creole persona—subterranean subtextual American Lit in the making—New Orleans Snopes—young carefree kid—not particularly self-conscious about it—his long Spanish French Haitian Free Black Slave inheritance—kept boy of a notable Southern oil millionaire—his boyhood spent in the arms of a Delta Bourbon New South aristocrat—hardly New Yorker litterateur stuff—hardly Manhattan suave sophisticated erudite story—just Biloxi bad boy made good—Mardi Gras boyfriend—rich sugar daddy romancing the shadow—Nubian young prince named in his will—what will he do now with the millions—meanwhile driving down Canal in a big black limo—enjoying the Big Easy ambience—driving across Lake Pontchartrain—named after Louis Phélypeaux—Comte de Pontchartrain—French Minister of the Marine—Chancellor of France—and Minister of Finance…

Creole Snopes

“A sullen darkness
now hovered above us”
—Edgar Allan Poe,
The Narrative of
Arthur Gordon Pym

Young Creole Snopes was proud and vain—shamelessly unashamed—letting me see his Snopes family heritage—his sullen Creole family jewels—dark moody youngman who lived in the French Quarter—meeting him one night at Lafitte’s during Mardi Gras—pale high yellow octoroon haughty kid—with lots of bad attitude and a chip on his shoulder a mile long—dressed up as a French harlequin clown—bright-orange buzz-cut bouffant—his inexhaustibly sluggish brown eyes—stoic and slow as the Mississippi River nearby—romancing all the cute blue-eyed white-boy sailors—fighting over the same one in the bathroom—until we both shrugged and laughed—going home with each other for a drink—and a view from his Vieux Carré balcony—gazing down on the seething rude mob of drunk fat-assed Carnivàle white-trash tourists—each Mardi Gras another sad history lesson and blank page scrawled with lewd, senseless hangovers—rediscovering the American Dream down South—or was it a Dixie Nightmare—Mardi Gras with its way of letting it all hang out—mean cynical cops on huge horses—trolling the bottom-fish for drunks and louche troublemakers—while the streets flowed with liquor and love gone bad—or was it good—or did it make any difference—especially late at night during the warm evenings—when Port au Prince diabolism and voodoo hoodoo drums—had a way of weaseling their way into my brain—making me weak in the knees—checking out his cute “I Walked With a Zombie” curves—as he slipped into a more comfortable pink and purple kimono—all smooth and silky with flowing gardenias down to his belly-button—worshipping him like Sandra Dee did in the cane field—tall lanky teenage nude Darby Jones—standing at the View Carré Crossroads—his eyes rolled back in his head—Sandra Dee down on her knees—feeling the sublime terror of his smooth mandingo zombie skin—as he leans back against his wrought-iron balcony—oozing curly-cue smoke-rings down thru his nostrils into my face—cigarette-smoke blown from his bored pursed lips—as I worshipped him above the moiling crowds.

Young Popeye

“Give it to me”
—Temple Drake to Popeye,
William Faulkner, Sanctuary

Young Popeye loaned me his car—it was a big black Cadillac—a ’59 beat-up old road hog—riding down the highway that night—a lot of old heavy-metal going nowhere fast—even so it still kinda had lots of class—those rakish tits up front—those garish faded fins whooshing in the back—sleek old shark fins hissing into the night—the windows rolled down—smelling the swamp night stink—driving slowly down to Frenchman’s Bend—Butch Broussard on my mind—the radio turned down low…

Thursday, December 23, 2010




Vieux Carré Exile
Interview with the Bayou
William Faulkner
De Natura Rerum
Temple Drake’s Revenge

Vieux Carré Exile

“so it’s the
not the incest”
—william faulkner,
absalom, absalom

what made me give up—
cosmopolitan new orleans
tres chic big easy?

for this bucolic—
jerkwater little college
in mississippi?

why did she send me—
away from the big easy
my home?

eulalia bon—
my haitian mulatto
exiled dear mother.

my cute mistress—
etienne my handsome son
my delta lifestyle?

how did i get stuck—
with this hick henry sutpen
suave octoroon me?


“Once I smoked bhang
and I recall that I had
a vertiginous night, for
the sense of space had
shifted and I felt so light
that whenever I wanted
to turn on one side, I
would fall from the bed…”
— Andrei Codrescu,
“Mircea Eliade, India,”
Exquisite Corpse

the first time I smoked—
a joint was in the bayou
with cajun hippies.

they were all cousins—
my dormitory roommate
a handsome frenchman.

we played poker late—
zydeco music plus drank
lots of cheap jax beer.

some dynamite weed—
i became the queen of spades
then andre kissed me.

everything slowed down—
alligator garfish boyz
smiled & laughed at me.

dark old cypress trees—
gnarled hanging spanish moss
creeped into my blood.

ended up in bed—
with a moody boudreaux boy
fell into his arms.

clairvoyante cajuns—
séance under voodoo moon
stoned out in the swamp.

the only problem—
I kept falling outta bed
and it wouldn’t stop.

falling outta bed—
even when i didn’t move
falling not falling.

hold me tight I said—
don’t let me fall further down
andre laughed at me.

falling, oozing down—
deeper & deeper into
delta denouement.

down into the swamp—
stoned like young eliade
down by the ganges.

Interview with the Bayou

poet: “what do you do down there all day & night? just lurk around—moping in the depths?”

garfish: “why don’t you smoke a joint—that way you can ‘grok’ a ‘gar’ a lot better.”

poet: “do you have conversations with big old catfish—hanging around down in the fetid swamp?”

crawdaddy: “why don’t you do what the cajuns do—bite off my head & suck the juice.”

William Faulkner
—for Noel Polk

[Sung to the tune of Stephen
Foster’s “Camptown Races”]

faulkner novels here i come—
doo-dah doo-dah—
sound and fury oh so glum—
oh dah-do-dah day…

benjy compson stupid fool—
doo-dah doo-dah—
dirty panties way up there—
in an old pear tree…

oh all that southern lit!!!
oh all that dixie jive!!!
how i love it when it rots—
oh dah-do-dah day!!!

love that quentin he’s so gay—
doo-dah doo-dah—
him and dalton get it on—
plus caddy compson too…

love those wild palms & those floods—
doo-dah doo-dah—
love those snopes boyz having fun—
oh dah-do-dah day…

oh that faulkner lit!!!
oh that popeye puke!!!
how i love it when it stinks!!!
oh dah-do-dah day!!!

delta bourbon literature—
doo-dah doo-dah—
grows like mold on rotten cheese—
oh dah-do-dah day…

sanctuary here i come!!!
corn cobs!!! corn cobs!!!
ole miss reba has some fun!!!
so do all the girls!!!

oh magnolias!!!
oh those pralines too!!!
how i love that mardi gras!!!
all those frenchy boyz!!!

light in august my oh my—
christmas!!! christmas!!!
how they cut his peter off—
oh mulatto boy…

same with henry’s cute boyfriend—
doo-dah doo-dah—
tall dark handsome charles bon—
fatal tinge of dinge…

oh that land of jive!!!
oh that decadence!!!
delta boyfriends oh so cute!!!
plus the senate too!!!

tallahatchie literature—
snopes boyz!!! snopes boyz!!!
eula’s got a big fat ass—
oh dah-do-dah day…

temple drake she fell in love—
doo-dah doo-dah—
alabama red oh so cute—
bye bye bad boy red…

oh that memphis booze!!!
oh that moonshine glow!!!
surely worth a nobel prize!!!
all those pecan pies!!!

way down south in baton rouge—
huey!!! oh huey!!!
way down south at lsu—
kingfish dynasties!!!

gumbo boyz and garfish too—
doo-dah doo-dah—
cajuns creoles gators too—
that’s where i fell in love…

oh that bayou lit!!!
oh that swamp boy love!!!
cajun boyz can be so cruel!!!
pouty pirogue lips!!!

go down moses was my thing—
doo-dah doo-dah—
how i loved that broussard hall—
oh those quarterbacks…

english major there i was—
doo-dah doo-dah—
how i burned the midnight oil—
tiger jocks so fine…

oh those delta blues!!!
oh those dixie nights!!!
honeysuckle busy lips!!!
oh dah-do-dah day!!!

De Natura Rerum

“I sell myths
not poems.”
—Andrei Codrescu,
“De Natura Rerum,”
Great American
Prose Poems

Yoknapatawpha was my apocryphal myth way back then in ‘60s Baton Rouge. I fell in love with Amos Bolton, an editor with the Delta Journal back in the Sixties. He published my first poem “Hitchhikers in the Dust.” It was an awful poem—about tragic, drunk, stoned Jack Kerouac. John Hazard Wildman was my creative writing teacher—he was a poet too. Back then LSU had just become integrated—Amos Bolton was a handsome, smart black poet. He liked one of my gay poems—about miscegenational incest. But he couldn’t get it published. Delta lit was still in the closet back then. Both Amos & Wildman told me to keep publishing tho & I’m still doing it. Faulkner’s mythology was close to me back then—I felt like Henry Sutpen & Quentin Compson in Absalom, Absalom. I lived the decadent delta myth & slowly became Myth Kelly.

“With each poem
goes a little myth.
This myth is not
in the poem. It’s
in my mind.”
—Andrei Codrescu,
“De Natura Rerum,”
Great American
Prose Poems

I spent all day in Allen Hall with Bolton & the English majors. There on the Quad on campus. At night I hung around Middleton Library—reading & writing. My first book came out ten years later—it’s in the stacks there in the poetry section: Chicken: Poems PS3561 E3932 C47 Author: Kelly, Dennis, 1943 Publisher: Gay Sunshine Press 80 pages, illustrated ISBN: 0917342704. It’s hard to realize that it was just waiting to come into existence—there on the shelves between Ginsberg & Kerouac. I was a hippie back then—sandawood incense, sitar music, smoking dope. I checked the box—instead of going to Nam. One look at me—and the army psychiatrist nodded knowingly. He asked me why I thought I was gay? “Because I suck dick,” I told him. “Some times even dinge dick.” And that was that.

“And when the editors
of magazines ask me
for poems I make them
pay for my work by
passing along these
little myths which I
make up.”—Andrei
Codrescu, “De Natura
Rerum,” Great American
Prose Poems

Could I stand the delta heat & humidity back then? Back when I was young & a chicken—living in the dorms with all the exiled young Cubans? Children of the Cuban doctors, lawyers, engineers—making their espace from Castro? To Miami, New Orleans & LSU? They spoke Spanish so quickly & loudly—I got to know them pretty well late at night. I got to know a pair of twins from Havana—identical Michelangelo Davids there in the showers late at night. The Gulf of Mexico & the vast Caribbean—flowed thru their mable veins into me. The Carib mainlined its way—“Aribba!” all the way. Their myth was dying—I made it mine. I fell in love—with both of them.

“These myths appear
at the end of the magazine
under the heading ABOUT
my poems in italics.”
—Andrei Codrescu,
“De Natura Rerum,”
Great American
Prose Poems

There wasn’t a MFA writing program back then—I barely got outta there alive. After I graduated—I had a choice. Either live the rest of my life in the bayous—with a bunch of crazy Cajun hippies. Drinking JAX & staying stoned—playing Poker & listening to Zydeco music all the time. Turning into an alligator gar fish boy—beneath the Spanish moss Delta moon. Either that—or following a lover like Robert Duncan did. A sophomore gymnast—up to Seattle. With his Boeing father—and family. That’s the myth I chose—Rainier as my Mt. Fuji. Bungalow down by a lake—Basho my teacher. Am still here—going nowhere fast. Seventeen syllables—three lines at a time.

“Very soon there are as
many myths as there are
poems and ultimately
this is good because each
poem does, this way bring
another poet into the world.
with this secret method of
defying birth controls i
populate the world with
poetry.”—Andrei Codrescu,
“De Natura Rerum,” Great
American Prose Poems

The Penguin Book of Homosexual Verse, Son of the Male Muse, The Bad Boy of Erotic Verse, Fag Rag, Gay Sunshine Journal, Seattle Gay News, The Stranger, etc.

Temple Drake’s Revenge

“Instead of endlessly reading Faulkner
into American contexts, why not read
him out of them instead?”
—Andre Bleikasten

A somewhat-distinguished fellow Faulkner scholar and I once got into the most fascinating disagreement over a Faulkner manuscript—it all happened several years ago at one of the usually rather staid Yoknapatawpha Conferences held every summer down there in hot humid Snopesville, Mississippi to honor the man and continue our unrelenting devotion to Faulkner scholarship.

The theme that year was, well, rather controversial—“Faulkner and Deep South Chick-Lit—Postmodern-Antebellum Influences.” I was eagerly looking forward to the conference as I always did—but especially this time since I had discovered in the Faulkner archives an unknown pulp-fiction manuscript along the lines of our “Chick-Lit” literary conference theme.

The book manuscript was entitled—“Temple Drake’s Revenge”… Thus with Temple Drake’s Revenge in my briefcase—and a slight hangover from a dinner party in the French Quarter with some old friends the night before—I arrived that fateful summer weekend on campus—anxious to share with my distinguished colleagues this recently re-discovered ‘30s pulp-fiction detective story by Mr. Faulkner.

It certainly did have a relevant title to the chick-lit conference theme—“Temple Drake’s Revenge”—and I anticipated a lively intelligent discussion about this amazing Faulkner-esque goldmine. Little did I know it was actually a Pandora’s box in disguise instead—full of sound and fury and shocking scholarship revelations. I simply had no idea what was lurking down there for me—down there in the usually quiet hallways and lecture rooms of Delta Bourbon Academe.

As you may recall, I’ve alluded to this mysterious short story in the footnotes of my somewhat boring biography on Faulkner—Delta Days and Delta Nights, University of Mississippi Press, 2007. I must confess that there is perhaps more literary substance and worthwhile scholarship to the footnotes of my lowly enterprise—rather than the biography itself. Footnotes have a life of their own—often more interesting than the book itself. At least that’s what the distinguished NYTimes critic Mr. Waldo Lydecker said about it—my so-called “long awaited” and “thoroughly disappointing” annotated version of Temple Drake’s Revenge recently published by Random House…

The reason for this truly embarrassing literary discrepancy between form and substance—footnotes and text—is fairly simple. Faulkner and the Snopes boys were all rather nefarious characters—it was difficult to get to know them. They had their own Snopesian universe—and no matter how hard I tried to penetrate it, I seemed doomed to fail. On a literary level that is—which I took much too seriously back then. Although later in my modern maturity—I now see it all as playful unreliable narrative at my expense—a kind of Pale Fire summer back then—when I was eighteen, impressionable and naïve—young enough to be tempted but old enough to know better…

My job as Faulkner’s “private secretary” was very interesting—writers are, of course, complex and fascinating people. The ongoing various day to day secretarial tasks, hours of typing and retyping manuscripts, rummaging through filing cabinets and attempting to organize all the paperwork Mr. Faulkner wanted organized—well, all this kept me very busy that long hot summer I spent there at Rowan Oaks. Mrs. Faulkner and the children were visiting relatives—and so I didn’t have an opportunity to meet them. Instead there was just Mr. Faulkner himself—lording over his manor like some proud plantation Delta Bourbon aristocrat—wise and weathered by years of Mississippi maturity.

Faulkner was like Colonel Sutpen—with his ambitious plans for a Snopes Dynasty even before it actually happened. The great literary historian and economist Montgomery Ward Snopes himself has suggested that it was Faulkner who single-handedly created the Snopes Dynasty that now rules the known universe…
But of course—Faulkner had help founding this dynasty. That’s why Weasel and Pretty Boy Snopes were like his right hand—not only procurers of fine whiskey—but also precursors for the New Snopes Man—the vanguard of Faulkner’s dynastic push into the “delta moment”—the power behind the Snopes throne…

I must admit that Faulkner’s metaphysics is completely mysterious to me—I have no idea what the mysterious “delta moment” is—in fact I still have a difficult enough time just reading his novels and short stories. It was extremely difficult for me as a young naïve college undergraduate back then—and it still is now whenever I open one of his books and contemplate a super-sentence a hundred pages long…

Just wading through that first section of The Sound and the Fury—those long convoluted labyrinthine soliloquies written by Benjy the child-idiot—pages and pages seemingly signifying nothing—getting lost in it—sinking into it—the vast intertextual Sargasso Sea that was Yoknapatawpha. I once asked Mr. Faulkner how he wrote a la Barthe—that strange stream of supposed child-idiot consciousness—there in that beginning Benjy section—and he smiled at me. He lit his pipe that evening—looking out the window—like he did sometimes before explaining something to me—that he knew I wouldn’t be able to understand… Then he’d say “Forget it, son.”

The trouble usually was that these so-called off-the-cuff critiques usually ended up just as complex as the actual writing itself. He’d say Mississippi Zen things—like he didn’t write books he lived them. Or things like he wasn’t the author of the book—the child-idiot Benjy wrote it all… And then naturally like the sucker I was—I’d ask how could Benjy be the actual author when Benjy was just a child-idiot and didn’t know how to read or write? How could a child-idiot write a book—when he couldn’t even put his shoes on or go for a walk without getting lost?

That’s when Faulkner would just shrug—saying something like Benjy didn’t have to read or write. The important thing was living in the “delta moment”—that the delta moment was a big black Cadillac. Fast enough to take Benjy and me for a long ride thru Yoknapatawpha county all the way down to hell and back—“At least conversationally dontchaknow,” he’d say…

“You see how the delta moment works?” The next question being, of course, well, but Mr. Faulkner—what’s the “delta moment”? Is it like Proust’s moment? Like Joyce’s epiphany? Hemingway’s moment of truth?

Faulkner would just sit there with his eyes closed—sipping his whiskey, shaking his head looking rather fatherly about it all. Knowing I was the studious type—that someday I wouldn’t understand what he was saying even more than now. I’d read too much—too many books. Only to mire myself in what others said—getting dragged down by other writer’s fictions. But that until then there was still hope maybe—I was still somewhat virgin & stupid & idiotic like Benjy. just a another hopeless college boy “basket case”—not having enough experience with the word, the world, the way the world & the word intertexted themselves—the weird way words make worlds within worlds to understand what the Cheshire cat meant. I was kinda like Benjy—finding myself lost down there in the rabbit hole—which is exactly where I should be—in a constant state of naïve bewilderment & innocence—before the obvious & inevitable conscious discursive denouement began…

“Well, kid, we’ll talk about it tomorrow,” Faulkner would say to me. Such candid times were rare—looking back on them now—I sometimes think they were the least insightful things he’d say to me—hinting at nothing but the useless sound & fury of words & language & writing. Things that would flummox me more & more—because to be quite honest with you, I didn’t understand myself much then either—which, well, according to Faulkner is exactly where I should be—dealing with such matters I’d find out about sooner or later down the line—were how the unconscious worked or rather didn’t work according to our waking expectations. “There ain’t no hurry,” he’d say.

I never really understood him—how exactly to take what he said or catch onto where he was coming from. Other than he seemed to enjoy flummoxing me with his off-the-wall comments—more than he did enlightening or straightening me out one way or another. Like the quips about Benjy—tidbits coming out of the blue that I’d ponder and pout about for days and nights, thinking his quips had either nothing or everything to do with being an author or famous writer. Almost as if he’d given up on explaining anything to anybody anymore—even himself. Other than writing and talking to himself—entertaining himself & his fellow fictional characters with long rambling conversations late at night—sipping his whiskey in the Rowan Oaks calm, cool evening twilight. His Sutpen mansion looming around him in the dark—the darkness like some Black Hole or celestial Greater Magellanic Cloud—sucking everything & everybody into its Solaris oceanic depths. As if Faulkner was trying to get back to The Sound and the Fury moment way back when—when he gave up on NYC publishers and all that—just writing for himself & what he wanted to write about back then. No tour de force achievement planned & plotted & connived over—not wanting to make a buck on it like Sanctuary—worrying about paying off bills & taking care of niggling finances.

Well, it was like something like that—him trying to remember & enter again some kind of existential denouement not-caring back then—that “delta moment” triggered by Caddy’s dirty, muddy shorts up there in the pear tree that day of the funeral—her leaning & trying to peer into the upstairs bedroom at what the body of a dead person looked like & why all the commotion about such a frail, little old lady asleep on her bed up there?

While down below Quentin, Jason & Benjy were looking up at her—feeling the mixed emotions of death & sexuality, incestuous love & even the hints of miscegenational lust that pervaded all Southern boys growing up in Mississippi post-antebellum days back then—growing up in a society dominated by slave owners, slave labor, slave plantation progeny & planter mixed-blood offspring. Like the Sutpen & the Faulkner families—both imagined & real…

It was like a once-in-a-lifetime genital-genealogical-generational gestalt that had always been lurking in the back of Faulkner’s mind—that it was totally, unforgivably, uncontrollably, involuntarily, unconsciously there—waiting like Proust’s sudden insight triggered by tea, marmalade & hashish—the kind of para-surrealistic moment that comes outta the blue without it being called forth—without any magic talisman, fairytale “Open Sesame” password or key to the kingdom. It was totally unconscious like dreaming—whatever that is & wherever dreaming comes from—and whatever happens when dreaming happens—and whether one remembers that dream or not—whether maybe or not it’s a lucid dream—and you’re sitting at your desk like him—typing away at your Ouija keyboard—trying to get it all down before you forget it?

Something maybe clicked in Faulkner’s head that only he knew about—something lucid & dreamlike & oneric that changed him in ways that maybe turned him into Benjy at that very moment back then—or maybe Jason & Quentin later on—lost in some kind of Yoknapatawpha limpid lucidity? All three of the boys puzzled & wondering what death & sexuality meant to them back then—just like it puzzled Caddy up in the pear tree with her muddy drawers. It was a mystery then & it was a mystery now. Things happen that way now and then if you know what I mean—the reason I say this is the last time I asked Faulkner about how he wrote TSATF, he put down his drink, shrugged and simply said: “Benjy is me—the boy I’ve always been & wanted to be…”

I’d sip my coffee—saying to myself here we go again…

Faulkner would say—“I wanted to be Benjy—I wanted to forget about everything and everybody—I didn’t particularly want to write anymore—not for other people anyway—not even for myself—I’d got stuck with a cement writer’s cinderblock on top of my head—for at least 4 goddamn years trying to please others rather than myself—and I didn’t wanna do that anymore—I wanted to be a recluse—live in my Mansion & mind my own business—but I didn’t wanna just live in a cork-lined bedroom like Miss Proust—I wanted to remember my Family history and do some storytelling about it—I wanted to live inside it & tell stories about it to myself—somewhere where I could create my own genealogy and dynasty or whatever you wanna call it—whenever Yoknapatawpha was & wanted to be—I wanted to live inside its apocryphal moment—the designed Yoknapatawpha moment—not somebody else’s moment—I wanted to live in the Mississippi moment—my own mythic moment and not somebody else’s fictional moment—I wanted it to be totally & completely me like Benjy sitting here—dictating moment by moment his stream of consciousness—I wanted to be a young child-idiot boy like Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer again—whether it was discursively totally naïve and impossible or not—my own impromptu Mississippi moment—like Twain’s moment or Proust’s moment —but my moment was gonna begin fresh & virgin & stupid like Benjy’s moment—totally into it whether apocalyptically-awkward like Benjy or sexually-awkward like Quentin or paranoid-awkward like Jason—some kind of drunk & delirious moment outside of myself—wanting to get to know myself better than anybody else ever could—obliviously obliterated by it if necessarily—which can be very lucid and revealing if you give your Yoknapatawpha imagination a decent run for its money. It likes to get into the mind of a child-idiot writer every once in awhile—just to see what a fool like me can come up with…”

I’d nod knowingly—as if I understood what he meant…

“So, kid, that’s how it happens—during a brief moment of complete and utterly oblivious lucidity you’re sitting here at your desk just like I’m doing—sitting right here where I’m sitting now—that’s when Benjy Compson leaned out of Time and said to me—the things that got me writing again—starting with his naïve sexual version Caddy’s dirty drawers—then the more sophisticated sexual feelings Quentin had for her & Dalton Ames getting in his two-bits—the things Quentin wanted to happen there on the bridge—whether he knew it or not—and then Quentin’s young undergraduate love affair séances in the Harvard dorm with Shreve McCannon—the two of them becoming four & the four becoming two back then in the Civil War—Miss Rosa & what was up there in the attic of the old Sutpen mansion—the feelings Henry Sutpen had for his octoroon half-brother Charles Bon the Beautiful at Ole Miss—the sex Judith Sutpen was denied but then later consummated with Bon’s handsome young View Carré son Etienne when both his father & mother were gone—what Henry did up there in the attic making love with Jim Bond (Bon)—the way Clytie made sure that Henry survived up there after losing Charles Bon the Beautiful—the whole decadent, perverted Sutpen soap-opera that I acted-out for myself apocryphally—performing it philoprogenitively here at this desk—as if I were Thomas Sutpen himself designing my own Delta Dynasty here at my own mansion—just like you see me now—sitting here, looking at you & telling you the story of my so-called Southern Garden of Eden—and how the Deep South ended up East of Eden—losing the War Between the States—enduring Snopesian Reconstruction—becoming who we are now—and what I am sitting here tonight talking with you…”

I blushed and looked away—I knew Faulkner had a penchant for young pussy—it was the “bone” of contention in his unhappy marriage—the uneasiness of marrying Ellen & having a young Caddy step-daughter around the house—the reason for his love affair with all the young beautiful woman that came into his life—back when he was screenwriting in Hollywood—and then later when he was sought out by Carpenter & other young lady writers seeking professional guidance—who got courted by him, seduced & later some of them becoming his lover. All of which was fairly well-known even then—with all the various psycho-biographies like Frederick Karl’s and studious MLA & Yoknapatawpha conferences about him. Sanctuary with Popeye, Temple & Miss Reba’s whorehouse up there in Memphis—they weren’t too subtle giveaways about Faulkner’s lifestyle & sexual proclivities. Weasel Snopes telling me all about it & then some—when he’d come over to Rowan Oaks with the booze & dope. And sometimes with a cute chick—to sweeten the pot.

Weasel Snopes was the Huckleberry Finn in the Faulkner entourage—his twin brother Pretty Boy was a little more sophisticated but not much. Weasel was always hanging around somewhat intoxicated and always willing to talk about his girlfriends—that’s why Faulkner liked him… Weasel was a kindred lost soul in the Mississippi libidinal wilderness—very stream of consciousness about it like Benjy Compson—with Weasel always slightly loaded most of the time—with lewd lava-lamps for eyeballs—making me dizzy just looking at him…

Weasel was always bringing over his girlfriends to Rowan Oaks—to impress the great Southern writer with their big tits—letting him get a whiff of modern Southern teen spirit—something Faulkner still got off on & enjoyed having around—not bad for a shambling old drunken wreck like he was by then—burned out like Schigolch in Pandora’s Box—one would never think this rambling shy man—could or would or would want to be—anything other than what he did so well—being a writer, staying drunk as a skunk all the time in between Novels—enjoying what Popeye did with Alabama in bed with Temple—hanging tightly onto the brass-bed railing—as Weasel lewdly & athletically banged his girlfriend in Faulkner’s upstairs bedroom…

That’s how our conversations usually ended—they always ended up in the air like that. I didn’t know until later about a lot of things—I was so caught up in my own Mississippi mise-en-scene melodramas—pondering the facts of life like every young college kid does—thinking that next semester I’d surely understand more about life—and then when that next semester would come around—I’d usually understand less than the one before—all of which was just a waste of time—the whole logical dumb discursive progressive month-by-month day-to-day hope for enlightenment that higher education is supposed to bring about to young men like me—some kind of calm, slowly-evolving generous gift of the gods—a cool cerebral Athenian intellectual understanding of the world—rather than, of course, the unknowable Memphis Sphinx it really was…

I wanted it to be a literary thing—despite the dog-eat-dog Darwinian beasts howling at the edge of campus with careers waiting in the wings & all those important employment responsibilities—while I hid in halls & closets of academe with its politics of departmental publish or perish & all that—while out there the real world something else waited for me with its plans—but that was all in the meantime & the nebulous future—I’d surely become a truly enlightened human being after awhile—surely that was one of the gifts academe would bestow on me—for all my studying and working hard—like down here in Jefferson all those summers working for Mr. Faulkner…

But already I knew too much about Caddy—and about mythical beautiful young Persephone really wasn’t—but I still simply couldn’t imagine an adolescent Angel of Paradise with dirty-drawers—whether up there in some old twisted mythical Garden of Eden tree—or some ancient troubled, cursed Mississippi Family—Negro-rooted with a deeply ingrained slavery past—which supposedly begat Faulkner’s shadow family—some ancient all-knowing, forbidden Tree of Knowledge—that given birth to this shambling little Mississippi man sitting in front of me—this wise old man sitting there drunk full of seemingly senseless sound and fury—this great writer with his Nobel Prize sitting on top of the refrigerator—this sad somewhat useless sack of Mississippi delta mud—that decided one day to get up and walk around—and see what the world was like…

Faulkner wasn’t exactly the loquacious type—unless he was intoxicated & feeling loose—even then he seemed constantly bored with himself—enjoying instead what others were saying or doing—especially Weasel and Pretty Boy—vicariously & unnaturally enjoying the cute young Mississippi things like Theodosia Snopes who loved to come over to Rowan Oaks and party—plus all the younger hippie versions of Popeye who came over, of course—as well as the moody Mississippi ménage-a-trois of Roth Carothers Edmonds, Butch Broussard and Butch’s bewitching twin sister—the lovely threesome living down there by Frenchman’s Bend—in a dilapidated old fishing shack by the river—sometimes visiting them during their summer soirees—secretly enjoying the intense soap-operas of all that incestuous mixed-up love-affair stuff that only three-ways seem to keep going…

Other young denizens of the delta like Creole Snopes from New Orleans would visit—renewing their decadent Mississippi roots—returning to romance or reminisce about old delta boyfriends and girlfriends like Alligator Boy did every once in awhile again & again—Desperate Housewife Snopes—as well as Jimmy Dean & Billy Budd Snopes the sexy Siamese Delta Twins—incestuously conjoined together at the hip living out their kinky life down there by the Tallahatchie River—down there in the dingy rundown Yazoo Trailer Court—built on the ruins of Sutpen’s Hundred—a fitting place for a continuing chicken pulp fiction melodrama—the ongoing never-ending sullen southern Novel—the white-trash dinge déjà vu Southern story—that goes so well with Temple Drake’s revenge…

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Delta Decadent Poetry

Delta Decadent Poetry

“The ability to translate
unconscious forces into
clear articulations of
contextual consciousness”
—Catherine Kodat,
“Unhistoricizing Faulkner,”
Faulkner’s Sexualities

poetic compositions
don’t rescue gay texts.

they don’t make gay texts—
more beautiful, more subtly

“The dramatic parody
and philosophical
bulging prose and
crude, idiosyncratic
Sundquist, House Divided

queer reading/writing—
textual revelations
bringing into light.

less-traveled paths thru—
imaginative landscapes
going nowhere fast.

“A search for a way
to say things that
had not been said”
—Eric Sundquist,
House Divided

delta poetry—
poems more like short stories
than southern novels.

decadent sketches—
nothing’s clear like closure or

“Only in writing
explicitly about
racial history did
Faulkner become
Kodat, ”Unhistoricizing
Faulkner, ”Faulkner’s

queer faulkner poems—
violence, mystery &
decadent desire.

delta poems are—
decadent fantasies not

“Faulkner’s writing
itself as a ‘house
divided’, torn between
a virtuous engagement
with historically derived
literary material and an
eccentric fascination with
experimental and modernist
ideas”—Catherine Kodat,
”Unhistoricizing Faulkner,”
Faulkner’s Sexualities

they don’t culminate—
in a decision nor do
they go anywhere:

they’re not prototypes—
studies for later novels
delta lit models.

“The text not homophobic,
homophilic or closeted—
but rather acknowledging
the enigmatic uncontrollable
nature of sexual desire.”
Catherine Kodat, ”Unhistoricizing
Faulkner,” Faulkner’s Sexualities

tres surrealist—
queer linguistic slippages
sexual fantasy.

expanding implied—
miscegenational Other
dinge ménage a trois.

“Perversity is an
unhistoricist way of
formulating historicity.”
Catherine Kodat, ”Unhistoricizing
Faulkner,” Faulkner’s Sexualities

younger kid brother—
sketches of southern sex life
older gay brother.

queer texts operate—
in ways both historical,

Saturday, December 18, 2010

southern decadence

southern decadence

“the grand narrative
of heterosexuality”
—richard d. morris,
body trouble: straight
men, queer theory &
the american novel

well, perhaps, there’s no—
discursive “outside” (foucault)
only parody?

only parodies—
undoing signifiers,
dishing tacky codes?

faulkner parody—
parodying fiction itself
his compson novels?

idiot benjy—
queer quentin & dalton ames
jason closet-case?

gay henry sutpen—
charles bon the beautiful
queer absalom boyz?

delta poetry—
parodying gay fiction
decadent detours?

Friday, December 17, 2010

delta autumn

delta autumn

“soon now
they would
enter the
—william faulkner,
“delta autumn,”
uncollected stories

the sensation’s like—
being back somewhere again
where rivers begin

the mississippi—
down by the lush levee
smoking a fat joint

down south of campus—
in the dumpy cadillac
queer quentin with that

stricken look on his—
face as dalton ames tells him
to fuckin’ shut up

yazoo river of the dead

yazoo river of the dead

“the rich black land,
imponderable & vast”
—william faulkner,
“delta autumn,”
uncollected stories

jerking back & forth—
the windshield wipers against
delta autumn night.

dalton’s whiskey-breath—
throwing off quentin’s embrace
after he got done.

low & urgent words—
in quentin’s ears long enough
but now just silence.

he had caddy’s lips—
but dalton needed more than
that to please him.

staring ahead at the—
the road handsome & ruthless
somber saturnine.

always the same way—
the cold shoulder afterwards
sons, brothers, lovers.

divorce in naples

divorce in naples

“what’s love
got to do with
—william faulkner,
lecture at university
of virginia

the kid was eighteen—
and as virgin as the first
morning cigarette.

“why, george,” faulkner said—
“the kid’s made you a poet!”
the greek cook just smiled.

every other word—
“he was just a kid back then.

the greek glommed onto—
him fast, wouldn’t you, my dear?
blonde, petite, cute smile.

gulf stream running blue—
both of them dancing at night
there on the poop deck.

ship hissing thru waves—
waxing moon sailing above
off the tortugas.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Delta Redux



jackson park
the compsons
the loins of kings
dalton ames
shreve mccannon
delta darkness
the critic


jackson park

“…all human beings are
capable of making a
homosexual object-choice
and have in fact made one
in their unconscious.”
—sigmund freud

“my god,” spratling said—
clutching faulkner standing there
in bright jackson park.

“just look at that face!”—
delirious sparrows there
in the mimosa.

imagine david—
posing nude by the
marble draperies.

moody, brooding boy—
michelangelo’s posing
male beauty angel.

slumberous blue sky—
desecrating the young god
amongst the tourists.

spratling hustled him—
leaning downward over him

the kid was hungry—
spawn of stoic midwestern
endless gold wheat fields.

he smelled quite earthy—
like cowshit in a red barn
sleeping in the hay.

he was “shropshire lad”—
from head to foot & he knew
that we both liked him.

spratling took him home—
got him nude & used him as
a lovely model.

he was seventeen—
curls hung down over his face
david & his harp.

the long, twisty road—
to yoknapatawpha bends
with queer miss spratling.

who knew that david—
was so ambidextrously
capable of love?


new orleans or
bucolic mississippi”
—william faulkner,
absalom, absalom

“and now,” young shreve sayz—
“we’re going to talk about love”
henry quentin nods.

quentin is learning—
how to lounge around the room
in the harvard dorm.

shreve is so butchy—
the epitome of male
a la canada.

later a captain—
a doctor in the royal
army medical corps.

during wwi—
in france (1909-1914)
a long time ago.

then a surgeon—
practicing in canada
edmonton, alta.

to him a marriage—
was a happy thing to know
speaking, hearing love.

he was learning tho—
from quentin that families
could be sybarite.

the compsons

“leda lurking
in the bushes,
whimpering and
moaning for
the swan”
—william faulkner
the sound and the fury

sensualist like charles bon
obsessed like henry.

quentin no angel—
as much in love with dalton
ames as his sister.

there on the old bridge—
ames was fucking young caddy
quentin was jealous.

benjy his brother—
another child-idiot
as bad as jim bond.

had to be castrated—
because he was chasing girls
and wanted them bad.

quentin into fights—
spoade calling shreve his husband
even though he was.

dalton ames & shreve—
the chimes in the quad ringing
quentin stays in bed.

the loins of kings

“the loins of
african kings”
—william faulkner,
absalom, absalom

henry loved charles—
he wanted to be like him
wanted to “be” him.

he was bon’s lover—
they slept together down there
going to ole miss.

he was beautiful—
the loins of african kings
were bon’s gift to him.

bon was the true heir—
of sutpen’s hundred back then
henry slave of love.

out of bon’s loins came—
charles etienne de saint
valery bon and…

from his loins flowed—
jim bond the child idiot
henry’s young male nurse.

all three of the bon’s—
henry knew intimately
lips knowing their loins.

their tightly-flexed hips—
the loins of african kings
henry knew them all…

henry even knew—
jim bond the child idiot
up there in the dark.

the mansion attic—
where clytie kept him hidden
away from the world.

jim bond was strong—
gave henry what he wanted
what he needed bad.

the jerk & long ooze—
of sutpen dynastic loins
out of africa.

just like i do now—
my mulatto half-brother
dwayne jerome jones.

dalton ames

“dalton ames
oh asbestos—
quentin has shot”
—william faulkner
the sound and the fury

he could hear dalton—
pressing tight up against him
there on the bridge.

breathing down his neck—
holding him intimately
like he held caddy.

quentin fainted then—
caught up in dalton strong arms

he couldn’t help it—
he loved & hated dalton
ames beyond beyond.

he closed his eyelids—
they became swooping swallows
kimono-winged weak.

dalton ames squeezed him—
like he squeezed caddy at night
fucking her silly.

quentin’s surging blood—
dalton ames’ noblesse oblige
two boyz on a bridge.

“what a shame,” ames sayz—
“with lips like yours they should be
on a young girl’s face.”

shreve mccannon

“shot him
through the”
—william faulkner
the sound and the fury

“i don’t smoke” he sayz—
shreve kicked back in the dorm room
quentin back from class.

“in that case,” shreve sayz—
“i won’t insist even though
it’s pretty good weed.”

“cost me $25”—
“a hundred wholesale from my
nice havana friend.”

“i don’t smoke” he sayz—
knowing shreve’s bad habit of
fucking him when high.

back then in astute harvard
no different than now.

“mother & father—
thank gawd they can’t see me now:
just a yankee whore.”

“i like you quentin”—
“tell me is jason your bro
as cute as you are?”

“thanks,” demurs quentin—
“you’re better off sticking with
jason than with me.”

“what about caddy?”—
“oh jesus,” young quentin sighs
shreve knows everything.

not completely tho—
not about dalton ames
that devilish guy.

shreve smokes a cigar—
after they make love in bed
“you want some money?”


“don’t touch me
just promise”
—william faulkner
the sound and the fury

“you’re so sick,” she says—
hoodlum dalton ames telling
her all about it.

“i’m just sick for you”—
quentin tells her in the dark
tramping his shadow.

sometimes he sees her—
grinning at him late at night
it makes him feel sick.

“don’t touch me,” she says—
the world a wooden marquee
collapsing wild palms.

a car stops outside—
it’s dalton ames for a date
quentin feels so sick.

like a paper bag—
he crumples up like nothing
“you’re sick,” caddy says.

the river below—
swooping off into a curve
dalton kissing him.
fainting like a girl—
violent fecundity
dalton’s big basket.

delta darkness

“i’ve got to
marry somebody”
—william faulkner
the sound and the fury

“don’t touch me,” she said—
“will you take care of benjy,
jason & father?”

i could smell dalton—
smell him on the gray stone bridge
his damp armpits stunk.

down there fading swirls—
jerked skin of blood razor sharp
lichen, fungus coiled.

slung on his shoulder—
like a deer shot dead & dumb
still panting & weak.

touching him down there—
leaning against the railing
letting me do him.

deep, quiet river-flow—
quick swirl of trout nipping flies
big catfish slow, poised.

desires become words—
“take it,” dalton ames whispers,
pretending i’m her.


“stalemate of
dust and desire”
—william faulkner
the sound and the fury

“what else could i do?”—
quentin says to caddy cold
as the river flows.

afterwards, dalton—
“you wanna go for a swim?”
quentin dies again.

father always said—
“man is the sum of his
climatic actions.”

selling the pasture—
for my harvard tuition
and a law degree.

dead within a year—
drinking himself to death and
and giving up on life.

outward suavity—
gone like honeysuckle in
the light of august.

down under the bridge—
dalton ames does me again
my mud-smeared belly.

the beast with 2 backs—
blurred by winking oars &
euboeleus swine.

afterwards, dalton—
rolled & smoked a cigarette
looking down at me.

two jets of smoke flowed—
outta his erect nostrils
down into my face.

“c’mon kid, don’t take—
it so hard,” dalton told me,
smiling at my pout.

“if it hadn’t been—
me, then it like would’ve been
some other tough guy.”

the critic

“not pure shit
but impure
diluted shit”
—ernest hemingway*

what can i say but—
your long rambling poem is
somewhat, well, shitty.

productively challenging?
well, hardly my dear.

your feeble attempt—
at faux-faulknerian text
fails miserably.

intersecting plots—
obtuse, abstruse allusions
to faulkner’s novels.

freudian faux-pas—
queer scrambled chronologies,
it’s quite the douchebag.

the only thing that’s—
remotely faulknerian:
rambling sentences.

if only your plots—
seemingly unrelated
could like crystallize?

giving the reader—
an unexpected surprise:
something meaningful?

troubling yet somehow—
stunningly apt & pretty:
a nice krell mind-boost?

maybe you’re trying—
too hard at modernist angst:
abstract negation?

because that’s about—
all you really succeed at:
nothingness, my dear.

*catherine gunther kodat, “writing a fable
for america,” faulkner and yoknapatawpha
conference, 1998, 82.