Clayton Eshleman Inner Parliaments

alligatorzine | zine

Three mahogany men in a four-poster mahogany bed
embedded in a conversation with Nightwood.
All turn as self-duplicates of the mind of the book.
They stare from the depths of this
blank page. Every dream is an over-determined plexus
accosted by a Coyote disguised as I. Between dream-self and
these three I-beings is a nearly impassable abyss.
Adventuring truisms attempt to cross,
caked with shamanic effluvia, capsized soul boats.
The forever-daily project: to dump the obvious, to reattach,
to regain I is marinated in perception, to find,
fluttering in the vortex of a cloud,
the snow bunting of the self—
one’s infernality, one’s celestial sinew.


The pupa papa wears a parrot headdress. Flitted by glowing
indeterminates, he sits on an abyss raft,
flicking fingers into I. As I assimilates the finger darts,
the pupa papa turns into rainbow after rainbow.
“I is the suffering of light,” one hue speaks, and another:
“I is the navel’s untold cosmology.
a monkey-headed human skeleton is dancing in procession with
Gladys Eshleman, a
              dead baby Clayton on her right arm.”

Gladys’ left hand pats the forehead of a jaguar stroking in place toward her.
Its neck is wrapped in a blood-soaked diaper.
Its clawed paws lacerate and release concealment from
the mantle of the Ancestor of All Colors
                            who wears a headdress of sting-ray spines,
       spondylus valves and gourds.
Inside Her mantle        there is no body,
instead:        a mobius band in a groove of I-ways.


In a dream, 16 July, 2009, 2 AM, the word “infanite” appeared,

and in this new word’s wake:

              “the dream as infant tile
              the infinite as infantile
              in the infant’s night the infinite is nigh”

then “burial waters”

then “dream censor: Covering Cherub”



is an arm with a hand.

How did I first announce self?

In the Upper Paleolithic, it placed its hand on a cave wall,
spat red ochre around the hand, withdrew the hand,
leaving an I-negative on the wall.

Is what we now call art an elaboration of this I-negative,
Kafka’s “What is laid upon us to accomplish is the negative,
the positive is already given”?

I-negativity was thus in place 30,000 years ago.

I is a pillar with base and Doric cap, upon which
an I desiring a saintly melt-down would sit and Iolate.

In dream, I-ness unfolds, multiplies, an Ensor parade.

On a clock face, I is broken minutes chasing stolid hours.

In a mirror, I becomes iota (a tittle in the universe).

“I is somebody else.” Hey, a good start!

Dots kneeling by a bank of handless arms.

As always, I is looking for a god place in which to bury
the pillage of its rampage.

When I was conceived, what blasted the zygote?
What redialed its cosmic name?


Self is an ever-shifting mobile of masks linked to masks
as if by rod-like umbilici,
masks shaped like windmill slats
with eyes like scissor-handle holes,
assemblies Wifredo Lam envisioned as “Personages.”

Are these masks puppets on the strings of an angel puppeteer?

Do all I-beings find resonance in a mask of masks,
                                          an Angel of the Face?

To realize that we are only alive today because Kennedy
                                          embraced Khrushchev.
The CIA bullet embedded in that kiss.

The poet can have no system overseer, no
third eye at the peak of a pyramid
like a lighthouse beam onto his psychic sleights—
his stare weighed stairway
       descends through
a Self-assembled sylphwork
              of anti-saviorial

The poem will be published in Anticline, a new collection of poems, to be published in 2010 by Black Widow Press in Boston (www.blackwidowpress.com).
This material is © Clayton Eshleman
www.alligatorzine.be | © alligator 2009