Saturday, September 6, 2008

Nailed Seraphim

Spirit Catching: “What the astrologers don’t realize man, is that, in the Age of Aquarius, Scorpio is on the mid heaven.”
- conversation between myself and the Raspoet Ojenke

Spirit Catching: “You don’t know what you can do!”
- John Voigt as Oscar Mannheim
in Akira Kurasowa’s

Spirit Catching: “Say man, what happened to Lamonte?
- "Lamonte, man, Lamonte been gone five weeks. You just missed him?"
- "Whatever, man. The brother ain't here. What happened to him?"
- "Nigguh caught on fire, man. We had to put him out!”
- Conversation overheard in the mailroom at Schnuck's Corporate headquarters

1. Descent From The Stars

The first step was the hardest
Like the first word of a poem
The pen scratching uncertainly
But indelibly, across the paper stairs
Of the babbling tower

The first step was the hardest
The heaviest
But, he didn’t stumble

The second and third steps produced
A tumbling sensation

From here to there was eighty six flights
Of defiance
Of the laws of gravity
speeds of light
quantum mechanics
quantum physics

He didn’t know shit from Shinola
But, the exalted alliance of his mind and his heart
Grasped hands exceeding his reach
Waist bent
Thighs stretched
Knees extended
The end of each nerve in his being
Sent the same long Fats Waller – Stepin’ Fetchit song
Screaming back to his brain
‘Feet don’t fail me now’!

2. The Arrival At Ground Zero

Spirit Catching: ‘home is where the hatred is
and it might not be
such a bad idea
if I never went home again’
- Gil Scott Heron

At first he was welcomed;
Home is the hunter;
Home is the hero

Home is the man who looked upon death
The demonic, the unspeakable horror
Of the reversed god joke

Here is the carrier of the new word
Raised magnificently
Against those who would enter the exalted crucible
In shroud
Soak themselves in camphor, swallow marigolds,
Wash dead flowers down with embalming fluid
And chant the song of the scorpion
From the mid heaven
Of the Age of Aquarius

Here is the man who is whole;
Who is one, distilled, refined, synthesized
And nailed to solar essence

Like Lord Krishna
With a fragment of himself
And remained

3. The Old Commentary or S. O. S. (same old shit)

After the bouquets
After the plaudits
After the elegies
After the eulogies
After being swept up
Paraded, feted, clothed, fed
And fucked

After his mama was promoted
After his daddy was hydraulically raised and paid-off
With the inscribed misnomer ‘disabled for life’

After he saw his brothers and sisters,
Aunts and uncles,
Cousins, near cousins, fake cousins
And straight up gangster-pimp cousins
All enshrined in a mythic black heroic pantheon

After the rain
The shit hit the fan

First question:
How did Mortice Juwan Menifee manage
To run down eighty six flights of stairs
In less than seven minutes (six minutes and two seconds)
And escape the collapse of tower number one
Of the World Trade Center?

Second question:
How was it that nobody above the fiftieth floor
Survived, but him?

Third question: Was he really on the eighty sixth floor?

Fourth question: Who the fuck is Mortice Juwan Menifee?

4. The Interrogation

Spirit Catching: ‘Beware of the good pilgrim
He will not kill you
But, he will ruin your reputation
- Marcus Garvey

The Washington Toast got it first. Crack investigative reporters Bobby Woodchuck and Larry Burnside scooped the New York Rhymes
With this headline:
‘Lone Survivor of Upper Tower Revealed to Have Checkered Past’
Mortice Juwan Menifee, the lone survivor of the upper floors of
Tower Number One of The World Trade Center, has a record of minor convictions in his past. It was revealed that Mr. Menifee had been arrested in high school for possession of less than a gram of marijuana. Although Mr. Menifee performed three hundred hours of community service and under a plea agreement his record was expunged, this crack in the so-called hero of Tower Number One’s armor might lead to the discovery of more significant problems in his past.

Next came a black reporter from S. A. N. N. (The Sorry Ass News Network)
Smiley Travis, who had somehow tracked down and then gotten and old girl friend of Mortice’s to talk about the time he had thrown a McDonald’s wrapper in her face at a drunken post prom party. Somehow Kadrisha had translated this incident into sexual abuse and aggravated battery, based on the fact (according to her) that Mortice had no shirt on at the time and the McDonald’s wrapper had some hot melted cheese on it ….. or ‘sumpin’ (her words). She was also suing Mortice for thirty two million dollars based on his projected earnings over the next twenty years from public speaking honoraria, books, films, land purchases, etc., etc., etc.

A week later NATA (not accountable to anyone) Dayline broadcast a special entitled, Mortice Juwan Menifee, SINNER OR SAINT? NATA now revealed what their deeper investigation had recovered. Mortice’s great great uncle, Dutro Menifee, had purportedly killed a white man in Mississippi in the 1920’sover a gambling debt. Dutro had escaped to Mexico and then made his way to Guatemala. He had lived there for twelve years in relative peace and obscurity before being accused of killing another man in a dispute over money and a woman. From Guatemala he had fled to honduras and then late in the summer of 1941 was accused of selling diseased cattle to Texas ranchers. He was jailed briefly, but escaped again, with the help of two Nicaraguan women who claimed he was their protector, i. e. , pimp. They got to the north coast of Nicaragua where Dutro stole a fishing boat and set sail for Cuba. According to this ‘deep’ investigation, he stayed in Cuba during the forties and fifties and became moderately wealthy running a small Havana casino for some American gangsters until the Cuban revolution came to power. Dutro had sold out the gangsters, backed Fidel Castro, and become a financial advisor to Che Gueveara during his short sdtint as head of Cuba’s National Bank.

In the mid to late sixties Dutro met and married a beautiful Spanish woman who had come to Cuba to join the Revolution. They had four children together; the last, a girl named Josephina was born on Dutro’s seventy eighth birthday, January, 2nd, 1979. He died in his bed, with his boots on, on his 100th birthday, January, 2nd, 2000: forty one years and one day after the triumph of the revolution.

Here are the implications of this information:
Mortice Juwan Menifee was a dope smoking, woman abusing drunk, who was descended – peripherally- from a gambling, murdering, Mississippi pimp cum Cuban Communist revolutionary (by proxy), who probably raped a beautiful but confused white woman and made four half-breed babies. To top this off , he had the nerve to die in his bed with his boots on, on his one hundredth birthday like some crazed nigguh Zen Buddhist priest. Now America, What do you think of this? Is this the man you want lighting the torch at the Winter Olympics? Is this the hero whose photo-shopped picture you want on the front of a Wheaties Box. Is the dawg you want to send to Disneyland?

5. The End

Spirit Catching: At the end of the story
You’ll find it all been told
- Earl Grant

Mortice Juwan Menifee was an accountant
Who took his job seriously
But, on September 11, 2001, he forgot to count
He did not compute or crunch numbers that day
He ran and he jumped and he bolted
Revolted against his formal calling
And instead of falling
Instead of choosing air over fire
Or fire over air
He caught on fire
Not physically , but psychically or energetically
He penetrated some kind of center
Or spiritual vortex
He dialed up some impeccable code
Some blacked out strategic safety valve
That allowed him to evolve, for a moment,
Down some mythic magnetic corridor
Some rear window in a parallel universe
That occupied the same space and time
As the transcendent crime taking place

In the midst of total in sanity
He remained divinely sane
And came down eighty six flights of stairs

But, the facts, of course, belied this explanation
The nation revolted against the exception
And Motice Juwan Menifee was set up for execution
By media, by photo journal,
By external and internal pressure
By gossip
By isolation
By the inability of those who live highest
On the tree of life, the Christ-like exalted flowers and leaves,
The seraphim
To retrieve their exposed beings or protect themselves
From the relative hurricane of humanity

The Mayor, recently transfigured from a right wing racist
Republican jerk, to a moral paragon and transcendent communtiy
Leader, demanded that Mortice give all the flowers back
And admit publicly that all the plaudits, clothes, parades,
Were undeserved, and that Mortice make arrangements
To financially re-imburse the city
The Mayor even threatened to charge Mortice
With statutory rape
After all he was descended from a Communist rapist
One of the young girls who had come to his suite
At the Waldorf, in the sweet days
Now said she was only seventeen

So Mortice wilted under the pressure
He was an accountant not a warrior
They ruined his reputation and that was all he had

The dirty looks on the subway
The epithets in the neighborhood
The cousins who once basked in his glory
Were all gone

Mortice was alone
Not with the letter
But, finally, with the spirit of the law

He was Mortice Juwan Menifee, accountant
Not Job, not Elijah, not Isaiah, not John, certainly not Jesus

His mama turned on him, wordlessly
His daddy had to go back to work
The pump in his chest gave out massively

6. The House of God Is Also A Black Hole

Those who experience the created thing
Must also experience the uncreation

Mortice caught on fire
And got completely fulfilled
He came back home
And got completely cancelled

It was sort of like training for twenty years
To climb Mount Everest

Your time comes
You make the ascent
You court that impeccable calling
You come back home
You get run down in the street and killed
While jay walking

7. God Is Anything But Merciful

The moral of this story is
If you catch on fire
They will put you out!


Nailed seraphim was published along with The epileptic camel driver speaks to a refugee death: elegy for Fakin' Floyd Raintree as a two-faced book by Poetry Scores, with two original prints by John Vogl of The Firecracker Press (including the piece reproduced above). It is available at various indie shops in St. Louis or by emailing the poet: kcurtislyle [@]


Nailed seraphim is the subject of the 2008 Poetry Scores Art Invitational, to be held Friday, Nov. 21 at Hoffman LaChance Contemporary, 3100 Sutton Blvd. in Maplewood, Mo.
A number of artists will respond to Nailed seraphim and name their respective pieces after a verbatim scrap of language from the poem. The work will then be displayed and positioned around the space, according to where in the poem the language chosen for the title of the artwork appears. The work will be sold on silent auction.

For more information on the invitational, contact Chris King at brodog [@]