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THUGWISE CAT

The Saga of FACES and

The Saga of FACES and VASES By Tracy Thomas There’s voices in the mandolin, some sort of chatter down in the f-holes. Now there’s a campfire and horrible mundane songs that matter to everyone but the soup stones, the antiphonies, the pariahs outside the firelight, those reprobates shivering in the woods with pink toadstools. Their bones have left them. Their bones are off to see the world. Their bones are drunk in Buenos Aires. They’re hiding in the jimson weed, crazy in the scent of moonflowers. Their bones are playing dominoes under the ponderosas. They’re sleeping on one leg with flamingos. The voices are telling a story they’ve chopped into pieces. They’re rasping at the grue. There’s a trunk with my father’s broken mandolin. I’m having a garage sale but it’s tricky getting rid of darkness. I got this dinner triangle of bones. I got the pulcher eye. I got Latinate adjectives, nonsensical objectives. I learned a dance in the lich gate. I’ll bring your turtle back to life, your wishing star heartbreak turtle in the hurdy gurdy of your head. The voices chopped the story into pieces now they’re black dove treble clef. Now they’re Ascension Day rain. They’re the sobs of smoldering wound. There’s voices hacked in pieces. They’re playing mandolin. It’s all about stories, if you can keep them from going into pieces; keep them from seducing the neighbor’s daughter in the tree house. Then the stories are looking for some sort of revenge for their mutilation. They want the quemada, the conflagrande, the auto-da-fe freeway. Maybe eat some folks, got them turning on a spit or they’ve got their heads together inventing something like a song, a chant, a groan, whatever to give voice to the nonsense or they’re getting on your nerves stirring up the goat herd, waking you from your pastoral idyll, send you sprawling from your dithyramb, no shoes, head on fire, burning fennel stalks waving at whoever’ll listen. I’m sick with that voice. Now I’m butchering some stories, hacking them into dusk persimmon calligraphy, flowered owls of smoke, fax machine abraxas. See how deep they’ll sink. Maybe they’ll send signs back from the depths. I’m going to slaughter some stories, stare into their entrails hanging from my hands for a message. Maybe hang them from the rearview mirror like lucky dice. The stories can be messy if they’re no more than bits of yourself, just bits of you chopped into the language of the birds, bits of you hacked into voces mysticae. Then you realize what you really have is potsherds and nettles. 34

The stories are gouging a hole in your face, gouging a hole in that place the voice comes from. The stories gnaw on my father’s mandolin; gnaw on my finger’s searching for Fur Elise, searching for the origin of madrigals, origin of Mardi gras, of nightingales. Now the stories want a voice of their own, so they’re cooking up a voice, stewing up a voice in the retort, in the crucible. But what comes out isn’t right. It’s not like other voices. It’s bathing in tongues. It’s stealing from the dead. It’s playing bassoon on a dark beach. It’s the homunculus. It’s always looking for what’s behind the light, maybe for where light comes from. The homunculus voice attempts to sing but all that comes out is apotropaica, all that comes out is bits of maenads and Heraclitus, an orchard of blue olives, all that comes out is the Jack the Ripper small talk, the semper vivum of breath, all that comes out is the silence of a broken mandolin. They let Prince Albert out the can and he can really use a smoke. Now I’m watering the lawn. When I’m done I’ll need to build an ark or at least a chair for deep sea fishing. Then I can play mandolin while the trout jump just to see their own smile before flopping into the mirror of the lake. Beautiful Apotropaica is smiling at me from the terrace above and then I skip off into the happiness of the dream. That’s one side of the story. The one damaged in transport, the one the ants like, the one the lunatic ate with the secret message to the gods, the one that died from cholera, the one lazing under the black fig tree, the one delivering the shibboleth mystery-gram. You can open it with the decoder ring you found in the bramble hedge of lacerating death. Alas it’s just poetry on shards of pottery about the beauty, the truth of a piece of pottery. This mandolin will tell its story one more time by god or I’ll never make your eyes roll back into your head to the sloppy sounds of heaven on earth. Author bio: Tracy Thomas has lived his entire life in the vastness of the American West; Colorado, Wyoming, California and finally Arizona, basically a non-stop Frederic Remington painting. His poems have appeared in The Southern Review, The Journal and Bombay Gin. Since his plans for graduate school have fallen through he’s currently searching for a cave in the Sonoran Desert where he’s hoping to begin experiencing St. Anthonystyle visions. 35

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