October 25-31, 2004: Luke Buckham and Rachel Phillips

week of October 25-31, 2004

Luke Buckham and Rachel Phillips

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Luke Buckham

Bio (auto)

Luke Buckham lives in Keene, NH and works at a pizza restaurant He puts out a monthly mag called THE INAPPROPRIATE, based on the idea that the best and most honest things that can happen within our comically crumbling society are “inappropriate” according to widely accepted standards of etiquette His girlfriend and living muse, who shares an apartment with him, is a bee-keeper who possesses such a calm, gentle temperment that the bees crawl all over her forearms without stinging her He recently published a book of poems titled “Woke up in Flames” available from James Quinton’s Feel Free Press.

The following work is Copyright © 2004, and owned by Luke Buckham and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

‘peace, or
something better’

An Inappropriate Publication

Very Important Index:

1 Somewhere on land across rippling sea

2 A man in a hospital gown, half-naked

3 He was stabbing a book of Ezra Pound’s poems

4 The roads of earth squirm with eyes No color

5 At the pond near her mother’s condom-strewn basement, 

6 At ten, I looked through the telescope at Jupiter

7 I pictured naked girls roller-skating on the rings of Saturn

8 Glowing rivers have been running past my life

9 Once in the abandoned church Megan showed me

10 I spent 12 hours today watching squirrels

11 I will move away from places that have winter

12 If you walk downtown and sit on a park bench

13 A bluejay took a flying shit in my pancake mix today

14 Robert Frost founded a nudist colony in his head

15 My girlfriend is the Holy Spirit

16 Tonight at Tony’s downtown a girl walked up to the bar

17 Somewhere a soldier is dead and a stripper is dancing

18 O Joni your name is like music

19 A bear walked up to me in a forest

20 A delirium of unicorns and other dreamed animals


Somewhere on land across rippling sea
a man’s hourglass guts fall out onto sand
I can feel the muffled impact in my sleep
The ocean smears the sharpness of the bullets
Soldier stands there staring a minute
before he falls In one hundred years
nobody will remember Fuck him

Someday our sun will explode like a human heart
monitored by flies and nobody will be famous
Someone with a brain bigger than earth
will suck in their ageless breath
for a supernova full
of angrily quacking ducks and crumbling subways

Above, the solar bodies writhe with fire;
killers don’t look up there until
just before they die Then the tar closes
over them like a dream
My horny New York neighborhood
is full of fireworks for no happy purpose

When I think of the explosions flowering flesh
my face like a scab on Something Larger’s knee
turns purple in the mirror and my hands forget
to pay the rent I am evicted and live
in a hail of badly-aimed bullets
Since none of them hit, none can be traced
Constantly I touch my dick
in front of the firing squad Between the joys
of flesh and its end, there have always been
too many soldiers and not enough strippers


A man in a hospital gown, half-naked
under the regenerated night, 
stands on a basketball court with a roman candle
in his hand His teeth so soon escaped
are still filled with nurses He fires through the hoops
until one of them is in flames
This is the only championship he’s ever won

He walks through a thick hedge scraping
all the places he can’t feel through meds;
he finds an open window in the barefoot summer
He fires through the screenless evening
bomb after flowering bomb until a tenant screams
Somebody’s spaghetti has been splashed
all over their face and kitchen by his weapon

He laughs, as soundless as a blade of grass
by itself All the worried yelling in the world
is a drunken dream Ambulances
are roses whirring and flashing in the wrong place


He was stabbing a book of Ezra Pound’s poems
with a kitchen knife She was carrying a blue
acoustic guitar with ripples of light
in its polished wood, that looked like
ocean waves streaked with angel’s semen
She sat next to him strumming his body
from a little distance, carrying
a flirting smile for all the girls on earth, 
and played him away from his oblivion
and into hers That is all she could do
and more than he could stand He lay his head
backward in her lap like a man
going under a surgeon’s lamp and ached
his way into her sad young face

Soon the shy man massaged her back
and her dove-like breasts materialized Feels like
your fingers are devouring me Your chords
my loneliness Her hymen broke
to the clash of cymbals somewhere else
that evening in the basement A pile of laundry
was their bed, a soiled oversized lily
crumpled and struck in the center by blood

They made love like two old men playing chess
with brooms


The roads of earth squirm with eyes No color
has been left unpainted Everything
has a cracking layer The toll collectors
read porn magazines while I search frantically
for change, afraid to leave my life behind
on Highway 95 My girlfriend behind the windshield cries
and a startled bum with Windex in his hand
asks me if I beat her, spoiling his tip

Christ hangs upside-down in this town
Crying evermore PAY ATTENTION TO ME
Everybody else takes up the cry
Telephone poles are crosses
Please take off your seatbelt so you can
give me head while they clean up the car accident
The jaws of life rescue somebody but not me;
Only the visibly dead With your mouth, with
your tender hands under the wheel, under the unused horn, 
make me live again between the jerking miles


At the pond near her mother’s condom-strewn basement, 
there were turtles clustered on a log
and they reflected in her sunglasses One of the little ones
fell off and splashed in the corner of her eye
Maybe it was a tear, maybe a reptile

We sat at the edge contemplating the water
and each other’s horrible silences We were universal citizens:
there wasn’t much to do except fight and fuck
I looked at her pale legs in the beginning
of summer, confused by the breeze I told her
I could never speak without an audience
of at least two people She said I didn’t
have to talk at all The turtles crawled off the log
and the water made soft muddy slurping noises
in her sunglasses Several heart-attacks
lined themselves up in my future
from the anger felt in that moment

I pulled a straw out from under her leg
and put it in my mouth It tasted like blood
A turtle slid itself onto the shore near us
and his cold eyes twinkled without meaning
His shell was perfectly patterned Its shapes
would never shift until he died His funny neck
and faintly pulsing breath made me happy
His presence saved me Alright, I said to myself
in her sunglasses, my face bending outward
at the eyes–we don’t need to speak anymore

That morning her mother had cranked her door open, 
seen us lying there together and said: “OH! A MAN!”
I hated being called a man I wanted to sit on a log
in the pond with my quiet plodding brothers
and green silent sisters


At ten, I looked through the telescope at Jupiter
and saw its big red swirling eye I asked Grand-dad
and Dad if it was looking back at me
They laughed and said no Now they’re both dead, 
and correct–nobody that big ever looks at me


I pictured naked girls roller-skating on the rings of Saturn
My brain never stops its eager images Someday the movie
in my brain will falter and kill me

A girl in church showed me her butt once
on her way into the girl’s room
We were all under 12 the year she mooned me
It was a milestone Ever afterward I had dreams
about spanking and licking her and
tying her to my doorknob I felt
the pantyhose in my teeth until
the moment I woke up Her name was Megan
and she showed all of us her pink butt
and then ran away laughing, running where
we couldn’t follow But one time I followed
Upstairs the reverend frowned and thundered
while she saved our lives

And on the rock-fragments, on the trails
of dust and minerals, she roller-skates eternally, 
shows us all her cute pink butt while the boys
look at each other in fake horror and the astronomers
screw up their lenses in the wrong direction


Glowing rivers have been running past my life
since I was born I hopped on one once
but only for a few Connecticut miles They carried trash
and tourists past the backyards and hotels
where I lived and I never asked the current
any questions People throw the dirtiest things
into rivers, thinking they’re long infinite snakes
longing to eat their shit I prefer rivers to people, 
obviously They go back to their source so easily
while we struggle I used to rub myself standing
on the shore and wait until my unborn kids
sprang out onto the water The floating guaze
from my body would undulate and turn like a tadpole
several times before stretching in the stream, 
reappearing as green-white foam
around the edges I don’t have any children
whom the rivers haven’t eaten May they flow forever


Once in the abandoned church Megan showed me
what was on the other side of her butt It was a pale, 
angry little mouth and looked worried about something
I fainted When they found me beneath the altar
I was dreaming of water, of a gushing
on the horizon The horizon
was red as a crayon and men
were drowning behind it A second
before I woke up all the stainglass
saints struck by sunset were grinning
I saw the ocean
in my sleep before I ever swam it


I spent about 12 hours today watching squirrels
while people walked past me impatiently
Their tails bristle like cats who are always scared
They twitch like the muscles in a man’s back
when he’s being whipped and they never stop
They shiver in ways that should cause indigestion
and their cheeks bulge big as a baby’s with acorns
I watched them over a row of bright yellow daffodils
in a neighbor’s yard They’d pass up trees like water
flowing backwards, fly from branch to branch
as if the air itself had wings I tore dollar bills to pieces
and placed them at the feet of the yellow flowers
as a kind of offering The contrast was vivid
The whole world jittered and ate nuts
Their tiny hands I was fired from my job for
spending the afternoon with the squirrels
Now I am a broken, nervous man–
I look like one of their tails
Uncooked acorns don’t taste good
in a human mouth


I will move away from places that have winter
Winter will kill me–driven into cars and tents
and dug-out benches in abandoned Little Leagues, 
I sleep better than politicians
until the air freezes shut New Hampshire
throbs like an ice-cream headache in my bones
And the white hills writhe and toil with needless bodies
Autumn is the fire before
open-eyed homeless hibernation
And the rebirth takes too long


If you walk downtown and sit on a park bench
without any clothes on, you can count on someone
to arrest you and lock you up
and take care of you forever Don’t ever say
that neighbor doesn’t love neighbor, here


A bluejay took a flying shit in my pancake mix today
It was a wonderful moment I almost think
morning itself wanted to tell me something
The white turd basked in the tan bowl like a man
a moment before sinking
I always leave my window open for the message


Robert Frost founded a nudist colony in his head
But everyone there wore chastity belts, 
and refused to visit the sauna or bounce their tits around
on the tennis court And it drove him crazy
Now he drives us crazy with his dryness
My tears make a wet spot on every page, 
trying to tell him that we’re made mostly of water
and that someday, no matter how many fences, 
pipes bursting under a neighbor’s wrench, 
we’ll burst open


My girlfriend is the Holy Spirit
they used to talk about I know because
she placed a flame on my forehead
that will not cool or flicker
She makes me stand on a high mountain
of air and dirty laundry and speak in tongues
that everyone can remember
but nobody can understand
And she rearranges the properties of earth
for my hands which are the hands
of a very old and tired boy For her
I make rafts of oval stones, a metal crown
of flowers that weighs nothing for her head
that weighs everything, and a mouth in the cliff that says
“help me swim in the air”


Tonight at Tony’s downtown a girl walked up to the bar
(where I sat dreaming) and told me I could Have her
if I wanted She was as innocent as a daisy
but no wind could move her She planted her hips
at my knees and I couldn’t move from my stool
Somewhere a glass goblet exploded We smiled
at each other like kids about to play doctor
Grasses outside made sexy noises I told her
she was bold and the traffic seethed and her lips
were wet with liquor-talking The bartender
looked like a cop but kept pouring
Stinging waterfalls of whiskey burst
on the human rocks Every face looked
like a weathered but shining mineral
Nobody escapes from Tony’s
except the eternally sober
She left with her boyfriend, a small
irritated man with a smeared face
in baggy clothes I jacked off
to her image all winter
And winter is long in New England


Somewhere a soldier is dead and a stripper is dancing
Somehow my impossible emotions come back to me
through winds that have torn every sail on the ocean
But they’ve stopped boating with sails;
now men filled with missiles and long missiles
filled with men travel constantly underwater
Someday one of ’em will nose into our continental underbelly
and cause an earthquake Let her kneel near us–
under the string of her thong I’ll slide her a dollar
She’s too professional to be tickled Nickels
fall out of her vagina when she squats
And my watching mouth is a basin made of metal
Slide a dollar over her fine hairs before it happens


O Joni your name is like music
but nobody makes music like your name
my eyes shot toward you for a long time
before you spotted me, zebra among zebras
In a land of spots the man of stripe
is a weird king You drew me out
from among my kind, introduced me
to your leopard cousins They hadn’t seen
their prey in a long time, and among aliens
I appeared spectacular

O Joni your name is like music
you were raped in Scotland (where I was only mugged)
and had an efficient abortion in Iceland, 
long before I like a meteor landing
fell in love with you We were spewed
from our mothers only months apart Now we want
to crawl back together and meet
our quiet end in Iceland at a doctor’s hand
Falling in love hurts our kind too much
And you are not striped or dotted–where
are your markings?


A bear walked up to me in a forest
and I took off my clothes as quickly as I could, 
holding out my hands My protest
must have seemed to him like a flower
tickling his nose with irritating pollen
But he stood waving his bladed hands
while I undressed, gossamer and vulnerable as
a milkweed, opening the pod of my body
I showed him the chest on my hair, 
how thin it was, how little musk
my skin released, how wrinkled and scared
my penis I showed him how a human being
is practically built to be mauled The shell of my head
vibrated with mortality near his claws when he fell
forward onto his front paws on the earth
Pluto collapsed into Neptune collapsed into Saturn
He drew a paw up under my scrotum, 
moved it like a gentle knife along the tingling skin, 
turned and lumbered off to hibernate
for the coming winter He would sleep
while I stayed wide-awake with terror
forever I never put my clothes back on–
I wandered through town with a baffling erection
looking for a warm place
where a naked person is welcome
There is no such place in our human towns
And so now I look for his cave


A delirium of unicorns and other dreamed animals
decorated my aunt’s walls She was the only atheist
in the family and she lived in a sad incense heaven
Nobody knew what she read about when she sat
reading between the television and the fireplace, 
blindly facing us (who too rarely looked at her)
while we stared at David Letterman, 
learning his chuckle Her private myths imploded
in the illiterate air I wanted to meet
a horse with a horn growing out of its head, 
but I was afraid they were dangerous
She reassured me that their horns were for
impaling people who theatened me–and I
was always welcome on their backs
Would they bruise my crotch, stop me
from having theist babies later?
No–unicorns don’t need saddles Their backs
are soft Soft as pantyhose? My atheist aunt
blushed for Nobody Yes, she said, as soft
as pantyhose–as soft as pantyhose in dreams, even.

Rachel Phillips


Rachel Phillips was born and raised in a small farming community outside of Kansas City, Kansas She now resides in Los Angeles, California She has a Bachelor’s Degree from Rockhurst College with minors in philosophy and theology

The following work is Copyright © 2004, and owned by Rachel Phillips and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.


Truth within web
is spider

hungers for larger prey
than flies
how it dreams
of hornets, hummingbirds
and elephants

trapped in sticky-threads.

Finger Food

Dragon ate man
without a fork
Strange how nature
consumes its mysteries

without utensils.

October Fallow

Fields shaven-down to skin
Pocked skin, rocks, wheat stalks,
deep impressions of a trotting pony,
rows and rows of blemishing

so quietly lying, now
furrowed, separated,
accounted for
Fragile cloth laced- snow
threads stretched and torn
wraps loosely round mounded soil
healing injuries, filling
earth’s emptied wombs
Shiny raven crows in clusters,
voices raspy, glide down-
feathered-fingers grasping
sky’s lowered spine,
lust for rotten grain, mice or berries
The farmer’s private garden,
sticks, twine, aluminum pans
jangle, grey-dampened bells
in an uneven October wind.

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