Poetry by Michael Leong
from Michael Palmer vs. Michael Palmer
Inside the obscene calm was a spasm, a curdled voice shaking in the snowy eye of the mirror. Nattie nodded at the masked face staring back and struggled to guide her white-hot spear into the iris. A weave of honey and blood immediately spattered from the thrusting.
She untied her ebony dress, her amber hair obliterated by monstrous strings of iridescence. She was robed all over in frozen patches of perspiration. Her forehead looked like the hideous hive of a hobbled dragonfly that was about to flop onto the dull, spotted bowl of her chest. Behind her, in the inner pocket of the hurried room, the wolfhound kicking in Peggy’s hard, viselike womb was talking. “What are these bright eyes that think but tell nothing? What is white below and red on top? At mid-song, what best serves your lifeless singer to speak? That woman says that you tried to call her from your explosive phone. You see? The flight nearly followed another course over the shuttle’s stone mask. What did Eli know? I’m drenched in crimson questions that you’d better get right…”
Nattie looked under her lower belly for the plastered note but the clumps of sweat and paper were almost impossible to doctor. From below, she could feel the sudden, technical tightness of her baby clothes, like some faint and feral promise of blood. More questions. She couldn’t let her blood mix with the blood of blood for that wolfhound was again in the office.
The surface and its brokenness, the heavy stride of modern art, the panicked change off-scene — all of this would pass with her as witness. Now she could rest, Nattie thought, as she fumbled to stall the strangulating century up her sleeve.
[Note: This text is a mash-up of Company of Moths (2005), the tenth book by Michael Palmer, the poet, and Fatal (2002), the tenth medical thriller by Michael Palmer, the novelist. No Michaels were harmed during the making of this composition.]
Michael Leong is the author of e.s.p. (Silenced Press, 2009) and Cutting Time with a Knife (Black Square Editions, 2012), which recently won a Face Out grant from the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses. He teaches creative writing at Rutgers University and lives in New York City.