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  CARDINAL POINTS: THE CURRENT ISSUE
Kerry Keys
ON KHLEBNIKOV, ZABOLOTSKY, AND A FREE JAZZ CONSTELLATION

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Kerry Keys
Khlebnikov Shouts In The States


I walked across the Chesapeake Bay.
I rode an intoxicated armadillo.
I hooted:
            Turtle Island has sunk, its defunct,
            gerrymandered into Insurance Claims.
The natives were insulted.
I continued:
            The heart of America has the strings of a spider.
The natives were perplexed.
I said:
            Ruebadubbadoobadew.
            Rubaboobybabadoodoo.
I shouted:
            Tuskaroara the Elephant.
            Prick the Donkey.
And I wrote with a ravens feather. Black, fletched, it
            bristled above the purple ink.
I waded in the muck of Walden Pond wearing
            Walt Whitmans hat, moccasins, and an Hawaiian shirt.
White is beautiful too!
I waved an automatic with silver bullets.
I played the flute, the Jews harp, congas, and a saw.
I had my picture taken with my scalp in my hand.
I saw seals and psychotropic chemicals in Delaware.
I bungeejumped from a derrick into the Great Salt Lake
            with uranium from Three Mile Island,
            and peed into the Fountain of Youth.
I called the ice of Pikes Peak eternal
            but prefer the birch leaves in the Urals.
In Big Bend, Texas, I dueled with a saber-toothed tiger
            and deciphered a sunstone as top-secret
            as the roulette-wheel-of-fortune
            in God the Fathers casino in Arcadia.



For Nikolai Alexeevich Zabolotsky Who Died At The Age Of 55


Nikolai, Vilnius too has a bouquet that burns. Not thistles,
but burdock. It dances outside the window almost as if
it were the moon shredding a peppery confection of light.
She will endure on her own, persisting, clinging to the romance of words.
And the Empire also has a dolphin whose supernatural love
must always swim upstream against my memories,
my blue-bodied rage. So romantic, so compact in its vision,
she will break or wash ashore before she bends.
I need to escape the atmosphere and dangerous heft
of meaningless words, of a force of nature outside my ken.
And so to come to your old haunts in Tarusa soon,
to bring you bright and fragrant flowers, fresh trout,
dark bread from Lithuania, and together to look out
over the Oka at your dreamy dialogue with the earth.



Vladimir Tarasov


The drummer in slow motion blue pencils himself
bodyparts distilling into drumsticks, the plastic skin
of goats, gongs, triangles, the audience.

A roach from Ellis Island indulges itself in silent anticipation.
Holding hands, Peter the Great, Kabakov, and John Lennon board
a yellow, nuclear taxi nicknamed Desire.
A cricket massages her heart with the obsidian disk of the sun.

Christ in the wilderness turns to Satan
and asks for one last dance, dervishes
swirling into sand and raindrops.

Silence itself is music until an angel drops a pin
and a hurricane begins a confetti of white noise.

Inside an emerald is another emerald.
Inside the fingers of the drummer, elves and Gods,
grasshoppers and fish, the green thumb of the world,
Varese, caffeine, and ionization.

John Cage scales the stage with a bouquet of bamboo and snow.
Olivier Messiaen turns over in his grave, and a flock of birds
covers the sheet music with aleatory feathers.

Downwind a samba, sutartines, and a raga clink jars in a toast.
Upwind polar ice breaks and cracks over a river of bayonets.

No one keeps score as hemidemisemiquavers scurry over the bars
and the egg of the universe spins on a G-string of hope.

Blackness illuminates as cleats of violence
drip into the sweetwater splash and patter of ducks.

The curtains crystallize and descend sideways
but the fat lady has forgotten her lines.

Chairs perform Morse Code. Wings are clapping.
Squirrel and mouse and satellites tangle in the wires of the hard drive.
Another karma begins. Ping-Pong. Ping-Pong. Ping.



Copyright  Kerry Keys
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