Epistles from the Guild of Lost Angels by Cody Todd


Epistles from the Guild of Lost Angels

***

Reno is a Woolworth’s that withstood
Judgment Day. The plastic maiden
saw my face, and
the moon is made of bone.
Robotic landscape of the desert.
I grab a mannequin’s severed arm
and scratch my back clean of dirt.
An escalator melts into itself
and whispers: No poem.
I want a theatre
without faces.

***

Everywhere I walk: dolls.
Some broken, others intact.
Puzzled by the pose,
I pick her up by the wig
stitched to her scalp.
Eyes flop open.
Dirt cakes her eyelashes.
She has won in the end, after all.

***

Some necessary logic
draws me to the weapons cache:
firearms for sale, just thirty yards
from the baby cribs. With advertisements
and money, the syntax
gets forever shrinks. Exclamation
marks reign supreme. I could spend a lifetime
here and never spend a dime.
This capitalist, who designed flesh-colored

stockings, only to be trumped by that one
who envisioned them in black. I try this
pair on wishing for the neighbor to spy on me
as I slowly take them off.

***

More than that, I want my palm read
and instruction of some invisible map.
I want tarot card number thirteen.
A burglar alarm,
and then my laughter.
When the rains turn to steam, the paint
on these mannequins—this sisterhood of wood—
peels, cracks and fails. Of what liberty
is this wooden mouth that cannot open, even

when I peel it into a smile
with a penknife?

***

The hydrogen bomb
was nicknamed,
Lipstick Lesbian

by some naval joker.
The moon: when a face
is a face and no longer.

***

Night comes, and all is the milk-white scabs
of my eyes. No hound to shout like a fan
at a football game. No cat to peddle
with its affection and leave me empty
in the night. I play solitaire under
candlelight, and wait for mayflies to fill
these nostrils and two-thousand peculiar
Nevadan bats to swoop in their fine

twilight collective
that ignites me,
until I perish like every star.

_____________________________________________
Cody Todd is the author of Graffiti Signatures (forthcoming, Main Street Rag) and lives in West Hollywood. His favorite haunt is the Formosa Cafe, where Lee Marvin is reputed to have set fire to the entire block between Willoughby and Santa Monica Blvd (aka US Route 66). You can find him pacing around the Venice boardwalk to catch his bearings at least once a month. He is also the Managing Editor & co-creator of the online literary journal, The Offending Adam (www.theoffendingadam.com).