“If a fetus has eight legs and two tails,
the prince of the kingdom will seize power”

-No. 277 from Omens from Births,
 Neo-Assyrian cuneiform text,
 7th century BC

Since the days of stone tablets scribes have filled the library of the King.
Their slim triangular shapes, wedges of a strange Semitic language,

tell of the deformation of skeletons shaped in their likenesses.
Proclamations of magicians and astrologers divine provincial profit

from serious deviations in the natural chaos of the body.
Monochorionic mutations, apoplectiform accidents  –

all teratological omens of ominous significance.
A strange kind of science, that of the forebodings of wrath.

Always protasis-apodosis; if this, then that. “If an anomaly . . .”

Talking double heads and double bodies, the child born who,
from the belly up, was in all parts double.

The baritone who cannot hold his head straight yet sings
with double the force. Perceived error of the natural world

illustrates what separates monstrous from wondrous,
terrestrial from celestial. What unusual births,

those epigraphic groups of characters resembling the seven small bones
of the human ankle, which always were more than just mummery.





"Give orange me give eat orange me eat orange give me eat orange give me you."

It is true that monsters occur.

Nestled somewhere in the Pacific Northwest
her neighbor hangs a plaster cast
on the wall in the kitchen.

He runs his fingers distractedly over each
of its five massive, brittle indentations,
bowed like an archipelago – like toes.

Doctors, in fact, are quite interested in monsters.

But when they found the first of many mammoths,
it was a terrible shock:
a static, stagnant show of glaciated teeth and hair.

They look carefully at monsters.

In terms of phenotypic plasticity,
your blindness is non-standard.
But surely, they once argued, the blind can adapt.

Now Nim Chimpsky tries to tell us
that language is not species-specific,
and wishes that her younger brother
were a bit less Cartesian.

But she cannot get out one sound sentence.

The doctors really were very rigorous.
And in the tracking race against the British,
the aborigines were already three days ahead

when they just gave up.
As though they wished to say, silently,
This is silly. We’re not playing this game, anymore.

Hopeful monsters.





They’ll let you use the restroom –
let you wash six days’ dirt from under the nails.

The Thermop IGA won’t take my credit card.

We sit on the parking lot,
wrists dripping with 57-cent tomato –
all the change you could muster.

Who needs hot water when you got fucking hot cement?

Many great battles took place here.

Hide from air conditioning, from handgun magazine,
from you,
centered in the produce aisle like in a movie.

Me one step weight-forward then spinning away on my toe.

I’ll finally leave you alone.

Hide in the six-inch shade of the soda machine –
the off-brand nobody buys,
leg-flesh burning in the sun.

But the best part
is that you can eat the core too,
even the little brown belly button don’t taste that bad.

But she don’t know that –
         old woman watched me
   wipe slimy seeds off my face.

Like don’t I know I need a knife don’t I see that bench five feet right?
          Yes I know it’s not an apple but it tastes just as good.
And the skin doesn’t get stuck in your teeth.

Report customers with large quantities of

Sudafed, matches, lantern fuel, coffee filters, rubbing alcohol.

No.  She don’t know.





You asked me, What´s astigmatism?
I told you it´s when you cry blood.

Come over, you said.
We´re making sandwiches.

I said I´d come only for hamburgers
and only if the number of meat slabs
equaled the number of enriched white bun-halves, squared.

Let´s fractionate our address.
Build a shack between the porch and sidewalk
then call our apartment the half.

Let me finish my book.
I´m not stopping you.

I´m not eating that.
I didn´t say you were.

Let´s encode our love notes in Keno cards.
Let´s skirt the upper limits of the room.

Look at the laquearia, you say.
That´s not a laquearia.

Then it´s a loggia.
No, it´s a brick wall.