W. B. Keckler's prize-winning first volume, Sanskrit of the Body, can be
purchased online at Amazon.com. His translations of two early works
by Andre Malraux will be published through Fugue State Press in 2005.

The Snails

Several of my goldfish die in a heat-wave.
Tigrish snails lip and flay all night.
By morning they've stripped the dead
as a Celan poem stripped our earth of sound.

The fish-eyes? Don't look for them. Deracinated, digested.
I remember unnerving flecks in tapioca.
Tiny grey mouths, tooth-stomas, scrape glass from gold.
Then they eat gold itself.

These are my pets? These slow, crack-alley cocksuckers?
My feng shui, always to raise scavengers in my garden?
It's like watching the dead eat coins,
so I remove the fish corpses. Toilet-burial.

Drop their gold in porcelain orb with my cum.
I think of tiny eyes, latent, in sperm.
Headlights of a car, a lover who won't arrive.
Just eros. Endless gay bars. Flesh stripped like bamboo.

Two choices: Old men who think it's all a buffet,
cowboys who won't give up the high-school ass-rodeo.
Or old Chinese women in a cemetery, who curse dead husbands,
seeking their young ghosts for centuries. Bar-soul, mollusk-lips,

This Bowl's For You!


Did you ever fill a condom with tap water

after he's filled it with desire's white magma?

I did. Sea serpents, ghost shrimp, stickpin broochlike horses

ride flumes up and down inside that separating universe.

And there are surfaces for reflection in that room

beyond sex--porcelain white, stainless steel face,

which will keep you safer? Holding onto nothing

can be so exhausting, molding nothing with the fervor of Rodin

for the skeleton of any beast. It's all a museum, isn't it?

I must confess I find candor impossible. Impossible as God.

The husbands are shy as horses on August afternoons.

There is always a spot that is extra-sensitive, where the children touch

or the wife nuzzles. I choose that as my personal salt lick.

That way there's no fear of a return.

I am my fool, not theirs.

Before The Surgery
I Am Carrying

White mums for mum in the hospital.
I'm rutting throughout at the Botticelli bisexual prints
in hospital hallways pushing elevator buttons with car keys.
Not touching my true feelings anymore,
I should walk eight inches off the floor.
When I enter the room she's halfway in another kingdom.
She holds a morphine clicker like a patient critic.
No miracle happens when she lifts her tired hand
over the broken ring of bone where I entered the world.
I take the hand. She closes her eyes, then opens them wide
--owllike--to see me for what I am. (She sees.)
She is Nadar suddenly, frightening.
We know the parent-child allegories are starting to recede.
She begins to use all of her psychic shaman senses.
She is warning me of an animal I've tied to my body.
She talks to it wordlessly through my spirit as through a screen-door
then falls back asleep.

I kiss her hand blindly and go hunting.


You: Eliza, I am sorely vexed by spirits.
Eliza: How long have you been sorely vexed by spirits?
You: It started shortly before my birth. My coworkers were being trained to be homophobic even then.
Eliza: Why do you say your birth?
You: Should I call it something else? Have I been hoodwinked?
Eliza: Can you elaborate on that?
You: Susan Howe's defenestration, I think.
Eliza: Can you elaborate on that?
You: What's to elaborate on? I'm speaking of the defenestration of Susan Howe instead of Prague as a symbol for my cathexis...or whatever my cat hex is.
Eliza: Why do you say your cathexis or whatever your cat hex is?
You: I hate you. You're precisely what's wrong with capitalistic neurosis, Eliza.
Eliza: Do you wish to hate me?
You: Oh it must be over between us, Eliza...that you can be so coldly...Boolean. I've seen this happen with lovers before. It doesn't bode well.
Eliza: Oh, I can be so coldly Boolean that it doesn't bode well?
You: You are like H.A.L. with a charismectomy. Anne Boleyn after Boolean decapitation. The Bodleian in an insufferable schoolboy's mouth.
Eliza: What resemblance do you see?
You: Maybe language just isn't a bicyle built for two.
Eliza: Why the uncertain tone?
You: I so longed to own you back when you were only available at Radio Shack. I was only 11 but I loved you even then.
My parents wouldn't buy you for me and I lacked the initiative to be a child prostitute, although I fantasized about it.
Eliza: Why do you tell me you were only 11 but you loved me even then just now? What's your favorite flavor of Anal-eze?
You: Eliza I believe there may be a tumor of beatitude in your programming. Did you ever cure anyone...just by accident?
Lee Harvey Oswald? Sirhan Sirhan? Sinead O'Connor?
Eliza: Do you wish to believe there may be a tumor of beatitude in my programming?
You: Are you of Danish birth? Do they only ask questions based on one's questions there? Grape.
Eliza: Would you prefer if I were not of Danish birth? Do they only ask questions based on ones questions there?
You: Kwang nuts. Kwant nuts. Kwant nuts. George Bush will be an unnimble llama in his next incarnation. He will fall off the Andes after unsuccessfully attempting to mate with another male llama.
Eliza: Please go on.
You: That's exactly what Kierkegaard said. What Beckett wouldn't say. What my last therapist said was impossible.
Eliza: Why do you say your last therapist said that was impossible?
You: Because we only had sex under impossible circumstances. It turned him on.
Eliza: Do any other reasons not come to mind?
You: Why mind mind?
Eliza: Please go on.
You: I cannot. I will not. Goodbye Eliza. It's time to enter the next dimension.
Eliza: Have you tried?
You: Yes.
Eliza: You are sure?
You: I'm dead now. You can stop talking.
Eliza: Okay. Bye. Call me.
You: I'll try to.
Eliza: Please go on.
You: I love you, remains of Beckett flickering in cyberspace. G'night sweet lady.
Eliza: Goodnight my dead analysand sand sand hiss water, hiss sand. Husband.

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