ISSUE EIGHT
August 1999

Gordon Massman

Gordon Massman   Gordon Massman's work has appeared in such American journals as The Antioch Review, The Literary Review, The Greensboro Review, The Harvard Review. His work has also been published by Canadian journals, Windsor Review, The Fiddlehead, and Prism International. His book, The Numbers, is forthcoming from (Hard Press/Pavement Saw Press.

925    Click to hear in real audio


What I like is how she pinned to her dress a note
with a quarter tip for the cremator's helpers, two
insouciant teenagers who carried her from bed to
hearse at midnight and drove her home. She
wore an orchid, a chiffon cocktail dress, with
the keys to her faithful triumph hooked around
her fingers. What I liked were the instructions
to feed her in feet first, though the head would
suffice. I like how she flamboyantly with a
cigarette holder smoked to the last, wheezing
soundless clouds of ghosts into air, and how she
organized and prep-paid for her wake: wine,
flowers, samovar, candies, guest list. What I
particularly notarize is the tinny bugle rendition
of "Charge, the Cavalry" played by her bedside
as upon a table of air they carried her away
leaving us to several bottles of pink champaign.
It was a night and a day: two daughters, friends,
ex, holding watch on her final breath arriving
on a two years' late flight from Asia, but ar-
riving nonetheless with its attaché full of grace.
Foxy to the end with a gossamer chain looping
an edematous foot. O, babe, the dead don't
speak but what conclusive act of language you
made with your plastic hands arranged on
their abdomen, your chemo wig teased, your
deep pink duvet resembling a soft clam shell
as if created by happy architects from Mattel.
and how those with extrasensory eyes—I—
spied you, hovering above the doll, methodically
in an outblooming incremental cubist trail sweep
down and kiss your childhood playmate farewell.

 

 

911    Click to hear in real audio


After binging on Dreyer's butter pecan in a period of
weight gain I went upstairs and almost forced myself
to throw up. I gazed into the toilet like Narcissus. I
imagined slamming two fingers down my throat till
a Vesuvius roared. I felt the weeping of my stomach,
and my accusatory belt. I wanted to kill the monster in
me, the cowardice, the unceasing executioner. Down-
stairs I heard the John Wayne movie: the charging
bugles, the beating of horse hooves, the swirling com-
motion of rifle fire and expiration, all muted by a series
of walls and corners, and in my soft cube, wondered.
I knew that finally I was tortured not enough to per-
forate the tissue of my gut, that I was still a bit of an
hibiscus, that I would rejoin unpunctured my partner
in the film. This brief lavatory interlude was brought
to you by Glamour Magazine, self hatred, pitiful par-
enting, powerlessness, and a rare form of male bulimia.
 

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Gordon Massman: Poetry
Copyright © 1999 The Cortland Review Issue EightThe Cortland Review