by David Meltzer


. .


About face.
How to begin.
To make a face begin.
From top to bottom
Or chin to dome?

They say he cant,
You can't,
Face it.
Face the music.
They say you cant face it.
That music between you.
She hears nothing but music.

Words attack face like lice.
Attach to paper.
Music in circles.
She hears nothing but music.

Each eyebrow a seismograph.
En face.
Greek in her left eye.
Hebrew in the right.

I saw her yesterday.
In furs.
Grey streaked red with fox.
In a room playing Chinese checkers.
Very chic.
Art collects itself.
Look her up & down.
She leaves nothing behind.



She hears nothing but music.
Last night she was a fire.
Burning all the books.
Forests fold together like hands.
Words in each tree unpeel.
Race through the world.
Silk. I reach too late.
Incense of her shadow.
It isnt done with words.
She hears only the music.
It is faceless.
I am not there.
Music is all she hears.



All from a place we can not face.

Snapshot. Cartoon. Memory.
Places shape face.
Faces cut away from faces.
Words broken into words.

Age of faces pass by.
Epigrams. Poems.
Emblems with eyes.
Pass by.



Face memory with a wall.
Seal it up.
It'll be years before she escapes.
Into fiction. A Poe finale.
Scratchy acetate of ancient radio.

What is told is not what faces you.
What returns has no face.



Face the other.
Faceless passion.
Behind glass.
Fingers tear at it.
Face the other.
Faceless one.
Gone when eyes open.



Face the wall.
Forehead to stone.
Bricks scrape thought.
All is possible.
Bullets spring the river.

Face the wall.
Hands tied.
Pressed against.
Base of spine.

No cigarette.
No match.
No rites.
Crow squawks.
Up there.
I hear it.



All the points make a face.
Face a mask.
Dark alleyways.
Office passageways.
Out of synch.
Run out.
Onto carnivale boardwalk.
Into haunted house.
Ghost feathers.
Insistent mechanical laughter.
Radium eyes.
Instep needles.
Chute into ocean.



Face the seeker sees as his.
In art.
In air.
In night sky. Black fire.
Stars compose it.

Mirth. A river of faces.
Capped with smiles.
Teeth foam.
All for a camera.
All for my vision.
All in wheels.
Up & down my spine.
Lines I write & fish with.

Face legions.
Stream by. Pop open.
Within eye, face.
Jess roses.
Ancient scanners of the body.
Passing through.
Adjust goggle.
Erase slain fool of words.



"I can't face it,"
The other voice says.
After head-on collision.

"Face it or fake it,"
Another one says.
Three 38 slugs re-shape reality.

"Face it or forget it."
Turning newspaper pages.



Your face is all the other faces.


Catch my face on mirrors of eyes.



I can not face the nation.
Its broken face.
Nothing left.
Postcard skull & bones.
Brittle as papyrus.
Speech shadows move by.
Fists & pitchforks.
Assassins surround & devour the core.

Medea the mama.
Draws bloody babes against breasts.
Milked into flags.
Bandages around her abdomen.
No more babies.

This is a recording.



Tongues point into you.
Your space.
Star marked.
Acts of exchange.
Wound, my song.
You are my tongue.
O Shekinah.
Bessie Smith.
White chickenfeathers.
Pour from your red mouth.
White mixed with red.
Black afternoon.
Mon cher.
Vulva veve,
Isis planting Osiris.
Vital in Safed.
Turned inside out.
Faceless beyond.
Mon cher.



Suddenly angels.
Knit from shadows.
Appear. Surround.
Hawks to another eye.
No matter what value.
Suddenly they are here.
Taking notes.



Sliced into planks.
Between ryebread.
Curly-edged lettuce.
Stein of Ballantine Ale.

Thick instrument.
Speak before you leap.
Alphabet music.

Tongue in my mouth.
In her mouth.
Two muscles.
Tough whales.
Twine & collide.

In the beginning was breath.
A lizard peers out.



Tongue tastes and tests you
Tastes the sea
Whose creatures in blue shadow
Are history in a trace.
Neither here nor there.
The net is what tongue tastes.



    She is beside me. Her tongue is all I feel. In me.
There is no body but the body her tongue tastes.
    She reaches in my mouth with her tongue and all my
words are slowly translated into her.
    She reaches her tongue into the deepest page of my
throat's arc and all my words in one fast suck go
streaming down her throat and become her voice.
    She is beside me, her hair seaweed along my hips.
    She is beside me, we are beside the tree, she is riding
me, I am riding her through the Ryder night.
    Tongue is faceless but when I speak it is with her
voice and these are her words I am saying.
    She, no longer near, remains within.



Taste your womb
Ocean whose mouthed face
Tastes of life.

Pearl tongue-tipped
At its point. Suspense
To see it either swallowed
Or drop slowly to the ground.

Moments later
A tree of mirrors
We face in ceremony.

All from a taste.



A mystery.
Both ways.



Face. In the air. Sky.
Clouds. Face.
Face in the glass in your palm.
Plum tree blossoms. Face.
On the pillow.
Open the door. Face.
In madras curtains.
Wood grain.
Fuel oil smear.
Light socket.
Face. Awake.
Every corner.


Copyright © 1976 by David Meltzer
First published in Stations Magazine.

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