Friday, March 18, 2016

Traveling Under Thomas Pynchon's Name -- A Poem by B. A. Oard

[Leafing through an old notebook excavated from the bottom of a desk drawer, I rediscovered this poem I wrote 20 years ago (and, it seems, immediately forgot). It's still fun.]

Traveling Under Thomas Pynchon's Name

Arriving incognito
in the fleshpots of Manhattan,
I heard the clerk at HoJo's calling,
"Mr. Pine-chawn! Mr. Pine-chawn! You forgot
your bag." I said, "It's Pin-chon, like you're
pinching someone." So I pinched him and he
was dreaming... of Celine's ellipses...    ...

The New York City sewer system smelled
like a dead cat's colon back in '41,
and deep inside that backward turning
I'm cornered by Gary Cooper playing
Plasticman... He looses the alligators
and far away a rifle ricochets...
"Anus mundi!" I yell into echoes
of beneficent Latin profanity...

...but listen I'm coming unstitched in time
and I Vonnegut myself back home...

Changing my name to Anthony Burgess,
who doesn't 'really' exist,
I marry a Maoist contessa
and argue with a thug-faced inspector
at Valletta Customs convinced my autographed copy
of Gravity's Rainbow is really the Anarchists'
Cookbook in pseudonymous guise...

(the poor fucker was right but 30 years
too early to seize
a book against the Maltese day)

At the Barnes and Noble in Salt Lake
City, I sign every copy of Lot 49:
"To my best buddy Brigham / Best wishes,
Joe Smith"... and for thirty-five mornings
I travel the Washington woods disguised
as a shaman with hiccups...

...a-and meanwhile back in Manhattan, a voice as
iron as Jeremy Irons announces, "Stay tuned
for the News of the World--"
Mary Maria Marina Masha Mashenka
my 53rd Street Ukrainian femme fatale
from Odessa by way of Fyodor's St. Petersburg
clicks off the television and runs
a pointy-nailed finger
painfully up my thigh...

Fuck the world
We are in love.

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