by: CE Putnam ((Header art by John Paul Sakacsi.))
In these sections from CE Putnam’s The Bunny Manuscript, narrative doesn’t cohere as much as come into view as a body might rise up from a turbid lake, eliding landscape, speaker, and story through a cinematic attention to both detail and the bigger picture. Like “upside down/ birds” who think they are “looking down/ on themselves” we emerge from these poems “alive and stupid with wonder.”
THE RELATION BETWEEN YOU AND YOU MAKES YOU
The whole day today
floating in a kidney
shaped swimming pool
algae plumed and starred
with Koi polished stones.
First, a bar of cloud.
Warm long grasses in the distance
churned up my arctic stomach breezes.
Then, floating on my back,
I counted the leaves
of an enormous fan-palm
blue vulgar shadows, then
watched cooing silken pigeon
droppings wink their way down
to the pink tiled bottom.
The Caretaker frightened
away a gang of dive-bombing
crows with an empty blue
water cooler bottle.
Blue plastic black feather murder loop smacking loop.
Later, I pleased my imagination
with the idea of The First Circle,
a rusted ring without center
under which I always find
another wider, darker one
opening wrecked without
beginning or end and thinking
I will never ever ever forget
their order until I lost leaf
count and had to start over
alive and stupid with wonder.
THE FANTASTIC SKIMMER IS LIKELY TO BE ENCOUNTERED.
Maybe it’s because ducks
don’t talk much
when they are flying.
Few have hearts so dark
and broken they will
not bother to look
up when they hear
the barking of wild
geese and think for a moment
that they are upside down
birds looking down
on themselves, barking
SPOOKY said tell me about your fourth dream?
Pink dawn hitchhiking, I am in a pick up
and I am going to see the doctor
for an annual physical with Jack Nicholson
and he is driving. He’s got belly rolls of filet mignon
(sicko!) guzzling spit bug moonshine foam from a jar.
We had never seen each other before.
He says he saw a vision of himself reborn in a hell world
holding a clear monkey cigar surrounded by nurses
and manatees on fire and came out
of that inferno with an incredible
lack of self esteem—germs he says
germs are germs where ever they go
glazed onto the dashboard dark and heavy
lacking dankness and of modest green
a barely satisfactory huff of reefer
from the heating vent whirring hogs
between crustacean shapes but wait
what is in this stuff? paralyzed chickens
hospital cinders, a gupping fish maw
Flossie opening her nightgown
for a locust tree, a red petal edge of sky?
I want to be in a separate examination room,
and away from this drug enforced intimacy.
His hand now is always somewhere on or near
my body. “But since my parents are dead, I could
never get another brother!” There is not any
other good doctor within one hundred
and fifty-four miles.
C.E. Putnam is the author of The Papier-Mâché Taj Mahal (1997), XX Elegies(1998), Spaces Where Spaces Are (1999), Transmissions from the Institute (2000), Maniac Box(2001), Things Keep Happening (2003), Crawlspace (2007) (w/ Daniel Comiskey), and the chapbook “The Bunny Manuscript (Episode Three)” (Textile Series, 2014). He is the founder of the Putnam Institute for Space Opera Research (P.I.S.O.R.) and currently lives in Portland, Oregon.