Poems and Texts

From “Correspondence with Purdey Lord Kreiden and Michael Thomas Taren” by Abraham Adams

From Correspondence with Purdey Lord Kreiden and Michael Thomas Taren

hi waveform
I will accompany you everywhere
I have set aside those as days in which I do nothing but wave
the single thing on the calendar so far
is a note to myself to send artforum an invoice
but you can sit by my side as I type this document
as for phones
I can figure it out
I think
jonty left his
for one thing
he also left his toothbrush
as well as the book he was reading
and he took with him my hat
and my entry card to MoMA
fortunately I specified he should leave the keys to the house
so those are here
waiting for you
and my mother is here
snoozing apparently
I myself am in my leisure suit
as I used to call it year after year when I was dating marit
I should tell you about marit some time
I wish that meg were going to be in town when you were here
it is a great bane that she must go to north carolina
I believe the city in which she’ll be rehearsing
is made entirely of cigaretttes
and the ground is one continuous american flag
that you get shot if you step on
fortunately, meg can fly
but for these reasons I won’t be able to visit my sweetheart
what shall I have for breakfast today?
of all great luxuries, PUFFINS
my mother bought me cereal
along with sundry oth groceries
not Oth groceries
which sounds like a Lovecraft artifact
And when my mother returned, she brought with her the sundries of Oth. . . .
I’ve been eating a lot of chocholate lately
but my weight hovers at 8 pounds above what it was for most of the year
which is perfect for me
as it’s all in my cock
by the way
that’s not a cactus in the picture
it’s a flower
let’s see, there was one other correction
oh right
I didn’t trade the skull for a handjob
for what could be loosely called a trade,
I got a porcelain foal in exchange for a digital camera
the handjob was just an afterthought
on the drive to new hampshire
a sort of tentative and interminable tweaking
the skull itself
I don’t recall getting anything in exchange for
but I’ll relate all this to michael
I like the idea that he currently thinks it was for a handjob
anyway it’s time for puffins
sweet old puffins and coffee
as if there were a land where this actually represented something nostalgic

Hi Michael,
I think we are all in agreement about the head, which is a thing whose significance it doesn’t even require superstition to recognize. The thing about it is, it is already here. I have a head on my table; yesterday it was inside a bag I bought at a yard sale in my home town. It is my own fault that I bought this head, some years ago when I was feeling more flippant. I bring it up as an invitation to the problem of the head, my own problem, which you two have full gracious freedom to decline. What I begin to wonder when I have misgivings about this human skull, which is more specifically the skull of a child, is why I feel it’s less appropriate to involve it with the public than to read poetry to them. What exactly do I consider the difference between these things, really? The head probably came from China, probably from some unloved person who was thrown away with so little consideration that her (it is a her) head ended up for sale in an office in Berkeley. On the phone, the friendly woman I was buying it from said, do you want a patella (kneecap)? They’re free when you buy a head. OK, I said, let’s throw one of those in there. We both laughed at that, me and this stranger who sells body parts. What do I do with this head now? I gave it to my friend Sheila for her birthday one year, later misremembering it as a gift on the occasion of her jaw surgery—misremembering it, I often claim it was to dispel her discomfort with having a cadaver bone recently installed in her jaw following a car accident, a claim I made so persistently that this time she reminded me it was for her birthday even before I mentioned it, and reinforced her story by admitting that she had been lying about the jaw surgery in the first place, that it had not happened, and therefore how could I have gifted the skull to comfort her? I must have re-dedicated it, I responded, then related to her that once in coastal Maine I encountered a rededicated monument I especially liked: a fisherman holding a salmon, which had been built for the filming of a reality TV show, if you can imagine, and after the grandprize winner had died “as a first responder in the 9/11 attacks,” the statue had been retrofitted to his honor. In any case, the skull sat for a long time in a bowl of potpourri, within a wreath of dried brown leaves, for some years in her parents’ basement. I saw this head on visiting once or twice, and I felt that the little basket it was sitting in, whose provenance was perhaps Pier 1 Imports or some Costa Rican village, was a half measure—that they did not know what to do with the head (and clearly that Sheila had sort of discarded it herself, leaving it at her parents house). This suspicion of half-measure was confirmed when I most recently visited, last weekend, and saw that the skull was in the same position on the basement shelf (a finished basement mind you, perhaps like yours, but still)—BUT was no longer sitting in the leafy basket, which was nowhere to be seen. They must have removed it, still not knowing what to do. Thus I felt justified in asking to borrow it back. I had awoken at 5 AM after Sheila’s father forced me to drink a ton of tequila, and having nothing to do but masturbate and try to read, I went out into the hallway, encountered the skull as I knew I would, then stood at the bookshelf astonished by the low quality of the literature there, for I am actually not much of a snob when it comes to sitting to read something random, since I value these chance encounters for their astrological value—still, the books on this shelf were so boring that I retreated to the room where I had been staying and guiltily rooted around in the desk drawers, now feeling that I was transgressing, but found there a copy of Romeo and Juliet. I made it through the first page of this play, falling asleep after a few banal thoughts such as the fact I had forgotten their respective last names, Capulet and Montague, and thinking that it might have sounded nicer if Shakespeare had transposed the arrangement to avoid the irritating parallel sound structures “Juliet Capulet” and “Romeo Montague.” How much better it would have been, or would it, I don’t know, if it were Juliet Montague and Romeo Capulet. Perhaps we’ll be able to right this wrong. It was around this point that I felt I had a way out of the situation, which was imagining the skull onstage with Purdey and me. But the next morning I proposed this thought to Sheila, who is a thoughtful person, and she replied that I was free to take it but that I should think about what I was doing, that she did not think the skull should be passed around as I had originally proposed. Later I thought it might be better to just let it sit onstage with us in some sort of seat of honor. But maybe it is unlucky or more to the point disrespectful to involve the skull. Still, is it not something of a half measure to just leave it in my house? I considered the shelf in my office, evoking an idiotic caricature of a seventeenth-century philosopher, but then my mom is visiting this weekend, and during the time it lived in our house, she was freaked out by it. So I thought I’d leave it in my own room, but then what about my girlfriend and our relaxation and lovemaking? Surely it would be weird to leave it on the table next to my giant jade plant and candle, since this arrangement forces an even sillier encounter, with an hourglass, not joke—I keep one there in order to time the meditation sessions I have each morning. So I could put it in the drawer—which is to say, I could squish all the socks to one side and clear a quiet space for it. Or put it in the top drawer among a mélange of receipts, sex toys, and other garbage. Are any of these options better than involving it in the ceremony of our reading? I honestly don’t know. But you guys are invited to the problem of figuring this out if you want to join me in it. WAVE I WANT YOU TO READ THIS AT POETRY POPOPROJECT: “earlier the sky had become an incredibly dense, cottony frozen fog, and looking up at it, which had turned pink, I saw the painted-metal ceiling of the second story of the house I was standing beneath, trying to loosen the snow around my car so I can drive home tomorrow, and seeing this interior ceiling against this pink dense sky, all I thought of was meg, my love for meg, and that was it. then on the way into the house to send her a message I paused looking at the snowbanks, savoring the weird orange and pink lights on them in their hugeness, until I saw a figure coming, and thought how funny it is that in snowstorms the street is actually full of clandestine people, who act as if in solitude, and avoid each other on approach. I thoguht, maybe I’d be more like the person I am when staring at these drifts, if I could only greet the snowman walking toward me with a sincere word, but I can hear how it would actually come out, something exaggerated and thus horribly maiming the attempt at goodwill—a HI or HEY or GOOD EVENING even that made me seem lonely or like I was losing my marbles, so I instead retreated into the doorway now looking at the pink illuminated drifts framed by the wooden doorway, now myself recessed inside it a bit, thinking how easily I could lose my life at any time. and now I’m only farting in the dark as chefs discuss their passion and sheila and casper sleep an angry sleep in bed, and wave and biche fight in pennsylvania, and meg megs in her house. I’m especially affected by sentimental music tonight. time to finish the stupid article.”

Abraham Adams

Abraham Adams is an artist and a former editor of Ugly Duckling Presse. His work was most recently exhibited at Galerie Barbara Weiss in Berlin. He lives in Red Hook, Brooklyn.