Neal Kitterlin lives in Matteson, IL with his wife and daughter, and has poems published or forthcoming in PANK, NAP, Sundog Lit, The Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Review, and many other fine places. He has an e-chap of election poems, Decisions, out from Love Symbol Press.
It was there the party raged on from room to room, the furnishings apportioned amongst guests in ripped garments, flesh peeking through holes in walls and jeans, synthetic fabrics strained toward molecular breakdown, a half-life DJ booth diffused through roving speakers, floors shaking up to ceilings and beyond into basements, to cellars, to the deep moisture below. We were the guests of honor, the playthings of absent hosts, the culmination of so many cars crashing at the same time, guitars purposefully broken or tossed into the air, the eventuality of their landing an act of faith perfected across timelines. It was there we learned home as construct, as pivot moment for creatures that live down barrels, that speak but do not breathe. We tried on dresses for the ball, we moved from place to place like cats let loose in abandoned castles, snippets of conversation deconstructed and built again on the ground floor of happiness. There was a light shining on your face then that my beard could not touch, a blue to your eyes that my fingers could not process, a destruction unfolding in every moment we lingered within, our hands balled into fists and pumping shamelessly in the air, strobe motions fragmented and holding beats long after the fade.
NY City Sewers
It was there we scraped the walls beneath, stood in flush rivers and smoked the mold in colors of joy. We found the gate in liquid, in castaway, moved through societies of eyeless, of nameless instinct. In streams of black there were contours of skin, pink memories, swaths of care condensed and fired into raw materials for our houses, dwellings reaching downward into the past as above they tested skyspace. Our bodies grew Renaissance covering, medieval footwear, pages of the space bible erasing subtly under the pressure of hard tipped drills, of diamond sockets inlaid irretrievable. The farther down we journeyed there were horsehair wounds, flammable trinkets, a lake so still and placid it roared with police raids. We sounded off with truncheons into the day, massed lines and dissolved species of oppressive fern, bowed to mushroom fury. It was there below the reversal of time we smashed spheres, loosed the lizards within to fork tongues with impunity, to face dawns not seen but sensed through cold blood gauges, sensitive scales. We took measure of castoff, of booming beats across taut skins, of learned patterns discarded, swim and stink, prehensile flood formulae.
We walk through fire and arrive at an ocean of obedience. The beach swells with stories and each one is a flower grown in soil cultivated by praise. As we pour into the tunnels, we are one. We continually conduct tests above ground as we build a paradise deeper within. Our vision, dulled by disuse, is shocked into violent clarity by diamond glare, compression flaws lighting up the sky in his name. We have always been at war. We are ever vigilant for subversive impulses of the family unit. Our cave dwellings are composed of flickering images, moving pictures produced by party planning committees. Mushrooms grow alongside stadium seating, seepage obscuring three-dimensional substrates, a film encompassing forever, that is to say the life of one man who is also a nation. We stare at the cave ceiling and see a non-existent aperture, the false impression of sky, the shimmering face of happy compulsion.
We move through rooms that are tentacles of rooms in other houses, networks of cephalopod organization stretching through the core and manifesting in suburbs of major American cities. The head lies dormant somewhere in the Rust Belt, so for now we are content to drain the pool, hold sealed letters to the light and transcribe their contents into the space bible. We find quarters taped under desks and insert them into telescopes, stare into the outer dark for a glimpse of pixelated galaxies. In Maniac Mansion we move from room to room by vocal commands, our explorations limited by the scope of our articulation. We search the library for false shelf secret passageways, mark our time in the bedrooms of unknown lodgers as our skin peels and flakes. We are building a monument to extreme ownership, to the failure of outdoors, to the obsolescence of sun on skin. Our faith in language waxes and wanes as we trace the tentacles through gated communities and middle class refuges, design doubling as blueprint for the gate, a summons for the ship, packing lists for journeys to be undertaken only upon waking.
In Olympus we scale clouds with waxen wings, throw our grappling hooks over mountain peaks and climb summits of depravity. We dress up like bulls, like swans, like field mice and swarms of bees. In Olympus it has grown harder to impress, to compete with inflated mortals bolstered by clay creations. We walk up to women and remove the heads from our animal costumes, offer to buy them nectar and ambrosia. We text them inappropriate pictures after a night out on the town and blame it on bacchanal, roll up our sleeves and descend into the underworld to retrieve lost things of which we have only the vaguest sense, our recollections fogged by the centuries. We are not tempted by serpents, are not foiled by winds or rain -- we micro-manage voyages and engineer conflicts for our amusement, set loose lightning in flawed characters. In Olympus we are bored by perfection, tune our antennas to celebrity news, plan meticulously in our bed chambers. We look back like humans, buzz and swarm and charge, a black bull of mortality into the void.