Cosmographia

Original Text: 
Michael Boughn, Cosmographia: A Post-Lucretian Faux Micro-epic (Toronto: BookThug, 2010): 7-16. PS 8553 O7915C67 Robarts Library
Canto 1--Chicken Pie
4How can you say that in Latin
5when horns and whistles recall
6from before a precise buried today?
7Exuberance counters the failure
8to shed inflicted syntactical devotion
9in place of pies where it goes when
10tootie being the substantive declension
12of insults into the joy of gravy
13and thighs, don't forget thighs
14flashing through rhymed proliferation
15of bang's intimate further hope
16That's the tootie again, intractable2
17adamant beyond imagination's
18admirable reflection of receding bang
20openings seeming to stutter
21of small pies steaming endlessly
22When it comes back reclaiming
23today, swallows dart through it
24still buzzing with Dante's voice
25and swart ships, too, light sodden
26air alive with bird song
27and goat bells figure a pie
28morning cannot surpass in other
29mornings and songs of raucous
30erectile excitements humming
31outside the arras knowing
32whatever voyeurs lurk in its folds
33will never get it especially given
34tootie's refrain to the effect you should
36unless you're ready for the ride
1 "Oh, Lord, I wanna eat that chicken, eat that chicken, eat that chicken
   pie ..." Charles Mingus, Oh Yeah!
2 "My Lady is desired in highest Heaven," Dante, Vita Nuova, XIX.
3 Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, 2: 216-220.
______________________________________
Canto 2--Erectile excitements
37Helen was another tootie whose
38razz launched some surprising
40eras massed on the verge chanting
41her name till the cows came home
42Cows here signify large groups
43of meaning headed for the nearest
44cliff or store window in the quest
45Helen bestowed upon erectile tissues
46yearning to come forth in shining borders
47Sweet showers still ring with buzz
48jigs the works toward whatever pilgrimage
49can yet be found beyond dollar day
50events in shades of dappled green
51out the back door past art's camp
52Swell tales of recurrent flow through
53old temples now given to tower's
54massive investments erected in names
55taut with money's tumescent tug
56still speak of her tattered glory
57starved and secretly barfing
58in the bathroom in hope past
59participles roaming the stretches of words
60might open the secret to her
61awkward posture and bleeding hands
62The shop windows unaccountably
63extend around former necessity's
64shredded and unstrung compositions
65into shoddy colonnades of erectile razz
66swelling with dreams of release
67That's where tootie is known to enter
70and thither with reckless abandon breeding
71sprees and spasms wreak havoc
72with celestial balance while all along
73keeping tumescence in hand tho largely
74concealed unless needed to bring democracy
75to some parched distant land
76clamouring for cheap toilet paper.5
4 H.D., Helen in Egypt.
5 "[W]e need to accept responsibility for America's unique role in preserving
   and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity,
   and our principles." "Statement of Principles," Project for a New American
   Century.
______________________________________
Canto 3--Clamour's anthem
77The clash you hear may resemble distant
79devotion as it rises tall and stiff against
80sea's undulating dream of further
81earful extensions though even then
82similarities breed in withdrawing
83roar leaves faith to wander forest
85ocean proclaiming only to hoot6
86reasonably matches the quiver
87factor as it breaks against kiss
88scattering with laws of uncounted
89melancholy seeds of yet to be
90surprised, unmoored razz
91bearing extreme instances of promiscuous
92sounding's miscreant repetitions,
93damp intimations, and wine dark
94eruptions disturb hope's nagging
96afflictions masquerading as cows
97on their way home. No kiss can get
98you past that7 and even razz has been known
99to throw up hands in gestures signifying
100cessation of bovine blundering
101while encouraging ambient astonishment's
102random misdirections and indiscrete composure
103functions to flourish, all indications
104of seduction strategies having registered
105insignificant successes unworthy
106of uncertainty's luminous demand
107to face the music and lift your feet
108to irregular time function's wiggle insistence.
6 "Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting," Charles Mingus, Blues & Roots.
7 "Ah, love, let us be true / To one another!" Matthew Arnold, "Dover Beach."
    See also "Dover Beach," Jack Spicer, Lament for the Makers: "... No / Babylonian
    poets employ charms / Each other's arms are not enough either when
    the sea shifts and changes / The flight of seagulls here. The pebbles there.
    Chickens of some hen."
______________________________________
Canto 4--Inflicted devotions
109There's something to be said
110for those silk ropes under the bed
112with Tim Robbins when he couldn't get
113his fast ball magnificent though it was
114over the plate though come to think
115of it maybe it was leaves of grass
117would have put in the stocks when it
118staggered in from the bush smelling
119of razzed out bears and the deep funk
120of those pendulous boys though it's
121devotion frankly ups the ante past
123to be raised and called beyond any reasonable
124exhalation advanced devotions measured
125in garlands by the pound might be expected
126to bring to the table. Beyond that lies
127mere poetry, shooting turkeys and holding
128forth in uncommon saloons overcoming
129yesterday's imposition of bound rudiments
130in surprising combinatory beauty
131mechanisms.8 The boggle factor binds
132art to shop windows and committee rooms
133haggling over expected regulation of public
134tootie declensions. It's no place for respectable
136for a dance, the groves hemmed round
137with blatant intimations of animal
138departures and fleeing forms of errant
139critter logic--infliction honks, a signal
140to duck or watch your back when they
141gather at the river distributing awards
142to well crafted iterations of good old pat
143on the back for a job well hung
144with all those moving devotions
8 "Before even beginning, there is, to my knowledge, no mirror." Victor Coleman,
    "A, The Shepherd whose Voice Never Returns," MAL ARME, Letter
    Drop 3.

Notes

0] The first four cantos of Book 1 of the miniature, 12-book epic poem, Cosmographia, are influenced by the American jazz musician and composer Charles Mingus (1922-79). Sexuality, improvisation, and a satirical take on American politics mark this highly innovative, romping literary tour de force. Back to Line
0] From Charles Mingus's jazz composition, "Eat that Chicken":
"Oh lord I want to eat it,
eat that chicken, eat that chicken pie...
eat that chicken, Rock boparootie,
eat that chicken, razzamatootie,
eat that chicken, eat that chicken pie..."
Dannie Richmond was Mingus's drummer for many years. Back to Line
1] chicken: girl.
pie: female genitalia. Back to Line
2] jelly roll: sexual intercourse (slang).
Back to Line
3] tootie: vagina, erupting with "razz" (line 11). Back to Line
11] razz: woman's vaginal juice. Back to Line
19] all git out: "all get-out" (as big as can be). Back to Line
35] The word "clinamen" (as Lucretius used it) means the will of atoms to swerve unpredicatively in an indeterminate movement. (OED). Back to Line
39] Schenectady is very near Albany, the state capital and location of the New York State Legislature. Back to Line
68] H.D.: the American poet Hilda Doolittle. Back to Line
69] eidolon: apparation (Greek). Back to Line
78] This canto repeatedly echoes Matthew Arnold's poem, "Dover Beach," which ends: "And we are here as on a darkling plain / Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight, / Where ignorant armies clash by night." Back to Line
84] My Jellyroll Soul: a tune by Charles Mingus. Back to Line
95] laminar: smoothly layered. Back to Line
111] Susan Sarandon: American actress and former wife (1946-) of Tim Robbins. They met while filming the baseball comedy Bull Durham (1988) in which Robbins plays a screwed-up pitcher named Ebby Calvin "Nuke" LaLoosh on whom Sarandon, an experienced baseball groupie, uses sexual bondage games to get into the zone. Back to Line
116] John Winthrop: repeat governor of the Massachusetts Bay Company (1587-1649). Back to Line
122] hold 'em: otherwise called Texas hold 'em, a variant of poker. Back to Line
135] maenads: wild, drunken female groupies of the Greek Dionysus, god of wine and ecstasy. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
2010
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
2011
Rhyme: 
Form: 
Special Copyright: 

Copyright © Michael Boughn and used by permission of the poet. Authorization to republish this poem must be obtained from him in writing.