Dave Baptiste Chirot chapbook Dave Baptiste Chirot chapbook
 AT    (for Christina)
   H H  
   ENTRANCE   damp night in Cambridge
                   O    A
          V    leaves rain heavy
   N  blurred lights in mist

 the Troll leading the way--to a large house on a corner--near the 
Observatory--beside tennis courts--fences ghostly in fog--smell of 
October--leaf mold--brilliance of oil slicks in puddles gleaming--picked 
out by passing lights--

   the Troll could be--
      a well meaning friend . . .

   --you'll like this guy--he reads books--does some 
      drugs--works for the Party at his job at the Globe

Party guys ain't supposed--

   --yeah but he's a writer, too, see--gotta 
     experience everything

he writes for the Globe--

   --Nah--works in the baling room--Union gig--lotta dough

 what's he write--

   --stories about the working man Jack

   and drugs on the side--

   --yeah he's a good shit--needs somebody to talk to

     talk's cheap enough--

 inside a long stair way mezzanine to mezzanine--a few girls 
sitting in a darkened glassed in porch--looking sideways--

             --at the top of the stairs, doors and corridors--
books on 
heaped--smell of a recent shower--dim sounds in rooms--

  KNOCKING on the door . . . a muffled voice--

 the Troll stood patiently--looking at his new boots--scuffing a 
spot of leaf--a scrap of paper--a hint of mud . . .

          . . . door opening

   sleepy eyes looking out--handsome face--dark hair 
in dim light had a sheen to it

   --yo I boughtcha a friend--he's cool--reads a lot 
   man--has a lotta books anyway--the guy i told you about

 long pause . . . eyes focusing . . . head turning cautious to 
       check the room . . .

 Finally . . . the head moved behind the door--door swung open slowly--

 a nice room--desk with lamp, big armchairs, shelves of books, big 
 bay window looking out to rainy night--trees, tennis court, distant 
 street lights--giant bed--boxes of records--

 the handsome man moved catlike--flicked with his foot a syringe 
 under covers hanging from the bed--looked as though he'd been long 

 rain picked up--the Troll lit a cigarette--floppied in a 
 chair--stared out the window--

 moving through the dim lit room--looking at the walls, the books--

 a giant photo of Mayakovsky staring from a corner--

  "Four words,
   heavy as a blow:
   ' . . . unto Caesar . . . unto God . . . '
   But where can a man
   like me
   bury his head?
   Where is there shelter for me?"

 the Troll sat impassive in shadows--smoking--the handsome man sat 
slowly down on the bed--his eyes gleamed--coming awake--catlike movement 
coiled in attention--

  "I yelled at the sun point-blank:
   'Get down!
   Stop crawling into that hellhole!'
   At the sun I yelled:
   'You shiftless lump!
   You're caressed by the clouds,
   while here--winter and summer--
   I must sit and draw these posters!'"

 the Troll despite himself stared--cigerette close to burning 
clenched fingers--the handsome man's eyes smoldered--a convulsion slowly 
rippled his body--he fumbled for a glass--

 (and very cliche
  shall have its day
      its effects tried and true . . .

   the mind wandering . . . has at hand
        its few crutches
     in a pinch)

 girls voices in the hall--windows rain blurred light 
streaked--the handsome man--
       the Troll had said--
      needed someone to talk to--

 & so had dug up for him from a basement room near the Mt. Auburn 
Cemetery a ghost--
    to ventriloquise--for the benefit--of whom?

   the Party man--the writer in search of experiences--

 a dizzying labyrinth
  an abcess in the labyrinth

   erupted in space

 (--turning eyes to avert the collision--so as not to untidy the 
   room . . .
   an incessant voice shadowing remnants of a life . . . 

   no desire to leave its corpse on clean rugs--
     in a warm room--cozy among covers--
     desk lamps and padded chairs--)

 the Troll on the way over--had recounted--a confused story--a 
  labored parable--of "Protective Custody" . . .

  "In your
   little apartment world,
   curly-heded lyricists sprout in bedrooms.
   What do you find in these lapdog lyricists?!
   As for me,
   I learned about love
   In Butryiki . . . 

   fell in love
   with the keyhole of Cell 103
   Staring at the daily sun,
                 people ask:
                 'How much do they cost, those little sunbeams?'
   But I
   for a yellow patch 
          of light jumping on the wall
   would thenhave given everything in the world."

  the Troll jumped--the cigerette had singed his 
  fingers--he cursed softly--the handsome man rose slowly 
  --from the bed--his arms arcing as he moved forwards--

    --Comrade! you know Mayakovsky!--
he knows a lot of weird shit--

  the Troll was pleased with himself . . . he prided 
  himself on his surprises--he had a reputation to keep up--and 
  there might be something in it for him . . .

  the handsome man put out his hands--to shake--and 
  embrace--he seemed at once solid--and hollow--a large 
  construction in balsa wood--

  the Troll sat perched expectantly--the handsome 
  man--noticing--turned to a cabinet--pulled out bottles of 
  imported beer--an opener--moving to the desk--sliding open a 
  slim concealed drawer--produced two ampules-- 

   Coversations-- may be worked like toy racing 
  cars--their speeds controlled--on a plastic track--with each 
  voice competing--

  into the curve the handsome man went--excitedly--steadying on 
  the straightaway--

  the Troll enjoyed such sports--was a one man crowd--

  Mayakovsky's photo--large--glowered on the wall--stop 
  watches in his eyes

  the handsome man explained his mission, his work, his 
  readings--his writings--his  collections of pornography and 
  O!! music--his car moving fast, lap after lap--curve, 
  straightaway, curve, straightaway--

  the Troll supplied with beers urging on the drivers--

  the photo Mayakovsky's stop watch eyes whirring . . . rain
  on windows--girls' voices--warm room--ampules broken--a red 
   dot on arm--

  But the Third Writers' Congress wa troubling--historical 
  facts muddy myths--and vice versa--
  the handsome man revealed--he was a Trotskyite

  he had struggles reconciling his duties and his desires--
  which he thought could be justified--by wrting--by being 
  an observer and worker at the front lines--of Party and

        --so--and you Comrade--how do you know Mayakovsky?--
         how do you reconcile duties and desires--do you
         write--are you political--
my duties and desires
         are the same--
                     --but where did you learn all this--do you write--
         do you study--do you believe in commitment--

  the Troll stirred restlessly--uncertain of the speeding
  cars--a yellow caution flag in his hands--gesturing for
  another beer--

       --I was committed--to Protective Custody--
         he laughed nervously--

  the handsome man waited patiently--serving drinks--cleaning
  ashtrays--putting away syringes and spoons--

         --pretty good stuff-
  -he said--his eyes pinned, a slight smile--I only get the
  best anymore--stolen from a hospital--

  the hospital heist was legendary--the handsome man knew
  someone who knew someone who knew . . . 

  --but back to Mayakovsky!--he's pretty good stuff too--

  Mayakovsky on the wall--fine bottled beer--the best of 
  morphine--a slight odor of perfume--nice hardbound books--
  comfortable chairs--a big bed--rain rolling on window pane--
  outside the Observatory and tennis courts--

Gorky means the bitter one--
            --but Gorky's ralism is not developed enough--
it is not easy to develop
                          --it can be channeled for use--my area of 

  the race cars went round and round--no one would be at the
  Observatory on a night like this--the Cemetery leaves
  must be heavy to bruash against tonight--the tennis
  courts slippery--

  the Third Congress--festered--a scab the handsome man dug at--
  morphine and and warmth stirred his rhetoric--he spoke 
  with lazy passion--a fascination with distant deaths moved

  in his panoramic view of history--of literature--mythological
  battles were translated into the facts of everyday struggles--
  his job--his writing--myth and history speeding on a plastic
  track--competing--for a drunken crowd--

  the Observatory this night--had no panoramic view--the domed
  roof closed against the rain--only a seismograph inside
  registering planetary movements--dim jottings of fault

  through an abcess in time--space rushed in--and in it time
  whirred in photographed eyes--a record of light once there--
  reprojected in a dim lit room--

  through an abcess in skin--a liquid rained in--mixing in 
  veins to a pumping heart--the lungs contracted--projecting
  dreamed images--

  wet windows--blurred lights--a mirror on a half opened
  closet door presenting their reflections--

  room full of images--


  the Troll was standing by the door--giving his customary
  word of parting--a leap in time seemed to have occurred--
  outsdie the wind had picked up--the leaves gesturing 
  frantically--making a transeint script of shadows on walls--

  writing went on all around--signs everywhere--their 
  significances muted in wind--among leaves--

  an old empty house stood on a corner where two streets
  joined in a haphazard diagonal--the railings of a metal 
  fence punctuated by rust and dents--its gate held by a
  padlocked chain--signs plastered on boarded windows--

   --they say it's haunted--

   the Troll walked faster when passing it--he had a
  few bottles in his pockets--that wouldn't be missed for a
  day or tow--all in an evening's work--for the middleman--

  the Troll dropped off and headed North--


        --his eyes
  asked for a thanks--his hands received opther bottles
  not to be missed for a day or two--

  the Cemetery with its hill looked like the hump of the
  Observatory--surmounted by its tower--a telescope 
  stretched to clouds--a telescope stretched to clouds--

  "If you wish.
   I shall rage on raw meat:
   or, as the sky changes its hue,
   if you wish,
   I shall grow irrepraachably tender:
   not a man, but a cloud in trousers!"

  leaves heavy with rain rustling restlessly--the night patrol
  car's lights scribbling tree branches' shadowed calligraphies
  on headstones--among the famous and statued dead--

  and far away the State statues of suicided Mayakovsky stood--

  "I feel
   my 'I'
   is much too small for me.
   Stubbornly a body pushes out of me."