DECONSCRIPTION-Writings of Curtis Cottrell

1980s Poems

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Authentic Respiration


I go from day to day

Wasting myself away

Each breath a gasp

Second from the last


Using up each moment

To the penultimate second

Going to the precipice

With nothing to grasp


This morning we kissed

And the vital surge

Flowed into our veins

To the tops of our heads


And as we mingled juices

An overwhelming joy

Pulsed through being

And I was finally breathing

The fresh clear taste

Of all that is meant to be


This inexpressible yet articulate rapture

Thrills life into the nerves

Charging past nevertheless

Sparking through each synapse

Into the fundament of copula






Brief Blink Beyond


Perched atop the pineal cone,

The inner optic aperture opens;

Slithering aside cerebral sand,

Kundalini cobra arises erect

Shredding the shroud of illusion.


Where are you going;

Where have you been?

Are you looking

For more than a friend?

A subtle subtext of desire

Kindles cravings to aspire.


Where am I going;

Where have I been?

Will this loneliness ever end?

I met you once within a dream;

Satisfied with none between.


Where are we going;

Where have we been?

Our destiny is yet to be seen.

We shall reap what we sow

In heaven above as it is below.


Conflict on the Ecliptic


An Inimical Emblem


Ophiuchus straddles the abyss holding high over our heads

The ever-writhing carcass of our scaly adversary

With head inclining toward potent Scorpio

And tail trailing into shrewd Sagittarius.

The centaur aims at another altitude

While Heracles' stance shields the lyre.

Can our celestial nemesis ever be decisively vanquished?

Only if a maiden takes its cinders to the roost of the Sphinx,

And scattering the ashes to waywardly wandering Aeolus

Turn away and not look back.


Ecphrastic Ecstasy


Twisted sisters intertwine

Lacing limbs and tresses

Deep chills racing up the spine

With each of their caresses


Weaving flesh in and out

Tongues darting sharply

Eyes rolled back

In deepest rapture

Swooning in enthralling

Currents of obsession


Lush patterns rush

Past these figures in lust

Each glint of gold leaf

A wink at the world


Sea snakes slither and slide

Across the abyss inside


A dumb fish glares

From down below

Occluded gaze

Turned within

This is its dream


Green Berettes


Flaming faggots from the sky

Stupid fools who want to die

More masochistic than the rest

They're the ones called

The Green Berettes


Fairy wings across his chest

He can't pass an IQ test

He was farthest from the best

When he joined the Green Berettes


He's turned on by clash and strife

He'll throw away his worthless life

And at home, he'll stick his wife

Up the slit with a trench knife


He's in love with his M16

Though he's really a closet queen

Killing babies is his dream

And he'll laugh to hear them scream


He sleeps at night with his gun

Drawing blood is so much fun

Find him unarmed and he'll run

And fall down with pants undone


Got his kicks in Vietnam

Can't wait to go to Iran

Or anywhere to do some harm

And watch his buddies buy the farm


He gets into blood and gore

Got the syph from a Saigon whore

Deep at heart, he's really poor

Cause he don't know what he's fighting for


He'll get blown up by a frag

And sent home in a plastic bag

They'll wrap him up in the bloody flag

Cause his life was such a drag


Nevermore, we'll hear him brag:


Flaming faggots from the sky

Stupid fools who want to die

More masochistic than the rest

They're the ones called

The Green Berettes


The New, But Not Much Improved, Masque of Anarchy


I met murder on the way;

He wore a mask like General Haig,

Saying, "If the Commies ever come,

We won't hesitate to use the Bomb."

A Southern bigot preached a sermon

With a sneer like Strom Thurmond,

Saying, "What to do with the blacks

Is handle the with an axe."

With powdered face and hair dark dyed

In their leader took a ride

In a shiny, new black car

Assuming he's producer, director, and star.

"I'll appoint for our nation

A Secretary of Transportation:

I've got the fellow for the job;

Who cares if he is with The Mob?"

And for him, I will thank,

Doobie-doobie-doo, my friend Frank.

Pals like him are worth a million,

Even if they are Italian.

Democrats will all get laid off;

I've got debts I need to pay off.

UN Delegate ain't much fun, so

I'll give it to my buddy Bonzo.

I can talk and act real fancy;

The thinking is all done by Nancy.

Our country will change its ways;

We're headed for Death Valley Days.

I'm only a B-movie ham

And if we get into a jam,

I think I will avoid the crush

And pass the buck to George Bush.

Our troops I will try to muster--

Don't forget that I played Custer.

I always look back to the past, and

This may be our very last stand."

Then into his cups he raged

That he'd never be upstaged

For Congressmen cannot feel

Any hope in Tip O'Neill.

Britain's guardian of the cash, her

Hat like that of PM Thatcher,

Suggested clipping Freedom's wings

Now that Tories pull the strings.

Now the rest of the Free World

Looks at us quite appalled.

Liberty gone, do they think

Whether we will swim or sink?

Our country lacks moral character

If we intervene in South America.

Our neighbors will make no bone

To tell us Yankees to go home.

Before long, our vile nation

Will plunge into annihilation;

For into total war it's headin'--

Look out now! It's Armageddon!

This situation may dismay us

If we're heading into chaos.

We need a land where we are free

Or we're on our way to anarchy.

In election 1984,

Will you want to ask for more,

Or can we try to choose another

Having had enough of this Big Brother?




What's contemporary about modernism?

Accumulation, aggregation,

Amalgamation, conglomeration;

Malaise, malade, miasma, mirage;

Third generation nation

Gels in the garage.


Dated uttering - jaded uttering

Sated stuttering - faded fluttering

"Who will pay the rate

to keep a date with fate?"


Zero degree of signification

Null set of valorization

Quest for absolute zip

Zilch: the ultimate trip.


Flashing forth to the future we find

Collective conscience of the mass

Few who dare to break the glass

Shards shatter to free the mind


Whosoever seeks to reunite such figments

Reconstructs the prism's pigments

Scattering possibility's plectrum.


What's progressive about posterity?

Perhaps different - probably same:

Only the present with another name.


Mismatched Gizmo Gears


Every time I set my alarm clock

It is as if it were a time bomb ticking

Set against my free will

(That is to say, life.)

That means that I have to be somewhere

For some one or other to see me

(For what?)

Do we exist for another's timetable?

(Are we so expendable?)

Or is it just common courtesy?

(Who raised you?)

We only have so much time?

(How much?)

So what satisfaction is involved

In making someone wait for us?

(Especially beloved.)

I am waiting for you


On the margins

Of inhumane



(Can you hear the whisper

of the forest within:

the sigh of the pine;

the scent of pure pain;

Fear amidst the furniture?)


The beast must be waiting outside.

Or is it inside so close

Its heaving musk

Envelops us

With each leap

Of the albino doe.


Monodramatic Portrait


Katrina, will you please sit still!

Our session will end soon.

This canvas must be filled

By the rising of the moon.


Wafted in the evening air,

The lurings of the lute

Mingle with the mandolin,

Counterpoint in swift pursuit.


Embowered in his gondola,

The prince must not wait,

But I need you tarry

Finally fixed by fate.


Lingering on each stroke

Of the ocher in your eyes,

The umber is an ember,

Kiss me quick before it dries.


The scent of gesso and gouache

Makes me want to squash

This whole tube of bloody scarlet

Across the face of my palette.


As you sprawl naked amid

Tangled sweaty bedclothes

Giving me another long

Lonely lingering last look.




Power on...Insert disc...Directory...Play I Ching program

64=26 =1000000 binary: sixty-four squared is a milliard.


Annuit. Attono!


So all these people come into the lobby, see, and there are all types, you know, and some guy had DK (Dead Kennedys, you know) on his back, and some local-type hippy chick with hair to the waste and all and a black dress slit to the hip with mauve hose.


And they were all milling around but not too many so they looked through their programs while we all waited for the thunderclap.



brekkek kekkek kekkek kekkek...koax koax koax...1000000.


So when he came on, these people clapped

As if it were enough to be a celebrity.

But no one could hear

Nor listen at first.

Some of them murmured as his whispers came out quad;

Illumination wavering, ghost of a dream.


People getting up and down were part of the choreography.

Then there were those on the stage with cups of something,

And so there were all kinds of reactions,

But the drone went on and on.




And many left. Who were they?

Could they suspend their likes and dislikes?

Satori...ataraxia...13th cone.


A wake.


Necropolitan Nightmare


Iron horse racing into midwest city dawn,

Urban Caliban crashing on cemetary lawn,

Circuiting civilization, successive strings of graves,

Neon temples flashing staccato Jesus saves,

Investing living with no thought of tomorrow,

Buried in a shroud of sarcastic sorrow.




He sat and thought. His eyes were mirror bright. Moc night. What's right? "You eat." Feline fingers force a tangle of tentacles toward him. You can hear it on the radio. ROK on. A title? A phrase, a phase, a plynth. "If you want to get to heaven." "Think of me." The MC5 played at Chicago. Motor City. Ford. Oh, Miranda, what did you say? I will not serve. Coriolanus. Park Chung Hee puppet clique. Hahn Kim Chi lies like DeSade on Asylum Records or a remote peninsular valley. Hail Atlantis. Jesus was a seagoat, so is Nixon. A paranauseous plea to my pedantic pedant. I sit and think. My eyes are mirrors. Andy Warhol's Frankenstein. You can't fool me nor Dopin' Dan. I know who you are, and you are The Man. Nothing more. "Violence! Violence! It's the only way to make you see sense." ROK on! Candy and Candide. You can hear it on the radio. Tsing Tse. "It's just a shot away." Nova Express. The Godfather. Pax Romana. St. Stephen stoned. Religion or politics? I'll see a satire on TV with Persephone. The dark side of the moon appraches. The Nazis invented speed. Speed plus methaquaalone: Biphetamine T-20. STP. Sugar, candy, Candide. Hey, Joe, you can't fool me. It's her gun. Plexiglass guitar. Diamond Dogs. "1983, A Merman I Shall Be." You don't want me to rave. I must write. There is only one exile. Krshna uniforms. I remember Parnell.  Cottrell-cottager-carpenter-Christ. Architect artiste. Peolio Paliolith-corporal parts of the lion. The Sorcerer. Faust. Have you seen the silver dayglo poster of Mephistopheles? He has a ski-slope nose like Bob Hope and Richard Nixon. Bob Hope-TV illusion. Christmas to the GI's. 1971 Korea. Eisenhauer's final address. The Military-Industrial Complex Hex. He knew Nixon, too. Were the Roseberg's guilty of selling the A-bomb to the Reds? Communist control. Nixon got Hiss, too. Didn't he have something to do with the UN? I sit with a suicidal strychnine smirk-the archaic smirk. My mandrake. "This is the end." The Doors. Nixon chased Tim Leary to Afghanastan. Turn on your TV. Conspiracy. There is. "Old soldiers never die, just young ones. "Stranded in the Jungle." Ho orothun-The Golden-headed One. Synthea. The MC5 played Memorial Day weekend at Thunderbird Beach. Alice Cooper couldn't make it. They sang "Baton Rouge is Burning." US largest refinery. The cops won. "Misty Roses." Virgin Mary. Caesar was queer. The dragon eats its tail between LSD & Elysian Fields. There's an LSD in Lincoln Park, too. Miss No. Life is secure with Lady Jane. FCC ban on dope songs. The Mike Curb Generation. The MGM lion roars. Art for art's sake. No. Art for the sake of freedom. Coleridge was an addict. Bill Burroughs scored smack at Exchange Place. Jimi died of Seconal(tm). Jim Morrison's father was a Navy admiral. He drank himself to death. A Warehouse opened with Owsley's bust at The Royal Sonesta. The Grateful Dead trucking Europe with Bozo masks and Nudie suits. St. Dilbert. WRNO & WNOE doing Drake. Jefferson Airplane busted in Baton Rouge two weeks after Woodstock 1969. Constantine in the Kremlin. Breshnev looks like a Mafioso, too. Beatles members of the British Empire. "Revolution." Strike Force patch. "DON'T!" Peter Green. Afrakadabr. Dylan at Bangladesh moaning, "A hard rain's gonna fall," with Leon Russell, the Okie. Hank Wilson's Back. Workingman's Dead. Do you know the words to "Jailhouse Rock?" Remember me. "Louie, Louie." The Sundance Kid. "Y'all can go home now, the revolution's over."-Garcia. "Who's the bull goose loony?"


Paris Sight


Prince Paris peers past Priam's parapet

Features framed in fatal flame;

Troy glows as it has never yet.

Fumbling with Achilles' bane

His quiver upsets scattering

Falcon-fledged shafts across the marble

Into an ominous cipher

Resembling the figure of Paris himself.

Not bothering to gather his arrows,

He lets his bow slip twanging away.

Striding across the mezzanine

Myriad images burst past

As Helen stares vacantly into her glass.

The fecund ferment of olives and wine

On the plains of Sparta permeates her mind.

Once again to be home and away from this strange house

And the paramour stroking the fine hairs on her neck.

Paris breathes in once again

To assure himself of his presence.

How much longer will there be

Another again before the end?

Menelaus himself will want it.

And just how long has she been gone,

Or has she been always already absent?


She was just a lonely succubus

Not really truly one of us

Floating free she flitting flees

Over the hills and through the trees

Into the river from a sparkling stream

Into my life from a feverish dream


She whirls in a dizzying dance

Feet fly, tapping chants

Figure of romance

Without merest chance


If there exists

In waking world

Such a girl

Taking risks

Will unfurled

Gain the pearl




She was just a lonely succubus

Not really truly one of us

Floating free she flitting flees

Over the hills and through the trees

Into the river from a sparkling stream

Into my life from a feverish dream


She whirls in a dizzying dance

Feet fly, tapping chants

Figure of romance

Without merest chance


If there exists

In waking world

Such a girl

Taking risks

Will unfurled

Gain the pearl


Preppie’s Howl


I saw the best bods of my generation blackballed from fifteen

Sororities only to become Homecoming Queen by balling

The whole football team in the locker room

Who had unlimited credit at Nieman Marcus, Sanger Harris, and

Bonwit Teller and charged a dozen pair of Gucci's and the

Entire line of Calvin Klein designer jeans just because

They could not decide what color they liked best

Who cracked up Porches, Triumphs, Jaguars, Maseratis,

Lamborghinis and Deloreans walking away without a ticket

Who were accepted by Harvard, Yale, Purdue, Colgate, Fordham,

And Chapel Hill for spelling their own names with

Reasonable accuracy on the application forms

Who belonged to the NCAA, ROTC, FBI, CIA, and the Crosby,

Stills, Nash, Young, Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith

Fan Club

Who drank Crown Royal, Chevis Regal, Glenfiddich, Bushmills,

Beefeaters and Ripple

Who guzzled Heineken, Hofbrau Haus, Guinness, Lowenbrau,

St. Pauli Girl, and Old Milwaukee

Who smoked grass, sniffed coke, shot smack, sniffed glue,

And had the detox ward redecorated

Who spoke French, German, Spanish, Italian, Swedish, Russian,

And Esperanto all through their noses

Who were plagued by rude waiters, slow taxis, inconsiderate

Doormen, thoughtless hat check girls, ignorant busboys,

And shortchanging washroom attendants

Who traveled in Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, and

Australia, always eating at McDonald's

Who had monogrammed hankies, shirts, shorts, socks,

Underwear and toilet tissue

Who played tennis, golf, polo, racquetball, soccer, lacrosse,

Darts and foosball cheating every chance they could get,

Knowing that fair play may be fun, but winning is everything.


Molocha, Molocha, Sis, Boom, Bah!




Acronym vs. Anagram

Piracy on the high seas

PLO terror attack

Pity the poor tourists

Slaughtered by the scimitar

Of Mahomet, Hero as Prophet.


Who has jurisdiction?

Rome has hands on, hands down.

Thumbs up or down?

No death penalty in the Eternal City.

Hostages are worth the wait.

When traded back to Arafat.


If Insane Anglo Warlord

Could get his hands on them,

What the hell would he do?

Go the whole nine yards

To the shores of Tripoli

Spreading holocaust

From sea to shining sea?


Or how about a change of venue to Mars:

A chance to hijack the Challenger

To hold the whole world at bay?


Who can interrogate

The tactics of the Trojan Horse?

Is our global strategy

Simply a matter of course?

Do we know why?

Can we find how?

Shall we leave it all to Rome?


Or must we question Innocence like Genet

Of Americans affording to tour this way

When others have no home?




If you dangle on base triangle--ico, ico, all day

You will flip on this trip--ico, ico, all day

When you turn, you will burn--ico, ico all day

Then you'll freeze. If you please, play ico, ico all day

Ico, ico. Everybody ico.

I do the ico. She do the ico. Everybody ico.

See the man with the plan--ico, ico all day

He don't know where to go--ico, ico all day

Ico, ico. They all want to ico.

He might think he's in the pink--ico, ico all day

I went down to Ico town--ico, ico all day

I saw a chick who was so slick--ico, ico all day

I got sick of that trick--ico, ico all day

She went round, and I went down--ico, ico all day

We played ico, ico. We got lost on ico.

I was abused, so confused: that's how to play ico.

That circle jerk just won't work when you ico, ico all day

I got off, began to cough--ico, ico all day

Get a fix; it's all kicks--ico, ico all day

I won't play. What you say--ico, ico all day

I'll go home all alone--ico, ico all day

I don't care about this affair--ico, ico all day

Ico, ico. He don't want to ico.

He'll do his thing out of this ring

While we play ico, ico all day.

I will be much more free with no ico, ico all day

Ico, ico. Put it in the ico.

You won't stop at the top;

Ico spins you every way.


Romantic Archetypes


Listen my friends, and I'll chant you a song

About Pepe Le Pieu and El Kabong;

I swear you're gonna bust a ligature

Getting a load of this caricature.


Well, I was on the scene the other day--

Can you guess who came to play?

A shiny slick stripe with a voulez-vous

Can you get a whiff of you-know-who?


He's so bold, and he's so brave;

He's so cool, and he's so suave:

You can almost scent a taint

And you know what kind of thing he ain't!


His act is together wherever he is at;

He'll sidle up to give you his politician's pat.

Subliminal predator's eyes out for blood:

Does this whole charade do anybody good?


You pause to sniff then along

Comes guitar quickdraw El Kabong




I don't care what you think;

All I know is that YOU STINK!




Clarabel, Queen of the Ozarks,

Holds court Saturday morning

At the Cherry Street Cafe.

Urbanely sipping cappuccino,

Suavely nibbling croissants,

Arbitress of Midwest trendiness,

Haute couture par excellence.

Who will be the mayor of 15th Street?

Who will be the king of the geeks?

The old mongoloid with the box on his head

Lumbers by no more; now he is dead.

Avoiding the sun, this old fool

Would sit on his box in front of the school

Mumbling to himself in the shade;

He was jester of all he surveyed,

Sitting and watching the children play

And passersby throughout the day.

Clarabel winces at the shattering of her repose,

The clattering of a yardbird in shabby clothes,

Lawnmower on the sidewalk

Casting pebbles on plate glass,

Dust provoking coughing in all those who pass.

What have we here? A candidate at last?

Benny the painter with beer on his breath

Sits by Claribel embarrassing her to death.

He came by for a loaf of fresh bread,

Will eat a warm slice, and go home to bed.

He asks her if she will not mind

If he joins her as two of a kind.

He would be if he were more neat,

Not looking like the Mayor of 15th Street.

"So, Claribel, how's the society page?

To young professionals, you're the rage.

You're so well known by all you meet,

You ought to run for Mayor of 15th Street."

As he says this, she instantly recoils

Smirking coyly as her blood boils,

A victress who scarcely enjoys her spoils.

So when you are out, be prepared to meet

With pride, the Mayor of 15th Street.