“The brief was to get inside her head” I fail to chuckle

at the planned intro of my article – too painful –

the ache in my back tooth thumping. I probe inside,

draw out a sewagey smell on my finger. Grab my keys,

dictaphone, thermos: that slim, constant familiar. Inside

the coffee gleams like the bottom of a drain, coin-glints of sun

through the car window. Backed up in a long colon of traffic;

a pneumatic drill pounding the sidewalk to fragments.

 

Can you give our readers an idea why you took such extreme measures?

Would you ever advocate self-trepanation?

Why would you powder your cheeks with your own skull?

 

Twelve miles out and the houses begin to spread:

twee, robust, occurring like slow blinks.

I’ve never felt at home in the suburbs, mailboxes like bread tins,

Lindens and everything looking so fucking edible.

I found a witch’s house when I was little, her front door agape.

I wandered in as if sleepwalking. I remember

the rude-vegetable shape of her nose, inky scribbles round it,

ammonia heavy as talc. Garden shears

hung limply at her side:

the broken jaw of some conquered beast.

But she was the one who was bleeding.

I couldn’t stop staring.

 

Did it hurt?

Bullseye. Cyclops. X marks the spot.

Hey lady, did the knife-thrower miss?

 

Why do I take these freak-of-the-week assignments?

As if there were a choice in the matter, bills pile up,

the rag shirks expenses and all the while THE NOVEL

strains at my forehead: a sad dog at the window.

I need a solid eight hours. Exercise. A yard sale:

some crank last week couldn’t open his door for newspapers

he’d hoarded. In his hovel I stared at a decade. I thought of words

I may have written pulsing at the heart of each tower.

I wanted to let them out.

 

Did you experience a kind of spiritual transcendence?

Was it like … oh, I don’t know…

flying?

 

I went to see this guy – doctor’s orders – and before I knew it

I was spread, pins sticking out all over me:

a pineapple hedgehog on my mother’s buffet table.

I did so want it to work, for the ghosts to flee

from each punctured co-ordinate

with a thwarted hiss, for my brain to go pfffff like a tire.

But it’s the same with everything these days, a quick fix –

sex, hot baths, analysis.

It’s like the old-school trick of snatching the table cloth off in one seamless swoop –

you’re still left with the crockery, the plates,

the empty fruit bowl.

 

Is life better now?

Do you feel different?

How?

 

What was it like ?

Did it feel like…?

Did it feel

O