‘The Imperialist Goes to India’ by Ben Mazer


Side A: The Imperialist Goes to India

Hey, you look just like your facebook photo.
No, you don’t! I read your pores like a map
of everything that’s wrong with the world,
plus everything that’s right. Fields and fields
of daffodils and roses and poppies extending
all the way to the edge of the unshorn
virgin territories unexplored by balloon.
What is the word for this? It wells up
like silence in my groin and chokes
up in my throat like consonants
depleted of syllables. Ooooooooo
then nothing. I sit by a roadside
and have my fortune told. My lines speak triumph
but the voice that cloaks them is ominous.
I may have left Omaha and Idaho
to come to this, but I have fallen in love
and will not leave this till death wrenches me.
Like a librarian without a library
my love shines, she is loved by everyone!
Even small animals adorn her Madras
silks, would gladly die for her.
She cleans her perfect teeth with poppy seeds
and looks on me with a pure look of love.
What is it I see on the other side of myself?
I see, I see, a thousand monkeys
looking through a glass that separates
me from you—I see you trying
to penetrate the glass, but I can’t hear your words.
What are you saying? This drama is intense,
too much is swarming over the old castle walls.
Is this what my aunt meant back in Omaha?
Believe in yourself. Do what you love.
I thought that I had power, held the strings
to my own destiny, and those of others.
Or is this all a dream, will I awake
to find I loved what I already knew.

Side B: Burnt Eye
(A version of Horror)

Allen Ginsberg interviewed beyond the grave
on facebook—PhD me no PhDs.
In our department we do anything we please.
Just give me something I can civilize.
My image on a coin. The workers’ backs
loaded with silk—they stop to pay my tax.
“Nobody loves you and it takes its toll.”
I communicate by mind control.
You think it’s funny? I’ll give you sheer Horror
(beyond expense that amputates the hour)—
it struck me as I stared closer and closer
at what I saw—it was my old friend’s father
as young as I had never known he’d been
in English biker’s hose and bare knee skin
where little packets of his dapper need
peeked smartly out as squarely angular
as any tabloid pictured brunching star
alone and restless in his trim mustache
alone and questless, silent to his staff—
the bright franks blazed!—mottling his costume red before my gaze
like serpent snakes—ready, illustrious—
scions of horror that were industrious.
And I myself was played! What I had missed!
(who shared a table with his velvet fist)
the honoured ten
prepared his way across the campus lawn
and went their ways, they squiggled like his spawn,
waiting perpetually for one to fawn
upon his ways. Heroic, legendary days!
All stumbled awkwardly beneath his gaze,
but he was met
by one who consumed his fire, his infantile
refusal to smile, except when he had set
his latest play before the world, and yet
silence encloses his rectangular parapet,
the lost domain of his extinguished queen,
who was the last thing he had ever seen.
A wouldbefrankenstein. Frank Hamilcars.
I woke. My left eye hammered out bright stars.


The poems on this Flexipressing appear in Tales of the Buckman Tavern, just out this month (April 2012) from the Poetrywala press in Bombay, India. Ben Mazer’s other recent collections of poems are Poems (The Pen & Anvil Press) and January 2008 (Dark Sky Books), both published in 2010. Mazer studied under Christopher Ricks and Archie Burnett at the Editorial Institute, and is the editor of a forthcoming edition of the complete poems of John Crowe Ransom. He has also edited collections of poems by Frederick Goddard Tuckerman and Landis Savage Everson. He is a contributing editor to Fulcrum: an annual of poetry and aesthetics in Cambridge, Massachusetts.