Skip to content



CAUSES MY LEFT hand to twitch, my ears to fill up,
my knee caps to clatter;
skeletons pronounce boney pronouncements
to young women from Munch paintings.
Someday I’ll remember the lines
to Pain’s national anthem:
something about the adventures of Mr. Headache Tablet
invites me to turn on the television.

I’ll follow Pain to the last outposts
of the French Foreign Legion;
there in the sand with Victor Neuberg
I’ll wrestle the demon Pain
while Aleister Crowley invokes
Pain with the kitten eyes,
the voice that was my Grandmother’s last utterance;
hands of a young girl garroting me
until my brain softens
& my teeth fall out.

Pain—grim tapdancer, Fred Astaire of the last rites,
Amelia Earhart of the subconscious:
little blue plane with the black propeller
flying over the dark side of my heart!
Pain is a machine that cuts devotional statements
in the tongues of sinners,
certified genius (I.Q. 214)
even Einstein couldn’t understand this equation.

Pain talks in Esperanto
throws dictionaries to us
from the roof of Squirrely’s Tavern.
Come on buddy—you can comprehend this:
cheek smashed on the sidewalk, perhaps
a gash thru the shirt into the kidneys,
suddenly you’re shouting for your Mother
in every language that was ever spoken.

I ride in a canoe with Lewis & Clarke
exploring Pain.
We push west of the Mississippi expecting mammoths
to attack us.
There, in the distance, a scar-eyed Mandan
burnishes his spear,
his new wife tied like a dog to his wrist.
We cut her loose,
Pain travels east with us
comely, in sable braids,
she visits every salon in Europe.
Balzac describes her in letters to George Sand.
David wants to paint her riding behind Napoleon.

(Fatty Arbuckle long sweet ride of Pain
she is Seraphita knocking over tombstones for kicks,
the Venus of Willendorf carved from Bayer Aspirin,
Cleopatra sitting on her asp!)

Follow Pain down air-tight streets:
there’s a merry-go-round swirling like a cancer cell,
& a tree full of staring eyes.
Diseased blood gushes from a fountain.
A lamb heavy with tumors plays a clarinet.
When you find yourself in this Holy City
sit down on the nearest bench
adjust your belt
& erupt.

Jesse Glass has lived for nearly three decades in Japan where he writes poetry, plays, fiction, and paints, draws and sculpts.  His books include, Lexical Obelisk; The Passion of Phineas Gage and Selected Poems; Lost Poet: Four Playsand Black Out in My Left Eye. Tate Britain features a collection of his artist’s books and conceptual works.

One Comment

  1. wrote:

    A wonderful poem. A paean, a free wheeling deconstruction, a jaunty carnival ride of pain along with asides, jokes, grave desiderate, and all else in between.

    Monday, 12 October 2020 at 18:16 | Permalink

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *