An international online magazine that publishes Surrealist poetry in English.
Enemies of the Paranoiac
They were animals of some sort –
assemblages of fangs and palps,
Redonesque, as if flesh were
The worse things got, the more genteel
their ironic hypothetical voices –
bored, even; so that
at the end the least flick
of a tentacle would mean
comprehensive pain and shame while,
at last within hearing, they would discuss
With age comes diffuseness. Walks
to build irretrievable strength,
long thoughtless intervals, the young
Recognizing in these things
mere eerie contingency –
the last insult, the consummation
of all plots!
The leashed dog who watched
with interest, not growling;
the cat in a second-floor
window, behind a screen,
who said, I could have loved you.
The party is for those who have been hurt.
You tour the excellent bar and the long
of fingerfood, wondering if and why
you were invited. Surely [insert memories
a, b, and c] don't compare
with the sufferings of others! ...
(Proud of yourself for thinking this.) Suddenly
afraid of encountering people
you hurt, you try
to mingle unobtrusively. But beneath
the chandeliers and arching ceilings, scarfing
the delicious salads and sliders, everyone
sticks out. "Haunted" eyes
attain the glow of what they saw. Shoulders
curved against remembered blows
or words frame drinks. You try not
to stare at those with scars or attendants, or
the laughers, but not to stare
is to stare. Music
from various rooms, though the big stage is empty.
Long-dead knee-slapping peasant dances,
severe blues, nearly atonal
solo threnodies, all fervent and discordant and
you wonder if that's the entertainment;
then, actually looking around, you realize
The sense of something having slipped one's mind
was sadder for the old, but familiar
to everyone. Throughout the warm fall day
peasants brought in the harvest, and
the bailiffs of the local nobles
appeared, demanding half. That's a lot,
said the peasants. We'd go hungry,
and why should we give you any?
Well the Count, began one bailiff, owns...
but the terms seemed graceless, odd, farfetched,
even to him. How large is his family?
a peasant asked. I'd gladly give them some
of my wheat if they need it, though I can't
see why… Uncomfortable, straining
to remember, the bailiff threatened; and men
in hot unwieldy metal did in fact
descend on villages. Those on horseback
seemed naturally vicious, but others wondered
what they were doing and why; where fights
broke out, the peasants' greater numbers told.
In famine districts, castles were seized
or simply entered, granaries opened. In
the towns, people in pointed hats
living terribly cramped in one quarter couldn't
remember why; nor could anyone else,
and gradually they found accommodation.
An old man wondered why his robes,
though finely made, were thick and ostentatious.
He recalled the use of keys and locks, but
not that of golden circles filling
a chest – they were pretty, but signified...?
He also felt, hearing a woman sing
in the square where she turned a pig on a spit
for an appreciative crowd, as if life
in some yet unknown way had passed him by,
and went down for his share. He wore
the simplest clothes he could find,
leaving off the mysterious symbol
that everyone noticed everywhere. It occasioned
debate, the tortured man sometimes upon it
pity and disgust. I've always thought,
said a cobbler, that the universe
is divided into active and passive forces.
These aren't halves, however –
it's quartered, if you see what I mean.
He too gained a crowd; there was so much to discuss.
Day waned, and from habit
men rang enormous bells in various towers.
People liked the sound – it was solemn but could
seem upbeat – yet wondered what it meant.
They decided that it demarcated time.
Frederick Pollack is from Chicago, the author of two book-length narrative poems, The Adventure and Happiness, both published by Story Line Press; the former to be reissued by Red Hen Press, as well as of two collections of shorter poems, A Poverty of Words (Prolific Press, 2015) and Landscape with Mutant (Smokestack Books, UK, 2018). His works also appear in Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Fish Anthology, Magma, Bateau, Fulcrum, Chiron Review, Chicago Quarterly Review, Big Bridge, Hamilton Stone Review, BlazeVox, The New Hampshire Review, Mudlark, Rat's Ass Review, Faircloth Review, Triggerfish, SurVision, etc.