Tomb of Donald Duck by Clayton Eshleman

BOMB 6 Summer 1983
006 Summer 1983

I.  APPARITION OF THE DUCK

Ο my white, white father, you were in hell
dong clapper and tower of a construction arisen
from the “Aztecland” of an Indian’s hump burst
like a boil into the savage clanging he must wear
like a headdress of fruit

and because I too am white, does my word xerox
its tongue to become
a pool of blood and green oil
out of which a dead ermine is lifted
and rung out in the sky over Beverly Hills?

Tumblers of a safe in this sky
from which drip peelings of a billion comics,
the feathers from your sexless bottom Uncle Donald
drift south to
children who run to the potless source of this rainbow sortilege,
a male parthenogenesis sprung from
an Olmec-sized Disney head

(my speech on behalf of the wretched
is screened by my North American whiteness,
glass enclosure in which an actor
wrings from his hands a special effects
which need only be wound up to be heard again)

No change no growth no death no past
no animals
with fake animals for pets
the body of a highway of zippers smooth metal interlockings

What is in the Junior Woodchuck Manual of your tomb, Donald?
A needle slipped into a child reader’s fantasy
injecting adult anxieties
into his neotony.  

 

II. TODDLER UNDER GLASS

There was no time until the first word sirloin was sliced
this sirloin was dite (light)
chur (picture) cock (clock)
and the speaking? Two dis-
combobulated rug cutters, speech
crossing and crossbreeding not
as in Surrealism but as in paleojitterbug
where speaking is by extension midden
by extension mam-a growth by apposition
“the deposition of formative material in successive
layers” wa-wa (water) chup-chup (bird)
Ο yellow po-ca dicka-da of an owl yet to be conceived
even before an egg
I’ve been betrayed by an earliest star
and by the horsies on my pillowcase
by pillbox mother by pillbox father
fortifying themselves as words begin to form
whose kisses are firing
and to fire is to leave a rapture that is sheer jingle bells
“What don’t you do anymore?”
within days of being shown the Bible, specifically Don’t
Grunt Panties, Chapter 4, paragraph 34,
the wedding of Donald and Daisy, or
the collapse of the Isaiah, the rubber auto Isaiah from Elkhart—
outer darkness suddenly filled with held back erections
all aimed at 2035 North Meridian Street
going off as I bounce on your lap
happier to be here than anyplace else in the world
Whose world Popeye wonders,
Boon-man’s? And it is true,
I screwed No into the God photographer’s lens
so that, snapped, I would not reproduce my dad-da,
knead his Smokey Stover,
enfoo dern sech weather, Ο mutter of us all,
didn’t I ever tell you how it was to be two?

   TODDLER UNDER GLASS

cooked but uncarved, under mam-a’s firm hand
No one was going to serve her dream
I bunched up on my suddenly confined crawling grounds
while relatives faces fun-housed thanksgivingly in the glass
and her face fun-housed in my own
my very first mask on which ca-caw (Santa Claus) crawled
a language mask heh-heh (for Sonny)
Bok old mamma, tak-a new mamma
bit of wa-wa words
bok windmill sound child, bunched on the social platter
frightened of losing my wow-wow my ga-ga
a baby mammoth in the peekaboo
I see you snow mounting from below.

 

III. THE SEVERING

In essence we do not want to be outside

yet the only way back in is through death
and the beast was the god of death
putrifying about man
not yet man but something
so cold for so long so cold
that too much of his life was now in his eyes,
his sex had so contracted
from the misery of copulating in ice
that it expanded, a bulb in his head
sending out tendrils into his irises so that
instead of continuing to turn, helplessly,
on the winch of beast and season,
man saw, sexually, that the world was something to enter or
to withdraw from, and that his dead
were in sexual remission but would return,
smaller and not that much more trouble to take care of
than when they left, for the point of withdrawal
and the point of re-emergence were hinged,
the vulva at this time had only an exit and an entrance—
it had not yet become a labyrinth

The mystery seemed to take place behind the vulva’s centerpost,
try as he might
man could not figure out what woman did with the dead
to decrease their size but to increase their howling

Seeing that he roamed the tundra
a parasite in the earth’s fur,
man, in his own eyes, began to emerge,
a tick of sorts in the animal kochwurst,
part of it but not the same, and to feel this was first
jubilance and first sorrow, such twisting of
the feeling bones against their own sinew
that man began to paw meaningfully
inside the earth of his breasts, began to scrape
as if he were a foetus returned to the womb
having seen the world outside,
he saw that his scraping left marks,
path snarls, vulva shaped calls,
that he recognized life in what he scratched,
and that he was a smoldering hybrid
with rock and hard-on bobbing about in a tundra of congealed
blood that he could soften with his breath,
that this gelid blood, this matted glassy meat, yielded
precisely a him twisting against its beast webbing, so he followed
labryinthine tunnels, dancing against his own exit and entrance,
the world was uteral and urinal,
where he pissed and spat and scratched
a diorama of his condition appeared,
the outlines of the animals he scratched were his own meanders
inside of which he was a ghost on fire, something with its liver
sewn onto its face, sewn through with beast stitching,
which today, without the rest of the fabric, looks like spears

and as he chipped into the clitoral centerpost
as if to insert his own twist into his exit
he was casting off that which he had entered in order to exist
so that he was his own S sprout
in the deadness of his exit

man in slow motion shattered his beast
so that only mask bits of ears, paws and horns were left
on a shape that more and more resembled
man glaring back, in a dance hex,
glaring in heat, but in the heat of withdrawal,
to shake off the clitoral shadow of what he could not cut through,

he took his iced lust for the mystery he could not penetrate
and attached it to all the beasts,
hinged it to them as if to mirror that from which he was hinged away—
he masturbated animal shadow so that it bulbed and throbbed
into wings or several spitting heads or jutted human breasts and
the mystery could be fought in the name of the Fabulous Beast—
he invented Hercules and Portculis
in order to disguise his nakedness,
and as he battled with the specters he had turned his own
enthroned placenta into, as he covered world with himself,

as he hacked up actual beasts,
he brought the underworld to its knees—
at which point it went into revolt:
the bone powder man brayed his beasts into eventually
became Goofy and Mickey and Donald, dotted eidola
flittering about their cages in newspapers, books and films,
empowered with the wrath of a satanized underworld
set loose within the power-lines of media,
an underworld composed of all the hydras, manticores, gorgons,
lamia, basilisks and dragons, and it is from this perspective
that the shadow of every duck is shaped like Donald
and that Donald has the power to leave the duck
as hagfish are said to leave their lairs at dusk
to all night long bore into the souls of children.

 

IV. STUD-FARMS OF COOKED SHADOWS

The Rolls Royce parked in an El Salvador prison yard.

Inside the car, beefy North Americans eating an elaborate picnic lunch, delicately unfolding white cloth napkins, licking their fingers, each fingernail a mirror reflecting a cage in the “hole” in which a living person is compressed. Chicken. Cheese. And an iced Lucifer to wash down the Rolls Royce in flames the couple inside undisturbed because the wealthy do not burn an invisible wall of asbestos a mile thick protects even me from the worst there is                                                                                                                                                 I sit at my desk in the glare of the prison wall observing the car which the artist is tearing the insides out of like a living peasant can be disemboweled with a dull knife say, you can watch his face twist beyond noise into the pleasure of my countryman’s faces as they pack prison yard dirt into the Rolls, the idea is to turn it into a little jungle with sprinklers in the roof, so that in juxtaposition jungle to jungle the men in cages can be mailed through Time magazine and sniffed

Machete blow with the North Americans as the cutting edge strolling away like a hammerhead shark cruises the evening of his hunger these words pass through the prison and you become annoyed that the color in the flowers now seems to be affected by an “us” that is the prow of Good Ship Machete as it wanders hungry without mouth mouthing without hunger the welts on the nipples of a 12 year old Indian boy it is the child, Donald, I keep coming back to as I sit here in prison moonlight on the lid of your grand sarcophagus—for years I thought I was in the crypt of the Temple of Inscriptions at Palenque dreaming of a cannibal feast; tonight I know that I am but that the chiseled in king is you and that in your stunning whiteness without orifice is buried a duckling, better a drakeling since duck is feminine meaning you’ve eaten the Virgin Daisy of our hearts. I lift your lid, Donald, to realize that you are a flaccid black hole, contactable only through my own lost childhood and it is terrible to watch all of you quack along exchanging wristwatches for native gold against the backdrop of the Aurignacian Summation the whole scene becomes the blond slitting of an Amazonal throat but I cannot make you real, Donald, I can only talk to you as Syberberg talked to his Hitler dummies as your own heil ascends from a tomb whose bottom is engnarled with the construction of the underworld itself and with my own two year old word forming in 1937 when terror shifted gears in Europe—what shall we finally call these innocent adventurers decked out in comic book animal auras? Carolyn Forche said the El Salvadorans’ ears in the colonel’s sack looked like dried peaches and that a few which fell to the floor seemed to be pressed to the ground or listening to you and me, Donald, here, these grand reservoirs of human energy fried into ghettos in which no one could be said to live, cages in which the living are the shadows of other living—that colonel has no shadow, in all the taut suspenders of his anxiety he is content to be carried around the prison yard, like we used to play as kids, on the back of a peasant whose belly is a dugwork of running sores These sores, Ladies and Gentlemen, are only putrid at their place of origin, once the gunk is canned—since no production exists in your world, Donald—its fucking good to eat, and even though the ride is bumpy at times even though the cries on TV seem menacingly near it’s all Starsky and Hutch, isn’t it, a heaving friendly world with the slaves sleeping in their own shit a few inches below the floorboards of this earth on whose back I too ride, since to blow up the Rolls is only to make it bigger to arm it more fully, so that this lunching pad for the rich, this car converted into art, this interior soul sprinkling is all taking place inside something that looks like a petrified apocalypse, weapons sticking out of every pore, with Manson in the American underworld, eating one of his Kali Krishnas whenever he gets hungry but hoping it will all be over soon so that with what is left of them he may climb back to earth and assume that role he has deserved from birth, namely to be buggered very badly at 12 so that he can look through the wet curtain shreds of his ass and stick his tongue out at this little Indian or little dummy I should say, for there is no one here, Donald, but my fingers tracing again and again the carved contours of your sarcophagus lid, like God might run his claws over the topology of Disneyland, a blind god, a creature still hovering over the primary waters, urine salt a lizard’s tail and a peasant’s heart mortared into a tiny soft black sun which I place in this crippled alembic knowing the irreality of my words taking place in the automagical washing machine of North America, this whirl of films watches umbrellas records Donald Duck soaps even, rocking-chairs necktie condoms? Disney as Bruckner, on his knees in the gravity filled end of the tear of a heaven suspended condom praying at full vent for all the little children everywhere to coalesce into nine year old himself at dusk somewhere in Chicago, 1910, delivering his papers with nothing on his mind but his most evil father flowing in the condom walls of snow as he trudges the hamster belt of an anger never to be fully expelled until, we say, what? But the world does not change, it only grows lighter and darker, lighter when darker, darker when lighter, the blue green glow of Eden down there in El Salvador turns out to be a horrifying wound operated by maggot men preparing street urchins for computerized torture under the gaze of fly men backed up by vulture men backed up by “compassion” of the stars, and the howl of this wound is so wide that it is the sound of the very day itself, the solar day like an opened heart packed with siphons and drains, feast parked in the heart of an Indian mother whose breasts are no more than ripped lips.

Sounds like an accident outside

Outside? No it is just that mother’s defoliated eels
pawing toward her through the pyromaniacal air.


1 Apparition of the Duck: I drew considerably on material in How To Read Donald Duck by Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart (International Genera, New York 1975).

2 Toddler Under Glass: this section is built using materials from “Baby’s Book of Events,” a scrapbook in which my father recorded nearly everything I said, did, and was given, for the first three years of my life.

3 The Severing: “Man then severed himself from this placenta in which he and the world had been embedded. The first step in this severance was the dethronement of the animal. Today man is striving to become master of matter. The process of segregating man from the natural world around him grows more and more dangerous.” The Eternal Present by S. Giedion, p. 273. The following paragraphs on the same page and page 274 are quite pertinent to this section.

4 Stud Farms of Cooked Shadows: the title for this section is a line in Aime Cesaire’s poem, “Interlude.” Besides news reports, etc. I also drew on Hans-Jurgen Syberberg’s film Our Hitler, and Carolyn Forche’s reportage on El Salvador published in the American Poetry Review, July/August, 1981.

 

“Tomb of Donald Duck” will appear in Clayton Eshelman’s book Fracture to be published by Black Sparrow this June.

Cockenoe by David Rattray
Gianfranco Gorgoni 001

Originally published in

BOMB 6, Summer 1983

Kathy Acker by Mark Magill, Jene Highstein, Mark Pauline, James Son Thomas, art by Anthony McCall, Judy Pfaff, Richard Serra, and more.

Read the issue
006 Summer 1983