Deathless Gremlins & Other Poems

by Colin Dodds

Deathless Gremlins

From fountains and churchfronts
faces grimace the misery
that righteous comprehension requires

Goblins stomped by saints
must always be stomped
Gremlins sewn into white
marble sacks for eternity
peek for eternity

Wretched eyes warped ogling orifices
encrust the edges of every edifice
entrusted with insisting
the goodness of God or state

The true believers kill and pay and die
for these monuments on which
their own pig-squinting jackal-snouted nemeses
outlive them, insouciantly


City of Clues

A place of clues at the end of all clues
where the beer has reached the rim
and the foam runs down the sides of everything
with giddy magma-deep exhaustion

Primitive senators in crude sheepskin togas
scowl at the earth again and again
They hang a fence on them

Superannuated, ecstatic with relief
reconciled to so much death—
death like soot in a highway-shaded apartment
like the reigns of terror reduced to rhetoric
death like the sad stare of a leopard
like damp leaves on a forest floor
like the infanticides
alternately bewailed and promised
in the prophets and the psalms

Streets twine down the Aventine Hill
and memory overdelivers
with another monument another shrine

a silk flower
tied to a stray nail
in a bare stone wall


To Have a Form is to Transform

In the plunder of the popes
a sphinx becomes a woman reclining
a Pharaonic man-within-a-man
becomes an Aramaic heart-within-a-man
a thorned and flaming heart becomes a road

Backing up, angels resolve to bull-skulls
resolve to the staves of Hermes on a train station
resolve to the crucifixion reaching and hanging all at once
resolves to the Sistine Chapel’s tree of knowledge
resolves to an angel resolves
outside the quarantine of the museum
to the fallopian temple complex
that shelters succors and dissolves the forceful story

Winged serpents pull a chariot to a slaughter of satyrs
past a goddess with seventeen breasts
whose lower half scatters in ornamental riot
friend to foxes and gryphons
scowling wife to a fool who worships
the house he just set on fire

The Medusa-stare of language
freezes each state we depart
The marble form on the gridded floor
shattered before the cross
the beheaded muse the boss bound with serpents
Mama Garibaldi on horseback pistol in her right hand
infant in her left, eyes dim and serene

Monsters and disreputable relations now safely slaughtered
in gigantomachies on sarcophagi and fireplaces
Only cherubs remain to do us real harm
Their satin ribbons strangle the sources of reality
and usher in the monstrosity of the merely human

On the fortress bridge a succession of angels
furnish the implements of torture and crucifixion
above dark avid men who sell toys and souvenirs
Not yet statues, we are left
to decipher all this and more

Beside a newsstand, a bent and bundled grandmother
smiles and points at the foot traffic
The whole world is coming to her
And after so many years, everyone is familiar!
Marble saints and tyrants all shed their heads and hands in time
Statuaries melt to fields of cloud
The ages’ membranes dissolve
It is traumatic for everyone but her

The sky itself
is an old friend come to visit—
all their quarrels resolved!


Deathless Gremlins & Other Poems

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