Welcome to the Festival of Death

In memory of Hyman Muslin and Speckle the fish.

From the unpublished collection: These Vicissitudes of the Epithelium

Author's Note: Italicized references are listed at the end of the poem.

Welcome to the festival of death
which is hardly a festival 
at all, 
but a tired moan, 
los calavares de azucar
that plan seems somewhat 
morbid now,
but anyway, 
welcome, welcome
to death, simply death, simply, simply, 
here on the left:
we have


here, on the right:

more death (louder, with more background noise)

upside down suffering
suffering the intrusion
of the true self

theories of aging:
it’s just that time;
too much junk;
lack of inspiration;
my favorite: time passes…

certain things, 
non-specific things, 
listening to hell

You know the dead

The comprehensible 
slips away, 
is transformed;
instead of possession
one learns connection

Strange now to think of 
            you, gone     

the conspicuous lizard

Weine saying Kaddish for Dan Levinson

the rhythm the rhythm                                                                                            
And how death is that remedy
all the singers dream of

the one and the many
and the return to the one
all this is forced
others have said it better

the squirrel peering in 
through the first floor window
Dr. Muslin, 
have you forgotten 
how to get in?
Dr. Muslin, 
are you trying to come to work?
don’t you know?
you are a squirrel now…

protect yourself       

Black riders came from the sea

Yes, I have a “thousand tongues”
dead, like cattle now
not even images of carcasses, 
but carcasses themselves
nothing, everything
it all can wait, 
please, let it wait…

the things that happen
broken glass
nothing rhymes
there is no rhythm
but continual silence
the cardiac muscle
ceased to struggle
metallic and hollow sounds
beeping, beeping in a frenetic celebration of death
monitors in ecstatic cacophony
feasting on the dead 
at the festival of death

cursed things!
the leeches of my soul
it stops, it ends
simply ends

the epithelium:
you harsh boundary
you definer of life
you are the cause of it all

don’t blame the surgeons
don’t blame the man
or the department
blame the epithelium!
that organ of sensuality
and despair
the limit
best to burn the evidence
get rid of it
this embarrassing spectacle
that the fools call life
burn the epithelium
and let the inside out
inside and outside mingle,
mingle and dissipate
into nothing and everything

Are we really as fate keeps 
trying to convince us,
weak and brittle in an alien world

Sorry that it worked out 
this way…

Though we are unaware of our
true status,
our actions stem from pure relationship.
Faraway, antennas hear antennas
and the empty distances transmit…

the smoothness 
yes, it is the epithelium
all the joy and despair -
somehow it all comes back to the skin
and all of empathy
is simply, simply this:

“I’m sorry skin, you can’t have everything.”

all the ice
and destruction
all the water
frozen, unfrozen and boiling, steaming
the shadow of a small rat
a confused squirrel
an upside down fish

why all the tears?
time is passing
that is all

If there were no “other” there
would be no “I.” If there were
no “I” there would be no “other.”

The squirrel, the fish, the rat
all animals are good omens
all things,
(all of existence, whether in small bits, or combined) 
are good omens

If I were to follow her
weeping and wailing, 
I think it would have
been out of keeping with destiny,
so I stopped…
This is called the transformation of things

it is time to yield 
to the morbid songs of death
dark dirges of the transient
it enters, enters in
ripening from the inside 
some die
others are left to live
and mourn the dead
the blackness of mourning
the cold, the fall morning
the things that matter
and the things that don’t…
the matter that speeds 
toward the unity that is death
the one and the many
become the one
powerful is the call of the one

Italicized references:
1. Rilke
2. Rilke
3. Ginsberg
4. The Residents
5. Ginsberg
6. The Residents
7. Stephen Crane
8. Rilke
9. The Residents
10. Rilke
11. Chuang Tzu
12. Chuang Tzu
13. Rilke