from The Jennifer Disease
Butterfly Boy in Liquefaction
Lodged in the Speciman’s trachea, his legs melt, his antennae melt, all his segments melt, and his mandible too. Even his ideals melt and his surreptitious preconceptions. His ice-caps, his caddywhompus, and his heartbeat melt. All his hookers and all his hipsters. His leaf bites and his egg-life. His mindfulness and his fluster melt. His proboscis & balls, his eardrums, his toes, his cilia, his superciliousness. His really and his don’t and his prospectus melt. His yellow afternoons, his spirituality-but-not-religion, his eggplants, and his pituitary gland melt. His thyroid. His midnight oil and his Friday melt. His texture and his wastrel and his fuck.
The Animatronomist is the child who stands in the fake snow and the darkness at the mall peering into the one-room cabin of the past. Animatronomy is looking through a windowpane at a traditional Christmas scene on display. He is looking for his Poppa. Animatronomy is also like looking at the present as if it were already the past. The Animatronomist is also the mother carved from wax baking bread in the Christmas scene, holding the pan in one mitted hand, bending / unbending / bending / unbending.
In the backmost corner of the laboratory, the Animatronomist keeps his award winning display. Jennifer sees it one night when dew clings to the grass in the yard like slugs. In the display, the sharks have rushed the swollen river. The power is out. Mother is baking bread in the fireplace. There is a Christmas tree and a boy peering in the window. The boy holds a gun. The looters are not far away, now. The boy’s mouth is a perfect O.
Recipe for Animatronomy
If there is fake snow it should be one quarter cup glitter, three quarter cup crispy. Really we have innumerable hands clasping and unclasping all at once, so Poppa won’t you give him away? Poppa won’t you give him one more innocent Christmas? Where the mother will bake bread, which is one-quarter cup flour, three-quarter cup uninitiated and also braided. The mother’s caroling mouth, an O how she opens / closes her arms / opens / closes her arms and puts your hands in her muff. Between the unclasping and the clasping is an eve with its little sleep, except for the shark, which does not.
As Jennifer smooches the Animatronomist a white root begins to emerge from her sternum like the exposed leg of some creepy-crawly. Jennifer is sitting Indian-style on the bed across from the Animatronomist, who is also sitting Indian-style. Their hands are on their respective knees and their lips are touching, each pucker touching the other person’s pucker. The Animatronomist does not notice the white root, even though it sprouts little hairs and twitches from the knee-joint. Watching the thing that has emerged from her sternum with a down-turned eye, still smooching, Jennifer begins to wonder if she has ever really been a flightless moth.
The Afternoon is a Hidden Room is a Castle Slowly Filling with Sand
JENNIFER: I am indebted to Butterfly Boy.
THE ANIMATRONOMIST: (moulding a skull into a lump of wax) And what position do you hold for him?
JENNIFER: (prancing about in a tutu) It is my job to make him happy.
Making happy is not easy moneys. There are all the little tokens:
#1.) pitching his proboscis
#2.) clenching down on his sphragis
#3.) stilling all his legs-a-tremble
#4.) disposing of his extraordinary fluids
#5.) cocooning him in sleep.
But the Question is the most unnatural token of all.
THE ANIMATRONOMIST: (finishing one skeleton and commencing the next) And what Question might that be?
JENNIFER (fitting a noose around her neck, still prancing) Why, the unanswerable yes or no Question.
The Animatronomist places the skeletons on either side of a booth in a crowded restaurant, their bone-hands gesticulating wildly. He uses a piece of Jennifer’s hair from the sleeve of her shirt to weave a cobweb and hangs it from the mouth of the first skeleton. This is why we must not have others make us #1.)#2.)#3.)#4.)#5.) happy.
All Simone’s Eve
Simone rides through Cherryhill on a broke-stick sliding word problems under the window panes of all the homes. The word problems are a maze through which a woman is chased by her Poppa. There are three ways Jennifer may help her:
#1.) the fairies
#2.) the clepto housekeeper.
#3.) the balloons.
There are three ways Jennifer may hinder her:
#1.) the federal agents
#2.) the dishes and spoons
#3.) the snub-nosed little girlies.
If Jennifer stays up until midnight, she might see Simone, and if she speaks to her, she will slide a little note. The note is a monkey on a dick carved from ivory. It is for protection—the didordidnotdos may yet come back.
What Type of Whale is Everyone Else?
Butterfly Boy emerged from the Speciman’s throat and became, aided by Jennifer, Distant—the Animatronomist emerged from that distance and became, aided by the Gun Shot Wound, mutilated—the Animatronomist’s incredible journey emerged from his mutilation—a hullabaloo emerged from his incredible journey and became bones breaking and became Jennifer’s great sadness—a wilderness made up of steel emerged from Jennifer’s great sadness and inside that wilderness something, surely, is incubating.
That Other Her Inside of Her
Inside her skin and coursing blood, Jennifer has come to see, is another skin and another course of blood. White skinned, like new growth under the soil, creepy-crawly without eyes or with vestigial blind eyes—bottom-of-the-sea eyes, pink-tinted and uselessly rolling. Blood blue as a bruise, that trickle like a shaving knick when it menstruates. But the roots, the white roots squirm inside her stomach.
BUTTERFLY BOY: Hey, what’s all this hullabaloo?
JENNIFER: Bones breaking.
SIMONE: Steel for fashioning into a wilderness.
Butterfly Boy’s Revenge
When the shell that was Jennifer is finally pinned to the wall, Butterfly Boy will wake in a rage, no longer able to control the shaking of his six long legs. Oh his muscles, how they’ll expand / contract, expand / contract… A pitiful sight.
BUTTERFLY BOY: See how her muscles have become like icicles, made brittle over night in the freezer. Cup her in your hands and breathe over her. Smell her salty smell, her earth-gone-frost-bite smell. How gently we must open her vestigial wings so as not to shatter their delicacy, and slide the little pin in with great care. Our little virgin—display her frozen beauty on the page.
When Butterfly Boy holds the empty husk that was Jennifer, he feels as though he is in a mason jar with a cotton ball that reeks suspiciously of nail polish remover.
The Blue Demon’s talons struggle with the lid…
They are big-beautiful, the shapes. They are like whales / sharks / whales / sharks. She calls, Jennifer calls, the Frozen Field calls them by (new) name: Belly-Bub, the Speciman, the Animatronomist, his dorsal fin of some great size, Simone, Butterfly Boy, Poppa, Mother, and more! Molten steel. All the things merge, like movable wounds, into the shape of a wilderness.
THE FROZEN FEILD: I am a gun gun gun.
JENNIFER: I am a gone.
THE CHERRYHILLERS: Is it? Is it?
(SIMONE: Cum shot wounds.)
The word waits, total and abbreviated.
THE BLUE DEMON: More.
Maia Elgin is a New Orleans based poet and teacher. Her chapbook The Jennifer was published on Birds of Lace Press, and her poems have been seen in GlitterPony, Ghost Town, Indigest, and elsewhere.