And The Frenchman Laughs
by JOHN THOMAS ALLEN
For Jean Nicolas Arthur Rimbaud
(1854-1871)


Your waking mind,
or even waking up
with you once again—
Well, that’s fine too.
A sonic disarray,
a plastique army,
guns twisting into
albino snakes,
a neon canker sore.
I reach to find the floodlit
cavity yesterday and years
ago in Manhattan, where a crooked
dentist told me about picking a lottery
ticket from a dead man.
And you! Walking on the outskirts of
Charleville, finding money
in the dead soldier’s breast pocket
”A young soldier, open-mouthed, bare-headed…”
Convinced I would find you or
your ilk (to a nonexis tent),
we traveled in the blue light of opium,
the raining drowse of city parks,
for a time your promise was
true: Prometheus stealing fire and
with subsidized returns
“I will tear the veils from every mystery:
mysteries of
religion or of
nature,
death,
birth,
the future,
the past,
cosmogony,
and nothingness.
“I am a master of phantasmagoria…”
Albigensian!
Christ turned inside out,
your Illuminations
Hallucinations, and mine too,
as I explained
with my green Dollar Store
cane to a few unfriendly men
in an unfriendly alley.
Though I still hear the
whispers of lotus vinyl,
and notes burning into glowing vowels,
your Notes From The Damned
are simply that—you returned,
of course, in Africa to scowl
once more: but what
could you have been?
I wonder this
as a mirror splits
a record melts—
and I put your eyes away.


Who am I?

These negatives of my selves,
not shifting in the sands
of digits but processed
in gasoline, slowly, in
quiet red rooms where
shadows give birth to
hues of scarlet. Who am I?
I see clearly the roll
of film spends itself quickly—
fast to burn, to fall in
slick negatives, like
Berryman from his bridge,
Crane from his boat,
and Artaud from his mind;
and, come to think of
these men, I sympathize
with Pilate’s question:

”What is truth?”
JOHN THOMAS ALLEN is a 28 year old poet living in Albany, NY.  Having traveled the world’s cities extensively, his work is an attempt to blend the seamier side of life with compassionate vision.  His credits to date include publications in:  Apple Valley Review, Tipton Poetry Journal, Flutter Poetry Journal, Sein Und Werden, Ampersand Journal, Thunder Sandwich, dream virus, Illiterate Hooligan Press, Penny Ante Feud, Words 4 Wisdom, Thick With Conviction ("Best of the Net Award" nomination for a poem entitled "The Mice" contained therein), Arsenic Lobster Journal, Zygote In My Coffee, Forever Underground Magazine, Prism Quarterly, and has worked as an editor for Breath and Shadow Online, a Journal of Disability Culture.  He currently works at an emergency aid shelter in his hometown.  He would like to thank poet David Shapiro for his inspiration and indispensable advice.