Dix said that it was an absurd poem, badly written and on a ridiculous subject. “It’s repetitive!” she said. “Like, I can get tired of hearing the same word over and over again. And that woman had the nerve to assume that I’d felt the same thing. I wanted to say ‘Hey, lady, I know what it’s like to have a tampon in my cunt, and I know what it’s like to have a dick in my cunt, and that’s it!’ I don’t get slugs or crows or any of those things!”
The poem, which had been published in a magazine, lay on the counter listening. The woman who owned the copy said “Well…” in a kind of a drawl and winked at the poem.
“If that kind of silly crap can get published,” said Dix, “anything can. I don’t know why I don’t bother to send stuff out. Animals in her cunt! Jeez!”
The poem wasn’t really all that good from a metrical standpoint or from any other rigorous definition; it wasn’t elegantly put together or imaginatively worded, but it knew the feelings that well up in some women, and it was incantatory, a recitative, a descendant of an old and powerful style.
“I don’t know why people bother to write such junk,” said Dix. “It’s all a lot of crap.” She yawned. “You know, I gotta get going, ’cause I told Molly I’d pick her up and I’m dropping dead with this hangover anyway.”
“Okay,” said the other woman. She grinned. “My dear, you’ve got a perpetual hangover.”
“You said it!” said Dix. “Oh God, I’ve run out of Sen-Sen. Fucking pain in the rump! I’m gonna have to go get some before I pick up Molly. Like, what a bitch of a day – I hate mornings, don’t you?” She hitched up her leather pants and went out. It was already three o’clock, but she hadn’t gotten up off the couch until eleven.
The other woman went to the counter and closed the magazine. She then began to wash the glasses emptied at the previous night’s party.
Dix considered herself a black magic alchemist, and a thorough witch. She drew pictures of herself as the Queen of Spades and wore clothes that made her look like a punk biker going to the Renaissance Faire. Her bedroom walls were covered with spells and her kitchen was smoke-damaged from cooking on Quaaludes. All of her boyfriends thought she was down-to-earth and she couldn’t see why the hell she kept failing her class in Early Christian Thought. She picked up Molly, and, puffing a reefer, they swallowed a gallon of wine in a meadow.
“Hey, you know what I’m gonna do?” she said. “I mean I know it can be done – there has to be a way. I’m gonna find the herbal substitute for ‘ludes.”
“Yeah,” said Molly, “and then you’ll burn down the building instead of the kitchen. Gimme a joint any day, I can function on that.”
“All I need is the right ingredients,” said Dix. “Quaalude heaven is knocking on my door.”
When she went home, she uncorked and unstoppered and unwrapped and unscrewed and ripped open forty jars, bottles, bags and boxes, the contents of which she shook, piled, measured, weighed, toasted and steeped far into the night. The moon was right and her timing must be accurate, drunk and smoked-out as she might be, and regardless of her fond attentions to a bottle of Aquavit. She put on the Dils and the Dead Kennedys and let the vibrations saturate her ingredients, while on the apartment balcony she ground three worms with a pestle.
In a flat twenty miles away, a poet was chanting a paean to the gods and goddesses of her portals, to the inhabitants of her orifices, to the lions and tigers and bats and leopards and wolves and horses and snails and katydids that alternately danced and sang and rampaged within her; while Molly slept a drunken sleep half in and half out of her entangled bed; while the hostess of parties and possessor of magazines sat in an open robe with her feet propped on the wall imagining a thousand lovers; while Dix set forth her final ingredients, whispering “I’ve got it, I’ve got it, I’ve got it!”
She swirled and swilled the almost bubbling liquid: it was bitter to the pasty dregs and slightly slimy, and she scooped its last remaining residue with hungry fingers and sucked it from beneath her nails, throwing herself in mad circles like a dervish in the living room, caring not for the neighbors and their complaints but centrifuging every molecule to the extremities of her circulatory system; then flung herself upon the floor to wait her certain elevation.
And then between the shrieks and caterwauling of the phonograph there came a new and startling cacophony. A hissing and squawking, roaring and growling, grunting and tittering and flapping and scraping, squeaking and squalling and chattering; while twenty miles away a poet was reciting and inciting and dancing and jumping; while Molly jerked and toppled out of bed; while a woman in an open robe fell over giggling and clutching her so-called private parts; while Dix convulsed with fighting cunt brim-full of crowing cockerels and said “Oh God, what the shit is this, like give me a break man!” Then out the fighting cockerels spilled and spiked their hackles to each other as they leapt about the living room, and antlered stags began to rut and ram over her body, while suddenly her legs were covered with mating slugs, and a swarm of bees followed their queen up to hang in a vast precarious mass from the electric chandelier…
And Dix looked up at all this from where she had fallen. She rolled her eyes and turned her face to the nearest stain on the wall-to-wall. “Oh, fuck me with the Book of Lies!” she muttered, and passed out.
Karla Huebner‘s fiction has appeared in Northwest Review, Colorado State Review, Sun Dog, Collages and Bricolages, and Weave.