romanticism begins by sean kilpatrick
1770 –Thomas Chatterton lies dying of arsenic.
Goethe grant me the strength to perish in soiled pants.
No measurements are due death. Coffins grow their own.
The spoiled breath, sponsored muscle to mayfly,
walks this pox apart, hamstring split down
the imposter’s lot, another lyric staid by nature.
My heart made its wager by falling out.
Let the sun’s sheen cleave Walpole in twain,
publishing his disdain across one cope,
impersonated motes firing threats of pretension
into their bib. Sorry no hospital can fit you.
Time sews us doleful. Like playing fetch with an abortion.
Disease-free lineage cubed.
My own private mice gather round, flicked and damned.
You float on syrups, sirs—they pluck their whiskers
like someone’s flu through an instrument.
Sniff the glue time made of you.
We bit cheese together to sculpt it better.
Died like a lawyer trying Lent. Every tooth’s late rent.
Took a hammer to our cum.
1820s – George Crabbe posing. Thomas Griffiths Wainewright paints him.
Mister Crabbe, an honor to hand
the vanity of a poet’s stance back to contrivance.
At my humble expense, and for a small donation,
your composition I plan to capture regal
as a model traced in Lichtenberg figures.
I’ll let you linger, ring to finger, chortling with god,
or gods, high as whichever company keeps us shod.
I haven’t held still in a long time.
Be there a manacle rusted enough to root me to my post?
WAINEWRIGHT (Pouring drinks)
I once painted Byron.
We sorted through his pose.
(Flashback: Lord Byron poses for Wainewright)
Racked up any debts yet, boyish master,
spent up your backside’s breadth…
cousin after cousin passed away
inside the palace of that stance,
sired miles past the wake,
right where shit outgrows its flower,
embowered by fugitive frottage,
climbing the clock’s downy hours?
Do include my deformity.
Spread across the whole of me.
(Crabbe waves dismissively)
Byron is my Eustace Grey escaped off the page.
Saint Eustace, however, unlike those two,
had the good taste to be scorched intact
inside a brazen bull because lions would not touch him.
He’d refused to toast pagan gods, not his sister’s anus.
We’re tried by fate till color drains our face.
Catchwords bustle out, libeling me Smollett-esque
for setting him in an asylum. Everything is set in an asylum.
WAINEWRIGHT (Holding ring over drink, pressing it to release poison)
Cuckolded by his closest friend, was he not, your Eustace?
Byron has the taste to take.
Knowledge is sorrow indeed.
Fame will make a plantain of any verse.
Get ready for the echo that cannot learn,
for the coming century of illiteracy,
an everlasting youth bashed through,
crushed beneath their own biblical genital.
WAINEWRIGHT (Presenting drink)
Huzza, sir. I’m amenable, when dressed.
1855 – Petrus Borel, painting the face of a dummy corpse, dumps it out a window. Screams in the street.
Sail home says wolf to lamb.
The moon draws me in your backside’s pan.
Flown from myself to flower’s fleck,
the speck took up its pen.
Bad badouillards revel at carnival,
masked ball Pantheon while Paris falls,
ballgoing champion, rigadooner cockeyed and ambling zigzags,
cancanning down the block, arrested for such an upskirt rollick.
Rioting fantasists costumed as mattresses,
the cushion of one’s face, cops splayed on lace,
high thread count blood.
Anarchist suds boggle their force,
but I make Saint-Simonist tremble
for all the feminists she’s endorsed.
The bruised troops of Hernani sit behind me on my horse.
(Outside, next to the dummy corpse, Gerard de Nerval hangs from a sewer grate. Tied to de Nerval, a lobster hangs from its leash.)
DE NERVAL (gagging)
Fobbed off on fate,
my dead three best
tease me abreast—
girls who leashed these pincers—
how mermaids squeeze
fish between their tits,
I jumped in the volcano.
I went to Pompeii
and ate my lice.
In good taste
each the other swells.
(Aloysius Bertrands’s skeleton climbs past the dummy corpse, out of the sewer, and tugs on de Nerval’s legs, coughing blood on his pants.)
LOBSTER WITH HIGH PITCHED VOICE
Gnaw down the devil’s horns, see me lying in wait,
fair ditties hark the length of hate,
foreskins debark where many question
a bust thrown through its own stucco. No Jew
snipped from land, nor Rabelais’s hand
celebrated via crayon, may confiscate my rate.
Flush your bones, Bertrand. Sun brightens pot.
The dirt with which you flirt hides Satan’s fin.
Over his tomb we chalk our sin, boiled heavy in Camelot.
Whore’s encore. Within dawn’s fire we’re settling.
SEAN KILPATRICK’s writing has been published in Apocalypse Confidential, Safety Propaganda, Countere, and Misery Tourism.