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William Nolan

O doctor, my doctor it’s of Nembutal
I dream, of barbiturates that acquit.
Of lushes thrid into their altitudes. Of pigs
rolling in their shit. How I long
to join them there, my head floating in the air,
cushioned on a Dutch collar.
Yes, I’d buy that for a dollar.
Here now, your dwarf is gloating.
But where has the Abbess hid?

O doctor, my doctor, there is no bib
that’s thick enough, no weight of lead
can shield. From red-rag to bread-bag
the odor slips. It radiates
like cold from steel. Note the viscosity
in the throat. How like it is to fish
sliced and served in a brown butter.
Not even the dog remains unfed
though the cat in the branches chokes
and the invalids are left to beg.

By the same magic the mute’s transformed.
For my final trick, I’ll transmute you too.
O doctor, my doctor, our crimes remain unproved.
We’re lucky, wouldn’t you admit?
The Dean of the Thistle is still unmoved.
But the Archimandrite of the Eastern Church
puts his finger to his nose.
Under a heavy pillow he’d suffocate. He’s
but a mortal, true?
I’d like to be my own nurse. You’d like to be
your daughter. A fusty acorn
shoots no sprout. What is it that you see
up there? Let us stop a moment and
wet our whistle. Let us
let down our hair.

Here is yet another shoat
splayed upon a slab.
Nothing but the numbles and the lights are left.
Brains, liver, heart and spleen.
Have they been surgically removed?
O doctor, my doctor this hinting at your hints
is a terrible, terrible, unclean thing.

There is no water that can wash it off,
but on your wall I see
a picture of a civet in a cage
crashing against its bars like an oil-soaked wave.

The Witch of Eye
has written on our palms
intimations of our feeble fates.
Tired nouns in apposition to tired
nouns. Vapid as sex dolls we sit entombed.
Wrapped in waxy cerements we wait.

O doctor, my doctor, what have you
on your hook? Familiars in the shape
of mice? A sin we must accept our own
as others might a wayward child?
And what if we had let it live?
Had reared it, held it in our hands?
And what if we had let it live,
my doctor?

But that isn’t what we did.

Now damned to wander past the fiery lake,
to crawl across Egyptian sand, screwed
of our inheritance and our estate
by feckless fathers and the Prince.
Let us squander what remains
like Esau at the Belvedere.
Do you remember Belvedere?
Surely you remember Belvedere.
It was there we saw the fountains spew forth jet,
a bile as black as coal-charged ink,
and watched the death plant draw its flies.
Its spadix held a double sex, I think.
You are not what you seem, I think.
O doctor, my doctor,
what’s the opposite of heaven?
Sulfur’s a smell we cannot shake.