Impalement Arts by Amy Pickworth

It’s not the bullet not the bullet that kills you
It’s the hole it’s the hole it’s the hole
                                       Laurie Anderson

One

Pressed
against the temporary
wall, blinded by footlights
and sequins, snare drum thrumming

ten knives
three times a day

Two

The Princess of Éboli
was praised throughout Spain
for her beauty, “despite having lost
an eye in a mock duel with a page.”

Her face in every portrait
is a piece of ripe fruit.
The eyepatch is simple, black.

Three

 The bowstring—                                                                                       Roofs swept
  is released                                                                                               by maraschino
  the arrow                                                                                                   lights out
  sent into                                                                                                 of sync, warning
 the darkness                                                                                             stray airplanes.
monofilament                                                                                           Young men rig
 spooling out                                                                                             cable in secret.
in silver loops                                                                                            I dream about
 between the                                                                                                 those lights
  twin towers.                                                                                             all the time, says Jean Louis.

Four

WHOOSH THUNK      sometimes a blade
pins the hem of my skirt
WHOOSH THUNK

WHOOSH THUNK      a pair precisely measures
the width of my head

Five

sometimes
WHOOSH THUNK

a lock of hair drops

Six

William Burroughs misses the glass,
shooting Joan’s head instead.
She was twenty eight.
One of her children was also his.

He writes in Queer, “the death of Joan
brought me into contact with the invader, the Ugly Spirit.”

Seven

From the Pall Mall Gazette, August 23, 1892:

No small sensation appears to have been made by the report of a duel between two ladies of the high Austrian nobility. The Princess Pauline Metternich, the Honorary President of the Vienna Musical and Theatrical Exhibition, and the Countess Kilmannsegg, the wife of the Statthalter of Lower Austria, and President of the Ladies’ Committee of the Exhibition, had a fearful quarrel over some arrangements at the Exhibition. The affair was regarded as so serious that it could only be settled by blood.

. . . The duel was fought with rapiers. At the third round the Princess was slightly wounded on the nose, and the Countess on the arm. . . . Their wounds were attended to by Baroness Lubinska, a Polish lady who has studied medicine and obtained a doctor’s degree, whom they had prudently sent for from Warsaw to attend the duel.

This account fails to mention that the Baroness was familiar with war injuries, and knew that
infection is likely if fabric is introduced into a puncture wound. For this reason, she advised the
women to strip to the waist before the duel, which they did. The account also neglects to clarify
that they were fighting about flower arrangements.

Eight

Sometimes a row of
WHOOSH THUNK
beads clatters to the floor

Knives always quiver
longer than you’d think.

Nine

John Wilkes Booth writes “wet, cold, starving,
with every man’s hand against me, I am
here in despair. And why? For
doing what Brutus was
honored for—what
made Tell
a Hero.”

Ten

Verdi has Princess Eboli
sing about veiled women,
about misunderstandings
created by love. It’s her love
that will destroy Don Carlo.

She curses her beauty.
Meanwhile there’s a parade,
a burning of the heretics.
The Grand Inquisitor is watching.

There will be no peace
—we know this—in Spain
or France or Flanders.

 

Amy Pickworth’s poems have appeared online at H_NGM_N and Ink Node and in print in Forklift, Ohio; New Ohio Review; and Smartish Pace. Her book Bigfoot for Women, winner of the Orange Monkey Book Prize, will be available in 2014. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island.