Richard Henry
#6


“Ergot ergot I got ergot, ergot ergot it rots ergot,” they sing and sift through the wheat. “Ergot ergot look at this spot, ergot ergot why not Minot,” and they sift and sing to keep their eyes open, to forget the dust in their open eyes.... Women and children sifting through the wheat, piecework, penny for every pound, sifting for ergot. Ninety-nine percent pure, boasts the ad. They have to be sure, ninety-nine percent sure. Piecework. Siftwork. A barrel of corn. Penny for every ten pounds, corn pays. Ergot, ergot. Rodentia. Tails and whiskers. Ninety-nine, boasts the ad. Only one in a hundred running into the streets, psycho, psychotic, ergotic. Women and children licking their fingers, running through the apartment, psycho, psychotic, ergotic. Ergot ergot bad spot what’s that dot? Not a lot, not a lot, just a spot. Women and children sorting apples. Macs and grannies, Pippins for a pittance. Penny for every barrel. Piecework. Piecework. It’s work, pure work. Bugs and slugs just like drugs. Bruises cost a nickel. Careful with that piece. One penny, two pennies, three pennies, a dollar. Ninety-nine boasts the ad. Missing apple costs a quarter. Sifting apples, sorting wheat, spilling corn in the salt, ninety-eight percent pure. Salt in the wheat, ninety-seven percent pure. Ninety-seven costs a dime. Ninety-five a quarter. Ten in a hundred costs the whole shebang. Women and children running in circles. Ergot. Rodentia. Bruises. Bugs and ughs. Dollars and dimes, quarters, nickels and no sense, no sense. Women and children chasing circles. Nonsense. Pure corn. Pure wheat. Pure salt of the earth sifting for dirt. Take the ninety-nine to ninety-eighth and either ether or leave her to anesthetize the women and children sorting rodentia and whiskers and bruises and ergot ergot I got ergot, ergot ergot I taste ergot. Just a taste. Just a tetch. Women and children sifting through circles, sifting through quarters and dimes and dollars and piece work for a pittance, sifting in circles in rings around posies in ergot they all fall down.



#15


Emmit Morvan Collins celebrates his thirty-second birthday midst all of his relatives. They toast him. They toast his success. They toast the teeth he’s pulled. They toast him more or less. E is for the ease you give me; M is for your mmmmmm; C is for your dentist’s chair; All this equals open wide and tell me I’m not square. Wait wait wait says Aunt Judy. Is this the fifteenth floor or the sixteenth? Uncle Al says the fifteenth. But, says Cousin Bobby, what is the mezzanine? Is it a floor? Exactly, says Aunt Judy. The mezzanine is a mythic place, says Uncle Joe, it isn’t in this world. It isn’t in this building, says Sister Sue, this building doesn’t have a mezzanine. Everything’s relative, says Uncle Al, in this world or out. So what floor is it? Fifteenth, they sing. And, as long as they’re singing, they turn to Emmit and begin anew: E is for the ease you give me; M is for your mmmmmm; C is for your dentist’s chair; All this equals open wide and tell me I’m not square. In the corner, Cousin Pamela plucks away at a daisy, he loves me, he loves me not, he loves me, and bats an eyelash, loves me love me. Emmit stands, surrounded by relatives, trying to catch the eye, catch the batting of an eyelash from Cousin Pamela, who sneaks peeks at him over her shoulder, he loves me, he loves me not and hums M is for your mmmmmm. She thinks about mezzanines, about mythical places, about places that don’t exist in this world, about places where they might sneak away and hide and he loves me he loves me not he loves me and bats an eyelash and Emmit stands surrounded by relatives. Everything’s relative, says Uncle Al and they all cheer and clap him on the back as if he’s discovered oil and so they burst out with the easy E for all the ease you give me, give me not. Uneasy Emmit is surrounded and tries to catch Pamela’s battling eyelashes, love me, love me. Midst the toasts and singing and clapping and cheering, he thinks about pulling teeth, about love-me eyes, about taboos and about how besieged he is with relatives.



#47


Bop a loo bop a bebop bop. Bop a loo bop a bebop bop. Bop a loo bop a bebop bop. Bop a loo bop a bebop bop. Bop a loooo, bop a loooo. Bop a loo bop a bebop bop. One two three step one two three turn one two three step one two three turn. Ooh ooh ooh start over start over. One two three step one two three turn one two three step one two three turn left turn right. Squeal. Your other left left left left left. Begin ... and ... one two three step one two three turn one two three step one two three turn left clap turn right clap turn front clap thrust your hips and purse your lips and spin and spin and spin and spin! Call Danny, call Danny! One two three step one two three turn one two three step one two three turn. Danny! Clap clap clap clap two three. Bop a loo bop a bebop bop. Bop a loo bop a bebop bop. Bop a loo bop a bebop bop. Bop a loo bop a bebop bop. Bop a loooo, bop a loooo. Bop a loo bop a bebop bop. You be the boy, you be the boy! Where’s Danny? One two three step one two three turn one two three step one two three turn right, no right right right! You got it all backwards! I’ll be the boy, I’ll be the boy. Begin ... and ... one two three step one two three turn one two three step one two three turn right clap turn left clap turn front clap thrust your hips and spin me spin me spin me round and round and round. Danny! Ok Ok. I’ll be the boy again. One two three ... do your hear the swish on the ‘ands’? One swish two swish three swish turn swish. That skirt is fantastic. Where’d you get it? Tell me, oh tell me, bob a loooo. We’ll never be ready for Saturday. What if Ryan and Gerry are there and we’re not ready! Ryan is just the creamiest, don’t you think. That skirt is fantastic. Where’s Danny? He needs to be the boy! Danny! Don’t you just hate being the boy? Everything’s backwards. How do they do that?! Danny! Danny! Begin and bop a loo bop a bebop bop. Bop a loo bop a bebop bop. Bop a loo bop a bebop bop. Bop a loo bop a bebop bop. Bop a loooo, bop a loooo. Bop a loo bop a bebop bop bop.