“Mercuria, the AndroGenie” – Poetry by Zoel Paupy Stirner

Venus – Walasse Ting, 1980

The grand finale of our Spring 2017 issue is Zoel Paupy Stirner‘s bawdy, lyrical epic poem / post-modern sailor’s shanty “Mercuria, the AndroGenie.” 

{ X }

STICK MY JUNK IN A BOX? / only if we’re talking ’bout Schrodinger’s
Yet with a bod like a vase / I sure ain’t boasting no dough figure
cause I sport no bigger a waist / than a glossy fat-shame trigger
yet no smaller my nates / than your own favorite pop singer’s
and if we’re talking ’bout face / mine’s as good as it gives
plump lips like felt lace / where I hook my svelte finger
and my beard’s long and dark and / carefully grizzled
into which I comb petals / among crumbs of old vittles,
stogie butts and gnawed bones, / glit-ter and dried spittle
I shake out my mane as I girlishly giggle
“Mercuria’s here, who’ll buy me a drink?
step quick to me, children / fate comes fast as a dink”

And the barman will nod as a queue quickly forms
Old men and young women, students fresh from their dorms
who’ve heard the queer tales of my magical wiles
stories teased out through whispers and half-ashamed smiles
A weaver of wishes / A teller of truths
A seer of souls / and a good lay to boot
Breasts that spill milky from a red-sequined dress
and gams that cross coyly, grained black like hir chest
with curling dark hair, refused to be shaved
but take care not to stare, lest you find Mercuria’s gaze
upon you and pleasure forever denied
along with your fate, to live haltered and blind

So they say, So they say / though my work’s still much stranger,
to portend’s my play / and your love is my languor

For every augur, a glass / mine’s a lipstick stained beer-mug
For every Samson, an ass-bone / and a fond parting ear-tug

“A prostitute priestess?” / “A hermaphrodite Christ?”
“Nailed ‘gainst the loo boards most ev-er-y night?”

All this, lovies, my dovies / All this and much more
Mercuria’s Queen where the sky strays the shore

But tonight’s fare is quite spare / for a cool Friday evening
No sailors, just salesmen, and one boy fresh from teething
who with sharpie X’d hands stands and stares from the bar
eyes shifting towards exit / as I sashay from afar
through the gloam / and the foam / and the lone calls of YOWZAH
as I sling out my hip / and sing out, “Boys how’s a-
bout a beer for a dear / old raffish soothlayer?
When you romp with a gypsy / good spirits pay favors!

So a snifter there, mister / charge it to the child”
who looks up from his sneakers / his eyes trapped and wild
then nods to the barman with a jerk of his head
who pours me my brandy as the door is locked dead
and the jukebox goes quiet as the lights all go green
as my patrons pair up and I com-mence to keen:

“Oh, who’ll come and have their fortune ton-i-i-i-ght
who’ll cast out a tackle for my deep ins-i-i-i-ght
who’ll probe in the bed of the Beyond’s del-i-i-i-ght
Oh, who’ll come and have their fortune ton-i-i-i-ght

But it’s you, Oh not I, who’ll give out the reading
when you howl in release / the truth’ll come seething
Some cry out the reason they can’t speak to their fathers
and others the numbers of lucrative lotter-
y tickets, and some even the date that they’ll die
But trust me, my darlings, the End’s half the R-i-i-i-i-i-de”

And my clients, they waltz / with beer-guts pressed together
yet with no trace of schmaltz / while they whirl light as feathers
through the brume of the room / through the smoke and the gloom
their gruff voices in chorus, / swept ‘long with the tune
“Oh, we’ll come and have our fortunes ton-i-i-i-ght
take our poor dowsing rods / and lead us to l-i-i-i-ght
or darkness, or dearth, or / whatever feels r-i-i-i-ght
just please, dear Mercuria / give our fortunes ton-i-i-i-ght”
Their bald pates passing lunar / ‘neath the green glowing luminar-
y bulbs that streak beams cross the length of my scene
as I ease from my stool / to go thread through the pool-
tables seeking out the first pipes to be cleaned
with my hands grazing cheeks / and my clients, not meek,
but carousing together as I pass each-to-each
asking their names and divining their signs
yet one yellow-grinned fellow leers and asks first for mine

“Oh, my sign’s none yet written / though it’s known well to some
Mercuria breached when ‘tween Earth and the Sun
passed feign-planet Vulcan / the fane of all phantoms
all straddlers of selfdoms / all unessenced atoms
or Adams with no God to lend to them shape
Just darklings, my darlings, left uh-drift in space
to forge their own form and decide their own mind
with souls of dark matter, unbounded by time
For just as our home world describes no ellipse
and through no curved lenses may its shade be glimpsed
its children trace out their own fatidic lines
every orifice a wormhole to some farther clime
or universe, more aptly, where fate folds and mimes
the cries of our union, both your world and mine

So draw long your telescopes, So suck in those guts
Adieu to this plane and all its cosmic ruts
For tonight you will plumb a place quite apart
Now your hand, my dear man, I feel it’s time to star-”

But my last word is lost as the place goes bananas
with great belly guffaws, a true hellion Hosanna
Beer swilled from clinked mugs and swoons of “oh man ah
hope I’ll be pulled next, before I lose all mah damn uh…nerve!”
yet there’s no need to fret for each beau’ll be served
as is known to those tried tricks who now waltz with new verve
for the ritual’s done with and hence comes the magic

And though my hands are not dainty and his are not dry
we still clasp them quite sweetly, giving each lovers’ sighs
as we stroll to the stalls, to those stucco cream walls
where piss cakes the grouting, where mosquitos’ shrill calls
pierce hot in your ear as their spear in your buttocks
Yes, our own kind of cupids, these black spindly blood-sucks
spreading my love’s infection, a cruel little itch
a virus of Vulcanborne subdermal nits
With me, their own Venus, so bearded and fair
leading in my first client to this altar of care

The rest passes quickly, a few throaty gasps
five pumps then he slumps and so quietly rasps
“My brother will kill me, he’ll kill me tonight
His daughter recorded me fucking his wife
on her little phone / He’ll be there at my home
Waiting for me with a smile and a knife”

But I just pinch his pale cheek and send him on his way
to treat with the fate that such strange love has lain
My yellow-grinned fellow, his boldness all drained
going dark from the barroom, Vulcan’s newest swain

A quick glance in the mirror as I primp at my beard
then prop up my breasts and dab with aplomb at the smears
on my dress, then it’s back out the white shining bathroom
where my cherubs stay singing; suckling babes at the Vacuum
Out to the ballroom where my clients wait and roister
and cheer my return while the child remains cloistered
away at the bar, nursing a large mug of tap water
watching strangely as again through the louche mob I wander
to make my selection, this time much faster
a portly programmer, his skin alabaster
who mumbles and coughs as I lead him away
yet loves like a lion until he loudly proclaims
“My start-up will be, AH, a roaring success!
We’ll be bought out for millions, UH, won’t settle for less!”
then hikes up his pants as off he goes skipping
while calling back thanks and announcing his winnings,
his great golden portents to the other patrons
who clap him on the back and ask for applications

Thus the night passes, each trick in his turn
braving his fate as he buries his worm:
“My daughter is pregnant, but she’s too scared to tell me”
“The blockage will clear if I just brew some green tea”
“My Mom’s sewing circle is uh secret cult
stitching a sixty foot sweater for the god they exult”
“I’ve stayed with my wife for the sake of our dog”
“My heart’ll give out if I don’t start to jog”
“I’ll never be happy ’til I get the surgery”
“That RN gave us the wrong child at the nursery”
Then out from the fluorescent jakes with a bow
to clear out their tabs and to redress their Now
These lovely, these lonesome, these untethered men
going home with fresh welts and with future-shocked heads
some hugging, some crying, but all stepping clear
of my latrine where all’s lighted, to the world where man’s mere
’til at last all is silent, the cues all reposed
stogie-stars guttered out as the smoke stead’ly flows
through high hidden vents, breathing out to the clouds
making limpid the air and more certain the bounds
of this fine fetid barroom, where they’re calling Last Round
and collecting the mugs with a brisk chortling sound

Well, last round indeed, for there’s one client remaining
the child still on his barstool, with his neck fairly craning
to see if the room is at last truly empty
yet does not see me approaching, and jumps when I say gently
“Good midnight, my foal; what may I ask, pray
has held you so long, has caused you to stay
with such patience and quiet, as the other men danced
through my diaspora of Vulcan, while you sat and glanced?
What did you watch, boy? And what did you see?
Tell me true, Earth-son / What want you of me?”

But the child gives no answer, and does not meet my gaze
as he reaches out slow so his fingers just graze
the se-quins of my dress, just under the navel
and holds them there trembling, not touching, not able
while his breathing goes ragged and the bartenders stare
as he turns up his head and shakes back his long hair
so I can see that he’s weeping, and older than he seemed
the tears tracing wrinkles, for the child is no teen
but not a man either, just a thing without shape
a Vulcian lost in his own womb’s vast space
without surface or center, without mind to be made
so loveless and labile, even now changing shade
his eyes blue to brown, his skin dark to pale
his lips lush to beaked, his flesh drawn to hale
Bones moving and melding in tectonic dispute
stretching his face homely to handsome, / yet his voice comes resolute
as it tolls from a mouth without tongue, without teeth
just a black hole into no-one, a nothing that speaks
Saying, “Please, dear Mercuria, you wonderous bride
to those lost in their fates, / to those lost in their lives,
I am lost in a place that is much farther still
I am lost in a place where my flesh has no will
to form, nor to norm, and I’ve no mind to decide
So please, dear Mercuria, please admit me inside”

And weeping alike, I do press his hand close
so he can feel of my warm waiting hearth
and as the smoke pales between us, as the last lights wink out
I smile to say, “My poor waif, of course.”

{ X }

In the bathroom he kneels as I shrug off my dress
to the white porcelain gridwork below
while my cupids swarm wildly in buzzing distress,
these drinkers-of-Eucharist thrown
into madness as they sup at the skin of the child
and are changed into sparrows and larks
that arc through the air, chasing marks with dread care
devouring their once fellow kind
while others become voles who bear quick to bore holes
in the stucco cream drywall’s thick rind
to escape from the maws and the quick-seizing claws
of the bugs that have morphed into stoats
and a drumbeat’s provided by the barkeeps at the door
pounding fists and demanding inside
Threats to summon the cops / if the roar doesn’t stop
That they’ll report of my witchcraft and crime

But OH, what a fine bongo / makes a tin door in this congo
where the child rests his crown ‘tween my thighs
‘gainst my lush riverhead, which he nuzzles and threads
his way inward as I moan and I sigh
’til his head is submerged, whence one of the birds
hits and shatters the fluorescent spar
showering us with blue sparks and setting fire to some larks
who yet circle and sing in the sudden-fell dark
unconcerned as they burn ‘neath the sputtering sprinklers
while the boy plunges deeper, pulling in with his fingers
and I can hear his voice calling from somewhere within
proclaiming he’s certain he’s started to win
some friction, some pull, some Vulcian traction
some grade down that homeward canal
but I return no chorale as his hips pass the lips
I just breathe in time with my protractions
Then with a fierce suck, his legs vanish
swallowed sudden through my ap-er-ture
and I can feel in my core just / the faintest of movements
the stir of a life much more sure

And as the sparrows fall mellow / too the stoats and the larks,
re-assuming their black spindly forms,
I slink slowly back into my red-sequined dress
and step to the now quiescent door
then out past the barmen, who stand quite aghast
as I flow with a matronly glow
from the fine fetid barroom  / where my nightly work’s done with
wherefrom like the smoke I swiftly go
breathing out to the streets / and the clouds running fleet
and the lovers who have and will soon
meet at the altar of dearest Mercuria,
the whore who shall make your stars swoon  

 { X }

ZOEL PAUPY STIRNER is a lawyer-poet of the old tradition living/practicing in Waco, Texas. She is the (un)holy spawn of Tisias and Corax’s buggery, with scabby old Uncle Gorgias watching from behind a curtain. This is her first published poem.

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