canto 97. the acts of ajax tongue

stories of the ghost of top nut: the acts of ajax tongue; acts i, ii, iii of ajax tongue, opera

we’ve gotten ahead of ourselves,
if this stands for anything, it’s order! — 
back-track, now, a little bit,
here’s some stories from ghost top nut
(i’ll apologize in advance — 
ghosts have trouble making sense)

“ajax tongue, in ancient ages,
back before there were faces — 
one of many, he was special,
dreams of making it in the city — 
cities don’t exist, it seems,
has to make do with many feats:
kills a boar, complexes songs,
vulcanizes, bears along,
writes blank verse in petroglyphs,
archives mission bills in shrimp,
caulks the victor in with fat — 
finally, a vaudeville act”

“act i, ajax tongue, opens
quiet enough for a tongue opera — 
scene i is plays, hectoring
a group of cells certain-ing — 
certain cell, clyde, is brooding,
pacing, gesticulating, grooving — 
somebody has murdered his father
(obviously, it was the butler) — 
inspector brethren bright arrives,
glass, deduces, and convenes
in the drawing room some suspects — 
fingers dead polyp, liver cyst”

“act ii is just devastation — 
pickles, bell jars, a tent of wombats — 
in walks jelly, dressed as pierrot — 
a wolf breaks into artichoke — 
sir diamond berates the kitchen page — 
kafka’s in the wainscoting — 
some ill-fit numbers, dancing shapes — 
finally, jelly sings a tune
about love and what that means — 
triumphal chorus on barricades,
with castor, pollux, and chickens”

“act iii starts to get absurd,
cells and jellies, joining forces — 
a melodrama (disintegration) — 
a jelly steals a jelly maiden
from a victorian factory — 
some gilbert/sullivan anarchy — 
finally, everybody: cells, jellies,
kafkas, polyps, dignitaries,
pickles, wombats on the stage,
sing a lively closing refrain — 
ajax steps out, cigarette,
the opera leaves, jumps off the ledge”

“this is the story of ajax tongue — 
if you thought it strange, or dumb,
imagine the time, as i wrote it,
to coax that mess out of my notes”