Is Justified Over Yet: Or: The Ballad of E.B. Farnum by Christopher Schaeffer

in the time it took to open google docs
I forgot the lines I wanted to write
half of the lines I wanted to write
some Robert Duncan shit about
a cockatrice in a veiled night-time or
12,000 hen eggs falling from a rampant maw–
it smells like burning plastic,
it smells like burnt spinach,
It is I, E.B. Farnum, ah, it is I, it
smells like the wheel of Ezekiel– I remember now

that the novel about Jack Spicer
I wanted to write was called
The Walls Do Not Fall
isn’t that misleading?
In the time it took me to remember
the name I quit grad school six times
and joined back up again I decided
to kill myself eight times and decided to
live for some reason when I went before
the underground machines I hurled
one black loafer into the darkness
I called my wife to please come retrieve me
I’m disastrously unwell in a public space
found hunched over the big chess pieces outside
City Hall, you know, later,
I mean, weeks before (sorry), in the huge rain,
when the trolleys were all delayed by
cops walking up and down along the line
swinging sticks and whistling mystery songs
on the day itself retrieved two blocks from
the building where my office is, hedges, the library,
extremely angry men doing tricks and tricks on miniature bikes
when there was medicine in my jowls like
the secret oaths of chipmunks I spit them
out onto the office floor and picked them up
again beneath the desk it would have been funny
slight pills with markers on them

It is I, E.B. Farnum, who sings thus to you from
beneath the mossy gravestone fingering
the hand-hewn pipe, the rustic chimes and
hurling stones from overpasses unto
great calamity. It is I who spake the
Mothman Prophecy unto the gentiles
spreading my coatspan gently and vastly
on a butte, a messe, o’er a plateau and leigh
It is I E.B. Farnum who plunged from verandas
to ice water seemingly at random–
a knife was held between my arm and chest
for effect. Don’t tell.
The blood was colored sugar.
This wig is exquisite. It is I,
it is I. These teeth capsules of pure vinegar.

when I was eleven or something I told my mom I was
going to be a girl in the cyberspace future to come
I would wear clean robes in the republic of
online mind and spirit
while lords of bright halls vaped furiously
from behind vague plinths
with long hair and absolute cheekbones
in the future to come great tidings of
smooth knees, gliding around maypoles
she said if I didn’t tell my dad she’d buy me Star Fox 64
I felt very guilty when Wolf O’Donnell
murdered me and my animal friends
I felt awful to have all of my particles
rendered crudely across a distant patch
of bland galaxy because of my own inadequacy
I returned it and got Banjo Kazooie
I have rescinded all my poems from
consideration and turned down benefices
I could use a patron with marble halls
and would abide being beaten down by
wielded pillars I am asking my therapist
if any of this has anything to do with anything

in the novel about Jack Spicer he
finds dangerous intelligences beneath
the city, I mean, he finds that John Ashbery
has been leading a secret Mallarme sex-cult
and leasing his brain to brains from beyond
it goes on for I don’t know 400 pages
500 pages until he’s so sick and annoyed
he goes back home and is consistently corroded
by the remnant of ulterior species
in the time it takes to get back home
two Martians, or no, three Martians
take hold and write eighteen poems
the poems are of course exquisite
is Justified over?
millions were waiting for Rayland and Boyd to kiss
all the way back from season 1 of Deadwood
when the West made a promise
to the more languidly episodic South about cheekbones
I don’t think they will kiss I believe
they will drive twin cars towards one another
at astounding speeds and crash into each other
passing through the corresponding body with
enough velocity to speed past through violence and
briefly coinhabit a slender little knife of space before
the cars explode an incredible kind of soft sci-fi
intimacy that will cause them to both lay
down their guns and join the priesthood immediately
the difference between Duncan and Spicer is
the difference between a guy on a pillar
in a cape on the one hand dancing some
kind of archaic dance some charleston or gavotte
and on the other a guy with a gun in his mouth
except the gun is very clearly
from one or several distant planets
very interesting to look at in any light very
soft when regarded kindly very clean
when held at any distance at all



Christopher Schaeffer’s recent work has appeared in The Volta, The Philadelphia Review of Books, A Literation, and elsewhere.