top of page

From Buffalo, Michael Basinski’s 2017 books include Unexplained Noises -Buffalo Ochre Papers, Lot Sa Nots O, and with Ginny O’Brian, Combings. His poems have recently appeared in Dispatches from the Poetry Wars, Fell Swoop, Journal of Poetics Research, Volt, Angry Old Man, Word/For Word, and in The Canary Islands Connection: 60 Contemporary American Poets. His visual poems are currently on exhibition at The Burchfield-Penney Art Center: OPEMS: Verbal Visual Combines, On View through June 24, 2018  in The Project Space.

1 poem

by Michael Basinski

Laff in the Dark Cryptomnesia


“Ghost hand, empty-handed form that uses assthetic and rye bread, rhythmic qualities such as photosynthetic, sound, cymbal of indefinite pitch, and meat, like pork, to evoke, or spell, meanings in addition to, the prostitute, prostatic, superficial, meaning and to summon the realm of ghosts where wiring automatically happens as if by automatic autoeroticism the magic of the hand moving as a Martian, or in a French, postcards, fashion, massage messages from romances of the subliminal imagination, derived largely empty from forgotten, or unknown fonts.”

Her ghost said: you try too hard. give up the ghost.

His ghost said: my hand fell asleep.

Her ghost said: don’t shit yourself.

His ghost said: it tingles.

The Tingler is a 1959 American horror film that tells the story of a scientist who discovers a parasite called a tingler. Ladies and gentlemen, please do not panic. But scream! Scream for your lives! The tingler is loose in this.

[Instructions: Scream louder than Fay Wray. Scream louder than Yoko Ono. Duel.]


Her ghost said:  Red-handed has its origin in the Buffalo epic poem about a Viking boat race on Lake Ontario. The first to touch the shore of Olcott beach would become sovereign of healing, death, royalty, the gallows, knowledge, battle, sorcery, poetry, frenzy, and the alphabet. The letter, I, errant, guaranteed her win by cutting off his hand and throwing it to the shore ahead of her slithering suitors and laughing to spite my face.

One handed catch.

I can do it with one hand tied behind my back.

You only need one hand.

Good with one hand.

I’ve got a good hand.

Give her a hand.

I’ve got to hand it to you.

Take matters into your own hands.

Try your hand at this.

Out of hand.

A ghost with one hand clapping [actualize this in some fashion].

Sit on your hands [actualize this in some fashion)].

Stop playing with yourself [actualize this in some fashion].


Ghostly incant: all my long sorry days brim with bottomless sorrow, like the evening’s sorry looking shadows long of disposed condoms on his clothes line, clothes pin.


Her ghost incant: I go with the flow, life is short and I can’t wait for your forever, in your dreams, Sluggo, that just ain’t gunna F’n happen in your lifetime, don’t let the door hit you in the ass, oh well, life goes on, rock n’ roll, the grass is greener on the other side of lemon aide, too much lemon triggers heartburn when the esophageal sphincter between your esophagus and stomach doesn’t function, in the mid-19th century lemon was used as a colloquial term for a tart, or slang for a sucker or a loser, a dim, stems from the idea that he is easy to suck the juice out of, by 1909 lemon was also firmly established in American slang as a term for something worthless, especially a broken or useless item fobbed off or, an unsuspecting wooer.


In your dreams: cow-eyed cow Psyche she remembers she bit him up, rides in brightly painted sheet-metal passenger boats blue and Easter yellow Leda swan feathers and red and blue and yellow giant sea fish sheet metal boats pass through dark passages at Crystal Beach Amusement Park’s psyche a ride for two called The Tunnel of Love or Laff in the Dark, one in the same, six of one or a half dozen of the other and hearing her scream bloody murder.

[Instructions: Scream louder than Fay Wray. Scream louder than Yoko Ono. Duel.]


In your dreams: he sweaty held her guiltless guillotine ride tickets, a real sweet treat of hand-full, and red-handed them over to Charon the Toad, the gold-eyed toad of doors, trapped, caught, the tip if his pecker in his zipper, blush, his box shaped boat swan, and swan feathers, she used to conceal her weapon.


Her ghost incant: silent as a clam, calm clam, calm clam, speaking eye to eye I couldn’t believe my eyes, raised eye-brows, bows, two scoops, her eyes, pine, eyeing madly the eye candy, the once over, do me a flavor, I’ll keep an eye out for you ocular prosthesis, an eye in the hand is worth an empty bush, bush, giving him, the eye of the storm, seeing eye to eye, private, eye, and then I asked him with my eyes, to ask again. you can. if you can. you may. let.


Tunnel vision. Spook alley. The ghost said: no repeat rides. First, we floated like ghosts through a narrow corridor adorned with Exit signs, green lights, exposed wiring, flooded mouths, swallow deeply, wait, the daddy-longlegs has the world's most powerful venom, but fortunately her fangs are so small they bite just blossoms into a June strawberry-stippled blemish, bruised, semi dark, yellow and blue, and black, blacklash, lashes, his eyes shut, smut, he felt something on his arm, crawling, creepy-crawly, he tingled tingle, tingle all the way.

His ghost said: I felt the spider’s schwantz moving up his arm.

[Instructions: Scream louder than Fay Wray. Scream louder than Yoko Ono. Duel.]


In your dreams: he startled and shivered and pissed into the wind as she started to pee by heating sugar and spinning the liquefied teaseathon sugar out through tiny holes where it re-solidified in thin strands of spun sugar glass that cut him deep and clean into his palms and spider webs her pin-up stitchery of black and white silk threads of time seam out of control her final night cotton candy curls contains mostly the air of lingerie, and the old silent air stuffy of the old mummy room in the basement of the Field Museum in Chicago, and your cold, stale hands heating in all his hot internal organs, removed, pull out, except in time, his hot oversized heart wrapped in plastic Band-Aid plastic sheer strips, stuffed with cotton balls, packed with White Cloud Cotton Balls Jumbo Size 100% pure 200 Count from Target, and a nude witch poured salt on his wound, sodium chloride, table salt he sprinkled table salt on the tail feathers of her sparrow, pass the salt and pecker shaker, sodium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate, and sodium sulfate her natron blush bowling on Tuesday, after work, tryst.


Smin, smin opens thy mouth. One pellet of natron.
Thou shalt taste its taste in front of the sḥ-ntr-chapels. One pellet of natron.
That which Horus spits out is smin. One pellet of natron.
That which Set spits out is smin. One pellet of natron.
That which the two harmonious gods spit out is smin. One pellet of natron.
Thou hast purified himself with natron, together with Horus and the Followers of Horus. Five pellets of natron from Nekheb.
Thou purifiest herself. Horus purifies himself. One pellet of natron.

Thou purifiest herself. Set purifies himself. One pellet of natron.
Thou purifiest himself. Thot purifies himself. One pellet of natron.

Thou purifiest herself. The god purifies herself. One pellet of natron.
Thou also purifiest herself. One pellet of natron.
Thy mouth is the mouth of a sucking calf on the day of his birth.


Her ghost incant: I cried wolf so cry me a Niagara river, tonight Milky Way boy no sense crying over spilt milk, when hell freezes over I offered her my hand that bit me, you got my hopes up in the palm of my hand, up, just where I want him, I’ll See You in My Dreams (film - 1951) forever eternity no song lyric available, she made me, an offering, don’t hold your breath, asshole, I walked away, empty, handed.

bottom of page