A Pound of Panguitch
By Tom Bradley.
Siegfried Tolliot is the pseudonym of the “broadcast medium” and “electronic alchemist” who gained notoriety in the late nineteen-seventies with history’s most widely perceived evocation of an elemental spirit. This was effected by means of coast-to-coast live television, specifically a guest appearance on the National Broadcast Company’s Today Show, during which the anchorwoman was flattened and stupefied on her personal Damascus road.
A poetic treatment of the escapade, entitled Bare-Naked Dinkus Boy meets Jane Pauley, has been supplied to the present annotator via private email message from Panguitch Community College in Nevada. The opening stanzas run as follows:
Morningtime sloshes along the hot landmass
of Abraham Lincoln from right to the left.
Hebrew ass-backwards, like citrus juice
just violated with vodka it sloshes,
till everything’s steely and orange.
A saffronish crust vaguely chipped from the crotches
of one quarter-billion times two sets of eyelids
wafts downward on omelets both fried and neglected
in anticipation of Bare-Naked Dinkus Boy.
He squats in the Manhattan green room rehearsing
fatidical leers, while Anchor-girl Pauley,
purblinded by Klieg light, unable to simper,
like old Saul of Tarsus, can flatulate nothing
but vapid, dead air…
—excerpt from Bare-Naked Dinkus Boy meets Jane Pauley
The eponymous hero of this unpublished epyllion is simultaneously Siegfried Tolliot’s self portrait and an homage to T. S. Eliot’s “Jolly Tinker in heat”:
There was a jolly tinker came across the sea
With his four and twenty inches hanging to his knee.
With his long-pronged hongpronged
Hanging to his knee.
–Inventions of the March Hare: Poems 1909-1917
In the winter of 1958 Siegfried Tolliot briefly sojourned at Saint Elizabeth’s Mental Hospital in Washington. There, at the hands of an all but defunct federal government agency, he underwent a chemically induced auto-epiphany, as depicted in his semi-autobiographical epyllion:
The Office of Services known as “Strategic,”
though dwindled since Hitler to straggling fanatics,
ensconced in a chamber next door to the pharmacy,
tested truth serums on schizoids and maniacs,
rapists and pedophiles, tweens with Tourette Syndrome,
plus the occasional androgyne sweetheart
(yours truly, bedungeoned in sad falsity).
Scopolamine, mescaline, chased with a soupçon
of warm paregoric, made Bare-Naked Dinkus Boy
laugh off his cage, whose bars were my ribs,
whose lock was my character, previously foetal…
—excerpt from Bare-Naked Dinkus Boy meets Jane Pauley
The serumic truth revealed to Tolliot was prototypically alchemical in that it induced the materialization of a feminine spirit. But, rather than ambushing him from behind (as in The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz), or blasting out of a tree’s split trunk (as in Cyliani’s Hermes Devoile), the entity coalesced from protoplasm and blood gases already seething inside Tolliot’s corporeal alembic. This led to his becoming an unsung pioneer in the then-embryonic American transgender movement. He “turned Tiresias” several months before glamorous Christine Jorgensen. And so was born the protagonist of Tolliot’s chef-d’oeuvre.
In selecting a label for his particular psycho-physio-sexual identity, Siegfried Tolliot had recourse to a term from Greco-Roman antiquity: priapic eunuchism. This entails removal of the testes but not the penis (i.e., the Eliotian long-pronged hongpronged / Underhanded babyfetcher). Thus is conserved what he has since dubbed his “boner energies” in honour of the Jewish Castor and Pollux (the “Boanerges” of the second synoptic gospel). Tolliot’s particular variation on the kosher Dioscuri makes them conjoined twins of the dicephalic parapagus variety. Paradoxically, this effect was achieved by the surgical extirpation of a subset of “twins.”
Many traditions on both sides of the River Don preserve male gonads for later reunification in the gelding’s afterlife. To the same end do the sons of Hirohito tote their salted umbilical cords in little wooden boxes from cradle to crematorium. The result in the present case is a compound entity Tolliot has called “Castrato and Bollocks.”
From the tambourine I have eaten.
From the cymbal I have drunk.
I have borne the cup of gonads.
The room I have entered.
The room Tolliot entered was the “schizy ward” in Saint Elizabeth’s. And the most notorious application of his conserved “boner energy” took place in conjunction, as it were, with that ward’s most glamorous inmate, Ezra Pound.
Much have I learned from the OSS relics
who entheogenicized Jew-baiting Ezra,
arms helixed in straitjacket-bound ecstasy,
talking the truth in serumical tonguings,
bitten like pillows and relayed to amorous
Bare-Naked Dinkus Boy, stationed in rear…
Allen Ginsberg may have been Chögyam Trungpa’s humblest pupil, but he was Ezra Pound’s most assiduous stalker. He actually beat Tolliot to the Poundian punch at Saint Elizabeth’s. The prototypical beatnik had been “forgiving” Mussolini’s former propagandist for decades. It’s not been widely publicized, but the twentieth century’s most famous instance of poetical osculation, in Venice, on Pound’s eightieth birthday, was in fact a re-kissing.
Such is well-known among poetic insiders. But here it can be revealed for the first time, via private email correspondence, that the stalker had a stalker of his own. Tolliot showed up in Washington, D.C., on the rounded heels of the author of HOWL after the latter had orally primed the old native Idahoan. In his quality as Bare-Naked Dinkus Boy, posing as a candy striper, the priapic eunuch put himself into a position to lend Ezra Pound a carton of Kool mentholated cigarettes–good as dollars in any locked-down sanitarium. The lender took advantage of the borrower’s senility to extract an unreasonable rate of interest, to be taken out in services rendered.
…with usura, sin against nature… [emphasis added]
It hath brought palsey to bed, lyeth
between the young bride and her bridegroom
The copulatory details are, frankly, too sordid to bear repetition in these brief annotations. Suffice it to say that, in preparing to “use the patient as Christ did The Maiden,” the offender got his own long-pronged hongpronged / Underhanded babyfetcher circumcised–which, in adults, even those sans testes, is no minor surgical procedure, often involving general anaesthesia.
Thus saith the Lord GOD; No stranger, uncircumcised in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into my sanctuary, of any stranger that is among the children of Israel.
No doubt owing in part to increased sensitivity of Tolliot’s unprepuced glans penis, his scheme was carried out, his escapade encompassed, with dispatch, so that the guards and male nurses (also plied with Kools) could claim no notice.
The diagnosed schizophrenic was heard to quote his deceased protege from beneath the clanking institutional bed: “He’s come to fuck us all,”
–private email correspondence with the present annotator
Tolliot here alludes to the abovementioned “Jolly Tinker in heat,” Eliot’s self-portrait, who resides and misbehaves among his suppressed fragments, as follows:
It was a sunny summer day the tinker was in heat
With his eight and forty inches hanging to his feet…
With his whanger in his hand he walked through the hall
“By God” said the cook “he’s come to fuck us all.”
–Inventions of the March Hare: Poems 1909-1917
Tolliot refers to his behavior at Saint Elizabeth’s as pulling a Lot’s daughter. The Bare-Naked Dinkus Boy used the anti-Semitic poet’s dementia precisely as the latter pair used their father’s drunkenness in the Adullam cave:
Indeed I lay with my father last night; let us make him drink wine tonight also, and you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve the lineage of our father.
This indicates not only Tolliot’s obvious transsexual quasi-Electra complex (shared by any number of neutered postmodern poetasters), but, more historically important, his sense that, in our time of literary croneyism and critical degeneration, Pound’s poetic lineage needed preservation. And, from Tolliot’s point of view, there could be no better way to ensure that preservation than through the Bare-Naked Dinkus Boy’s verse.
This is written in a self-devised system of dactyls, which he describes as “throbbing” to emphasize the priapic nature of his eunuchism.
…metri dactilici prior intrat syllaba, crebro
impulsu quatiunt moenia foeda breues….
The first syllable of the dactyl, the long, represents the penis, and the two short syllables the testicles.
—J. N. Adams, The Latin Sexual Vocabulary
This trope exploits a vulgar prosodical-physiological pun of long standing:
Plague seize the dunce and the fool! Come, perchance you will learn the rhythms quicker.
Will the rhythms supply me with food?
First they will help you to be pleasant in company, then to know what is meant by enhoplian rhythm and what by the dactylic.
Of the dactyl? I know that quite well.
What is it then, other than this finger here?
Formerly, when a child, I used this one.
You are as low-minded as you are stupid.
The Tolliotian dactyls only began to “throb” after engagement (so to speak) with the author of the Cantos. Playing Socrates to Tolliot’s Strepsiades, Pound can be said to have fingered him in return, in the sense of equipping him with the long syllable and the two short that touched off his “boner energies.” As in the case of the Cantilena Riplaei‘s alchemical king with low sperm count and poor motility, a burrowing into the parental orifice was required to promote fecundity.
Tolliot claims for Barenaked Dinkus Boy the highest “chymical” bona fides, citing in particular The Tree of Hermes, an alchemical key condensed into a list fourteen points by Samuel Norton, great-grandson of Thomas Norton (c.1433-c.1513), author of the Ordinal of alchemy. A dutiful and doctrinaire Jungian with the proper medical degrees can presumably sublimate each clause in this quattuordecalogue, in all its particulars, to the so-called process of Individuation.
Siegfried Tolliot, with no formal training in either field, has claimed in private email correspondence to have passed in perfect consciousness through each of these twice-seven points of the Hermetical Tree on his way to blossoming as Bare Naked Dinkus Boy. This light-speed transformation supposedly took place, one point per day, during the two weeks after his testicles were excised in 1958.
In accordance with Samuel Norton’s first step (Solution… passing a solid condition into a state of liquidity), the loose pair of items were placed in a blender. Four years old at the time, by a synchronicity Tolliot can’t help but tout as “supremely Jungian,” the minor kitchen appliance in deployment happened to have been the millionth price unit vended by the Waring corporation.
From there, his pureed parts went through separation from undissolved particles, disuniting, discomposing, conversion into a calx, putrefaction by artificial means, ferment, fixation, multiplication, and so on and so forth, straight up the fourteen-branched trunk of The Tree of Hermes, until, finally, the desiderated projection was achieved. This, we are asked to believe, coincided with Tolliot’s modernist adventure in Saint Elizabeth’s mental hospital.
The result was a couple of literal nuggets, suitable for mounting as cufflinks, to be worn to faculty Christmas parties at Tolliot’s squalid place of employment, and kept in a little chamois bag the rest of the year, as protection from the alkaline northern Nevada air.
This narrative contradicts Tolliot’s own Castrato and Ballocks trope, by which he depicts himself toting the former contents of his scrotum, fetish-wise, untransmuted, preserved in salt, much like Japanese salarymen’s jerked and boxed umbilical cords. Thus the priapic eunuch exposes his own compulsive mendacity, even as it distorts the most intimate details of his physiology.
To mendacity can be added thievery. On the “schizy ward” of Saint Elizabeth’s Mental Hospital, in 1958, Tolliot lifted a sheaf of theretofore unpublished correspondence from Ezra Pound’s nightstand, which yielded just barely enough academic fodder to garner him lifetime employment in a remote, far-northern Nevada community college. This previously unexamined document, with learned annotations subtended by Tolliot himself, appeared in the Kanorado Review of the Collective Humanities (KrotCH), Volume 3, 1981, since defunded and rendered defunct by the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines and Presses for the offence of rejecting one of their minor apparatchiks’ prose poems.
On the strength of this article, “The Root of Pound’s Wet Black Bough,” Tolliot wound up in “the most despicable of purgatories,” exactly as he predicted, with self-effacing frankness, in his “fully fingered epyllion,” Bare-Naked Dinkus Boy Meets Jane Pauley:
The MFA lectern-cum-neighborhood barbecue
make an unchymical auto-da-fé,
and I’m to be roasted like poor Griffolino,
but sans immortality teased out in tercets,
rather by dactyls that skeletomusculaturally grind
Castrato and Bollocks to charcoal briquettes…
As Dante’s Gehenna resounds with the scratches
of damned dermatitics, just so does the ditch
in which Tolliot itches. Thus Panguitch is named
for the doubled-up insult of deep-seated aching
and skin irritation…
Panguitch Community College, Nevada, is only a few hundred miles south of Pound’s Hailey, Idaho, birthplace, where Tolliot, the Creative Writing Department’s “Pound Man Emeritus,” takes students on field trip-pilgrimages. On the way back he stops off to make an appearance at Coeur d’Alene, where he goes among the neo-Nazi intelligentsia and barter economists and is celebrated as an “intimate of our poet.”
At one point, Professor Tolliot somehow finagled a two-week sabbatical and dogged Ginsberg’s steps to Venice, with the purpose of “securing further Poundian sloppy seconds.” While in Italy, Tolliot supposed he ought to expose himself to the timeless treasures of Florence, if only to have something to blurt in the next faculty meeting. There he adopted his well-known attitude toward a certain form of body modification by pondering the work of that town’s most famous sculptor, who, while a fit subject for women’s cocktail party talk–
…carved boobies like bean bags
lopsidedly stapled to bulldykish pecs
on Giuliano de’ Medici’s steroidal tomb,
where Bare-Naked Dinkus Boy
learned to say “No” to surgical silicone…
—excerpt from Bare-Naked Dinkus Boy Meets Jane Pauley
If, as several psychoanalytically-inclined critics have suggested, Siegfried Tolliot considered Pound a father figure, and if, in insinuating his residual priapism into the latter’s superannuated fundament, he was acting out some convoluted burlesque of an Electra complex, or attempting to relieve something so trite and wrongheaded as Harold Bloom’s “anxiety of influence,” then the Bare-Naked Dinkus Boy would indeed qualify, no less than the mother of Adonis, for residency in the tenth ditch of “Dante’s Gehenna,” the Eighth Circle, where the falsifiers go.
One of only two alchemists named in the Inferno, “poor Griffolino” d’ Arezzo was burnt at the stake and consigned to perdition among the “falsifiers”:
“I of Arezzo was,” one made reply,
“And Albert of Siena had me burned;
But what I died for does not bring me here.
‘Tis true I said to him, speaking in jest,
That I could rise by flight into the air,
And he who had conceit, but little wit,
Would have me show to him the art; and only
Because no Daedalus I made him, made me
Be burned by one who held him as his son.
But unto the last Bolgia of the ten,
For alchemy, which in the world I practised,
Minos, who cannot err, has me condemned.”
A falsifier may feign to be who he’s not, but the city he can never escape is that municipality walled hereditarily within his bosom. Griffolino was not only born but burned in Siena; and Tolliot, as it turns appallingly out, though not dead yet, shows every sign of spiralling down the same redundant cycle:
Apart from my moniker tarred with the toothbrush
that fails to abrade sickly plaque from the rictus
of smarmy professors, my shamefullest secret
(I trust you won’t spill it) concerns Siegfried’s
pitiful lieu de naissance: it’s no less grotesquely
than Hailey was Ezra’s that Panguitch is mine.
But, as is the poet’s prerogative, he makes his own salvation, from scratch:
…I’ll end a professor of English in Panguitch,
get tenure and rot and curl up and waste,
while Bare-Naked Dinkus Boy skims the hot skyline
with electromagnetical anchor-girl Pauley
and ransoms America, me and himself
from death and good taste…
—excerpt from Bare-Naked Dinkus Boy meets Jane Pauley
This Wasted Land and Its Chymical Illuminations is a poem of 900 lines by Anglo‐German‐Swiss-Icelandic poet Marc Vincenz, who recruited Tom Bradley to supply a running substructure of 290 footnotes. The poet’s bright lyricism contends with his commentator’s cackling paranoia, resulting in that rarity of rarities: a new genre. It’s all backed up with a 300-item bibliography and an index of 900 entries, citing everyone from Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa to Zosimos of Panopolis. Coming in 2014 from Lavender Ink / Dialogos (New Orleans).
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Marc Vincenz is Swiss-British, and was born in Hong Kong. His recent collections include: The Propaganda Factory, or Speaking of Trees (2011); Gods of a Ransacked Century (Unlikely Books, 2013); Mao’s Mole (Neopoiesis Press, 2013–see 3:AM article and interview), Beautiful Rush (Unlikely Books, 2014) and a meta-novel, Behind the Wall at the Sugar Works (Spuyten Duyvil, 2013). A new English-German bilingual collection, Additional Breathing Exercises was released by Wolfbach Verlag, Zurich (2014). Marc is Executive Editor of Mad Hatters’ Review and MadHat Press, Contributing Editor for Open Letters Monthly and Coeditor-in-Chief at Fulcrum: an anthology of poetry and aesthetics.
Tom Bradley has published twenty-five volumes of fiction, essays, screenplays and poetry with houses in the USA, Britain and Canada. His recent ventures with visual artists include Family Romance (Jaded Ibis), Felicia’s Nose (MadHat), We’ll See Who Seduces Whom: a graphic ekphrasis in verse (Unlikely Books) and Elmer Crowley: a katabasic nekyia (Mandrake of Oxford). Further curiosity can be indulged at tombradley.org.
First published in 3:AM Magazine: Monday, July 28th, 2014.