Devil in a Dead Man’s Underwear

See the man, see the God.
Incarnation in progress.
Behold the man, beneath the God,
beware the dog, behind you.
Believe, begone, behave yourself.
Be there, or beware.

Behold: I sing of Spam.
Oblong can, silver crown,
rounded corners, mysterious key without a lock.
Spam-killing man, man-killing Spam.
Calling all gods.
Squeeze and drain the juices,
down the sink, blood and oil
trouble and toil.
When will we three meet again?
In Power, Glory or in Shame?
Spam! The god in a can.
Spam! Baal’s big bad brother.
Spam! Fears no man, eats no ham,
does not give a flying goddamn.

I’m gonna put on the Iron Jock,
and chase Satan round the block.
I’m gonna put on the Iron Fez,
and see what Jahweh says.

The spirits of food dissolve
in my body-acid and rise
as foul vapors into my brain.
Hydrochloric acid, HCL.
The magic letters
an acid bath to cook my ores.
Reagent of pure love
Caustic kisses, candy bliss,
burning in the abdominal abyss.
My body is a bag of acid,
conversion chamber, innermost lake of fire.
Have you been washed in the acid of the Lamb?

Body bag, wanna feel you in my
Body bag, gotta seal you in a
Body bag, wanna touch you in my
Body bag, you’re too much inside my
Body bag, Body bag.

My guts a blast furnace
blessed Bessemer converter.
Hydrogen sulfide, methane
from my vent holes,
flaming nether retrobooster,
deep, deeper, deepest.

On your feet or on your knees
in the grotto of my favorite agonies.
The Church of Beautiful Women
Who Hate Sex.
The Church of Hitting Each Other
With Iron Rods and
Pretending to Like it.
The Church of Our Lady of
Perpetual Mastication.
The Church of Smearing Yourself
with Lard and Baking Until Lightly Browned.
Owwwww! Brown Off!
Victory in my pants.
baby, preemie homunculus
appearing fully formed in my BVDs.
Spam whiz: aerosol processed
meat-food product
squirting out in nacreous jets.

I ain’t just whistling gristle.
Am I blue? You’d be too.
Spewing bones, gizzard, skin
and feathers too.
Don’t you know about the bird?
Everybody knows that the bird comes third.

Evil ones: Juju priests
secret Levite order
Spam-killing men of God.
Evil ones: vegetarian Hecate-jungen
black as a kite, high as night.
Evil Ones: Old Scratch rooting around
the trash. Stick Out Your Can
Here Comes the Garbage Man.
Evil Ones: goat-headed Melchizedeks
with the hots for what’s not.

I feel the heat, I sing of meat,
I long for that throbbing
luncheon treat.
Unspeakable effulgence of byproducts.
Ancient Anathema Cannibal
Spastic God in a Can.
Eating meat, spodee-odee
eating meat.
It slices, it dices, it sacrifices.
Culture is dead. Let’s eat!

I loved that pig, pink and big.
I loved that lamb, the son of Spam.
The pearl without a price.
Drop him in acid
and he disappears.
’s right, pilgrim,
the Mighty Yamm has returned.
Say it proud: I’m back and I’m loud.
The Mighty Yamm and his little lamb
are back for more
of that precious ore.
Digging deep into your mainline,
poking for your hidden vein.
I Yamm what I am and that’s all
what I am
the sweetest of potatoes,
the Uber-tuber,
the root of all evil.
Sleek and hard, throbbing lard
smooth and strong, a mile long.
I sing of me
a perfect gram of the holy I AM.

Devil in a dead man’s underwear,
uh huh.
Devil’s got a dead man’s underwear,
on his head.
He’s the life of every party
he’s a can of poison meat.
Let me introduce you to the
pretty paraclete.
Devil in a dead man’s underwear,
uh huh, uh huh.

Bird, bird, bird,
the irrational word.
Surd, surd, surd,
the irrational bird.
Everybody knows
that the word comes first.
In the beginning was
the bird dance beat
the word made meat
the dove in heat
Must I repeat?

We have met the enemy and he tastes
like ham. Too damn salty.
I am what I am -
goddamn, goddamn.
I am what I eat.
Black bran, the key bone,
fowls of the air special,
the creeping thing plate,
the cloven hoof burger.

Body bag, wanna cook you in this
Body bag, who forsook you in this
Body bag, lost and found inside this
Body bag, break you down into a
Body bag, Body bag.
Seals in flavorful juice.

ziplock, Ziplock, ZIPLOCK.
The high school cafeteria I endured for five years served something we called “eraser cheese.” These little chunks came off an enormous block of government-surplus cheddar, sliced into 3-inch oblongs and vulcanized by the passage of time. Its uncanny power resided in its ability to rub out mistakes in pencil better than any Pink Pearl or Art Gum.

Was it food? Was it a handy classroom tool? Or was it a tiny slab of compressed mystery like a miniature megalith from a dairy-based Stonehenge? Had these gummy little rectangles been transmuted by some academic abracadabra into a substance unknown to humankind? This was the era of moon rocks and lava lamps, mood rings and space-age plastics. More than once I wondered if eraser cheese could bring Superman to his knees as well as kryptonite.

In this state of confusion, if a long boring day spun me into a miserable educational stupor, I might gnaw on a real eraser and derive some satisfaction, if not nutritional value.

In college, I encountered Robbe Grillet’s novel, The Erasers, in which he dwells for 250 pages on soft rubber secrets, murders and lost memory. Soon afterward, David Lynch’s film Eraserhead opened for me vast new vistas of top-of-the-pencil dread and loathing. Had I stumbled onto the periphery of a worldwide conspiracy? Were the dietitians at Gates-Chili High School trying to indoctrinate me into some cult of edible erasure? “You can eat it or you can use it in algebra class,” they seemed to whisper.

As a kid, there was a stale stub of translucent gum eraser in my mother’s desk. It seemed more ancient than any Rosetta stone or Neanderthal bone. Faintly oily, crumbly to the touch, it was used by no one for nothing. In fact it had long ago lost its ability to remove graphite writing. It was like an office fossil, in with the rusty paper clips, bent brass fasteners and dried-up fountain pen cartridges.

So, encountering the eraser cheese there on my cafeteria tray - room temperature, oily, yet unyielding - conjured up a deeper childhood puzzle. What defines something as food, I wanted to know. Caffeine-free Diet Pepsi has absolutely no nutritional value. Yet it’s considered food. At least erasers give the teeth something to do. Eraser cheese, better in my desk than in the lunchroom, confounded my adolescent mind.

I nibbled, I rubbed, and I wondered.
The first time I attended the Monroe County Fair, I got to see an honest to-God-freak show. There was a sword-swallower, a bald guy who pounded framing nails up his nose, a girl who played with snakes and thrashed around in a bogus electric chair, and a two-headed pig fetus floating in a 3-gallon jar.

So, when I went back the following July and was told there were no more prodigies of nature on display - “We’re a family fair now” - I gave up on this annual gathering of rip-off games and tepid rides.

But the hope did not die and when I returned years later delight was mine again, finding that the Fair promoters had gotten back to basics and rescinded the no-freak rule. There, in all its sordid glory, was a tent surrounded by lurid paintings of monsters. A clamoring constant spiel exhorted me to “See the Batboy! He’s only three-and-a-half feet tall. He only weights 50 pounds. The world famous Batboy. Ask him how he got that way!”

Eagerly, I paid my buck and entered the inner zone. This was no fake, no pickled punk as they’d had years before. Yes indeed, there was a real Batboy, if not the real Batboy. He required no cage. And though he was covered with tattoos, and truly misshapen - his ears stuck out and his face was caved in - he proved to be a very polite freak. He sat with a fan blowing on him and a boombox nearby to keep boredom at bay. He nodded and greeted the trickle of fans and nervous gawkers. The kids who hung back, trying to call up a little fear or shock, exited more puzzled than afraid.

When I had him alone, I bought a cheap xerox picture as a souvenir. I lied about my name and he signed it, “Nice to meet you, Boris.”

I got him talking and here’s what I found out: he was from California, he was 26 years old and he’d only been doing this routine for a few months, traveling around the country on the county fair circuit. He did nine-hour stints, with one hour off for lunch.

The general feeling I got was more of embarrassment than terror. He made a few desultory lunges at the kids, but didn’t give even a halfhearted growl or gibber. He seemed more like a bored TV viewer in his temporary living room than a source of freak-show weirdness. He sat in his comfy chair, day after day, and watched the parade of humanity pass by, and he was not terribly impressed. “I see hundred and hundreds of people each day,” he told me. “Some of them want their money back because I don’t scare them.”

But this is not to say that the Fair held no terrors. For free, I experienced the nightmare that called itself The Puppetone Rockers. If Bertoldt Brecht had worked with the Muppets, if a forgotten Euro-trash disco act had its own cable-access kids show, if flea-bitten marionettes writhed in agony in the inferno that yawns beneath Sesame Street, then they might approach the angst generated by Puppetone. Worst of all, a section of the stage detached itself at one point and the two keyboard-pounders drove around the fairgrounds like a float from a Hieronymus Bosch hell-parade. “Superkids! Superkids!” they kept chanting. A curse? A forgotten advertising slogan? A desperate prayer to some unknown, unsavory, god?

I was trapped at one point as a giant pink monstrosity thrashed like a hanged man on the gibbet. Nearer, nearer, it loomed as the drum machine ground out its kiddie death march.

I escaped, barely, and went back to have another talk with Batboy.