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After Party / After Life An Underworld Conversation with Bowie

Mona Arshi

I say: Please… can I join you for a few moments in this sort of conjuring -I’m a fan?


He says: Sure. I’ve taken the pulse , I’ve taken the temperature here

in the afterlife, I’ve run so far away from myself and your hot bodies

I’ve parted  the willow trees hair pained myself in the water

I’ve studied the breathing moss

sampled some of  the delights of the underworld

all its potions and charms their versions of  snails 

and the true earthworms and the  hollyhocks and I’ve 

tamed my ear brought it down so close to hunt down

the  music and it’s all so inhalable and bright and all it’s all so so so


And I say : Tell me more, those are totemic lines…


And he says: You poets. You poets are all the same…

So much for your stomach-churning ambiguity

and your personas and sad fishing performances 

here the poets  take off their putrid costumes 

this is a party with a commitment to the 

afterwards where  the errant rules,  where the delinquent poets

are outed and placed in the middle of the treeless field 

naked as dusk -this is the afterlife after party

of  course I’m not going  hand it to you on

a steel  platter in  all straight lines.


And then he says:  

I’m going be wearing

my best version disguise painted  

in madder root -like  those quick footed clowns

all oozy like the mushrooms we picked

and I’ll tell you something else 

I find new  words here, language 

for the word when you ready yourself

for a photograph  tilting your head right back 

just so and a new word for the  moon snug in its pocket

embalmed and drunk in its bright yellow liquor 


I  say: ok  tell me about lyrical beauty again

I say if feeling is first then can  you tell me how it is for you

bring me out  poem if you can..


And he laughs says: all the sound engineers have gone home but 

Ok ….

I’ll attempt something in this dharmic frame

In the  blind moments of this insane 

Uncoupling from the breathing world 

It kind of feels pure and pellucid as pain

And yet writers reign

In full rhyme


And I say-thank-you. 

Thank you,

Aladdin Sane


And.. he goes quiet and says:

It was brave of me right to try on

the other parts myself right

all earthy and sweat and 

so blurry and the audience  there

bright or brittling like icicles 

caught in the mouth of a cave?

That’s the version of a life  I’m re-Sampling ,

it’s so beautiful and insane, the fire ants in their fedoras 

travelling along  the delicious veins

of the flowers …what a fucking party.


Then he says: 

You poets are all the same 

wielding your knives in the rafters 

practicing your moves 

but have you truly  watched  that man, 

there in the shadows 

are you watching him cut out his heart

not  content for the music to  resolve itself

sympathetically ..syntactically-unfolding -long cord of breath 

watch that man,

feed him the question to the answer 

we knew all along  

when the song begins to sting you have to stop.