Arraignment at a Kafkaesque University: a Calm and Deliberative Rant? – Crystal Hurdle

We the foolish pupils

too big for her budget-cutting britches

it’s not calligraphy for school children


woven rug pulled from beneath our collective feet

so more room to dance, whee

and the Prez rides away echo of post-9/11

disbelief grief

on her missile magic carpet ride

we attendants clutch vacuums, carpet sweepers

valedictorian outrage from below


and she’s back

in a puff of smoke

preens intractable sneers


self-indulgent theatre

Honour your superiors!


Um, I think I’d like to say something?


Daycare on lockdown

children inside this idyllic May day

–May Day! May Day! going down–

we’ll use them abuse them

make them carry our prom shoes

children should be taken care of before all the rest


violence and pansies in our corteges

she pins a corsage to my wrist, pierces, draws blood

it’s personal not political after all

optics and perception are all


without waiting for a yes

seizes me around the waist

may I have this–

understands how to turn such meetings into a spectacle

looking up at tiers of people

Christians and lions in the bleachers

even the bouquets can’t disguise the strata of nervous sweat

she pirouettes on stage

but I thought no meant no?

I don’t want to be rude but?

distaff molester?


The most stupid of them begins to understand


precisely calibrated

meticulously coordinated

soda ash, mordant, Rohypnol?

I can’t remember to forget

chemicals do due diligence

eroding fibre from fabric

specially prepared cotton wool

my ball gown crumpled around my feet

sodium hydrogen sulphate

she burns holes in my velvet

Devore from devour


whose body on the dyeing table?

white linen to receive the colour


woozy now, unmoored, hallucinate

deckhand who sank a BC ferry

filling in as fourth officer

maintains his innocence

Let truth resound

says there were boats he was avoiding

not fucking a colleague

what’s he doing to me now?

what’s she doing?

you would not consider my procedure appropriate


Um, could I register a concern?


Now the President

figurehead on a sinking ship

charts unnavigable shores by herself

getting into bed with whom?

her cunt-sticky fingers move

from Point A to Point B

without noticing the seals’ dark shiny heads

their rhythmic beauty

their soporific dance

everything was quiet

without the slightest audible hum


opposed to this procedure

Let’s question the issue and not the person

you should not express any view whatsoever


Herself kingless, Prom Queen

trawls on training wheels

bottom-feeding, growing whalelike

de facto head of state

election rigged

limbo libido liminal

monarch without a tissue-flowered throne

what does one do?

love it to death

Be just


Robin Morgan’s “Arraignment” called for

the dismemberment of Ted Hughes

posed questions

about the suicide of his wife, Sylvia Plath


I wish to lodge a complaint?

even compliant up-talkers have limits

and you, rapist, have abused me sorely


The detective here

with the cup of warm punch

so late to the party

says there is no body

it already began to quiver

plays the victim

ventriloquist-voices misogyny

who’s the injured one now?


Have faith and wait!

–the procedure would play itself out

to its conclusion


her foot in my face on the seabed

writhing fixed

redolent stink and ashes

No. No! Listen

(May Day, May–)


I accuse

I accuse!

not a Dredge mining the ocean floor after all

the Harrow shoots sparks, it is working

oh thank God (where were you?), it is working

in my head I clap my hands with manic glee, whee

however long it takes

I will wait for her dead, transfigured face



(Italics from Kafka’s “In the Penal Colony”)