Johannes Göransson


Do you think it’s easy to close a wound? To close the mouth of a wound?

There is only one way: to go into the mirror and explode.

Congratulations on your rotten body.

Congratulation on your shredded mask.

It looks like entrails on the wall, hanging from that obscene nail.

Congratulations on the beautiful male bodies that hang on your wall, each one more hairless than the next, each one more softly bleeding than the next. Each one of those men belong in mirrors. Send them to the mansion for their make-up. Send them to hell for their teeth. So beautiful in the zoo.


It’s Monday.


It’s Easter today and the Catholics are covering their faces in the ashes from a burned-down studio. Another terrorist attack, another religious holiday. I’m going to join them because I need to learn about make-up from a source less dehydrated than the Last Man.


It’s the Dancer’s birthday and it’s treated like a tragedy. Complete with childhood pictures juxtaposed against his current, post-surgery visage: it’s as if the Starlet’s death and the black man’s face are both symptoms of the same crime: artifice.



Everybody is always telling me about serial killers.
There are too many killers in your body, says my doctor.
There are too many killers in your saints,
say the girls I’m giving riding lessons to.
Your babies are killing you, say the guys who
want me to go to the shooting range with them.

Once I was in a production of the Duchess of Malfi
which we recorded at a shooting range.
I was supposed to be the killer but I was the virgin.
Was very passive in the shooting range.
Wow. Things got out of hand fast.
The woman who filmed me had a loud cackle
and she was very strong. I couldn’t move
I was so exhausted, but she wiped me off
with thinner and kissed me on the lips.
She tasted like bubble gum. I tasted like blubber.

I used to be an anorexic but now I can’t stop eating
with my mouth open. I make a sound too
when I eat. Loud sounds.
I should keep my mouth shut but it’s too full
and my lips are too smeared with lipstick
manufactured by dead women in Juarez.


I wrote that poem in a notebook with a lion on the cover.


The latest theory propagated by the Governor: there’s a serial killer on the loose. He’s the one who’s been abducting all those girls on the street, leaving them in the street as a kind of message to god-fearing Californians. The motorcyclist guard is merely trying to protect the people of Los Angeles against this threat. Be on the lookout for men who walk strangely or talk strangely or who approach the city like it’s a staged show. Smash the lights. Drink poison like lovers.


I hate everyone. It’s why I wear silk so wretchedly.


I dream the governor comes to me and tells me: “You have to find a conclusion to our national night-mare, debris-mare, mare-mare, hot trot. It’s hard to ride in this kind of weather. You will find a way to salvage our organs and our images: they will have a place. Too many women running around like chickens with their heads cut off thinking that they have penises; too many punched-out castmembers gorged in the strip search. You will find a beginning and end. “

When I tell my wife about the dream she tells me to ignore the governor. “You’re not finding anything for him, you’re finding something for your eyes. Look, I’ve made a Braille machine,” she says and holds up a moist augur.


Later my daughters complain that my son has been trying to use that augur to blind himself. When I ask him about it, he suggests he’s been trying to send a message. “To whom,” I ask. He draws a picture in the air, it’s a picture of a tower on fire.


The Last Man asks me what makes you think you can solve a crime and I say I’m the perfect person, an Artist.


When I ask the lovely Whore of Electric Rays where she gets her sugar, she says it comes from thousands of miles away and at stunning speeds. It’s the only thing that can cure the plague, she claims. It collapses the distinction between Luxurie and Necessity.

One persistent rumor about the dancer is that he’s dead, that he died from too much sugar, that the sugar level in his veins is so high that it would produce instant shellshock in normal people, that his body is worth a fortune for its sugar, that he is secretly white, that his dances carry secret messages. There is a hint of fear in his eyes, even during his sexiest dances.


Los Angeles is full of collections (of anemones, spices, aborted fetuses, etc.), of which my son is but one.


Johannes Göransson is the author of five books of poetry – including, most recently, Haute Surveillance – and Deformation Zone, a chapbook about translation and mediumicity (with Joyelle McSweeney). He is also the translator of several books from the Swedish, including works by Aase Berg, Johan Jönson and Henry Parland. He teaches at the University of Notre Dame, publishes Action Books and Action, Yes (, and blogs at  This piece is an excerpt from Sugar Book (forthcoming in 2014).

from Sugar Book
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