Out of the Cosmos Factory
For years I called it the wrong name. It’s Cosmo’s, as in belonging
to Cosmo, a bushy bearded man who lives in the past,
on the cover of CCR’s fifth album (1968). There’s another man in page-
boy atop a motorcycle, a mirror frame with no glass,
a toy piano. Cosmo’s Factory: the name of the album comes from
the Berkeley warehouse where the group rehearsed. Band-
leader John Fogerty forced them to practice every day, so drummer
Doug “Cosmo” Clifford called the place “the factory.”
Out of the Cosmos Factory comes Doug on a bicycle, toes touching
the ground. Back when we stacked our albums, each standing
straight up, front-faced, and extended from the wall in a long line
that you could flick like a Rolodex: a bandleader
on a cycle, shaggy drummer on ten-speed, their recording studio
strewn with objects we can’t measure or get a handle on.
Out of Cosmo’s Factory comes the weird science, the Cosmos Factory:
musicians are on bikes and musicians (the rest of the band)
are not, depending on who’s looking, like a pot that could possibly boil
if you don’t watch it. In the alley around the corner, a toy piano
where someone cut Cosmo’s Kryptonite lock and took the bike.
Or Cosmo’s half-seated on the bicycle rack outside, having
a smoke like he’s bulletproof, waving off mosquitoes in the heat.
She felt very stupid because she didn’t know where earth was on the map.
Betty Hill draws the star map they showed her on the ship
Voices slip in salt water, dissolve, the big answer
posing as a secret. The wife in this story is promised
a book to prove what happened. Got a star map instead.
The heavy lines were trade routes and the pilot
said the broken lines were expeditions.
It’s unbelievable when her husband points with his eyes closed.
It’s something clandestine. They all wore
the same clothes, not quite like men,
not from around here. Is there
a resemblance to the sky which is admitted
to be there and the stars which can be seen. Is there.
Gaudy orange ball, glowing—
“Later they recall this as what they felt was the huge
moon that appeared to them to be on the ground.”
Maybe it was the fear of remembering it, too.
“What I’m saying is part of me outside the actual creation of words themselves.”
Barney Hill listens to the tapes of his hypnosis sessions played back
I sound like a song I can’t remember. Some talk of how I broke the binocular strap that night. A pang in my rib, my ulcer. Too much to digest at one time, listening to that person playing himself. They made me forget what happened on that mountain road. Better to wonder than remember. Hearing my voice again, the soreness behind my head, parts of my life put back together like I was talking in my sleep. I tugged the strap, yanked the binoculars off my neck. Threw them in the back seat. My voice—I was lifted out of the driver’s side. I didn’t understand it was me. A wince in my rib. Dr. Simon hadn’t heard this kind of terror in battlefield trauma cases he’d treated. Does this mean the sighting was real? Probably, he said, then backed off. Two of them looking down at my body, teardrop heads on bent stems. From the slit where a mouth would be, a hum for the life of me I can’t find a name for. That person playing me can’t see any windows—blue-sky fluorescent walls, examination room like a wedge cut from a pie. I am saying something about the ship choking us and the coarse sound when they scraped samples from my arm. They flew away with skin they took from me. My voice is talking over my thoughts.
Tony Trigilio’s recent poetry collections include Book 1 of The Complete Dark Shadows (of My Childhood) (BlazeVOX Books, 2014) and White Noise (Apostrophe Books, 2013). He is editor of Elise Cowen: Poems and Fragments (Ahsahta Press, 2014). He directs the program in Creative Writing/Poetry at Columbia College Chicago and co-edits Court Green.