Lux, Thomas Cradle Place, The

Th e Crad le Place
Thom as Lu x

A

MARI N ER
B O STO N

BOOK


/

H O U GH TO N M I FFLI N

N EW YO R K

CO MP AN Y

T h e Cr a d le Place

Also b y Th o m a s Lu x

The Land Sighted (chapbook)
Mem ory's Handgrenade

1970

1972

The Glassblower's Breath

1976

Versions of Cam pana (chapbook: translations)
Madrigal on the W ay Hom e (chapbook)
Sunday

1977

1977

1979

Like a W ide Anvil from the Moon the Light (chapbook)
Massachusetts (chapbook)

1981

Tarantulas on the Lifebuoy (chapbook)
Half Prom ised Land

1983

1986

The Drowned River 1990
A Boat in the Forest (chapbook)

1992

Pecked to Death by Swans (chapbook)

1993

Split Horizon 1994
The Blind Swim m er: Selected Early Poem s, 19JO-19J5
New and Selected Poem s, 1975-1995 1997
Merry Bones (chapbook) 2001
The Street of Clocks 2001

1

First Ma r in e r Books ed it ion 2005
Cop yr igh t © 2004 by Th om as Lu x
All righ ts reserved
For in fo r m a t io n ab ou t perm ission t o reprod u ce selections fr om t h is book,
writ e to Perm issions, H o u gh t o n M ifflin Com p an y, 215 Park Aven ue Sou t h ,
Ne w York, Ne w York 10003.
Visit our W eb site: www.h ou gh t on m ifflin b ooks.com .
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication

Data

Lu x, Th om as, date.
Th e crad le place / Th om as Lu x
p.

cm .

ISBN-13: 978-0-618-42830-4 ISBN-IO : 0-618-42830-5
ISBN-13: 978-0-618-61944-3 (p b k.) ISBN-IO : 0-618-61944-5 (p b k.)
I. Tit le .
PS3562.U87C73 2004
8 ll' .54 — dc22

2O O 30 6 7554

Book design by Melissa Lot fy
Prin t ed in t h e Un it e d States o f Am er ica
MP 10

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Man y of the poems in this book first appeared, sometimes in slightly different form , in
the followin g magazines:
Am erican Poetry Review: The Devil's Beef Tub; Debate Regarding the Perm issibility of
Eating Merm aids; Burned Forests and Horses' Bones; Dry Bite; Can't Sleep the Clowns
W ill Eat Me; Letter to W alt W hitm an from a Soldier He Nursed in Arm ory Square
Hospital, W ashington, D.C., 1866; Can Tie Shoes But W on't; Goofer-Dust; Term inal Lake;
Monkey Butter; Three Vials of Maggots; Render, Render; Portrait of X [III]; Rem ora.
Atlan tic Mon t h ly: The Gletz (under the title The Diam ond Cutter). Canary River: W ith
Maeterlinck's Great Book. 88: Guide for the Perpetually Perplexed. Field : Uncle Dung
Beetle; Myope; To Help the Monkey Cross the River; Flies So Thick above the Corpses in
the Rubble, the Soldiers Must Use Flam ethrowers to Pass Through. Five Points: Breakbone
Fever. Greensboro Review: Rather. Gu lf Coast: Ten Years Hard Labor on a Guano Island;
Scorpions Everywhere. Kenyon Review: The Magm a Cham ber. Lu m in a: The Ice W orm 's
Life. MARGIE: From the High Ground; To Plow and Plant the Seashore. New Delt a
Review: Dystopia. Passages Nort h : Reject W hat Confuses You. Pedestal: Thus, He Spoke
His Quietus; National Im palem ent Statistics. Rialto ( UK) : The Chief Attendant of the
Napkin; If One Can Be Seen. San Diego Reader: The Professor of Ants; 174517: Prim o
Levi, an Elegy. W illo w Springs: Birds Nailed to Trees; Boatloads of Mum m ies; The Late
Am bassadorial Light; Say You're Breathing.
The Am erican Fancy Rat and Mouse Association was first published by Fameorshamepress as a lim it ed-edit ion broadside.
Special thanks to Mary Corn ish , Ar ju n Shetty, and Gin ger Mu rch ison .

for m y blood: Elinor, m y m other,
Norm an, m y father,
and Claudia, m y daughter

M o m came and wen t —an d came, and brough t no day.
— B YR O N

I want the old rage, the lash of prim ordial m ilk!
—TH EO D O RE

RO ETH KE

Con t en t s

I
Th e Late Am bassadorial Ligh t 3
Say You're Breat h in g 4
Dr y Bit e 5
Horse Bleed in g to Deat h at Fu ll Gallop

6

Debat e Regardin g t h e Perm issibilit y o f Eat in g Merm aid s

7

Th e Professor o f An t s 8
Tact ile

9

Ten Years H ar d Labor on a Gu an o Islan d
Fam ily Ph ot o Ar o u n d Xm as Tree
Rather

10

11

12

Portrait of X [III]

13

Th r ee Vials of Maggots
Un cle D u n g Beetle
T h e Gl e t z

14

15

16

Ca n Tie Shoes Bu t W o n 't

17

Th e Am er ican Fancy Rat an d Mou se Association
To H e lp th e Mo n key Cross t h e River
Th e Devil's Beef Tu b

19

20

Boatloads o f M u m m ie s

21

Th u s, H e Spoke H is Q u iet u s
Th e Magn a Ch am b er

18

22

23

Birds Nailed to Trees 24

II
Gu id e for t h e Perpetually Perplexed
If O n e Ca n Be Seen

27

28

Th e Year t h e Locu st H a t h Eat en

29

ix

Bu rn ed Forests an d Horses' Bones

30

Let t er t o W a lt W h it m a n from a Soldier H e Nu rsed i n
Ar m or y Square H osp it al, W ash in gt on , D .C., 1866
Scorpion s Everywh ere
Myop e

32

33

34

III
To Plow an d Plan t t h e Seashore
Am p h r ib r ach Dan ce
Rem ora

38

39

Nat ion al Im p alem en t Statistics
Asafetida

37

40

41

r745r7: Prim o Levi, an Elegy 42
Goofer-Dust

43

W i t h Maet erlin ck's Great Book
Ter m in al Lake

44

45

Th e Ch ie f At t en d an t of t h e Na p k in

46

Th e Mo u n t ain s in t h e River on t h e W ay t o t h e Sea
Reject W h a t Confuses You

48

49

Flies So T h i c k above t h e Corpses i n t h e Ru b b le, t h e
Soldiers Mu st Use Flam et h rowers to Pass Th r o u gh
Th e Ice W orm 's Life

51

52

Provincia Aurifera

I W i l l Please, Said the Placebo
H ospit alit y an d Revenge
Fr om t h e H igh Gr o u n d
Dystopia

53

54
55

56

Mon key Bu t t er
Breakbon e Fever

57
58

Can 't Sleep t h e Clown s W i l l Eat M e
Ren der, Ren der

X

60

59

50

T h e Cr a d le Place

I

Th e Late Am bassadorial Ligh t

Ligh t reaches t h r ou gh a leaf
an d t h at ligh t , d im in ish ed , passes t h r ou gh
an ot h er leaf,
an d an ot h er, d own
to t h e lawn ben eat h .
Gr een , green , t h e h igh grass shivers.
W at er over a stone, an d bees,
bees arou n d t h e flowers, deep-tiered beds
of t h e m , yellows an d golds an d reds.
Saw-blade ferns feather i n t h e breeze.
An d , just as a cloud's corn er
catches th e su n , a t in y glin t in t h e garden —t h e m ilk
o f a broken stalk? A lion 's tooth ?
O r m igh t t h at be t h e delicat e labia
of an orch id?

3

Say You're Breat h in g

just as you do every day, in an d ou t , in an d ou t , an d in each
breat h : one t ick
of a shavin g from a bat's eyelash, an in visible sliver
of a body m it e
wh o lived near Caligula's sh in , d iam on d dust (we each in h ale a carat
in a lifet im e), a speck o f scu rf
from t h e Th i r d Dynasty (t h at of t h e abu n d an t
im beciles), one sulfurous grain
from th e smoke of a m ort ar r o u n d , a m ot e of m arrow
from a bon e p okin g t h r ou gh a sh allow grave,
a wh iff from a m u m m y grin d er
caugh t i n a Sahara win d , m ost of t h e Sahara itself,
in h aled i n Gr een lan d , sweat d ried t o crystal on you r father's lip
an d lift ed t o t h e sky
before you were b orn —a ll, a ll, a galaxy
of fragments floating
arou n d you every day,
in h aled every day,
happy to rest i n your lun gs
u n t il th ey are dust again
an d again risen .

4

Dry Bit e

W h e n th e krait strikes b u t does n ot loose
h is ven om : dry b it e. W h a t makes th e snake choose
n ot to k ill you? N o t Please,
n ot J didn't m ean
to step on you. H e may be fresh ou t : struck
recen t ly som et h in g else. Bu t : i f he wit h h old s
his poison ,
wh en does h e do so an d why?
Ca n h e t ell you are harmless t o h im ?
H e can 't swallow you , so wh y k ill you?
Th ere's n o use asking t h e krait : he's deaf.
In t h at ch em ical, t h at sp lit -b illion t h
of a secon d, h e decides
an d t h e lit t le valve
of h is ven om sac
stays shut or opens wid e.
Dry, oh dry, dry b it e—lu cky t h e day
you began t o wear
the krait's snake-eyed m ark
on your wrist
an d you walked d own t h e m o u n t a in
in t o t h e valley
of t h at wh ich rem ain s o f you r life.

5

Horse Bleed in g to Deat h at Fu ll Gallo p
(La Florida, 1540)

Four arrows i n h i m , wait , five,
on e so deep its feathers lie
ben eat h his coat. H is rider's dead,
fallen off, eleven arrows in his n eck
bet ween h elm et an d breastplate,
a blood y, spiky collar. W it h o u t th e weigh t
of th e rid er, his lan ce, spurs, th e horse st ill
ru n s, runs wh ip -b lin d , over t h e green h ills
u n t il h e reaches th e wh ite-san d shore
and he can r u n or walk n o m ore.

6

Debate Regardin g t h e Perm issibilit y
of Eat in g Mer m aid s

Cold-wat er m erm aid s, an d on ly on Fridays, said Pope Ign ace VI I .
Su m erian texts suggest con sen t i f h u m a n parts
predecease fishy parts,
b u t cu n eifor m d et ailin g t h is
was lost to t o m b robbers.
Th e Brit ish Ad m iralt y, sixt een t h cen t u ry, deem ed it an t h ropoph agy
an d forbade it ,
t h ou gh castaways, after sixty days,
were exem pt ed
u p o n t h e d ep let ion of sea biscuit s. Taboo! Taboo!, said t h e Sou t h Sea
Islanders, t h ou gh a m an co u ld m arry one
if his aquatic skills
impressed h er en ou gh . Con versely, a wo m an , n o m at t er
h ow well she swam ,
co u ld n ot m arry wit h a m er m an . Uruguayan s, Iowan s,
leave n o records on th e subject.
Th e Germ an s find it distasteful,
t h ou gh recen t ly declassified W o r ld W ar I I archives
suggest cert ain U-boat c a p t a i n s . . .
N o p r ob lem for t h e Fren ch : flambeed or ben eat h bearnaise.
Th e official Ch in ese p osit ion is th ey d on 't have a p osit ion !
—Bu t I grow weary of t h is d ou r study,
t ired o f th e books
wh erein th is news is h id d e n , t h e creakin g shelves
in m u seu m basements, th e cr u m b lin g pages
of t h e past an d fu t u re, I' m t ired
of t h is foggy research
to wh ich I've devoted decades
t ryin g t o find t h e t r u t h i n these matters
an d wh at m atters in such t r u t h .
7

Th e Professor o f An ts

For his wh ole life ants were t h e life o f t h e Professor o f An t s. O n his
belly, on his h an ds, knees, above t h e wor ld o f ants: wh ich colon y
forages wh ere, wh e n , wh at ; wh ich tribes cooperate wit h ot h er t ribes,
wh ich t ribe attacks th e sm aller tribes. Al l day, t h e sun h a m m er in g
h is shoulders an d n eck above t h e wo r ld of ants. Som e days h e gives
t h em shade t h ey d id n ot kn ow before. H e recognizes m an y by t h eir
marks or m issin g legs. Th e Professor's got his pen an d clip b oard ou t ,
season after field season. Th er e go t h e leaf cutters, off to work, 6:45
A.M ., to shear t h eir sails of green . Th e harvesters carry t in y sacks of
seeds to sow an d lit t le hoes to weed t h eir rows of fu n gi. An d , from a
large colon y, st art in g ou t on t h eir t h rice-yearly slave-m akin g raids,
t h e san guin e ants. W h e n t h e sanguines are away—the Professor has
n ot ed , an d t wice p u b lish ed , th is fact—som etim es a gold en -h aired
beetle (Hylurgus ligniperda) moves in t o t h eir nest, an d wh en t h e
sanguines ret u rn (carryin g t h eir slaves!) t h e beetle secretes a d r in k
t h at makes th e slavers h er slaves, an d t h e n ew slaves o f th e slavers
h er slaves as well. Th e sanguines n eed t h e slaves to groom t h eir
eggs. Th e beetle needs t h e ants to feed h er an d hers. Th e ants d on 't
n eed th e beetle at all. Th e Professor needs t h e ants t o feed h i m an d
h is. Back at t h e lab , at t h e ch alkb oard , h e wishes n ot t o feel wh at
th ey feel wit h t h eir feelers.

8

Tact ile

O n e eyelash, on e
m illim et er
lon ger t h an each ot h er eyelash on you r left eyelid , bends
at its t ip , as it , alon e, leans
on m y lowest left rib's ledge, t h is single filament
h o ld in g your bones
to m in e . A t ou ch o f n o t o u ch , a t ou ch
so ligh t the t act ile scale's
n eedle barely breathes. Th e n ,
at t ach ed to a h u m a n as it is,
th is one eyelash
lashes m e t h ere, m an y t im es,
an d t on igh t t h e t in y scars sh in e
in t h e blue-stone dark.

9

Ten Years H ar d Lab or on a Gu an o Islan d ,

said H is H on or , h an d in g you a p ick
an d a shovel
an d a t icket
for a boat rid e here
wh ere t h e shovel is ch ain ed
to your righ t wrist
an d to t h e left, a bucket .
Th e pick yo u 'll wear strapped to you r back
u n t il it's t im e to pick wit h it .
You 'll d ig, for a decade, d own
t h rou gh t h e strata t h e seabirds left over eons
an d , one by on e, h au l t h e bucketfuls
to the dockside piles.
Th e birds stopped h ere to rest awh ile,
t h e roam in g, t h e landless,
t h e lon g-distan ce birds on protracted win gs.
O n days, wor kin g t h e cliffs, wh en you can overlook
t h e sea, you m igh t see—a foot
or two above t h e waves,
as you m in e his ancestors' gu t s—you m igh t st ill see on e.

10

Fam ily Ph ot o Ar o u n d Xm as Tree

Dad's left ar m reaches across Mo m 's back
an d even across Dom e's, h is daugh ter's,
an d just touch es wit h his fin gert ips
his son Rusty's sh oulder.
Dot t ie's t en , Rusty eigh t , t h ou gh sm all for h is age
an d his left eye a lit t le lazy.
Th e tree t h ick
wit h foil an d ligh t s, lit candles an d a m an t el h u n g
wit h m on ogr am m ed socks. Rein deer race
across Dad's sweater. I f you lift
th is p ict u re t o you r nose, you sm ell cider
an d snow, Mo m 's valley-of-th e-lily
perfu m e. Th e fire's
p in e knots snap. O h bless th is fam ily
an d t h eir d og, Ch ocolat e,
bless th is house an d h ear t h ,
an d bless Gr am m y, wh o will be here soon ,
t h ou gh Gran d pa won 't
th is year, n or dear Au n t Elsie, dear, dear Au n t .
Th e b ig b lu e b owl o f crabm eat salad she b rou gh t
each year d it t o won 't be h ere. Bless
th is fam ily, t h e livin g an d t h e dead,
an d m ay t h ey never send a card
or newsletter to m e again .

11

Rather

Rath er strapped face to face wit h a corpse, rather an asp
forced d own m y t h roat , rath er a glass
t u be in serted i n m y u ret h ra
an d t h en m em ber smashed
wit h a h am m er , rather wan der t h e m alls o f Am erica sh oppin g
for shoes, rather
be lu n c h , fr om the ankles d own ,
for a fish, rather m istake rabbit drops
for capers, or pearls, rath er m y father's bones crush ed to dust
an d b lown —b lin d in g m e — i n m y eyes,
rather a flash flood o f liq u id m u d ,
bou lders, bran ch es, d rown ed dogs, tear t h r ou gh Boys Town
an d gr in d u p a t h ousan d orph an s, rath er
finger puppets
wit h ice picks
probe m e, rather n um bn ess, rather Malaysian t on gu e wo r m , rather ru e,
rather a starved rat
t ied by his t ail t o m y last t oot h ,
rather m em ory becom e m u sh ,
rather n o m ore books be writ t en b u t on t h e sole subject of self, rather
a ret in al t at t oo, rather buckets of bad b a cilli an d n o t h in g else
to d r in k, rather t h e blat h er
at an En glish Dep ar t m en t m eet in g, rath er
a m o u n t a in fall on m y h ead t h an t h is,
wh at I p u t d own h ere, rather
all o f the above t h an t h is, t h is:

12

.

Portrait of X [ III]

Pu r b lin d , he rose, shot his cuffs, an d h it
th e door, a gangster
b u t gangless, dead in the h eart , dead
in th e rat-black r u m d u m red u n d an t h eart , lost
to th is wor ld an d n ot RSVPin g
invites to th e next.
Is th is th e one wh o wou ld lead us to a n ew aesthetic?
Is th is th e on e, fragile, m o r ib u n d , afraid,
wh o will lead th e fragile, m o r ib u n d , an d afraid?
Is th is th e New Tr u t h messenger,
th e one wh o will defin e
th e New Politics
or t h e New Poetics
wit h th e O ld O bliqu e?
H is famous sneer eats his gu t like a wo r m .

J3

Th r ee Vials o f Maggots

were collect ed from t h e corpse
fou n d lyin g in a field
n ear a sm all stream . Fr o m these t h e lab can t ell
at wh at t im e t h e dead on e d ied .
Th ey have schedules, t h e flies.
Som e lay eggs
wh ich h at ch t o maggots
wh ich con su m e t h e corpse. O t h ers com e t o eat flies, maggots, eggs.
H id e beetles arrive t o clean t h e grist le.
It's an ord erly arran gem en t .
W h a t t h e maggots do
th ey do for yo u .

Un cle D u n g Beetle

H a il, Un cle D u n g Beet le!, he wh o
wherever dung m eets dirt, wh ich is everywh ere, is ou r sweet savior,
wit h o u t wh o m
each o f us on t h e plan et u p t o ou r necks
in two-day-old—crusty o n t h e out side,
soft i n t h e m id d le —cow pies,
wit h o u t wh o m
t h e gloom y sten ch
of earth everywhere infused gloom ier,
wit h o u t wh o m
t h e worm s cou ld n ot carry t h eir b u r d en alon e,
wit h o u t wh o m t h e earth
receives less n it rogen
an d m ore bacteria eat t h eir way t h r ou gh in testin es,
wit h o u t wh o m n o breat h t akin g
specializations: t h e d u n g beetle wh o lives
in a sloth's r u m p fur and leaps off to rid e
his host's droppin gs to t h e gr ou n d , a jarred
b u t in st an t claim an t ,
wit h o u t wh o m
we wo u ld be swallowin g shovelfuls of flies each day,
wit h o u t wh o m
on ly in heaven
(an d t h en on ly after all t h e dead are evicted!)
wo u ld it be possible to live.

15

Th e Glet z

Th r o u gh t h e lou pe or peepstone it's t h ere: a m in id ot of air,
an d wh en ligh t shines t h rou gh
t h e object , t h e gletz is visible via m icroscope, x-ray scope.
It's a flaw, d im in ish in g
an object : wh en ligh t ,
u n im p ed ed ,
passes t h r ou gh it
t h e object's b r illian ce
is m ost b r illian t . A gletz affects
clarit y, affects m erit .
It's best i f n o gletz can be fou n d at a ll.
Th e gletz's place m atters: h igh er u p , bad news;
lower, less-bad news.
Th ey in d icat e fragilit y,
these breathless, cell-sized cells
wh ere t wo in m ates are locked
an d each has a kn ife.

16

Can Tie Shoes b u t W o n 't ,
— for Brendan Constantine

it said on his report card , five years o ld , t h e boy
so slu n g
against th e river's cu rren t he was later lost
in h is paper can oe, paddled
h im self lost, or h a lf lost, or less lost t h an m ost , n ot
in t h e m id river flot illa wit h all t h e ot h er boats
figh t in g th e m ain an d ch u r n in g cu r r en t ,
b u t instead alon g an d beside an d even u n d er
t h e river's ban ks—t h e place of overhangs
an d eddies, sloughs
an d wh ir lp ools, th e shaded
place ben eath t h e bu g-brailled leaves,
t h e pyt h on -laden bran ch es, t h e place
ben eath th e bank's cool clay, bet ween t h e roots,
wh ere th e t oot h y creatures
cache t h eir prey
for later. D i d h e travel always
on one side of t h e river? N o .
H ow d id he cross to th e ot h er side? Carefu lly,
cu t t in g th e cu rren t wit h o u t fighting it ,
givin g u p some distance t o it , in order t h at ,
just so,
t h e shade, t h e ligh t , th e sligh t u n d u lat ion s of t h e river's ben ds, are ch an ged,
with intention,
an d for years, u pst ream , a lifet im e,
th is way, upstream h e goes,
th is way, upst ream ,
on h is voyage.

17

Th e Am er ican Fan cy Rat an d
Mou se Association

Rat breeders gather
to p r im p an d parade t h eir best—th e ch in ch illa rat ,
silks, t h e Mo lu cca n cream b elly—at t h is dog show
for m ice an d rats wh ere, i f en tered a cat,
th ere wo u ld be n o cr own in g
th is year of Rat o f t h e Year, Mou se o f t h e Decade.
Th e judge cradles a q u akin g con testan t i n her p a lm .
Reput at ion s m ade or b r oken , breed in g secrets, b u ild
a better can cer rat an d you r prid e can t u r n to cash, pack
an oth er gram o f fat
on t h e t h igh s o f a m ouse
an d th is news shivers u p an d d own t h e row
of herpetologists here for t h e show.
Th e n , in an ot h er, a back row,
sit those whose interests lie in mouse an d rat aesthetics
rather t h an i n t h eir beh avior
or m arket p ot en t ial — O h t h e b eau t ifu l,
beau t ifu l rats, they sigh , oh t h e b eau t ifu l rats.

18

To H e lp t h e Mo n key Cross t h e River,

wh ich h e m ust
cross, by swim m in g, for fruits an d n uts,
to h elp h i m
I sit wit h m y rifle on a p lat form
h igh i n a tree, same side o f t h e river
as t h e h u n gry m on key. H o w does th is assist
h im ? W h e n h e swims for it
I look first u priver: predators m ove faster wit h
t h e cu rren t t h an against it .
If a crocod ile is aim ed from u priver t o eat t h e m on key
an d an an acon da from d own river burn s
wit h t h e same a m b it io n , I do
t h e m at h , algebra, angles, rate-of-monkey,
croc- an d snake-speed, an d if, if
it looks as t h ou gh t h e an acon da or t h e croc
will reach t h e m on key
before h e attain s t h e river's far ban k,
I raise m y rifle an d fire
on e, t wo, t h ree, even four t im es in t o t h e river
just b eh in d t h e m on key
to h u r r y h i m u p a lit t le.
Sh oot t h e snake, t h e crocodile?
Th ey're just d oin g t h eir jobs,
b u t t h e m on key, t h e m on key
has lit t le hands like a ch ild 's,
an d t h e sm art ones, i n a cage, can be t au gh t t o sm ile.

!9

Th e Devil's Beef Tu b

Th er e are m yst eries—wh y a duck's quack
doesn't ech o an ywh ere
an d : Does Go d exist ?—wh ich
will rem ain always as mysteries. So
the same wit h cert ain abstracts
align ed wit h sensory life: t h e t act ile,
for exam ple, o f an iron bar
to th e foreh ead. Mu r d e r
is abstract, an ir on bar t o t h e sku ll
is n ot . O h lost
an d from t h e win d n ot a sin gle peep o f grief!
O n e day you're walkin g d own th e street
an d a m an wit h a m achete-shaped shard
of glass (its h ilt
wrapped in a blood y t owel) walks t oward yo u ,
purposefully, on a m ission .
D o you stop to discuss h erm en eu t ics wit h h im ?
D o you engage h i m in a discussion abou t Derrida?
D o you worry t h at Der r id a m igh t be t h e cause o f his rage?
Every day is like t h is,
is a m et ap h or or a sim ile: like op en in g a can
of alph abet soup
an d seeing n o t h in g b u t X's, n o , look
closer: lit t le n ood le
swastikas.

20

Boatloads o f Mu m m ie s

em barked from Egypt t o New Jersey i n 1848.
Boatloads o f m u m m ies by sail
sold t o a p u lp m ill
to m ake in t o paper.
W h i c h ven t ure (on e tries to t h in k
wh at th e investors t h ou gh t ) d id n 't
work ou t : t h e station ery resu lt in g
was gray
an d gritty
an d h eld n ot t h e black depths of in k.
O n e wonders wh ere th e r em ain in g m u m m ies wen t .
A few were gr ou n d t o powder
an d p u t in jars, an d t h en on shelves of rem edies,
b u t all t h e rest, t h ree or four h old fu ls,
wh ere d id th ey go
wh en t h e vision o f capit al failed
(as visions d o, m ore often
t h an they d o n 't ), wh ere d id
t h e r em ain in g m u m m ifie d go?

21

Th u s, H e Spoke H is Q u iet u s,
— for Larry Levis (1946-1996)

Larry d id , wit h his book Elegy, his elegy, his last
lon g r o llin g lin es of sadness, o f un sobbed sobs,
of his im m en se wrecked h eart ,
his finishing stroke,
his last h ard dig
of t h e paddle before lift in g it
from t h e wat er, an d h is can oe, on t h e silen t straight lin e
cu t by its keel,
beaches it self
on t h e sandy, t h e ligh t ed , t h e silt -lapped, t h e ot h er, shore.

22

Th e Magm a Ch am b er

H ere it boils an d begins t o b u ild , deep in t h e core,
wh at will be lava, m olt en
rock, i n great d om ed cathedrals o f rage u n d er gr ou n d
even t ually expelled —t o air,
and lan d . Som etim es
the m agm a —feedin g u p in t o t h e spreading rift
to fill t h e cracks
bet ween th e separating plates —heals. Som etim es
it needs a way ou t
and finds it —b an g! —an d slow, remorseless rivers
of liq u id rock, red rivers
of rock, find t h eir way
to t h e sea—t h rou gh houses an d horses,
over beet fields an d p u t t in g greens, over h ospitals, eat in g
t h r o u gh , wit h fire,
an yt h in g t h at wants t o stay i n its place
and just go on bein g. Th e orb
is h ot in sid e, h u r t ,
wh ich is bad for those wh o gauge
and receive its rage.
N o t h in g can stop it
bu t t h e sea
wh ich boils wh ere it enters, n o t h in g
b u t t h e sea is vast an d deep
and cold en ou gh
to take all th is p ou red fury, n o t h in g
b u t t h e sea ( if it so pleases)
can m ake a n ew islan d , n ew m ou n t ain s,
a n ew rep u b lic of h ope.

2

3

Birds Nailed to Trees

So the bird s, t h r ou gh
t h eir bon y yellow toes, are tacked
to branches
an d look as i f t h ey ch ir p , an d ch ir p we ll, in d eed .
A b ir d on t h e gr ou n d
tugs a wo r m fr om its h ole, a m et aph or
for in dust ry an d joy. H er p lu m p t ail tilts
to t h e task. Th e wo r m h olds on
by a h ook in its gut .
Th ere's a nest in the t ableau t oo,
an d three eggs, pastel b lu e
an d glu ed
together. Mo t h e r , m ot h er b ir d , on nest's edge,
huffs h er belly feathers
an d prepares to sit u p on her h ollow eggs.
A red b ir d curves
overh ead, h is dive h alt ed —t h ou gh perpet u al—by on e
win g p in n ed to a leaf
an d a wire
st run g from his beak
to the black corners o f t h is box
of birds, Our friends who fly,
as they live today in your backyard.
An d lookit over t h ere: a cat sm ackin g his eyes.
An d the boy by t h e barn p u m p in g his p ellet gu n h ard .

24

II
(ot h er voices)

Gu id e for t h e Perpetually Perplexed

D o n ' t h u r t you r b r ain o n t h is: i f th e arrow poin ts left,
it's left you sh ou ld go. Th e n
take your first righ t ,
t h en t h e n ext righ t ,
again t h e n ext righ t , t h en an ot h er
righ t . I f you h ead-on a cem en t t r u ck,
it is as it sh ou ld be. Too m u ch
perplexit y an d soon everyone's head
is a revolvin g h ologram o f a question m ark!
In stead: i f t h e sign says USE YO U R W O RD S,
t h en use you r words,
in th is order: subject , verb, object .
In stead: i f t h e sign says SH U T T H E FU CK U P ,
t h en you sh ou ld sh ut th e fuck u p .
If it comes over th e in t er com t o get i n lin e ,
for gosh sakes, t h en get in lin e , you r win gbon es
to t h e wall an d eyes forward.
D o n o t h in g to fu rt h er perplex t h e ot h er perplexed.
W e 'll let you kn ow wh en it's sin gle file for lu n c h ,
wh ere it's first you r placemats o f puzzles
an d im possible dots t o discon n ect
followed by you r beans, an d you r b r own m eat , gray,
over wh ich yo u 'll pray, o h yes, yo u 'll pray,
if you d on 't wan t us t o break you r n eck.

2

7

I f O n e Can Be Seen

If one can be seen, how can one see?,
t h e O n e Afraid to Be Seen said
in m y office
on a late February aft ern oon .
Th e gold seals on m y diplom as leach ed
to yellow i n t h e weak
ligh t . I loat h e Februarys.
Th e O n e Afraid t o Be Seen
wore a p u p p et theater on his h ead.
I t ried to answer his qu est ion .
Looking outward
while being looked at
need not stop you from going forth
into the world, I offered.
Th er e was a cord
t h at th e O n e Afraid to Be Seen
cou ld p u ll to open t h e cu rt ain s on his face.
H e m oved as i f to p u ll t h e cord
b u t d id n 't , t h en again
reached for it
an d open ed t h e cu rt ain s a shiver, t h en closed t h e m again ,
an d again raised a h an d as i f
to open . . . an d I whack-sm acked
t h e pu ppet theater off h is h ead
wit h a lon g, lo o p in g, kn uckle-dust ed backh an d slap
I learn ed in n ot one of t h e best schools (b u t n ot a bad
one eit h er) in m y profession
an d its appoin t ed tasks.

28

Th e Year t h e Locu st H a t h Eat en

Th ey ch ewed m y lawn d own to sand
an d t h en polish ed
each facet of each sand grain
wit h t h eir relentless win gs an d t h en
were u p an d off again , a h uge b a ll,
a t orn ad o, a rack-clackin g
win d of t h em .
Th ey ate th e sheep o f all b u t t h eir wool.
Th ey ate t h e trees' leaves, t h en t h e twigs, t h en th e bran ch es,
t h en t h e t ru n ks,
t h en sent ou t sappers
for t h e roots. Th ey gnawed fence posts
leavin g parallel rows
of barbed wire
across bald fields.
Th ey took d own t h e haystacks
an d fou n d n o needles.
Th ey left t h e b ookm ob ile
tireless an d wit h b u t one book u n eat en : (in sert odious book
of you r ch oice).
Th ey con su m ed th e letters in t h e at t ic,
all t h e letters from sea t o lan d
an d lan d t o sea,
all t h e letters o f fun eral an d woo.
Gran dm a's wed d in g dress—leaving a wreck
o f pearl bu t t on s—t h ey devoured.
Th ey bu zz-cu t t h e attic
an d its sawdust sifted d own
to t h e second floor—which was wh en I fled
an d left b eh in d t h e b it t en lan d an d t h e year
t h e locust h at h eaten.

29

Bu r n ed Forests an d Horses' Bones

are all we see wh en we cross th e river
to this lan d . Two or t h ree days, we guess, since t h e fire
reach ed th is shore
an d wen t to sleep.
Th is is wh ere it st opped,
n ot wh ere it started.
W h y d id n 't it leap th is n arrow river?
We see b u t wisps, locally, o f sm oke.
We can 't go back t h e way we cam e.
Before we crossed
to this scorch ed shore, we kn ew: we can 't
go back wh en ce we cam e.
Th e t rail is ch arred wit h drifts of ash,
b u t passable. We are n in e m e n , t h ree wo m e n , seven ch ild r en ,
t h ree m u les—t wo p u llin g carts; t h e t h ir d , a pack
on its back—on e d og, on e d u ck.
We see n o t h in g
b u t th e b u r n ed bones
of horses, n o t for m iles, n ot h in g n ot gray or black.
Because his whiteness (t h ou gh goin g
a grim y gray) offends us, we'll eat t h e d u ck.
Th r ee m ore days we travel am id sm old erin g stum ps,
crossing sooty streams, n o sounds b u t t h e screech
ou r feet m ake oh th e black
an d squeaky gr ou n d .
At n igh t t h ere is n o wood wit h wh ich t o b u ild a cookin g fire.
Tom orrow we'll hack u p an arm oire
an d k ill an d roast th e d og.
N o t on e o f th e ch ild r en will cry.



W e have t h ree m ules yet, t wo carts.
W e have one m ission : t o arrive
wh ere th e fire started
an d pass over it t o t h e place before t h e fire began.

3

1

Let t er to W alt W h it m a n from a Soldier
H e Nu rsed i n Ar m or y Square H osp it al,
W ash in gt on , D .C., 1866

dear W alt , k in d u n cle, its near two years since I left Arm ory Sq.
& I'm h om e n ow. Th e corn grew good this su m m er an d we
bou gh t 2 cows. M y leg ain 't righ t st ill b u t it's st ill m y leg. W h e n
you p r om m iced they wo u ld n 't take it was the first t im e after t h e
grapeshot I d id n 't wan t to go to the wor ld wh ere th ere is n o
p art in g. Dear Un cle, we have h ad a son born ed & we call h i m
W alt er W h it m a n W illis, he is well & Br igh t as a d ollar. Yrs
Affection ately, Bill W illis

3

2

Scorpion s Everywh ere

Th er e goes on e disguised as a m ouse!
An d those gray fellows, bushy t ails,
wh o ju m p from tree to roof to fence.
W at ch t h eir eyes as t h ey wat ch you
wh ile t h ey eat t h eir nuts. Th ey
are everywhere n ow
an d , t oo, t h eir cousin s, t h e wh it e-t ailed browsers (Bam b i
is a baby o f t h eir species' n am e) wh o eat
ou r suburb's shrubs an d herbs;
an d those t h at p u r r ,
an d those m out h -breat h ers, d r oolin g woofers,
an d t h e ones wit h ban d it eyes wh o trash
t h e t rash —all
of these creatures (an d , t oo, t h eir spawn) are n ot
as t h ey seem.
D o n ot m ore an d m ore of t h e m m ove closer an d closer?
D o you look o u t t h e win d ow an d see two?
D o you t u r n away, t u r n back, see three?
D o you hear t h e lit t le brot h er of t h e wo lf
h o wlin g from t h e m arsh near t h e golf
course, th e 8t h tee? H e
leads t h e m a ll, qu ick, cu n n in g, an d assisted
by his m in ist er, a gn at.
Each is, in fact —t h is is certain — a scorpion
an d h olds a p h ial o f ven om
u n t il t h e t im e it's t im e to in ject i n you !
O h h h h —o n t h e day th e win d is wrecked ,
o n t h e day t h e sky breaks,
on th e day th e sea creeps u n d er a rock!

33

Myop e

Th e boy can 't see b u t what's righ t in fron t o f h i m .
Ask h i m about t h at clock
across t h e r o o m , he can 't see it , or h e d on 't
care. H e makes a p ict u re o f a m ou n t ain —h e's lo o kin g
at th e m o u n t a in !—a n d it comes ou t fuzzy
an d he puts i n cliffs an d fizzers
t h at ain 't t h ere. Sit an apple d own
o n t h e t able an d h e can draw it i n p e n cil, i n color, on ce so r igh t
I alm ost took a bit e.
An d he's got a nose on h i m like a h o u n d .
H is daddy says he can sniff a rat i n a freezer.
A set o f ears, t oo: he says h e hears
his baby brot h er cryin g
an d I can get to h i m
just as he opens his m o u t h t o wail
an d in m y arms it's righ t to sleep again .
Th a t com es i n h an dy, som etim es. Som etim es
a baby's got to cry.
Th e boy's a b it od d .
H e likes books a lot .
O n a h ot su m m er even in g,
I swear, he's readin g on t h e p orch
an d th e t u r n in g pages m ake a breeze.

34

To Plow an d Plan t t h e Seashore

H is tractor rattles d own t h e dun es: low t id e, it's t im e to p low
t h e seashore an d t h en follow
wit h t h e finer h arrow
blades to com b
th is r ich earth sm ooth er. Th e bits of sh ell an d weed
will con t rib u t e to t h e harvest.
He's n ot been farm in g lon g—see: he has all his fingers
to t h eir tips. N o , he's n ot been farm in g
lon g. No w his field is ready
an d it's t im e to plan t his seeds
in earth t h rou gh wh ich he p u lled his farmer's tools.
Th is year, it's corn : he loves t h e lit t le yellow crown s.
Yes, th is year it's co r n , the farm er t h in ks,
last year the soybeans d id n 't take
an d t h e yield was: m in us-bean s, i.e., t h e seed beans, t oo, were gon e.
Co r n will love th is r ich an d m u d d y grou n d
an d grow in rows over his lon g b u t t h in t wo acres.
Th at 's wh at th ey gave t h e farm er: two acres, a tractor
wit h its partners,
an d t h at lit t le house
in t h e blue-green sea grass
above his field . Also four ch icken s.
Th ey gave h i m four ch icken s
an d a h am m er, an d a p it ch fork.
Th is is wh at they gave h i m
an d he was glad for it , an d for his t it le: farmer.
H is fields are t illed .
Som eday h e'll have a daugh t er an d a son.
By m o r n in g, t h e farm er t h in ks, t h e shoots
will be u p an in ch or t wo.
Th e wron ged one is always t h e wron g on e.

37

Am p h r ib r ach Dan ce

Rem em ber, first fallin g, an d fallin g,
from lofty, from distan t, from dizzy
cliff's slim ledge, yes fallin g, t h rou gh clear, n ot
blu e-bu rn ed air, yet fallin g, st ill fallin g
to soft san d, to h ard sea, to lon gin g
for lon gin g, an d m u ch less: t h e b roken ,
t h e t h u n ky, t h e d an cin g we each d id ,
t h e heels d o wn , t h en toes u p , t h en heels d own ,
t h e r ockin g, t h e forward an d , yes, back—
its measure so awkward, t h e sad dan ce
we each d id , rem em b er, rem em ber?

38

Rem ora

Clin gin g t o t h e shark
is a sucker shark,
at t ach ed to wh ich
an d feedin g off its cru m bs
is one st ill t in ier,
in ch or t wo,
an d on top o f t h at on e,
on e t h e size o f a n ick of gauze;
sm aller an d sm aller
(m or on , id iot , im b ecile, n in com p oop )
u n t il on t op o f t h at
is th e last, a m icr od ot sucker shark,
a filament's t ip —w it h a h eart beat —sliced off,
an d t h e great sea
all arou n d feedin g
his host an d th us h i m .
He's too sm all
to be eaten h im self
(t h ou gh some t h in gs swim
wit h open m ou t h s) so
he just rides alon g i n th e b lu e cu rren t ,
t h e in visible p oin t of th e p yr am id ,
t h e t op ben eat h all else.

39

Nat ion al Im p alem en t Statistics

O n e ou t o f eigh t deaths occu r r in g i n t h e h om e
or on picn ics
is im palem en t -relat ed . Four
t h ou san d an d eleven people die
in h om e accidents in t h e USA each year (on average
over th e past decade), so
t h at means 501.375 people die
of h om e im palem en t s each year.
Two h u n d r ed an d eighty-seven people die on picn ics
each year in th e USA, therefore 35.875 (one does n ot
r ou n d off h u m a n beings!) people die
by im p alem en t
on picn ics, m ost ly by fork, b u t m an y m ore t h an on e m igh t expect
by t oot h p ick, p art icu larly
in th e Nort h east region of t h e cou n t ry.
Th e den ot at ive: sharp object
enters one part of body
an d , som etim es, emerges from an ot h er part of body, oft en ,
t h ou gh n ot always, en d in g in exp irat ion .
O n e loves
the exceptions: he wh o lives wit h t h e shaft of a golf clu b
skewerin g his n eck
an d learns t o walk sideways t h r ou gh doors; she wh o lives
wit h a lo n g sliver of ice, ever u n m e lt in g,
in h er ch est . . . Th e h om e
is a bruised an d b u r n in g place
an d in it lives a wo r m ,
an d t h e p icn ic, t h e p icn ic
is eat in g on t h e gr ou n d
as leopards do
wh en th ey are n ot eat in g i n t h e trees.

40

Asafetida

Th e good , good t h in g for you
as prescribed by an ot h er, bit t er
to t h e taste,
an d , t oo, it stinks
like a n eck after a boot h eel is lift ed ,
for a m o m e n t , from it .
Like an eely
spike in a sinus. A h orse-ch okin g p ill
p u t in a p lu n ger
an d shot d own you r t h roat —it 's good
for yo u , will im p rove you , you n eed it ,
p u t a lit t le h on ey on t h is t in y b o m b
an d take it d o wn , take
it righ t d own .

4i

1

:

r

i74 5 7 P i

m o

Le vi, an Elegy

— for Michael Ryan

I t h ou gh t Jews were just an ot h er d en om in at ion : Episcopalian s,
Met h od ist s, Jews, Cat h olics, Lu t h eran s, etc. I kn ew H it ler h ated
Jews. I kn ow I hated H it ler . I was a ch ild . Th e n am e o f ou r parish
was St. Ph ilip 's. I h ad n o idea wh o St. Ph ilip was. I n con fir m at ion
class I was asked th e n am e o f a Jewish cleric an d I said "a rab b it ." I
liked t o play wit h words. I liked t o read words. I liked t h e soun d o f
words. I n novels an d poem s an d h ist ory books: I liked t o read sentences. I read an d read. I d id oth er t h in gs t oo. Bu t I read h u n dreds
an d h un dreds o f books. Ma n y years passed. O n e day, m y frien d said
to m e: You sh ou ld read t h is book. H e read a lot of books t oo. H e said
h e an d h is wife were readin g your book alou d t o each oth er every
n igh t . Th ey lived deep in t h e cou n t ry, in a farm house o n a red h ill.
Th ey were very broke d u r in g those years. Readin g you r book aloud
to each oth er. W h e n th ey finally got a lit t le m on ey t h ey m oved , an d
m y frien d said h e felt com p elled , as th ey were leavin g t h e house for
t h e last t im e , t o open t h e cabin et ben eat h t h e kit ch en sin k.
W rap p ed arou n d t h e d rain p ip e was a lo n g, t h ick, gray snake t ryin g
to war m h im self. I read your book an d I read it alou d t oo, in m y own
lon ely house — I read it for myself, for m y frien ds, an d for t h at snake,
an d th is is wh y I' m wr it in g t o you n ow, t h ou gh you n o lon ger have
an address, t o t ell you : I read your book. I read you r book.

42

Goofer-Dust
(dirt stolen from an infant's grave around m idnight)

D o n ot try to take it from m y ch ild 's grave, n or
from t h e grave
of m y ch ild h o o d ,
n or from any infant's grave I gu ard —vood oo, ju ju , boo-hoo rites
callin g for it or n ot ! Th is dust, t h is d irt , will n ot
be t aken at dawn or n oon
or at t h e dusky t im e ,
an d i f you approach
th is sacred place near m id n igh t ,
t h en I will ch op ,
one by on e, your fingers off
wit h wh ich you do your h ar m . Goofer-dust: i f you wan t it ,
if you need it , t h en
erect d o wn win d fr om a baby's grave
a fine-meshed n et
an d gather it
on e-h alf grain , a flaky m ot e, an in fin it esim ally sm all fleck
of a flake at a t im e
an d in such a way
it is given t o you
by t h e day, t h e win d , the wo r ld ,
it is given t o you , th ereby
d im in ish in g t h e n eed to steal
th is d irt displaced by a ch ild
in a ch ild's grave.

43

W i t h Maet erlin ck's Great Book,

The Life of the Bee, I beh eaded a bee
staggering on t h e glass
pat io door as I open ed it
to read above book
on above pat io. Th e bee sluggish , first cold
co m in g on . I an gled an d aim ed
t h e book's spine
to detach its h ead,
an d d id so. I h ad fifty or so m ore pages
to read. I was in d ifferen t
to irony's b lu e acid b at h : I d on 't get lost i n
on e-h un dred-year-old books
about bees every day.
All I felt
was a desire t o shake t h e h an d of Ma u r ice Maet er lin ck,
wh o loved these creatures
an d showed it so
in th e ch oice an d order of his words.

44

Ter m in al Lake

Alt h o u gh they kn ow n o oth er waters
an d have n o creat ion m yt h s,
t h e fish d on 't like it h ere: n o way ou t ,
n o river to swim upstream or d own .
Ter m in al Lake squats t h ere,
its belly filled by springs, r ain
an d ice an d snow. It's deep,
Ter m in al Lake, an d n o one's gone to t h e b ot t om
an d com e back u p .
All's b lin d d own t h ere, an d cold .
Fr om above, it's a h uge black co in ,
it's as i f the real lake is d rain ed
an d th is lake is t h e d rain : gapin g, lan guageless, suck- an d sin kh ole.

45

Th e Ch ie f At t en d an t of t h e Na p k in

stands beside t h e kin g
wh en he dines,
a n ap kin h u n g
on his ar m . It was his father's job ,
an d his father's father's. H e stands to t h e r igh t
so he can step forward
an d t u r n t o offer the k in g
his ar m , a n ap kin rack,
from wh ich t h e kin g removes t h e n ap kin ,
dabs his m o u t h ,
an d return s it t o its rack.
Th e kin g is a good k in g,
an d his m an n ers likewise.
Th e n he dies.
Th e n ew k in g is a bad k in g,
so the serfs cu t off his h an ds.
He's a better k in g for it .
Th e Ch ie f At t en d an t of t h e Napkin 's task now?
No t on ly to at t en d t h e n ap kin
b u t also to dab the king's m o u t h .
H is son will have this job .
It's better t h an t h e n ew
positions: t h e Ch ie f Atten dan ts of t h e Kn ife, t h e Fork,
an d the Spoon . Th ey
stand to t h e king's left
an d t wo feet back so t h at t h e k in g
m ay call t h em sin gly
to the t able, or, most often

46

in t h at co m m o n d u o,
Kn ife an d Fork. Spoon , poor Spoon
t h e k in g calls u p fron t , alon e,
for m ilk-sopped bread or gru ely soup.

47

Th e Mo u n t ain s i n t h e River
on th e W ay to t h e Sea

O n ce, th ere were m ore m ou n t ain s, bigger m ou n t ain s.
Th e still-h ere m ou n t ain s were bigger.
Th e Him alayas were four tim es bigger!
Th e n t h e rains cam e,
an d the Jovian W in d s,
an d cold t o crack the r ain ,
an d they t ook some of t h e m ou n t ain s every day
to the rivers, wh ich took t h e m ,
a grain at a t im e , to t h e ocean .
Rain , win d , rivers: th ey do all the work
wh ile t h e ocean waits
wit h its m o u t h open
at the river's m o u t h .
Just as t h e seas on ce rose t o t h e m ou n t ain s,
t h e m ou n t ain s will go again
to t h e et ern al sea's soft bed.

48

Reject W h a t Confuses You
Reject what confuses you,
Outlaw what seduces you,
What did not spring from a pure will,
Into the flames with what threatens you.
— firesong for Nazi book burnings

Most of us wh o m ost of t h e t im e wo u ld n 't be shocked
wo u ld be
if you showed us t h e pict ures i n th is book,
wo u ld be
h orrified an d prefer n ot t o look
an d be adam an t ou r ch ild r en n ot look
b u t also be t oleran t —corn erst on e
for us —an d ad m it t h at t h e artist
can express h erself however she wan ts,
First Am en d m en t , free speech . . . Bu t wh en rem in d ed
we are payin g
t h e artist, even m eagerly, in d ir ect ly (taxes: N EA) , t h en
we t h in k oth erwise: " I am com m ission in g
you , am in fact your collaborat or, so d on 't
say (p ain t , ph ot ograph ) t h at ; I wo u ld n 't ." —Sorry,
I beg to differ, au
contraire! D o n ' t give m on ey
to support t h e arts, taxes or oth erwise.
An d (easy for some t o say) d on 't take any m on ey
before you m ake t h e art.
Ask t h em t o pay after
you give t h e m t h e art ,
n ot before.

Flies So Th ick above t h e Corpses i n
th e Ru b b le, t h e Soldiers Mu st Use
Flam et h rowers to Pass Th r o u gh

An d th e lit t le roasted flies
fall in t o t h e ru in s t oo,
an d m ore flies com e—sh oo fly, sh oo—
u n t il there's n o t h in g for t h em to com e t o
an ym ore, n o t h in g b u t sky, blan ket y-blan k blan k blank sky.



Th e Ice W orm 's Life

is sun -avoidin g, an d by b u rred flanks
th ey wriggle t h r ou gh the glacier
wh ich t h ey'll never leave
n or ever m eet ice worm s of a n eigh b orin g glacier.
To t h em is t h e u n exam in ed life
wor t h livin g? By day
a few yards in / u n d er ice
an d t h en wild n igh t s, wild n igh ts
on t h e glacier's surface
wh ere to t h e m t h e win d brin gs p o llen , fern spores,
an d t h e algae
t h at t in t the b lu e frozen water red . Th e ice worm s gorge,
t h ey gorge, thousands of t h e m ,
in t h e dark, i n the co ld , aspirin g to grow
from on e-t en t h of an in ch
to four-tenths of an in ch .
All n igh t , t h e glacier a lawn
of t h em ben t by t h e win d , an d by dawn
they've gone d own in t o t h e ice to sleep,
to m at e, u n t il it is t im e
to ascend again : ou r refrigerative
fellow creatures, ou r n eighbors
on t h e glacier beside ours
wh o , i f we cou ld in vit e t h e m in t o ou r livin g room s,
wo u ld decom pose
in fifteen m in ut es (t h at soon!)
an d go wh erever t h eir th eology tells t h em th ey m ust go.

5i

Provincia Aurifera

Let's go t h ere: t h e gold-bearin g lan d .
It's in t h e trees, beaches of it , it's sand!
You p ick it u p an d p u t it in you r pocket.
Let's go t h ere: t h e gold-bearin g lan d .
Look at your gir l in t h e locket
she gave you : gold will be in you r hands.
Let's go t h ere: t h e gold-bearin g lan ds,
it's i n t h e trees, beaches o f it , it's sand!

52

I W i l l Please, Said t h e Placebo

O n e h u n d r ed m en have an in exp licab le, harm less,
t h ou gh p ain fu l space, or glob u le, or vacu u m ,
n o bigger t h an a baby pea, smack
in t h e m id d le of t h eir brain s: an an t i-t u m or ,
less t h an b en ign ,
since t h ere is n o place
in wh ich a m align an cy m ay grow.
All these m e n are b rou gh t t o a h osp it al,
lin ed u p , an d cou n t ed off: fifty od d ,
fifty even. Th e n t h e doctors
give t h e exp erim en t al dose t o t h e odds
an d sugar p ills to t h e evens.
Th ey all go h o m e, have d in n er ,
an d take t h eir p ills. Th e doctors said: O n t op
of a fu ll belly, take your p ills. By m o r n in g,
fifty of th e m e n h ad d ied ,
peacefully, i n sweet sleep, i n greeny dreams.
Fift y st ill lived : twenty-five wh o t ook t h e sugar p ill,
twenty-five wh o t ook t h e d ru g.
Autopsies an d CAT scans
on t h e dead an d th e livin g, respectively,
showed n o ch an ge
in t h e size o f t h e em ptin ess, wit h one
except ion : a t a ll, reedy
m an , one o f t h e dead,
whose an om aly
h ad sh ru n k, t h e doctors said,
to t h e size of a BB.

H osp it alit y an d Revenge

You in vit e you r n eigh bor over
for a beer an d a piece o f p ie.
H e says words in appropriat e
about you r Xm as bric-a-brac.
You shoot h i m , th ree t im es, i n th e face.
W h ile you co m p lain t o his first son
re h igh off-wh it e-couch clean in g costs,
h e shoots you i n th e face five t im es.
At your wake, your first son pu m ps eigh t
slugs b eh in d his first son's left ear.
Your wife in vites your n eighbor's wid ow for tea.

54

Fr o m t h e H igh Gr o u n d ,

it's a gran d view o f valley an d farm ,
a lu cid view of steeples an d graveyards,
of all t h e t in y people u p M a i n Street an d d own
Ma p le , o f t h e m id d le an d gram m ar schools t oo.
Fr o m t h e h igh groun d's elevat ion : a lo n g
look at the good boys an d bad , a len gt h y look
at t h e gir l o n t h e swin g
as h er skirt billows.
Th ere's the m a ilm a n wh o reads every let t er.
Th ere's t h e r in g i n its box on a lit t le black p illow.
Th ere's t h e m ilk m a n t akin g too lon g to deliver his m ilk .
Th ere's the librarian 's un dies on the lin e—silk.
Fr om the h igh grou n d all is clear,
in t erp ret able, lu cu len t : this is wh at t h is m eans.
Th e Berchtesgaden view, a dog at your h eel.
Fr om the h igh grou n d (low shrubs
stubbed by t h in win ds)
t h e stony pat h reaches
h igh er st ill, loft ier, t o heaven alm ost,
as it grows n arrower,
an d m ore n arrow.

55

Dyst opia

For shoes: rat skins du ct -t aped arou n d a foot.
Shirts: sacks used to h au l cor n
to H igh Feast Day d in n ers.
Th e same corn's husks
used to p olish t h e boots o f t h e adjut an t s
an d baked in t o bread by t h e ad ju t an t s' adju t an t s.
Th er e are n o ribs wit h o u t elbows i n t h em .
Th er e is n o sh oulder wit h o u t th e breat h o f an ot h er on it .
Co u gh in g carries across seas an d sod.
Th e Dysen tery W ar d fights t h e Typh u s W ar d
for a m elo n r in d wh ich , i n t h e con fu sion ,
is stolen by a leper
wh o silences h is bell's clapper
wit h his t h u m b 's stub.
W h e n t wo love
h ere, an d som etim es t wo do love h ere,
th ey are fam ished for each oth er
b u t too weak t o rise from t h eir pallets o f straw
to kiss. It is by t h eir serene looks
an d on e-eigh t h smiles
t h e grave crews
h on or t h em —p lacin g one first, t h e ot h er secon d,
in a twen ty-person t r en ch .
N o casseroles for th e m ou rn ers.
Th e th ree or fou r r em ain in g haves
are q u ickly eaten by t h e have-nots.

56

Mo n key Bu t t er

Mon key butter's tasty, tasty,
you p u t it i n cookies an d p ie,
you m ix it i n cake, I can 't t ell you a lie:
d on 't be ligh t wit h it , n or hasty
to push it aside. It's n ot t oo sweet,
wit h a ligh t banana-y h u e,
t h e m onkeys all love it ,
an d so will t h e one you call you,
t h e you who's an ot h er you wan t to love you .
Pu t it i n his p u d d in g, in h er pastry puff,
t h en sweep t h e t able of all t h at ot h er stuff.
Lat er, leave a lit t le i n his left, h er righ t , shoe.

57

Breakbon e Fever

O n t h e fem ur a b rick drops h ar d , from t h e t op r ib
to b ot t om a steel
bar slams, on n eck bones an d sku ll, on

Dokumen baru

PENGARUH PENERAPAN MODEL DISKUSI TERHADAP KEMAMPUAN TES LISAN SISWA PADA MATA PELAJARAN ALQUR’AN HADIS DI MADRASAH TSANAWIYAH NEGERI TUNGGANGRI KALIDAWIR TULUNGAGUNG Institutional Repository of IAIN Tulungagung

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