In the dry air of my Island
where moisture is a sea-preserve,
stealing from a haze
may spit upon your marble terrace,
rattle bamboo poles all around,
arouse the drowsing thyme to reek,
and sow a harmless pox upon the ground,
until arrested by the sun.
Sebastian brought home from school a poem,
it was about the pure white snow.
He gave it to his little brother Babe,
who made out the words,
gazed out the window,
and dreamed all in whites.
Dirt was heavy on Chicago streets.
Flecks of fern,
threshed by dinosaurs,
hardened by ages, dug up in lumps,
hauled by centipedal trains,
carbonized in stoves,
passed up a million chimneys,
ascended, descended, coated the ground,
until lately perspiring southern seas
conveyed their damp to electric charge,
that passed it to northern winds
that dropped it as snow,
to be blacked by dismal dust.
So the puzzle of the Babe
was how to bring regularly down
enough snow to cover the soot.
Nature 'd charge too much for the job,
the soot would be stubborn,
insubordinate to white snow, pure will,
and much more snow would be needed.
Wun't it be fine, he opined,
if someone invented a way
to wash the snow -- to be published,
of course, in Popular Mechanics.
Tom's bantam cockadoodles at fleeing night,
lets grackles quarrel over his scatter of corn.
Train-lugging diesel engine
humming like a bumble bee
drags through Princeton Junction
measuring time by clanks on rails,
backing with sostenuto basses
and faraway percussions our nearby
smoggy morning sudden thaw sounds.
High-chirping sparrows, low-pitched mourning doves,
heavy-chested alsatian barking, a beagle baying back.
A car's eight cylinders tuned smoothly baritone,
the milk truck stopping and starting.
Drop by drop, water prepares globes
that sunbeams will fractionate.
Pipes sing, worms turn, twigs snap,
wood swells, old-stinking and nostalgic.
Unbendings, unfastenings, slumpings.
A world cracking on its winter cot
fore falling asleep again.
All this might be sensed early, even abed.
if you didn't stay up for the Late Show,
or the State of the Union Address.
Tan and nude,
with many alike
in a ceramic bowl,
carrying three grains of salt
and a ruddy fleck
unnoticed inter alia,
viz. its shell,its twins,
the plant,its bush,
mass production,of unpeeled skin
its bagging and bowling,
its encounter with culture,
what it is to all other peanuts,
who is about to take it,
who takes the others around it,
unaffected by noise,
the faster the drinking, the sooner its choice,
the fingers injected, the pluck,
plump into jaws and maw,
taken from the many,
leaving the company of its kind,
losing its collective character,
a one-second individual,
a fleeting triumph,
the center of attraction
swallowed for communion,
or useful with a hem and haw,
held up by a word,
An early Easter lily blossom
raised a stench of fearful sweat
off the woolly flock,
alarming its shepherd dog,
who raced around in a frenzy,
yet not discovering
the marauding beast, then
fretted -- panting, baffled --
for her absent master.
Untired despite a short day's sleep,
boxerlike weaving and dodging,
aggressively boring in,
not to be put off by feinting and dodging,
loud claps, flailing pudgy fists,
returns again and again,
seeking an opening,
attacking through smoke and porous cloth,
strikes without claque, fearless,
a fair match unless drugged
in violation of Department of Drug Enforcement rules.
Stoically, invite him to alight,
let his proboscis delve deep,
suck heavily of the thick blood --
"You have to take it to give it,"
came the voice of Uncle Charlie the Boxer
smiling deaf from heaven above the roof --
and though his brilliant eye see the blow coming,
his dainty bandy legs
cannot pull him up.
You smartly slap him,
and shake him down,
and wipe the blood away.
The God Geb,
the Great Cackler,
in Egypt of Old,
laid the Cosmic Egg,
the World was hatched.
The cocks crowed at dawn then,
to lay the World again each day.
But here in Naxos now,
they crow any time
they feel like it, midnight, midday;
with the rest of the world
they've lost all sense
of rule and propriety.
They were right to ban
all cocks in Sybaris,
"a cock for Asclepius" indeed!
The next thing you'll know,
the Sun will decide
upon a new route.
And this would happen
didn't attend to
a displaced fowl
in a new habitat,
the odd cock,
who couldn't adapt.
A playgirl, a hunter, a watchdog, but
before all else she was a mother,
such was Trudela whose real name was Gertrude,
Trumpet in Hebrew, so in Alsatian she became
Trudela, the Little Trumpet, a small black
dachshund who lived in a Strasbourg apartment
with a businesslady and studious daughter.
Trudela was kept from male company,
and never had intercourse or was pregnant.
Still the rut came upon her and with it
a sexual excitement that made one feel pity.
There followed a pregnancy of two months
during which she built a cave and nest
by collecting sweaters and slippers.
Afterwards, as if her pregnancy had terminated
and she had given birth to a litter of pups,
she would begin to lactate.
So undemanding, however, her babies,
that she needed to suck from her own teats
bring up her own milk, she was sleek as a seal.
As for her puppiers, she missed them,
convinced that she had in reality borne them,
So would frequently trot around the house
looking, checking where she thought to have left them.
The truth could not be conveyed to a dog, so
to comfort her, her mistresses gave her
the teddy bear of the child, which
Trduela accepted and guarded most carefully.
She would not leave the apartment without it,
but allowed it to be carried in the lady's
shopping bag and thus assured would walk
along contentedly with the humans.
Even so, from time to time, doubts assailed her.
She would stop dead in her tracks and not budge,
insisting upon being shown the teddy bear
from out of the bag, which, done,
she would proceed amiably for a while.
After several weeks, she would forget
about her puppy, and life would be normal.
Until the next lying-in episode, when,
again, she would meet her teddy-bear pup.
"Nourished, warmed, cleaned, showered, the snail copulates lingeringly and delivers several grams of round pearly eggs that sell at 6,000.00 Francs the kilo." L'Express, 23 January 1987.
away for a bit of lettuce.
Watch now the dance,
the specimen problems,
costumed and with masks.
Each is to step forward,
sing a song,
and prance prettily
I am the moo-cow,
a knuckled-kneed cropper-tooth,
a devourer of grains and grasses,
I take up space.
I am a crow
a croaking chomper of cereals,
you'd be surprised what I eat,
as much as a hearty child.
I am a baby,
an accident, unlicensed,
source of every disaster just
by coming on the scene.
I can use up anything and
everything and if I cannot myself,
then Ill make others come after me
who can do a better job of it.
I am a car, millions of
misdemeanors are we all,
but I never go on trial because
it takes too long to cite my bad deeds,
direct, indirect, remorseless, of course.
I am a plastic bag, the kind that can
suffocate you if you put it
over your head;
barring that you can make enough
trillions of us to suffocate the human race
and the animal and vegetable kingdom.
Just keep making us. We'll do the rest.
I am an insecticide grenade.
I've already killed more people than all
the explosive grenades of World War II.
People who use me are killed often, too,
by accident of course, but inevitably.
I am a yacht. Sail upon me over the
bounding main, where fish are gone and
waters pale with the detergent cloud in train.
I cost a lot more than my boards and
hull, my sails, motors, furnishings.
Chandling me and handling me is more than
you can pay, but never mind, you can
watch -- see the thousand yachts in
every cove, every port; once in a while
I edge out to see the sea, but
come back shortly. My reason for
being, the point of it all, is to
waste the wealth of the world,
not to sail the sea.
I am a privately owned greed-pacifier,
call me XYZ, my number is legion,
my qualities many but the one quality I have that is
exponential is that I never pacify greed in itself.
I am a sawyer of great trees
I am a maker of gaudy packages
I am a sprayer of insecticides
I am a banker of scoundrels
I am the builder of tanks and bombs and warplanes
I excite perversions of all kinds, sexual, moral, mental, aesthetic
I am the fundamentalist
I am a hate-monger
I fish out the ocean
I corrupt politicians
I advertise anything
I sell anything
I fuck anything that moves
I invest in the worst
I make anything
I am worthless
I am criminal
I am an addict
I discourage people
I disparage good people
I am a patrimaniac
I follow astrology
I invidiously discriminate
I am hypocritical
I am a shirker. I fill a job to obstruct
I am a fanatic of my family
We are all ecological disasters.
(I"ve given you all the clues,
fill in the spaces. Then
do something about such creatures --
even if you must put a gun to your head.)
Tiny insect formless to my unmicroscopic eye,
crawling across the page of my newspaper
as I sit reading on my first night in Goa.
A Pangamese petty thing that could kill or at least
-- I am not such a fool --
is part of the paranoia against nature down to the virus,
and it, this tiny insect-- is somewhere between, and
all life that is practically invisible is enemy,
is it not?
So I turned a leaf to squash it, when
a story fixed my hand in midair --
"Vishram Gujar killed his twenty-six-day old infant.
It was revealed that Vishran
was allegedly having illicit relations
with his brother's wife, Sushama...
Towards the end of 1984,
on December 17 to be precise, Vile Parle police were told,
by a worried Shanti Vishram Gujar (25),
that her infant was missing
from where she was sleeping
with her blind mother-in-law.
The other occupants of the house
included her sister-in-law and her daughter Majalakmi (6),
in a hut about 10 by 10,
situated a stone's throw from the Vile Parle
police station, behind the Ambassador Flight Kitchen.
Her brother-in-law Sarju Gujar is in Libya employed as a cook.
"It was revealed that Vishram
was allegedly having relations
with his brother's wife Sushama.
This probably planted seeds of suspicion
in his own guilty mind
and he started suspecting his wife Shanti
of having an affair.
"The innocent child was first throttled
and strangulated to death and then buried.
Shushama pointed out the dead body of the infant
concealed in a marshy land
close to the police station.
Both Shushama and Vishram are now charged with murder..."
When I looked again, the insect had disappeared,
crawling steadily off the page,
he wasted no time on humans.
Man's credentials are false,
written and sealed by himself.
People sport from many sorts --
thus, a tree,
or from the sea,
a long-jawed dog,
a mushrooming log.
There is wind in one,
a parch in another.
In any group is a bleak
Martian confronting a Venusian.
Try as they may to accommodate,
an ancient force interpellates
a basic question about
the authenticity of the species.
It may sound like man,
woman or child --
wear clothes, stand up,
but the leaves are shaking
against the breezes,
the sea is beating against the rocks,
shocks of interstellar space are
The fish don't notice the wolves;
among the species are interstitials,
Man and man figure interspecial battle.
but a man and his dog are a species,
xenophobic vs their neighbor,
attacked by the woman
and her cat,
the down-dog-man species!
Why make so much of
"How many legs?"
"How long of tooth?"
"How many years to live?"
all conventions of science,
suited, no doubt,
to its conventional goals,
and the "inability to interbreed"
is a useful distinction
of a mechanical sort,
but the true species is a context
of ecology, a self-containment
of all that fulfills one --
each person defines,
his own species,
if he is wise
The sun so bright and strong
cannot climb my mountain
till half the day is done
and half my working life.
Yet across the mountain
it's the other way around.
No matter what I do
I'm only half done
in the bright warm sun.
A mountain makes a fickle sun
which makes a half-baked man.
Can you not, o sun,
live like the light bulb above,
that hangs drearily but
evenly for the duration
of my day of work?
"You miss the point d'appui,"
the sun unblinking smart would say,
"it being now post-meridian,
A.M. is the mountain's fault."
So we dug and dug a tunnel
through the mountain's base
much energy was burned of
the sun's own store of ages gone.
You can see the morning sun now
by peering though the mountain
How many Fridays have we thanked
for not being Thursdays or Mondays,
Wish we life away so.
Draw back all those weeks, dear breath,
Into the fresh lungs of youth,
And fill them with the best of life,
Screened of complications.
Humpty Dumpty, splatted where he fell,
and tra-la-la for him.
Just a dog lying in the sun.
Waters creeping up a beach.
A long walk to nowhere
An enthusiastic argument.
A book on the wide harmless world.
No shocks and jolts of rioting time,
but sweet time, soft time,
fall stilly, pass gently
around our retracements.
Drink long cool wet and stretch the cords,
from Monday to Friday,
With little gods resting,
Big gods can work.
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