Evolution taught us to survive, not to understand how the universe works.
ARE THERE LIZARDS IN YOUR FAMILY TREE?
Do you scuttle lithely sand and stone, peek out from rocks through half-shut lids while others' hands are clasped in dance beneath the bone-white crescent slit? Are your eyes autonomous, right darts to lips and left to toes; as softer flesh sips steamed orgeat do you watch the spoon, the ankles cross? Do you begin each day with push-ups then shield yourself from sun in shade; when threatened do your muscles flex, your speech reduce to a chortling hiss? Do others comment, How cold your hands, how dry your skin? Do you dream of grasshoppers sweet in your mouth, or screaming wake from the jaws of a snake?
Thank you to the editor of Something Like Homesickness: A Zapizdat Poetry Anthology for first publishing this poem.
Some of my best leading men have been dogs and horses.
COMMUNION Dividing an elementary class into boys on one side girls on the other invites each to imagine the other group has cooties! cooties! cooties! and leaves each vulnerable to those who thrive on power yet united, we eliminate disease, produce thriving meccas of cultural exchange, launch ourselves through the universe…. If you think you’re invulnerable to ads and rhetoric, think about a lemon— thrust your teeth through thick yellow skin to release zest’s zinging scent and swallow tart puckering juice. That saliva now beading your gums is stimulated from the reptilian brain targeted by an arsenal of ads and six-second sound bites that riddle information till deception sounds like truth, our sanctity plundered by those who weave their children in the woof of power while snipping out poor to be fodder for war. Girls-boys, red-blue, hick-elite, white-colored, gay-straight… I can keep going since division perpetuates itself and blinds us to our need to be touched and to touch for we are not spiders, autonomous from birth, but must be suckled once the thin film of mucus is wiped from our mouths; if we didn’t thrive on touch our exterior would be hardened shell rather than this overlay of neural sensors telling us when to swat, run, rest, embrace the Pleiades in every cell, the bell, the smile, the knife— yet the nourished thrive amid those with hunger that sinks skin between bones as the body digests its own flesh to survive— this inequity perpetuated through our mad divisions— yet madness is tricky. We think of it as moon howling running naked through streets invisible companions but true madness skulks where plans are laid to destroy this planet many times over as if this could be done more than once as if this is the best use of our lives madness in the reverent joy of orchestrating Armageddon as if some are connected and others not madness in numbing ourselves to suffering in ways that cause more suffering but before squaring off into us and them remember glass houses and heal thyself for unraveling the madness of this world begins with me. It begins with you. Yet how do we wrap around the odd ones, the violent ones, the ones who’d sooner slit a throat than say hello? I know only that we start with kindness and cherishing the children we create for they are our future, inheritors, providers, while we are holy catalysts for communion. If we choose to eliminate hunger, rein in our mad greed for power, cherish this blue planet’s miraculous life, what force could shatter our bond for each life is no more than kidney, cell, atom, of the same body coalesced from stars and seas— dust to sky to ocean to algae to fish to bird to human, we are one being the Pleiades in every cell, the bell, the smile, the knife— why not live as if we chose this sacred life?
Thank you to the editors of The Tishman Review for first publishing this poem.
You want to fly, you got to give up the thing that weighs you down. Toni Morrison
The future enters us in order to transform us long before it happens.