Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Wolf of Metals

A magical, cheerful elf

Of a poet, say, Jane,
Who read to us the other
Night in a whitewashed Mormon Hall
In red rock country, midway
Through her circuit of the world,
Of the Silk Road and skeletal
Miracles of molecular entanglement,
Shadow puppets in the dark
Night bazaars of Istanbul, China,
California, burning, and New York,

Almost invariably may
Be predicted to find physics,
The transformative forces, biology,
And the proud flesh charming,
Being charming herself. She smiles,
And makes eye contact at the end
Of every wandering rhyme. I like her.

She reads us her latest piece,
Just out in The New Yorker,
A sort of catalogue or bulletin
From the most recent lab science
Emphasizing how little of our bodies
We are, genetically. Borrowed
Lives make up the most of us,
In which Jane finds a light delight,
Explaining when the poem is done,
"That's something I've been
Wondering about since I was seven."
She twinkles and glances around.
"When does the apple I'm eating
Stop being apple to become Jane?"

Seems magical and wondrous,
Doesn't it, the transformation
Of bodies and bodies and things?
But the Saturnine mage poets
Of the demonstrably false
Hullabaloo of spells and alchemy
Sour the milk of good fellowship
With their athenors and metaphors
Of dark forces breeding gold
By fire from over-cooked dirts. Grim,
Old men, mostly, for whom the Host
Wasn't miracle enough to trust,
Back in the days of literal trust,
Who wanted to transcend
The ordinary magic of dying,
To compel enchantment to power
And force their silent readership
To shut their books and weep.

Why are want-wise poets so stupid,
Anyway? When did we part ways
From the genius of a plein air race?
Perhaps when in our own stupidity
We saw the stupidity of any genius.
Or perhaps we, who didn't matter,
Caged as base matter, wanted away.

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