Monday, January 6, 2020

Crazed, As Craquelure

“who knew how terrible was
wisdom when it knew itself useless”

Unlike wordless song or dance,
Poetry can only be
Art humans evaluate,
Unless you believe gods think.

This kills me. This just kills me.
Sometimes, I wish for the rise
Of the robots, ones who read,
Or for words that read themselves.

Mostly, I try not to think,
Not to think too much myself,
How poems could only matter
To one trivial species.

Other poets enlarge this,
Either by giving us gods
Or making us half the world,
Architects, foes of Nature.

Some pretend we’re the whole show,
Human wars, human villains,
Human victims, human sins,
Revolutions, redemptions,

Players, stages, audience,
The whole black-box theater,
Self-sustaining as the globe
Floating through the night outside.

Then, all our names and costumes—
Tiny, symbolic details
Used to tell ourselves apart
In our masks and our makeups,

Uniforms for teams and tribes—
Our winks for audiences,
Whispered asides, cutting eyes—
Lend the poems significance.

This was my experience.
Perhaps it was also yours.
Never forgive who did this.
Never forget it was us.

Some poems aren’t human enough,
Their humanity’s blurry,
Indistinct, hard to label,
Too vague to identify.

I think I’m in there, somewhere,
Possible therianthrope
Outline under minerals,
Smeared, cracked, and calcifying,

Hard to make out, not quite right.
Do you know that weird torture
American teenagers
Were sometimes made to suffer

To keep them from casually
Screwing each other, the game
In which each teen was given
A raw, thin-shelled chicken egg

They were required to carry
With them everywhere, always,
For a set amount of time,
A week, maybe a fortnight,

Without breaking the damned thing,
Just so they would learn how tough
It is to care for something
As frail as a baby’s skull?

Unsurprisingly, research
Suggests it had no effect,
Didn’t stop kids from screwing,
Didn’t make kids good parents,

Was briefly crazy making,
That’s all, scared one’s egg would crack.
Imagine an actual 
Body, your body, that egg,

Which you will have to carry
Around with you forever,
For as long as you are you,
At least, probably longer.

That’s the body of this poem,
Bad pottery, badly glazed,
Egg-white pigmented rock art,
Encrusted, fading with age,

Carefully carried around,
Keeper of all the ashes
Any misstep could scatter
As any misstep could break.

However named or renamed,
It’s always this fragile shell,
Delicate, crazy-making,
No name can ever remake.

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