He forgot that his body was a part of him.
And so he ate it. He thought it was grass.
Well, at least that kept him sane--
He said, “that’s not me, that there morass.”
And he didn’t feel the thrill of the grizzly
Bear about to rip off someone’s
Face. But he and his friends tottered
About on crumbling skeletons.
It will be fine when the lion, the leopard,
The wolf, the snake, the bear and their friends
Come back to the table. “Can you pass the salt?”
The seal looks at you, extends
A flipper. The giraffe no longer kicks,
So why not be friends? I feel better already.
Everything that was stolen from me,
My God, for so long, and now I feel steady.
The music is only there because
You hear it here. Otherwise,
It’s just a load of metal noise.
The shores of an ocean crystallize.
Whatever the gull wants, squabbling
On the beach, sometimes—often--
It’s amazing what people toss away.
Sometimes the hero is there in the coffin.
The giant tramps back and forth. Finally,
He is aware of his brain and how his spine
Spills black life, and in his brain
An ingot with its own design.
If you’re thirsty, have a drink.
There are two kinds, you know, one
Is on the shelf, and the other is
Below the counter. So you’ve begun
To look around, to switch on lights.
Sometimes, you don’t even know that
You’re thirsty, so keep alert. Worse,
You’ll crawl and twist the thermostat
Because you’re ill, you never figured
You’re ill because you’re dry, you’re dry
Because you emulated pocket mice,
So drink, then help some passersby.
Sit down there, and stay alert,
And soon you’ll see it born, you’ll see
Some movement—it’s still hidden then--
It takes some steps, unexpectedly
It was hidden, now it’s in
The light. What do you think? Or
Feel? Note everything. Record
What it does France and Baltimore.
The truth is your soul, and your soul is in
The primal thought, your form comes
Before the first electron and neutron,
Before the first deliriums.
But the nature walkers in Worcestershire
Take the form of the cumulus cloud
And turn it into thoughts,
Until at night they cry aloud.
Your words come from the primal thought,
The clouds come and go, melt
And shine with silver light, the walkers
Sketch their impressions, heartfelt.
You see a form that has no lines
A color not confined to any
Spectrum. That should introduce
You to the one before the many.
All he wanted was to leave
His traveling bag and find himself
Elsewhere, preferably as high
As possible, as north as Guelph.
She, on the other hand, wanted to set
Aside those material brushes and carve
Statues with her mind and shine light,
Even if she had to starve,
And meanwhile, not too far away,
A hot air balloon in the shape of a brain
Left behind the hills of Surrey,
But still could hear the wailing of Cain,
And on Jupiter, cloud built upon cloud,
Thick and waxy, a thousand miles
Above the start of a storm that threatened
To raze its bluffs and defiles.
And the reservoir was drained, the dam
Walls cracked, mold began to show,
Until the rain began to fall,
At last, gentle, soft, and slow.
There he was, Claude Rains, with Margot,
I thought I’d seen that scene before
And come to the end of the movie,
You know the one, where she’s heartsore,
And he is suave and lies gives up lies,
Then lies again. It is summer time
And here is Hunter Mountain and
Its stones, and the same hot climb.
Imagine driving all the way
To Tennessee, and when you get there,
You find yourself back in Chicago. Your shoes
Have been placed, toe-in, in the Frigidaire.
That’s all right, it wasn’t for nothing,
We met the Three Furies, we got to know them,
And out there where the field is darkest
Are two trumpets. We’re supposed to blow them,
It’s the only way to cord your muscles
In your old age, that and bending
Over a crinkled page of Talmud
(Or of Borges?), and comprehending
That the Kumrat Valley is not the pass
Before the ultimate mountain, there’s no
Ultimate mountain. And when we’re tired,
We tumble back to the cold and the snow
And trees that died before they bore fruit,
Burnt black, and a stone hut
With the same dirty floor, a hearth but no heat,
No way to get the old door shut,
Because we didn’t come for the shale
Or the sky or the mountain, we came to go,
A topography that is not still,
A covered bridge and blazing snow.
I remember every road, also
Every stone, everything
I could and couldn’t understand,
And see, or think I see, the beginning--
Or the ending?—topographic-
Ally speaking. And the bones
Themselves become the flesh, the stal-
Actites become the sky, groans
Themselves become more than a song.
Every road is a pilgrim’s road
When you are traveling on the pilgrim’s
Road, whose adjoining fields are fallowed,
That faces a height that we do or do not
See. And the more we walk, sometimes
Catch a lift, we value the Syrian
Thistle, the gray lizard that climbs
The gray pine, on the way to the streets
Of the capital, which stretch
From Montezuma to Betelgeuse.
The wind is so soft, so steady, the ketch
Barely slides but it slides,
It is a wind that contains,
If you bend your ear, every
Murmur, the roar of airplanes,
Ants skritching across terrains,
Atoms that make no sound, foul
Conversations, mirrors of hope
And pain, until the stern Owl
Nebula, until the crown
Of the tree that makes its own space,
Everything looped together,
Stumbling to its own place,
Nothing is missing, not even a rotten
Tooth, an imaginary number, a hurt
Too deep to feel, a forgotten blue-
Berry, a revelation, a concert,
A try at a mustache. Look at
The toil of man, the Outerborough
Bridge, every urge that wipes
Away the mind, every thorough
Dedication, the viciousness,
The foolishness, the petty anger
Or the mix of fury and self-pity,
Or in the midst of danger, languor,
From the Mongolian plain to the shaded street,
When the government cracks, when bitter water
Spills, what is the cause of this terrible
Spin? Every color, the tauter
Nerves, the solace, the texts, the times
Of insight with disgrace, they lead
Our little bodies to proceed
Beyond the truths of Ganymede.
Yaacov David Shulman