Monday, July 9, 2012

Dog in My Dog

The sun is distracting me this morning, so are
            the hydrangeas
and the bony peach tree with
                                              its four dangling
and dehydrated peaches.
The grass is burnt brown—there's been
            no rain here for a while, and just
as well, after all I'm
                                on vacation,
why, I'm not sure—I prefer dank cellars, cities,
      where rusted nails from a lost century
                 hold the edges aligned
and the entire contraption vibrates 
        like a steam engine blowing 
              off its organs. 
Nature is brutally deceptive, all surface, 
recessional
                decrepitude, can't tape the decay, 
       only the movement, and I'm 
                    prone to ask if a rock can have 
a soul, why can't a building?
       Perhaps it's my mental
and physical misalignments. 
                I see through 
         a fifty-percent black circle that fades 
                           a few seconds after
   I open my eyes, a dangling and dehydrated  
  
pathology through which my art becomes 
my art,  or should, 
                   because so many artists I know 
filter out their deformities. 
Oh, they overcome them,
       even make sure you appreciate their 
particularity, but they don't paint them. 
                   It seems to me your deformity 
is what you are, all else is replication. 
    For example, if
this human bacterium I know, whose secretions
             coagulate on the walls, 
    were to depict his DNA, he could 
perhaps create an indelible monument, 
        a twisted bronze with Gehenna-like 
squiggles that could shake
us out of our pinafores.
Ah, so caustic! 
But he strives to be digestible, only to stumble
                        like a satyr, 
               even when he shovels 
                  the old lady's snow next door—
such a good neighbor, wants to make you weep—
such decency, 
                      like the poet presenting 
his National Book Award prize money to 
an antiwar group  in a
a melodramatic flourish of
  rebellion but as an lit-mag editor 
mailing insulting rejection notes to 
fledgling poets—
       Lover of Mankind, Hater of People. 
Or Cartier-Bresson
talking about his friend Bonnard: 
                   "You know, Picasso didn't
                     like Bonnard, and I 
                     can imagine why, 
                     because Picasso
                     had no tenderness.
In disease there is progression,
      or is there just disease? 
               You can doctor yourself up
          to a point and then you lash out 
                          or you fester,
but you don't produce, you stand still,
   which is what terrifies me because I'm so full of
                inaction, and
few can outwait me. 
When you hammer steel,
        it just gets harder, 
              and Kim Sun Myung ought to know,
                    spending 43 years in jail 
    because he refused 
to renounce Communism. 
And I refuse to renounce it, too—
       not because I believe in it, 
             but because others don't.
I'm going to pull the shade down 
              over this bright
      scene, neutralize it before it
              boozes me up.
This is what thinking is, not puking—
         you don't study the whiteness of a shade, 
                 you glance
at it and back off into yourself 
        where there are
             circuses performing, 
   clowns, high-wire acts,
         an old idiot who Guillaume observes 
                    wears "a blouse
          of a rose-violet that dances on the cheeks
              of certain young girls 
                      who are near death."
Disease, decrepitude, who
              knows the order of decline, 
          the exact moment you live through
 a thousand times but will not survive 
                a thousand and one?
        It's the blanching that gets me. If I
  could only go out in a blaze of 
                  comic-book color . . . 
             Big things get particularized,
                  too massive to live with
one chews, breathes, mourns, but one senses 
   the small things . . . only after . . . 
            tiny, insignificant, 
            destructive, they can dampen survival,
                       extinguish it . . .  
                    
     The minutia, the maggots, the remarks,
            scarier than enormities,  
                 unnoticeable, they compile, 
                   one cocks his head, 
        "Did he say that? Did I hear that?"  
                                                                        
Maggots in my life,  you're small, 
           insignificant, but you ignite 
my survival. Small things are scary, 
           scarier than big things. 
              They're unnoticeable and can be seen 
                    only when you squint. 

Some can be stepped on, sprayed, 
     but never eliminated, constantly driven 
                    into sockets from where 
                        they peek out like rodents,
            impersonal, infectiously, crazed. 

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