Imagine that they caged the human race:
What would they call us?
Every livestock has its name:
stallion, mare; jack, jenny and hinny
buck, ewe, nanny-doe, hogget and kid
bull, boar, barrow; cock and biddy.
Our keepers be gods, and ours
a farm animal’s lot:
comforted or discomforted at the
whims of a mysterious arbiter.
Abuse and unfairness?
All part of the greater plan.
The man with a prod in his hand
is all-knowing, and the stock
exist only to be a metaphor.
Begone, Snake-Oil Salesman.
My body has lain in the clear running spring
in these very mountains, and has
risen, the effervescence settling over my skin
and me now the serpent
from which you stole your oil,
once my oil, all at once my oil.
Beneath my tongue I feel the venom,
I rise again with no limbs, only
belly muscle after belly muscle after belly muscle
writhing in water,
the slide of dense belly
against jagged rocks, soft orchardgrass, a wayward dungbeetle,
I writhe my way to you
and deliver my venom in one thick glob of spit
straight into your eyes.
I eat fish eggs raw from the creek, pretend they are
caviar, pick black trumpets from beneath the
spread of toothed oak leaves and–as they
fry up in cast iron, in lard from wild hogs–pretend they are
truffles. I scratch bark from willow trees, imagine that it is
aspirin, steal honey from bees and hope it might replace
antibiotics. My ailments place me among the
animals, and we all suffer in silence. I breathe in time with my solitude.
I imagine that my pounding head beats its blood-aches in
rhythm with my heart, feel the nerves tingle in toes and fingertips like
buzzes of the electric fence, felt vicariously through blades of grass, and
I pretend I am a little lightning storm. The blinding nauseous
pain moves my legs under me, even as they
stiffen with the cold morning dew.
Parasitized along with the foxes and the deer and the mice, evenings around the fire I itch
spiderbites, antbites, beestings, pick embedded ticks out of my flesh and crush them under
rocks, apply honey or salt to the wounds, bandage with cobwebs or mullein leaves. I
drink a hot tea of wild blackberry leaves, mints, pineapple weed. I heat rocks beside the
fire to place beside my sleeping bag at night. I imagine a
time when I won’t hurt all the time, and reality
slips into a dream.
What do you mean
we could have been counting the
thousand pinpoint pricks of black mustard seeds
on the mandalas
instead of sitting in these swivel chairs?
I’d gladly have given up my
climate controlled fifth-floor apartment
to be a goatherd in the mountains, if
someone had only told me sooner.
There must be a million
glass elevators to the top of these
but just outside the orange glow
I have found a night sky that throbs with blackness.
All this time I have been entering numbers into cellblocks,
and you let me know so
late in this game about these worlds
where I’ll never go.