1. A Brief History
The original heart had no valves,
So the Classical masters wrote limited notes
For the beats to ignite—before hunting, of course.
Only then did the brave and ungodliest hands—
After poking at lives as one might a fire—
Place their fingers inside instrument’s bloody bell,
And by chance, or some luck, change its pitch.
As suddenly: choruses of bells, hammers, keys in locks.
Fields of garlic sweetened in the ground.
What we thought was lost or broken, we learned,
Had never been given at all. Until now.
The world’s women continue their work of rejoicing,
and the men—pretending nothing had changed—
weep in the dark, afraid of what could happen.
I feel my body was taken from me.
I was once a dirty young man
who thought of a love made wet at the mouth.
Women would call out over me,
would press their ears or lips to my chest
hoping for any echo.
I would give it to them good—
with my ring finger if I could.
I was all piston and hose—
gum and gasket—
tubes of fuel
for the filling—
notches made across my body—
I was slick as a found gun
I made it happen.
My body felt used afterward—
like I had been given a cock
to use it. I laid with them
sometimes for a full minute
before speaking. Often longer
as we caught our breath—
tincture and tubs—
clamor made of this or that
spent sweat—tincture and
brawn and flask of—
I was a jug of my own blood.
Sometimes I wept over them
it was so good.
. . . Sometimes, in a low field, a silo, cracked from absence, fills with rain—or rather, it leaks slowly, so if it were to go unchecked, the grain would be ruined. Rarely does the musk go unnoticed. But it is possible: the roots release from their wet sheaths, course through the rotting bulge. A syrup thickens in search of air, though there is plenty outside the steel casing.
A bounty where a woman was
shows its pretty face--
so that I can recall, finally,
each particular hinge.
The boy is not lonely in boyhood,
though he wants to trade his body
for beauty. Once he finally wakes,
heart in hand, he can see the world
for everything there is:
Consider the love that is made within
an atom, the general loneliness of fire
and rust as molecules are exchanged.
Did you know that the world is exacting?
: the shadow of the Earth on the moon
is a tight fit. The halo of the sun behind
also. The infinitesimal tides? The span
of a season?
But now when he looks, there is only love
and the bounty of what was born in him.
The miracles he had first seen are lost;
he looks to God for answers he once had.
7. Summary (the invention of love)
then was . . .
only not for Him
. . . until She
left him unsure.
By now, you may be wondering how I lasted.
I, too, wonder where the hollow went
or if there was a hollow
where now is hallowed ground,
bulbs planted in the blood-black earth.
Isn't there enough to keep us dying?
Why now this new death, peeling back
all night as I wait for her to wake.
I was so cool. Oh, how they wanted me
then. In the streets, the girls waited for breasts
for me. I licked my lips as they passed, blushing.
There is not even a hollow surrounding
my vast emptiness. I am full now,
(The rest is thistle and tear
where I was pang and hunt.)
[here the Tin Man speaks of lost landscapes]
[here of women he has loved and unfound]
12. The Nightmare
The gypsy put a penny in her mouth
when the machine was first constructed,
made a game of combing her blood-brown hair
before it, watching it pump a slick mess.
It was a courteous disaster.
no one questioned if it worked.
Piranesi built a fence of clocksong
to contain the wilderness around it:
sorrow-gilt chamber of stairs…
once dismantled it went on ticking.
Only after the girl began to crouch within the apparatus
did the men elect to intervene.
When they pulled her out of there—
mouth full of malice—we soaked her feet
in the dank of fennel as she asked and asked
to oil and crank open the eyelids.