Friday, June 11, 2004

JUNE 11, 2004 (FRIDAY)

Pardon the Words, It's a Poetic Funk

I have bitten off more than I can chew.

Thank goodness for literary cannibalism.

New poem below, and another one from Billy Collins further down.


Let me tell you right now:
it never really ends.
Even when you're forty,
and sporting a stomach
bulging like the full moon -

you will remember
the first time we made love.
The sky outside the window
was the color of dirty paintbrushes,
or the feathers of a newly-hatched chick.

The iron bedframe was hardly enough
to support the creation of a universe,
the Big Bang, stars dripping
languid light over a newborn night.

This was beyond intertwined, outertwined,
flesh and skin and bone and blood and marrow
deep - something that spins and orbits beyond
the four walls of this room, beyond the street
and the sky and the world, beyond dreams.

And then you will float gently
back into your place,
silently weighed with memory,
a leaf billowing alone on a stray wind.

You will only remember echoes of fingertips
tracing the outlines of a god
for the very first time.

Billy Collins

Of all the questions you might want to ask
about angels, the only one you ever hear
is how many can dance on the head of a pin.

No curiosity about how they pass the eternal time
besides circling the Throne chanting in Latin
or delivering a crust of bread to a hermit on earth
or guiding a boy and girl across a rickety wooden bridge.

Do they fly through God’s body and come out singing?
Do they swing like children from the hinges
of the spirit world saying their names backwards and forwards?
Do they sit alone in little gardens changing colors?

What about their sleeping habits, the fabric of their robes,
their diet of unfiltered divine light?
What goes on inside their luminous heads? Is there a wall
these tall presences can look over and see hell?

If an angel fell off a cloud, would he leave a hole
in a river and would the hole float along endlessly
filled with the silent letters of every angelic word?

If an angel delivered the mail, would he arrive
in a blinding rush of wings or would he just assume
the appearance of the regular mailman and
whistle up the driveway reading postcards?

No, the medieval theologians control the court.
The only question you ever hear is about
the little dance floor on the head of a pin
where halos are meant to converge and drift invisibly.

It is designed to make us think in millions,
billions, to make us run out of numbers and collapse
into infinity, but perhaps the answer is simply one:
one female angel dancing alone in her stocking feet,
a small jazz combo working in the background.

She sways like a branch in the wind, her beautiful
eyes closed, and the tall thin bassist leans over
to glance at his watch because she has been dancing
forever, and now it is very late, even for musicians.

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