Friday, July 03, 2009


“We shall not cease from exploration,
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”

--- T. S. Eliot, Little Gidding


Eat enough poison, build up to it
slowly enough, and you too
can become poisonous. At least
if you’re a snake-eating newt.
Call it a business lunch, concerning the
hostile takeover of the snake’s
toxic assets. If it can be inherited,
self defense may itself be
an incitement to meal-icide, each end,
by nature,
a new beginning.

Each gate,
as Janus and the newt make clear, a place
for both arrival
and departure.


With the tailgate open I couldn’t help but notice
the roller-wheels (they reminded me of the
supermarket merchandise conveyor tracks
of my childhood) in the bed of the hearse,
the way they eased the slide of her casket
into the bar-grabbing hands of her pall’s
bearers. “Someone has done this before,”
I thought to myself. “Many times.”
And with the news of GM’s impending
bankruptcy dominating the headlines,
I mused whether or not we’d be able to die any more,
without Cadillac. Talk about
brand loyalty.

And I thought of the sky burials
of Parsis in India: the way they leave their dead on towers
for the vultures to eat, the way they are
re-in-carn-ated (consider here the term ‘carnivore’),
how quickly, as vulture-meat, they are borne
to the sky. How, like Cadillac,
the vultures have been going extinct.
How it’s been traced to the remnants of
pain killers in the carcasses of beasts
of burden (they work longer in the fields
when they’re given pain relief.)

An even bet whether the vultures,
or Cadillac, will dance
on the other’s grave.


Ever since I took that Aeroflot flight to
Bombay I’ve been captivated by how
interhemispheric telephone calls can’t take place
at the same time. Come to think of it,
time can’t even take place
at the same time. It is all hours
of the day and night, always.
And they say when someone asked Yogi Berra
what time it was he asked,
“you mean now?”

Sometimes pain killers are just killers.
And sometimes poison keeps you safe, and sometimes
poison gets you swallowed, and sometimes,
at the tailgate of a bankrupt hearse,
it is all of those times
at once.

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