Daily Archives: April 25, 2012

Dangling

The dangling done
by the body at the end of the rope
is tragic when encountered
unexpectedly, especially if
the dangler is familiar
and was a friend or loved one.
At that moment the dangling
seems sinister and the antic jerking
of feet becomes more battlefield spasm
than circus ring gag to most,

but someone always laughs.

We scorn the ones who laugh,
suspect their humanity 
and call them animal or worse.

Those who can recall
the totality of all the dangling feet
they’ve ever seen
from cartoon comic to vaudeville,
from gallows and noose
to bedsheet and balcony,
are scolded, shunned, or shouted down

just as we have always done with those
who think as well as feel;
as we have always done with those 
who see all sides at once;
as we have always done with those
who cannot narrow in enough
to meet our narrow expectations.

They leave us cold.  
They leave us unexpectedly fragile
and disinclined to laugh with them.
They see everything at once

and we only let them back in
when we need them.

 


Job Description

There are things that can only be said
in the language once used by a small boy
who grew up in southern Germany
thirty years ago,
who made the language up
in order to talk to his neighbor’s cat
when he was lonely,

who grew up to be
a father himself, an engineer
who today
has forgotten such a language existed
and only knows he has a deep affinity
for cats who peer into his eyes
as if he has something to say,
though he never does.  

There are things that can only be said
in a language now used
by boxes in shipping containers;
vital information for us all
is encoded in a dialect only spoken 
among the bones found in mass graves;
and there it is — the Secret, the actual 
Secret Key To All is being shouted
clearly but incomprehensibly
by the stones clacking into chorus,
tumbling toward the roadside of your commute
at mile 18, right behind the sign
that dismisses this revelation as, simply,
“Falling Rocks.”

If you want to know your job,
here it is:  memory translator.  
Interpreter of dialogues
no one ever suspected 
were happening.  
Revivalist
of past carnivals
and child’s play.

If you want to know
what it takes to do this,
you’re going to have
to get out of the car
at mile 18 and learn
to duck rocks, even if 
it makes you late for 
another job.  You
will have to sleep
among bones, 
take your meals
in a shippling container;

you will have to
learn German, stare at old 
German phone books, 
stalk numerous men hoping
they are that child today —

you will have to get a cat,
maybe a few cats —

and you must hurry, for
we’ve been waiting a long time.