Wednesday, September 8, 2010

107. Incidental Elements of Living

When I lived in Argon
and children played in the threads of my dreams,
my life was the last accordion playing
the saddest song on the streets of the village,
and all the beautiful women knew I was ugly,
and all the handsome men knew I was dangerous,
because only I could sing the ants
out of the sugar, only I could sing the bees out
of the flowers, only I could sing. But they knew
I was ugly, but they knew I was ugly,
so they laughed behind my hunched back
and at the belching of my buttocks, but only I
could sing in Argon, only I had sung, and I sang
to the beautiful women because
they knew I was ugly, and I didn’t want them
to know, and I never wanted them
to know.

When I lived in Carbon
and the black roots rotted out our teeth, and
there were no babies who could open their eyes,
when I lived in Carbon and the world was black and essential,
I spent my days painting the world green, I spent
my nights painting the town white, and every morning
the world was black, and every morning the crooked children
of Carbon would point their crooked fingers at me
and laugh at the man painting the world a color
it never was, a color it would never be, because
they had been born in Carbon, and they could not imagine
anyplace else, not water running blue but bursting
into white at its edges, not grass growing green,
not the purple violet invading a lawn, and they would laugh
at me because I did not know
how the world was, because I
did not want to know.

When I lived in Iron
and the fires burned all night in the village, and
the metal flowed orange-red, all the men’s faces were brown
from the heat, all the men’s faces were brown, but my face
was white as a woman’s, and I wrote down everything I saw,
and I saw hawks float skywise, and I saw vultures bending
down to pray, and I saw the antlion funnel trapping the ant,
and I saw everything dying, and everything
living by killing the living, and I wrote it all down
in a little black book, and I read it out
at night by the fires, by the bonfires we set to keep from getting cold,
by the fires we kept to keep the men warm,
the men who’d spent their day by the fire, the brown-faced men
who looked all day at the fire, and I read my brittle fragments
of the fragments of my poems, my handfuls
of words, at the men staring at the fire and the women
yearning for the stars,
and I read my words out into the night, and the night
fell onto me cold and hungry, and the night fell
cold, and I read my words, hungry, into the night,
and no-one heard, and no-one really heard them,
except for me, except for me and
the crickets, except for me and the crickets,
and the crickets read them back to me.

When I lived in Krypton
and I couldn’t move my body, they joked that I was a superman but
my arms wouldn’t rustle and my legs wouldn’t twitch, and
the women all laughed at the man in the hammock, the man swinging
slightly all day in the hammock, whether it rained or sun shone,
whether children went to school or not, and I invented poems
of the sky and the leaves rustling at the tops of two trees and
the birds that flew by, the birds that flew
above me while I lay, almost sleeping, all day,
on my back in a hammock, but my eyes
could still blink, and I could still blink
my eyes, so I could make it all
go away, I could take it all away and sleep
wherever I wanted to sleep, and dream
whatever I wanted to dream, and I usually dreamed
of someplace other than Krypton,
somewhere where I could move my body and dance
with the woman I loved, and dance with
the woman I loved, if I had ever loved a woman,
and if a woman had ever loved me.

When I lived in Palladium
and the children chased me all day, when the children
chased me all day but never caught me and hardly
caught sight of me, when I lived in Palladium, I was a dancer
and I danced across the stage every night, my feet
barely grazing the floor and I flew above the floor, and my legs
were strong, and my calves were hard, and my body
was the purest element of movement, and I was alive inside
my body in motion, as a bird, as a stream and the screams
of delight of a bundle of children lost in joy, when I lived
in Palladium, I danced in the meadows, I danced in the streets,
I danced on the roofs, but ever so lightly, and no-one heard,
and no-one ever heard my feet hit the surface
of anything at all, because I was a dancer,
and I lived in the air, just off the floor, just off the ground, but
in the air, and I had to move, I had to keep moving
to be a dancer and to be happy in my body
and to see nothing that didn’t move
because all I was was movement,
and all I was was motion, and the women who cried
when they watched me cried not for my beauty, but cried
for the beauty they could never regain, and cried
for the beauty they would never again
hold against their warm breasts.

When I lived in Tungsten,
and the world was bright all day, and we didn’t need sun
because we had bulbs instead, my job was the job of
changing the bulbs of the lamps all over the town,
and no-one thought of me at all because there was always light
because I was always changing the bulbs, and every bulb
I replaced was like a sun gone out, was like a sun
gone cold, but no-one realized they lived
with the warmth and light of a million suns,
and all because of me, and none of them
realized that there was a real sun,
a sun outside their homes, a sun in a place
they’d never visited, because they lived in their pretty houses
with their pretty bulbs, and their pretty lamps and their pretty pretty
sconces, and they were always swimming
in light and the warmth
of the light, so they never knew
there was anything else but a warmth
that followed them wherever they went.

When I lived in Xenon
and had the smallest little voice in my head,
when I lived down a tiny little street slathered with colored lights,
the women thought I was deaf because they could not hear
me speak, and I would sing every day,
as loudly as I could, and I would sing of love for a woman,
and I would yell my songs, but they could never hear me,
so they could never care what my songs were about,
because they could never know I was singing,
so all that they saw was an ugly old man
moving his mouth open and closed, sometimes in the rain,
with no sound coming out of it, and they thought
I was crazy, and I thought I was too, because I sang all day
to those beautiful women, and the children
we never had together, and I sang sad songs, every day
and through the night, and they laughed into their hands,
and turned away their eyes at the crazy old man, at the
crazy old ugly bald man, who would sing
in the rain as if a woman who loved him
could hear him singing
and moved closer to hear him.

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