The bone saw slices through the skull
and out it pops, Einstein’s Brain!
Lifted from its case, a small loaf,
food for thought, looking like a piece of coral
separated from its stem and washed ashore,
a weighty hunk of Jello at a Unitarian potluck
wiggling on a stainless steel tray;
you could hold it in your hands.
Photographs are taken from every angle;
frontal, parietal, occipital,
temporal, limbic, insular.
Cubed up like chunks of tofu
ready to be stir-fried,
sealed up in two mason jars,
spirited away in a cider box
in the trunk of a pathologist’s Buick Century.
Lost several times, including almost once
in an ugly divorce, gawked at
by William S. Burroughs, who lived
next door to the brain.
He said he was offered a piece of it
but he declined, having no good place to keep it,
and returned to eating his lunch in the nude.
And what of Albert’s dreamy-dark eyes?
Those were taken too and are presumed
to be floating still, in a safe deposit box
somewhere in New York.
We’ve been down this road before, my friend.
Do you remember when we were going
from Detroit to Chicago and you offered to drive
because you said that I looked tired?
When I woke up in the passenger seat
I could see mountains
and we were passing a sign
that said Denver - Next Four Exits.
All you had to say to me then was,
"sorry; guess I wasn’t paying attention."
So, no, you’re not taking the wheel this time
no matter how sleepy I might seem to you.
I mean, how could I ever trust you again?
You remember what happened in Denver.
By noon the sun has warmed.
We’re allowed fifteen minutes for lunch
which we can extend to twenty
if we can keep the foreman talking.
The migrants sit apart from us
in their own tight little circle
speaking Spanish so rapidly
I can’t make out individual words
anymore than I can in the hum of bees
among the blossoms on the apple trees
we have worked at trimming since early morning.
The men break into spontaneous laughter
led by the oldest among their group.
A teenager asks him something.
"Isabella," the old man replies.
They laugh again, more softly this time,
and return to their chewing.
It’s April and spring is late.
My shadow chooses to lay at my feet
In cool grass that still wears
A winter coat of dull brown.
There is modest warmth on my back
From the sun’s furnace
But the wind is from the north;
All the way from Hudson’s Bay.
It chills my face, hands, neck.
This is not the sort of thing I usually write
But today something is different.
There is the touch of hope in the air.
If one green thing was to sprout
I would be redeemed.
In the shaded woods
Patches of snow linger,
Small islands on a sea of leaves.
Each day there is a little less,
Each day a little less.
The romantic poet, Percy Shelley, drowned in a sailing accident in
1822 at the age of 30. I promise that the following story is not true.
Mary Shelley sat on a chaise with her knitting,
her legs propped comfortably on a pillow.
The old gray cat, Byron, lay asleep
in a sliver of sunlight at her feet.
Damn it Percy, I’ve dropped a stitch.
You’re making me nervous.
Do you have to sit there watching me?
Go and find something else to do.
He told her he’d fixed the broken shelf in the pantry,
taken out all of the trash, weeded both of the beds
in the court yard and, no,
he had nothing else to do.
Why don’t you go sailing
with one of your friends?
You can stop at the bakery on your way home.
We could use a loaf of bread.
lookingforwisdom, I tried to participate in your Basho challenge but syllables are hard.
Here’s a watercolor of a cicada instead.
Thank you Kelsey.
He was the mayor of Our Town.
owner of the Mobil Station
where I pumped gas summers and weekends.
He smoked Lucky’s one after another
on which the ashes grew
until they began to bend
into a long graceful curve.
His wife ran the general store
that smelled of dust and live bait.
Bottles of Coke chilled in a bath of ice water,
ten cents for the small, fifteen for the large.
He ran the junk yard
where his oldest son had died
in an explosion of acetylene
before I was born.
He was a kind man,
easy with credit, never vindictive
about a bad check
so long as it was made good.
He was a quiet man
who’s pores wept strength
until his death at fifty-seven
from the bullet of a .22.
My arthritis got so bad
I couldn’t get on or off the couch
without a boost.
I got to where I had to go to the bathroom
twelve times a day.
Times I didn’t make it
I wore a look of shame and humiliation.
My teeth went bad
and all my meat
had to be pureed.
I would begin to whine
if someone touched me
on my hind quarters.
Fido began to resent me.
I could see the mixture of hate
and sadness in his once
joyful hazel eyes.
Then one day we took a ride in the car,
our favorite thing to do,
and when we made that turn onto River Road
I knew exactly where we were going
and I understood perfectly that he had no choice
because he loved me.
Recorded live at the Ugly Mug in Ypsilanti, MI by WDEETV for Sacred Star Productions.
Written and performed by David Jibson (lookingforwisdom).
Thanks to the editors of Peninsula Poets.
So, how’s death been treating you?
I want you to know that here, among the living,
things seem to be going pretty well for you.
Lots of academic types are making good money
writing monographs and teaching classes
to misguided M.F.A. students
on your poetry.
It sells a lot of books
and you’d be amazed at
how much money you’re making,
even though you can’t spend it.
I think you really started something
with your dialog poems
and writing in plain language.
It seems to be catching on
like organic vegetables
and free range chickens.
Remind me to explain those to you
the next time I see you.
I promise it won’t be long.
a frog leaps in
According to his most famous poem,
(which he probably wrote while he was drunk)
Matsuo Basho knew that when a frog jumps into a pond
it makes a noise
and when a monk sips his morning tea
it’s quiet, as it almost always is in monasteries.
But then during the last half of the 17th century,
it was probably quiet most everywhere you might have tea.
A field of cotton-
does sort of look like
the moon has flowered,
at least a little bit.
When it starts to rain
it’s a good idea to wear your hat,
especially if it’s cold,
if you haven’t forgotten your hat.
And he knew that the cry of a cuckoo
and the moon shining through a thicket of bamboo
are all you really need in a poem.
Everything else is just window dressing.
”A particle exists in all states at once until observed.”
The Copenhagen Interpretation
Schrödinger’s cat, both dead and alive in his famous box,
leaves me wondering as I leave the house this morning,
if you exist while I am gone
and if you do, how you will know
that I do and how you will know
if I am one of those people who goes out
for a newspaper or a cup of coffee
and vanishes into the silver-gray fog of the quantum
as if he had never existed
even in your imperfect memory.
by the time we reached the summit
of the highest rocky heights
where the gravity-defying concrete cloud
of Kafka’s Castle stood
we were out of breath in the thinny air
and wondering was it worth the climb
anxious to ken every question
as it was finally revealed
we found that all the answers lay
beyond the moat and within the walls
where the price of admission would be our deaths
I sit at the foot of mother’s bed
on an institutional bedspread of blue chenille.
Between us is a box without a lid from which
She pulls out a black and white photograph.
"Aunt Ivy," she says of the woman in the print dress
and straw hat, which she wears on the back of her head
in a way that makes it seem as if she is wearing a halo.
"She was married four times, you know."
"Cousin Luke," mother says of the next photo.
A man in a white shirt with sleeves rolled to the elbows
stands smilling next to a dark DeSoto.
I learn as we go through the box that Cousin Luke
was always photographed standing next to a new car
and that he was a shirt-tail cousin, whatever that means.
Mother isn’t sure. It’s just what she was told.
"My brother, Dan," mother says.
He’s in a sailor’s dress uniform.
I remember him married to his second wife,
and that he had gotten two women pregnant,
I think at the same time,
when he came home from the war.
He somehow married them both.
I never asked how he managed that.
It’s not something the family talked about.
We go through the rest of the box
of cousins, cousins of cousins, aunts, uncles,
people we may or may not be related to,
me writing the names on the back of each photo,
The names are old ones, fallen from favor.
Many seem to have died with their owners;
Elmer, Alva, Ida, Ethyl, Nellie, Bessie.