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Published on: 8/4/2010
To Print Culture
One early April evening, I saw a tree
That kept its autumn pension of copper leaves.
I imagine it rooted in a gulch that heaves
A picket of oaks around the refugee,
Guarding its photosynthetic sovereignty.
Picturesque anachronism cleaves
To every branch, dozens of pale reprieves
From winter's pogrom of anomaly.
It's kindling for the Kindle's plastic page.
When Apples ripen and IPods loose their buds,
The emperor of social networks brags
Of your irrelevance. But prune your rage!
The emperor's naked in his tweeting floods,
So thank him for the comfort of your rags.
Published on: 3/17/2010
Francine Can't Drown
Damply whirring ratchets confirm my being:
No surprise. My Daddy insisted that I
Know myself. He must've already died in
Sweden . . . or elsewhere.
Queen Christina wanted to talk with Daddy
Sixty years ago. So we had to leave our
Home and visit her in the coldest country
God has created.
God did not create me: my father was my
Maker. God made Daddy, and Daddy said his
God would never want to deceive him, never
Make him conclude man
Held no share of being. He told me how he
Built me, plugged my pineal gland, that tiny
Cone inside my head, and installed my humming
Gears, so I'd think like
Fleshly daughters, think like the daughter Daddy
Built in Helen's belly, before my birth date.
Fleshly girls can't tell you the time the way I
Tell it: precisely.
Now it's forty seconds until the darkness
Pours on Stockholm. How do I know? I've never
Even been to Stockholm; no sunlight mops my
Nonetheless, the accurate time is always
At my call, so Daddy declared he loved me
More than any clock that the world invented,
More than his oven,
More than math or Helen. Christina's letter
Came, and Daddy locked me away -- "It's only
Temporary" -- locked me inside the pinewood
Box, so they'd never
See me. "Sailors think with their meat," my Daddy
Often scoffed. "Their pineal glands are mushy."
Daddy talked to Captain Andreas, wearing
Holes in his boat shoes,
Chatted till the sunset released him. Nightfall
Snuffed the darkness. Daddy returned and, jangling
Keys, unlocked my coffin, discussed the weather,
Birds, and navigation. He read the Bible,
Gave me hope, unfolded the allegories
Wedged in tales of Jonah and Moses. Thunder
Muted his sermon.
Daddy laid me back in the box and left our
Cabin. Fearful sailors intruded. Lightning
Rowed them. "Descartes, save us! Our ship will quickly
Sink if you cannot
Cast a spell to frighten the storm clouds." Snooping
Here and there, they found my retreat and tore it
Open. "Daddy's gone," I informed them, peering
Through their bewildered
Eyes and dripping beards. They skedaddled, howling
"Witchcraft! Witchcraft!" Captain Andreas followed,
Fearing little -- only his God, and drowning.
Cursing the French, he
Dragged me by my ankles. The deck was warped and
Greasy. Shouting "Daddy, where are you?" made the
Captain angry. "Descartes, we've seized your hellchild!"
Daddy was absent.
"F---ing girl's as heavy as iron, Cap'm" --
Words the boatswain wheezed as they swung my body
Overboard. The water is cold, although my
Has no nerves. The fishes have munched me naked,
While I sit here, telling the time to sea slugs,
Waiting for a whale to descend and gulp me.
Father is nowhere.
Thinking isn't being beneath the surface.
Whirring isn't knowing -- because the ocean's
Earless, therefore waxless. In sorrow's eddy
Daddy's no savior.
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