My books are full of mistakes
but not the ones Tony’s always pointing out
as if correct spelling is what could stop the conveyor belt
the new kid caught his arm in.
Three weeks on the job and he’s already six hundred
legal pages, lawyers haggling in an office
with an ignored view of the river
pretending to be asleep, pretending
to have insight into its muddy self.
You think that’s a fucked-up, drawn-out metaphor,
try this: if you feel you’re writhing like a worm
in a bottle of tequila, you don’t know
it’s the quickness of its death that reveals
the quality of the product, its proof.
I don’t know what I’m talking about either.
Do you think the dictionary ever says to itself
I’ve got these words that mean completely
different things inside myself
and it’s tearing me apart?
My errors are even bigger than that.
You start taking down the walls of your house,
sooner or later it’ll collapse
but not before you can walk around
with your eyes closed, rolled backwards
and staring straight into the amygdala’s meatlocker
and your own damn self hanging there.
Do that for awhile and it’s easier to delight
in snow that lasts about twenty minutes
longer than a life held together
by the twisted silver baling wire
of deception and stealth.
But I ain’t confessing nothing.
On mornings when I hope you forget my name,
I walk through the high wet weeds
that don’t have names either.
I do not remember the word dew.
I do not remember what I told you
with your ear in my teeth.
Further and further into the weeds.
We have absolutely no proof
god isn’t an insect
rubbing her hind legs together to sing.
Or boring into us like a yellow jacket
into a fallen, overripe pear.
Or an assassin bug squatting over us,
shoving a proboscis right through
our breast plate then sipping.
How wonderful our poisons don’t kill her.
-- First appeared in Poetry, July-Aug 2008
Love the lines about the dictionary. . .
There are all kinds of usual leaps in this poem about the richness of so-called "error". I think the whole thing is brilliant. It's what Bly would call "leaping poetry" at its best, although a different kind of leaping, I imagine, than he had in mind.
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