Friday, March 16, 2007

In Praise of the Anti-Stodgy

Inspired by our musings on ITM regarding bioluminesscent bunnies and the ouroboros and unbounded, non-integral bodies and wolves, BABEL's poet-jester Nelljean Rice offers the following poem in six parts:

My Life Is A Fairy Tale

I. Snow White

I like fire because its secret is patience.
Neither wood, nor the absence of wood is necessary.
Fuel burns what’s built. Synthetic? So be it.
Burns brighter, and faster. A pail of water
Can ignite. Let me show you how it can melt
Every wicked witch. Silence, a long sleep, one
Red apple holding time and flame could explode
The whole world. No-one needs a breathing space.
There can never be too much of a good thing.
When you wake me up I will burn down every house.

II. The Wolf, Reflecting

Who can know the boundaries where clouds meet pine?
Now I can contemplate, like any sage, the heft of air.
Rage. How can you judge it? Were you there?
The wind, and appetite, whips boundaries away.
The old poets called it the Sublime.
Rampage. I show my teeth in complete display.
Sharp edges on the wingtips of a blue jay.
Ho hum. Yawn. The sage reclines and licks his hair.

III. The Seven Dwarves

1. A sky of pea soup looks away thickly enough.
2. Insect winter shines, a pillar praying for its own internal ticking.
3. Half a tree takes more in, gnawing the sun to spun sugar.
4. Real rabbits burrowing into love, insistent in their own fur.
5. Brambles planting themselves persistently, appropriate wildness.
6. Roses lift to the sun, turning their hips into a prayer.
7. Snow, once white, never read, desperate, gritty, forever, dead.

IV. Sleeping Beauty

A ceremonial pose is scant protection from that last moment.
What does cryogenic preservation do to a girl at home?
Freezer burn, a rustle of papery cloth, bramble moan.
All I ever wanted to be was just to be left alone.
Yet here I am, set up happy-ever-after, some vinyl poem,
A media plaything, and even more, a sordid post-Katrina monument.

V. The Woodcutter

An inchworm hunches ever downward toward the ground.
Sweat and morning dew, pine needles, the ax stuck
Into an intractable knot. Ouroboros. Too late, and now no weapon.
The wind picks up, insistent, and the clouds, dark brambles,
Or giant’s cheeks, are sure signs that this narrative is turning bad.
Half a tree left for any stray tornadoes. What would it take to overturn
Time? Don’t look at me. I’m only a woodcutter with seven fingers.

VI. Jack and the Beanstalk

I’d rather have had seven beans to barter.
And found another staircase to heaven through wood
Or some other harder substance, not stalk. Too wet.
I slipped through too many layers of cellular material,
Couldn’t eat, for fear and in revulsion at the smell
Of my own blood. How could my mother teach me to say “glamour”
but not how to subtract a monster? How many dangling
particles do I have to parse out of emotions, wet dreams, moonshine
conjectures, and Capitalism before I know the Grammar of my Age?
After all, I’m no-one’s sage, I’m merely a Pythagorean eater-of-the-dead,
each bean a soul falling from a tower. No alchemy to that! Oh, to be
a Magus so I could pull the bioluminescent rabbit out of my ass.


Jeffrey Cohen said...

Oh, to be
a Magus so I could pull the bioluminescent rabbit out of my ass.

Agreed! If only.

Please tell me this was a poem Nelljean had waiting in reserve, not something she composed for the occassion ...

Eileen Joy said...

I cannot say if Nelljean was already working on this or composed it purely on the occasion of our rantings here--maybe a little bit of both.