Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Dead Shall Be Raised Incorruptible

The Dead Shall Be Raised Incorruptible

A piece of flesh gives off
smoke in the field --

caput mortuum,
gurry dumped from hospital trashcans.

This corpse will not stop burning!

"That you Captain? Sure,
sure I remember -- I still hear you
lecturing at me on the intercom,
Keep your guns up, Burnsie!
and then screaming, Stop shooting,
for crissake, Burnsie,
those are friendlies!
But crissake, Captain,
I'd already started, burst
after burst, little black pajamas jumping
and falling . . . and remember that pilot
who'd bailed out over the North,
how I shredded him down to catgut
on his strings?
one of his slant eyes, a piece
of his smile, sail past me
every night right after the sleeping pill. . .

"It was only
that I loved the sound
of them, I guess I just loved
the feel of them sparkin' off my hands . . ."

On the television screen:

Do you have a body that sweats?
Sweat that has odor?
False teeth clanging into your breakfast?
Case of the dread?
Headache so steady it may outlive you?
Armpits sprouting hair?
Piles so huge you don't need a chair
to sit at a table?

We shall not all sleep,
but we shall be changed . . .

In the Twentieth Century
of my trespass on earth,
having exterminated one billion heathens,
heretics, Jews, Moslems, witches,
mystical seekers,
black men, Asians, and Christian brothers,
every one of them for his own good,

a whole continent of red men
for living in community,
one billion species of animals
for being sub-human,
and ready and eager to take on
the bloodthirsty creatures
from the other planets,
I, Christian man, groan out
this testament of my last will.

I gave my blood fifty parts polystyrene,
twenty-five parts benzene,
twenty-five parts good old gasoline,
to the last bomber pilot aloft,
that there shall be one acre
in the dull world where
the kissing flower may bloom,
which kisses you so long
your bones explode under its lips.

My tongue
goes to the Secretary of the Dead
to tell the corpses, "I'm sorry, fellows,
the killing was just one of those things
difficult to pre-visualize -- like a cow,
say, getting hit by lightning."

My stomach, which has digested
four hundred treaties giving the Indians
eternal right to their land,
I give to the Indians.
I throw in my lungs which have spent
four hundred years
sucking in good faith on peace pipes.

My soul I leave to the bee
that he may sting it and die, my brain
to the fly, his back the hysterical
green color of slime,
the he may suck on it and die,
my flesh to the advertising man,
the anti-prostitute,
who loathes human flesh for money.

I assign my crooked backbone
to the dice maker, to chop up into dice,
for casting lots as to who shall see
his own blood on his shirt front
and who his brother's
for the race isn't to the swift
but to the crooked.

To the last man surviving on earth
I give my eyelids worn out by fear,
to wear in the absolute night
of radiation and silence,
so that his eyes can't close,
for regret
is like tears seeping through
closed eyelids.

I give the emptiness my hand:
the little finger picks no more noses,
slag clings to the black stick
of the ring finger,
a bit of flame jets from
the tip of the fuck-you finger,
the first finger accuses the heart,
which has vanished,
on the thumb stump wisps of smoke
ask a ride into the emptiness.

In the Twentieth Century of my nightmare
on earth, I swear
on my chromium testicles
to this testament
and last will
of my iron will,
my fear of love, my itch for money,
and my madness.

In the ditch
snakes crawl cool paths
over the rotted thigh, the toe bones
twitch in the smell of burnt rubber,
the belly
opens like a poison nightflower,
the tongue has evaporated,
the nostril
hairs sprinkle themselves
with yellowish-white dust,
the five flames at the end
of each hand have gone out,
a mosquito sips a last meal
from this plate of serenity.

And the fly,
the last nightmare, hatches himself.

I ran
my neck broken I ran
holding my head up with both hands
I ran
thinking the flames
the flames may burn the oboe
but listen buddy boy
they can't touch the notes!

A few bones
lie about in the smoke of bones.

effigies pressed into grass,
mummy windings,
sags incinerated mattresses
gave back to the world,
memories shocked into the mirrors
on whorehouse ceilings,
angel's wings
flagged down into the snows
of yesteryear,

on the scorched earth
in the shapes of men and animals:

do not let this last hour pass,
do not remove the last,
poison cup from our lips.

And a wind holding
the cries of love-making
from all our nights and days
moves among the stones, hunting
for two twined skeletons to blow
its last cry across.

This corpse will not stop burning!

Galway Kinnell

Posted over on Catarina

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