A little piece of the ape’s nostril had fallen off; and then we noticed one of its ears was chipped. On closer examination we saw that one of its fingernails was missing.
By this time, of course, we had grown to love the ape, but still we wondered if it shouldn’t be sent back for an undamaged one.
The guarantee slip was still attached to one of its ears: This ape is guaranteed in perfect working order on the day of the purchase. But then we noticed something else written on the slip: Floor model, demonstration ape, reduced for quick sale.
Ah, so we did get a bargain without even knowing it.
The ape shyly smiles and presents its cheek for a kiss …
But later on in the evening a large hole develops in the ape’s stomach from what had seemed earlier only a tiny tear. And all evening we watched the ape’s insides slowly coming out all over the rug …
I only intend to send word to my future Self perpetuation is a war against Time Travel is essentially the aim of any religion Is blindness the color one sees under water Breath can be overshadowed in darkness The benefits of blackness can seem radical Black people in America are rarely compulsive Is forbidden the only word God doesn’t know You have to heal yourself to truly be heroic You have to think once a day of killing your self Awareness requires a touch of blindness & self Importance is the only word God knows To be free is to live because only the dead are slaves
I don’t think I can afford the time to not sit right down & write a poem about the heavy lidded white rose I hold in my hand I think of snow a winter night in Boston, drunken waitress stumble on a bus that careens through Somerville the end of the line where I was born, an old man shaking me. He could’ve been my dad. You need a ride? Wait, he said. This flower is so heavy in my hand. He drove me home in his old blue Dodge, a thermos next to me, cigarette packs on the dash so quiet like Boston is quiet Boston in the snow. It’s New York plates are clattering on St. Mark’s Place. Should I call you? Can I go home now & work with this undelivered message in my fingertips It’s summer I love you. I’m surrounded by snow.
No one attacks it with a long lance,
No one plies a strong cross-bow.
Suckling its grandsons, rearing its cubs,
It trains them into savagery.
Its reared head becomes a wall
Its waving tail becomes a banner.
Even Huang from the Eastern Sea,¹
Dreaded to see it after dark,
A righteous tiger, met on the road,²
Was quite enough to upset Niu Ai.
What good is it for that short sword
To hang on the wall, growling like thunder?
When from the foot of Tai mountain
Comes the sound of a woman weeping,
Government regulations forbid
Any official to dare to listen.³
A satire on oppressive government, of which the tiger was the symbol. Caught between the Central Government and the warlords, the people are harassed as though by tigers.
Huang, of Dong-hai, had magical powers which enabled him to control snakes and tigers. Unfortunately for him, he lost these powers through drinking to excess and was eventually killed by a tiger.
The zhou-yu was a white tiger with black markings which appeared only when a state was perfectly governed. It would not tread on grain nor eat living things. Niu Ai was a duke turned were-tiger, who ate his own elder brother. He is pointing out that some tigers are worse than others.
Confucius found a woman weeping at the foot of Mount Tai. Though her whole family had been killed by tigers she refused to leave the district, because there was no oppressive government there. This caused Confucius to remark that an oppressive government was more savage than any tiger.
Li He is the bad-boy poet of the late Tang dynasty. He began writing at the age of seven and died at twenty-six from alcoholism or, according to a later commentator, “sexual dissipation,” or both. An obscure and unsuccessful relative of the imperial family, he would set out at dawn on horseback, pause, write a poem, and toss the paper away. A servant boy followed him to collect these scraps in a tapestry bag.
Long considered far too extravagant and weird for Chinese taste, Li He was virtually excluded from the poetic canon until the mid-twentieth century. Today, as the translator and scholar Anne M. Birrell, writes, “Of all the Tang poets, even of all Chinese poets, he best speaks for our disconcerting times.” Modern critics have compared him to Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Keats, and Trakl.
I see your yesses coming from afar
and my own, like candles,
awaiting the centuries
A strong wind
carries off my hat my glasses my tattoo my arm
my leg and an eye
[I'm left there smiling before jets
gushing the joy of nothingness]
joy — it too alone
Stay, if you want, by my side
— even if no one understands us
[Why let that, too, smother us]
Just let it flow
Athinakis, Dimitris. “Delirium for the Four Legs of a Love.” Translated by Karen Emmerich. Austerity Measures: The New Greek Poetry, edited by Karen Van Dyck, New York: New York Review of Books, 2016, p. 11.
Upon a bank I sat, a child made seer
Of one small primrose flowering in my mind.
Better than wealth it is, said I, to find
One small page of Truth’s manuscript made clear.
I looked at Christ transfigured without fear—
The light was very beautiful and kind,
And where the Holy Ghost in flame had signed
I read it through the lenses of a tear.
And then my sight grew dim, I could not see
The primrose that had lighted me to Heaven,
And there was but a shadow of a tree
Ghostly among the stars. The years that pass
Like tired soldiers nevermore have given
Moments to see wonders in the grass.
Torment wanders into the light beyond the roof. At midday, without sunlight. The walls are covered with snow, against a gray background. The eye stops and vainly seeks a better path.
They’ve rubbed away the designs that gave life to the crumbling walls. Some words raise themselves affirmatively. And the flood, too high, carries off the shore where the grass smooths the bank into well-combed hair. And while across the bluish rays turbulences whirl and slowly rise, silence falls heavily on the ground, without breaking.
— Pierre Reverdy (1889-1960), trans. Michael Benedikt