In the Cold Earth and Beneath the Bluish Sky
Now six months after the problems on Church Street,
I’m still thinking about all the ways I might die:
All anxiety all the time
Every breath a traumatic stress
No list is long
Begin to shake as frontal lobe atrophies
Pass out in an elevator from blood sugar deficit
Sudden blinding headache
Run over by a bus
Slip in the tub
Flip out and kill a lot of innocent people with a motor vehicle,
explosives strapped to my body, or a projectile weapon
Succumb to cyanide powder inserted in over-the-counter pain killers
Choke on chemical weapons introduced into the subway tunnel
Reread "Elegy in a Country Churchyard"
The 18 Leading Causes of Death in Ohio from 1990-1998:
1. Diseases of the heart
2. Malignant neoplasms
4. COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
5. Diabetes Mellitus
6. Pneumonia & Influenza
8. Nephritis & Nephrosis
11. Chronic Liver Disease & Cirrhosis
14. Perinatal Conditions
17. HIV Infection
18. Congenital Anomalies
7, 9, 15 are part of the package
They differ in every intent
And all happened at once.
The Jewish funeral ritual is concerned with:
Care of the corpse
Care of the guests
Care of the priests
Poetry has no meaning; it gives meaning.
Poetry has meaning and gives meaning: and delivery.
Ben got bitten
on the neck
by a Tarantula
in the rain forest
and lived to hear this wretched poem.
It’s not about the rain forest;
It’s about completion.
"I am sofa king.
We taught it."
Self healing computer workers are doing something so important that they pay no attention to what other people do, engrossed in their work. Even hearing about other people’s activities can aggravate them. Their negative response to, say, for example, poetry (now why would I bring that up) is not an attack on poetry, but an affirmation of themselves. But the people who are telling them about poetry don’t see it that way—they view the computer worker’s concern as a rejection of poetry. The poets react by creating contrary structures. These structures attack the computer workers and all they stand for, seeking to find problems with scientific study. In this way the focus of specialists in one field creates antagonism in another field. True for religion, true for politics, true for love, and true for one word next to another, true for some people. Yet this juxtaposition is a fact—stuff exists as a whole, like language, and as fragments, like different words. The juxtaposition of two or more things changes each of them. These relational forces are explainable in an environmental model, but not by any individual epistemological pillar. Only when consciousness disappears are these conflicts resolved.
Since 9-11 death seems more probable. Funerals are well described;
and attitudes toward the dead need to be clear as a bell:
watching the body,
cleansing the body,
dressing the body,
(where is the body?)
rending of mourners’ garments,
viewing the remains (should be "what remains", viewing what remains,
the coffin should be made of wood with no nails or other metal parts
to avoid interfering with the natural process of returning to the earth,
the mourning (there are seven periods of mourning for both Jews
comforting the bereaved. (Post-partum depression occurs with both
birth and abortion.)
Every feeling in my body
Feels like death is nearby.
Every feeling in my body
Generates another poem about death.
All the rain drops.
Wind blows the clouds away.
But I suppose poetry can be fun:
Shopping for the right ritual cleansing rite
Writing down the ritual cleansing rite
Righting the tipped writing on the ritual cleansing rite
Cleansing the poetry of bodies
Putting them in coffins
Shipping bodies to different people
Recomposing a body from the parts of different people
Resending the writing to different people
Rewriting the rest of the story
The Lord wears whiteface. He shall not want.
He dives down and keeps me hard.
He leads me where it’s good for him.
He leaves me on the side of the right road and drives off.
He sends me on the right path for his nature.
Though I am wroth at the vanity of shallow deaths
I fear no inhibitor
For your staff is up my butt and you laugh.
You prepare a banquet for me to watch my foes eat.
You splash cheap wine in my face.
Surly and gruesome lies shall follow me all delays in the lift.
And I shall be dead forever.
Before I close I want to point out how the pronoun
Even in the original shifts in the middle.
The breaker was on the wall in the hall.
I’m outside and out of the mezzanine life.
He bears his duty like a lifer,
Although the metro
If it and the where are.
Do not taunt me with your lobster fork.
How the brow throngs,
And along the grim lash of the skyline
I keep waking up,
I keep waking up,
I keep waking up.
All the minutiae of everyday
Makes complete sense,
Until you think about it.
There aren’t any other ways to shirt a lead.
James Sherry is the author of 10 books of poetry and prose, most recently The Word I Like White Paint Considered (1995) and Our Nuclear Heritage (1991). His recent work on environmental models of poetry has been widely published in magazines. He is the publisher/editor of Roof Books and founder of the Segue Foundation.