Tuesday, July 14, 2009


[This is a poem I read for To Have and To Hold. It underwent a number of changes even up to five minutes prior to reciting it. Like any of any poet's poems, it's still a work in progress, but I am honored to have been approached to write specifically for this event and that a version of lizard contributed to the event's success.]

neuroscientists call it our reptilian brain, sitting inside
of our cortex it is smaller and primitive a croc
scaly, slithery, leather-skinned lounging lizard-like,
keeping time and moving us dancers rely on it, they
call on its memory it is the mother of our kinesthetic impulses
steps to a rhythm, our flight and fall, the beat of our heart or tapping
of our foot, the tick-tock of our souls the metronome to
the movement of ourselves within ourselves without it
we cannot avoid injury or win at boxing matches walk into our lover’s arms
or down an aisle to an andante tempo of a promenade
it is infallible if only we would listen closer to the sussurus
hissing between its forked tongue into our ears
from inside the inside of our head to the rest of the brain
this lizard computes in alternating numbers, say zeros and ones
but the dancer and musician knows it thinks differently, unlike a robot
but in soaring lines perhaps flashing colors or a story about itself

there is a hot rock, it crashed from a planet that resembles the Russian tundra
and it is in the center of a desert now California is a Gila monster
who spends its respite summer idling hot—hot and cold-blooded,
it needs the rock to stay alive the rock is the right parts cool and warm for now
California wants to move from off of the rock and into danger
a Katrina or a tsunami it wants to shatter itself orgasm is the best way
to put it precipitate into the Ocean and from the foam rise
like a fiery bird California wants to birth and mother itself
into a better Gila from broken pieces become better, better because it was broken
but the rock is committed to its own inertia growing colder into the winter
the lizard will die if it does not move off of the rock
in the delirium of heat the Gila dreams itself a dissociative disorder

California is an angel its disparate parts the parts of that angel
she is fractured but all there there is a golden halo and a lake of tears,
from both sadness and joy, beneath it
there are dry patches of land that is its body and the valleys
of green that carve it out there is a heart, a stomach, a brain and a reptile-brain
there are shoulder-blades that slice into the sky like a bird with fire for feathers
and a faulty heel that will some day crumble into the whispering Ocean
like the crack of thunder the angel, California, will beat
its wings to the music only she can hear—the BPM of birth, love, rebirth,
the heartbeat of a monster, the unshakeable imperfection of the cerebellum
deeply submerged beneath a riverbed—flying out toward space, screaming
at the stars ‘move out of the way’ a bat out of hell imitating a banshee,
she is a serpent with cotton-like wings, thunderously battering the air around her
applauding the break the break of a state into an island

No comments:

Post a Comment