09 April 2011

Dana Levin

[from Dana Levin's Sky Burial, Copper Canyon, 2011]

School of Flesh

         Blush for a cheek of stone.

         Blush for the lips sewn tight with thread, no speech
for the dead
         maker –

         You’ve got the razor. You can make each suture

         And watch the mouth
bloom up with foam,
         as if he’d drowned himself in soap –

         You lift the neck and let the head drop back.
The mouth yawns wide its prize –

         White thrive.
The larval joy.
         Hot in their gorge on the stew of balms,
a moist exhale –
         as of there were a last breath, a taunt
         into your inner ear, Good Dog, you dig your hands in,
         the glossal
bed –
         saying, Graduate
of the School of Flesh, Father Conspirator –
         I will

         bite the tongue
from the corpse –

This from That

              who studies the emergence of butterflies
from chrysalides,
              of fighter jets
from number chars,
              of syllables
from kettledrums –


              Insects that pupate in a cocoon
must escape from it

              says Wikipedia.

              Wikipedia, which says:
Whilst inside the pupa

              Says: digestive juices, to destroy much
of the larva's body

              larva meaning
its own –

              which has been instructed
to leave a few cells intact for

total change,
              through the nutrients of suffering, of the self-

              carnivore –
(lumbering up,
              hoisting my flesh from the floor – )


I study ziggurats
              from cigarettes. Smoke

the effluvium of fire, the
              fire in the mouth from

cigarettes, from

              striking dry tinder from the tongue –

"It is queer to be assisting
              at the éclosion


              of a great new mental epoch,"
wrote William James
              in 1906:

eclosion, verb eclose,
              "emergence from concealment" –

which is what "religion and philosophy" do,
              which is what certain

insects do,
              even people, slipping their suits, and what we need

              is a new mental epoch –

whatever lies

              self-liquidation –


              Who studies

              concerto notes
from finger-scales,
              survivor guilt
from firestorms,
from bombing runs –

              Through the open back door,
bending a petunia,

Papilio machaon
              drinking deeply

              and long.

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