“The Body’s Built for Stretch Marks
The body’s built for stretch marks, peculiars, indictments drawn from lines
Reserved for bruises, random ancient scars received at childhood,
Subtle abuses leading to arrests, differences in the artificer’s sketches, would-be
Blind catastrophe to a child bound for trial. Etchings, wounds, fine
Byzantine rites of passage penetrate the masses gathered in their schools
Of fantasies as testacies: for the ignoble, pastimes; the chosen, noble death
Certain. Pride of station, booty, brazen badges pinned to what is left
Of that old shirt or those old pants, and in the end, the glass is raised to fools,
And myriad mirrors of Alma Maters. “Yes,” she said, “You’ll lose that baby fat,”
But she was lying as she sliced another quarter pound of butter
For the stir fry, dairies churned to proven grounds for utter
Joy at dinnertime for the calf, an unction for the stomach and hardening heart,
…Vanitas vanitatum omnia vanitas, and then some for the cat.
All is vanity if clutching at the straws of life and luck and liberty to boot
To generate bravado for hopes that render all his finite questions moot.
Catwalks above his life’s pavilions, sidewalks in a decent neighbourhood,
And nursing homes dot the landscape while all declare,
“You know, the Devil made me do it!”
Who denies the processes of thought, the fine idyllic conduits
From “Why not me?” to “All I am is what I should
Be,” whispered while whistling down alleys and paper routes; the avenues
Conjure images and constructs preserved en bas relief in two dimensions,
Melting icecaps in an ocean of invention and intervention at the mention
Of a third. “To whom and what for?” He wonders at the dews,
Fresh-formed deadlines, spinal taps and tallies, and reams of “Things to Do”
And all before the door is closed and locked, keys deposited at the main wicket.
Who’s survived to say that winter’s haze might raise the need to buy a ticket
To some gilded paradise conspicuous on the fridge, or a cruise for two
Along the coasts or toward the navel of the nation
As he remains at home inured of all such thought and aggravation?
So wide the miles to peace and once again some pompous reconciliation
As the Parthenon limps through yet another year
and cancer strikes the very spirit of the Holy Temple Mount;
In the malls of Washington and London the body count
No longer matters to the kids at dinner while the recapitulation
Of the days’ decapitation give reviews on CNN no rapt attention.
“Nolo contendere” say they, the salt of sorrow’s “single spies”
That marshal once again in “battalions”, with no word nor photo from the skies
Above the glass-lined pulpits of the ‘ulamas of cable news centres
or only slightly less innocuous city gutters, the catacombs of dubious mention
All along the Tigris, the Congo, above Solomon’s mines on the African Horn.
They know their losses simmer silently in the chambers of the heart;
They know their worth in sovereignties and ulcerating boils apart
From what is said of foes on Fox or activists on board the unborn
Born again processions that occupy the parks. Landmines litter, braying gospels
of long’s and short’s, the meretricious glitter scribbled hastily
on chits strewn throughout the bar codes in the canyons of every market floor
Just as surely as autumn leaves attest what may be God’s penultimate bounty,
Blatant warnings in blood atop the sash of every second church door.