Despite the fact my lungs collapsed
And nasal tubing twisted up in knots
As human form folded back to the bird,
My words still spurt and don't miss a beat.
And this is how my respiration works:
I draw my wind and hold it in awhile
And circulate it like a hurricane
Around an eye I've lettered number nine,
And then I let it out transformed to speech.
Inhale the world, soak it in sense, exhale.
I make my little angels into winds
And send them whistling off across the void.
If I'm feeling frisky while this transpires,
I'll also flap wings and hop up and down.
I just love a good hop, a good flap,
A good snort of the air and then a cough,
And then a brief shudder, a roll of eyes.
Inhale, exhale, forgive, forget, expire.
Every fresh breath a yogin emits,
If not his last, if not an exit line,
Is just idle talk, a passing breeze.
You're no yogin, bird, the woman said.
No line you repeat is ever the last.
It's true, quite true, that I do go on
After the act that brought the curtains down,
Despite lessons our honoured fictions taught:
Don't ever, dear, overdo a scene.
Critics look for crisp versimilitude.
It's best to twitch only once before death,
Make but one brief point before you quit,
One last quip and just one last jab
Before they drag you off, stiff, stage left.
Better yet if death seems unrehearsed,
As if in fact you really took a dive,
Said goodbye and toppled off the perch
To take a repose in birdseed and shit.
Stop now, she said, take applause and go,
Before I frown and start lobbing fruit.
After every effort comes a pause.
Some go out to wilderness to find
Respite and rest, to collect scattered thought,
To regain the strength and will to go on.
Some hole up in caves, climb on a cross,
Or lie on a beach and soak up the sun.
Some book themselves into golf resorts,
Log cabins, loonie bin oubilettes,
Nunnery cells that lack working commodes.
Others flyfish or cross-country ski
Or pan for nuggets downstream from a vein.
Still others dress up as derelicts
And sleep in tin dumpsters, nibbled by rats
And pillowed by paper that once wrapped meals.
None, though, know how truly to relax,
The secret strategy all saints employ.
None know the best course, the course I took,
The way that makes straight the road to our Lord.
For full, abject retreat I recommend
A slightly secluded naughahyde booth
And two or more drinks, in quick succession.
I chose a seat far from the slot machines,
Far from windows, far from the noisy bar,
And far from the malfunctioning jukebox
That did two four time as nine by nine.
An aging stripper, now partly disrobed,
Gyrated and stopped, gyrated, stopped,
To music that rose and fell in broken bursts.
Her breasts bobbled a bit behind the beat,
Silicone-enhanced mammary glands,
Plumped up dugs designed to catch the eye,
Nipples tipped with tiny tassels that twirled,
That spun with odd, disconcerting orbits
That made me dizzy, put wobble to the room.
And this was not, in my view, a foxtrot,
Not a dance that most prophets will condone,
Unless they see occult meanings revealed
By the clockwise motions of female flesh.
And few prophets indeed glimpse truth here
Or penetrate beyond skin laid bare
To where divine grammar will parse burlesque.
This feat only the wisest will perform
And only after decades of research,
Years of study spent in dives like this
Awatch for the spot our Lord will pass through
In flight from one whirling void to the next.
Liber Jonae Contents