Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2016  Vol. 15 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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back T.R. HUMMER


After I learned to read I became hermetic,
wrestling at six with names like Bumppo
And Nemo, who weren’t Marx Brothers—them
I knew first hand from the black cube of the RCA
My father installed in the corner. After I learned
to read, I sealed my cloven brain in crystal,
I moved on from pure orality, I no longer climbed
into the black limbs of the ancient cedar
To croak back the gossip of crows. While cotton gins
pounded in the distance and tractors groaned
All night in fields of the family desperation, pooling
light around their furious bodies to finish
Writing our story in the earth, I murdered Kipling,
I strangled the wonderful wizard, I ate Ishmael.
Who did I think I was to abandon singing
what the bees were thinking, how did I lose
My voice? When I failed to understand Brontë,
why did I mislay my daemon the Logos,
Why did my thoughts turn into bad dialogue

from pulp science fiction? Always before,
I would meet Heraclitus on the footbridge
in the forest, he would straighten my toga
And tell me how to memorize fire, how to become
an egret or an ant. But when I read Plato, Heraclitus
Vanished, and the wind stopped stoking my larynx,
I became a millstone rotated at a distance
By the power of the river, but never gazing into the water
where quicksilver minnows were being forever
Devoured by the turtle lodged in the gut of the world.  

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