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

The Morning Mail

The condition of man  . . . is a condition of war of every one against every one. —Thomas Hobbes

If the cells of the toenail and the cells of the heart speak
in the same voice, what is the body
Saying? This morning the sun comes in so strong

I have to squint to read about the Leviathan
Because there is unease in the kneecap, there is a stiff
wind blowing through the appendix, and I know
That the whole Common-wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civill
is muttering its malaise in the noise of the garbage truck
And the obsessive-compulsive braying of a car alarm
down the block. The cat in my lap is in an ecstasy
Of laziness, I can feel her deep purr in my thighs,
and though she lies against me so intensely
It is as if she wants to melt into my body, she is not
my body, she is her own Leviathan, she has a hunger
In her belly that I lack, she has an ecstasy I can only imagine,
the multitude of her fur is a rabble marching on the Capitol.
The flesh of the body politic is a baby in a stroller at Walmart,
and an ancient woman with a walker who once
Was a concert pianist, and the man who carries a pouch
of cheap newsprint from mailbox to mailbox
Because there’s no such thing anymore as a first class letter.
Conscience is what we know together. Look up the roots
Of the word. Look down the street at the vacant lot.
Look down the Leviathan’s maw. Its unbearable roar
Is the carrier wave of what we do this morning, what we have
for breakfast, and shall I shave or go another day
A shade more disreputably? I should write someone an epistle
with a quill pen on parchment. I should draw a dragon
In the margin and scent it with myrrh and motor oil.
The mailman needs a raison d’être, not much, but it’s a living
Going back and forth all day, sewing the body together.
They buried Thomas Hobbes in Saint John the Baptist
Churchyard, Derbyshire, and there the cells of the hand
he wrote with still agitate and mutter, a vague
Chatter of bone dust, the folly of a ribcage, bitterness of skull.
The resurrection of the body is political. They’re voting
In the provinces. Écrasez l’enfâme. They’re saying no.
O Hobbes, don’t bother getting up, nobody loves you.
Even the cat growls in her sleep, brutish, short, and dull.  

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