Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Poem: "The Man Who Looks for Prophecy"

I hate list-poems and so I had to write one.

The Man Who Looks for Prophecy

el que pedío su cuerpo, el que su sombra,
el que huye de sí y el que se busca
—Octavio Paz, “Máscaras del alba”

The man who looks for prophecy in the bones of dead birds
The man who reads the nightly news with a crooked smile
The man who carries his daughter three days to a hospital tent
The man who leaves the sleeping woman to clean his rifle
The man who digs in his yard and hears his spade ring out
The man who thinks of the bad crop as he turns over the ground
The man who weeps quietly in his cell but not for his crime
The man who writes long novels and burns them for heating
The man who strides across the piazza just before day breaks
The man who waits on the train platform for what he does not know
The man who works in the library and jerks off in the stacks
The man who plies his ferry at the waist of the black river
The man who pans the river banks for gold deposits
The man who loses his salary at the mahjong table and slumps
The man who begs his wife’s exhusband for a job at the garage
The man who draws the faces of famous artists for a living
The man who creates masks for plays no longer performed
The man who crushes a soda can after finishing the soda
The man who hopes no one sees him, then hopes someone does
The man who reads to a dying man the stock market report
The man who benches his quarterback in the last quarter
The man who announces the announcers for the annual show
The man who forgets what he tries so hard to remember
The man who slices his finger while deboning a fish
The man who throws salt on the ice outside his deli
The man who demonstrates in the park against the poll tax
The man who rides the subway train between the cars
The man who collects photographs of little girls of different races
The man who photographs the soldier falling from the balcony
The man who gets one smash hit in his entire career
The man who makes his younger and better son the king
The man who walks out of the operation finally a man
The man who watches his soul as one watches a hungry rat
The man who stands in a lightning storm with an umbrella
The man who carves a towheaded doll out of a matchstick
The man who licks in order to find out what he likes
The man who disappears down the closing coal mine
The man who flies the drone over the burning oil fields
The man who hacks enemy computers to protect his country
The man who ties a boy to the stile and leaves him to the cold
The man who ruins a rival with a single stroke of his pen
The man who drops the right word with the right man
The man who sells cigarettes to the guards of the camps
The man who promises his children he’ll be back tonight
The man who studies beetles and discovers a theory
The man who believes God made us male and female
The man who calls on the spirits despite growing deaf
The man who opens the door for other men and closes it
The man who learns of his fiancé’s impregnation by God
The man who returns a jockstrap that is too big for him.
The man who has sex for the first time at age thirtythree
The man who hikes inland with nothing but a canteen
The man who grows up with wolves and couples with one           
The man who sacrifices his queen for a white-square bishop
The man who buries a painting of a man’s corpse
The man who sings through his nose a hymn for the wind
The man who mends the candle flames in the cathedral
The man who adjusts all the clocks in the skyscraper
The man who fixes his satellite dish outside my window


Shropshirelad said...

"List, list, O, list!"

An interesting departure, Jee. Vigorous and voluptuous in imagery. I like it.

Larry said...

Hi Jee,

Interesting attempt. I like many lines but find it gets exhausting half way through, doesn't seem to encompass anything in particular, ends without an ending. Perhaps the title can be used to hint at a meta-subject? Maybe some grouping should be done to give a sense of movement?

Greg said...

I liked this poem. Thanks Jee.

Jee Leong Koh said...

Thanks, guy, for reading and commenting. Good to see you back here again, Larry.