A weekly poem, read by the author.
May 4 2004 9:14 AM


Listen to Paul Breslin reading this poem. Giving one, fountain, Black hole of need. Swiller of oysters, Blood-clotted pudding, Bacilli thriving In undercooked meat; Rats, rattlesnakes, Grasshoppers, monkeys— Raw human flesh Rather than starve.

The infant's mouth
Pulls at a nipple—
The grown man's also;
Glans-grazing mouth,
Omnivorous swallower.

Of guttural shouts:
The field-holler, taut
From gut to throat,
Like ropes hauling water
Up from a well;
The blues singer's twelve-bar
Circle of grief;
Skirl of small-pipes,
Schubertian Lied.

Through you, the black
Swans of Rilke,
The blood-bright
Rimbaldian poisons,
Jonson and Marvell's
Silver epergnes,
The hummingbird-dazzle
Pent in Dickinson;
The deep-drawing vessels,
Milton and Shakespeare
Beat seaward, sprung
From your straitened harbor.

All we shall be
Comes in at the mouth
And leaves through the mouth
When the mouth ends
As earth stopped
With earth, or ash
Mingled in ashes.

Paul Breslin is the author of You Are Here, and with Rachel Ney, a forthcoming translation of Aimé Césaire’s play, La Tragédie du roi Christophe. He teaches at Northwestern University.  


Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Republicans Like Scott Walker Are Building Campaigns Around Problems That Don’t Exist

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

The Best Way to Organize Your Fridge

The World

Iran and the U.S. Are Allies

They’re just not ready to admit it yet.

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.

Farewell! Emily Bazelon on What She Will Miss About Slate.

  News & Politics
Sept. 16 2014 2:11 PM Spare the Rod What Charles Barkley gets wrong about corporal punishment and black culture.
Sept. 16 2014 2:35 PM Germany’s Nationwide Ban on Uber Lasted All of Two Weeks
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 1:27 PM The Veronica Mars Spinoff Is Just Amusing Enough to Keep Me Watching
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 1:48 PM Why We Need a Federal Robotics Commission
  Health & Science
Sept. 16 2014 1:39 PM The Case of the Missing Cerebellum How did a Chinese woman live 24 years missing part of her brain?
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.