From Clangings

A weekly poem, read by the author.
Jan. 4 2011 6:54 AM

From Clangings

Click the arrow on the audio player to hear Steven Cramer read this poem. You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes.

.

(Clang Association:  in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, dissociated ideas conveyed through similar word sounds)

A finch in my chest flinches to get
heard.  Wingman sewed it in.  I hear
the chi-chuwee chuwee achew in there,
tiny beck beating the big heartbeat.

Mind you, it takes brains to slice
open a hide, scoop out the marble
muscles; craze a rib cage; uncoil
an aorta; slide in a gift like his:

the elf chirruping in my self, itself
elfin (the self's wit-part part want).
Pity I'm not someone else's heart!—
elf elsewhere, another body's grief.

I don't mind my beater's a warbler,
or how in-the-skin is the finch's cry.
Eat sweat, wet seat:  its homunculi
pinions ping in a rock tumbler's

cavity.  I place my ear to my chest.
Finch-flitters from the solar-plexus,
beaky reminders keep keeping pace.
Oh my minute pecks, tend your nest.

**

Iris of the one-eyed Satan—see it?
X-ray of a horse pout about to eat me.
Amputee kissing a double amputee.
Exploded nova; no, what an idiot                                                                               

I am:  fly gotten crushed by a shovel.
That black is somebody's childhood
shit spread on a microscope slide.
If e cuts in line, vile becomes evil.

A woman's shadow on her back, legs
open, like pudding's been splattened
by a bullet-train's million-mile second.
Take away the veins, that's the bags

I stuffed my faces in before their faces
mixed each other up and made mine.
What a kid drew in Art Class, a brain-
dead kid.  Not sure what that clot is—

or they're smudges, maybe inkblots?
Somebody dripped ink on paper, folded
the paper top to bottom or side to side.
The ink blotted and created inkblots.

**

The circulars blued under my eyes
from lugging salt sacks across a river
over a fire.  One blinkered the other.
Almighty, they blazed with furies.

They were a sight.  In Lord School,
my retinas uprooted.  Not funny, I
tell you, spotting clots in eye jelly.
I've seen things.  Threaded red pencil

threats, delivered.  The pupils shrank.
Bobbing in floaters, I squinted right
at the nuns, white as off-white paint.
Faces have fifty-two muscles to spank.

Could've sworn I'd rubbed out all
that rubble.  Could've sworn I saw
trouble swell into an eyeful of awe.
Awl, hack, rip, jig.  Two-hand radial

Father Joseph.  Touchy amen man.
Ass-burned the children out of sight.
Jesus's analgesics didn't conceal shit.
A hymn is one crummy physician.

.

Steven Cramer's fifth collection, Clangings, will be published in 2012. He directs the low-residency MFA creative writing program at Lesley University. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Culturebox

The End of Pregnancy

And the inevitable rise of the artificial womb.

Doctor Tests Positive for Ebola in New York City

How a Company You’ve Never Heard of Took Control of the Entire Porn Industry

The Hot New Strategy for Desperate Democrats

Blame China for everything.

The Questions That Michael Brown’s Autopsies Can’t Answer

Foreigners

Kiev Used to Be an Easygoing Place

Now it’s descending into madness.

Technology

Don’t Just Sit There

How to be more productive during your commute.

There Has Never Been a Comic Book Character Like John Constantine

Which Came First, the Word Chicken or the Word Egg?

  News & Politics
The Slate Quiz
Oct. 24 2014 12:10 AM Play the Slate News Quiz With Jeopardy! superchampion Ken Jennings.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 23 2014 5:53 PM Amazon Investors Suddenly Bearish on Losing Money
  Life
Outward
Oct. 23 2014 5:08 PM Why Is an Obscure 1968 Documentary in the Opening Credits of Transparent?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 24 2014 8:19 AM Online Misogyny Levels Up as Gamergate Targets Gawker
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 23 2014 11:28 AM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 2 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked Dr. Meri Kolbrener about her workday.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 6:55 PM A Goodfellas Actor Sued The Simpsons for Stealing His Likeness. Does He Have a Case?
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 23 2014 11:47 PM Don’t Just Sit There How to be more productive during your commute.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 24 2014 7:00 AM Gallery: The Partial Solar Eclipse of October 2014
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.