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.

.

TODAY IN SLATE

War Stories

The Right Target

Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.

The One National Holiday Republicans Hope You Forget

It’s Legal for Obama to Bomb Syria Because He Says It Is

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

Should You Recline Your Seat? Two Economists Weigh In.

Doublex

It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Or, why it is very, very stupid to compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice.

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?

Politico Wonders Why Gabby Giffords Is So “Ruthless” on Gun Control

Behold
Sept. 23 2014 4:45 PM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
Foreigners
Sept. 23 2014 6:40 PM Coalition of the Presentable Don’t believe the official version. Meet America’s real allies in the fight against ISIS.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 23 2014 2:08 PM Home Depot’s Former Lead Security Engineer Had a Legacy of Sabotage
  Life
Outward
Sept. 23 2014 1:57 PM Would a Second Sarkozy Presidency End Marriage Equality in France?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 2:32 PM Politico Asks: Why Is Gabby Giffords So “Ruthless” on Gun Control?
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Sept. 23 2014 3:04 PM Chicago Gabfest How to get your tickets before anyone else.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 8:38 PM “No One in This World” Is One of Kutiman’s Best, Most Impressive Songs
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 5:36 PM This Climate Change Poem Moved World Leaders to Tears Today
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 23 2014 4:33 PM Who Deserves Those 4 Inches of Airplane Seat Space? An investigation into the economics of reclining.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 23 2014 7:27 PM You’re Fired, Roger Goodell If the commissioner gets the ax, the NFL would still need a better justice system. What would that look like?