Friday, May 7, 2010

Arthur Vogelsang


It is still easy to get lost on the earth,
though the huge number of roads is connected, and
it is much farmed in rows, many dwellings, many
people, different useful kinds of airplanes,
our own space ships taking photos of hydrants
and blades of grass and directing
personal conversations to the right person
if you've got a good battery in your hand and all that.
For years tiny humans (their bones and their stuff)
were hidden or lost. Tinier than possible. They were three foot three
and hunted rats I can't repeat the size
and shape of because you'd think I was pulling
your chain. Also they hunted little elephants and Komodo
dragons. Yes, there were and are Komodo dragons but if you wanted to denigrate
them you'd call them lizards -
not belching fire, no spikes. The
rats were the size of Lassie. The elephants
were only the size of the biggest football player
but had outrageously thick legs and were slower even than our elephants.
The dragons were the size of horses and, dear
God, fast as automobiles. We know because some archaeologists
got lost, looked in the wrong place, and found
in a cave with perfect humidity bones of everything and everybody
above, and remains of fires. The very small people's brains,
which fit in their heads, were smaller than chimps'.
Yes, they weren't too smart. If you keep fish
now in London or Tokyo or San Francisco
you know their size depends on their pond,
big pond big fish, room aquarium same fish smaller, so,
let's see, the elephants had less to call their own,
so they weren't too big, the rats had a lot more
that they more or less owned than now,
and do whatever came to mind. "Came to mind," har! Their brains
were the size of walnuts or our prostate glands
and the brains smelled like ammonia due to their high ammonia content
and of course it was the ammonia more than their size and speed
that made them the real dragons they really were. What I've
told you, everybody who's a scientist believes. Now
I'm going to think on my own a little. The little
people hated the dragons most of all
and herded them with fires backfired into other fires
and laughed at their unique screaming and at the convenient
cooking. It is a shame they couldn't make pictures
of their activities, or themselves. They weren't as smart
as Jackson Pollock, who was pretty dumb and
drank beer all the time. There are eight caves,
a lot of undisturbed, undessicated bones. The news has gotten out of hand.
A lunatic has even suggested they were all quite handsome
and gay, I mean bi-sexual, that handsome, and the women were
beautiful, like skinny midget actresses. The government of their country
has closed all the caves, or rather, put yellow police tape
and guards around them and sent packing all the archaeologists
and said no more of any kind of person can
come there. It is in Indonesia. I guess
I really think somebody will find yet smaller people somewhere
and bigger creatures faster even than heavy dragons fast as cars
and this will go on and on, backward, smaller. Yes, these spoke
to each other and had all, exactly all, our same organs. Scientists
(back to the facts now) say the bacteria in the dragons' mouths
was so virulent (and still is) that prey died immediately after minor injuries
or scratches and this was why the teeny people did revenge with fire and the teeny
(yes the word is in the Times twice) people were in each other's
arms against the damp frequently (frequent holding, and frequent
damp) and in their loving arms at night talked over and laughed satisfied
at the tenor-like screaming from the day. Maybe find
some more even smaller in a joke state like New Jersey thereby
giving it some gravitas or where you'd expect,
Idaho, where nothing is and nobody goes,
larger dragons, even smaller elephants, even smaller people, Idaho
where the hateful lunatic, smart as a whip, Ezra Pound, was born
though he grew up in Philadelphia
and maybe it will be there in some pristine deep hole under a bank.

I found this poem by Arthur Vogelsang in American Hybrid : a Norton Anthology of New Poetry edited by Cole Swensen and David St. John.

Komodo image source is here.