by Scott Bailey
I live, I weep, a third of me
passed in sleep,
start a scene or two,
play and dance the fool,
roll back the curtain for the muse.
I live for depth, less so a lengthy life,
nor deny the natural order of things,
but must I be swept so soon
to the sweet by and by?
Life's always so, so pleasing,
so why should death be so displeasing?
O Death, so kind, so cruel, graciously unfair,
such a trump card, such a trollop, common denominator,
master and servant to class.
O Life, to live, to be a rare steak less traveled by.
Why just exist?
That's not it at all, not at all—
to the point of tears,
get-up-and-go, oomph, brio, orbit, yo-yo,
strut, fret, fetch,
keep the wolf from the door,
scratch where it itches,
pull some nothing from thin air,
rush, stir, trip, wear and tear.
I walk upon the earth, spared another day,
another hour upon the stage.
A motor with a plan,
I am man,
homo, member, party,
I bust a nut, kick, yield, recording my days,
intent, tone, heart, spirit,
a life sentence,
no shame, no game,
I question, seek, shall not always find,
I backup on a dead-end road,
look up, look down upon,
sympathize with an ant
carrying a wing over mountainous mud, dirt, scum.
I waste time, murder, create, anticipate,
stub my toe
where I come and go, O, O, O, O,
O, Sticky-Sweet Peach,
come home, pull up a chair,
cast a spell
on my chinny-chin chin.
I rather be cross-eyed—
one eye that talks shit to the other,
than not see at all,
cut out my tongue if not cheeky
if I'm to be a ragged claw,
cantankerous, impermeable membrane,
a closed field with shards of glass among blades of grass.
I rather be be-headed, served on a platter,
if denied a full head of hair,
fingers run through my hair.
O, Open Field,
measureless, perpetual uncertainty,
dance with me under the honky moonlight,
in broad daylight,
do me roughly half a day but all night long,
in the quickening of the night,
the quiet, quite-loud night,
owls echoing dactyls and spondees,
thrashers tweeting thank-you's.
Bump me, I bump back,
atqui vivere militare est,
la petite mort, each day, s'il vous plait.
I will not end it all on a railroad,
take a colossal heroine-hit,
kneel on grits,
slip on soap,
eat poisonous, cherry pie.
Amen, thunderous whisper.
All rights reserved.
This narrative was written in response to T.S. Eliot's essay "Tradition and the Individual Talent," where he addresses the literary importance of "depersonalization," the extinction of the personality.
Previously published as "Do I Dare Disturb the Universe?" in Exquisite Corpse.