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Audio Poem of the Day
  • Poem of the Day: Black Earth
    Openly, yes,
             With the naturalness
             Of the hippopotamus or the alligator
    When it climbs out on the bank to experience the

    Sun, I do these
    Things which I do, which please
             No one but myself.  Now I breathe and now I am sub-
             Merged; the blemishes stand up and shout when the object

    In view was a
    Renaissance; shall I say
             The contrary?  The sediment of the river which
             Encrusts my joints, makes me very gray but I am used

    To it, it may
    Remain there; do away
             With it and I am myself done away with, for the
             Patina of circumstance can but enrich what was

    There to begin
    With.  This elephant skin
             Which I inhabit, fibered over like the shell of
             The coco-nut, this piece of black glass through which no light

    Can filter—cut
    Into checkers by rut
             Upon rut of unpreventable experience—
             It is a manual for the peanut-tongued and the

    Hairy toed.  Black
    But beautiful, my back
             Is full of the history of power.  Of power?  What
             Is powerful and what is not?  My soul shall never

    Be cut into
    By a wooden spear; through-
             Out childhood to the present time, the unity of
             Life and death has been expressed by the circumference

    Described by my
    Trunk; nevertheless, I
             Perceive feats of strength to be inexplicable after
             All; and I am on my guard; external poise, it

    Has its centre
    Well nurtured—we know
             Where—in pride, but spiritual poise, it has its centre where ?
             My ears are sensitized to more than the sound of

    The wind.  I see
    And I hear, unlike the
             Wandlike body of which one hears so much, which was made
             To see and not to see; to hear and not to hear,

    That tree trunk without   
    Roots, accustomed to shout
             Its own thoughts to itself like a shell, maintained intact   
             By who knows what strange pressure of the  atmosphere; that   

    Brother to the coral
             Plant, absorbed into which, the equable sapphire light
             Becomes a nebulous green.  The I of each is to

    The I of each,
    A kind of fretful speech
             Which sets a limit on itself; the elephant is?
             Black earth preceded by a tendril?  It is to that

    The above formation,   
             Translucent like the atmosphere—a cortex merely—
             That on which darts cannot strike decisively the first

    Time, a substance
    Needful as an instance
             Of the indestructibility of matter; it   
             Has looked at the electricity and at the earth-

    Quake and is still
    Here; the name means thick.  Will
             Depth be depth, thick skin be thick, to one who can see no
             Beautiful element of unreason under it?


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