Paradise Now Book 9

IX

i.
Down a cobwebbed corridor the young cats
Hunt for milk, prostitutes calling them in.
One of them starts banging two trash can lids
Together, in a slow, deliberate fashion.
The banging of the lids, the cobwebs
All around, the oil in the puddles
And the young cats' claws scraping the pavement
Painted the occasion an ashen black.
But in a small puddle of gasoline
Shone its nightmare, a barely-there rainbow.

ii.
I found God but am not a believer.
I chase tail but am not a retriever.
In God we trust. In slippers we putter,
And clean the plate we must, for the obese
Are nothing more than ironic catchalls
For what is safe to laugh at or ignore.
Slender cats, on the other hand, inspire
Us to slink like them and growl our guts out.
The banging of the lids, banging of lids!
Banging of lids, the banging of the lids!

iii.
The rainbows were in the puddles, unicorns
Hiding in the dumpsters and spiderwebs
Woven throughout the tapestry of time.
The prostitutes were cats, but the kittens
Had become something else: part and parcel
Of the alley, slathered in filth, glowing
With juices of paradise enameled
Like an angel's saliva upon them.
They marched in time to the banging of lids,
Impaled on puberty's obsidian.

iv.
As Westerners, we take it for granted
That most of us won't be expected
To work seven days a week, or play the game
Of who can stay the latest at their desk
To make sure the world knows how hard they work.
We aren't crammed into subways like sardines,
Our children aren't deprived of their childhood
In the name of test scores, and when we're ill,
We don't let our doctors torture our flesh.
How much of what we think's normal is wrong?

v.
The cats have learned that paradise is now:
Heaven is discovering what's behind
The things in front of you, not yesterday,
Not tomorrow, and not even today,
But at this moment. Paradise unfurls
In the transformation of reducing
Experience to animal instinct,
To spend an eternity in the blink
Of an eye disassembling an object
Or thought and putting it back together.

vi.
But some say Heaven is a holocaust
Of thought, extermination of idea.
I agree with this. Beyond all notions
Is where the mystery of wisdom's born.
Education spreads belief like disease,
Belief in ideas evolved over time.
Yet the lack of it spreads something worse:
Belief in the untried and untested
Or malignant tumors of ignorance
That has so many nations on their knees.

vii.
Like watching your mother get wrinkly with time,
Like not looking into coworkers' eyes,
Like hating your face in the absolute glass,
Like knowing your problems will certainly last,
Like sleeping all night with windows sealed shut,
Like tripping through time on angel-bug dust,
Like downing a shot-full of blister liquid,
Like wolfing a pile of monkey poop beans,
Like waiting for now to just go away,
Like feathers in tar, in my life she'll stay.

viii.
The tears leapt from her eyes, paroxysms
Of guilt nibbled at existence, the chick
Next to us was working on her homework,
But with genuine grief did the woman
I plan to love until ichor stands still
Prove in an instant that caring is much
More important than being the object
Of desire: There are two tribes—One is close
And one is far, close or far to or from
The best of us: Ancient race polemics.

ix.
Don't give a shit bout people talkin bout
Other people. Don't give a shit bout stars,
As much as they might care bout makin art.
Don't give a shit bout almost everything
I look at every day as I'm doing
Other things, like posters or internet
Atrocities, but more importantly,
What makes me write this for people to see?
Jake Adam York, I am sorry you died;
Here is a line to remember you by.

x.
When the old woman stumbled on the path,
I rushed to and steadied her. Afterwards,
I wondered why I did. The answer's simple:
When I stumble today or in old age,
I will hope to be helped. It's not from love
For fellow man, nor modesty selfless,
But self-interest that springs cooperation!
Golden Rule, gold standard of decency,
A paean to our selfish core. That's why
I'm not nice—I don't deserve it myself!

by Tyler Martin

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