THE DISINTEGRATED MAN
for Marvin Bell
The disintegrated man was, at one time, integrated.
He was as solid as a river stone, as the white pages of a manuscript
stacked like a brick on the table.
His edges were crisp.
Now the disintegrated man crumbles like softened wood,
like the toppled oak melting into loam.
His trunk seethes with the shining backs of beetles, burrowing.
No, there is nothing staccato about the disintegrated man.
In his dream, black hominids scuttle over mountains in a landfill.
They move along invisible trails, like endless trains of ants.
The black hominids move with the monotonous momentum
of unpunctuated sentences.
Their dark lines seem to sizzle.
Though the disintegrated man dreams, he does not sleep. He is vigilant,
The banjo strum of his heart is not plucked.
Even poignant melodies bounce off his lungs, unable to seize them
His identical cousin, the dead man, is more blasé. He floats
in the chamber of memory, iridescent
as veils of oil spread on a pond.
The disintegrated man does not float. He is corporeal
and becomes the hibiscus, the stamen, the waxy egg of the butterfly.
The dead man dwells within a synapse. He flickers
across the white screen of the synapse, but does not change.
The disintegrated man wonders why, once at rest,
Jesus bothered to come back.
The dead man does not wonder, but reflects.
Sometimes he is young, and sprints like a dog across the open fields.
He does not crumple, or snag his toe on a root.
The disintegrated man has no time for such shenanigans.
He is feeding the horde of thousands that depend upon him.
He feeds the grub, and the meaty root, and returns, in increments, to the world.
—from Rattle #32, Winter 2009
Michael Bazzett: “When I feel that someone’s opened up my head, without using any tools, and somehow given me a new set of eyes, that’s how I know it’s poetry.”