June 26, 2019

John Philip Johnson

THE BOOK OF FLY

for Mike Allen

1:1
Feeding on the living is good,
but feeding on the dead is better.

1:2
Nestle your offspring in the rancid.

1:3
The air is heavy; let it work for you,
but fly only until you find beauty.

1:4
Shit is beautiful.

1:5
Rub your hands together before you eat.

1:6
If you land on the wrist that holds the swatter,
consider yourself lucky, not clever.

1:7
Remain humble, if you think of anything.

1:8
You only have a few days;
stay simple.

1:9
Breed when you are able.

2:1
And when you are licked
by the frog’s tongue,
or swallowed by a songbird,
or felled in a cloud of nerve gas
and lie twitching, unconcerned,

2:2
know that it is the honor of a fly,
it is its purpose,
to die.

from Rattle #63, Spring 2019

__________

John Philip Johnson: “I went to ReaderCon in 2011 to meet Mike Allen. He was the editor of Mythic Delirium, a magazine that, along with Goblin Fruit, had liberated me from the academic poetry tradition. I had learned to have fun with poetry, thanks to them, and I wanted to meet Mike and learn more. He gave a workshop on genre poetry in which he mentioned flipping perspectives. He made a stray comment about flies knowing their purpose was to die. I mulled that line over for years, and this came out one summer afternoon. I was sunning myself, in my wife’s garden. I had my notebook with me, as I usually do. There were flies around.” (web)

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