A Habitation of Jackals, a Court for Ostriches

Very dark now I put a seed in my mouth but its texture and taste
are too unfamiliar! I spit this strange seed out. I do this over
and over, forty-five times before understanding I must
no longer think of myself as the same seed-eating creature

I have erstwhile known myself to be. The seeds of this enclave
have turned overnight, or else worsened so gradually
I only see it now—now and with disgust because they’ve
really overdone it. Taken it too far. I mean, it’s just silly.

These seeds are not the seeds my ancestors fought for!
Fought hard for. Very hard for. Bitterly hard for even after death.
They taste bitter. There’s a bitterness. And they’re softer
than a seed should be—too soft. I’d rather eat stones instead.

Stones that my ancestors would recognize as stones!
Stones that my ancestors walked on with dignity. Real dignity.
May very well have walked on. I can say with confidence
that this probably happened. Back when this was a great city,

things happened. That’s how it was. Now I’m no longer
that seed-eating creature. Now I eat stones. I eat the stones
of this zip code, and behold—they’re already making me stronger.
I am almost too strong. So strong I’m about to announce

the birth of a child. There it goes! A great stone-eating child just
leapt from my mouth. There’s more where that came from,
believe me. Not a problem. But that one came first and as first
it shall it rule by my side. Till the sun bursts in on our kingdom.

 

 

Timothy Donnelly is the author, most recently, of The Cloud Corporation, winner of the 2012 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, the chapbook Hymn to Life, and Three Poets, co-authored with John Ashbery and Geoffrey G. O’Brien. He is a poetry editor for Boston Review and teaches in the Writing Program at Columbia University School of the Arts. He lives in Brooklyn with his family.

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