Thursday, December 01, 2011

Excavations In a Used Bookstore-- Part V

The shelves are full of wars
and religion. God is good
and everything that happens
is his will,

except, of course usually
he gives us our wicked ways
and leaves us to learn from results.
We certainly much be learning
something from all this history
but it's hard to know.

Friends who have visited my mother
have all been lectured about my tragedy--
how I used to be a genius
before I took acid
and shriveled my poor demented brain. Well,

I remember being a genius;
it was my job as a kid
and I really did enjoy
learning everything in reach,
except for languages, and history
or such gulpings of raw facts

which have nothing whatever to do
with proving that one is intelligent;
a person after all must be intelligent
or how is he better than an animal?
but what is really 'intelligence'
and how could you have enough
when pride demands your total superiority?

I went proudly to college
bearing a great load of promise
and not so much reality--
I searched out my equals
and I fooled them. We thought
I really was intelligent
but they could talk; they were so cool
while I was just an honorary
smart person.

Because a smart person learns easily
I couldn't see why everything was hard;
but being a human was harder; I spent
all of my study time practicing
afraid I'd never get it right.

I was a bad student, wouldn't run
or leave the track. The promise
turned to lies I had to believe
about myself, about how fast
I'd go if I ever started moving
nailed down by loneliness and shame

but there I was, free at last
out of my mother's perfect home
where living was a secret vice
like jacking off, or being caught liking
some music my father thought was trash

or bad books; I remember
searching through the place for
the one I'd just been reading--
and when I asked my mother
she was resting with her covers hiding the book.

That was fun; but usually
she was far too worried to laugh,
afraid of everything ruining my health--
anything a kid might want to do
including reading too much. Well, at least
she couldn't call me 'childish' for it.

Complaints again; I'm sick of them
against those two foolish old people
who happened to get caught
close to the scene of my childhood

but I want to make sense of myself,
to voyage into the past;
I should explain it all, and show
the giant kraken plucked from the depths
posing demurely by the chambered nautilus--

Instead there is seaweed, fish guts
and long blue distance
of life as usual.

This is a fool's quest, to link
the history of the fool I know best
into some greater understanding, while
like my country, have a cracked memory,
a comfortably dismal past
to be hidden within abstractions
and habits of pure madness
with rational justifications.

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