Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Faience Hippopotamus


The turquoise glaze
worn to earthenware
between the eyes-
the scrawled lotus

break up
the broadness of back,
flare the brow,
decorate a massive

rump: Duchamp's
mustachioed Mona Lisa
glossed this image
four thousand years

later. "Egyptian,
Middle Kingdom, 12th
Dynasty, Circe 1940
B.C." reads the

"accoutrement of tombs,"
premium paid
gods of the hunt, sent

into unknown lands
with habitat tattoo,
surrogate blossoms
should there be none.


Fecund Thoueris,
upright walking
pregnant hippo
leaning on a magic

knot, you are not;
nor Seth, the evil
one, enemy of Re.
Despite the lotus,

you're clearly
what you are,
piglike, grown to
majesty of size, but

wallower, muncher
of riverslop,
boundless shitter,

mountainously meek,
as Roethke wrote,
a yawner.


Popular, a faience
in pourable stone,
improvement on

the original
we take it home.
Artifact of

an artifact,
it is that
and nothing.
A gift I bought

and didn't give, dear
at fifty-two fifty;
a paperweight or

piece, borrowed
for this writing,
breakable as bone.
It is that

and nothing,
neither hollow nor
flesh and blood, not
quite up to Eliot.


What is not a form
of exhaustion in
our minds, dreaming
in its own multi-

plicity of meaning?
Rivers of hippos
map each thought.
The brutes swim past

eroded shorelines,
submerged except
for snout and peepers,
winking doe-eyed or

staring like horses,
picking up snatches
of song to croon in
cavernous throats.

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