Phallic and Fallopia: A Language Tail
via the Holland Tunnel
into the desolation of eastern New Jersey:
abandoned factories, railroad tracks,
dying towns—stop to rest
where the light enters broken
They find Gealie’s still open for bad coffee,
unfiltered Lucky Strikes, stale donuts.
They move at night,
and by day huddle in dark
hollows and rub each other’s backs.
When in doubt, they follow
alpha markers: poets know they can rut
out of season and still exchange
syllables. Words are born along the way
and held in their arms
to be unraveled later,
if they find time.
They cross the Ohio on stolen barges,
and move into the lower hills
to find cover with the deer. They understand
the dangers involved: to cross fields
unseen. Occasionally a poet dies—
they leave a line or two in the soil
to mark time and place:
language and landscape blur
under the bleating sky,
and another stanza is left
in the unnameable spaces of language.
Later, they are seen herding west
out of western Arkansas into the lower
grasslands of Oklahoma.
From our helicopters, they look like
crawling Chinese letters—their black tags
give them away. We take them down
with dart guns. They breathe close
to the ground, like puddles
of moonlight: the skin
over their ribs stretches and glistens
Our task is easy: clip thumbs
tongues, index fingers. Some schools
of thought say we should
take their feet as well,
for they could scrawl the earth
with heels and toes.
Maybe it is pointless:
with six fingers left
they could still press thoughts
into flesh. Maybe
the wind and rain
will wash away what we call
rutting, but for now,
the only language left
will be our own.