The Liver Sutra
For George K.
While contemplating a dish of liver
and silver dollars, I suddenly discovered
the only way out of my mother’s bramble patch.
Listen, George. Poetry
is hogwash, but hogwash
is what makes the sun
so goddamn poetic in the first place.
Not ferns, not apple blossoms
yet every poet knows that all ferns
ARE apple blossoms, bless them.
Not cars or ottomans, not secrets or orgasms,
not Walt Whitman or even a perfect
Listen. I’ve been writing with my liver
again. It’s clean now. I took it out
and scrubbed it on Mama’s washboard
until all the shit came out in one big heap.
My liver is poetry, George.
And poetry is the only thing that seems to have survived
an attack by bees. I loved those bees.
Those bees were my liver, goddammit.
Listen here now.
I’ve counted forty-two types of bees
since I got out of that bramble patch,
sixteen lizards, one hundred eighty-two fingers,
and a single moth. Just one of those little bastards.
Did you see that same moth?
If you did, could you shake him by the liver
until he is all empty inside?
Until he is both my liver and a swarm of bees?
Until he is neither?
If you could do that,
then I think you’d understand
all there is to understand
about brambles and poetry.
Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi Svaha