Thursday, December 29, 2005

Bullfinch's Mythology or Ode to The Radish King

The wildebeest yawns and stretches.
His yellow eyes scan the dark stalks of dry grass
around his bed of matted vegetation.
A dim flower, crushed, peeks
from beneath his rump.

Above him, the few late stars are begging to go home.

The wildebeest, let's call him Carl,
picks out the constellation Oncorhynchus, leaping over the crow.
He notes that one of the stars, kraz, or the left-handed lynchpin,
which represents the gills of the great fish,
has already packed her bags for Rome,
leaving a gap in the formation.

Of course, Carl reminds himself,
that’s only from my point of view.
Limited as that is.

Still, he thinks, I wish it were, well, you know,

Carl thinks of himself as a Connochaetes taurinus taurinus,
or Blue Wildebeest. But of this he is mistaken.

Ignorant of his true nature, he shakes his head and stands,
snorts into the dirt, slaps his rump with his short, ragged tail,
steps out onto the savannah from beneath the tree he’d chosen
to sleep under for the night.

Off to the east, the sky begins to pinken, like the shoulders
of a little girl too long at the shore.

I wish I still had that book of poems, Carl thinks,
as he chews this day’s first mouthful of grass.
It is a rare event to find a book on the savannah,
so it was a big deal to him. He carried the book with him
everywhere he went for a month. Until the rains came,
and the book disintegrated, the pages drifting off in runnels
of rainwater, whole chapters setting sail in gully washers.
The spine the last to go.

Carl ate that.

You know, Carl says, I liked that book a great deal.

Yes, Carl, I know, says God.

Well, why’d you take it from me, then?
I wasn’t finished with it. Carl stomps his right forefoot
into the dirt, petulantly.

I didn’t take it from you, Carl. It got wet. It fell apart.
That is the nature of things.

God looks off towards Rome, sees that kraz
has made it home safely.

Oh, don’t start with me, Carl says. Don’t start in again with
‘The Nature of Things’. Give me a break.

Now Carl.

No, really. I suppose you’ll tell me
that giving Lupus to Anna Nicole Smith and Asthma
to Brad Pitt is just ‘the nature of things,’ too.
You make me sick.

Don’t forget giving Russell Crowe osteoporosis, God chuckled.
I thought that one up myself.

Yeah, well. It just goes to show you.
Carl looked around and took another mouthful of grass.
The fish have got you all figured out, you know?
You are a braggart and a moron. I mean,
what were you thinking letting that Leonardo fellow
paint that Mona Lisa?
Pure stupidity.

Ah, but I was right, Carl. They never figured it out.

Carl snorted. You got lucky.

I am the All-being, Carl. I don’t get lucky.

And the whole deal with those poets.
Rilke, Yeats, that Whitman fellow.
Treading on thin ice if you ask me.

Ah, yes. The poets. God beamed.
The temperature on the savannah rose eleven degrees in two seconds.
They do please me.

You’re gonna blow the whole deal if you keep that up, you ask me.

Have a little faith, Carl. Perhaps if they do figure it out,
they deserve a shot.

Humph. Carl trots across the grassland toward the river.
His paltry mane lifts and taps against his massive neck.
He snorts and shakes his head again for the sheer joy of it.
He picks up speed.

You be careful, Carl. God says, smoting a village
in Kazakstan with a new and deadly virus.
You remember what happened to your brother.

But Carl will hear nothing of it.
He runs with ever greater speed, barreling across the savannah
like a bullet train. His legs churn up the hard-packed dirt
and he smells the river growing closer.

Ahead of him a line of brush marks the water’s edge.
He puts his head down.

Maybe I shouldn’t have let him read that Mary Oliver after all,
God thought to himself.

Carl reaches the cliff edge and leaps into the void above the muddy water.
He stretches out to his full length. His yellow eyes burn.

He flies.

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Blogger Radish King said...

Oh good god, okay, I was laughing so hard that stuff was falling off my desk (I was shaking) I have to read a couple more times, back with my favorite bits, oh, you made my day.

She was absolutely delighted


1:10 PM  
Blogger pghpoet said...

what a WONDERFUL tale! lol...

and the sheer inspirational form of that leaping creature at the end makes me want to do something reckless!

happy new year, scott. happy new anything....EVERYTHING

each and every day.- k

4:55 AM  
Blogger Radish King said...

Okay. This is where I sort of started making snorking noises
The wildebeest, let's call him Carl,
By the time I got here, I was making scary noises in my nose
Don’t forget giving Russell Crowe osteoporosis
I think the Mona Lisa pushed me over the edge. When I got to the dead poets I had actual tears in my eyes, lord, Rilke, Yeats, that Whitman you didn't miss one! But the painting at the end, that painting is what made me double over for lack of air and go back to the beginning.

Good to read it again today. Wonderful.

Belly laugh is so good, so good for the whole being.


6:55 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

You may have invented a new form, here.

Although I kept picturing the wildebeast from The Lion King cartoon; was that intentional?

7:08 AM  
Blogger tearful dishwasher said...


Thanks for the inspiration/challenge. I never knew how to write a poem before, but thanks to your course it's easy! Soon I'll be making money from home the easy way!


Glad you liked this. And do go do something reckless. Or wreckless. Happy Gnu year!


Pumbaa is much shorter and rounder than Carl, girl. Plus he's a cartoon, whereas Carl is a rough and rugged Wildebeest of Poetic Creation, which puts him in another league altogether.

Thanks for stopping by.



2:14 PM  
Blogger LKD said...

It goes without saying that I love the poem. But I'm also deeply enamored with the painting. Where on earth did you find that flying gnu?

3:44 PM  
Blogger tearful dishwasher said...


Pure modern-day laziness, I'm afraid. Google "wildebeest" and this is the first or second image that comes up.

Once I saw it, the poem, already arranging itself in my mind, took its inevitable final form.

I wish I could take credit for it. But I had a fucking blast watching it come out, and I get a chuckle out of it every time I re-read it.

Hope all is well with you, oh obsessive one.



6:04 PM  
Blogger Radish King said...

Soon I'll be making money from home the easy way!


There is a program that surfaces on PBS every now and then called Play Piano In A Flash. It teaches you that real musicians don't read music.

Every time it comes on I'm forced to watch it in a kind of jaw dropped stupor because it's on PBS, the EDUCATIONAL CHANNEL for crap's sake.

I got off my subjuect there for a second. It's still dark out and I have that extra second to deal with today.


6:37 AM  
Blogger LKD said...

Happy new year, gnu.


Will you be ringing in the new year with dirty martinis?

Oh, and hey, Rebecca, whenever I see that________ (gee, I can't come up with a word for that guy so let's just leave that slot blank) I make a sound that I imagine sounds very much like your infamous "snork".

Real musicians don't read music? I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to see again because my eyes have rolled so far back they're in my brain.

10:32 AM  
Blogger Radish King said...

While you're in your brain, tell me what your temporal lobe looks like. I've seen pictures of mine, but it always looks exactly like a sonagram for a pregnant woman. I can't tell you how disturbing this is.

1:23 PM  
Blogger Jaye Ramsey Sutter said...

That was some verse, some writing. Lovely. I felt the wind in my mane, er hair, when there was foot stamping and snorting.
Great and grand

12:43 PM  

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