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Uncanny Earth, A Funny Thing to Feel

But not funny like comix or a dog

kvetching, neither funny

like funambulism nor the town carnival where

for three dollars you can sledgehammer a car,

not Beckett's ashcan through which heads

come up, Keaton with the barrelgrinder's

monkey funny, that funny

silence called an ex, a sex pot, sextodecimo

pages torn from a book, not the broken

then fixed lit cigarette trick, monkey

editing a folio or happy trails, happy

hunting, hapless jack in the box pulpit,

neither this is the world's smallest violin,

as a return to reality implies no new acceptances,

playing to the tune of: didn't he have a loincloth over

his gentiles, figure of the self reduced

to that of a fly on the orator's brow,

nor funny car, funny bone, funny farm

where Simple Simon went a poaching

for to shoot some game, and the trap

and pain effect: schlemiel, schlep,

it makes me delirious this erectile dysfunction

and I cannot hold the umpteenth sexual position

as suggested in the tantric manual,

having entered language for a peep

and found the licking of toes an essential kind of seduction,

not the gang in soldered chains, brass

or black japanned dreaming of torsos in lace and whalebone,

not Humpty Dumpty, portmanteau, portamento,

that uninterrupted passing from one tone to another,

then to the axis where trivialities hover and buzz,

dog running, run that is dogging, some of us

soon to be immortal due to other sleights of hand,

and not the opium poppy, the juice of which is an original

source where some wise ones take suck,

like one Thomas De Quincey divining

the doctrine of the true church on the subject of opium,

and S. T. Coleridge whose initials intoned very quickly

are ecstasy: L'éclat, c'est moi: what the hardy laugh

screens us from, what fetches up the bawdy jest for this earth

uncanny, like a philosopher with a thousand eyes,

out and out defying things to feel.

—Joshua Green

Joshua Green's poem in this issue takes its title from the last line of Peter Gizzi's "New Picnic Time." He teaches at Columbia and Fordham Universities.

Originally published in the April/May 2002 issue of Boston Review

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