You Can't Build a Child
with the medicinal poppies of June
nor with Celan's bloom-fest of dredged stone,
not with history's choo-choo train of corpses,
not with Nottingham's Robin Hood
nor Antwerp's Diamondland.
Not walking on the Strand in Manhattan Beach with her
silicone breast implants, refinery, waves of trash,
not out of the Library of Alexandria
with her burnt gardens that prefigure gnarly,
barnacle-laden surfboards broken in half.
You can't build the child with the stone paths
that we have walked on through the atmosphere,
the pirate's plank, the diving board, the plunge,
nor with the moon whether
she be zombie or vampire.
Not with Delphi, not with fangs, or cardamom bought
in Fez, red with spring, red with
marathon running cheeks.
Not with monk chant, bomb chant,
war paint, not with the gigantic Zen pleasure zones,
nor with this harnessed pig
on the carousel that I am sitting on with my son
in Nice, France. How it burns on its axis
as if it were turning into pineapple-colored kerosene
the way the Hawaiian pig, apple in snout, roasts
in its own tropical meat under the countdown sun.
Poem first appeared in Poetry, April 2012.