Published on Academy of American Poets (

The Anesthesia of Abstraction


Talk of oneness or twoness or the trinity,
of beingness or the Kingdom of God,
of love, presence, the numinous and eternal:
how far away such talk takes us, far away
from the shade of the avocado tree,
the thighs of ripe persimmon,
the tongues of cattle licking
the great blocks of salt
in a hot



For every time someone says systems theory
one must say pines in the darkness;
for every time someone says biodiversity
or biophilia or sustainability
someone must shout musk
or barracuda or the whiskers
of the carrot. The real, living,
piebald world: we drop a cloak over it
with our cumbrous sophistication.
For every time someone says
cumbrous sophistication
someone must say the thighs
of the goddess


Copyright © 2018 Teddy Macker. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Summer 2018.


Teddy Macker

Teddy Macker is the author of This World (White Cloud Press, 2015). He teaches creative writing and literature at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and lives in Carpinteria, California.

Date Published: 2018-06-04

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