Lighthead's Guide to the Galaxy
Ladies and gentlemen, ghosts and children of the state, I am here because I could never get the hang of Time. This hour, for example, would be like all the others were it not for the rain falling through the roof. I'd better not be too explicit. My night is careless with itself, troublesome as a woman wearing no bra in winter. I believe everything is a metaphor for sex. Lovemaking mimics the act of departure, moonlight drips from the leaves. You can spend your whole life doing no more than preparing for life and thinking. "Is this all there is?" Thus, I am here where poets come to drink a dark strong poison with tiny shards of ice, something to loosen my primate tongue and its syllables of debris. I know all words come from preexisting words and divide until our pronouncements develop selves. The small dog barking at the darkness has something to say about the way we live. I'd rather have what my daddy calls "skrimp." He says "discrete" and means the street just out of sight. Not what you see, but what you perceive: that's poetry. Not the noise, but its rhythm; an arrangement of derangements; I'll eat you to live: that's poetry. I wish I glowed like a brown-skinned pregnant woman. I wish I could weep the way my teacher did as he read us Molly Bloom's soliloquy of yes. When I kiss my wife, sometimes I taste her caution. But let's not talk about that. Maybe Art's only purpose is to preserve the Self. Sometimes I play a game in which my primitive craft fires upon an alien ship whose intention is the destruction of the earth. Other times I fall in love with a word like somberness. Or moonlight juicing naked branches. All species have a notion of emptiness, and yet the flowers don't quit opening. I am carrying the whimper you can hear when the mouth is collapsed, the wisdom of monkeys. Ask a glass of water why it pities the rain. Ask the lunatic yard dog why it tolerates the leash. Brothers and sisters, when you spend your nights out on a limb, there's a chance you'll fall in your sleep.
From Lighthead by Terrance Hayes. Copyright © 2010 by Terrance Hayes. Used by permission of Penguin. All rights reserved.
The 2010 winner of the National Book Award in poetry, Terrance Hayes is the author of five poetry collections. He currently serves on the Board of Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets.
Date Published: 2010-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/lightheads-guide-galaxy