Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Natural History of the Senses

A Natural History of the Senses

— a Diane-Ackerman-inspired cento

in the western idiom
a chord is an idea
budding from olfactory stalks
embodiment of
ten octaves

olfactory regions are yellow
receptors at the base of hairs
the mouth
a plague of mellow apples
yellow fever of butcher shops

constant in our lives
the sneeze is
a greater handicap
than blindness
for whom it fails to ring

when we sing
the landscape kisses
its signature
sensory maps
we are its consciousness

is the sound that once rang in the sky
at 85% the speed of sound
delicate as a twig traveling
vigilant across a field

pupils dilate
ground-up bones
touch as
endorphin levels rise

the sky is the one visual
perfume of healing
tactile vocoder
of a substance
in human embryos

original rosaries were made
from pigeon dung
typhus is said to smell of mice
even crown jewels
are replaced every thirty days

during early afternoons in October
we become nomads
bending together
to water vibrations

hand gardening
we sing
the season’s periods of dark & light
our sleep schedule parallels
an earthworm nearby

guided by smell
the duck’s bill
expels air
cerebral hemispheres

ethereal, resinous, musky,
minty, floral, acrid, foul
testosterone is at its highest
in Islamic cooking
menses breath is oniony

neurons in the nose
mix rose water & musk into mortar
a clanship of porridge
internal organs don’t
devour their enemies at table

a delicate staple
of only eight molecules
has many pain receptors
sight appears dull
on the battlefield

to move its flying muscles
eat a live goose
measles of freshly plucked feathers
dried-up rose petal hair
be honest in sacred's name

1 comment:

  1. I had to look up what a "cento" is -- so this poem is a kind of litany of words and phrases from the Diane Ackerman book? Interesting concept. Like plucking flowers from a field, compulsively, passionately, to re-ingest the ideas, make them ours. Yours.