Pietrzykowski – Straddling the Sibyl

Marc Pietrzykowski’s sixth book of poetry licks the wounds of the mangled poetry puppy god, genuflects in appropriate directions and postures, gives thanks to our linguistic facility, and performs all the other gestures poets need do with aplomb. Not so much an exercise in snide absurdity as one might suppose from this description, Straddling the Sibyl includes poems for the modern workplace, fragments for Claudette Colbert, and a long essay in verse about the effects of modern social networks on the way our brains perceive our bodies. I think you should read it, and so does Marc. With a pastry, in hand, if possible.


Close Cover Before Striking

The gods of electromagnetism
came blasting through town last night, furious
and crackling, filling the night with the sound
a tree hears when an axe splits it. A gift,
a ward to dispel all those absurd stories
our parents told us to hide their cowering:
gods bowling, moving furniture, dancing,
or clouds bumping into one another.
A gift: more terrifying than idiot gods:
we’ve done it to ourselves. Yes, dear Pogo,
the enemy is us, whether we seek
to rule, to own, to squander, to protect,
to preserve, to rescue, obliterate,
hide, sneer, frighten, love, bear, taste, forget–
not one among us can cast the first stone.
We’ve shit in our cage so long, and so well,
we’ve taken to eating it, cramming it
in our ears, making it into jewelry,
but now, a gift: blast the scales from our eyes,
turn them to ash in a gush of lightning,
tear them off with tornadoes and hurricanes,
let a few more of us see what we’ve done
and give them reason to fight, and to live
beside the soured river, beneath skies
twisting with vapor, telling a new tale
to their children: once we cared for nothing,
and nothing cared very deeply for us,
and then we learned to do less harm, but still
babies will be born who seek only to rule.
Those are the ones whose skulls we dash on rocks.