“You can’t teach a rhinoceros tricks”

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“You can’t teach a rhinoceros tricks,” he had explained in his brief and vigorous style.
Brave New World

You can’t teach a rhinoceros tricks
You can’t teach her to play dead or dance
Though you whip or reward her, malign or implore her,
She won’t fetch, beg, speak or shake hands.

You can’t teach a rhinoceros tricks
Not because she’s not worthy or fun
The rhinoceros goes where she wants to go
And will do what she always has done.

Try to teach a rhinoceros tricks
The results uniformly are gruesome
And the worst thing of all is, it’s quite possible
It may end up with her teaching you some.

 

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Maybe I should have been

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Maybe I should have been
a nature poet, talking up
clouds and lakes,
wolves and rabbits,
the coyote, the honeybee, the scorpion.

Maybe I should have spent my time
traveling from desert to climax forest,
traveling from valley to mountainside,
talking forest fires, rolling fog,
the endless waves that munch seaside cliffs,
the fantastical desert arches
that occupy our cross section of time,
snails, beetles, microbes, grizzly bears,
and how everything fails and is reborn.

Maybe I’ll let go of my newspaper
this time, maybe
I’ll move to the suburbs and write about
a drowned man, maybe
I’ll go to work for a bank
and write about a drowned man,
maybe after writing about the sea
all my life, it will be a happy ending
to load my pockets with stones
and wade to meet the rising tide.

Maybe I’ll go to work for an insurance company
and write about ice cream.

Maybe I will yet.
Meanwhile, just to remind me
that it’s not all over,
here comes that blackbird again,
calling to see if I’m ready yet
to do the next thing.

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the walk at last

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come along come come come

that is fine
no no need for that and no time

for the need to account for the world is a pressing need

for instance that squirrel

must be put into her proper slot SHARP! SHARP! SHARP! SHARP!

ah

the wellfed mastiff was
here
at this
shrub
since the rain stopped
well well we will see about that
now
all done
come along shall we here is a street for us to walk along I’ll show you the way
this way
this way
this
a moment
I’m sure there’s something
here
all right
let us keep on
come along?
there that’s fine

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dreamed

4-bears

dreamed
I was
pursued
by 4 bears

1 was continually arriving from beyond the east
1 was striking like a hammer without any anvil
1 was in love with god who tangled him up like a vine
1 was singing like a river om om om om

by 4 bears
pursued
I was
dreamed

 

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It was the gods all right

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And the golden gods went by running
When the day was ending and the sun.
You may not have noticed, they could have been anyone

Except the way the light
Penetrated the world just then;
Except the way the aspen’s goldcoin leaves
Quivered as if air were water;
Except the way the birds went on singing
Even after night rose up all around;
Except the way the bat cut new sigils into the dark
And the way the stars were bright.

They’re gone now but yes
It was the gods all right.

 

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U, u: Unassuming Unicorns

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The unassuming unicorns united underground
Upthrusting their umbrellas with an ululating sound;
Their umbrage unassuaged, they undertook an upward run
Emerging all unbidden underneath an umber sun.

 

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